21. The War of the Dwarves and Orcs
Grish sat on a large hide-covered throne, counting small stacks of money. He had become a very wealthy goblin since ascending the throne of High Goblin of the southern Misty Mountains. No one challenged him, for he ruled with Sauron's authority, and under him his people had prospered.
"My king," a small, runty goblin said, hurrying in and bowing repeatedly before Grish.
"What is it? Is it the mushroom harvests?" Grish had serious doubts about the mushroom harvest. If things didn't turn out well, he'd have to send out raiding parties to nearby towns.
"No, my king. It's the dwarves!"
"The dwarves? What dwarves?" Grish had never heard of dwarves coming this far into his territory. They tended to stay in the north, occasionally making war against Gundabad or sniffing around Moria.
"They're in the mountain!"
Grish leaped to his feet. "Get the goblins together and kill them!" he roared. Was this why Sauron had wanted him here? Had the Dark Lord foreseen this strange invasion of dwarves?
"Yes, my king. We're doing it, my king," the goblin whimpered.
"What are they doing here anyway?"
"The great orc king of Moria, Azog, killed one of their leaders. Desecrated his body. The dwarves were incensed."
"Why would he do something so stupid?" Grish snarled. Killing a dwarf was one thing, but mangling the body? That could only result in a war between the two races! And Azog was rumored to be one of the more intelligent members of his race!
"I do not know, my king," the goblin said.
Grish cursed and seized his ax. "Lead me to the dwarves," he growled. Grish was not one to stand by and let others do his fighting.
The tunnels were in an uproar. Goblins were scurrying everywhere, armed to the teeth. Several were heading toward escape exits. Grish bellowed at them, and they reluctantly followed him.
Goblins were, at heart, cowardly creatures. Not Grish. His people whispered that he had the heart of an orc.
The dwarves had not attacked from the outside, but had broken into one of the deep tunnels. Were there dwarves in other mountains as well? It seemed likely.
"Down there," a goblin whispered, pointing down a mine shaft. Grish could hear the clatter of metal and see sparks fly as goblin metal and dwarf axes met.
"Are they all in a tunnel?" Grish asked.
Excellent. "Bring me oil."
The goblin nodded and hurried off. It returned a while later along with several others. There were several barrels of oil with it.
"Dump it down the shaft," Grish said, gesturing to the entrance to the tunnel.
There was explosions of cursing as the oil hit the battling dwarves. There were some goblins as well still down there and alive, but the dwarves had the advantage of better armor and weapons. Not to mention that they were trained warriors with vengeance in their hearts.
"Toss down a torch," Grish said when the last oil barrel had been emptied.
The goblins cackled, realizing their leader's wisdom. With a shriek of glee, one of the goblins threw down a flaming brand.
Grish took a step back from the shaft.
The column of fire seared several nearby goblins. As the roar of the flames died down, Grish strained to hear any voices.
It was all quiet.
"You are wise, king," a goblin whispered. "You have killed all the dwarves."
"Block off the tunnel," Grish growled. "Set a guard on it and others that lead to other mountains."
"What will we do now, king?"
If there were dwarves here, so far from the place of insult, then this was bigger than the dead dwarf's family taking revenge. This was full-fledged war. War with dwarves carried a high risk of getting killed. Grish was no coward, but he didn't want to die.
"Block off all tunnels," Grish said. "We are staying here."
The goblins breathed a sigh of relief. They had been worrying about traveling to Moria and doing battle with the dwarves there.
Feeling pleased with himself, Grish returned to his throne room, looking forward to a large goblet of wine and some sleep. Perhaps when the smoke cleared and the bodies were dragged away, he would be the most powerful goblin in all the Misty Mountains.
Someone was waiting for him in the throne room.
"I thought you better than the other goblins," Sauron commented, running a hand along the bone arm of the throne. "Yet you still enjoy their crude amenities."
"It is tradition, lord," Grish said. "How may I serve?"
"Have you been attacked by dwarves yet?"
"Only moments ago, lord. We quickly dispatched them."
"You are fortunate then. The other goblins are doing poorly. When this war is over, there will be very few goblins left in the Misty Mountains."
And I will be on top, Grish thought.
"What are your plans?"
"I have given orders to seal off all tunnels, lord," Grish said. He hoped Sauron wouldn't send him to Moria. "We're going to stay put."
"A wise plan," Sauron said. "There will be no more raids, no more night attacks, by goblins after this war. Everyone will think they have retreated to the deepest, darkest caves to lick their wounds. And in that false belief, they will do foolish things."
"And I will somehow aid you in correcting those false beliefs?" Grish asked.
Sauron smiled. "You will indeed," he said.
"Pardon me, lord, but Azog's behavior seems…unusual. Very out of character for him."
"It is. Someone told him to do it."
Grish frowned. "Azog is chief orc. No one tells him what to do."
"Magic, Grish," Sauron said. "They used magic."
"Was it you, lord?" Grish asked. Sauron needed goblins though. He would not have them be slaughtered. No. He needed goblins, but he needed goblins in a time when the fear of goblins had subsided. He would kill them all in a second to accomplish that.
"No, it was not me," Sauron said. He frowned. "There is a new power rising in these lands. It thinks it can manipulate fate, but it cannot. All it has done is set up the pieces."
"The pieces, lord?"
"In the First Age, the Revolt of the Noldor, Nirneath Anorediad, Maeglin's treachery, the Quest of Beren and Luthien, everything, were the pieces that set Earendil up for his voyage to the Valar and the destruction of Morgoth. In the Second Age, again, the pieces were set up by Numenor's rise and fall, the rings, for the War of the Last Alliance. The pieces of the Third Age are almost all set up, Grish. But not for my destruction. For my triumph! I know what Caradhras wants so much that it plays with fate. I will grant its wish, but so will Gandalf. There are two ways the pieces will fall, either with me, or with Gandalf."
Although highly intelligent for his species, Grish still was rather puzzled at this one. "Do you mean the Third Age is coming to an end?" he asked.
"Yes," Sauron said. "The Fourth Age will be the last of this world. And the longest. It will either be one of my domination, or one where I am gone."
"You mean, either you or this Gandalf will win?" Grish asked.
Grish had heard little of Gandalf, but he knew enough to know that a world the Istari ruled would not be to his liking.
"We both – fools that we are – have placed all our hope in others," Sauron said. He was looking off into the distance now, speaking to some unseen other. "I have put my power, my strength, into the Ring. The indestructible, invulnerable, Ring. Gandalf, on the other hand, has put fate in the hands of the weak, the frail."
"Am I a piece in this, lord?" Grish asked.
Sauron smiled and turned his attention back to the goblin. "Yes," he said. "You are a very, very important piece, Grish. For you will destroy all of Gandalf's hopes. Caradhras will set up the playing field. Gandalf will not be there to help, and his pawn will fall. Because of you."
Such responsibility… What if Grish failed? No! He mustn't think of failure. "How will I know when it is time?" he asked.
"You will know, Grish. You will know."
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.