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The Servant of Elbereth
For Marigolds Challenge #7
Special thanks go out to my editors and assistants, Mysterious Ways, Pearl Took, Marigold and My Husband who has yet to choose a screen name (I'm sure when he does it will be something wierd)
So, thought Hahrvye as he followed these two small creatures, the one who had been captured must be Misterfrodo and the other Sam. Hahrvye had been knocked unconscious during the battle and thankfully he was a smallish orc and easily overlooked, so no one came to be sure they had finished their work of killing him. He had awakened in time to see the two move stealthily down the stairs of Cirith Ungol. The taller one, which he now believed to be ‘Sam’, had been leading the other, ‘Misterfrodo’. The Misterfrodo one was stooped over, as if still ill from the spider poison or perhaps carrying a great weight. The orc lay very still to try to take in what was happening. Had the battle truly been so bad that he was now the only orc left alive? As the two small ones picked their way across the room the orc lay very still, contenting himself to simply watch until it was safe for him to follow and continue observing.
In his long memory, he couldn’t remember a time when he’d had the freedom to do such as he was now. Always in the past if he had been seen doing un-orc like things he was taunted and beaten. And yet he had always been fascinated by what he considered lovely things and the rest of orc-kind considered horrible. Hahrvye’s earliest memory was one of light. That he had been alive for a very long time he knew, but orcs do not observe birthdays and only have the vaguest reckoning of years. He had no idea of his age, nor even that he should wonder what his age was. He was sure that the light of his memory was not the sun, nor any other conventional light such as fire might give. He only knew that the light was goodness and his longing to glimpse it again caused his heart to swell in a very un-orc like manner. In general, orcs hated light. Only the newly bred Uruk-hai could stand to travel during the day, except for Hahrvye. None who discovered his secret was allowed to live. He regretted deeply the deaths of the ones who threatened to expose him, but he learned early on that his differences could get him killed if they were made common knowledge.
Whenever possible during his long years he had made his way to the lands of light. As a tracker orc this was easier than it would have been if he were simply one of the warriors. He was on occasion sent out on his own and no one need know that he traveled by day when he could. Hahrvye reveled in the light and fresh air. When alone he drank fresh creek water and ate only such plants as could be found and their produce. Always some part of him was searching for that wondrous light of his memory. Hoping that in finding it, he would become finally and truly happy. He longed to be something other than an orc, perhaps even a bird. Once, far up in the sky, he saw a bird of such great size. The wings spanned such a distance as to indicate a bird which would dwarf him were it to land next to him. He watched that bird until it was out of sight, but he never forgot it. If he were to become a bird of the same type, he thought, he would be able to fly high and far. And he would surely then find the extraordinary light of his memory.
The light that he saw when following the small creatures out of Cirith Ungol, that same light which was then put out by Sam, was the light of his memory. Sam had used the light to break past the Watchers gaze. ‘Gilthoniel, A Elbereth!’ Sam had cried. The one named Misterfrodo called, ‘Aiya elenion ancalima!’ Those words felt familiar to Hahrvye, as though he had heard them in some long past memory, although he knew not their meaning. As an orc he was able to pass those gates with no notice from the great eyes. He must follow these two and learn more about the light. His entire being called out for it. Nothing would stop him, not even the wall crumbling down between him and the small ones. Grabbing his bow, quiver and a pack of provisions he scrambled over the still settling rocks and hurried to keep them in sight.
Now away from the gate and down the road he followed them. These two were not behaving as most would expect them too. Why would they escape the tower only to run toward more danger? Did they not realize that only danger lay ahead for them if they continued north or east? To the north lay Udun, and more of the Dark Lords troops. To the east, Orodruin, Mount Doom, even now vomiting fire. They were bound to be discovered at any time. Their disguises would fool only the most cursory glance. Hahrvye followed on using every skill he possessed to travel quietly and unseen. He almost lost them when they jumped over the edge of the bridge. The light of Orodruin was lost for a bit due to the rise of a ridge. But it was for good reason that had Hahrvye been made a tracker. He had to give these small creatures credit. They moved more silently than almost any creature the orc had yet come upon, even while traveling through the rough brush as was found in Mordor. He continued following the two as they journeyed roughly northward, barely pausing to examine such things as the orc-mail they left behind.
