THE ELF AND ORC: CHAPTER 9
By Brittany Keller (alias Silverneko),
Word Count: 25,304 (total)
Rating: PG for mild violence and language
Summary: While escaping Orc Hunters, Morfang son of Gorbag finds himself in Mirkwood forest and meets the sister of Legolas Thranduilion, Lindariel. Will Lindariel’s compassion reach Morfang, or will Morfang abuse Lindariel’s kindness to avenge his fallen comrades?
At mid-morning, Morurty woke Lindariel with a grin. “Mistress Mekrunt told me to give you these,” she said, holding out a set of black robes. “Though I’m not sure how becoming our clothes will be on you, Elf. Are you hungry?”
In answer, Lindariel’s stomach rumbled loudly.
Morurty grinned wider. “I take that as a yes.” She stood, leaving the clothes on a stool, and opened a metal pot. Steam rose high into the air as Morurty scooped out enough stew for Lindariel to stomach. She handed it to her. “Eat that. If you’re still hungry, you can have more. The whole pot’s just for you. Whatever you don’t eat, I’ll give to the girls. It’s a rich broth and certainly too good for those brainless maggots we call our men.”
“Do you hate your men that much?”
“Not very much,” Morurty said. “They die too quickly. Or they did die too quickly. Always going to war or raiding parties and either they return or they don’t. Over half the women here are all widowed. Most men might be their grandsons or great-grandsons. I’m arranged to marry, but I’d only be able to really love him if I’m guaranteed that he’s going to live.”
“I can understand that,” Lindariel said, spooning the broth into her mouth without thought. “Have any Orc-men gone to war to protect their women?”
“We’re a war-hardened group. We start the wars. Not the other way around, but I will say that I’ve heard stories on occasion where a mob attacked clans and our men would defend their families. But that was before my time. Though,” Morurty arched an eyebrow. “I’ve heard quite a rumor saying that your worm-brained companion fought a dragon for you.”
“He did fight a dragon, but I think he’d have fought it whether I was there or not. Besides, I wouldn’t let him kill it.”
Morurty threw her head back and laughed.
Lindariel blushed, slurping the stew. “Where is Morfang, if I may ask?”
“Morfang? You mean your companion? He’s probably fighting off a hangover with Skumbog the Idiot. And if not, he’s probably gone to talk to that pervert Snagrat in the dungeons to figure out how his father died.” Lindariel set the spoon down. “Didn’t know his father died?”
“Yes, he was telling someone earlier, and I overheard. He never told me about his family directly.”
“Not surprised.” Morurty waved her hand as though the idea of talking about family was a waste of time. “Sometimes sons and fathers end up killing each other.”
Lindariel’s hands shook. “That’s terrible!” The thought of Legolas and their father locked in combat chilled Lindariel to the bone. “Horrible!”
“Really? I think so, too. Didn’t stop me from having to watch my father stick my brother like a pig.” Morurty became sober, frowning and shaking in suppressed rage. Lindariel pushed the half-eaten bowl aside, having lost her appetite.
Morurty took it and dumped the rest in the pot. “Shall we get you ready to meet with Mother?”
Lindariel stood and was led into an underground lake by Morurty where other Orc-women were gathered. Several were talking angrily about the men in their native tongue. Once Lindariel was clean, Morurty helped her into the dress. It was some sort of soft cloth topped with a thick, sleeveless hide. The skirt was made of the same leather as the overcoat that was also provided. Morurty unfastened Lindariel’s braid and dragged a fine-toothed comb through her hair before twisting it into a new braid.
“Now you’re looking a lot prettier than before. Never thought I’d see such pretty skin under that layer of filth. Must have helped blend in at town, though.”
Lindariel didn’t tell Morurty about being found by a Dwarf.
“You want to keep this?” Morurty asked, holding up the dagger. Lindariel glanced at the weapon and shook her head. “You don’t look like you’d be able to use it anyway,” Morurty said, pocketing it in her belt.
They returned upstairs and Morurty stopped at an opening covered only by a thickly woven curtain. She glanced at Lindariel before pulling it aside. Lindariel entered the room.
“Mother,” Morurty said, “The Elf Maid is here to see you.”
Lindariel stepped forward toward a bed. She couldn’t see the being lying inside the covers. She stopped at the foot of the bed, shaking uncontrollably with fear.
“What is your name, She-Elf?”
“Ah.” The Orc Mother hoisted herself up into a sitting position. White hair, braided in many coils, draped Igrim Shapogrataar’s shoulders. Her yellow skin was scarred white, and her thick lips were black. She had a wart covering her left eye, and her nose looked like it had been cut off. Her hair had been shaved to the middle of her head. Her gnarled hands reached out to Lindariel. “Don’t be afraid, Lindariel, Daughter of Thranduil. I have something to tell you.” Lindariel approached and the Orc Mother took her hand in hers. “Are you afraid?”
“Only a little,” Lindariel answered, though she was truly terrified.
Her little lie didn’t escape the Orc Mother’s notice, but she did not mention it. Instead, she smiled with a closed mouth. “I suppose that is normal. Orcs and Elves. We are kin. My sister is Lady Galadriel.” Lindariel blinked. “Didn’t think it possible, did you? I have not seen her in millennia. My brother-in-law will not permit me to come and visit since I am of Orc Kind now. Nor does he allow Galadriel to leave.”
