Black and Gold

by NorthStar

Part VII

Lurtz did not back away, but remained where he was, eyes fixed on the ring. Frodo’s fingers around his hot flesh did not deter him; he didn’t even seem to notice. With a mounting sense of horror, Frodo understood that the ring could reach out and grab hold of even those with no human soul; and worse yet, he recognized the look of helpless fascination on the Uruk’s face as the same one he must now wear on his own.

Locked in this moment, Frodo did not feel Sam stir beside him, until a sharp voice broke the silence. “Here, you! Let go of him!” Sam brought his hand down hard on the orc’s forearm. Startled, Lurtz let go, and Frodo hastily tucked the ring back inside his shirt, breaking the spell.

Recovering his presence of mind, Lurtz snarled at Sam and raising his hand, knocked him away, then turned his attention to Frodo. Frodo scrambled backwards, retreating from that reaching hand…

“Unspoiled, eh?” Agrak sneered. “Leave ‘em, alone, eh? Rules a little different for you than us scum, hmm? The White One might be thinkin’ again ‘bout who leads his army!”

“Shut up, you swine,” snarled Lurtz, standing up. “You don’t talk to me like that. I’m in charge here – don’t forget it!” Agrak was not about to give up the advantage. “See here, boys!” he shouted. “Not the same rules at all! His highness here can do what he wants, alright – while whipping us like animals! Don’t touch ‘em, he said. They’re special, he said. But here he is, fondlin’ one o’them. Musta got lonely in the night, eh Lurtz?” A burst of raucous laughter greeted this jape, and Frodo and Sam found themselves ringed by orcs, each leering and snickering down at them.

They were more afraid than they had ever been.

Lurtz drew himself up, using every inch of his impressive height and roared something that the hobbits could not understand, but sounded menacing; enough so the laughter died in most throats immediately. The assembled orcs stepped back, eyeing him warily. Frodo and Sam took the opportunity to inch away from the mass. The ring hung heavily against his chest. Close to the evil as it was, the ring turned on its chain, straining with a will of its own; so strong that Frodo was forced to clamp his hand against his vest to hold it still. More words were shouted, and the orcs retreated; all except Agrak, who defiantly stood his ground.

With one final glance towards Frodo, Lurtz turned and walked away, ignoring the mutterings of Agrak, who had not got the full reaction he intended. Frustrated that his bid for power had been thwarted, Agrak shouted after the retreating figure, “ you can’t deny it! You’re no better than the rest o’ us cattle. You ain’t no leader, just a swine, too!” Lurtz did stop then, and looked back. “Speaking of swine and cattle…” he turned back towards the group “Boys! Breakfast!”

Soon, all that was left of the mutineer was a pile of bones and mottled skin.

Lurtz himself ate the heart – with great relish. None would dare question him now. Well-fed and suitably nervous, they should perform even better now. The White Wizard would be very pleased with his creation. He smiled inwardly. The wizard might be in command now – but perhaps not for long. For though Saruman had imbued his Uruk-Hai with disregard for most human emotions, he had forgotten a few; avarice, ambition. Lurtz knew Saruman was under the sway of an even greater monster than himself.

The Dark Lord, Sauron. HE was the key to all this destruction..

And HE wanted what the hafling carried too.

Who was the greater master?

A roar interrupted his reverie – around him, orcs looked up from licking dripping fingers and gnawing on bones. A scout stood in their midst; imbedded in his chest was his own short pike. He was gasping for breath, but managed to utter one last word.

“MEN!”