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Hope for the Uruk: 1. Caged.
“It’s hurt.” I said, displeased.
The nearside-guard shrugged. For a Gondorian, he looked remarkably Orc-like himself.
“Captain said they wouldn’t have caught ‘im otherwise, yer worship.” he informed me.
“Captain Faramir’s the best. If ‘e couldn’t, no-one else could.” added his mate from the darkness by the door.
“Prince.” I said absently.
“Prince!” I was irritated now, “PRINCE Faramir of Ithilien.”
“Oh. Yeah. Forgot.” the guard mumbled a bit more - semi-audibly, “Steward was good enough for ‘is father. Why’d that fucking nobody of a ranger have to turn up ‘ere changin’ stuff? And ……. “ his complaints stopped as I stared him into silence.
I noted that not ALL the people had said “Yea!” with one voice at the recent coronation after all. The Council should perhaps be warned.
I held out my hand imperiously.
“Keys!” I said. “Then you can go.”
“But yer worship … “ he paused, “yer can’t surely wanna go in there wiv ‘im? ‘E’s woild. ‘E’ll eat yer soon as lookit yer.”
“It’s chained, isn’t it? Besides, if it’s hurt it must be attended. Get some hot water and bandages immediately.”
They exchanged glances, swallowed any further `buts’ and left, shaking their heads. The set of their shoulders informed me clearly that if I was going to get my silly head bitten off, it wasn’t their responsibility.
I stepped around the big cage to light more cressets. The Orc (1)regarded me balefully, eyes blinking in the increased light.
“Those farkers got the right idea, little Tark(2) .” it rumbled suddenly.
“ `Abaht wot? ’(3) “ it mimicked savagely, “About me of course. I WILL farking eat you if you come anywhere near playing Mighty Healer with me!”
“You won’t.” I said confidently, “That arm is broken and laid open to the bone. It needs attention. And there’s a hole in your side big enough to put a man’s fist in. The King wants you alive. You’ll accept my healing whether you will or no.”
“An’ who’s going to farking make me? Farking Tarks! Think they own the farking world!”
“We do now.” I reminded gently.
“Not while there’s an Uruk left alive you farking don’t. And there are, little Tark, plenty of us.”
“Ah-har har. Sharp, ain’t we? Think I don’t see what your farking game is, you little shite? Cosy-up to the Uruk and he’ll be so farking grateful he’ll sing to you for free. Nah. Forget it. Information comes at a price – same as everything.”
“Alright.” I replied equably, “You can pay for the healing that way.”
“You charging me for farking hot water? `Cos I won’t have any truck with that stinky herb I can smell in your belt-pouch. I’ll do me own farking healing.”
“You think we’re animals, don’t you? Farking Tarks! We got our own methods, we have! Give us me sword-belt and I’ll sort it.” seeing me hesitate it spat through the bars at my boot, and added “No need to do the sword if you’re too farking scared. Just the belt and pouch. I need me britches too. You’ve been admiring me farking assets long enough!”
Bending to retrieve its possessions, I devoutly hoped that it had missed my blush. I had indeed found my eyes straying to its groin, where its flaccid cock seemed strangely textured and curved in a somewhat curious fashion. I hadn’t been able to resist wondering how it would look when fully erect.
I shoved the belt – minus its sword – through the bars and followed it with the badly-cured leather breeches. I noted that they were worn hair-side inwards, and wondered how Orcs survived a long battle without running quite mad.
The Orc fiddled its pouch open one-handed, finally extracting a rough ceramic jar and coarse iron needle, ready-threaded. Then it laboriously unhooked a skin bottle of some liquid, from which it immediately took a hefty swig.
“Ahh-har! Orc-draught! Nothing like it for putting backbone into yeh. Now then … “
“Stop!” I shouted horrified, as the Orc poised its needle high, preparatory to stabbing down into the wound in its own side, “At least wait for the water. And you can’t do that one-handed. Listen – I’ll make a bargain. No questions. No information asked or given; if you’ll just let me help with that needle!”
It stopped and regarded me quizzically, head to one side like a cat.
