Sweet Child of Mine

Flower for Always, A

1. A Flower for Always

   
   
   
As soon as I saw the messenger appear at the entrance to my room, I knew that something was wrong. The generally calloused and cold-looking Uruk actually appeared to be sympathetic toward me, which was something I did not quite understand. Sympathy brought back memories. When one of the Riders told my mother that my father had died, pierced through with an orc lance, I had the same blank stare I did then. “What is wrong?” I asked cautiously. In truth, I did not want to hear the answer, and did not want to know why he was there. However, I had always been a curious one, and I felt as though I absolutely had to know. Besides, if it concerned my son, did I not have every right to know? The Uruk did not answer at first, but after a few moments, he spoke. “It’s about Orbek.” After a few moments, I recognized the Uruk as Unknown’s child. He and my son had known each other very well when they were younger, and I talked with her from time to time. “What happened?” I asked urgently, not containing my fear. How can you hide your fear when something may have happened to your child? “He was slain when his legion attacked the Deep,” The Uruk answered. “Slain?” “Yes, he’s dead.” The Uruk said. He handed me what at first appeared to be a charred piece of rope with some undistinguishable object dangling from its end. Upon further inspection, however, I realized what it was. “Thank--” The Uruk had already left the room, no doubt going on to destroy and plunder some other human settlement. I turned back toward the small, charred necklace in my hand. The tears started to fall. I had not always been in that place. Once, I called Rohan’s fields and plains home. That had been over seventeen years before, but I still remembered it all quite well. Images of my parents, brothers, sister, and home were still strongly engraved in my memory. The things that I remember of them are filled with light and love, not like the thoughts and memories that now crowd my mind. For fourteen years, I lived a happy life with my family, there, in Rohan. We were never rich, but we were not completely poor, either. My father was often gone, riding behind the Marshall of the Mark to protect our borders. My mother was a jewelery maker by trade, but most of the time, she would tend and harvest the crops. She was also the one who kept my family under control while my father was away. My life was good, despite all of the orc and warg raids that we heard about. Nothing that the Enemy did ever blackened the wide fields and plains, or destroyed our small village. Everything remained open and almost completely gateless where I lived, even after the rumor that many young girls disappeared during the orc attacks. No matter what happened, we continued on with our lives. My older sister, Cyneburg, was engaged to a horse-breeder’s son, and they were going to be married the following spring. My older brothers, 1 and 2, were seventeen and nineteen, and they both had their eyes on marriage, also. I had even planned on becoming apprenticed to the local seamstress. Looking back, I almost laugh at how ironic it is that one “misadventure” away from my family cost me my hopes, dreams, love, and even more bitterly, my life. If I had only listened, I would not have to live without my son and my family, because he would have never existed, and I would still be with them. My mother had taken my older sister, Cyneburg , and myself with her while she worked in the fields behind our home. Winter would be coming soon, and while my father was away performing his duties for the king, it was up to my brothers, my sister, and me to help my mother harvest the grain and wheat that we grew for extra money. “Eabæ, stay close to your sister,” She told me. I scowled at my older sister. I thought I was far too old to be watched by a girl barely older than I was. I wish I had listened. My life may have not been in pieces this day. I would have saved myself the pain of countless years if I had listened to my mother. The day passed, and I stared off into space, bored. “Since you’re just going to stand there,” my mother suddenly said, smirking at me, “make yourself useful. Go help Cyneburg muck the horse’s stalls for Sabert.” Sabert, the father of Cyneburg’s fiancé, always needed help caring for his horses. Since we were soon to become part of his family, we—or at least my sister and I—were obliged to help him. “I—“ my mother gave me a stern look, and I closed my mouth. No amount of negotiating or arguing would get me out of shoveling the stalls. I sighed, and shuffled off toward the stables, where Cyneburg would be waiting for me. Once I arrived there, I found that my sister had only cleaned two of the thirty stalls. I groaned. “I was hoping that you would have most of them done by now.” Cyneburg scowled at me, and then picked up a shovel, and slid it over. “How could I have finished thirty stalls when I only began ten minutes ago? Stop complaining, and just get to work. Nothing is going to be accomplished by you just standing there.” “I’m going to smell, though!” I protested. “I won’t be able to see Sebbi if I do! He won’t like a girl who smells like horse droppings.” “Sebbi? The farmer’s son? He is far too old for you, Eabæ! He’s almost twenty.” Cyneburg shook her head, and went back to shoveling the grime and dirt out of the horse stalls. I rolled my eyes, and picked up the shovel timidly. It looked