"Fools! Imbeciles! Swines!"
The commander flinched at every insult hurled at him. His lord had worked himself up into a rightful fit, and was now purple with rage.
"I woe the day I set my eyes on you sorry bunch! Now get out of my sight lest I set my panthers upon you!"
Bowing low, the soldiers left the sitting room, each casting worried glances at each other. The escape of the Elvish prisoner was more serious than they had thought, for they had never before seen their lord in such a temper.
Once his subjects had exited the room, Marnor surveyed the broken shards of glass and crystal laying about. He took a few calm, steadying breathes, before stomping off in disgust into his private chambers.
Sinking down into his luxurious armchair, the Lord of Umstraag brooded silently, anger still pulsing through his veins. The escape and subsequent failure to recapture the Elf was the last straw in a whole series of unfortunate events. To make matters worse, his spies had now reported that his intended betrothed was not in the hands of the Orcs, as was claimed by their leader.
Grinding his teeth in frustration, he cursed his rotten luck. Just the thought of it made him want to smash more bowls and goblets. That he, the Lord of Umstraag be denied anything was simply unthinkable. His army held sway over the West of the Misty Mountains, but even that did not seem to be any use these past two weeks.
A tap on the door caused him to make an instant decision to feed whoever it was to his panthers. His mind changed, however, as he saw who it was, and instead settled for a venomous glare.
"Inath Sirieus seeks an audience."
Despite his black mood, the fear that the name provoked caused the warlord to jump to his feet.
"What does he want?" he barked, only to receive a careless shrug.
Entering the throne room, he was greeted with the terrifying sight of the dark lord seated on his throne, face hidden within his robes, frightening as ever.
"Inath Sirieus." He bowed low before the Dyrian lord. "To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?"
"I am told you have a present for me?"
Marnor straightened. He thought carefully, heart beating wildly before he replied.
"Unfortunately, my men allowed the Elf to escape."
A petrifying silence greeted his revelation, and the cloak rustled - in anger, perhaps? When Sirieus next spoke, his voice was low and measured, dangerously slow. "And how could that have occurred, my good Lord?"
"Two of my men were brought over, possibly by the magic of the Elf, and orchestrated the escape. We attempted to track them down, but all efforts have turned out to be unsuccessful so far."
Inath Sirieus clicked his tongue loudly, annoyance welling up in him. Humans; weak and pathetic. It was a wonder that the Elves had conceded the third Age to be that of Man. Trust them to mess up something as simple as taking a prisoner.
"Very well, that is now inconsequential. As a result of your, ah, how should we put it, sheer incompetence? I believe an alternative plan is in order."
"Yes my lord."
"I shall have to station a few of my Orcs within your army, as you seem incapable of doing even the simplest of tasks. Having Goblins among them might perhaps inspire your army."
"This is not part of the original deal, my lord!" protested the man weakly, knowing that the other would not budge.
"I do not see a better idea, my friend."
Marnor nodded, knowing there was nothing he could do to make the other change his mind.
"I will send them over as soon as time permits it. It is imperative that we sort out this little problem of yours before things slide any further. In the meantime, I require you to prepare a travelling party of your best men. Twenty should suffice. You will set out in ten days."
The abysmal look upon the other's face only deepened further. "But my lord, this was not part of the agreement we made!"
"Neither was the incompetence of your men!" snapped the dark one. "Be thankful I do not crush your pathetic city with one fell stroke for failing to keep your end of our bargain!"
The warlord quickly dropped to the floor and begged his pardon, displaying more fear than he felt, determined to appear weak and spineless.
Sure enough, a low, satisfied bark escaped from within the hood. As far as Marnor knew, the form of the Dyrian Lord was best kept within the confines of his cloak, for it would surely only be revealed to those whose doom had come. He chanced a glance up at his throne, only to find It mercifully empty, for the other had disappeared.
Rising, the tyrant cursed his rotten luck for the thousandth time that day, before sending for his chief minister, mind already working through his next step.
As always, the chief minister appeared promptly, out of breath, with the typical stressed and apprehensive look upon his face. Oregeus had heard much about the tantrums of his Lord earlier in the day, and was now bracing himself for the outburst. Instead, he faced a surprisingly calm and sedate Marnor, who did not bother to look up as he entered, and left him there standing.
The doors opened again, and the one who had sent for the Lord earlier appeared, his expression serene and even nonchalant, contrasting sharply with that of the minister.