“Well, you’re one soft fool.” It observed at last, “What’s your little King going to say? AND you’ve given the game away. You won’t be putting the screws on me if you’re too farking soft to stand me and my needle. This is going to be more fun than I thought.”
Fortunately the two guards reappeared at that moment, saving me from any reply. The Orc was, of course, right. I never had any intention of using methods that it would know only too well in order to extract the information that we needed. Yet, if not, why keep it here in this dank cavern beneath the catacombs?
Under the guards’ watchful eyes, I finally unlocked the cage. The Orc was shackled by one leg to an extremely short chain that would not reach the door. I took the bowl from one guard, slung the cloths over my shoulder, and stepped through.
“So we meet at last.” It commented, “I may still eat you, you know.”
I ignored its sudden teasing tone, and gestured both guards around behind the back of the cage.
“If you touch me, they’ll have you through the bars.” I pointed out.
“That” it said reproachfully, “is farking cheating. Give us that water if you really want to help.”
“That’s my farking business. No questions, you said. Come here if you dare, little Tark. Give us the bowl and do your stuff with the needle, before you faint away.”
I approached the Orc, estimating that on its feet it would stand about a head taller than me, and was half again as broad. At present it was slumped on an old paliasse that had been provided by way of bedding. It reached out its one good claw and grabbed the water-bowl without further ceremony, dropping the needle carelessly onto the shadowed floor as it did so. Fortunately I’ve always had quick reflexes, so was able to mark its descent and retrieve it without trouble.
“Ah-har! The little Tark can see in the dark.” It mocked.
“You’re trying my patience, Orc. What now?”
“No questions! Anyway, it’s farking obvious what I’m doing.”
It upended its flask and allowed a good dollop of Orc draught to fall into the water. Then, grabbing one of the cloths, it began carefully washing its side and then its arm.
“Now, Tark, if you’re really going to farking embroider me, you’d best get to it.”
The chain clanked dully as the Orc shifted laboriously to lie flat. I gestured to the nearest guard to bring torches nearer to the bars so that I could see to work.
Close up, the Orc’s musk was overpowering. Its skin was clammy to the touch and, as I worked, great beads of sweat gathered on its face and torso. Its smell changed too, becoming more acrid. Though it gave no outward sign – not so much as a flicker of its eye or shiver in its flesh – it was clearly fighting the pain.
The operation seemed to take forever, but it was over at last. The Orc roused itself to insist that I slather on some noisome goo from the jar it carried. The stuff made my fingers sting as I applied it, but it seemed to give the Orc some relief. I bound its arm too, thought it would have protested. It had drunk what remained of the Orc draught, and now its spirit (if it had one) seemed to flicker low.
Or so I thought until, bending to tie the final bandage around its thick torso, I felt a light touch, the furtive scratch of a claw, on my nape in the shadows where the guards would not see.
“Manskin!” it muttered, “You’d eat sweet, Tark. Or make a good pair of boots. But” suddenly its voice was very close to my ear beyond the guards’ hearing “I’ll wager you’d fuck sweetest of all. Now there’s a pretty bargain for an Uruk to sing to. Your sweet arse for information. Think about it, little Tark, whilst I heal.”
Then it rolled over onto its good side, and would not speak again.
(1) Uruk/Orc: Shagrat refers to himself as Uruk in LOTR (it’s just the Orcs’ word for themselves). It’s P Jackson who has “specialised” the term “Uruk-hai” to mean the large breed of Man-Orc bred by Saruman for the War of the Ring. Smaller Orcs (and inferior persons generally) are known as Snaga (“slave”).
(2) Tark: is an Orkish derogatory term for a person of Numenorian descent (from Common “Tarkil”).
(3) Cod-Cockney: In both LOTR and in the films, the Orcs talk a version of the Cockney dialect (ie. London-talk). You are unlikely to hear it spoken so badly in real-life London. Both Tolkien and Jackson use the exaggerated “music-hall” or “stage” version of Cockney (“mockney”). I have followed the Tolkien/Jackson line by way of homage (and because it’s fun).
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