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Winner of The Marchwarden's Choice competitive story challenge at Haldir Lovers, Spring 2005

Winner of My Precious Awards 2005 in the category 'Whatever became of...'

To Catch an Orc

By: Malinorne
Beta: Mary Aseltyne
Cast: Rúmil, OC orcs
Warnings: R, orc romance
Disclaimer: JRR didn't write much about the Fourth Age, so I didn't think it would be too harmful if I gave it a try. Orcs and elves are all his, of course, and Rúmil is the only character in this story I wouldn't mind keeping for a while. Nobody is getting paid for this.
Summary: The troubles an orc girl has to go through to attract a healthy mate. Rúmil lends a helping hand without ever finding out how.
Author's notes: My take on what went on with the orcs in the early Fourth Age, when Aragorn had just become king, the one ring was destroyed, and everyone was busy watching hobbits. Elements of book canon, mostly AU, and certainly not following the movies. My Uruk-hai are born the normal way, not grown from mud. Lol!
Written for the Marchwarden's Choice Challenge at the Haldir Lovers Yahoo Group, with inspiration from the "To Catch an Elf" challenge at HallaQuenta, and a post by Bird concerning orc babies.
Feedback: Please write to to thaladir@yahoo.com

"To catch an elf? To kill it? That is for the weak-sha! We are Uruk-hai!"

Despite her hard words, the matriarch regarded the eldest female of her offspring with satisfaction. The question meant that she was mature enough to start having young of her own.

Ogra stared back defiantly at the female that had given her life. She was hungry for a mate now, and she wanted Ugruk. He came to their settlement too seldom, and when he did, he favoured females with fleshier behinds than hers. She would never catch his attention unless she could smell of elf! She hated him!

Moody, she banged her fist in the ground and winced when a heavier hand landed on top of hers.

"You will listen to me!"

She bared her teeth at the matriarch, but she did listen.

"We are Uruk-hai," the older female said, in barely controlled fury. "We do not hunt creatures we do not eat."

"I can eat it!" At least she thought she could, and it would make her smell of it so much more. Ugruk would not be able to resist her!

"We do not eat two-legs anymore. The horsemen-sha would kill us, or the skinny ones would. Skai! We are too few, and we do not hunt them. We are not foolish snaga-hai!"

"Dug-sha," Ogra hissed with contempt at the mention of the lesser orcs. Stinking creeps and dung-filth! Of course she was not like them! Skai! What an insult!

"You must lure it," she heard the matriarch continue. "You must make the elf touch you. Their odour of leaves and flowers-sha is strong enough to stick to you if as much of a strand of its hair brushes against you. We are Uruk-hai!"

It would be hard. Her initial plan of sneaking up to the shiny forest and shooting an elf with her crossbow was dangerous, but feasible, but coming close enough to one to touch it without harming it first? Without it calling for all of its tribe and their stinging arrows?

"Burzum...," she grunted with hesitation. The great darkness would take her if she failed.

"Glob! It has been done. This hunt is a test of courage and if you survive, you will have the best sire for your young. The smell of elf is infallible."

The thought of Ugruk made her grin. He was the tallest among the younger males, and the strongest. She still hated him, but she would mate with him if she could have the chance!

Just after dawn, she went to her corner of the house she shared with the other females of her family, reaching under the boar hide for her knife. Weapons were forbidden on the mission, but she had decided that the small knife did not count as cheating. Her hand felt among the few treasures in the hollow, but it was not there. Garg must have stolen it again! She would punish him for the theft later, when the white eye in the sky had been swallowed again by the great warg. She would not condone his action, but it was too hot now.

But, when she woke to the chill of the night, she could only think of her first priority, the hunt. She was eager to go, and if she were to face the elf without weapons, so be it. As long as she could find one, and she would. She would find it for Ugruk! Skai!

Without weapons, and with only a deerskin around her hips and a bladder of water in her belt, she set off towards north-east. Her strong legs bore her swiftly across the plain. Though sunlight would not have hindered her, the moonlight eased her journey, lighting the way without burning like fire in her eyes, and she only had to stop once. She ate the rabbit raw.

As the new day came, she was still marching at a steady pace, though her feet were heavy. But she was strong, and would not take her rest until her aim, the dreaded forest, was within sight. Having only heard about it from others, she was unprepared for the sight. The yellow leaves glittered, blinding her eyes, and the entangled branches seemed to reach out towards her. She was very afraid, even before she spotted the elf.

The lonely guardian in the talan on the edges of Lothlórien did not stir at the sight of the orc. With all the centuries spent on duty at the Southern Fences, Rúmil was long past the anxiety of the new sentries, who would turn their heads if the wind moved in the leaves. He did not take his eyes off the staggering creature in the plain below, but he was confident that it posed no threat to him or his people, for the time being.

