The Elf and the Orc: Part 14

    

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     The Orc Hunters came at dawn that morning. When told of the strange phenomenon of the Orcs turning into Elves, they were, at first, incredulous.

     But after witnessing with their eyes the crudeness of some of the Elves they encountered in means of manner, speech, and dress, who would doubt this miracle?

     But the heatedly debated question remained: What to do with them now that they are no longer Orcs?

      Some sided with Legolas in the belief that once an Orc, always an Orc.

     Others were not as ready to condemn them, knowing what it was that the Sisters had said (word of it had spread through Mirkwood’s capitol like wild fire over the night).

     “But what if they were Elves all this time?” One said.

     “Elf or Orc, they murdered our people! They burned our villages!” Another shouted.

     “We’d do the same if we were in their situation, wouldn’t we?” Said the first.

     “An Orc is an Orc, no matter what they look like. I say we round them up and take them to the Mountain! Cast them into the fire where they belong!” Gimli added.

     But you can see that some of them are children! I’ve a son and two daughters back at Rohan. Killing children doesn’t sit well with me.” A man shot back.

“Children can be rehabitualized. There’s no need to kill them.” An Elf added.

     “What about their parents? Their women? Who among us knew that they had their own breed of women?” Spoke another Dwarf.

     “I always thought they were bred from the earth.”

     Legolas stood, “Gentlemen,” he began, “This ordeal we are facing began when my sister, Lady Lindariel, was abducted by an Orc warrior. She was safely retrieved, but changed. She keeps going on and on about how these barbarians are the same as we are. That the Elves and the Orcs are our kinsmen. I will not stand by and watch the Orcs corrupt our peace. But on my sister’s behalf, I cannot yet allow them to be shipped to the Fires of Doom. First, I will fight her kidnapper. Mark my words, I will win. And then, we can decide what to do with the rest of them. But the one they call Morfang, son of Gorbag, is my quarry alone.”

     “Let’s say that you don’t,” Thranduil snapped. “What will become of them then?”

     “Let my sister decide that! But I won’t lose, Father.”

     “Calm down, Las,” Gimli said. “No one doubts your skill.”

     “Of all things, I never thought I’d see a Dwarf telling an Elf to calm down.”

     “It’s a sight to remember, that is.”

     “When is this duel to take place, Legolas?” Elrond inquired. “Prearranged battles take time to plan out.”

     “The sooner, the better. Get this duel over with!” Several had said. Most of them were those who sided with Legolas. Others just wanted to get a decision decided rather than argue amongst themselves. “Send in the Orc! Tell him to choose his weapons!”

     Thranduil stood and the roaring men silenced. “In the afternoon, then, we shall have the duel my son seeks.” He turned to Legolas, “Use the time wisely.”

     “I will, Father,” Legolas said. He stood and bowed before leaving the room. Thranduil motioned to a guard.

     “Alert the man Morfang that Legolas will fight him at noon for the fate of his people.” The guard left for the court yard.

     Thranduil stood at the balcony while the others filed out of the room, watching the people below him. He spotted Lindariel talking to the one named Morfang. Thranduil wasn’t so sure if letting Legolas fight was the right thing to do. And after all, if what Galadriel and the Orc woman Igrim said is true…

     Thranduil stepped away from the balcony, deciding to join the others.

***

     The duel had been barred off from the people, save for those at the council and the duelers’ families. Lindariel noted Dursnaga amongst the two women speaking with Morfang. The other, a light haired woman with an array of braids down her back, could only be their mother. Morfang’s mother glanced behind at them and snarled.

     Lindariel didn’t think she had ever seen a more powerful looking woman in her life. Lindariel averted her gaze to her hands, unable to look at the woman in the eye. She and Dursnaga approached them.

     “I’m not easy letting the women watch,” one of the councilmen mumbled with a glance at Lindariel and Morfang’s family.

     “They’re involved, never the less,” Thranduil said to him. “Where is Legolas?”

     “He’ll be here,” Lindariel whispered. “There is still time, which is what I fear.”

     “Why is that?”

     “You said that Legolas is set on winning. He’s most likely using the time to gather an unfair advantage.”

     “Do you not wish your brother victory?”

     Lindariel shivered, but shook her head. She did not. “Does that make me treacherous?”

     Thranduil did not answer her question. Lindariel felt an unwarranted shame. But why? She did not want Legolas to win because it would mean Morfang’s death and most likely the death of his people. At this time, Lindariel felt that her loyalty was being stretched in two and could break at any moment.

     Legolas entered the coliseum, his weapons ready.

