12. All Things Forbidden
Chapter Written by Angmar and Elfhild
The captives awoke the next morning to the beat of drums, an incessant, unpleasant thumping that was monotonous in its rhythm. The sharp snarlings of the orcs were a harsh contrast to the throbbing song of the drums, and together they made a discordant harmony.
"Get up off your shiftless arses!" were the first words which the captives heard from their captors that morning. These insults were hardly new to the captives, for during the past two days that they had been held, their ears had almost grown accustomed to such talk. They perceived, though, that there was something different today, more of a sense of urgency among their keepers. Their observations had not misled them, for orders had come the night before to all the captains. There was concern among the army commanders that the orcs were not capable of keeping an accurate tally of the prisoners. The captains considered that this was very important to their superiors, and eager to please them and fearful not to, they would comply with whatever their officers wished. The Master desired order and rule in all things and all things would be done as He ordained.
"You there!" a corporal would call out. "You, the wench with the two brats, stand here with these others! This is the group you will stay with at all times!"
The orders came quickly. The corporals and the privates separated the captives into groups of ten. All around the clearing where the captives were held, these groups of ten were then banded together into groups of a hundred. Their masters felt it would be far easier to keep account of their prisoners this way. There were many captives, and the orcs became increasingly frustrated at the slow progress which was made in organizing the captives into their proper groups. Elfhild and her kin had been placed in a group with six others.
After the prisoners had been herded into their respective troops - as the orcs called a group of ten in their army - the Rohirric women and children were told to form two lines of five troops parallel to each other. Commanding each troop was a corporal.
"Listen, you worthless drabs," the corporals had shouted, "this is the way you are to form up every morning as soon as you awake while we count you. No food until you do!"
A sergeant stood in the clearing, looking the rows up and down. He was an ugly brute with a thick, heavy scar that ran from beneath his right eye all the way to his chin. Though the wound had been stitched, it had never properly healed. The skin around his eye was drawn downward, the flesh puckered grotesquely around the scar. At the sight of him, the captives cringed and looked away, while their children sometimes burst out into tears. A few older boys referred to him among themselves as "Scarface."
"Stand up straight, you wenches," the sergeant barked the order. "What an ugly bunch you make, nothing but dirty slatterns, the whole lot of you! Your stench makes me want to gag!" he snarled as his nose wrinkled up in contempt. The insult was especially insulting since it came from such a brute.
"Now you see," the sergeant stalked up and down between the two lines of fifty each, "there are rules, and if you want to stay out of trouble, you're going to abide by them. Every morning, when you hear the drum, you are to drag your fat, ugly arses out of your sacks and stand for morning roll call! We want to make sure that all of you are still with us," he growled, "and that none of you ran away during the night. Whatever troop you are in today, you will stay with until we get to Minas Tirith.
"Skai!" he cursed as he looked at them. "By the Dark One's hairy balls! You're a whole company, a company of slave wenches, and you are in my charge! My name is Glokal, and as long as you live, you will never forget that name. My dam named me that, for she said that I was sprightly and liked to bite on her teat when I nursed." He laughed uproariously, and the corporals and the lads joined him in his mirth. "Slave wenches! No damned good for fighting," he spat, "good for nothing more than cooking, raising your squalling little curs and being ridden at night!"
The sergeant paced up and down the line, looking into the face of each woman and child. A thought of new torment gleamed in his yellowish eyes and he drew up close to one woman. His breath was as foul as the stench of the vapor steaming into the night from the depths of the dung trenches and he blew it full into her face.
"You see this broken tooth I got here," he told them as he opened his mouth wide and tugged back the lip, a strand of spittle oozing out of the corner of his mouth and dangling on his chin. His gaping maw revealed a set of yellow fangs. One incisor was a broken stump, jagged, rotting, the gum swollen in a massive, sickening red lump around the base. "How do you think I got this? I bit off the nipple of a she-strawhead one time and the accursed thing was so tough and leathery that I broke out a tooth!" He grinned at the corporal and the lads behind him, and was pleased at the expressions on their faces. All of them were convulsed in mirth, their faces growing red with laughter.
Then turning back to the woman, the sergeant snarled into her face, "I knocked out three of her teeth for that, and I wear them around my neck, as well as some others I've taken over the years." He pulled a string of teeth from beneath his leather armor. "Hers are these three right here." He pointed at three teeth on the strand. "Do you see them?" He held the gristly necklace in front of the woman's face.
"I see," she said as she cringed. "I see too well." She thought to herself, "He is lying, trying to frighten me, and he is!"