Despite the bragging about future victory over the tarks of some of his fellow orcs, rumors that the war did not go well were being heard recently. The light spreading from the north would seem to indicate that this was so. Even the cry of the Nazgul did not generate the same quelling of his heart as it had in the past. These things, which cheered him, did not seem to be enough to carry the small adventurers on further, for their pace was lagging and their vigilance not as keen. As they neared the orc path that led from Cirith Ungol to Carach Angren, they did not see the orc sentry hidden in the cliff side. The sentry had seen them however and now, with most of the orc armor discarded they were not to be mistaken by any but the most careless observer as orcs. The sentry did not call out, question or give warning, but silently pulled back his bow, and then fell with one of Hahrvye’s own arrows lodged in his skull. Unaware of the averted danger the two creatures continued on in a generally northward direction and Hahrvye followed.
Unknown to Misterfrodo and Sam, Hahrvye kept watch over them as they slept and confused their trail when possible. Even so, there were close calls but some luck seemed to be with them. The small ones managed to get hidden when another orc tracker nearly caught up with them. Later Hahrvye watched intrigued, as the bigger of the two took such loving care of the smaller. Among orcs it was more likely that the strong would eat the weak. No orc ever cared for or took care of another. It wasn’t just that such an act would not be approved of, it would simply never occur to an orc to do so. As the journey progressed the one called Misterfrodo appeared to become increasingly ill. Hahrvye was amazed that he continued on. On the night that Sam fed and settled Misterfrodo in, and then went off on his own for a bit, Hahrvye stayed and watched over the sleeping Misterfrodo. After a bit he saw a dark shape approaching and knew that it was not Sam. He notched an arrow to the string and was ready to fire when the scrawny creature heard Sam’s return and fled. The creature did not flee far but rather stopped a small distance away and silently began to slither back. Hahrvye pursued the creature for some distance firing several arrows that all missed their slippery target. At last he lost sight of his quarry and did not want to risk losing site of Sam and Misterfrodo to continue the chase. He would simply have to keep his eyes and ears open for that one.
One night Hahrvye dared to venture a bit closer to the camp of the small ones. As he approached, he glimpsed something shining in the hand of Misterfrodo, a small something which Misterfrodo caressed, even in his troubled sleep. With his sharp tracker eyes, Hahrvye looked closer. It appeared to be a ring, but why would a simple ring hold such value for the small creature. It was not even adorned by gems or any other such device which would make it valuable. So if it weren’t valuable as an item for trade, then maybe it was a magic ring. In his experience, one never knew what or who contained magic, but that the person or thing would be thought to be valuable to those of power. Perhaps the light carried by Sam was not the only magic carried by these two.
Finally, their luck failed them. As they neared Udun a party of orcs and Uruks driving prisoners came upon them. Hahrvye blended into the group and thought for a while that the two small ones would go unnoticed, but that was not to be. In the dark their weak disguises held however and they were made to join the marching troops. Hahrvye stayed as close to them as he dared, wondering how these two would escape this time. At the juncture of several roads, those resourceful creatures made the most of the chaos of several groups meeting to duck out of the group and get off the road. Hahrvye helped the chaos on as much as possible with a push here, a deft sword thrust there, until he could see they were safely away. After making his own escape he located their camp and watched over them as they slept, not knowing exactly why he did so. Why did he not just go take the light from them? Orcs have no sense of right or wrong, only survival. This feeling of being given a mission, this sense of duty confused him, yet he continued to simply wait, and follow.
