Treed: 17. A Gesture of Good Faith

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17. A Gesture of Good Faith

It was well into dusk now, and gloom had gathered in the narrow passage between the steep sides of the ravine.  Freshly deposited stone lay still and undisturbed, but there was still a fine dust floating on the air.  The three Orcs had tied rags across the lower halves of their faces and were making their way back carefully.  They glanced up from time to time, wary of another rock slide.  So far so good.

Shrah'rar, fore-most of the goblins, paused and nudged Grymawk just behind him.  Said quietly: "Hey.  There he is."

Amid the rubble the body lay, doubled back over the packs on which it sprawled.  There was a layer of yellow dust upon it, smoothly describing the contours of limbs and clothing.  The body itself looked to be in fairly good condition: it was the head that was the problem.  A sizeable boulder was aligned squarely between the shoulders, where the head should have been.

The goblins circled their comrade slowly, mindful of their step.  Behind the boulder a dark crusting of grit extended several feet.  Coming alongside the boulder, Grymawk placed an experimental foot against it and shoved.  It didn't budge.

"That's one dead snaga," Shrah'rar said.

Grymawk laughed and Pryszrim giggled, a little hysterically.  It wasn't that they had disliked Iggrut, but he did look pretty funny at that moment.  His body was bent backward over the fulcrum of his knapsack, his taloned fingers curled in the dust in a final paroxysm that must have been agony but might under other circumstances have been pleasure, and from the suggestive jut of his hips…

"He looks like he just shot a load," said Grymawk.  Shrah'rar snickered behind his rag as he grabbed at the heel of one boot and started to tug.

Pryszrim watched with wide-eyed dismay.  "Why should you get the boots?" he whined.  "I need new boots more than you do!"

Shrah'rar did not even look at him.  "Because he's closer to my size, of course…and because I went for 'em first—" Bracing himself, he pulled more energetically.  Grymawk, for his part, had decided that moving the boulder was a bad job and was working to shimmy Iggrut's packs out from beneath the dead Orc's frame.

Pryszrim scowled at them.  He was larger than they were and should, by rights, have had first pick of whatever he wanted, but he lacked the force of personality to back it up.  Nonetheless he ensconced himelf on the other side of Iggrut, across from Grymawk, going for Iggrut's belt pouch and the contents of his pockets.  Coin and flint-and-steel and something else: a knot of fine smooth hair.  Pryszrim snatched the Elven lock, happy as a crow with tinfoil.

After they had pillaged the corpse Shrah'rar stood back and surveyed it again.  The boulder-head inspired a sense of whimsy.  He took up a piece of stone and scraped it against the rough surface.  Seeing that it left a mark, he straddled Iggrut's chest and went to work.

Grymawk had emptied Iggrut's pack but was still turning it over in his hands, feeling carefully for hidden seams that might divulge more treasure, while Pryszrim sat by idly, winding his new prize through his fingers.  As he did so he thought again of how the Elf girl's head had pressed against his thigh.  It had happened briefly during their struggle the day before, her shining hair in his lap, and he shifted a little in arousal, remembering.

"Don't he look pretty!" said Shrah'rar, pausing to admire his efforts: eyes like angry slits over enormous nostrils and a fleering toothy grin on the boulder that had flattened Iggrut's skull.

Grymawk looked and laughed.  "I think he'd find it funny if he were here to view it proper."

Shrah'rar chuckled and patted the unresponsive shoulder beneath his thigh.  "Hope you like it, pal," he said.

-.-.-.-

Thwack.  Thock thock.  Thwock.

Lagdush beat his jerkin against the tree, knocking up little clouds of dust.  Feeling them begin to settle again on his hair and shoulders, he ducked away, shaking his head.  "Shit."  Rolling the garment into a tight bundle, he wedged it under one armpit.

Mushog was leaning bare-chested against another tree, looking in the direction of camp.  "Not gonna be much fun sleeping here," he remarked.

