1. Mother of Orcs
"But of those unhappy ones who were enslaved by Melkor little is known of a certainty….Yet this is held true by the wise…that all those of the Quendi who came into the hands of Melkor…by slow arts of cruelty were corrupted and enslaved; and thus did Melkor breed the hideous race of the Orcs in envy and mockery of the Elves, of whom they were afterwards the bitterest foes. For the Orcs had life and multiplied after the manner of the Children of Iluvatar; and naught that had life of its own, nor semblance of life, could ever Melkor make since his rebellion …. And deep in their dark hearts the Orcs loathed the Master whom they served in fear, the maker only of their misery. This it may be was the vilest deed of Melkor, and the most hateful to Iluvatar." J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion
In the Orc pits of Angband there lived a she-Orc. How long she had lived there, even she could not guess. She had given up trying to reckon the incessant years of her bitter existence.
She was a breeding bitch, one of many, whose primary use for Morgoth was to produce more Orcs like herself: slant-eyed, black skinned and stoop shouldered with long arms dangling nearly to her knees and sharp yellow teeth. When in heat, she would breed with whatever mate was chosen for her. She had mated with countless Orcs. She didn't know their names, and their bodies all melted together in her memory. They had never given her any lasting satisfaction. They might assuage the burning cravings of her flesh for a season. They could never fill the aching void in her heart.
The Dark Lord called her Ghash, "fire," a name which she considered a compliment. In fact, she had thought herself quite clever for giving her first-born whelp a name which corresponded to her own: Coal, son of Fire. Little did she understand her own folly.
When first she had given birth to a male Orc-whelp, she had been praised and pampered and given special privileges. She had been excused completely from the drudgery of attending to prisoners in the dungeons. Nursing her whelp was the most important work she could possibly do. Morgoth needed Orcs, and his lieutenant, Sauron, would see that he got them. Her children were the foundation of his future. Her spawn were the tool through which the Dark Lord planned to dominate the world.
She had been told that she was special and important, and she had believed it. She had nursed her son and cared for him for a little more than a year. She had been proud of his achievements: when he cut his first teeth, when he stood on his own, when he began to eat meat. She had not recognized where all these milestones would ultimately lead.
Perhaps she ought to have seen it coming. Still, it had been a shock when they had torn her son from her arms. Though she longed to forget, the memory of it would haunt her forever. She had been sitting on the ground near the doorway to her den. She cradled her son in her lap, peacefully suckling him to sleep in the starlight. Three big Orc soldiers suddenly burst into view with ropes, torches, and terrible scimitars.
"We've come for the whelp," the biggest of them had said. "It's time he learned what it means to be a proper Orc."
Ghash had thrust Coal behind her back, and snarled at them. Their laughter echoed in the twilit stillness. She had drawn the long, ugly, saw-toothed knife which she always carried in her belt, and threatened them. They had laughed again.
The leader said, "Don't be stupid, little bitch. It's only an Orc-whelp. Hardly worth dying for."
While he spoke, his comrades closed in on her. One drew his own blade and with a battle hardened skill that made it look easy, he deftly knocked the knife from her grasp. The last one caught her wrists in an iron grip and pinioned them behind her.
She watched as the Orc who had disarmed her bound her son hand and foot, tying a gag in his mouth, so he would be unable to bite.
"It's the Dark Lord what gave you the whelp, and the Dark Lord can take him away," the big Orc captain continued. "Besides, there'll be more where he came from." With a leering grin, he stroked the tangled mat of Ghash's hair and gave her a lecherous pinch. She spat squarely in his eye. He grabbed her chin in his huge, ugly claw and leaned down into her face. "I said, don't be stupid!"
With that, he struck Ghash so hard across the face that she nearly swooned, and would have fallen, had she not been braced from behind by the other Orc who still held her wrists securely in place.
For a moment, the force of the blow knocked the world out of focus. When Ghash's vision cleared, she could see her little one slung over the back of the Orc who had bound him. She could never forget the horror and desperation in his eyes as they carried him away. He had looked to her for rescue, but she could do nothing.
Ghash threw back her head and howled with grief. She shrieked and sobbed, and let forth a high, mournful wailing. The Orc who held her just laughed again. When at last he was satisfied that his fellows had made good their escape with the whelp, he dropped her in a heap on the ground. She crawled into her den, pulled her knees to her chest, and wrapping her long arms around them, she rocked to and fro, moaning and weeping for her lost son.
For a long while, she would not eat. But she soon realized that if she grew too weak, she would become easy prey. She did not want to die.
If she wished to survive, she must make herself useful. But being useful meant that she must breed again. Never, ever did she want to feel the horrible, throat clenching, heart stabbing pain she had felt on the day Coal was stolen from her. Her only choice was to steel her heart against the mother-love which had made her so vulnerable. She would never love anyone or anything again.
Through the countless years, she had borne many more offspring. Never again had she tried to name them. She treated them with intentional harshness, despite her instincts. When the Orc soldiers came to carry them away, she would get up and walk away without looking back. She didn't know where they were taken, and she didn't want to know. She told herself she didn't care what happened to them, but often she cried herself to sleep for loneliness.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.