     Morfang grinned at him, swinging a metallic, symmetrical orc-blade. The metal was not polished; rather it was stained and dark.

     Nadir held up a white flag. When he dropped his arm, Legolas and Morfang charged. The metal clashed against each other.

     Lindariel winced, and covered her eyes.

     She peeked through her parted fingers. Legolas had forced Morfang down to his knees. Morfang held the hilt of his blade in one hand and pressed against Legolas’ blade with the other.

      Getting nowhere with pressing down on Morfang’s blade, Legolas opted for another tactic and brought his blade up. Morfang somersaulted away and got back on his feet, not waiting for Legolas to attack again. He aimed his sword for Legolas’ stomach. Legolas side stepped again. Morfang swung his blade around and Legolas blocked. But the force of blow made him stumble back a little.

     The frustration on Legolas’ face was clear. One could see that something Morfang was doing had inhibited his attack. But what exactly it was, none but Legolas knew.

     Morfang swung his sword again, aiming to decapitate Legolas. Legolas ducked and slammed his foot into Morfang’s shin. Morfang howled and hobbled away. Legolas aimed to cut Morfang’s arm clean off, but Morfang dodged again, taking a dagger out and throwing it at Legolas, who hit it with his sword. The dagger returned to Morfang, who dodged it just so it wouldn’t hit his heart, but the knife still found his shoulder.

     Morfang hissed a breath and pulled it out, almost missing Legolas’ assault at his head. He barely caught it. A shriek which was not intended to escape Lindariel’s lips pierced the silence. It shocked the fighters, but Morfang recovered first and tackled Legolas to the ground.

     He prepared to stab Legolas, but his hand halted before the blade penetrated Legolas’ skin.

     “Why are you hesitating?”

     Morfang wondered that himself. Hesitation could bring death. That is what he had been taught since birth. He glanced at Lindariel and scoffed, lowering his blade to his side. “What would that prove? I’d honestly love to cut out your heart. But then what would happen to my family? What would happen to my friends?”

     Legolas stood, still glaring at Morfang, who glared back.

     “I can’t let you kill them, yet I can’t kill you.”

     Legolas snarled and stood back up, grasping his sword in a death grip. He charged at Morfang, aiming for Morfang’s gut. Morfang dodged, but still got cut by the blade. Though not fatal, the wound seeped blood.

     “Legolas! Enough!” Thranduil shouted. Legolas didn’t heed, ready to cut Morfang again.

     Lindariel grit her teeth and jumped from her seat. Thranduil caught her before she could get between the fighters.

     “Legolas! No!” Lindariel shouted. Morfang jumped away from Legolas’ furious cuts, Morfang blocked with his sword.

     Dursnaga glanced at the council. “You’ve seen my brother’s conviction. Are you going to let that…that…that maggot you call a prince get away with murdering a man who’s decided to spare his life?!”

     “It’s against our laws to intervene,” Nadir said.

     “That’s my brother he’s fighting! You think I’ll—” The widowed mother grasped Dursnaga’s shoulder and forced her back in her seat. “Mother?”

     “Maybe it is your law, but for many years now, it has not been the law of the Orc.” She stepped down and unsheathed Nadir’s blade, approaching the fighters.

     She slammed the hilt of the sword against Legolas’ cranium. He crumpled to the ground. Before Morfang could retort, she slammed her elbow into his stomach. She turned to the council. “This battle was won by my son. Now make your decision of what will happen to my people now that we are no longer monsters in your eyes.”

    Several of the council members protested violently. The mother slammed the blade into the ground, embedding the sword into the earth. With one hand on the hilt and the other on top of that hand, bright eyes narrowed dangerously, the council slowly succumbed to the authority she bore.

     “In the name of the Orc-Mother, Igrim Shapogrataar, I, Sharog the wife of Gorbag, demand your answers. On the outcome of this duel, will my people be subjected to the burning flames of Orodruin or shall we be reinitiated into the realm of the Elves and sail with them to the West? What say you?!”

      The council glanced at each other, not sure what to do with Sharog’s demand. Some dared to look back at her piercing stare. Many felt like they had been returned to the hands of their mothers and fathers who exercised rigorous discipline.

     Behind her, Morfang and Legolas were regaining their footing, their hands still on their weapons.

    Celeborn stood. “You are a strange woman to demand answers from men.”

    “My people may seem as patriarchal as yours, but we have always been matriarchal to some degree. Our women make it sure that our men do not forget who it was who birthed them.”

    Celeborn glanced at the others. “I have decided from the moment the prophecy my wife and sister in law spoke of came to pass: I see no Orcs among us.”