Camp had been set up just outside the mouth of the ravine, where it opened on the outskirts of a darkly forbidding wood.  Beyond a grim determination to be out of the gorge before sundown, once that was accomplished none of Bragdagash's band had the energy or the will to press on any farther.  They were tired and mistrustful of the trees: no one wanted to sleep between the grim walls of the ravine, yet nor were they willing to sleep in the forest's inauspicious shade.  The compromise was the graveled earth on which they camped, a deposit of countless centuries of rainfall sluicing through the ravine.  Uncomfortable ground for sleeping, and both of the Uruk-hai anticipated sore backs on the morrow.

It only made Lagdush's mood fouler.  "Dry as an old bone.  If there was water around here at least I could take a fuckin' bath."

"We'll be doing it snaga-style tonight," Mushog agreed.  With a generous, somewhat leering smile: "I'll do yours if you'll do mine."

"Hmph.  What about Kurbag?"

"Kurbag?"  Mushog's grin faded, and he glanced toward the fire.  "Maybe his little Golug will do it for him.

Lagdush snorted, poking Mushog in the shoulder.  "Let's go drink," he suggested.

Heading back to the fire, they veered from an otherwise straight path to give the Elf girl a wide berth.  She was sitting on Kurbag's bedroll, hugging her knees, silent and seemingly still dazed.  There was a crust of black blood on the side of her face and neck.  Mushog and Lagdush watched her out of the corners of their eyes so as not to look at her directly.  Kurbag was nearby but more than that, the Elf made them uncomfortable.  This in turn fed their resentment.

I want her gone, thought Lagdush as he crouched beside his pack, and the look in Mushog's eyes said something similar.

Rukshash was sitting on a large boulder.  He had taken his boots off and was swinging one bony foot idly while Bragdagash stood with his hand up the back of the old Orc's shirt.  Eyes slitted a little, Rukshash leaned back into the Uruk's claws.  "A little to the right…" he sighed.

Bragdagash did as his subordinate wanted, but his attention was only half on the job.  "They should be back by now," he said, frowning slightly.

"Heh!"  Rukshash chuckled and extended a languid claw.  "Only speak and see them come…"

Everyone looked up.  Three dusty figures were emerging from the ravine.  Bragdagash watched closely but when no fourth Orc followed he was not surprised.  Really, it was amazing that they had all of them gotten off as lightly as they had: cuts and bruises and sand-scraped skin, but no broken bones and only the one casualty.

"Scratch harder, boss," said Rukshash plaintively.

Bragdagash gave him a few more rakes across the spine before withdrawing his hand.  "You're on your own now, old one," he said in response to the mournful noise the other Orc made.

Lagdush growled as the goblins approached.  "Don't you lot come any closer until you've beaten that shit off."

Ignoring Lagdush, Bragdagash stepped forward.  "Did you see him at all, then?  Or was he completely buried?"

"We saw him," said Grymawk.  "Wasn't pretty, but he obviously went quick."

"He had a rock for a head," said Pryszrim.  "Shrah'rar drew a face on it," he added.

Behind Bragdagash, Rukshash was shaking his head.  "Poor dumb bastard," he said, though whether this referred to Iggrut or to Pryszrim was anybody's guess.

Bragdagash exhaled.  "Well," he said, "that's that.  We're ten all together now, and I can't say as I'm happy about it.  But it is what it is, and I know what you are capable of.  There's no reason we can't get by with ten."

"Ten, boss?" Shrah'rar spoke up at that moment.  "Don't you mean eleven?"  He glanced in the direction of Kurbag's bedroll.

Bragdagash looked at the smaller Orc.  "I said ten, Shrah'rar.  As in ten Orcs all together."

The goblin shrugged.  "Fair enough."

Whether his shrug had actually stirred up any dust or not, it was at that moment than Lagdush sneezed.  "Oi," he managed, and sneezed again.  "Dogfucker," he said, glaring at Shrah'rar.  "I thought I told you to go beat off.

