Disclaimer: I do not own Lord of the Rings. This story was written for fun, not profit.

Lesser Evil

The East is the lesser of two evils. The clerics say it is not evil at all, that it is Divine Will, but he knows better. His brothers know better and his parents know better, and every man he fights alongside knows better. The world is evil, populated by devils who will not die and men who dream of being kings. Why should the East be any different?

There are no cities here, just the farms of the demon-men. That is what his companions call the screaming, pale people who try and fail to fight them as they push their way West. He knows the history as well as they do. The demon-men came from the West, raiding and plundering, stealing history and language and names. They believe themselves rulers of the world. The East does too, but at least the East does not hide that greed behind virtue. When his companions slash and stab, they are cutting down history.

When he wields his spear, all he sees is that demon-men have red blood, just like he does. They die as easily as the Ak'Alam -- the true-men, his people. They die as easily as he would. Their language is different, but their screams are the same.

There is a demon-woman huddled in front of him before her burning farm, and she is holding her child in one hand and a long knife in the other. It is a strange act, one that produces harsh laughter from his companions. The demon-woman thinks she's a mother. She thinks those tears and those shouts of defiance will trick them into thinking she is a true-woman.

He is not so sure it is a trick at all.

One of his companions grabs her arm. She screams and stabs with her knife. His companion releases her with a hiss and tries to grab her child by the hair. She stabs again. His companions give up and reach for their spears. One of them tells her to run, so he can see if he can hit her. She doesn't understand, but she sets her jaw and holds her ground, shielding the child with her body and holding the knife.

And suddenly he understands. The lesser of two evils is still, at the end, something to be fought against. The demon-woman's child may grow into a monster, but it is still a child now, and she is still its mother.

When one of his companions readies his spear, he draws his dagger and stabs him.

The demon-woman doesn't stop to question. She runs, disappearing into the smoke with her knife and her child. Maybe she survives. Maybe she doesn't. He will never know. It is the greatest evil of all to betray another of the true-men. His cursing companions have already driven their spears into him.

If she survives, she will not tell. Who would believe her? She is a woman of the West, and it is well known among her people that the Haradrim are beasts.