Speaks to the Trees

BY : draylon
Category: Lord of the Rings Movies > Slash - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 3211
Disclaimer: I do not own the Lord of the Rings book series and movie series, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

 

 

 

Chapter 1. A walk in the dark

Just after sunset, and it was already dark under the trees at the edge of the wood.  Winter still lingered in the highest passes of the mountains, but here the first celandines, their petals closed against the cool of the evening, were already blooming all along the bank.  Deeper into the little ravine, where the air was still and rang with the chattering sounds of water falling over rock, it was noticeably warmer than out under the empty, windswept sky, and in amongst the trees the gentle exhalations from fresh, unfurling fronds of leaf-growth perfumed the air with a delicate, green scent.

The hazel bushes, in the shelter of their mountain gorge grew as high as the wind-shortened trees that were to be found at this altitude.  Their glossy, grey-brown limbs were bare of leaves as yet but there were lambs’-tail catkins, laden with dusty pollen, hanging down in glorious abundance from every branch.  In a mossy nook, down among the hazel roots that clung to the bare rock of the hillside, were drifts of wind-flowers and sweet-scented moschatel, and in the open space at the sides of the tumbling stream, early primroses just coming into bud.  A late-singing blackbird, safe in his little haven of wood and watercourse, warbled a few last notes of liquid melody against the darkening sky.

It was the first flush of springtime and the stars were shining faintly through a cool, greeny-yellow dusk as a stately figure, tall, slim and silent, made his way down the ravine between the trees, treading lightly through the stands of spring flowers and stepping with great care.  He was bare-headed and his long hair swung straight, glimmering faintly like silver as it caught the starlight; the hem of his fine woollen cloak, which showed a subtly-woven pattern running through its threads,  brushed through the leaf-tops of tender new growth, gathering glistening  beads of freshly-fallen dew.

So quietly did this person approach that a little Orc, crouching in a moss-lined depression and with his thoughts on other, sundry matters, did not notice the tall figure until he was nearly upon him.  Up went the Orc, shooting out from almost under the tall one’s feet, like a partridge breaking from a covey.  

“Save us an’ ‘elp us all!” he cried, as bolting from his hidey-hole between the hazel bushes, the startled Orc began running pell-mell down the slope, screeching something about ‘the light of the cold and terrible stars that was shinin’ in ‘is cruel eyes’ as he went.

The lofty, cruel-eyed figure clumped over to the hollow where the little Orc had been sitting and bent down stiffly to retrieve a discarded item from among the tree-roots.  

“Oi, Maz!” he called after the fleeing figure. “Here!  Maz!  You’ve forgotten your kecks.”

“Shagrat!” the little Orc cried, blowing out a great puff of breath in relief.  Pausing in his panicky flight, he came to a stop some way further down the ravine.

“What d’you have to go walking so quiet for, like?” Maz demanded, as his companion approached.  “For a minute there, Shaggers, when first I seen you coming through them trees I could’a sworn you was one of ‘em  – I fort for sure I was seein’ an - “ 

Shagrat, who was in fact also an Orc – and a large one - himself, sighed wearily through his teeth.   He’d been walking carefully mainly because he had to, on account of having a gammy leg.   He handed Maz the grubby pair of breeches he’d picked up for him.  “One of them what.”

It was slowly dawning on Maz that the issue of who – or rather what sort of a person – he thought he’d glimpsed coming through the trees might well be construed as a mortal insult to an Orc like Shagrat. 

“Oh – nothing, nothing,” he muttered shiftily.   Then perking up a bit he asked hopefully:  “Ludlow not wiv’ you then?”

Shagrat grunted.  Through a recent series of misadventures, the Hobbit to whom Maz was referring had come to be something of a constant – if unlikely – companion of his.

“Says he’s not one for late nights,” he said.  “What about you?”

 “I ‘eard a pair of ringnecks ‘ad flown the gamekeeper’s coop,” the little Orc replied quickly.   “An’  I found a likely-looking nest halfway down the ‘ill, the other day.  Hen should be sitting on ‘er clutch by now.  Wanna come see?”