In the chill of the morning they set out once again but this time heading east paralleling the eastern road, yet keeping hidden from any who might be on it. This, Hahrvye thought, was an exhausting yet sensible path. The armies were moving and who knew when another troop would come along. He was then surprised when the pair changed course and took to the road. For his part Hahrvye remained off the road except to refill his water at the periodic cisterns. The determination of these small creatures amazed him. Obviously they were not warriors so what could be driving them on. He knew from observation they had little water or food remaining to them and could not possibly expect to live long in these conditions. The road they now followed would eventually lead them to Barad-Dur, a place that even the most evil of orc dreaded to go. Did these two believe they could defeat the Dark Lord?
On the morning of the fifth day after escaping from the troops at Udun, Sam led Misterfrodo off the road and headed due south toward Orodruin. Before heading out they lightened their loads of almost all they carried including what remained of their orc disguises. What their errand there could be he still had no comprehension. The night before Hahrvye had spotted the scrawny lurking creature again and once again the creature eluded his arrows and ran further than Hahrvye was willing to follow. Despite the fact that he was well accustomed to this terrain and to surviving on lessened rations and little sleep, even he was beginning to feel the exhaustion that was so evident in the two he followed. The closer they moved to the mountain, the more foul the air. Ahead of him Sam and Misterfrodo seemed barely able to move on and yet they did all that day. The strength of Misterfrodo left the small being entirely the following morning and thus Sam did the most astonishing thing. He lifted his friend onto his back and carried him up the mountain. At times it almost seemed to Hahrvye that these two gave off, or were surrounded by, a bit of that light which he had now seen only twice in his long life. But each time he thought this to be so, he would look closer only to find that he must have been mistaken.
Even as the two small creatures and the one that followed silently ascended the mountain, the air thankfully became clearer and more breathable. For a small time Misterfrodo crawled up the mountain on his own and in this way they were able to reach the Dark Lord’s Road. This road began in the east at Barad Dur and then wound its way up the mountain ending in an eastern facing entrance to the mountains interior. The entrance gazed back east upon the Window of the Eye in the Dark Lord’s fortress. When Hahrvye at last scrambled up onto the road after Sam and Misterfrodo he saw the aura of light on them once again, and yet in some small measurement, it was stronger this time.
Then, there was a flash and Hahrvye was taken into his memories, back to the memory of light. And in that memory, he heard a voice.
Isildur’s Bane shall waken,
In an evil blaze of flame, the vision ended and Hahrvye was ripped back to the present. Looking toward the east he saw a glimpse of the fiery eye of Sauron. Although it was the briefest of glimpses, its pure evil was strongly felt. This then must be the evil which ripped him from his memory. Looking back to ones he followed, he could see that Misterfrodo was even more strongly affected by that glance. The verse of his memory came back to him. Could this be the Halfling mentioned? Clearly these Halflings were taking their ring, a ring of great power, to the mountain on which they now stood to drop in its fiery depths. Would it then follow that Hahrvye could be the one born of orc-kind who would help him? Joy filled him as he realized that he had been given a greater purpose. Unlike the rest of orc-kind he was not created simply for evil. But in what way would he be called on to assist? And what if he failed? The thought of possibly failing the speaker in the light nearly sent him into despair but at that time the Halflings, as he now suspected they were, rose again to continue their way up the mountain Sam once again carrying Misterfrodo. Hahrvye gathered his remaining courage and continued on after them determined to do whatever small thing he could.
Stumbling along the often broken path, Hahrvye now longed to help these Halflings along, but knew they would not be able to see past his race and so he simply followed waiting and watching. With no warning the scrawny creature which he had now twice run off and twice failed to shoot with his arrows fell down from above onto Misterfrodo, ripping him from Sam’s back. Hahrvye waited for an opening to let loose his one remaining arrow but the two combatants were locked together and a clear shot could not be found.
With an amazing burst of strength, Misterfrodo was able to throw off his attacker but did not kill him. Instead he said to the creature “Begone, and trouble me no more!” At this he and Sam spoke a moment more before he continued on up the road toward the door of the Sammath Naur. Once again Hahrvye drew back to fire, but stopped when he witnessed that Sam now stood over the creature ready to strike with his sword. Hahrvye released the tension of his bow to allow this final blow to Sam. That final blow never fell however. Like his master he also stayed his hand bidding the evil creature to go and not return.