Shrah'rar grinned and Pryszrim tittered.  "Well we will now, won't we?" said Grymawk, holding up a little clay vial.  "Iggrut won't be needing this anymore."

"You should come with us, Lagdush.  You could use his scraper," said Shrah'rar.

"I don't need any bloody—ow!"  Lagdush rubbed his shoulder and gave Mushog a dirty look.

"Sounds good," said Mushog brightly.

Bragdagash cocked his head, amused at their antics.  "Just keep it away from the fire is all I ask.  We're down to ten now.  I don't need a stray cinder sending anyone up in flames."

"By the woods, then," said Shrah'rar.  "We need to beat our clothes out anyway…"

-.-.-.-

Out by the trees, Shrah'rar grimaced as he stepped free of his breeches, slapping grit from his gray flanks.  "Ai.  That crap really did get into everything."  Picking up his breeches, he began to wallop them against an innocent trunk.

"Maybe we should do our trousers too," said Mushog to Lagdush.  The other Uruk folded his arms across his chest, eyeing Mushog.  "Have it your way," smirked Mushog as he stooped to take off his boots.

Nazluk had joined the impromptu hygiene session.  Glancing at Mushog as the Uruk stripped down, he remarked, "Too bad about Iggrut, eh?  Poor bastard never even had a chance."

"Mm."  Mushog nodded his head emphatically.  "Shit way to go."

"I'm gonna miss him," said Grymawk.  "He knew how to keep things lively."

"He was by the Elf wench when it happened, yes?"  Nazluk spoke in the uncertain voice of someone trying to remember, and was gratified by the instant change of mood as his words met with low growls.

"That was his blood on her neck," said Lagdush.  "I wondered where it had come from.  Obvious enough she wasn't hurt."

"The stone that struck him didn't strike her," said Grymawk.  "And you should have seen this rock, Lagdush.  It was huge."

"Flattened his head like it was a rotten fruit," said Pryszrim.

"Bad luck—"

"That's more than 'bad luck,' friend."

"Reckon she brought it down a-purpose."

"Only lucky she didn't get the rest of us…"

"Could be she was madder at him than the rest of us—"

"Hey," Shrah'rar paused as he smeared his shoulders, looked directly at Lagdush.  "You were singing, weren't you, Lagdush?  He asked you to sing that song.  Maybe she didn't like it."

"Well I didn't like having half a mountain dropped on my head," growled Lagdush as Mushog oiled his back.  "Fucking Golug…"

Mushog growled as well, but he wasn't saying anything, maintaining an uncharacteristic silence.  While the others muttered and grumbled their grim confidences he only continued greasing Lagdush's hide, then took up the scraper and slid it down the Uruk's back.  Not a task he was familiar with, but the dirt and excess oil peeled away easy enough: no trick to it at all.  As he scraped Lagdush's back he stared over the Uruk's shoulder in the direction of the Elf on her lonely bedroll, his eyes like slits of gold.

Nazluk settled his back against a tree, running a scraper down his arm as he watched them all with a private smile.  He was well pleased.  Far past the groundwork stage at this point: they had made all of the connections he could have hoped for on their own, and a few more into the bargain.  Tonight, he thought.  Yes, tonight. 

Tonight it will be resolved one way or another.

-.-.-.-

Sitting on Kurbag's bedroll, Eleluleniel could not have suspected what the Orcs were saying about her.  What they thought her capable of.  Had the idea been suggested to her she would most likely have laughed.  The rock slide in the gorge had shaken her more than it had them.

As a little child she had been fearful of storms, hiding her face in her mother's skirts when thunder shook the house.  It was her father who had led her to the window, had shown her how to look and not be afraid. 

'Count the seconds between lightning and thunder to know how near the storm is, or how far… Do not be afraid, little bird.  You are safe with us and nothing here can hurt you.'

