A Cast of Shadows

Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, I only play with them.... A LOT! I make no money, which explains why I'm broke and keep a colony of moths in my pockets and closet.

Rating: We'll say PG-13 to be on the safe side. It may get a bit violent from time to time but its not like ya haven't seen it on the news.

Archives: Sure! Give me a link to it so I can check it out... though I don't know why ya want it.

Summary: Evil has been building in Middle Earth for some time. Shadows have been manifesting, taking on all appearances to lure the unsuspecting into their grasp. When Elves have been taken from the borders of Lothlorien, it is up to Haldir and his brothers to go in search of the lost ones. The elements are against them, orcs outnumber them, and Haldir finds solace in a companion. Will the shadows continue to grow and conquer, or can Haldir and his brothers thwart their plans and survive the evil that lurks everywhere?

Pairings: Possibly, but not really in depth. And definitely NO slash. And to head off the flamers, this is NOT a Mary-Sue.

Feedback: If you leave any flames, they will be fed to the dragon in the backyard and then deleted without another thought. Constructive critism is appreciated and welcomed, and even thoughts and questions, whatever you wanna respond with, I'm open. I will try to answer as many as I can per posting without giving away the plot. :D

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Title: A Cast of Shadows Chapter 1: Set In Motion

Saruman, White Wizard of Isengard, looked out over his vast empire. His fellow Maiar, Gandalf the Gray, had left earlier that week, insisting to the elder White that he was needed in a distant country by mortals. Why Gandalf associated with mortals, human and hobbit and dwarf alike, the older Maiar would never know. He enjoyed the ancient, wise verbalization and musings of his counterpart, but sometimes the Gray Wizard was just down right cryptic to a fault, not to mention trying of the elder's patience.

Saruman felt his ire rise at the memory of their last encounter, to which the Gray Wizard had never answered a single question from his senior. Instead he danced around his true purpose and giving elusive answers to even the most direct inquiry.

Saruman tightened his hand on the black railing, his temper rising once again with the replay of the events and the lack of information he got from his less than forthcoming friend. It seemed that the Gray wizard enjoyed toying with his White counterpart, watching him fume and fuss, his anger boiling just below the surface, ready to explode.

"Why do you resist sharing your knowledge?" Saruman asked quietly.

"I beg your pardon My Lord?" a cloaked shape deep within the shadows asked.

"I was not addressing you, merely allowing my mind to speak," Saruman said roughly, half glancing towards the figure.

"My apologies for the interruption."

Saruman cast a long look over his woodland paradise and spotted several figures moving beneath the pale light of the dying sun. The coming twilight revealed them emerging from the hidden entrance concealed among the shadowed crevices of the ancient tower. The figures moved clumsily in no particular formation, their noises heard over the evening forest of nocturnal creatures stirring, as they ambled out into the open spaces between the trees.

The beings were large, lumbering, dark of skin with bulging muscles. Most were devoid of body hair, though some did possess a thin wisp upon the tops of their heads. All had hallow-set, squinty eyes, horrid jagged teeth, and a cruel manner to even the most casual observers. These beings were called Orcs, and were just starting their normal routine of exercise and battle practice as the dusk fell and night descended upon them. Practicing in the daylight hours was impossible due to the photophobic nature of the darkness- loving beast. Daytime was also dangerous; as Gandalf could arrive at any time and see the army of creatures his superior kept in his company. Wanting to keep his gruesome army a secret, Saruman ordered the beasts remain below in the bowels of the tower, only venturing forth when he gave the signal that it was safe once again.

Saruman watched the Orcs below him practicing their combative skills, grappling and twisting with one another as their growls and grunts of language rang throughout the trees. Though there was no particular infrastructure to their numbers, the lesser Orcs tended to obey orders grunted out by the seniors of the group. The seniors of the ground were the ones that had proven themselves effective and knowledgeable in battle, and relayed the orders given by their wizarding master. These Orcs were often the most scarred and the cruelest.

One such Orc, which was covered in scars, some still reddened and healing, barked orders to a smaller group of Orcs that were beginning to show signs of the battle peak. Several of the group obeyed, listening to the command and turned on a member of their group, a smaller and slower orc not yet seasoned by battle. The multiple attackers converged easily on the disadvantaged one and with vicious growls, pounced on the hapless creature unmercifully. A blood curdling scream rent the air as the defenseless orc lost his bearings and was literally torn apart by his snarling colleagues.

Victorious hoots and snaps of delight arose from the Orcs, who were now covered by their fellow's blood. A few grunts between them and the uproar started over again, their voices rough and dry. One yelled out something incoherent to an observer, then the crowd turned malicious eyes towards the Orc that originally issued the order to rip apart the smaller one. Without a word they advanced on the battle hardened member and tackled him to the ground, claws tearing at whatever body part they could reach, twisting and ripping at the flesh. Within a couple of minutes, the older Orc was left to ruins like the one he condemned to death, his body twitching as his blood spilled on the soil beneath the trees.

With a heavy sigh Saruman turned his back on the combatants and sized up the cloaked figure hidden in shadow.

"The Orcs are vicious enough for my needs, but they lack proper discipline and grace. They have little respect for the hierarchy of things. Many do not understand the demands I place on them."

Down below, as if to emphasize the point, an Orc staggered onto the training field with a weapon, stumbled and promptly impaled himself on it. The others shouted in their mirth and disappointment, some cheering as the now dead orc gave a last shuddering breath. The scene went unnoticed by the White Wizard who kept his back to the shadowed ground.

