At the time, it scarcely caught my notice; just another bit of wreckage cast up by the Isen. After spending three days in the hands of the Uruk-hai, I certainly wasn’t prepared to waste my sympathy on one of Saruman’s crossbred monsters. It didn’t even seem worth mentioning to Pippin. I just stepped over the little body it where it lay stiffened into an awkward position, and then Pippin shouted that he’d found real Shire pipe-weed and it went right out of my head.
It stayed out too, at least until the others had ridden off to the Black Gate. Then I started dreaming about it; only in my dreams, it kept turning into a hobbit-baby just as I stepped across it.
Someone told me later that the breeding slaves were kept underground, locked in chambers with only a few small roof vents to let in light and air. And water. Only the baby, I suppose, was small enough to fit through. All the mothers and the larger... children must be down there still, washed into the lower chambers as the water drained. Now when I have those dreams, the women are in them too, and the fog that covered Isengard that day is made of the ghosts of drowned slaves.
And yet, what could we have done differently? Saruman had to be stopped, and nothing short of the Ents and Huorns could have taken down that wall. Once they had, well, their grievances against Saruman and his orcs were so great that the lives of a few hundred prisoners weighed next to nothing compared to what they had suffered. Don’t misunderstand; they were merciful enough. I’m sure if they had known where to find them, they would have released the slaves. They let dozens of Men go free and I don’t doubt some of them were there by choice, and guilty of dreadful things. But they...we didn‘t go looking for any slaves, and the women and their babies died.
Those babies would have grown into creatures like the ones Saruman brought with him to the Shire, with no capacity for anything but stealing and destruction. If they hadn’t died at Isengard, we’d be hunting them across Middle-earth even now. The women could hardly have known anything but misery in that place and most, I’m sure, would have been glad to know that Saruman was defeated even at such a cost. But because of them, I still can’t bring myself to say that flooding Isengard was a good thing. We did what was necessary and I believe we did right, but no, not “good”.
If Isengard hadn’t fallen, the war would have taken far more innocent lives. I know there was no other, less deadly way to bring him down, yet....
Whatever else it was, it was a baby.
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.