5. Night Watch
Grushak belched and picked at the shreds of meat between his teeth contentedly. It had been good to fill his belly. The day had been a long one. Too much running, and much too much sun. Lousy stinking sun. Made his skin dry, and his eyes itchy. Now, though, it was pleasant to hunch before the fire's warm glow with nowhere to go and with a drinking skin of good Orc beer to make him even warmer.
"Grushak? Oi! Anyone would think I don't interest you."
"Oh, you're always interesting, Mushog." Grushak gave the Uruk a sardonic look. Mushog was taller than him, as were all of the Uruk-hai in their band, but Grushak had more mass on him. It was rare for an ordinary Orc to reach man height, and nearly unheard of for one to be as large as the Uruk-hai, who among other attributes had been specifically bred for tallness. Grushak knew that the others talked about his great size sometimes, guessing he might be a half-breed like Kurbag. For all he knew, it could well be so. Most Orcs never knew the specifics of their parentage, being raised communally. Though perhaps "raised" was a loose term.
Mushog bared all of his teeth in a ferocious look of pleasure. "You flat-nosed bastard. Rut in the bushes later?"
Grushak's eyes narrowed and he licked his lips deliberately. "Hell yeah, bitch—I'm your stud."
The Orcs that were awake laughed, Mushog loudest of any of them. He got to his feet, staggering a little as he took a swig from his drinking skin. Unexpectedly he aimed a heavy blow at Grushak, who jerked his upper body out of the path of the oncoming fist. Mushog overbalanced and fell against him.
"Hey," breathed Grushak, half-catching the big Uruk in his arms.
"Well, I'll be buggered: I'm drunk," Mushog said, laughing.
"Think so, eh?" Grushak was annoyed but amused. "Come on, now. Sit you down a breather, old son." He pulled Mushog down firmly next to him. Mushog didn't fight him, humming in the back of his throat as Grushak thwacked him between the shoulder blades.
"If you two sweethearts are finished with your foreplay..." came a loud voice from the other side of the fire. Another large Uruk had joined the group around the fire, along with a much smaller Orc bearing a quiver of black-fletched quarrels and a crossbow. A chorus of yells rose to greet the Uruk's arrival as even the sleeping Orcs popped their heads up to greet their leader.
"Oi, Bragdagash, where were you at!"
"Braggy, we missed you so!"
"Not here to meet us when we got back? Talk about rude!"
Bragdagash laughed shortly, his dark features full of unholy good humor. "So who wants to see your ugly faces? I was watching Grymawk's back. Didn't want him to be eagle-fodder."
"Hah! More likely he needed a tickle from your sword to encourage his climbing," Kurbag suggested.
The smaller Orc closed his eyes long-sufferingly. "The next time you decide to take a little jaunt up to the topmost tip of the tallest tree in the forest for the fun of it, Kurbag, you just let me know. What's for dinner? I'm hungry."
"I'll just bet you're hungry, you snaga piece of shit!" Bragdagash booted Grymawk's backside, making the smaller Orc squeal. "Little bastard lost his lunch before he was even halfway up. Had to move smart-like so I wouldn't get hit by his puke."
"Tree was swaying!" Grymawk whimpered as they laughed at him. Grushak tossed him a goat haunch and he buried his teeth in it happily.
"Enough of that, what was the day's take?" Bragdagash directed the question at Grushak.
"Good. We went East, like you said. Struck a little bit of a village, not much of a scuffle. Lotta meat—we ain't gonna be hungry for a few days. Good iron and steel. Farm implements, mostly—fine for smelting. Some man weaponry."
"Any shiny stuff?"
Grushak reached under his belt and withdrew the silver cup, tossing it to his leader. "Some shiny stuff."
"Oh. Oh, that's fine. That's very fine," whispered Bragdagash, turning the cup this way and that in the firelight. He suddenly snorted. "They're fucking, aren't they? The little man and woman on the side."
Grushak shrugged. "Well, they're naked. Guess they are, or they're about to. Got it out of some sort of fertility trunk, I think it was. I really didn't get to look at it for long." Before that little hellion had come at him, that is. "Dead bint also had some bangles and shit."
