Fighting Orcs

by Linaewen


The two warriors sat side by side at one end of a dark, empty hall in the labyrinth that was Moria. Their heads were bent over their work, which happened to be the sharpening of their blades in preparation for coming battle. Caring for their weapons was a job they each took seriously. They were both wise in the ways of fighting, and knew that a blade honed sharp was a key element in being ready for a fight.

And fight there would be -- there had been no sign of any living enemy as yet, but there was little doubt in anyone's mind that they would soon be fighting Orcs, or worse.

Gimli held up his axe and squinted at it with a critical eye, turning the blade this way and that so the edge would catch what little light was available in the darkened hall. He grunted doubtfully, not quite satisfied with what he saw.

"Sharp enough for the trunk of a tree, perhaps," he muttered. "But will it do for cleaving Orcs? I wonder..."

Beside him, Boromir had set aside his own whetstone and was running his bare thumb carefully along the edge of his sword blade, feeling its keenness with a light touch.

"I know little of axes as they compare to swords in battle," he commented to Gimli. "But it seems to me that if your blade cuts through wood cleanly and smoothly, then will it not also cleave Orc necks just as easily? I have seen you fight, and I believe you to have the strength it takes to stand firm before a host of Orcs, whether your axe is dull or keen!"

"I thank you for your good words, Boromir," Gimli said with a bow of his head. "You give me hope!"

He applied his stone to the blade once again. "Just a bit more sharpening, I think, for a finer edge..."

"You seem as keen as the blade of your weapon to see battle," Boromir commented with a faint smile. "It would seem you are an old hand at fighting Orcs, to be anticipating the coming battle with such relish. Have you fought many in the North from whence you come?"

There was a long silence, so long that Boromir began to wonder if he had said something terribly wrong.

"Well... er..." Gimli cleared his throat, hesitated, then spilled the words out hurriedly. "No... Well, actually, no, I have not fought so very many Orcs. There are few about these days. None in the Blue Mountains where I grew up, and few in the surrounding areas where my people wandered in exile. Those which survived the Battle of the Five Armies stay well hidden, and have only recently begun to grow in numbers and appear again to trouble the northern lands once more. But I... well..."

Gimli glanced at Boromir, who looked back at him encouragingly, even though he was mystified at the Dwarf's hesitant manner.

"Truth be told," Gimli sighed heavily, "I've never even seen an Orc, let alone fought one!"

Boromir stared at Gimli in shocked surprise, but cut short his startled exclamation when he saw the look of gloomy chagrin upon his companion's face.

"I had not realized there are now so few Orcs in the North," Boromir said slowly. "Alas that we could not send you some of ours! Now I understand your eagerness as well as your apprehension! To have fought as a warrior for many years and yet to have never wielded your weapon against the great enemy of your people -- that is hard, very hard. I wish I could say the same for myself!"

"You have had no lack of Orc necks to sever there in Gondor, eh?" Gimli commented, mollified that Boromir did not seem to think less of him for not having fought an orcish enemy.

"Indeed, I fought my first Orc when I was barely old enough to heft my blade!" exclaimed Boromir. "And there has been no surcease to fighting since."

"So what can you tell me about Orc fighting, then?" Gimli asked eagerly. "I don't want to look a fool when I see one at last, so a few pointers would be welcome!"

"There is little trick to it. All it takes is endurance and a sharp blade -- both of which you have! You may not have met an Orc in battle, but you have dealt with other creatures both evil and fierce, have you not? You stood strong and fought well against the wolves on the mountain not so long ago; fighting Orcs is like that. They come at you relentlessly, and you must stand your ground -- if you hesitate or fall back, you are doomed."

"Like wolves, eh?" Gimli looked thoughtful. "Well then, that sounds simple enough! I ought to be able to manage that."

Boromir gave a snort of laughter at the note of satisfaction in Gimli's voice.

"I have no doubt you can manage it, my friend," he laughed.

Leaning forward, he reached out his hand and felt the edge of Gimli's axe blade with his thumb.

"Sharp indeed!" he said with a satisfied nod. "Our blades will fight well together -- mine, which is used to the taste of Orc blood, but thirsts for more; and yours which is eager for a first taste. It will not be long now."

"Aye," said Gimli. "Not long now! Fighting Orcs... I can hardly wait!"

*****

Author's note: While it seems somewhat improbable that Gimli has actually never really fought an Orc prior to this, it seems to me that it could have been so -- and that's enough for me to write a "might have been." As he says, there were not so many Orcs in the areas where he grew up, and if there were, he might have missed meeting them. He was considered too young to go on the quest with Thorin and Bilbo, and so he missed his chance to fight in the Battle of the Five Armies. If Orcs were scarce after that, then the possibility that he never did fight one exists -- at least it is enough of a possibility to make this short tale work. What we do know is this -- that when Gimli does meet Orcs in battle, he is not afraid to apply his axe with vigor! I like to think that this is because of the encouragement of his new friend and traveling companion, Boromir.