Dark Men ~ Fighters of Khand
“Gothmog the lieutenant of Morgul had flung them into the fray;
Easterlings with axes, and Variags of Khand. Southrons in scarlet, and out of Far Harad black men
like half-trolls with white eyes and red tongues.”
LOTR: ROTK B5 C6
The Men of Khand came out of the South and East of Middle-earth. Their lands lay directly East of Near Harad and lay upon the southeastern corner of Mordor. Little is known of these people except that they fell under the Shadow of Mordor during the Third Age of Middle-earth, joining with him in his war onWest.
Near the end of the second Millennium of the Third Age, the Dark Men of Khand formed an alliance with the Men of Rhún and the Easterlings. This confederacy, known as the Wainriders began a campaign against Gondor and it’s allies. These attack against the lands of the West would last for over a hundred years, during the time Gondor had become vulnerable after the Great Plague, which had depopulated large portions of Middle-earth. It is believed that this one-hundred year war was brought about by the whispered counsel of Sauron, who was likely behind this campaign against Gondor. It is believed that during these years, the Men of Khand fell under the Shadow of Sauron and ever after came to his aid in times of War.
During the War of the Ring at the close of the Third Age, the Dark Men of Khand came once more to the aid of Sauron and fought for the Dark Lord upon the Field of the Pelennor. Their numbers swelled the ranks of Mordor, along with the Men of Harad and Rhún. It is not known if any of these warriors survived the downfall of Mordor and if they did, whether or not the renewed strength of Gondor reached their lands during the Fourth Age of Middle-earth. In those years there is no mention of these lands or it’s people.
The Variags, a particularly fierce people, also came from Khand, though it’s not known if they were part of a separate kingdom or tribe within the borders of Khand. The term Variags, might simply have been another name for the people of Khand used by the knights of Dol Amroth, who hailed from Bay of Belfalas.
During the War of the Ring the Variags fought at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. They were held in reserve in Osgiliath, along with additional armies of Easterlings and Southrons. After the death of the Witch-king, they were called into battlefield by Gothmog. Their numbers were among the troll-men and orcs, fought by the knights of Dol Amroth, who drove them back into the Great River. Long after the Uruks of Mordor had fallen or fled, the men of the east fought on until almost none remained.
This may explain why Sauron had brought so many of these dark men from the East and the South into his service, because the iron fist of the orc was no match for the subtly of mind and the deep loyalty, with which the Dark Men of Mordor fought.
From the lands of Khand came also a breed of horse-flesh that was broad, muscular and full bodied in shape. Work-horses bred to haul heavy loads, that were said to be doughty and stout of heart in times of war. The men of Khand used them in battle and it is believed that Sauron coveted these animals for their raw power, in much the same way he desired the black horses of Rohan for their speed, agility and intelligence. It’s likely the Dark Lord bred these animals together, mixing their more warlike traits with dark alchemy to produce the fearsome beasts such as the one the Mouth of Sauron rode upon, in his embassy from the Dark Tower. There was rumored to have been a plain east of the Barad-dûr, where these vile and tortured creatures were bred.
And now the fighting waxed furious on the fields of the Pelennor; and the din of arms rose upon high, with the crying of men and the neighing of horses. Horns were blown and trumpets were braying, and the mûmakil were bellowing as they were goaded to war. Under the south walls of the City the footmen of Gondor now drove against the legions of Morgul that were still gathered there in strength. But the horsemen rode eastward to the succour of Éomer: Húrin the Tall Warden of the Keys, and the Lord of Lossarnach, and Hirluin of the Green Hills, and Prince Imrahil the fair with his knights all about him.
Not too soon came their aid to the Rohirrim; for fortune had turned against Éomer, and his fury had betrayed him. The great wrath of his onset had utterly overthrown the front of his enemies, and great wedges of his Riders had passed clear through the ranks of the Southrons, discomfiting their horsemen and riding their footmen to ruin. But wherever the mûmakil came there the horses would not go, but blenched and swerved away; and the great monsters were unfought, and stood like towers of defence, and the Haradrim rallied about them. And if the Rohirrim at their onset were thrice outnumbered by the Haradrim alone, soon their case became worse; for new strength came now streaming to the field out of Osgiliath.
There they had been mustered for the sack of the City and the rape of Gondor, waiting on the call of their Captain. He now was destroyed; but Gothmog the lieutenant of Morgul had flung them into the fray; Easterlings with axes, and Variags of Khand. Southrons in scarlet, and out of Far Harad black men like half-trolls with white eyes and red tongues. Some now hastened up behind the Rohirrim, others held westward to hold off the forces of Gondor and prevent their joining with Rohan.
It was even as the day thus began to turn against Gondor and their hope wavered that a new cry went up in the City, it being then midmorning, and a great wind blowing, and the rain flying north, and the sun shining. In that clear air watchmen on the walls saw afar a new sight of fear, and their last hope left them.
From The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in the Chapter ‘The Battle of the Pelennor Fields’