He scratched one ear carelessly as Bragdagash examined the cup. Grushak knew the other Orcs often concealed gold and silver they had taken—he didn't squeal on them, but he did make a personal practice of tossing his leader any worthless valuables he chanced upon. They were no use to him, after all, though he intended to start holding back a knick-knack here and there as they continued North. In the meantime, this far from any other groups of Orcs or Orc-friendly men interested in bartering, precious metals and stones and the like were more of a liability than anything else: dead weight to take up space in his pack, or to provoke covetousness and theft or violence on the part of his fellows. Easier to just get the shiny stuff off his hands—besides, it helped keep him on friendly terms with Bragdagash. Useful, that.
"Grushak, you've got first watch tonight," said Bragdagash, still looking at the cup.
Well, most of the time. "Aw, fer fuck's sake!" complained Grushak, even as he lumbered to his feet. "Why not put Kurbag on it? He's been sprawled on his arse all day."
"When his arse hasn't been humping skyward, you mean," remarked Nazluk, who had appeared to be sleeping. He didn't open his eyes as he spoke. The others laughed, including Kurbag. Nazluk himself did not. Well, that made sense. Everyone knew Nazluk had problems with Kurbag's little fuck-toy.
Bragdagash stopped laughing first. "Kurbag's been keeping watch on camp all day. You're mostly sober, and you're awake. Leg it."
There was of course another reason Bragdagash was posting him, although it was something that none of the Uruk-hai would have brought up—ordinary Orcs had the advantage of them in the dark. The Uruk-hai had been bred to perform well in open daylight and their eyes were not troubled by the sensitivity Grushak and the others suffered from. The trade-off, though, was that the Uruk-hai had lost some of the Orcs' keen vision in the dark. At night, watch was nearly always kept by an Orc rather than an Uruk.
Grushak rolled his eyes but legged it.
Maevyn was asleep and Eleluleniel lay beside her. It was the way of the Elven race to sleep with their eyes open, but hers were open with wakefulness. She lay listening to the night. After Bragdagash had returned and put Grushak on sentry duty, the few other Orkish voices had quickly died away to be replaced by the noxious rumbles of heavy snoring. Not all of them were asleep, though.
When she heard the first footsteps she only froze for a moment. She had dared to hope that he wouldn't come to her this night, to hope he'd spent himself recently enough that he wouldn't be in the mood. But then of course he had slept and recouped himself. What a fool she had been.
She rose quietly to stand at full height in the dark Orc camp, forestalling the advance of the large form approaching the pile of furs under the tree. The half-Uruk paused, doubtless puzzled as to why she had gotten up: he was accustomed to coming to her, to finding her lying at his disposal, rigid and silent and praying as she always did that he wouldn't come—praying to the Valar in vain. She had had some time to think about this, though, lying next to Maevyn and listening to her sleeping, breathing punctuated every now and then by a little whimper. The younger girl had been through a dreadful ordeal that day and had only the grimmest of futures to look forward to. She was frightened and tired, traumatized in body and in spirit, and she should at least be allowed a sleep that was peaceful and unbroken. There was no way Eleluleniel could prevent what was going to happen, but she could at least try to control it by taking it somewhere else. There was no need for Maevyn to be awakened and to find herself witness to such an ugly scene: something that would further terrify her and that she couldn't hope to understand.
As Eleluleniel faced the shadowy silhouette she almost thought her legs would buckle under her, but the Elven prepossession that was both such a blessing and a curse gave her a facade of seeming serenity. With short even steps she picked her way across the ground towards him, keeping a slow measured gait so that she wouldn't trip on anything. She heard no small voice or shifting in the furs behind her and gave silent thanks that her leaving didn't seem to have disturbed the child's slumber.
Kurbag waited for her to come to him. As she stopped in front of him he loomed over her in the dark, his breathing heavy, his scent familiar and thick in her nostrils. She couldn't help taking a step back. He was so much larger than her, so much stronger and heavier, and she knew well the punishment his body would inflict upon hers when he pressed her down. "Not here," she said softly. "Please."
She had begged from him often enough in the past—begged him not to touch her, begged him not to hurt her, begged him not to despoil her. He had ignored her begging before and done as he pleased. Right now, though, he hesitated, confused about what she was asking of him. "What?"
And so she said again: "Please. Not here. Somewhere else. Please."
