The Elf and the Orc: Part 3

    

     Morfang scanned the area and noted that a group of archers were waiting for him. Obviously stationed by the Prince’s orders.

     Morfang stood and placed the princess in front of him. The archers lowered their bows and he backed away, still holding her in front of him. He placed the knife against her throat again, warning them of what would happen if they dared to attack again. Once far from the woods, he released her.

     “Go home,” he snarled. He turned on his heal and stormed away. He knew she followed and picked up his pace. She did not lose step with his.

     He tried to change directions but she caught up to him with no time. After another hour of this, he stopped and she bumped into him.

     “Why aren’t you going home?!”

     “And risk never getting a chance like this again? I think not.”

     “Is this a game to you, Brat?”

     The girl frowned and crossed her arms. This was gutsier than he expected from her. “Thanks to you, my father will never let me go out without an armed guard ever again and neither will my brother. If I go back, my life will be doomed to waiting to meet my betrothed and doing needlework. Every move I make will be monitored and possibly reported to my father. This is my last chance ever to see the world for my eyes. If I don’t take this opportunity, I’ll never be free again. So whether you like it or not, I’m going with you. And you will not call me ‘Brat,’ ‘Princess,’ or ‘Girl.’ I have a name, and it’s Lindariel Thranduilion.”

     Morfang stared t the princess open mouthed. He was shocked and confused. And not without reason! Who would have expected an Elf woman of any age to speak so openly and so boldly? Not even their queens spoke so gallantly. Not even women of Man-kind were so daring.

     He shook his head. “You’re touched in the head,” he muttered. “Can you fight?”

     “A little,” she admitted. “But not very well. Women of my kind aren’t usually allowed to fight.”

     “As are women of any kind.”

     “There are orc women?”

     “Yes, but they’re not usually seen.”

     “What do they look like?”

     “Shut up,” Morfang snapped, turning away from her. This time, he walked slower so she could keep up with him. “You’ll probably find out on your own,” he added in a softer tone.

     Lindariel kept close by him and did not speak again. When the moon was high above them, they stopped at a small embankment and slept under a tree…

     Lindariel didn’t really understand why she felt she ought to stay with the Orc. Common sense told her to go back home and forget her thirst for adventure like a good little girl. But her heart screamed at her that if she returned, she’d never have the freedom she had before and that she’d be forever relying on the stories Legolas brought home. She wanted to see the world for herself before her father became too paranoid and sent her to the Grey Havens.

     With this (misplaced) logic, Lindariel decided to set aside her fear of the Orc and follow him, dangerous as it was.

     Whether he protected her or not was his choice. She doubted he would since he threatened her life numerous times already in one day. But it was the start of her adventure, and that was fine by her.

     The orc slammed his foot into her leg and she jolted awake, yelping. She grabbed her leg and massaged it.

     “Get up,” he snarled, picking up his belt. On both sides were holsters for his daggers. His sword, sheathed, was tied across his shoulder, enabling him to reach behind and pull it out of its sheath quickly.

     He buckled it in a swift motion and pulled Lindariel to her feet. She hobbled a little bit on one foot before they set off again. Lindariel limped after him for a short time, but after a minute, the pain ebbed and she walked normally behind him.

     “I still don’t know your name.”

     “Is it really that important?”

     “Well, unless you want me to call you ‘Orc,’ it does.”

     The Orc looked back at her and blinked. He must have thought it over, for he then said: “Morfang, Son of Gorbag, Captain of the Morgul Orcs. That is my name.”

     “You must have had a good career before the end of it all, if your father was a captain.”

     He grinned. As nasty as his smile was, it didn’t seem to be the kind of smile brought by loathing. But Lindariel didn’t like it. He seemed to almost mock her with it. “You honor me, Highness. No. It was not a good career. I was a lesser ranking Maggot.”

     Lindariel blushed a little, embarrassed by her ignorance. Legolas, she decided, might have known better of the nature of Orcs and their familial ties.

     “I feel as though I ought to apologize.”

     “Don’t bother, Princess,” Morfang said, turning away from her again. Lindariel frowned and jogged to catch up to Morfang.

     “I told you not to call me Princess. I have a name, Morfang.”

     “I didn’t ask for your name, so I will not use it.”

     “You’re very rude!”

     “That isn’t my problem. Maybe it’d get you to think and go home.”

     “I’m not going home.”

     Morfang stopped and turned to her, frowning. “Are you really so batty that you’d willingly travel with an Orc?”

