Bastard Sons of Rohan and Dunland
The title of this particular Snippet is taken from a chapter written by the awesome Zoop, who helped me in writing this, and this fic deals heavily in the Uruk-hai. Though I may not share her propensity for shipping Uruks with humans, I acknowledge that a decent Uruk, one that defies the rule of behaviour, is not impossible.
Any black speech names are of dubious provenance (I used a dictionary). There is more than one word for star.
Emrys, Eirian and this particularly talkative Uruk are mine. No one else.
Be warned, this particular ficlet is genuinely quite dark.
Harry looked at the prisoners. One in particular was unsettling him. The way it looked at him… it wasn't like most orcs or Uruks he had encountered. They looked at him like an animal would. As either prey to be hunted or as a predator and a threat. This one… it's expression was almost sad. Like it was asking, 'why?'
He turned to look at Emrys. "You ever think about where orcs and Uruk's came from?"
Emrys glanced at Harry. His gaze had been fixed on the Uruks. Harry saw the shadow of it at the back of his eyes as he shifted focus to Harry, as if Harry was a temporary distraction from the sheer hatred he felt for the Uruks. "I know where Uruks come from. As for orcs… no idea."
"The sons of Elrond told me, several years ago now," Harry said, casting a sidelong glance at the Uruk. It was watching him, curious now. His gaze stayed on it. This one intrigued him "The first orcs were made by Morgoth. But not created. They were born as the first elves. They were as children, fully formed, but curious in exploring their new world. Morgoth snatched them from the starlit lands and waters of Cuivenien, the site of the awakening of the elves. He took them into his dark fortress," Harry said. "And he tortured them. He twisted them. He broke them. And from what shattered creatures remained he made the first orcs. They knew nothing but pain and cruelty, so pain and cruelty is what they dealt to those they were sent against."
"That's horrible," Emrys said quietly, and shivered.
"I pity them," Harry admitted. "Any mercy I had towards them died when I saw what they did to their captives, but I still pity them."
Emrys sneered. "Save your pity for the first orcs and their children. Their descendants are purely evil," he said.
"I have seen men do things that match and exceed the evil of the worst orc, Emrys. It was men that killed my parents, as it was men who killed yours," Harry reproved him. "Not orcs. Yet you don't hate all men."
"I used to hate every Rohirric man, woman and child," Emrys admitted. "Especially the men. For me, they were the ones that took my parents from I and my sister before their time." He looked at Harry. "Did you not hate the one who killed your parents?"
"At times, I did," Harry said. "But in the end… I pitied him. He never knew love. Not of any kind. He was cold and alone, and he constructed his own hell. He chose his path," Harry added, then gestured at the Uruks. "These did not. Saruman chose it for them."
"Monsters," Emrys said, spitting. He inclined his head slightly. "These, I will admit, were much like the orcs of the beginning, in that they were warped by Saruman, and they are more human than most orcs. Gruff, brutal and violent, but the show their humanity. They have no time for weakness, but I saw some men and Uruks share a twisted kind of friendship. A friendship of dark warriors." He growled. "But they are still bastards. My sister was only a week away from being forced to carry the child of one of their foul kin." As he said that, the banked fires of hatred rose in his eyes like a copper laced firestorm, green eyes blazing. Power rolled off him in waves as the white aura that surrounded him at the height of battle, betraying his inhuman heritage, began to pulse. Some of the Uruks, feeling uneasy at the naked threat being levelled at them, bared their teeth and snarled in defiance.
"Easy Emrys. They are our prisoners," Harry said.
"I'm still not sure why you wanted more than one for information," Emrys asked, voice laced with anger.
"Because one may not have the information we need. And they are bastards, Emrys. The bastard sons of Rohan and Dunland," Harry replied. "In a twisted way, your kin."
Emrys turned on Harry and snarled, "They. Are. Not. My. Kin!" His face had shifted. It was longer, sharper, and more dangerous.
"Your sister was a few months away from making you an uncle to one," Harry said, watching Emrys carefully. He was treading on very thin ice here.