Hahrvye could not believe his eyes! Why did they not finish the thing off? It was obviously of evil nature and intent! Orcs knew nothing of mercy. The word would have had no meaning to Hahrvye should someone have tried to explain it to him. Orcs knew only survival and to leave such an evil and determined foe alive, and then turn a back to it was nothing but madness. Such creatures could not be trusted. In fact no orc fully trusted anyone. Perhaps this was his chance. Perhaps he had been sent to save the Halflings from this creature.
Back again the arrow was pulled but the target had gone missing. Moving quickly Hahrvye dropped his bow and pulled forth his sword. He rushed forward to locate the creature. Surely this scrawny thing would not be difficult to defeat. Weakened though the thing was however, so possessed was he with a desire for the Ring that his strength was underestimated by the orc. He found it beginning to follow after the Halflings once again. He took that opportunity to leap on the creature and pull him back. The battle between the two that followed was a quick one. Unprepared for the strength of his opponent Hahrvye was thrown to the ground. The force of his landing knocked the wind from his lungs and the sword from his hand. Instantly the creature was on top of him biting and clawing. The orc fought back with every ounce of might he had remaining to him. The evil driving the other on was too great to be defeated however and just as Hahrvye regained his feet, the creature pushed him over the edge of the road.
Hahrvye landed on a twist of the road below with a sharp crack of pain as his leg was broken under him. He lay for a moment in despair. He had failed his purpose. The evil creature still lived and even now continued to pursue the Halflings. Hahrvye would not have survived in the orc world long if he had not been relentless. Recalling some smallest measurement of inner strength, he rose on hand and knees and began to crawl up the road once again.
Struggling along, the road he followed initially carried Hahrvye away from the entrance to the mountain. Finally he reached the bend and began to think that there may be still some hope of reaching the Halflings in time to help, when the ground began to shake and the mountain exploded. Due to the curve of the road around the mountain he was unable to see the threshold of Sammath Naur where the Halflings now were. The shaking of the mountain was now causing bits of the road around him to collapse. He stopped his painful pursuit with a feeling of resignation. He had done all that he could and was sure that it was not enough.
As liquid fire began to erupt out of the crevices now surrounding him, Hahrvye wondered about the fate of the Halflings. Had they succeeded in dropping the ring into the fiery depths? Or had the creature caught up with them first and thus preventing their purpose? He knew that this was the end for him and he would never know the answer to these questions.
And so it was that Hahrvye was lying still as though dead when Gwaihir and the other eagles circled down out of the sky before bearing up Sam and Misterfrodo. As the eagles flew off, he saw that they now carried the limp figures of the two Halflings. They had survived! Perhaps he had done enough after all! With a deep sigh he watched those great birds fly off with longing. Who would come for him and take him away on great wings? Out of some forgotten recess of his mind Hahrvye called out in a language which he did not know:
o menel palan-díriel
le nallon sí di-nguruthos
A tiro nin, Fanuilos!
from heaven gazing afar
to thee I cry now beneath the shadow of death.
O look toward me, Everwhite!]
The clouds parted and a star shown through. Hahrvye lay on the mountainside where chaos reigned around him and gazed at that star in wonder. Up there in the sky was the light he had been seeking for as long as his memory carried him. The light he now saw made the light the Halflings carried with them seem to be the palest reflection. While he gazed at that light it seemed to grow, or rather come closer. As it came nearer he was filled with joy. For the first time in his memory, pure joy. And then looking down upon himself he saw that he was now part of that light. He was no longer an orc, a visage of evil and darkness, but he had wings. Wings and feathers of light and goodness. This at last was the identity he had longed for. Hahrvye flexed his wings and found that indeed he could fly. At long last, he would be able to fly up to that light for which he had so long sought.
A/N. Above italicized text is borrowed from Tolkien, the rest is my own (well, except for the idea, and setting and well, you get the idea) I have not nor will ever be paid in a monetary way for this story.
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