He scratched his head. Once he might have been suspicious, suspecting this to be some attempt at escape. Squeaker had only ever tried to escape on one occasion, shortly after she had been captured, and then he had gone looking for her quickly before the others noticed her gone. He had found her in short order, hiding in a tree: threatened her at first, then when she still refused to come down had started climbing the tree himself. Her continued refusal had obliged him to move several levels of branches upward, forcing him to mount limbs that he didn't trust with his weight. One close call when the bough he stepped on snapped, though he'd been able to catch himself just in time. When Kurbag finally reached her he had been shaking, nearly as distressed as she. That was the only time he had ever hit her.
That was a long time ago. Squeaker had been ground down quickly and now her only attempts at resistance were words: few, small and easily brushed aside. He didn't know why she wanted to go off somewhere else, but he shrugged compliance. "Shit, all right. It's no skin off my back." He laughed shortly.
Eleluleniel walked past. As she did, he caught her small slim hand in his own massive fist. She didn't bother with any fruitless attempt to pull it away. Moving slowly, the Elf maiden led the half-Uruk into the trees, like a twisted parody of two lovers holding hands in the dark.
"Demmi?" Maevyn stepped inside the tree. It didn't seem strange to her that the interior of the tree was same as the interior of their house. She looked for her brother.
"Shhh! They'll hear you!" Demmi's voice hissed. She finally saw where he was hiding behind the bed that the two siblings shared and would continue to share until she came of age. The top of his head and two bright eyes peeped over the top of the bed. Those eyes were frightened.
"What're you playing at, Demmi?"
"I said SHHH!" he practically yelled. In a quieter voice: "Come on, quick, close the door behind you!"
Maevyn shrugged and did so, not entirely knowing why she was listening to her annoying little brother. Even though there were no windows and there was no candle or other source of light in the room, she could see fine. She went over and got on the bed, sprawling across the width of it so that she was looking Demmi in the face. "Well?" she said, exasperated.
"I'm hiding," he said. "Maevyn, I'm frightened!" He was kneeling, hugging himself and shaking. "It hurt so much. It hurts so much…."
With only the dimmest illumination from the stars, the night landscape of pine and dark soil, broken here and there with exposed outcroppings of rock, was nonetheless bright and silvery to Grushak's slit pupils. He took a gulp from the drinking skin he had brought with him, swilled it pleasantly in his mouth before swallowing. Complain though he had to Bragdagash, Grushak didn't mind keeping watch at night, or at least, he didn't under other circumstances. This time, it happened he had spent most of the day running: physical exertion compounded with his natural dislike for open daylight had made him tired. His body was built for heavy endurance, and endure it did. He would sleep deeply on the morrow, though.
His head swiveled as his pointed ears caught the rustling of pine needles, and his eyes immediately picked out two forms to his far right: one large, one slight. After only a second's focus he recognized them as Kurbag and Squeaker. Grushak relaxed, releasing the hilt of his scimitar. He watched their slow progress through the trees and couldn't help chuckling to himself.
"Blind leading the blind. Eh, Grushak?" came a voice from behind him.
"Oi, Nazluk," Grushak greeted the shorter Orc without turning around.
"Not keeping the best watch, are you? I got very close."
"Nazluk, you snaga stinker—even if I hadn't heard you coming, I have a nose, you know."
Nazluk slid up beside him, looking in the same direction Grushak was and fingering a knife idly. "Now what do you suppose they're up to, then?"
Grushak knew the question was rhetorical—that didn't make it any less stupid. Partially obstructed by trees, the larger figure had stopped and was pushing the slighter figure to the ground. "Having a tea party with some squirrels. What do you think they're up to, fuckhead?"
"She was leading him," said Nazluk thoughtfully. "She was leading him in the dark." He was silent for a moment. "These Uruk-hai and half-Uruk-hai. I don't know, Grushak. It bothers me."
Grushak was surprised. He hadn't realized Nazluk's thoughts were taking this turn. "You're dredging up old sewage, friend. The Great Eye and the White Hand both bought it a long time ago, and we're all Orcs together now." Not a complete truth, but not really a lie. Without political motivations dividing them, the two kinds of Orc had discovered they held more in common than apart.