as though it had not been cleaned in years, and was covered in. . .I hoped it was mud. I wanted to see Sebbi very badly, so I foolishly thought of a plan. Catching my sister off guard, I ran out of the stable, and into the nearby field. I was almost completely out of my sister’s view. Unfortunately, she had seen me bolt out the door, and was looking for me. I heard her call, “Eabæ, wait! It’s dangerous to go off by yourself these days! Wait!” I did not listen to her, but continued on toward our village. It was a mistake that cost me my freedom, and more importantly—my reasons for living. I was soon to be torn away from my family, friends, and homeland. As I ran through the wheat, Cyneburg’s words chilled me, but didn’t stop me. Everyone in the village knew about the girls who had disappeared every so often. Despite the search parties that went out looking for them, they were never found. Most girls and women would have turned around by then. I was foolish and stubborn, though. I wanted to see Sebbi and would not be turned away from what I had decided. Suddenly, in an instant faster than an arrow can fly, I felt hardened and toughened hands covering my face, and something smashed into the back of my head. I tried to remain awake, but my body would not cooperate. Eventually, I woke up. I tried to sleep again, to escape the despair of being separated from everything that I knew. There were several other girls around me, and we were all in a cold cellar. Everything smelled horrible, almost like human waste. It smelled terrible, like rotten cheese, horse dung, mold, and dirt all mixed together, complete with the smell of wet dog. Everything was dark. Everyone in that room was terrified. It was as though fear had become a physical substance strong enough to be found by human senses. Feeling something dripping on my nose, I glanced up, and felt another drop of the warm, thick liquid on my face. I heard a woman screaming above me, accompanied by the sound of things smashing and breaking. The liquid continued to drip down, and I wondered if it was blood. I was so terrified that I was shaking, and the chains that held me jingled madly. I think that the other girls and women were afraid too, because I could hear a metallic rattling sound. Mixxed with their heavy breathing, it created a theme song for our despair, a song that described our soon-to-be deaths. Another scream came from above, and the girl next to me began to weep. “Where are we?” she sobbed. I could not see that well in the darkness, but she seemed to be about my age, with brown, greasy hair, and blue, fearful eyes. She looked—and smelled—like she hadn’t bathed in weeks. We weren’t alone, though. The room was crowded with fifteen to twenty other girls in poor conditions. Dark, brown eyes, cool grey, and even dark blue eyes glanced at me every now and then, and as I would look over their faces, I realized how unknown many of them were to me. Some girls bore a dark, exotic semblance, with wide eyes and hair the color of night. Others were like me, and seemed to brighten up the darkness of the room with their light complexions, while others had dark hair and pale skin. The girl next to me stared at me with wild eyes that reminded me of a foal ripped away from its mother. The foal would run, kick, and scream—anything to get away. Eventually, though, it would give up trying, and accept the bridle and restraints forced on it. This girl was like that. She had struggled and fought, but to no avail, and her spirit was dying. She was frightened and traumatized and I was afraid my eyes looked just like hers. Eventually, her spirit did die. She passed away the following year, and no one ever heard anything more about her. I started to speak, but directly in front of us, a door opened. A little bit of light streamed into the otherwise dark room, and I winced. Once the creature stepped out, I closed my eyes even more to shut out the hideous sight of his deformed figure, and yellowed eyes. It was hideous, and I thought that the creature had come to kill me—or worse. I was young and foolish, and had practically been raised on romantic tales where heros and heroines had given their lives for their country and the ones they loved. I had thought it was an honor to do so. In my pride I thought I would rather taste death than to be used in such a way. I gripped the pendant hanging around my neck, hoping with all my being to be dead before this creature took it away. It was all that I had left of my family, now. “You, there,” it demanded, pointing to a dark-haired girl a few feet away from me. “You’re comin’ with me.” She was chained, like most of us, and tried to get away, scrambling back to the limits of her bonds. It was no use, though. She screamed as he came closer to her. The “thing” unlocked her chains, grabbed a fist full of her hair, and dragged her across the room. A few seconds later, the door shut with a sickening “thud,” and the room was once again dark. A few other girls sobbed, and the rest, like me, just stared at the door, wondering when we would be next. “What was that?” I asked softly to the girl that had spoken to me earlier. “Orc,” two or three other individuals whispered at the same time. I heard a hammering sound above me, and I jumped, startled. A blond-haired girl with dirty, tanned skin met my gaze. It was her lifeless eyes, though, that caught my attention. It seemed as though her spirit had been broken, and she cared about nothing. She