"Are your teats as tough as that?" he asked as he reached out and encircled her breast with a meaty paw. The woman looked at him in horror. Twisting one of her nipples through the material, he howled in laughter as she winced. Then he withdrew his hand and let the strand of teeth fall back on his chest. Pleased with his taunting, he stared into the woman's frightened eyes. "Now if I ever wanted to nibble on you, will I find you too tough for my tastes, or nice and firm, the way I like them?"
The woman closed her eyes and tried to hold back the tears.
"If I would break a tooth on you, wench, I'd knock out every tooth in your head as well as those of your two brats." The sergeant twisted the woman's nipple again, harder this time, and smirked as he saw the pain on her face. Giving the abused breast another fierce squeeze, he moved away from her and sauntered down the line of women and children. The sergeant's claim, of course, was a fabrication meant to intimidate the captives and make them quail in fear.
Insulting words merely cloaked the uruks' true desires. They were far more appreciative of the charms of the Rohirric captives than they would ever reveal. They considered it was a sign of weakness to betray the awe they felt for the beauty of blue eyes, pale skin and golden hair. Some inwardly cursed themselves, feeling that there might be a twisted remainder of the old Elvish nature which still lingered in their blood. Perhaps sometime that tainted Elvish blood would break forth anew and one of them might let slip a word of kindness. There was always the fear that one of their comrades might notice this weakness. Then to his mortification, he would hear the jeering words, "Here's one who's reverting to the old ways! Pretty boy, next you'll be climbing trees to admire the leaves!"
Woe to the one who showed even a trace of mercy or kindness! In their cruel society, none were more abhorred than the fool who betrayed even a slight appreciation for the ways long lost. Many times those who showed Elvish tendencies were found out when young and then killed for being disgraces to their clans. Sometimes, though, if they were lucky, they might be allowed to live as catamites to males whose tastes ran to their own gender, or as slaves to strong, burly she-orcs who liked to dominate weaker males. Ages before their race had been shaped and molded in the torture chambers of Utumno, and they and their descendants had been twisted into mocking parodies of once gentle souls.
Melkor's worst offense, the One and the Valar had deemed it. Shining and gleaming in their flaming purity and wrath, they often pled for others to show mercy, but showed little to the orcs. Cursed and doomed to extinction by all other races, the orcs and their kindred were hated beyond others, their bloodline tainted, forever irredeemable. Men who considered themselves as upright and righteous cursed whenever they perceived someone of their own race as having what they considered as "orcish traits." But were the cursed and the cursing so far different from the ones that, they, themselves, reviled?
The lads were lusting for the captives, but were too fearful of what would befall them should they give vent to their passions. They had exercised self-control and discipline all during the westward march, for the captives were valued as slaves by those in command. Nobles in the East would pay well for the women in the markets, the virgins bringing the highest price. Any half-breeds misbegotten upon the trail would usually be snuffed out in the womb. If they were allowed to be birthed and grow to maturity, they would be sent to the army. No captives had been despoiled during the pillaging and raiding, but it had been weeks since the uruks had rutted with females of their own kind. Even the captain was not immune to thoughts. Still, he had been first to laugh in ridicule when one of the men, toying with himself during the night, had groaned out as he spent his seed in his hand. It would be a long march eastward with such burning lusts and the fair captives ever in view.
The sergeant moved on to Elfhild's troop. He stopped before a golden-haired mother of three sons. Leaning forward, he put his hands upon her shoulders, letting them rest there. His eyes gleamed as he looked menacingly into hers.
"You think we are ignorant monsters and barbarians, don't you? That's the way your kind sees us. You wouldn't know it, or believe it if you did know it, but some of us can read and write, and more than our names, too! Now little strawhead mother, I know these three by your side are yours, and what clever tads they are," the sergeant remarked. He knelt down, squatting on his heels, and peered at the three children. The youngest lad, a boy of about five, clutched desperately at the hem of his mother's dress. His brothers eyed the orc warily. "You there, you little strawhead pup," he pointed to the youngest, "can you count?"
The little boy was terrified by the nearness of the orc. Trembling, he felt his bladder suddenly release as a warm trickle of urine began to run down the insides of his thighs. He stammered , "Nay, sir, I cannot."
"Well, I can, and so can the corporal over there," he motioned with a jerk of his head to where the corporal stood. "Every morning, he is going to count you and your folk, all ten of you in number, and when he is finished, he will report the total count back to me." The sergeant got to his feet again. "I'll have your folk counted both morning and night, and you best all be here. No running now, or trying to sneak away, because when you're caught again, I will bury you up to the neck in the ground and leave you to rot!"
"Yes, sir! I will be a good boy!" His blue eyes round with fear, the child thought that if the orc continued to stare at him, he might become sick at his stomach.