Saruman kept his attention to the dark figure, "They learn too slowly. I need an army worthy of my command. One that will do my bidding without question and show the skill worthy of a powerful Lord."

"What were you thinking of?" the dark figure asked huskily.

Saruman thought carefully before answering, "I need a warrior with speed and grace. One with the ability to take orders and fulfill them unwaveringly." Saruman spun, his gaze drifting back down to the orcs training below him. "I want Elves. They alone possess the speed and accuracy I require for my new breed of warriors."

"My Lord, I doubt they would willingly become an army for you."

Saruman smiled viciously, "I do not need them but for their bodies." He sighed at the chaotic Orcs, and then turned, entering his chambers. He walked to his large obsidian desk, partially covered in parchments and concealing many hidden drawers and spaces. He found the parchment he was looking for and clenched it tightly in his fist, causing the knuckles on the gnarled hand to turn white.

"I will cross Orcs with Elves. The Orcs will provide the brutality and strength I need, while the Elves will lend their natural ability of grace and obedience to me. The blending will create the army worthy to serve me."

The figure shifted slightly in the shadows, "They will not be easy to persuade."

"Do whatever it takes. Use as many men as you can to obtain me suitable candidates," Saruman said sternly.

"They will put up a fight no doubt," came the silky reply.

"Then I suggest you wear them down before you begin," Saruman said sharply, his patience wearing thin. "Catch only a couple at a time. When they are broken enough, you may move on to another."

An exasperated sigh came from the cloaked figure.

Sensing the reluctance, Saruman added, "You may take several Orcs with you, male and female. I will find the ones that can listen to orders and obey commands without causing too much trouble with their bumbling. I may have the very magic to aid their obedience," Saruman said, holding up a small silken bag in front of him to allow the stranger to better view it. "They will assist you in any task they are needed for. When the Elves are broken, you may begin your breeding."

"The Elves will be most reluctant. They would rather have their bodies broken and accept death, than be violated by an Orc."

"They will give you no problem," Saruman said with a twisted smile on his ancient features. He withdrew a small vile from his desk's many compartments and held it up for better viewing; "This will make the Elves a bit more forthcoming."

"What is it my Lord?"

Saruman gave a heinous growl, "A mixture of my own invention. You will only need a small amount to get the desired effects."

The White Wizard motioned for the cloaked being to come closer as he pulled a small vile from inside of his voluminous robes. He placed it atop his desk; the phial standing up on end without any visible means of support as it awaited the wizards plans. Saruman opened the small pouch and removed a tiny pinch of the contents. The powder inside was a hideous brown and black color, course and grainy like sand. Saruman waited until he felt the presence at his side and dropped the small amount into the vial and poured water into the mixture.

The sandy substance hissed dangerously with the water and bubbled into a thick froth. Saruman withdrew a small slender object, resembling a thin twig and drew some of the solution into it.

"One drop is all you need to subdue an Elf," Saruman explained. "The effects will be instantaneous and last for several hours."

"What are the effects?" the voice asked huskily.

"Submission. The loss of all desire and free will," Saruman smiled grimly, handing the pouch over to the cloaked person who accepted the offered pouch with a gloved hand. "Use it sparingly and with great caution. Too much will cause deep sleep that one may never be stirred from."

"I shall endeavor to see an Elf that is totally submissive," the cloaked figure said with a sounding taunt.

"They will put up a strong defense. Make sure each one is under control before you begin your experiments. Do not trust to their bent wills. Elves can be very deceptive when they choose to be." Saruman said sternly.

"I am sure they can be handled. They may need to be taught who is superior, but they will no doubt bow down and accept their fate."

"I expect no less from my servants," Saruman sneered.

The figure gave a shallow, cold laugh.

"Just do not break their bodies beyond repair. They are worthless if they die," Saruman added.

The shadowed figure shifted nervously in the dark, apparently warring over something in its mind. In a rush, they addressed the White Wizard, "The price will not be cheap for such a request, My Lord. It will take many men and many days to break the Elves spirits, and then the upkeep of them and the Orcs that are to accompany me. I will need to prepare provisions, and see to special arrangements, which will not be easy on the treasury."

"Payment is of no consequence to me. I will pay whatever you require to raise a suitable army," the Istari said with a lift of his chin. "But know this," Saruman said in a dangerous voice, "I will not tolerate failure. This commitment will have benefits to all parties involved, but with those benefits there are also consequences to failure. This will succeed, or there shall be no survivors to talk of the folly. Am I understood?"

The figure seemed to shrink back from the powerful wizard and answered, "It is understood great Saruman. You will have your army."

"Then you will have riches beyond your wildest dreams," Saruman promised softly.

A malicious smile broke out over the face hidden in shadow, "Very well. Your request will be served My Lord. You will have your army." With a quick gesture, the figure disappeared.

"Good." Saruman smiled and returned to his balcony, his gaze drifting to the crowd of Orcs sparring with one another. "Very good indeed."

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AN: Sorry its taken me SO long to get this out and finally posted, but college demands my full attention. Now that I have the first couple of chapters ready, I can now relax and post, and not feel guilty about spending all my 'homework time', writing. :D This chapter was a bit slow out of the gate, but if you bear with me, I promise it will get better and become an interesting read. There is much going on, and I hope that all my readers enjoy the story and the twists and cliffies that are to come. EG The rest of the chapters will be much longer, I promise!

hugs to all that have supported me and were kind to offer their thoughts