...So all the recent discussion in the newsgroup about Isildur's taking the Ring from Sauron's hand has got me thinking.
After the Last Alliance, and the battle at the end of the Second Age where Sauron was defeated, Isildur took the Ring as weregild for Elendil's death and Anarion's (Silmarillion p. 294-5 hardback); he also took the shards of Narsil away for safekeeping by his heirs (Fellowship of the Ring p. 260 hardback). Sauron deserted his body, "and his spirit fled far away and hid in waste places" (Silmarillion p. 294); but evidently he took the same body back again later on, since Gollum noted Sauron was still missing his finger (Two Towers p. 249-250 hardback). I find it curious that a Maia would re-use the same body twice, but - given the difficulties Sauron had been having with taking renewed physical form since the fall of Numenor - it's understandable. And the Barad-dur was destroyed, but its' foundations remained intact (Silmarillion p. 294). So between the destruction of the battle, the ressurrection (recycling? <g>) of Sauron's body, and the tradition of keeping heirlooms and artifacts, all the mess resulting from the Battle of the Last Alliance seems to have been satisfactorily cleaned up. However, there is still one missing element...:
What finally happened to Sauron's severed finger?
Isildur made no notes about it; Elrond took no notice of it save that it had been severed; Sauron evidently could not reattach it... What happened to the thing? Where did it go? :)
...Hmmmmm... I think I may have an idea here for that "Suggestions for a Big Baddie of the Fourth Age" thread.
"'Back! Back, fool!' Pallando shouted into the waste. 'There is some devilry in the air; I fear it! Do not pursue them!'
"But Alatar was too far away to hear; or having heard Pallando's warning he gave no heed, being indeed reckless in his victory. His guard swept across the field behind him, scattering the Yrch like a wind blowing leaves, and across the leagues Pallando could hear his laugh and see the sun glinting off his blue robes. Yet even as Alatar laughed his heart misgave him; and looking forward he saw a small group of his enemies gathered as though waiting. And they parted, revealing a tent of crimson and sable; and from the folds of the tent a dark shape emerged. Pallando's eyes widened when he realized what was to come.
"Forward came the Finger of Sauron. Forward came the dark spirit of night, and those who rode with Alatar were sickened unto death by its very presence. Forward came the nameless horror, and its malice and its will fell upon Alatar; and he was transfixed. With his last sight he saw the warmen of his guard, only a moment ago exulted with victory, now stunned and suddenly beset by hard enemies; in his last thought he was in amaze, that he had so greatly underestimated the will and cunning of the Finger. And then Alatar thought no more.
"Pallando watched all in horror, and even as the blue of Alatar's robe was crushed he turned in sadness to his lieutenants. 'We cannot win upon this field with force of arms,' he said quietly, 'nor can we hope to save the others. Order your men to turn about. We must flee, now, or none of us shall survive to seek another plan...'"
-from Lord of the Rings II: The Wrath of Khand