"Which is why it is fortunate that you helped me rescue her," Emrys said coldly. "If she had borne one of their kind, I…"
"Would have done what?" Harry asked, voice soft, non-judgemental as his questions probed. "Killed it? Your sister's child?"
Emrys paused. "An Uruk child," he said flatly. But there was a hint of doubt in his voice.
"So you kill children? What if she loved it and raised it? How does that make you better than them?" Harry asked, tone that of someone investigating a scientific conjecture.
"Because you were born better than they are? You think they are born monsters?"
"Based on what?"
"Based on… you're a fine one to talk. Your orc slaying tally is easily in six figures and you regularly ride in errantry with Elladan and Elrohir, who have made it their stated mission to exterminate every orc in Middle Earth. How do you think they would respond if they saw an orc child?" Emrys asked. Harry looked slightly troubled.
"They have… particular reason to hate," he said quietly. "The suffering their mother experienced at the hands of the orcs defies words. And they were the ones to find her. They let me see the memories after the first time I rode with them in errantry."
"The dark elf princes?" the Uruk suddenly asked. "You talk of the dark elf princes of the Northern valley?"
"Of Rivendell," Harry said slowly, "Yes."
The Uruk nodded. "I have seen them, from a distance," he said, revealing surprisingly cultured tones. Still rough, yes, but more like an average Rohirric man than an orc. "They slaughtered most of my company."
"I know," Harry said. "They sent Emrys and I after you. They suggested I teach Emrys the arts of orc hunting."
"I think I prefer your style to theirs," the Uruk said. He smiled. It was a smile full of fangs. "For one thing, we are still alive. If the dark princes had caught us, we would be dead by now." He paused, as Harry blinked, astonished at the concept of a talkative Uruk. A talkative Uruk making a joke!
"You would be if I had my way," Emrys grumbled.
The Uruk looked at him. "You are like them," he said bluntly. "I can smell the rage and pain rolling off you. You seek to slake your desire for vengeance with our blood." He glanced at Harry. "But you… with you it is nothing personal. With you, it is as it is between two warriors. One lives, one dies. There is no particular hatred for my kind. For the snaga orcs, now that is a different matter."
"You mean orcs like those out of Mordor and Moria," Harry said.
"Them," the Uruk said with a nod. "They fear you. We respect your power, for you showed yourself to be mightier than our master. And you proved it in combat." He smiled. "I hear you killed him."
"Did you enjoy it?"
"Liar." The reply was calm, and simple. A flat statement that said, 'you know this is not true. I know this is not true. You know that I know that this not true. I know that you know that I know this is not true. Why keep up the pretense?'
"I did," Harry admitted. "But enjoying killing is –"
"What a warrior does, Ilkalzalnaburguul," the Uruk replied.
"What does that mean?" Emrys asked, a tad curious despite himself. "I recognise the words for in and shadow but not the other part."
"Starlight in the shadows," the Uruk replied. "You are not like other wizards. You are not like our master was, or the grey-bearded one he imprisoned and who returned to defeat him. Their forms are mere houses for their power. Your power suffuses your form. You shine like the stars, and you bring fire and light with you, terrible light. You come dressed in our colour, yet take it for your own. You stand wreathed in darkness, yet burn with an untempered fury. It is an appropriate name."
"That is your name for me," Harry said. "Could be worse."
"It is our name for you. We also call you by another name. Death's Master," the Uruk said.
Harry went white. "Where did you hear that name?" he whispered.
The Uruk shrugged. "It was common enough in Isengard. The snaga orcs told stories about you. They feared and hated us, so sought to frighten us."
"Harry?" Emrys asked.
"It was a title I earned in my world," Harry said slowly. "I possessed three items made by Namo himself. A wand, a stone that brings forth the spirits of the dead – or at least, copies of them. It's hard to tell. And a cloak. I only use the cloak, for it is an heirloom. I do not rule Death. I am not its master," he said, glowering at the Uruk.
