6. A New Day and a Parting
Chapter VI—A New Day and a Parting
Elves did not tire easily. They needed not to eat, drink, or sleep as often as other Peoples do, though they were not as hearty as some people tended to exaggerate. The longer-lived the Elf, the longer that he or she could endure.
Sigilithil had replenished his body and his spirit. His dinner had been humble but very welcome. He had the great fortune to finally see the stars, being wholly grateful and reverent to Elbereth but also to the mortal who had made the sight possible. Sigilithil felt at peace again with himself, but another person troubled him.
Throughout nearly all his slumber, Norgash had groaned and growled. He turned and twisted, battling with unseen foes. The Uruk had strode great strides in order to be accommodating to the Elf warrior. He had fought the very dark nature and upbringing that ordinarily commanded him to do as that band of Uruk-hai tried to do to Sigilithil: torture him. Murder him. Perhaps eat him. Norgash seemed eager for none of it, yet he longed to do something to Sigilithil, some unspeakable thing.
Perhaps Mauhúr is correct, he wondered as he reached for the Uruk, recoiling suddenly before he touched his head. If he had truly walked a previous life as an Elf, he is no Elf any longer. He is an Uruk, a Great Orc from Isengard. He cannot be un-made from this base and gruesome form. Not all the power of the Elves combined could heal him.
Then Sigilithil looked to the sky. He could see the crack of dawn rising in the east, and so, with his bearings set straight, he turned his eyes toward the West.
"What will You of me, Lords?" he prayed in Fair Speech. "Shall the Ban keep against one who once was fair? Will You let me bring one who needs to be healed? For I have seen many signs, oh, Lords, You have shown them to me. You have made me the door through which he must pass, but can You allow it? I beg You, can You allow this?"
Then he clasped his hands together and kneeled toward the West, reciting an ancient poem that though sorrowful, he had learned in younger and happier days. Nothing could interrupt him: not the wakeful snorts of the Uruk as he stretched and groan; not the cracking of the dying fire; not grunts of the Warg as it went about its business.
Norgash stood wearily and stretched. He glanced at the Elf and snorted.
"I'll never get them," he grumbled. Then he looked around for Mauhúr.
"Oi, lad! Mauhúr!" he cried at the Warg in the bushes. "Finish up with whatever you're doin', and let's pack up." Then he sniffed and glanced toward Sigilithil again.
Standing ready for instructions, Sigilithil looked at Norgash with a smile on his fair face. Norgash could tell his smile was not wholly made from joy, but he shrugged it off and said, "All right, lad. You're in charge of making another torch. We won't need it for long but just long enough."
"You know, Norgash," began Sigilithil, "I am not as young as I appear."
"What's that?" asked the Uruk.
"You refer to me as 'lad' constantly. I assume it means more than 'a young man.'"
"Gah! You should know that already," said Norgash as he folded all the blankets. "If it doesn't have lady-parts, then you call it a lad." Then he grumbled. "Tells me he's older; and I know that, but plays like he's some kuru fiimurz. Gar!"
"I have a name, you know," said Sigilithil. "You have not called me by that name since our fight. I have shown you the courtesy of calling by your name. Can you reciprocate?"
"Fine," growled Norgash. "Moon-dagger? Oh, Moon-dagger, darling, love of my life? Would you please get the torch lit, my precious, little Moon-dagger?"
"If you shall not refer to me properly by the name upon which we agreed, then perhaps you shall refer to me by my true name?"
That Uruk smirk transformed into a wide, sly grin. Norgash said, "Well, now… now wouldn't that be truly proper, lad?"
The Elf smiled.
"You have been very truthful to me, Norgash, but I have not returned in kind. It is not in my nature to withhold truth, though I fear that is what I have already done. I pray that you can forgive me for—"
"Skip the Elvish frivolities and pageantry, lad, we haven't got all morning."
"I am Glorfindel, one of the lords of Rivendell."
Norgash's eyes widened. He tensed upon hearing that name and eyed the Elf with suspicion.
The Elf shook his head. "I was leading patrol out of Rivendell some weeks ago. Neighbouring Men had complained of strange creatures, orcs unlike any with which they had dealt. The complaints were drawing closer and closer to Rivendell, and I went to investigate. I failed to recognise these woods as I strayed from my company, but I believe great forces compelled me—and you, Norgash—into our present situation."
The Uruk narrowed his eyes. No lesser Elves went by the name Glorfindel—not that he knew. There was no possible way a band of Uruk-hai could have caught one of the most feared Elf-lords that ever walked the mortal lands. Bloody hell, he had even scared off the Witch-King by just laughing at the creepy thing!
It certainly would be something for any Orc to brag about—catching old sunshine hair himself. About the only ones who put more fear into the black hearts of Orcs were those damned twins: Elrohir and Elladan, Saruman called them. They actively hunted Orcs, while old sunshine hair made it his business to scare off the big bosses. He did not bother with Orcs; he did not need to, typically.
Norgash pointed at the tall Elf-warrior and said, "You aren't lying?"
Glorfindel's golden hair shimmered as he shook his head.
