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1/1/2013 c34 18The Lauderdale
Er, with regard to profanity: not accurate to Tolkien's personal writing style, but probably accurate to his world. As he himself said in the Appendices, "...Orcs and Trolls spoke as they would, without love of words or things; and their language was actually more degraded and filthy than I have shown it. I do not suppose that any will wish for a closer rendering, though models are easy to find. Much the same sort of talk can still be heard among the orc-minded; dreary and repetitive with hatred and contempt, too long removed from good to retain even verbal vigour, save in the ears of those to whom only the squalid sounds strong."

I gots no problems wit' swearin' Orcs. Tara is more eyebrow-raising, but then, Tara has been raised among thieves and drunks and prostitutes, not by elegantly spoken Elves or well-bred Men, or comfortably pastoral hobbits. Sometimes she uses "motherfucker" more than I'd expect, but then again, I also think she's a younger, more "South Park"-ish age in some respects (however old she's supposed be): you know, just the age when the squalid does feel like the best way way to sound strong. (It is possible I am trapped at that age myself.) I think it is very telling that, as time has has gone by in the story, she has become graver and less profane in speech. This may be due to other factors as well, but I think some personal maturation is also part of it.

Orcs in Tolkien's writing also tend to sound more "modern" than most of the other characters, with the exception of the hobbits. That modernity is meant to set both hobbits and Orcs apart from the Elves and Men, albeit in different ways - and of course, the hobbits are capable of picking up the more elevated/archaic diction of the Elves and Men (see especially Frodo), whereas the Orcs are not. This is in keeping with Tolkien's usual love of the archaic and dismissal of the modern, and an Orkish contempt for "beauty," in language as in anything else.
1/1/2013 c35 The Lauderdale
Saalcaf's plan is reasonable from his perspective, comparatively noble in its restraint, and just not going to work. At this point it's not longer about what Orcs do or don't do, but the fact of their very existence. It's a good point that, this being "the Age of Men," the whip would come down all the harder now. There's an essay by Tolkien, "Myths Transformed" in the volume Morgoth's Ring, which reads:

"...the Wise in the Elder Days taught always that the Orcs were not 'made' by Melkor, and therefore were not in their origin evil. They might have become irredeemable (at least by Elves and Men), but they remained within the Law. That is, that though of necessity, being the fingers of the hand of Morgoth, they must be fought with the utmost severity, they must not be dealt with in their own terms of cruelty and treachery. Captives must not be tormented, not even to discover information for the defense of the homes of Elves and Men. If any Orcs surrendered and asked for mercy, they must be granted it, even at a cost. This was the teaching of the Wise, though in the horror of the War it was not always heeded."

But the temperance of the Elves is passing, and Aragorn is a leader of Men, even if he was raised among Elves. (Though that may not have been so helpful to him in this regard, since his foster-brothers Elladan and Elrohir were about as genocidal toward Orcs as it was possible to be on account of their mother's torment.) Hopefully the example of Rakhan will serve as some reminder of this older "teaching of the Wise," but that may not be soon enough to save this lot.

(For those seeking a more optimistic outcome for Orcs in the Fourth Age, there are two references that yield some hope. One: Aragorn freeing "the slaves of Mordor" and giving them "all the lands about Lake NĂºrnen to be their own." Most take this to mean Men from other lands who had been enslaved by Sauron, but some have argued this could include Orcs and part-Orcs, who were certainly referred to as slaves, even by those who despised them. Two: a reference in The Hobbit, to goblin ingenuity: "It is not unlikely that they have invented some of the machines that have since troubled the world ... but in those days and those wild parts they had not advanced (as it is called) so far." The implication, for those who want to take it: that Orcs will be around to wreak havoc for some time to come.)

Out of curiosity, since I've wondered but don't remember seeing it mentioned in the story, and there are so many references to Tara's size (even Ushatar said she wasn't fully grown in Chapter 5), how old is this poor child supposed to be?
1/1/2013 c35 11Wicken25
So does this mean saruman and sauron are dead and it is the events after return of the king?
1/1/2013 c2 2transcendental-signified
I definitely enjoy your writing style. It's confident and well-done, and your story has the making of an interesting one at this point (end of chap2). Definitely intriguing enough to keep me reading. However, my one qualm is with the language/dialogue. It's rather modern, especially with the rather free uses of profanity. I understand that they are Uruks and all, but there could have been more LOTR-accurate ways to portray the same feeling.
HOCKEY
1/1/2013 c33 18The Lauderdale
Stubbornly NOT reading Chapter 34 yet, because I owe you a review.