"Because the cloak is an heirloom from my father's family, and the others are too tempting. The Elder Wand is hidden, and will stay that way," Harry said firmly. "The Deathstone… I cast it off, but it seems to have found its way back. I have hidden it in my vault at Gringotts."
"Items of power should not be hidden," the Uruk said. "Weapons are for using."
"Not in days of peace."
The Uruk snorted. "Peace. That short time between wars. War is always on the horizon, sorcerer. And if you aren't ready for it, one of my kind may take your head."
"I invite them to try," Harry said. "And they can go to whatever afterlife you lot have, saying that they met me and were incinerated."
"Or maybe, they may catch you off guard," the Uruk said, smirking slightly.
"Then my wife would kill them," Harry said, shrugging. "Besides, I've died twice. I have nothing to fear from death."
"And you wonder why we call you the Master of Death," the Uruk said dryly. His eyes flicked to Emrys and settled on him with a discomforting intensity. "And this young one has not yet answered why he thinks he is better than us."
"A monster that can talk is still a monster," Emrys snapped. "You eat your own kind, you rape and despoil ours, you delight in killing –"
"All sins that human warriors have committed. Cannibalism isn't something we enjoy, yet it is performed as a rare necessity," the Uruk replied. "You'll have to do better than that."
Emrys smiled. Or rather, he bared his teeth. "You cannot love."
The Uruk smiled back. "You know this for sure? In fairness, if you spoke of the snaga, then aside from the odd throwback, you would be right."
"Throwback?" Harry asked curiously. "Physically or emotionally?"
The Uruk nodded. "Emotionally, they are more common than you would think. And the child of the average snaga usuallylooks like an elf instead one of their kind when newborn. The snaga… rectify this over a period of weeks. This mostly serves to crush their gentler emotions and any resemblance to the elves, other than in the ears." He grimaced. "It is a kindness, in an odd way. Any snaga that shows signs of weakness is killed. I remember one that my former master took from its parents at birth as an experiment. She grew, tall, strong, kind and clean limbed. She even developed the glow that elves do, like a pathetic version of the one that your violent friend is emitting."
"What happened to her?"
"The Master got bored with her. What do you think happened? She was thrown to us," the Uruk asked bluntly. "I cut her throat within the first five seconds. It was a mercy. Not that the others noticed, they were so caught up in it all." He suddenly peered at Emrys, who looked thoroughly sickened.
"Ah… Now I see why that one hates so much," he breathed. "I knew there was something familiar about you. I remember your sister. Beautiful little thing, like a diamond in a shit pit. Course, all of us were drooling after her, but the slimy one took her for his own," he said casually. Emrys' eyes narrowed.
"Said that she was his personal whore – those exact words – and that she was going to be taken by him and him alone," the Uruk continued. "The Master let him, since she was just one girl in all the mass of breeders, so he came round twice a week for the next four years. She never stopped screaming and trying to fight him off, so eventually he started running a lottery. Whoever won had to help hold her down and got to cop a feel of her breasts and arse when he was done." He smiled unpleasantly. "Unsurprisingly, her being so pretty, this was popular."
Emrys let out an incoherent snarl and twitched violently. Then he growled, "Did you ever enter?" He was poised to strike, white aura blazing, swords in his hands.
Harry sat up slowly, face carefully blank.
"No," the Uruk said.
"He's telling the truth," Harry said after a moment.
"So the tales are true," the Uruk said. There was a hint of fear and awe in his voice. "You can read minds."
"And destroy them. It's really not that hard," Harry said calmly. "Why didn't you enter?"
"Two reasons. One, I had my own mate. Two, even if I'd been interested, the chances of winning were very low."
"I won, once," another Uruk grunted and leered. "She had great tits. Soft, yeah, but perky with just the right amount of bounce in them. And the arse, firm yet smooth. Tried to scream of course, but she barely had the energy to whisper when Wormy was done. I'd ride that one all night long."