She had taken that assurance to heart, believed in the essential benevolence of the world around her.  Houses stood firm, protecting families within their loving walls.  Wild beasts were more afraid of her than she could ever be of them, and lightning never struck in the wood in which her folk dwelled.

Now there was an angry throbbing between her shoulder blades where a stone had struck her, hard and hurtful as a fist.  The world was cruel, with a careless cruelty even where there was none willful.  What did stone care if it struck her?  Why should it care more than if it struck an Orc?

Stop it, came a voice in her mind, sharp and familiar.  You are acting as if you were small again, scalding your finger on a hot kettle and thinking it personal.  As if the kettle itself had betrayed you.  Father never told you that lightning could not strike the house!  Why should stone not fall if it is dry and crumbling?  And you cannot pretend you did not know there was evil in the world.  Why do you believe Father went to fight a war?  You are acting like a child.

I am a child, she protested.  She recognized the voice now.  It was Alageth, her older sister, who had so often been impatient with her when she was younger.

Do you remember the stories we told you, Leni?  When you were small?  Do you remember the one about the bear?

The bear...

'The bear came out of the wild wood, and it did not know bad and it did not know good.  It only was.' You are like the boy in the story, who went to talk to the bear and was eaten.  Whose fault was it, the boy or the bear?  What good does it do to rail against the bear?  It is obedient to its nature.

But it was a story, only a story.  There were never any bears in our wood.  Unbidden a memory came of the garden and she shuddered, gripping her knees all the more tightly.  I did not go to the bear, it came for me…

"Why didn't you go with the others, then?"  She looked up to see the old Orc, the one called Rukshash, standing over her.  She thought at first that he was talking to her, but he was looking over her head.

Kurbag's low rumble came from behind.  "Took care of my clothes earlier.  As to the other business, I'll wait till we find a river or a spring."

"Your choice, lad."  Rukshash glanced down at her and smiled.  "Though if it's a matter of the Golug, you could leave her for a few minutes if you wanted, you know.  I'd see to it she doesn't run away."

She shrank a little beneath his gaze, sensing something else behind the words.  Gravelly footsteps behind her as Kurbag came close.  She could feel his heat at her back.  "I am not concerned about her running."

"Ahhh."  Rukshash chuckled softly with his blue eye fixed upon her.  "So that's how it is, then."  He lifted his face and continued to speak, but his words were no longer in Common and Kurbag responded to him in kind.  The conversation between them was obviously about her and likely of great personal consequence to herself, but she could not understand a word of their speech beyond the ugly syllables for 'Elf.'

Golug, she thought.  That is my name among them.  I told Kurbag my name, but he has forgotten it.  Perhaps I too will forget if I am not rescued.  If they do not kill me first.

"…you'd be saving yourself a world of trouble, lad," Rukshash was telling Kurbag in Orkish.  "They're looking for someone to blame, and it should coincide with your own plans neatly enough."

"What would you know about my plans," the half-Uruk muttered.

"I know that you can't keep dragging them out after today.  There's talk of bad luck and—well, me?  We've lost two good Orcs in under a week.  If I did not disbelieve in luck…"

"We lost Molurtz before I ever even saw the Elf!"

"Small difference when it was her folk who killed him.  Now be reasonable, Kurbag.  Look at Bragdagash: there's a good example for you.  He's an Uruk, true, but he's sharp for all that.  He knows how others think, and he knows the importance of making a gesture.  A token of good faith where one is needed.  And he also knows, when folk are looking for someone to blame, better to give them what they want, eh?  He's got a stake in the matter too, after all.  It was on his say that we took the road we did."

Kurbag was bemused by what he took to be a change of subject.  "What of that?  We all thought it a good route at the time."