Of course, it helped that the old Uruk haughteur had been dispelled almost of necessity. In the wake of the Isengard disaster, Saruman's specialized breed of Orc had found themselves suddenly a minority among their heretofore "inferior" but more numerous fellows. With intervening years Uruk numbers built fairly steadily—Saruman had created female Uruk-hai shortly before his fall from power, and both sexes were highly virile. In this way the Uruk-hai were able to breed just as their predecessors were: able to produce purebloods in addition to the half-breeds that male Uruk-hai had already been siring with regular Orc females.
Still, though they no longer strictly depended on other Orcs for survival, the Uruk-hai respected the advantages of their smaller fellows…particularly their comfortable and well-ensconced living situations in the darker and deeper places of the world. Uruk-hai were designed for the surface and for daylight, but the Middle Earth of men was not friendly to their kind and it was wise to remain on good terms with denizens of the darker lands. The Uruk-hai's own advantages were likewise obvious to other Orcs, and initial hostility abated as non-Uruk-hai began enjoying benefits by association.
Of course there were sometimes resentments. Orcs of both breeds were by nature ruthless and endlessly competitive, always looking for a leg up on one another. Nowadays, though, rivalry generally ran on an individual basis rather than a racial one. Which made Nazluk's comment the more surprising.
Nazluk groaned. "All together, yes. Separate talents to each. Mutual benefits, mutual tolerance, yes, yes...but it is always an Uruk that leads. Or at least, that is generally the case..."
The sounds of fucking were coming to them now: the dim but unmistakable sounds of flesh meeting flesh and hard ragged breathing.
Nazluk shook his head. "That's what I'm talking about, actually. I am…concerned for Kurbag."
Grushak laughed. "'Concerned'? Nazluk, Kurbag is a big boy—he can easily take care of himself."
"But this fixation of his. On the Elven bint. Why hasn't he killed her? Anyone else would have used her and been rid of her by now."
"Kind of a tired topic this, isn't it? Squeaker's a convenience to him. He wouldn't know what to do with himself if he didn't have her on hand."
"Can't he choke his own snake-meat like the rest of us? Eh? You and me, Grushak, we're content with that, yes? The end results are the same, yes?"
Grushak snorted. "Well, as it happens, no. Speak for yourself, Nazluk. I happen to like putting my cock in something warm and squishy now and then."
Nazluk came closer. "But that's in battle, isn't it?" he breathed. "You kill them after, yes? Or you bring them back for entertainment, like the little tark child you brought today. But you still kill them soon. A few days at most they linger." Nazluk looked past Grushak again to the coupling in the trees. "How long has that one been with us now? Some months? Wherever we go, he's brought her. Will he even take her North? What does he think he's going to do with her there? Our kind keep slaves, yes, but—" his nose wrinkled with disgust, "—little squeaking Elves, they're no good in mines. The weight of the earth above oppresses their spirits, addles their weak brains. The dust ruins their puny lungs. They die too quickly to be worthwhile. And even here her uses are limited. She's not so very strong. The tasks she performs are menial. What's she good for, except to fuck? And what Orc female isn't better for that purpose?"
"Perhaps you haven't noticed, but we don't have any Orc females in our group. Excepting you, maybe," said Grushak sardonically.
Nazluk scowled at the dig but persisted, "I don't like it. She shouldn't be with us. He should have killed her by now. He has not." Nazluk looked balefully to where the shadow of Kurbag's body continued to rise and fall. "Maybe it's because he's half-Uruk. But there then, that's no fault of his own. They can't help it that they were bred to be more like surface dwellers." In an insinuating tone: "Perhaps it makes them like surface dwellers as well as being like them."
Grushak peered at him. "You think Kurbag has some sort of affection for Squeaker?" he asked slowly.
Nazluk sneered. "Well, of course he has affection for her. She is his little pet, after all. He feeds her choice food, he strokes her hair. I hear him talking to her. He calls her lovely. Calls the little Squeaker beautiful. Now what's he doing using words like that? 'Beautiful'? 'Love-ly'?" Nazluk turned his head and spat.
Grushak was thoughtful. "It doesn't hamper him," he said after a moment. "He is as strong a fighter as he ever was, and as ruthless. If he were possessive it might make for trouble, but he isn't."