Tousling the boy's hair, the orc gave him a cruel leer and then turned and walked a few paces away, where he surveyed the line before him. "Now it's time for morning rations. The lords, the commanders of this army, have been most generous to you worthless pieces of filth. We have been ordered to give you each a piece of meat both morning and night, but remember where it came from and be grateful." His yellow eyes raked over the line from left to right. Seeing that all eyes were upon him, he smiled, the hideous scar drawing his face to one side. "Now it is time to eat! Form a line for your provisions!" the sergeant barked out the order as a corporal and two privates began to distribute portions of orc bread and dry meat to the waiting captives.
"You wenches eat far more than you're worth!" the sergeant exclaimed, looking at them with a malicious gleam in his eyes. He stood some paces back from the line of captives. Resting his hands on his hips, he watched with contempt as each one came forward to receive the rations.
The others in the company had already received their portions by the time it was Elfhild's turn, for she and her sister were near the end of the line. The sergeant's gaze rested on Elfhild as she stood in turn, waiting for the morning's piece of bread.
"Garn, mates, will you look at that!" The sergeant rubbed his hands together, an appreciative look on his face. "I recognize this one by her smell!" His nostrils flaring, the orc took in a deep breath and held it for a few seconds as he winded her scent. "Unwashed female flesh! How delectable!" A pensive expression on his face, he cocked his head and looked her up and down. "Mayhap you should give her a bit more food tonight. You can be sure that the Ones Who'll be enjoying her and her sister like 'em with fat rumps and big breasts! Their flesh'll make a soft cushion when the Higher Ups roll with them!"
Elfhild looked down, blushing profusely. Never in her life had anyone said such vile things about her. Even when she had been forced to relieve herself in the presence of guards, thankfully the brutes had been quiet and let her go about her shameful business in peace. But now she was too frightened to be indignant about the orc sergeant's obscene remarks. She stood there, frozen in place, her heart pounding.
"Aye," agreed the corporal standing by, "and how I would like to have some of that fat arse now! With two such as these, I might not hurt them so bad when I bedded them."
"Shut your trap. You know they ain't for the likes of us; none of 'em are," the sergeant muttered. "All we poor uruks are left with are the bones, whilst the Higher Ups get the gravy."
One of the privates tossed Elfhild a large piece of orc bread and a section of dried meat. Her cheeks burning at the sting of their words, she caught the food in her hands. The sergeant, having already imbibed upon a generous quantity of draught, was in a jovial mood that morning. "My lads, think of the bounty that we'll get for these two pretties alone!" He reached a tentative finger towards the hair framing Elfhild's face, reluctant to touch one whom the High Nazgûl had noticed. She flinched at the orc's touch but was too frightened to move away.
"Aye, sergeant," the corporal remarked, "and after what we saw and heard last eve, I daresay we'll get paid ten times what we were promised!"
The sergeant jerked his hand away from Elfhild's face and glared at her. "Why are you standing there with your mouth open? You're holding up the line!" he demanded. "Go back to your own troop, and don't you go getting any ideas about mingling with the other folk in the camp. We have put up with quite enough from all of you. Last night, your wrangling kept the lads and me awake 'til dawn. There'll be some strict discipline if any of you do that again," the sergeant warned her.
After a hastily mumbled apology, Elfhild quickly retreated with her sister soon following behind. Both girls were more than glad to comply with the sergeant's orders.
"That wasn't all that kept us awake!" the corporal guffawed after the sisters had retreated. "Old Kulshapatu was hot and bothered last night. Don't know if it was his malady that caused him to groan and jump all night, or if he was able to get off in spite of it!"
The sergeant growled, "Don't need any of your brainless comments, corporal! Besides, he says that ain't the way he got those sores at all. Claims they were old war wounds which went bad and never healed up."
Unwilling to relinquish his bawdy talk, the corporal smirked. "Ain't the way I heard it. There weren't no battles unless you call it the one that the Tarkûrz whore put up when he frigged with her. Hear she was a regular demon - biting, scratching, kicking - and the pox she gave him almost burnt out his crotch!"
"Corporal, another word out of you, and I'll have you put in chains for instigating trouble!" the sergeant bellowed.
"Aye, sergeant," the corporal grumbled.
After the remaining captives had been given their bread and meat, they moved off into the trees and tried to eat their breakfast in peace. The corporal turned back to the sergeant. "Do you think the High Nazgûl," the uruk whispered in the Black Speech, his voice almost reverent, "will want that one for His bed?" He nodded towards Elfhild, who was sitting at a distance away with her sister, Aunt Leofgifu and Hunig.
"Be quiet, you fool!" the sergeant hissed in the same tongue. "Is that all you think about? You'll get us killed if someone overhears your idle words and reports them back." The sergeant darted his eyes from one side to the other, alert that other ears might hear them. Then seeing that only the captives were in range of his voice, he continued. "What else do you think HE would want her for? To discuss military strategy and the ways of waging war? Foolish, corporal, to think that HE would want her for aught else. He's taken a fancy to her; that's why He said He'd remember! She'll be another one of His toys, a sweet thing He enjoys in the idle hours."