Ushatar's talent for drawing was unsuspected, but I've always figured that some of the Orcs would have an artistic streak. (Tolkien implies as much himself, albeit nastily, when he refers to the vandalized statue in The Two Towers. "Look, Ma! It's modern art!") I did wonder that we hadn't seen it before, whether directly or by some hint: Ushatar gathering a lot of hides or bartering for charcoal or such, although it's possible that he did and I just overlooked it. Makes me wonder if he did any idle scrawling back at Orthanc when he was a dutiful soldier boy. Some surreptitious graffiti, maybe?

Gotta admit, when the warrior Uruk took Tara I was expecting either Dolpan or a total stranger. And I guess it was a stranger, but then Nuk showed up, and as sorry as I felt for him, it was good to get closure for one of Ushatar's old "mates," even if it was only a violent death.

Ushatar *did* choose, I absolutely agree with Tara on this point, but then again, it's not like Nuk (or Dolpan, for that matter) had a magical life bond take hold of him and begin to change him on some fundamental level. But then again, neither did Rakhan: when the War was over he RAN, and he opened himself to change. He was already a changed Uruk before he came upon Eolina and her child, and as far as I can tell he came to love her naturally (maybe "naturally" isn't the word, but certainly more conventionally) through his curiosity, and her loveliness, and his loneliness, and a desire to protect her and and her child. But then again, his changes all began with the defeat of Sauron; Ushatar's, perforce, began while he was still under the control of Saruman, and he was setting himself against a will that, so far as we know, Rakhan never challenged while he was under Saruman and then Sauron's power.

It's interesting to compare the two, and I wonder if, at some point in the future, Rakhan and Ushatar might ever run into each other again and swap stories.

On the subject of Orkish afterlives - Faalca's comment in Chapter 31 - Tolkien raised a few possibilities, but mostly in work that came out after his death, and nothing about the beliefs of the Orcs themselves. OTOH, there is one possible reference to it by an Orc in the book version of "The Two Towers": "Grr! Those Nazgul give me the creeps. And they skin the body of you as soon as look at you, and leave you all cold in the dark on the other side." So Gorbag, at any rate, seems to have belief there is an "other side"; as to what happens to them there, it's hard to say, but the Powers in Tolkien's universe have a lot to answer for (and can be rather ham-handed fools themselves sometimes, if you go by the Silmarillion.)
12/31/2012 c33 moonmuse
excellent chapter!
12/30/2012 c32 50Zoop
Holy crap again! First of all, it warmed my heart (as it did Ushatar's) to see Tara sink into him. They faced a common enemy, defeated it together, and by gum, Ushatar didn't haul off and rape her right after. He was far more relieved to find her safe and whole, to be saved by her (for the second time, because let's be honest, his bond to her gave him the ability to make the choice).

I neglected to comment on this last chapter, but I find it awesome and sad at the same time that Ushatar has a gift for artistic expression of a non-martial nature. Undoubtedly, such a trait would be of zero value to Saruman, and not encouraged at all, but it just illustrates the *personness* of Ushatar that he has not only the ability to draw but the inclination to. I think that aspect of him must surely endear him to Tara, showing her a side of him that isn't ugly or cruel. She's seeing it anyway, but this just sort of reinforces the truth of it.

Now the pooh-storm has hit. If Ghuribal has ratted them out - which I can only think was done under extreme duress - then there's going to be a scramble for the exits in the next chapter. Ushatar better not be an ass and try to take'em all on. I'd thought Ranash's prediction was going to be his return with his 'kin's' blood on his sword and that's all, but it looks like he's got even worse news than that to deliver.

Damn, woman, this is a hell of a compelling story! I can't wait for the next chapter! :D
12/30/2012 c31 Ruanis
I just read this from chapter 1 to 31 at one go. It's just so brilliant, beautiful, moving! You do have quite a gift of making people fall in love with Uruks! That's right, I'm officially in love with Ushatar! (*blush*)

Please update soon, I can't wait to find out what happens next!
12/30/2012 c31 Cotton Strings
Damn it cliffhanger! Can't wait for the next chapter!
12/30/2012 c31 Elainejoy
I bet that Uruk who took her was Dolpan.

Anyways! I just wanna say that this fic is seriously addicting.
I understand Tara's untrustworthiness toward Ushatar but at the same time I pity him! Rape is obviously unforgivable, but I wish she could understand that Ushatar had no idea how to properly court someone and now he actually worsened her views on affection since she never really experienced it. Though, it is interesting to read how a relationship can form when it had the most horrible start ever.