"You're the la… you're the lord," Norgash stumbled, "what scared off the old King of Creeps from Dol Guldur?"
"I am he."
The Uruk growled and tousled his hair. "What the hell are you doing here, then? Gettin' caught and half-shagged by a bunch of horny lads?"
Glorfindel smiled. "I thought that the Fighting Uruk-hai were fearless."
"Fearless, not fucking suicidal, you… Gar!" Norgash stood and stomped round the camp. "No wonder you gave me the creeps last night! I could barely sleep, thinkin' about you, glowin' and laughin' and staring at the stars and..." Then he marched up to him and growled, "But how the hell did you get yourself into this mess? A bloke as old as you and as scary as you are to Snaga-hai ought to have a hell of a lot more sense than this… Wargshit you're in."
Mauhúr perked up his ears at the conversation. He snarled and rolled his golden-green eyes, grumbling before he began to sniff out the trail again.
"Only the Powers in the West know, Norgash," replied Glorfindel. "To them and to He Who is Alone seek I my strength. They know why this has happened, and I have discovered for myself wherefore." Then he placed a hand upon Norgash's shoulder and said, "You and I are kindred spirits. You doubt what you once were, who you once were, but I know that it is possible. I know."
Then his hand stroked his cheek. A joyous and youthful smile sat upon Glorfindel's fair face, and when a moment had passed, the Elf-lord resumed his duties.
Norgash's face felt unusually warm, and the cheek Glorfindel had touched was freakishly hot. Norgash's mind had become completely devoid of any thoughts other than the warmth on his face and the lingering of that touch.
Mauhúr strode by Norgash and raised his eyebrows. He rumbled and growled at the Uruk, "Rran mûrrnár-ru sha kurrshush?"
Norgash glowered at the demonic wolf. "Glubo lat! Krakaurz bâlak…"
Mauhúr shook his head, neck, and shoulders, his version of shrugging.
"Rrûrp radhesh," he replied.
Norgash threw the blankets onto Mauhúr's back, exerting quite a bit of anger as he did. Mauhúr groaned and shook his head. It was going to be a long, long way out of the woods, if that attitude kept up. Then he glanced at Sigilithil—or rather, the suddenly revealed Glorfindel. Mauhúr smiled. Another Elf would have tried to escape long ago. Another Elf would not have taken interest in Norgash the way that Glorfindel had. This entire time could have been filled with large, awkward silences and even more bouts of fighting, which would have, no doubt, resulted in death.
Maybe there truly was something to their meeting, thought Mauhúr. Norgash had been quite the fighter in his day. He would kill a Man, an Elf, or what-have-you in a heartbeat. But for the strangest reason, Norgash did not carry the same bloodlust that was inherent in all Orc-type races and mutts. He was not as impulsive or driven by hate. He was just… well, Norgash.
"What are you smiling about, you cheeky bastard?" growled Norgash.
Mauhúr grumbled in Wargish. He was thinking about what Norgash was going to do to himself once he lost his pretty Elven lover, he said; at which point, Norgash tugged at his good ear.
"Be still, Norgash," Glorfindel reprimanded, torch in hand. Then with his free hand, he rubbed Mauhúr's head. "Mauhúr is our nose, ears, and eyes out of these woods. He deserves far more respect than this."
"You're just happy because once we are out, you'll be rid of us forever," said Norgash.
Mauhúr snarled at Norgash.
"Oh, you siding with him, now?" growled the Uruk. "Oi! I'm getting jumped by an old Elf-lord and an alpha Warg. I'm getting too old for this crap," and he tossed his rucksack on Mauhúr's back. "You two ready?"
"I am," said Glorfindel, raising his torch. "I have stirred out the last of the fire. We may leave."
"Lovely," said Norgash. "All right, lad, let's get the Elf-lord back to his pretty green patches and starlit skies, shall we?
"Oh, but one more thing."
Glorfindel stood still as Norgash secured the Elf's quiver to his back. He only had a few arrows left from the hunt and the attack on his person. Still, he was very welcome to recover his quiver and subsequently his bow.
"Your scabbards and your little butter knives, too," said Norgash as he secured the belt round Glorfindel's waist. "Fine condition, I think, after what they've been through."
"Thank you, Norgash. I greatly appreciate your efforts."
Norgash lifted up a hand dismissively. "We won't have time to give you back your things, once we're out of these woods. Gotta leave you as soon as we're clear of 'em. Mauhúr's been catching whiffs of Men and Elves in the air, and we can't take any chances."
"You shall not come with me?" Glorfindel queried.
"You're serious?" said Norgash as they began to follow Mauhúr. "You really think I used to be an Elf? Gar! I thought when I was a shaman, I drank and breathed some heavy shit, but you—you don't even need holy weeds to be out of your head."
"I know that my idea sounds odd. Believe me, I would never allow an Orc to come within a hundred leagues of Rivendell or any other Elven settlement. But you are no normal Orc, Norgash. You are no normal person. You are like a star, flickering hard in the darkness, yet your light shall extinguish if no one stokes the source."