The corporal's voice dropped even lower and in a conspiratorial whisper, he confided to the sergeant, "They say He takes His pleasure with them for a while and then who knows what He does with them?" He shrugged his shoulders.
"All you know is foolish gossip, corporal! Ain't the way I heard it at all," the sergeant boasted, as though he were privy to some secret knowledge. "I hear He keeps every last one 'til they die. The word is that He has a fine harem and lavish rooms, even a bath, just like they do in the East. If tales be true, He treats 'em well!"
The corporal shuddered. "Skai! I wager when He's finished with 'em and had His fun, He freezes the flesh right off their bones! Some even say that after they be cold and dead, He frigs with their corpses. When they turn black and start to rot, He eats their decaying flesh, maggots and all, 'til there ain't nothing of them left!" He paled under his greenish gray skin.
"You talk foolish, corporal. Not a word of truth is in what you say. If the truth be known, He keeps 'em and makes 'em just like He is so He always has plenty of them to enjoy!" Even the sergeant shivered a little at the thought of beautiful women copulating with the Undead. "Now that's the final word on it, so be still about it and speak no more," the sergeant snarled.
"Aye, sir, I will be the paragon of good behavior." The very thought of having the flesh frozen right off was too uncomfortable for the corporal. Instead he thought of the warmth the orc draught brought as it went down his throat. Even more comforting were the thoughts of a fulsome wench as she knelt down on her hands and knees and lifted up her plump bottom for his pleasure.
After the captives had eaten their morning meal, the orcs ordered them upon their feet. Soon the column began to travel once more through the rough country at the side of the Road. The captives moved between trees both mighty and small, around densely-knitted thickets of shrubs and underbrush, their feet often stepping over rocks and brambles, but sometimes tripping and stumbling in the dim, shaded light and landing upon the forest floor in a heap.
To their right they could see the army as it marched on the road. Row upon row of prancing chargers trotted past them, and orcs and men marched at a steady pace. Great clouds of dust followed behind, a luminous glow against the dark woods of Firien. Drums beat to the steady rhythm of hooves and marching footsteps and occasionally a horn would be sounded. Harsh voices sang songs in languages unknown to the captives, but though they could not comprehend the words of the dreadful melodies, the meanings were painfully clear - the men sang of death and war, of conquering and conquest.
Though many of the riders were mounted upon black horses, there were also sorrels, chestnuts, bays and steeds of many varying colors. Some were used as pack animals and others were used to haul wains and chariots driven by proud Easterling chieftains and warriors. The soldiers of the enemy frightened the fair yellow-haired women and children, for never before had they seen so many folk with dark skin. Some were tawny, some were swarthy, and some were black as the night. There were bowmen, spearmen, axemen, some tall, some short, some mounted and others on foot. Though many of the men wore livery of sable unblazoned, others wore black and red, or strange scarlet robes beneath brazen scales. To Elfhild and Elffled's amazement, the black horde was woven with many hues.
Often the soldiers would turn their heads and gawk as the women and children shuffled through the trees. Some of the men taunted them in strange and unknown tongues, making lewd comments that the women could not understand, while others looked admiringly at the captives, giving them warm smiles as they passed by. Others narrowed their dark eyes in anger and cursed the captives in hateful voices, spitting in their direction. In the eyes of a few was the same superstitious fear that the captives held for them.
There were fierce orcs and lumbering, dim-witted trolls from stony hill and mountain, all hideous brutes to look upon. Great horned oxen pulled covered wains and monstrous beasts tall as towers shook the ground like thunder. Upon tall poles, banners flapped in the dirty air kicked up by boot and hoof. Some were of bright colors and bore the heraldry of exotic lands. There were the flags of orc bands, adorned with dreadful images created by sloppily rendered stitches or stained with messy pigments. These hung from tall spears with streamers. Skulls of men were impaled atop the points, and the girls shuddered in horror at the sight. Yet the most prominent symbol among the sea of cloth and heraldry was the Red Eye upon a field of black, a fiery orb which seemed to leer in malice at the downtrodden captives.
And then they were gone. The mighty army had passed and the Road lay open to the east. The quietness of the forest seemed to close in upon the captives as the last sounds of the army faded away into the distance.
Onward the captives walked until at last evening came and they left the silent hallows of the forest behind them. They were a little over a mile from the eastern eaves of the Firien Wood, and there they were allowed to rest at the side of the Road. As dusk began to fall, their captors started to make camp for the night.
Glokal - "Biter" in the Black Speech.
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.