Yanark shivered. He had been called up to a meeting of the Orc commanders, chaired by the dark creature that led them. Something was nagging at the back of his mind, but he could not pinpoint the exact source.
The others surrounding him seemed to project his feelings too. They eyed one another suspiciously, and shifted nervously, eyes darting from spot to spot. Fear was what kept all of the mighty commanders of the Orcs in line, not loyalty.
Such powerful commanders in their time, they had been subdued one by one by the appearance of the dark creature Hkaradil. He had forced them into servitude, killing a great number of their kind effortlessly, squishing them like insects under his thumb.
His powers were great, able to move about swiftly in the day. It was whispered in the dark corners of caverns that he hailed from a race that had long been forgotten, even by the Elves.
The various commanders stopping their shifting about. Nervous fear gave way to full-blown terror. The creature had arrived.
Hkaradil appeared at the entrance of the cavern. He hissed, a satisfied sound escaping his lips, as he noted the fear present. He seemed to thrive on the fear and hatred of others, and the atmosphere seemed to invigorate him. His eyes swept the room, causing shivers to those he landed his frightful gaze upon.
"Good evening, gentlemen." His voice was low and guttural. Slinky and lazy, ugly.
In an instant, all the commanders threw themselves at his feet, moving as a collective group. Grovelling on the floor, they closed in on him, kissing the helms of his cloak, murmuring exalted phrases of praise. He nodded with satisfaction as he surveyed the scene.
"Enough!" he growled, and the Orcs were on their feet again. The total obedience that he enjoyed was evident. It made Yarnark feel sick as the scene unfolded before his mortified eyes.
"I did not call you here today to watch you lick my shoes! My purpose, is to let all know that the Elves have been alerted to our presence."
Gasps were heard and worried glances exchanged. A wave of uncertainty filled the chamber.
"Yes, indeed. One of your kind could not control his band of wild beasts, and they stomped out a clearing right in the heart of Greenwood."
"My lord, was that a wise thing to do?" a commander said, his curiosity getting the better of him.
"He was foolhardy indeed, and has been disposed of. However, we cannot be complacent. I have neither the faith nor the trust in your abilities, nor the believe that you would be able to defeat them."
He paused and waited for any grumblings and dissatisfaction. Hearing none, he continued.
"Neither can we be certain that the Elven prince would leave us alone. I led him, in a test of his prowess, on a hunt for five days. He chased me tirelessly, never stopping for a rest. Never once did I manage to shake him off completely. In the end, I led him straight to the clearing. It was through the foolhardiness of his friends, however, and by not my own powers that I managed to stop him from catching up with me."
The commanders exchanged surprised glances, having seen the skills of the creature firsthand. Surely none could match up to him! Least of all the prince, they had heard that he was but a boy.
"Indeed, the prince has the potential to destroy us all. He shall have to be watched. Perhaps he is the one mentioned in the prophecy. The one who will seek out the gem of Makleni."
If the commanders were offended, they masked their feelings well. They nodded differentially and paid close attention to the words of the creature they hated with all their twisted hearts.
"However, there is another that I would require you to survey. He could come in extremely useful to our plan. We need to use somebody of cunning, stealth and possesses skill beyond that of an ordinary fool of an Orc. Which of you would be ready for this?"
The question was rhetoric. Nobody answered, although each one secretly hoped for himself to be chosen.
"So. Nobody wants to volunteer for the task? Very well, I will choose the least pathetic from your stinking herd. I believe Yarnark would be up to the job."
A collective gasp rose up from the ranks. Yarnark was the most junior of the commanders. He had only been promoted recently. Slow and stupid, he stampeded through the forest like an ox on a rampage.
The creature watched their reaction with a sick satisfaction. His red eyes gleamed.
Yanark too was surprised by the choice. He was not popular among the commanders, having been appointed by Hkaradil himself. They looked upon him as having caught the unexpected favour of the creature that ruled them, and making use of that to come on board their elite ranks.
To tell the truth, the Orc himself did not see why he had the favour of their Master. Dense and sluggish, it made him nervous, to be so favoured by the dark lord, for surely there was more to the matter than met the eye. Yet, he did not possess the wit to work the problem out in his slow, stupid mind.
The rumblings gradually died down, and grudges were made and held in the hearts of those who resented being shunted aside for a raw newcomer who did not even deserve to be among their ranks.
Hkaradil grinned, showing rows of jagged teeth set in a powerful jaw.
"To the rest of you, I have a very important job. Keep those under you well within the confines of your fortress. Surely I do not have to tell you what happened to the last soldier who let his army into Greenwood for a stroll under the stars."
The commanders nodded their heads profusely, although they resented the reference to the stars they hated, but none of them present had any intention at all of breaching this thinly-veiled threat and finding out the consequences. They knew that death would have been the easier option and lightest sentence.
"Now, I would prefer you left me in the company of my chosen one. I have some very important and secret things to tell him. Information that had better not be spread around with the wind."
The Orcs threw themselves to the floor once again. Their fingers scrapping at the dirt, as they prostrated themselves, humbly asking for their leave. They crawled out of the cavern, and waited until they were long out of range before launching into a tirade against the creature. Even then, the outburst was cautious and contained, for they knew about the numerous spies their master possessed.
Meanwhile, back in the cavern, the unfortunate object of the creature's lavish affections was trembling in fright as he watched the rest leave. He could not help but feel once again that something was seriously wrong.
His master walked up to him, and put a hideous arm around him.
"Yanark, my friend. Why are you shivering so? Is it not an honour to be chosen for my special task?"
"Indeed, Master. I am deeply touched and pleasantly surprised that you have chosen me. After all, I am rather lacking in experience, to say the least." The words came out stiff and nervous.
"Ah. But you have hidden talents. Ones that even you are not aware of. You have strong powers that can make you a great leader of your kind!"
The Orc was surprised yet again. He had never considered himself special. All his life he had been downtrodden and looked upon as a useless piece of scum. He craved attention and to be somebody mighty. His master had just told him that he was.
A small smile broke on his ugly face. It stayed plastered there as he fantasised about being powerful and feared by all.
The creature grinned again, and the Orc did not catch the satisfied glint that came into his eyes. He was too busy thinking about the possibilities that had been laid out before him.
"Indeed, Yanark, my friend. You have in you the potential to do great things. Imagine all the commanders cowering at your feet. The way they did before me. Imagine being at the head of a powerful army, sweeping across Middle-Earth, with nothing able to stop you in your death march!"
The images played about in the head of the Orc. A tremendous amount of pride swelled up in his chest. The quaking stopped, and he smiled, a broader, wider smile.
"Thank you, Master. I owe you much." his voice was genuinely grateful and rang of pride and servitude at the same time.
"Very well. I trust you would not forget me when you become the supreme leader of all! I must be leaving you, as I do have better things to attend to. I will send a messenger to you on Mid-Summer's Eve with my instructions. Be on the lookout for him. Do not let anybody intercept it! Do you understand?"
And he was gone with the swish of a cloak, not waiting for the foolish and wretched creature to reply.
He felt bored, unchallenged. His thoughts wandered to the Elven prince. There lay the key. He was one that was worthy of standing up to him, if there were any walking upon the surface of Middle-Earth that threatened.
He would cherish and relish the day when it would come to that.
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.