There was a blur and a sudden explosion of gore. Emrys had torn the offending Uruk in half with his bare hands, and he was growling softly, the halves hanging limply from his hands. "Anyone else want to talk about my sister's tits like that?" he asked.
There was a sullen silence from the rest of the Uruks, while the one that had talked chuckled softly. "Madhagmarr never knew when to keep his mouth shut," he muttered, as Emrys hurled the halves at the others, which made defiant sounds, snarled at them, then exited the containment area. "Your sister was all he would talk about for months at a time. I nearly knifed him to shut him up."
"Speaking of the Worm, I heard what she did to him," the Uruk continued. "We ran across him a few weeks back. We laughed at him of course and took the opportunity to take a few chunks out of him and make him scream. It's really very satisfying."
Emrys hummed his agreement before glowering. He was still covered in Uruk blood.
"He's the real monster. We, I and my kind, we have impulses, instincts that drive us to ravage and kill. The Master made them even stronger," the Uruk continued. "We didn't really have a choice." He looked at the other Uruk's, and he sounded slightly sad. "Some went so far into the abyss that they can't come back." He looked back at Harry and Emrys. "But you, your kind… you have the gift of choice. He chose to be evil. We didn't."
"You said you had a mate," Emrys said.
"I did, a woman taken as a breeder. I was strong, stronger than most, so the Master didn't mind if I took one for my own. And I loved her very much, despite what you think about my kind," the Uruk said.
"What happened?" Emrys asked.
"She drowned when the Black Tower fell to the trees that walked," the Uruk said shortly. "Along with our baby," he sighed. He sounded, to Harry's experienced, like he was hurting but desperately trying to hid it.
"You have my sympathy," he said quietly.
"And mine," Emrys said after a very long moment.
"You are different to the rest of them," Harry noted.
"What of it?" the Uruk asked.
"What would you do if we released you and sent you somewhere where you wouldn't run into the twins?" Harry asked.
The Uruk said nothing. He was clearly deep in thought. "I would make a life for myself. Maybe find a steading that would accept me. After all, I do look more human than most of my kind," he said. "Maybe take another mate."
"A peaceful life?" Harry pressed.
The Uruk nodded. "The joy of battle is great, but the price is even greater," he said quietly. "I have had enough of fighting another's wars."
"Coward," another Uruk sneered. The Uruk glanced at him and growled. The other Uruk subsided.
"You are not the only one who feels that way," Harry admitted. "I'm also sick of wars." He flicked his wand, levitating the Uruk free of the containment area. "I know a place that needs strong, young men. One that was relatively untouched by the war. Would that suit?"
The Uruk looked at him in some surprise. "You're sparing me?"
"There are not so many good men in this world – of any breed – that we can afford to lose one," Harry said. "I was taught long ago that it is choices, not our blood, that defines. Maybe it is a lesson that I need to relearn."
The Uruk's eyes widened, then he looked at Emrys, who shrugged. "He has a point," the younger man muttered. "Just one question. Did you ever take a woman against her will?"
"No. Nor a man."
Emrys glanced at Harry.
"He's telling the truth," Harry said.
Emrys stood, and reached out a hand. He looked the Uruk in the eyes. "Good luck," he said quietly.
The Uruk smiled slightly. "Thank you."
"Do any of you want this chance?" Harry asked the other Uruk's.
They all glared and growled defiantly.
"Are you sure?"
"We are Uruk-hai! We are creatures of war, not peace," another spat.
"You don't have to be," Harry said. "You're not the only ones raised for war. That doesn't have to be your path."
"It is our path," the same Uruk snarled. "Kill us and have done with it."
Harry sighed. "Very well. Emrys. Kill."
The Uruks fought valiantly. One of them even managed to give Emrys a black eye. But the fight was brief, in the end. Brief and brutal.
The Uruk sighed. "Fools," he said as Emrys stalked out of the body part strewn containment area.
"Do you have a name?"
"Virdraut," the Uruk answered, and grimaced. "Starlight. My mother gave it to me." He sounded vaguely embarrassed.