has eyes like the dead, I thought to myself, not without a shudder down my spine. Deep down in the back of my mind, I knew that I, too, would be joining that girl, soon. I was afraid I would be a walking corpse before long. They kept me there, with all those other poor girls, for what seemed like an eternity. From time to time, the orcs that held us captive would taunt us with how long we had been there, what month it was, and how we would never leave. That is how I know that by my sixteenth birthday, I was a mother. I was broken, torn apart, and forced to have a child that I hated. At first, I thought that I was the victim of orcs, solely. Sometimes, though, I would hear a voice that did not belong to an orc, demanding that one particular girl be brought here, and that someone needed to do this. Sometimes, that same voice would even enquire about how some of the mothers and their children were fairing, and which children seemed to hold the most promise. Once, an orc called the voice “Saruman,” and that was how I learned who my tormenter was. He wasn’t an orc. He was someone who had claimed to help Rohan. I felt more betrayed than then I had ever felt in my life, even more betrayed then when my sister left me behind to go dancing with her friends. I had thought that was the worse possible betrayal. Isn’t that how all children think, though? They never realize how small many of their problems really are when compared with the evils of the world. I remember the first time I saw him, my son. I’ll never forget how I saw his inhuman face, and vomited all over the floor in front of me. Normally, that would have earned some type of beating, but for today, all my oppressors cared about was my child. Truthfully, I was not sure if he could even be called that. He did not resemble me at all, other than the fact that his eye color was very close to that of my own. His eyes always stayed that color, just as I had hoped they would. I wanted to be reminded of myself, not a cold-blooded killer, when I looked into his eyes. To this day, I don’t know what drew me to him. I guess I felt some sort of connection to him when he was born. We were both afraid and alone, forced into a place that we did not want to be. I couldn’t bring myself to hate him. He needed me just as much as I needed him in that moment. After my son’s birth, I was released from the cellar, and allowed to move about more freely in a building near Isengard. All of the mothers were kept there, along with their children, until they reached about twelve. I will be honest. Although I loved him because he was my child, I distanced myself from him somewhat. In him, I saw all that I hated about my prison and my life. After a time, though, my hatred began to diminish, because he was the only thing that I had to love. In a love-deprived place, he felt to me like water would feel to a person who had been stranded in the deserts of Harad for several days. On days when I felt like giving up and passing on, my son’s cries were the only thing that caused me to keep going on. His naming was left up to whatever orc captain happened to be near him when he was an infant. For a few weeks, I whispered a secret name, but I was caught and forced never to use that name again. That was when my son acquired his name: Orbek. I have hated it to this day, both because I do not even know its meaning, and also, because I should have been able to name my own son. In my hear he was always (nsert a Rohirric name here.) When he reached the age of ten years, he was nearly as tall as I was at the height of five feet, seven inches. My other sons, Drawg and Orden, were also extremely large at the ages of seven and five years. The other children that had been born to me had been daughters, and were taken away before I could even see their faces. Meanwhile, Orbek was taken to another facility, closer to Isengard, and began to be taught the use of a sword and several other weapons, whose names I know not. He visited me every so often, excited about all he had learned. Apparently, he was allowed to see me so that he would retain a certain human-like personality. Saruman seemed to think that it allowed his Uruk-hai to become better fighters, since they would be familiar with human reason and logic. Once, when he was fifteen years old, Orbek came running to me, informing me that he was about to go off on his first skirmish. Drawg had recently been taken to another location to begin his training, but ten-year-old Orden was busy “educating” me on the importance of grass to the weapon community. I was drying clothes in front of one of the houses for the woman and young Uruk-hai. A few other women were busy going about their daily activities, and others were relieved that their children were off playing. Uncharacteristically, he seemed extremely frightened, so I tried to comfort him. Making sure that no one was watching us, I asked, “What’s wrong?” “Mother,” he said, his voice resembling more of a growl than an intelligent sound, “I’m afraid.” “Orbek, is afraid?” Orden said tauntingly. “I thought he wasn’t scared of anything. Especially not a little fighting.” He quickly jumped out of the way when Orbek swung at him, but stayed close enough to irritate his older brother. “Orden, why don’t you go . . . play. I need to talk to your brother.” He stood where he was defiantly, but then sulked away to go think of other ways to get back at this brother. Turning back to Orbek, I repeated, “What