And it's so cute that he can draw! An Uruk after my own heart!
12/30/2012 c31 Zoop
Holy shit! After such a lovely moment between them, too! I suspect this will be why he returns to the cave with a bloodied sword - he'll have to fight and likely kill one of his own for Tara. Man, let him get to her before this guy has at her.

Very good conversation with Faalca, giving Tara much food for thought. When the dust settles on *this* little setback, I hope she sits him down and talks to him about the bond and why he was cruel to her, in spite of its influence. She'll likely be surprised, or maybe she *won't*, that he just didn't know how to express it, that the feelings were strong and he had no idea what else to do with them because his master didn't give him those sorts of tools. As I have in my own headcanon, these boys are completely without social skills; friendliness wasn't of value to Saruman, so it wasn't encouraged or nurtured. He's had to dig deep inside his *nature* to figure out what to do. I seriously want them to have that talk; dang it all. :(
12/30/2012 c30 Zoop
Ah, the Bee at his back stung! That's got to be a relief, though I'm surprised Ushatar needed to tell everyone about it. It sounded like he had a 'Shadow-wrenching' moment when the last vestiges of the Power were stripped from him; being half-Orc, I'm not surprised it wasn't crippling, but what DOES surprise me is that nobody else felt it. Does that mean that, by claiming freedom, this load of Orcs is somehow already freed of Sauron's influence? I always felt that it was almost an inherited condition, something that wouldn't be removed except by the demise of Sauron. Certainly not by choice.

Aside from that, dangerous moments in the dar. Tara still associates anything intimate with Ushatar with rape, and justifiably recoils when she senses the reason behind his approach. She's not had a single pleasant experience in that department, and I wouldn't expect her to go there with him just yet. Maybe eventually, when she learns to trust him, but he hasn't won that from her yet if she's still afraid around him. He likely set himself back a bit by his confession, but honestly, he needed to tell her the score. What he's been suffering from and *fighting* every minute of every day.

Love the sorceress Ranash. :D And if the fall promises shit brewing, we've got a ways off for that. Scary thought, though - Ushatar with a bloody sword still in the cards. It ain't over yet. Very likely the anti-Orc genocide will commence as soon as the dust settles from the war. Then Tara will have a choice to make, won't she? :(
12/29/2012 c29 Lady Valeria
I'm really hooked on this story. I wonder what's coming
12/29/2012 c29 Zoop
Just as the walls are turning into curtains and occasionally fluttering aside for them to *see* each other a little better, along comes... something nasty. If I'm reading the description right, we're looking at the Dawnless Day and the Hosts of Mordor on the march.

For anyone not familiar with Black Speech, I think the phrase Ushatar said is, "I need my weapon, *fuck*!"

I think, besides Tara's little "am I hurting you," the most telling bit here is at the end when she refers to the 'hated spawn' within her as her unborn child, and acknowledges Ushatar as the father. A bit leap has been made for her, whether she consciously realizes it or not. Was it the trip to the sun he gave her? Handing a means of defending herself from him into her hands (his knife)? Their dark confessions and mutual understanding? All these things are possibly what moves her heart into a different place where he's concerned.

I also like the scene with the Orcesses and Nemlii. They tease her about going for 'sunlight' (hehehe - nudge nudge), and instead of flipping out, she allows herself to joke with them. It's really refreshing to see her coming out of the black hole and feeling good enough about herself to be friends with others.
12/29/2012 c28 Zoop
This was really a beautiful chapter, full of the kind of sharing I was hoping Ushatar would do. It may be painful and humiliating for him, but Tara needs to hear *his* side, understand what it was like for *him*. Maybe a small amount of sympathy for this devil is starting to form. Little by little, the walls are starting to thin around her. As long as he doesn't try to tear them down violently, I think there's a *chance* she might lower them herself. He's being incredibly solicitous and that's *got* to be affecting her. I like that this chapter was entirely in his P.O.V. so we get a heart-gripping sense of his feelings. I'm hoping the next will show us *hers* and we get to see how his little action impacted her.

I think also that she's better suited to living among Orcs (constant darkness notwithstanding) than humans, just based on her hardened exterior and somewhat bloodthirsty thoughts. And really, after what she's endured, I'm not thinking those prudes and racists Tolkien gave us would embrace her. To which I say, fuck you people. Makes me wonder if Celebrian's departure to the West after her ordeal wasn't urged by family constantly giving her the 'ew' eye over what they suspected happened to her in those caverns.
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