"Aye, but he's the boss, and it still comes down to his decision.  And that means he has an interest here as well.  It's more than some no-tits little Elf overstaying her welcome, or some foolish lad not playing nice with the others.  Braggy don't just look at a root or a twig.  He has to see the whole tree."

Kurbag was quiet, whether in thought or in stubbornness.  "I want to keep her," he said at last.  "She's mine, I took her.  When the rocks fell I went back for her.  She's mine to keep or kill as I choose.  It's not just my choice.  It's my right."

Rukshash shook his head, smiling a little, as if Kurbag had just said something particularly endearing and mentally defective.  "'Want to keep her'?  Well, well… I guess we all of us want something."  He looked down at the Elf and laid his gray hand on her head, drawing his nails through her silken hair.  She flinched beneath his hand.  "Just remember what I said, eh, Kurbag?  And be ready for what your choice may bring."  He took a few steps backward, still smiling, before turning to walk away.

Kurbag watched him go, ill at ease, unable to simply dismiss what Rukshash had said.  He looked at the Elf girl with her bent back.  As he watched she straightened slowly, like an animal emerging from hiding: shoulders lifting timidly, head turning to look at him.  "Please.  What did he say?" she asked.

"You're a problem," said Kurbag.  "But you're my problem.  I'm cleaning that crap off your neck."

Using a rag, he made her turn her face from him while he scrubbed at her jaw.  Flakes of dark blood fell away.  Her hands knotted in her lap as he applied water from a drinking skin and wiped at the sides of her neck and face.  She would have much rather done it herself, but Kurbag paid no attention when she said this.  His hands were rough and she closed her eyes against the strain on her neck.

When she opened her eyes there was an Orc in her line of vision: one of the smaller ones.  He watched her with bright red eyes from a distance of several yards, and there was what seemed to be a bright ring or coil around his forefinger.  He was playing with it as he watched her.  Kurbag did something that made the vertebrae of her neck grind on one another and she winced, shutting her eyes again.  When she opened them she saw two more Orcs: another small one and one of the big Uruk-hai, the one with the large bow on his back who had sung in the gorge.  And there were others.  Her eyes flicked sideways and she saw them watching from a periphery of several yards' distance.

Something bad is going to happen.

Kurbag finished cleaning her at that moment.  If he noticed that they were being surrounded he gave no sign of it.  Dropping the rag and taking her face in his hands, he brought his own face close as if examining his work.  "Don't say anything," he muttered so that only she could hear.  "Be quiet and stay still."  He took his hands away from her, picking up the drinking skin and bringing it to her mouth in an unmistakable gesture.

"Why don't you give her Orc-draught, Kurbag?" somebody asked in Orkish.  "I mean, if you really must waste a good drinking skin on a little scab like that…"

"You should give her Orc-draught: that'd be fun to watch."  In shrill Common: "'Oh help, it burns!'"

The leather neck butted up against her teeth.  The water inside it tasted of dust.  "I don't know that she can take it," said Kurbag, not taking his eyes from her.  "'S'posed to burn through their guts, innit?"

"That's the point," said Lagdush.  It might have passed for a joke if he had meant it that way, but there was no humor in his voice.

"That's not the kind of sport I want with her," said Kurbag, finally looking at them.  "Not yet at any rate."

He should not have temporized.  Lagdush seized on the opening.  "Then when?" demanded the Uruk.  "How long are you planning to keep her?"

"Why should you care?  It's enough that I want to.  She's mine to keep or kill as I please."  Out of the corner of his eye Kurbag saw that Bragdagash had drawn close, as had Rukshash, and that now they too were part of the ring of Orcs who watched him.  Only Grushak was absent, assigned to guard duty.  It was the whole band that watched him—

No.  Not him, but the Elf girl behind him.  The realization annoyed Kurbag.  He straightened to full stature, redirecting their attention toward him.  "As I please and when I please," he said.

"So when's that gonna be then?" asked Shrah'rar.  "Maybe you could give us a clue, eh?  More than an hour…less than a day… Some time next year, maybe."