His initial reaction had been to kill it, and it required effort to stop this thought before the muscles in his right arm had reached for an arrow. These were strange times, when an elf let an orc live, and he found it difficult to believe that the unnatural peace would last. Surely it was not the will of the Valar!

Strange things had happened with the destruction of the one ring and the passing of the dark lord's spirit from Middle-earth. No longer bound by their old masters, the Uruk-hai, as well as the lesser orcs of Mordor, were free to pursue their natural instincts. Many stayed in the east, particularly the slave farmers that had supplied provisions for the dark armies with what the meagre soil of the windswept shores at the Sea of Núrnen gave. With only themselves to provide for, it was enough, especially when the rabbits returned to the plagued land.

Large parts of what was left of Sauron's armies continued to roam the land, plaguing the human and elf settlers in the freed Ithilien and at times venturing as far into the north as Esgaroth and Dale. The elves of Greenwood kept as a close watch of their borders as before, but most of the time, the wandering groups of orcs scattered into undisciplined bands of robbers warring amongst themselves until only a small number remained.

A few of the less violent orcs, mostly females, and those of the Uruk-hai that had human blood, alienated themselves from the others. The fugitives formed groups of a dozen or two and settled in crude farm villages wherever they found sanctuary, even on the outskirts of the grassy plains of Rohan. The new king of Gondor and Arnor had declared that those who kept the peace would not be touched, and most of the time his subjects and allies honoured that decree, despite their own doubts. All were tired of war, and if a few orcs on their doorstep meant that the king's peace could be preserved, they would try it.

The elf's opinion was not important. His Lord and Lady had said to spare any that did not intrude into the forest itself, and that was a command he would not break. But a part of him wished that the creature would put its dirty paw on this side of the brook before his watch was over.

Stopping dead in her tracks, she stared at the elf with confusion. It looked neither male, nor female, but she could control her fear by concentrating on trying to judge its kind .

A female would be better. They have a more offensive smell, she had been told, from smearing themselves with extracts of meadow flowers to enhance the stench. She sniffed in the air and caught a whiff of moss. Distinct moss, not a hint of flower. The memory of matriarch's voice inside her head spoke again. "The male elf is a fierce opponent. Do not be fooled by its spindly appearance."

It looked weak, and she had to quench the impulse to lunge herself at the tree it was sitting in. 'Not a snaga,' she had to remind herself. No kill. No eat. Be calm. Wait.

At a small brook at the edge of the forest, as near as she dared to go, she dug out a burrow in the sandy bank. There she could rest, while still keeping watch at the elf and trying to decide what to do. It rarely left its nest and with the bow and arrows always on its back, she did not dare to try to climb for it. She missed her crossbow.

She tried to lure it with food. When it showed no interest in the collection of snails and beetles she dug from the bottom slime of the brook and laid out on flat stones for him to see, she caught a fish. Cautiously she crept closer to the tree than she had been before, and deposited her catch directly under the elf-nest. The elf pointed its weapon at her, but no arrows flew. Perhaps she could tame it with fish!

On the evening of the third day, she could not stand the temptation of delicious smell anymore, and she ate the fish. That stupid elf didn't know what it was missing!

She tried flowers, too. It was not easy to pick them while pinching her nose, but she could not have forced herself to do it otherwise. When she had grabbed as much of them as she could carry, she carefully ripped off the roots, as the elf would not eat those either, and she felt a small reward for her work was in order. The remains she carried to the same stone where the fish had lain. Perhaps some of its scent would mingle with the flowers and make them easier to bear to be near.

On the morning of the fifth day, she was frustrated to the point of despair. The flowers had dried completely and were no longer an annoyance to her nose, but the elf perched in its nest as always and showed no sign of gratitude, or of being willing to climb down. She would have thrown a piece of rock at it if she had dared to. There were several good rocks in the river, but she wanted to finish the hunt with honour, even if nobody would see.

She walked back and forth, growling to herself. She could not go back to her tribe. She could not catch the elf. She was even ready to strike a deal with it, to tell it that it could kill her later if it would just touch her first. She even yelled that at it, but got no reaction. The sun burned her head and she continued pacing, until she became dizzy.

Rúmil could not bring himself to kill the orc, even though it had crossed the brook. When it showed no sign of hostility, he began studying it instead, shortening the hours of his watch by making annotations of its doings in his head. He concluded that it must have come from the settlement of uruks at the field of Celebrant, and was likely an outcast. Its actions were meaningless to him, even though he reluctantly decided that the act of laying out fish on the sunny stones to cook them, and cleaning the surface with athelas afterwards, were sign of more intelligence than he wanted to accredit to an orc.