"I've heard of worse," Harry murmured, then grabbed Virdraut's shoulder. "Just to warn you, this will feel horrible, but it won't actually kill you. Emrys, clean this up, then go back to Rivendell. Tell the twins all the Uruks are dead. I'll meet you later."
"I'm alive," Virdraut reminded him.
"You can choose. In my book, that makes you human," Harry replied.
He apparated away with Virdraut. Emrys sighed, and began to clean up the blood, guts and other detritus. "Thank Eru for vanishing spells," he muttered.
Once he was done, he returned to Rivendell, cleaned up, and promptly fell asleep.
The next day, he stood on the balcony in Rivendell, deep in thought.
"Emrys!" a voice said, and he turned. One of the twins was walking over to him and smiling. "How did the orc hunting go?"
"Harry took prisoners. One of them – these were Isengard Uruk-Hai – made a lewd comment about my sisters breasts, so I tore him in half with my bare hands," Emrys said, shrugging. "I'm sorry, which one are you?"
The elf chuckled.
"I am Elladan. How did it feel?" he asked.
"Good and bad. Good because it was cathartic. It was a release to be able to destroy the creatures that hurt my sister," Emrys said. "But bad because… it reminded me of that time. It reminded me that I was only a week away from having a sister who was pregnant with a part orc child."
Elladan rested a hand on his shoulder. "It was the same for us at first," he admitted. "But soon the good outweighs the bad."
"With ordinary orcs, I can understand," Emrys said. "They're evil, through and through. But the Uruk-Hai… we met one that was more man the Uruk. He was clever, articulate and not overly aggressive. He had ethics. He even loved." He sighed. "It just makes me wonder: how many have I slaughtered who could have been different. Harry pointed something out to me: the Uruk-hai are the bastard sons of Rohan and Dunland. They are, in a twisted fashion, my kin."
"Again, I understand," Elladan said softly. "The orcs were once elves, did you know that?"
"Harry told me."
"Yes. He would have told you how they were made," Elladan said, glancing at Emrys, who nodded. "They are our kin. But when I see an orc… I just want to kill it," he said, voice shifting to a snarl. "To destroy it."
"Ever since your…"
"Since my mother? To an extent. But it existed before. Gandalf suggested that it might be the elven ability to sense the fea of another elf sensing the shattered, twisted fea of the orc and wanting to be merciful and grant it the peace of death," Elladan said. "I pity orcs. But I also hate them." He looked at Emrys. "You say there was one Uruk that was more man than orc," he said thoughtfully. "I do not deny that it is possible, one Uruk that appeared to be of orc stock but had more human in him. You know the breed better than I, so you would know if it is possible."
Emrys nodded. "It is. I'm wondering, though, whether Virdraut – that was his name – was the exception, or just one of hundreds of Uruks who could have been different."
"I suspect we shall never know," Elladan said.
"Hmm," Emrys said. "He and Harry put a couple of interesting questions. If my sister had had a half orc child, would I have killed it? Even if she had loved it as her own?" He shook his head. "I don't know. I really don't. And if I would, how am I any better?" He looked at Elladan. "Have you ever killed an orc child?"
Elladan was silent for a very long time. "I do not know," he finally said. "Such battles are fraught, and on horseback, a little one of any kind could easily be trampled underfoot."
"Have you ever seen one? I mean, a newborn?" Emrys asked.
"Virdraut said that a newborn orc looks like an elf and only becomes orcish by orcish treatment. And that Saruman did an experiment, raising a child away from her orc parents. Apparently she basically became an elf," Emrys said.
Elladan stared at him in outright shock. "That must be a lie," he whispered.
"No one can lie to Harry, not if he doesn't want them to," Emrys pointed out. "Apparently she basically was an elf until Saruman got bored and had her thrown to the orcs and Uruks. Virdraut slit her throat. A mercy, he said. Considering what happened in those dungeons, I am inclined to agree." He gulped. "My sister was…"
Elladan slipped an arm around the young man's shoulder in comfort. This he understood, reeling as he was from revelation after revelation. "Calm, Emrys. Speak it in your own time," he said gently.