"Huh.  Pretty eager, aren't you.  What's the rush, I wonder?"

"She's fucking bad luck, that's what."

"'Cause she's witchy," Grymawk said.

"Garn," scoffed Kurbag.  "Where do you silly snaga get these ideas?"  As he said this his eyes wandered toward Nazluk, who had not spoken thus far and who still wasn't talking.  Kurbag glared at him, fancying he saw a smirk on those thin lips.  Little wonder Nazluk wasn't saying anything.  The others were saying it all for him.

"She shouldn't even be alive.  You've fucked her, what, five times now?  It's fucking creepy!"

Three times, not five, Kurbag thought but didn't say out loud.

"She should be dead.  Even if screwing her didn't do it, you should've killed her after," said Shrah'rar.

"Iggrut would still be alive," Pryszrim added, accompanied by mutters of agreement.

Kurbag rolled his eyes.  "Well that makes all the sense in the world.  So this little Elf made all those nasty rocks fall back there, eh?  Don't you think if she could do that she'd've done the rest of you lot as well?  Iggrut died because a rock bashed his fucking brains out—it's too bad but there, it happens.  What, you think she's some kind of little magic Elf who makes rocks fall on people?"

Lagdush gave a short laugh.  "She might've done just as easily, mightn't she?  She's certainly witched you proper.  Go ahead, Mushog.  Tell what you told me earlier."

"Right, Mushog, you go on and say it so I can hear as well.  I'd like to know what you've been putting around behind my back."  Kurbag folded his arms across his chest, looked pointedly at Mushog.

Mushog did not look as angry as Lagdush looked or as Kurbag felt.  More than anything he appeared annoyed, and confused.  His brow was furrowed as he looked at Kurbag and at the Elf girl who cowered behind him, and he spoke in careful Orkish.  "Only that I saw you both, is all.  Heard the two of you together, going off with her and speaking Elf-talk when we were taking our breather earlier.  You were in the trees and she was talkin' Golug at you while you just stood there listening."

Kurbag gritted his teeth.  He wanted to demand how Mushog had seen him without him seeing Mushog—especially since he had been looking—and how much skulking it had involved.  He did not do so in as many words, only asked pointedly, "And what did you say to me?  Seeing as it bothered you so much."

"Didn't say nothing to you.  You never even saw me.  I was in the trees and I went back before you knew I was there."  It was obvious he knew how this sounded and he became defensive.  "Well what was I supposed to say, huh?  It was weird!  You can't say it wasn't.  Like she was putting some kind of spell on you and you were just standing there, letting her.  What was she saying to you, huh?  It could've been anything!"

"You would know if you had actually listened," said Kurbag.

The Uruk looked stubborn.  "Sure, I know what she said she said, but that don't mean she actually said what she said she said.  And you don't know that either, Kurbag, so don't go acting like you do!"

"Well I won't then.  I'm not even sure I know what you said just now."  There was a staccato burst of laughter from the listening Orcs.  The stubborn look on Mushog's face cracked enough for him to look sheepish, but Kurbag wasn't done.  "Truth is you were just looking to get your dick wet, isn't that right?  You know you might have asked me any time.  I would have said you could, any one of you."  He aimed a not-entirely-friendly smile at Lagdush.  "Even you, shit-for-brains."

Lagdush scowled, unconvinced, but the look on Mushog's face was priceless.  "You mean that?"

"Said so, didn't I?  You want her?  She's right here."  Kurbag's eyes narrowed: Mushog's face had become wary and some of the others had actually taken a step back.  "Oh come on, what?  What is it now?"

"It's just that she is queer, isn't she," Shrah'rar muttered.

"How do we know she's safe?" Pryszrim asked outright.

Kurbag was exasperated.  "Well what do you think?  You think your dick's gonna fall off if you stick it in her?"