"You sayin' you wanna stoke my fire?"
Glorfindel smiled and walked over a fallen tree without looking. "I say that I wish to help you."
Norgash snorted. "Sounds more like you wanna get funny with me."
"You know, get frisky. Have a session of heavy petting."
"Do not joke, Uruk. I mean you well. In you sits great potential—"
"I don't think so," Norgash groused.
"What say you?"
Norgash sighed. He rumbled and said, "Saruman said the same thing about me. And me mum—my mother thought I was a strange one, meant for a strange fate."
"You do not wish to be set apart?"
"No!" he cried. "I mean, yes. Something… Look, can you just keep quiet for a while! Mauhúr needs to concentrate, and he doesn't need to hear us yammering."
Mauhúr glanced back at the Uruk and Elf. Shaking head his and rolling his eyes, the Warg rumbled.
It was indeed going to be a long, long walk…
The sun craned high above the land. The trees' shadows formed ellipses and nearly perfect circles, spreading further from each other, giving each other enough space to grow their branches. Wargs little loved of sunlight, and even the hearty Mauhúr tried to keep his snarls to a minimum. Norgash did not care about the sun one way or the other; but he saw better in daylight than dim-light. Glorfindel was obviously happy to be in friendly woods with tall, friendly trees that seemed mutually happy to feel his presence.
"Just up this hill, and you're home free," said Norgash, hushed.
The company ascended the slopes. As they climbed, less green and more dirt appeared beneath their feet. Fleet-footed Glorfindel strolled up as if he walked on a flat path. Mauhúr's size was his only hindrance; otherwise, his claws provided good tread.
Norgash was least steady. Uruk-hai were strong, muscular creatures, not naturally inclined to mounting hills, least of all sandy, slippery ones. Norgash grunted, growled, and cursed, when finally, a helpful hand reached for him.
"I'm doing well on my own, thank you," snarled the Uruk.
"Certainly," said Glorfindel, "but forgive me if I impose, but I would ask you for aid during this last stretch."
Norgash smirked and sneered. "The great lord Glorfindel needs more help from an Uruk? I'd be a fool not to take up such an offer. It's more to boast about later."
Each fellow threw an arm around the other's neck. With greater ease, they mounted the hill, and finally they reached the top.
Beneath the hill laid a vast valley of trees with their flowers in full bloom, tall grasses and meadow flowers, and a stream that cut through with crystalline water. Birds sang gaily, while insects hummed jubilant tunes. This land looked much more familiar to Glorfindel and felt so much purer, so much lighter.
Speechless with indescribable joy, Glorfindel began to descend down a gentle incline. Just as he reached the valley halfway, and turned and gazed up at Norgash as he began to climb upon Mauhúr's back.
"I cannot force you to come," said Glorfindel, "but it would be reprehensible if I did not give you a just reward, though I can think of nothing suitable, save one."
"And it isn't yours to give," replied Norgash, "even if I wanted it. And I don't.
"Orcs hate Elves, and Elves don't like Orcs. That's just the way it is. And even if I had walked as an Elf—and you're pretty damned convinced I did—I'd rather not go back. I was punished for a reason, and I can't take back what was said. I can try and make up for it—and I am. But even a powerful lord like you can't help me, can't put in a good enough word. It's my mess, and I've got a clean 'er up. You understand, don'tcha, zanbaur?"
Glorfindel walked up the hill to Norgash. He looked into those small, jade-green eyes and realised that he had done all that he could.
"Cuio vae, Norgash Elenfëa," said Glorfindel.
"Cuoi vae, Glorfindel," replied Norgash. "Hebo e trast because trust me, I'm a one in ten thousand Uruk and a one in a million Orc-type bloke. We're not all so damned genial, not even to each—"
Before the Uruk could finish, Glorfindel surprised him with a sprightly leap. A brotherly kiss was planted on a swarthy cheek, and Glorfindel landed with the same grace that had propelled him.
Once again, he had rendered Norgash utterly speechless and devoid of thought.
"Fare well, Mauhúr," said Glorfindel as he scratched beneath the Warg's chin. "Keep Norgash well for as long as you wander this world."
Mauhúr rumbled and smiled. He did not need to bid fare well to the Elf, for his golden green eyes said that well enough.
Glorfindel turned and resumed his descent into the valley. His keen Elf ears heard an Uruk-like rumble, followed by a string of curses, Mauhúr growling back, and Norgash griping aloud for nearly all ears to hear.
The Elf-lord knew he would dearly miss his most unexpected companions. He knew that their parting needed to be.
Glossary: kuru fiimurz (Bl.Sp.) young man; lit. 'young balls.'
Rran mûrrnár-ru sha kurrshush? (Warg) What in the hell was that?
Glubo lat! Krakaurd bâlak (Bl.Sp.) Piss off! Mangy mutt…
Rrûrp radhesh (Warg) Beat yourself.
Cuio vae (Sind.) fare-well.
Elenfëa (Sind.) Elf-in-spirit.
Hebo e trast (Sind.) Keep out of trouble.
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