"You sent for us, my lord?" the newcomer said, barely even glancing at the older man who stood beside him. The contempt each held for each other was evident from the moment they were placed in the same room.
His voice drew the attention of Marnor, who was previously deep in thought. Seeing his chief minister shrink from his glare caused his feelings to lift.
"It turns out that the Dyrian Lord wishes for his Orcs to be placed in our army," said Marnor, noting the look of terror that crossed the face of the minister.
"But, my lord, Orcs do not have a place among us. It would only serve to frighten the men and lower their morale further. I need hardly add that losing two columns of men in the past week has been good on their moral!"
"Do you think I have a choice?" snapped Marnor. "It might not be ideal, but at least it will prevent any further betrayals! Till now, I can't believe that it was Gallenon, of all people! If only I could get my hands on him and the traitor who assisted him, and they would wish they had never been born!"
The young one frowned at his words. "Are you so sure the brothers had inside help? My investigations seem to show otherwise! Furthermore, it was only an Elf that got away! What could would come out of that deal you had, anyway?"
"Little do you know the workings behind this. The Dyrian have their own mysterious and twisted ways of working. We, however, are not about to sit back and be pushed around! I have a few little tricks of my own up my sleeves! A plan to thwart them must be formulated!"
"But my lord, to do so would be pure suicide, for do you not know - "
"Well spoken, my lord!" cut in the youngster, glaring with disdain at the other. "We should not simply allow them to take over our kingdom!"
"But Master Ifrit! Do you not see what you are up against?"
"It appears you have little faith in my capabilities then, Oregeus!"
Marnor made an impatient noise, causing them to stop. "Enough of this bickering! We shall do as instructed, but with great care. It does not hurt to appear weaker than we really are! Luring them into a false sense of security would be ideal, and we will attack when they least expect it. For now, I would like you to prepare a group of twenty of our best men for a journey following instructions from Inath Sirieus. I will be taking you along, Ifrit, while leaving Umstraag under the command of Beren. Would there be any further questions?"
Oregeus shook his head and bowed out of the room, but not before shooting a venomous look at the boy, who replied with an equally scathing one.
"What more do you want, Ifrit?"
"My investigations have revealed to me that the escape is not what it seems. There is much more to the matter than meets the eye," said the boy, "Which is far more than that bumbling fool Oregeus can tell you!"
"Annoying as he is, I cannot yet think of a better replacement for him."
Ifrit smiled secretively at the remark, before taking leave of the tyrant.
"My lord, how was the meeting?" the commander asked, quickly pulling out a chair for his master and gesturing for him to be seated.
Hkaradil grinned at the Orc.
"Do not fear, it went just as I had supposed it would. Marnor is weaker than I thought. It seems to me the Elves have done us a favour, for he believes our soldiers to be responsible for the annihilation of his column of men on the slopes of the mountain. We shall have our party ready. They shall closely shadow the Elven party that would be sent out shortly. If all goes according to plan, we shall sit back and enjoy our fruits that will be ripe for the plucking!"
"What a plan, my lord!" cried the Orc, face full of admiration.
"Yes, Yanark, do I not amaze myself at times? The Elves are so close to stumbling upon the secret now. It is only a matter of time before they leave for the wastelands of the North. It seems that luck if with us, for the Elven prince is the only one able to pluck the treasure from its slumber and unleash a force unlike any seen before! The lands of Middle-Earth will never have seen such might, and he shall be the one who delivers it to us! Yes, my little Elven prince, you shall play your part so well when the time comes!"
The Orc guffawed loudly at his words on cue, his sluggish mind struggling to understand everything.
Seeing Yanark's stupid look gave the dark creature a double dose of satisfaction. He had sensed the surge of magic just the night before, indicating that the time had come. The Elf had finally been given a taste of true power and the magic that awaited him in the north. The dark creature never made any mistakes, and his calculations and predictions were slowly coming true, step by step.
"It is a good day for us, my little Prince, for you have taken the first step in the direction of the true power that lies under your skin. Feed on it, let it overwhelm you, let it devour you! Do not fight, do not resist, for it is your destiny. It has been foretold, and there is nowhere to run now."
After the final cackle had worn down, Hkaradil surveyed his servant, a glint of malice in his eye. "Perhaps you are hungry now? We should go hunting for our next meal. How does a man-child sound?"
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.