He said it sarcastically, and so he was flabbergasted when a number of Orcs glanced at Nazluk.   "Well Nazluk said—" Pryszrim began.

"Nazluk said…?  Nazluk actually told you that?  Of all the stupid—" Kurbag wrenched at his laces angrily as he advanced on the smaller Orc: "Does it look like my dick's dropped off to you, huh?  Does it?"

Pryszrim squealed and backed away.

"You've made your point, Kurbag," Bragdagash finally spoke up.  "Now put it away before it catches cold."

"Boss, I am pissed off!" complained Kurbag, ignoring the guffaws around him as he turned toward his chief.  "Any one of these assholes could have talked to me any time, but no, it's just bitch bitch bitch behind my back…"

"It does sound like there's been some failure to communicate," Bragdagash said dryly.  "Well, you want to talk, so talk.  We're listening."

"I'm entitled to what's mine, right?  All I'm saying is I don't want to kill the Elf.  Later maybe, but she's good sport for now.  Why should I want to cut that short?  If she were an inconvenience I'd understand: I told Nazluk I'd kill her if she slowed us down.  Well, she never did, and she don't eat much so it's not like she's a drain on our resources.  It's clear she didn't have anything to do with that rock slide earlier or she'd've done something similar by now.  This lot is welcome to her any time so long as they don't go gutting her, or maiming her or marking her up without my leave.  She's mine to kill, but I'm willing enough to let the rest of you use her how you want.  Gorthaur's balls, I've been willing all along!"  He said it so forcefully that he actually felt aggrieved.  At that moment he honestly believed it.

"Seems fair enough," said Bragdagash.  "But I've never known you boys to play nicely for long.  No maiming, marking or murder, eh?  All well and good, but she looks delicate.  What if she checks out anyhow while one of us is having fun with her?  Someone who isn't you, Kurbag? Better say now, because I don't plan on having to settle another dispute about this."

Kurbag turned and looked at the Elf girl.  She was keeping silent and still as he had told her, a frightened spectator to all that passed between them.  There was no way she could understand all that had been said, but it was clear she knew it did not bode well for her.  She stared at him with eyes that feared him and pleaded for his protection.

"If she dies," he said, "then that's my own loss, isn't it."

-.-.-.-

Long they argued, the gravel of their voices rising and falling but more often rising, and she could only hope that Kurbag would safeguard her.  It was when he finished speaking and they became silent, looking at her, that she knew this was not going to happen.  Kurbag moved suddenly, pulling her upright and thrusting her into the ring of waiting Orcs.  She threw her hands up, flinching away from them.

"There.  That's what you've been so afraid of," Kurbag said.

The words were so much nonsense in her ears.  Afraid?  Of course she was afraid, terrified of their teeth and knives.  They watched her as she shrank beneath their collective gaze.  Then one of the slighter Orcs, a goblin shorter than her, stepped forward and shoved her, hard, into the muscled frame of one of the Uruk-hai.  The Uruk snarled and pushed in turn so that she collided with someone else, eliciting another fierce shove.  She gasped, panicking as the world pitched crazily around her, became a violent place of brutal hands and bodies knocking her first one way, then another.  She could hear the ugly laughter of her tormentors as they grew bolder, throwing themselves wholeheartedly into the game.

It seemed to go on forever, only stopping when a pair of long arms wrapped around her, pulling her close.  A hard belly pressed against her back; a blast of hot damp breath engulfed her ear.  "No marking you, maybe, but nothing says we have to be gentle…"

Stupid from the buffeting she had received, she barely understood what was said to her until she felt the first clawed hand on her dress, the first blunt knee between her legs.  She struggled desperately against the arms that held her.

"Yeah, like that…like that…" a rough voice crooned.  A harsh tongue scraped her cheek as she began to scream.


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.

Story Information

Author: The Lauderdale

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 4th Age

Genre: General

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 07/23/11

Original Post: 06/29/06

Go to Treed overview

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