     “Perhaps I am,” Lindariel snapped, crossing her arms. “And I don’t think you’ll kill me, Morfang.” Of course, this was better left unsaid. Without warning, Lindariel was pinned against a tree with a dagger, once again, pressed against her neck.

     “You don’t, do you? I’ve killed full grown men without remorse. Do you think a spoiled, overprotected princess is going to get special treatment? I could stick you like a pig.”

     “Then why haven’t you?” Lindariel asked innocently. Really, she thought, can’t you do something a little more original rather than hold a dagger against my throat?

     Morfang snarled and removed his dagger from her throat, storming away.

     Confused, but otherwise undaunted, Lindariel followed Morfang. Despite his roughness, Lindariel wondered if he felt obligated to let her live since she had saved his life after they left Mirkwood. Or perhaps it was because she insisted on bandaging his wounds. Or perhaps both played a factor in her survival so far.

     “Where are we going?”

     “Anywhere,” he snapped. “It doesn’t matter where I’m going, so long as I can stay a step ahead of the Hunters.”

     The rest of the morning passed in silence. Around noon, Lindariel began to lose her footing and stumbled more. Morfang told her to wait up against a tree while he hunted.

     Tired and worn in only a few hours, Lindariel fell asleep. She was shaken awake and Morfang handed her a strip of wet, bloodied meat. “Eat it,” he demanded. Lindariel didn’t question him. She bit into the meat and almost spat it out.

     “It’s not cooked,” she said after swallowing.

     “No time for cooking. It’s better raw anyway.”

     “How do you know?”

     Morfang shot her a dangerous look, which ceased her questioning. After they ate, he came so close, she could almost taste the blood he devoured. “If you insist on traveling with me, Princess, then you’ll best learn to do as I say when I say it. You’ll eat and drink what I give you, you will not pester me with annoying questions, and you will not expect to be protected. Do I make myself clear?”

     “Yes,” Lindariel whispered.

     “If you get tired of it, you’re free to run away. I won’t stop you.”

     “But in saying all this, you promise not to kill me.”

     Morfang smirked. “Keep telling yourself that, Princess.” After making sure she could walk again, they continued their trek through the hot, open field.

     By mid afternoon, Lindariel couldn’t hold back her questioning anymore. “Would you be annoyed if I asked what the Orc Hunters do?”

     “Yes. I would be, but since you’re obviously ignorant, I’ll tell you anyway,” Morfang said, tossing her another piece of meat, this time, drier, colder, and nastier to the taste. Lindariel chewed it, ignoring the horrid taste and putrid stench. “The Orc Hunters started coming around a week or two after Mordor fell. They round up my fellow countrymen, Uruk-Hai and Morgul Orcs and various other goblins and take them back to Mount Doom.” He stretched, as though trying to hide the shudder that went up his spine. “They toss us into the mountain like pagan sacrifices.”

     Lindariel felt a chill crawl up her spine. “Would…would my brother—”

     “I’d prefer to have been impaled by your army’s arrows rather than be burned to death in the mountain. But if I angered your brother or your father more than I already have, I would not put it past them to toss me into the mountain personally. The only problem is I’m not ready to die yet.”

     “I thought Orcs were bred to give up their lives for Morgoth and Sauron.”

     “That was what I thought too. When I was in service to the Eye, I would have willingly gouged out my own eyes, cut off my ears, nose, and tongue if it would mean anything to him. But now…as if the very idea of death has become ignoble, I thirst to live my life the way I want.”

     “I know I must be grating your nerves, but…if you could choose, how would you live your life if you didn’t worry about the Orc Hunters?”

     Morfang stopped and turned around to look at her. “How would you spend yours if you had nothing to hold you back? If your father was not a King and your brother not a soldier?”

     Lindariel pursed her lips and furrowed her brow. “Hmm…I guess I’d travel,” she admitted. “Now that I’m out here, I’m really enjoying myself.”

    “Even though it is at my expense?”

    “Which I must thank you from the bottom of my heart; thank you for putting up with me. Now you have to answer my question since I answered yours. If you weren’t bothered by the Orc Hunters, how would you live your life?”

    Morfang rolled his eyes.

     “Please tell me. I won’t laugh.”

     “It’s not an uncommon wish. If I could live my life as I chose, I’d find a wife.” Lindariel smiled. “What?”

     “What sort of Orc-woman would you fancy for a wife?”

     Morfang glowered at her and turned away. “You’re asking too many questions,” he snapped. Lindariel frowned and jogged to catch up to him.

By Brittany Silverneko

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