The orc continued to puzzle him with its mysterious behaviour, but one night it was stranger than before. Its constant pacing back and forth disturbed his rest, and when it didn't even stop at dawn, but started to growl to itself, he knew that something was wrong with it. He decided that the reason it had been driven away from its tribe must be sickness, and now it had come to this place to die.

He saw his suspicions confirmed when it lifted its head and let out a scream, or if it was a message in its hideous language, and then fell to the ground with a thumping noise that scared the birds deeper into the trees. It moaned and flung its head from side to side. He wished he could end its obvious predicament, but orders were strict and he would not break them even out of mercy. There were no enemies to Lothlórien as long as they kept out.

At midday, when the orc hadn't moved for many hours, Rúmil climbed down from the tree. He wanted to dispose of the carcass as soon as possible, not to allow it to defile the clear waters of the brook. There were also two more days left on his watch, and he would not spend them sitting on top a rotting orc.

He dared not speculate. Cautiously he approached it, with a notched arrow, and when it showed no sign of being alive, he poked it with his foot. And again, harder now. He put the arrow away and knelt beside the creature. It was the first female orc he had seen, and his inquisitive mind could not help but taking in all information. He put a hand on its forehead, which was burning as hot as he had imagined.

And then it opened one eye. He scrambled to his feet, bow and arrow at the ready again, and backed out towards the trees. The rest of the day he spent in his talan, watching the orc return to life.

At sundown, he witnessed a second orc, a large male, approach the crude camp. The occupant of the burrow crawled out with amazing speed and the two creatures began fighting. Or so he thought.

"Mmmgrrr... you stink of elf-sha!"

Ugruk's flaring nostrils filled her with triumph. She knew that he wanted to mark her as his now, to replace the elf-smell with his own. And she would let him! She circled him, making sure to also flaunt her own body while taking in his broad chest, sturdy legs, long arms. An able warrior and worthy sire of her firstborn. His eyes were good too, glowing with a healthy yellow, but that was less important. She already knew that his sense of smell was functional.

Satisfied with her inspection she slapped his thigh, hard. He growled and ripped off his loincloth, throwing it to the ground.

The elf-odour had done its work well. She stomped in appreciation, but continued to look down, savouring her moment of power before she lifted her gaze to his eyes and spoke with determination. "I will mate with you!"

Then the deerskin was ripped from her loins, and she lunged at him. Their bodies collided with a crash and they wrestled, panting and grunting, until she fell to the ground under his weight. She would have him now!

The elf could watch. It did not disturb her, and Ugruk might kill it afterwards. She rather liked the thought of that, even if she knew that she could not evade the matriarch's wrath when they returned.

Rúmil could not take his eyes off the two orcs, and it was not only because he was obliged to watch potential enemies, or unafraid to interfere. He studied the mating ritual before him with a mix of disgust at the lack of proper courtship and fascination with the uniqueness of the situation, much like he had sometimes watched the birds and animals that he shared the forest with. The creatures of the wild were never shy about their instincts, and neither were the couple on the ground.

He watched from his talan how the male mounted the female from behind, and winced at the way it sank its teeth into her neck. She bellowed, for what he could tell in ecstasy as much as in pain. Then the roles were reversed and the female straddling her partner crashed down upon him so heavily in her frenzy that he felt sorry for the male. The female was turned on her belly gain, and pushed face down into the dirt, the male penetrating her again. This went on accompanied by grunts and growls that made his ears hurt.

Afterwards, the female let out a cooing sound, much like the call of the forest dove, which the male answered with a husky grunt. The creatures fell upon each other, face to face, in what he recognized as an embrace. The unexpected display of affection filled him with a sense of wonder, but it did not change what he knew that he must do, and before the couple would untangle and turned their attention to him.

One stray orc may be tolerated in the name of Elessar's peace, but the foul creatures could not be allowed to start a colony here, at the heart of elvendom on earth. Quietly he slipped into the shadows and started his way towards Caras Galadhon to report it, as was his obligation.

The returning Galadhrim demolished the burrow and burned the dry grass that had been the orcs' lair, but the orcs themselves were nowhere to be seen. None of the sentinels volunteered to follow their trail, and Rúmil realised reluctantly that he was not entirely impartial. It grieved him not that the female had got away.


Black Speech for beginners:

burzum "darkness"
dug "filth"
glob "fool"
hai "people"
snaga "slave", used by the uruks of the smaller orcs
skai! and sha! are expressions of contempt, left untranslated by Tolkien

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Posted: June 1, 2005

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"Long live Thranduil, great Elf-king of Greenwood!"