Emrys nodded, lapsing into silence. "Wormtongue adopted her as his personal whore," he said bluntly. "According to Virdraut, those were his exact words. When he had difficulty holding her down, he started running a lottery among the orcs and Uruk-Hai. Any that won held her down while he… while he… while he hurt her," Emrys said with some difficulty, crying slightly. It was sometimes quite hard to remember that he was only sixteen years old, Elladan mused, comforting the boy. "And in exchange they got to touch her." He looked up at Elladan. "The Uruk that I tore in half, he'd won the lottery."
"Oh Eru," Elladan said, as the boy broke down in tears. He remembered the simultaneous exultation and agony he'd felt when he and his brother had found the orcs that had so hurt their mother. And they had been elves with millennia of life behind them, with other family. Emrys was a boy, only sixteen years of age, with no other family in all the world.
"Elladan?" Ginny said, once again displaying her uncanny ability to tell he and his brother apart. Apparently she'd had practice with her own brothers, before one had lost his ear and the other had died. "What's wrong?"
"Emrys went orc hunting with Harry," Elladan said. "They were Isengard Uruk-Hai, one of which had… touched his sister. Emrys killed it, but it brought back some unpleasant memories."
"Oh no," Ginny said, walking over and gently gathering Emrys in a hug. Though he was a good few inches taller than her, he relaxed into her gentle embrace. She gently hushed him and rocked him slightly from side to side, and Elladan was suddenly struck by the thought that she would make an excellent mother to some very lucky child, some day in the future. She looked at him. "Elladan, call your brother, Lord Glorfindel, your father and Harry. I heard some of what you were talking about, and we need to discuss this immediately."
Elladan nodded and did as she asked, glancing back to see her gently run a hand through Emrys' hair as his sobs were reduced to hiccoughs. He smiled slightly. Definitely a mother.
"So," Harry said. "Virdraut, before I dropped him off, pinpointed several locations where some Uruks have taken captured women. They're seeking to build up their numbers in secret, apparently."
Emrys looked up. He'd composed himself, but his eyes were still red. His face had the same hard, blazing look Ginny's got when she was particularly worked up about something. "It's this simple," he growled. "If the Uruks we find have the same gift as Virdraut, they'll be spared and relocated. Every other adult will be slaughtered. Every child…"
"I'm sure we could set up a few settlements where they would be raised," Elrond said. "If they have this gift you both speak of, then they may live. If not, they will be killed quickly and mercifully."
"And about the newborn orcs?" Harry asked, clearly excited. "Elrond, we could have hundreds of new elves on our hands, thousands! Maybe the time of the elves is not over! Maybe it's beginning anew!"
"It feels cruel," Ginny said quietly. "Taking them from their parents. I know it's for the best, but it feels wrong."
"Ginny, such is the nature of all great decisions," Elrond said gently. "Think on it: would they be happier as elves or orcs?"
"This Virdraut also talked about 'emotional throwbacks'. Some that survived the culling nature of their culture," Glorfindel put in. "What about them? What if they are parents?"
"Then they will be given Virdraut's choice. They will be watched in how they raise their child," Elrond decreed. "But otherwise left alone."
Harry stood up. "Then what are we waiting for?" he said, grinning savagely. "Let's go hunt some orc."
Okay, that one was definitely different. To clarify my theory, I reckon that since the elves of the beginning were, mentally at least, newborn, I reckon that newborn orcs would essentially be elves, who need to be twisted. Some might point out the goblin child that Gollum kills in 'the Hobbit' in answer, to which I would say that there is a large difference between 'newborn' and 'child'.
As for what's going to happen to these elves, you have to remember that only ones that are very young wouldn't be 'orcish', so finding them and taking them is going to be very hard. But I think Harry and Emrys would both agree that it was worth it, even if they only saved one. Any that are saved will probably go to Ithilien for the next couple of centuries, before (maybe) sailing with the rest.