     Legolas stared at the council, with no look other than shock. Thranduil stood after him. Elrond, first hesitant, joined them. One by one, the council members stood.

     “This is madness!”

     “Brother, please, give it up,” Lindariel snapped. Legolas stood, approaching the council.

     “For centuries,” he shouted, “Orcs have ravaged our lands, destroyed our villages, and murdered our women and children! You intend to let them go free?!”

    “And who here among us can say that it was us?” Sharog asked. Legolas turned to her, glaring. “Those you speak of were all men. Many of them died after. We are not proud of what our husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers have done. Many of them were under the power of Sauron. They were acting on orders. You focus too much on the past, Legolas Thranduilion. In your eyes, Sauron still lives. And with him, the cursed evil of my people. You must have seen much evil to feel so trapped in what is no longer.”

    As Sharog spoke, the distorted expression on Legolas’ face eased away until all that was left of him was understanding and with it, a sense of shame. “That does not excuse your son for abducting my sister.”

“I wasn’t abducted, Legolas,” Lindariel said. “Please believe me when I say I went with him willingly.”

     “You’re sister was injured from her journey,” Dursnaga added. “It was our people who healed her and cared for her. Have you no compassion for us? We are not Orcs anymore, but in a sense, we will never truly be Elves either. Have you no pity for your kinsmen who have suffered so much at the hands of Sauron and also by your hands?”

     Legolas averted his gaze from Dursnaga to the rest of the council, all waiting expectantly for his answer. He nodded. “Do what you will. I have no power to sway the council’s will. I’ll spare his life as well,” he said with a quick glare at Morfang, who snarled in return.

    “What makes you think you were about to kill me?”

     “Don’t act so tough, Orc. You’re injured?”

     “This little flesh wound? You call this an injury? I almost got your heart, you big-headed Elf!”

     Lindariel and Dursnaga exchanged looks. “This is going to be a common occurrence, isn’t it?”

     “Meh, it’s no different from back at Mt. Gram, to be completely honest, a bit less physical though.”

    Lindariel climbed down and took a big breath, gathering all the courage she could for what she was about to say:

     “Enough of this childish banter, you lowlife maggots!” she shouted. Legolas and the council were rendered silent, mouths agape. “If you’ve energy enough to talk, you can walk yourselves to the Healers! I’ve had my fair share of idiocy for one life time and I’ll be damned if I take anymore!”

     Dursnaga laughed. Lindariel blushed. “Anyway, I’m tired of watching you two fight. I’m sick of it. Please, will you try to get along?”

     “I’ll make an effort if he does.” Legolas snarled at Morfang, who smirked. “Are you trying to mimic me? You couldn’t pull it off!”

    Lindariel turned to Dursnaga for help, knowing that she’d not get far trying to get her brother and Morfang to behave. Dursnaga jumped down, seeing Lindariel’s distress.

    “Alright you scum!” she bellowed, stomping toward them.

    Watching the four youths the council glanced at Thranduil. “What have you to say to this?” Elrond asked.

     Thranduil shrugged. “The tale of the Cursed and the Beloved, who’d have thought it’d be a prophecy?” With that, he stood and left…

***

Earth, 1991 CE

     The movie theater is crowded with parents and their children. The lights dimmed and a flurry of commercials ran by with little attention. The lights dimmed a little further and curtains that were unnoticed at first drew back to widen the screen. The camera in the back rolled and a dark, low sound began. Following it was a piano plucking a tune.

     “Once upon a time, in a far away land, a young prince lived in a shining castle. Although he had everything his heart desired, he was spoiled, selfish and unkind. Then, one winter’s night, an old beggar woman came the castle and offered him a single rose in return for shelter from the bitter cold. Repulsed by her haggard appearance, the prince sneered at the gift and turned the old woman away, but she warned him not to be deceived by appearances for beauty was found within. And when he dismissed her again, the old woman’s ugliness melted away to reveal a beautiful enchantress. The prince tried to apologize but it was too late, for she had seen that there was no love in his heart.

     “As punishment, she transformed him into a hideous beast and placed a spell on the castle and all who lived there. Ashamed of his monstrous form, the beast concealed himself inside his castle with a magic mirror as his only window to the outside world. The rose she had offered was truly an enchanted rose which would bloom for many years. If he could learn to love another and earn their love in return by the time the last petal fell, then the spell would be broken. If not, he would be doomed to remain a beast for all time. As the years passed, he fell into despair and lost all hope. For who could ever learn to love a beast…?”

THE END

By Brittany Silverneko

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