Indeed, Kurbag had made it clear early on that the others were welcome to Squeaker if they wanted, and he had been taken up on it a number of times. Grushak himself had used the Elf. Only once, though. The soft, high cries that his thrusting wrested from her, the little squeaks that had earned her nickname, were mildly amusing, but she herself was as stiff as a dead thing under him, completely without resistance. It was like fucking a hole in the ground. He preferred something a little more active: an eager, excited female of his own species or a struggling, screaming lay like the woman he had raped earlier. He liked having marks left on him, and he liked leaving marks as well. Nails and teeth and the room to be rough.
There was a sudden gasp, loud even at their present distance. The breathing sounds sped up, and there was another gasp, and a third.
"I may not understand it entirely," decided Grushak, "but I'm just as glad she's here. Kurbag's a horny bastard and he just needs another living thing for an outlet. Squeaker gives him one, and she doesn't seem to compromise his abilities. I know you don't like it that she's an Elf, and damned if I do myself. But it's better than if he were like Shrah'rar." Grushak scratched his ear. "Speaking of which, the, uh…the meat didn't taste, uh…funny to you tonight, did it?"
Nazluk shook his head. When he spoke, it was quietly. "It doesn't seem to have hampered him now, perhaps. But it may in the future. Whatever happens, I don't like it. I don't like it, and I don't like her. I don't like Elves." He turned and walked away, leaving Grushak to stand guard alone.
The large Orc sat on a boulder. He raised the drinking skin to his mouth and drained the last of its contents, listening to Kurbag's quickening grunts. After a time he began to rattle his clawed fingers against the boulder's granite surface, half-smiling grimly in the silver.
Oh...there are going to be pine needles in my hair after this...
It had become Eleluleniel's mind's way during such ordeals, to try to escape with petty observances and foolish realizations.
If only I had a brush. My fingers...
Of course this strategy never really worked. There was no way to escape the painful grip on her shoulders, the heat of his body pressing her down, the endless struggle to keep breathing as he crushed her beneath the weight of him—
It is so much more time-consuming...
—no way to ignore the hard brutal pounding, like it was a fist he forced into her, pounding and pounding and pounding until she thought she would be driven in two—
...to use them...
—no way to avoid the agony and the disgust at a violation more than physical, deeper than skin, crueler than blood—
—no way to stay the tears that always came—of pain, of shame, of sheer exhaustion as it went on and on—tears that trembled hot in her eyes and smeared against the hard muscled chest that pressed against her face—
—no way to hold back the short hard cries that came unbidden from her throat in time with the quickening thrusts of his abrasive organ—
And with her arms immobilized beneath his own, there was no way to cover her ears, block out the sound of Kurbag's own grunting, his gasping, his growls and low groans of approaching climax. "Squeaker—" he murmured hoarsely, a huge black mass over her, blotting out the stars...and suddenly the half-Uruk seized her violently, burying himself in one long, deep piston movement, bellowing and snarling furiously as he emptied himself into her, hot Orkish seed scalding her passage, the force of it driving into her and into her and into her, even unto the womb.
His body relaxed briefly on hers. Then he withdrew. The pain of his organ leaving her body, opening her freshly raw and stinging to the elements, was almost as bad as first entry. She whimpered once, briefly, before the dependable veil of imperturbability fell about her once more and her body, if not her mind, became composed and implacable. She brought her legs together and did not cringe when she felt the slickness between her thighs of the foul black residue he had left there.
It is nothing I have not felt before. It is nothing I do not already know.
The mantra brought her no comfort.
She pushed herself awkwardly into an upright position. As she did, Kurbag gathered the young Elf maiden against him like an over-sized doll. He slid a talon under her chin and tilted her face up toward his, snuffled it briefly, then began to lick her cheek with long, slow strokes. The gesture could almost have been mistaken for a loving or comforting one if Eleluleniel didn't know what he was actually after: her tears. Orcs did not cry—their eyes watered only with infection or injury. Kurbag was endlessly fascinated by her tears, and he had a taste for the salty sediment they left behind. The half-Uruk's wide rough tongue laved her skin repeatedly—she closed her eyes a bare split second before it passed over them, swirling and darting and probing her globed eyelids like the tongue of an inquisitive cat.
When there was nothing left for him to taste, he released her. She got up slowly and staggered a little—he caught her elbows and held her until her feet were certain of their footing. She covered herself, pulled the abused fabric of her ragged dress back down around her, then wiped at the damp saliva on her face with the back of her hand, saying nothing. Abruptly he encircled her waist with his great hands and lifted her. She put her arms around his neck as he placed one muscular arm under her thighs, laying his other hand flat upon her back to secure her against him. She felt numbly grateful to her despoiler—she wasn't quite sure that she would have been able to make it all the way back on her own.
