Orc-raiders dispute the fate of Merry and Pippin
Event Type: Military/Strategic
Age: 3rd Age - Ring War
Date: February 26, 3019
An event in the aftermath of the Orc-raid at Parth Galen; see that entry for an overall timeline:
Terrified Pippin lay still, though the pain at his wrists and ankles was growing.... To take his mind off himself he listened intently to all that he could hear. There were many voices round about ... it seemed plain that something like a quarrel had begun, and was getting hotter.
To Pippin's surprise he found that ... many of the Orcs were using ordinary language. Apparently the members of two or three quite different tribes were present, and they could not understand one another's orc-speech. There was an angry debate concerning what they were to do now: which way they were to take and what should be done with the prisoners.
'There's no time to kill them properly,' said one. ...
'That can't be helped,' said another. 'But why not kill them quick? ...They're a cursed nuisance, and we're in a hurry.' ...
'Orders.' said a third voice in a deep growl. 'Kill all but NOT the Halfings; they are to be brought back ALIVE as quickly as possible. That's my orders.'
... 'Why alive? Do they give good sport?'
'No! I heard that one of them has got something, something that's wanted for the War, some elvish plot or other. Anyway they'll both be questioned.'
'... Why don't we search them and find out? We might find something that we could use ourselves.'
'That is a very interesting remark,' sneered a voice, softer than the others but more evil. 'I may have to report that. The prisoners are NOT to be searched or plundered: those are my orders.'
'And mine too,' said the deep voice. 'Alive and as captured; no spoiling. That's my orders.'
'Not our orders!' said one of the earlier voices. 'We have come all the way from the Mines to kill, and avenge our folk. I wish to kill, and then go back north.'
'Then you can wish again,' said the growling voice. 'I am Uglúk. I command. I return to Isengard by the shortest road.'
'Is Saruman the master or the Great Eye?' said the evil voice. 'We should go back at once to Lugbúrz.' ...
'If we could cross the Great River, we might,' said another voice. 'But there are not enough of us to venture down to the bridges.'
'I came across,' said the evil voice. 'A winged Nazgûl awaits us northward on the east-bank.'
'... Then you'll fly off with our prisoners, and get all the pay and praise in Lugbúrz, and leave us to foot it as best we can through the Horse-country.' ...
'Aye, we must stick together,' growled Uglúk. 'I don't trust you little swine. ... But for us you'd all have run away. We are the fighting Uruk-hai! We slew the great warrior. We took the prisoners. We are the servants of Saruman the Wise, the White Hand: the Hand that gives us man's-flesh to eat. We came out of Isengard, and led you here, and we shall lead you back by the way we choose. I am Uglúk. I have spoken.'
'You have spoken more than enough, Uglúk,' sneered the evil voice. 'I wonder how they would like it in Lugbúrz. They might think that Uglúk's shoulders needed relieving of a swollen head. They might ask where his strange ideas came from. Did they come from Saruman, perhaps? Who does he think he is, setting up on his own with his filthy white badges? They might agree with me, with Grishnákh their trusted messenger; and I Grishnákh say this: Saruman is a fool. and a dirty treacherous fool. But the Great Eye is on him.
'Swine is it? How do you folk like being called swine by the muck-rakers of a dirty little wizard? It's orc-flesh they eat, I'll warrant.'
Many loud yells in orc-speech answered him, and the ringing clash of weapons being drawn. Cautiously Pippin rolled over, hoping to see what would happen. ... In the twilight he saw a large black Orc, probably Uglúk, standing facing Grishnákh, a short crook-legged creature.... Round them were many smaller goblins ... from the North. They had drawn their knives and swords, but hesitated to attack Uglúk.
Uglúk shouted, and a number of other Orcs of nearly his own size ran up. Then suddenly, without warning, Uglúk sprang forwards, and with two swift strokes swept the heads off two of his opponents. Grishnákh stepped aside and vanished into the shadows. The others gave way, and one stepped backwards and fell over Merry's prostrate form with a curse. Yet that probably saved his life, for Uglúk's followers leaped over him and cut down another with their broad-bladed swords. ... His body fell right on top of Pippin, still clutching its long saw-edged knife.
'Put up your weapons!' shouted Uglúk. 'And let's have no more nonsense! We go straight west from here, and down the stair. From there straight to the downs, then along the river to the forest. And we march day and night. That clear?'
'Now,' thought Pippin, '... I've got a chance.' ... The edge of the black knife had snicked his arm.... He felt the blood trickling on to his hand, but he also felt the cold touch of steel against his skin.
The Orcs were getting ready to march again, but some of the Northerners were still unwilling, and the Isengarders slew two more before the rest were cowed. There was much cursing and confusion. For the moment Pippin was unwatched. His legs were securely bound, but his arms were only tied about the wrists, and his hands were in front of him. He could move them both together, though the bonds were cruelly tight. He pushed the dead Orc to one side, then ... he drew the knot of the wrist-cord up and down against the blade of the knife. ... The cord was cut! Quickly Pippin took it in his fingers and knotted it again into a loose bracelet of two loops and slipped it over his hands. Then he lay very still.
'Pick up those prisoners!' shouted Uglúk. 'Don't play any tricks with them! If they are not alive when we get back, someone else will die too.' ...
A shadow bent over Pippin. It was Uglúk. 'Sit up!' said the Orc. 'My lads are tired of lugging you about.' ...
He cut the thongs round Pippin's legs and ankles, picked him up ... and stood him on his feet. Pippin fell down, and Uglúk dragged him up by his hair again. ... Uglúk thrust a flask between his teeth and poured some burning liquid down his throat: he felt a hot fierce glow flow through him. ...
'Now for the other!' said Uglúk. Pippin saw him go to Merry ... and kick him. Merry groaned. Seizing him roughly Uglúk pulled him into a sitting position, and tore the bandage off his head. Then he smeared the wound with some dark stuff out of a small wooden box. ...
... at the moment Uglúk ... needed speed and had to humour unwilling followers. He was healing Merry in orc-fashion.... When he had forced a drink from his flask down the hobbit's throat, cut his leg-bonds, and dragged him to his feet, Merry stood up, looking pale but grim and defiant ...
'Hullo, Pippin!' he said. 'So you've come on this little expedition, too?'
'Now then!' said Uglúk. 'None of that! Hold your tongues. No talk to one another. Any trouble will be reported at the other end, and He'll know how to pay you.'
The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 3, The Uruk-Hai
Aragorn was searching, bent towards the ground ... Suddenly the Elf gave a cry....
'We have already overtaken some of those that we are hunting,' he said. 'Look!' he pointed, and they saw that what they had at first taken to be boulders ... were huddled bodies. Five dead Orcs lay there. They had been hewn with many cruel strokes, and two had been beheaded. ...
'Here is another riddle!' said Gimli. ...
'Yet however you read it, it seems not unhopeful,' said Legolas. 'Enemies of the Orcs are likely to be our friends. Do any folk dwell in these hills?'
'No,' said Aragorn. ... 'It might be that some company of Men were hunting here.... Yet I think not.'
'What do you think?' said Gimli.
'I think that the enemy brought his own enemy with him,' answered Aragorn. 'These are Northern Orcs from far away. Among the slain are none of the great Orcs with the strange badges. There was a quarrel, I guess: it is no uncommon thing with these foul folk. Maybe there was some dispute about the road.'
'Or about the captives,' said Gimli. 'Let us hope that they, too, did not meet their end here.'
Aragorn searched the ground in a wide circle, but no other traces of the fight could be found.
The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan
Elena Tiriel 31Dec04, 5Feb05