are you afraid of?” I could not help but feel sympathetic toward him, as he could very well be injured or killed. “You are an excellent fighter. You will do very well.” He sighed, but it sounded more like a growl than anything. I backed away from him a little, because, I realized that the very same creatures that had forced me to come to Isengard were causing my son to become like them. Day after day he was losing all semblance to me, and seeming more and more like them. It was frightening. “That does not mean that I won’t be killed.” His blue eyes, so much like my own, looked fearfully at me. He took a deep breath, and I noticed how sharp his canines had become. When did that happen? I wondered. It still seemed like yesterday that he was the small, little baby that I loved. Now, he was trained as a blood-thirsty warrior. I wondered what I could do to help him. When I had been younger, I was once frightened by a serious thunder storm. For several hours, I cowered under my blankets while the lightning flashed outside, and thunder rocked the house, until I could stand it no longer. “Mommy, Mommy!” I had screamed. I ran crying into my mother’s and father’s room, and jumped into the bed with them. “Eabæ, what’s wrong?” my mother asked. She wiped the sweaty hair away from my eyes, and held me close. “I’m scared,” I sobbed. “I want to stay with you.” My mother smiled, picked me up, and walked back into my room. She lightly gripped the necklace that was always about her neck, and undid the clasp. A beautiful ruby-colored flower hung from it, and I remember staring at it with wide eyes. For a moment, all my attention was devoted solely to that pendant. I heard the thunder crash, again, and snuggled closer to my mother, remembering the storm. “Here,” she whispered softly, clasping the chain, along with the flower, onto my neck. “Now part of me can be here with you, even when I’m somewhere else.” I had not said a word, but the strong hug I gave her had been thanks enough. She sat with me until I fell asleep, I know that, and she must have left later to return to her own room. I never noticed, though, for I slept very peacefully that night. During many other nights, my mother’s words—and her gift—had helped me to sleep. “Mother?” Orbek stared at me oddly, and I wiped a stray tear from my eye, placing the memories of the past away. I picked a small, golden-colored flower from the dirt path, and handed it to him. It was one of the few growing things that had escaped Saruman’s plan to strip Isengard of every green thing. He held it like something foreign to him, as though he was confused. “Keep that with you,” I said, smiling sadly. “To remind you of me while you’re away. Hold onto it, and you’ll know that I’ll be here, waiting for you.” He seemed to relax a little more, but it seemed as though something else suddenly came to his mind. “This will die, soon. When that happens what will I have to remind me of you?” I thought about this, as my hand absent-mindedly played with my mother’s chain. Then, I knew. Taking the necklace off, I handed it to him, a little reluctant to be parted from the last piece of my mother I had. I pointed to the buttercup in his hand, and said, “There is a flower for now.” Then, pointing to the necklace I had given him, I said, “There is a flower for always.” I remembered my mother’s words to me, and repeated them. “Now part of me can be with you, even when I am elsewhere. Even when you are not near me. He had looked at me thankfully, and without another word, charged off toward the other soldiers. Within a few hours, he was gone. During his time away, I discovered that I was pregnant again. A few months later, I was the new mother of twin “creatures.” The oldest one, a girl, was taken away from me as always, since Saruman felt there was no use for her. Saruman wanted only Men as the mothers of his twisted creatures. My other baby, a boy, died soon after he was born. My son returned a few months later. He was still wearing the pendant that I had given him, as he did every time he came or left. I saw him wearing it the last time, when the legion he belonged to went off with the thousands of other Uruk-hai to attack the great fortress of Rohan, Helm’s Deep. I hated Saruman and Isengard more, in that moment than I have ever hated anything in my life. Not only had he kidnapped me away from my country, but he was sending my son to kill my own people. More than anything, though, I hated the fact that I could do nothing. I could not stop Orbek, who could not even stop himself. Killing had become his god. The charred and broken pendant lay in my hand like the ashes of my life. My mother was gone, my family and homeland destroyed. Thousands of my kin lay slain, and now, my son, my little boy, was gone. I closed my eyes and sank to my knees. I wanted nothing more than to die. I was torn in two. I loved my son, but I wanted those who had hurt Rohan to die. What was I to do? Everything I loved was gone. I was locked away in a dead tower. I looked out and watched living trees destroy everything in their path. I hoped that they would offer me some sort of salvation, or take my life in their blind destruction.

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.

   
   
   

In Challenges

Story Information

Author: Cold Like Fire

Status: Beta

Completion: Work in Progress

Rating: General

Last Updated: 07/24/04

Original Post: 06/07/04

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