The only time she spoke was when he reached the periphery of flickering firelight. "Put me down," she whispered. She would walk back to the furs. If Maevyn woke up and saw Kurbag lowering her into the furs, she might ask questions, uncomfortable questions to which Eleluleniel wouldn't know how to respond and couldn't predict how she would answer—or what Kurbag might say.
The half-Uruk obliged her, lowering her to the ground. She stood, steadying herself against him briefly before turning and beginning the slow, steady process of putting one foot in front of the other.
Demmi wasn't crying and that was what disturbed Maevyn more than anything else. She could have handled mere crying. It would have meant something little. But Demmi's teeth were clenched and his eyes were bright and unseeing. That was how she knew that he was in serious pain. When Demmi was really afraid or hurting it made him stubborn more than anything else. She remembered when he'd fallen and sprained his arm that one time, how his mouth had set in a tight firm line, how the tears came against his wishes and how above all other emotions he mostly seemed exasperated with himself and the pain he was in.
This was different even from that time, though. Maevyn didn't know what to do. She had never seen her brother acting like this before. He kept hugging himself, gasping behind his gritted teeth and rocking back and forth. From being annoyed she had gone to being worried for him—and for herself. If something was really wrong and she didn't do something, Mama might get angry at her. "Demmi? Demmi, where does it hurt? What is it, Demmi?" She kept asking him this again and again, and he just went on saying how much it hurt and nothing more.
Suddenly she became aware of how his arms were placed. "Is it your tummy, Demmi? Do you have a tummy-ache?"
"Not a t-t-tummy-ache," he whimpered angrily, shaking his head.
"But your tummy hurts, right?"
He nodded, continuing to hold his belly tight.
There was an ominous feeling at the back of her head. This was wrong. This was very wrong. "Demmi, let me see your stomach."
"No—please, Maevyn, don't…."
"Demmi, I'm older than you and I'll tell Mama you're not minding me and she'll yell at you." It was a silly threat. Demmi had seen through the "older sister" ploy a long time ago, and he knew Mama would do no such thing. Mama always let Demmi get away with murder.
"I don't want to. It hurts too much."
"How can I do anything if you won't let me help you, Demmi?" she insisted.
And then he did it. Letting out a long jagged breath, he took his arms away. There was a horrible soft moist sound as the long pink loops of glistening intestine slowly spilled out of the rip in his stomach.
She stared, frozen in disbelief.
"Please, Maevyn." There was a heartbroken look in Demmi's eyes. "Please. It...it just keeps coming out."
"Demmi…" she whispered.
There was a roaring outside the room. Her brother's eyes opened even wider than they already were. He grabbed her shoulders with his bloody hands, too quickly for her to pull away. "Don't let him in, Maevyn! Don't let him in!"
Suddenly the door smashed inward.
"Maevyn!" Demmi screamed.
Maevyn woke abruptly to the dark shape moving over her. She shrank back. "Wh—"
"It is only me. I had to relieve myself," responded a soft voice.
Maevyn shuddered a little as the Elf girl slipped back into the furs with her. Dimly she noticed a disquieting musky smell attended Leni's return, but she was too upset remembering her brother's slashed belly to think about it. "I was dreaming," she whispered. "I was dreaming about Demmi—"
"Shhh…." Leni's cool hand touched her face and gently caressed her forehead. "Rest you a while longer, dear heart."
Dear heart. That was what Maevyn's mother had always used to call her. And all at once everything surged up inside her all over again, pressing hard within her chest. "Mama," she whimpered softly and began to cry. "Da."
"Oh, oh…." The older girl gathered the younger to her. Maevyn could feel Leni's heart beating almost abnormally fast as she buried her face between the Elf girl's small breasts to muffle her sobs. Leni's arms were around her, warm and protecting. "It is all right, Maevyn. It will all be all right. Maevyn—shh, shh…do not cry, dear heart, you might wake them up. You told me that you would not cry for them, did you not?...I am here for you…I will take care of you…it will be all right…hush, sweetling, do not cry…please do not cry…."
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.