“You’re Lady Gwedhiel?” Lindariel whispered. Igrim nodded. “So that myth I heard as a child about there once being two Elvish Sorceresses, twins…it was truth?”
“It still is truth,” Igrim answered. “I am not known as Gwedhiel anymore, but Igrim Shapogrataar. You know the story?”
“I do not know if it is true. It has been distorted after all these years, I’m sure.”
Igrim nodded. “That tends to happen. Sit, sit. You will hear the true story now of how Orcs came into being.
“Thousands of our people were taken captive in a raiding party by Sauron’s armies. I was trying to help some of the women and children escape when I was seized. I do not know how many days passed before arriving in Mordor, where we were all tortured. You can see the results of those tortures for yourself. Forgive me if I do not tell you what they have done to me and our kin. The women, including myself, were cast under a curse so that our defects would be inherited from generation to generation.
“After only the Valar know how long, we were released out into the world, our men forced to fight for Sauron and us women expected to breed males of our kind to produce more soldiers for the future. I and a small group were able to escape and returned to Lorien. At first, we were received with hate and fear.
“‘Hold!’ I said in our native tongue. Not the tongues of Orcs now, but the tongue of our people. ‘Hold! It is I, Gwedhiel! Take me to my sister and her husband.’
“While the rest of my party was confined with arrows pointed at their hearts, I was led to Galadriel and Celeborn. When I saw my sister, I fell to my knees and cried. I had come home. Celeborn did not recognize me as quickly, but Galadriel knew me on sight. It is her power to look into the hearts of others. You know that.
“She and I wept together. After we regained our composure, I told her all that had happened with a heavy heart. Together, we peered into the Mirror of the Twins. You know it better as the Mirror of Galadriel now. Together, we sisters foresaw a hope for the kidnapped Elves’ children, the Orcs. And I spoke these words to my sister:
“‘When the Accursed were among the Blessed, there was peace. But then some of the Blessed were taken and became the Accursed. The Accursed and the Blessed would battle each other, brother hating brother. But when the Dark Lord falls twice, an Accursed and a Blessed would meet and Eru smile on them. When a vow of eternal love is exchanged between them, the Accursed will once again become the Blessed and peace will once again reign in Middle Earth.’”
Lindariel forced herself to breathe.
“Your meeting with that young Orc was no coincidence, Lindariel Thranduilion. And the meeting was through the Valar’s control.”
Lindariel shook her head. “This is impossible! How can I believe this?”
Igrim patted Lindariel’s hand. “Predictions are hard to understand. Lindariel, I have waited millions of years for you and that young Orc to be born, just to see this moment.”
“It is true I love him, but he has not told me if he loves me back!”
“Hush, you are getting excited.”
Lindariel took a deep, slow breath. “I am afraid. What if he doesn’t love me?”
“There is time yet,” Igrim assured her. “He is safe here in this mountain. The Orc Hunters don’t know its existence. Hardly anyone who does is still alive.”
“But it is time for your adventure to end,” Igrim told her. “Events have yet to finish out. If he does not know if he loves you, perhaps separating from him for a short will bring him to realize what he feels for you.”
Lindariel’s nervous shivering ceased, replaced with numbness. She shook her head. “I don’t want to leave. I don’t…I can’t…I…” Lindariel’s eyes rimmed with fresh tears.
Igrim brought Lindariel to her bosom, stroking her hair. “Oh, Little Elf, it is difficult, isn’t it? But it is to be done if we are to know your friend’s colors. We will not hold him back from going after you.”
Lindariel burst into fresh sobs. She did not know how long Igrim held her, but it was a long time before Lindariel quieted.
“I will send your friend and a guard with you as far as the Great East Road, to the edge of the Last Bridge. From there, you’ll be in Elrond’s land. Go to the House of Elrond and wait there for at least one month. Send word here to the mountain when you are leaving Rivendell so we can tell your friend where to find you.”
A new sob escaped Lindariel’s lips. “I don’t want to go,” she moaned. “I don’t want to return to Mirkwood.”
Igrim rocked Lindariel like a child until she tired herself with tears and fell asleep…
The Wargs growled at each other and a couple nipped at their riders. Lindariel mounted one, and Morfang came up behind her.
Close to her ear, he said, “For someone about to go home, I thought you’d be a bit happier.”
Lindariel bit back the “why would I” that itched to come out. She kept her head bowed instead, not looking behind at Morfang.
“How long will it take to get from here to the Great East Road?” he asked Skumbog.
“About half a day if we go at full speed. Maybe faster if we don’t have a gang of Hunters on our tail.”
“We better not have a pack of hunters,” an older male named Ugshak growled. “I’ve a wife who’ll tan my hide if I don’t come home.”
“If you don’t come home,” another Orc known as Nazsog laughed, “there won’t be any hide of yours to tan.”
Ugshak grinned nastily. “I wouldn’t put it past her to find a way.”
Morfang guffawed behind Lindariel. The Wargs took off as fast as they could. Lindariel pressed her back against Morfang, partly because of the speed, partly for the comfort of knowing he was still there with her.