“As it happens I –  might be heading down that way myself,” Shagrat said.  “I suppose I could come some of the way with you.”

The two Orcs made their way along in silence for a while; Maz, his companion noted, picking his way through the new swathes of plant growth quite as carefully as he himself had been earlier.

For the greater portion of life – until a year or two ago, actually - Shagrat had been a serving Officer in the Black Army of Mordor; a commander of other Orcs as well as larger Uruk-hai of his own type.   This had been a difficult role; a wholly un-relished task that had left him with the prickliest of natures, combined with almost zero tolerance for the company of his fellow Orcs.  And yet on that cool spring evening in the glowing dusk, Maz and Shagrat ambled down through the perfumed wood peacefully enough, in what very nearly counted as being a genuine, companionable silence.  

Maz gave the big Uruk a sideways glance.  As they were stepping along Shagrat, with an oddly  absent-minded expression on his face, was humming through his teeth, droning out a melody-free tune – almost certainly without being aware that he was doing it.   

“It’s funny you know, these days.   Wiv’ us being outdoors so much all the time and that,” Maz began. 

Shagrat stared at him, apparently nonplussed.  “What d’you mean ‘these days’?” he asked.  “We used to get sent out in all weathers the whole ruddy time, before.”

“Yeah, but it was always running off on some jaunt on ‘orders’ an’ wiv’ a whip at yer’ back.  Do-or-die stuff.  Everything was always so dead serious, then, weren’t it?”

Marching out on manoeuvres, or raiding parties and looting.  Thinking about his life as it had been under the control of his dark superiors in Mordor, Shagrat could only answer - “I suppose it was, at that.”

“And then,” Maz went on, warming to his subject, “even when you was out you’d be on fer constantly getting it in the neck from some bloody-minded jobsworth Kapitan-type.”

Shagrat, who as an Orcish commander had more or less been a walking definition of the phrase  ‘bloody-minded  Kapitan-type’, scowled at him.

“No offence intended, I’m sure,” Maz added quickly.

“Thing is,” he went on after a minute, “before, I used to tromp all over the green, growing things – squash ‘em flat - just for the ‘eck of it.   Even if it didn’t have stingers, and weren’t prickly, an’ – an’ even if it weren’t really in me way.”

“There wasn’t a lot green, or growing that I ever saw down on Mordor Plain,” Shagrat replied, “but I suppose I know what you mean.  Used to go out of my way to do it, too.”

The two Orcs had reached the halfway point of the hillside by now.  They were finding that the further down the valley they went, the further the new season had progressed and at this level, spring was already well underway.  Here the soft, fern-like fronds of cow parsley were already covering the sides of the path with thick green growth, and taller stands of Jack-by-the-hedge –

-  also known as ‘hedge garlic’ and called ‘poor man’s mustard’  by the country-folk round these parts due to the rather acrid flavour of its technically, edible leaves (noted Shagrat, all without properly registering the thought that it was pretty unlikely that he could  possibly know any of this)

 - growing fine and lush by side of the watercourse, with their starry heads of bright, white flowers, were knee-high already.  Surreptitiously Shagrat slipped off one of his heavy gauntlets and reached out with his nearest hand so that his fingertips would just brush lightly through the stiff, slightly sticky flower-spikes as he walked.  He drew in a deep lungful of the sweet, scented evening air, and sighed out happily.

After a while he considered Maz for a moment.  Then, clearing his throat he said, much in the manner of somebody making an unwarranted admission - “although – between you and me, a lot of that tramping down the vegetation I did was –“

“Just showin’ off?”

“Well - all right, yes.  That, too.  But partly it was because I – well, I sort of liked the smell.”

The little Orc was nodding enthusiastically.  “Me an’ all!” he said.  “D’you know what I woz doin’, in the ‘azel bushes afore you came?”

Actually, Shagrat hadn’t quite liked to think.   “Searching for your britches?” he suggested faintly.

At that timely moment there came a loud rustling and cracking of branches from somewhere close by.   Shortly after that a third Orc stepped out from a thorny thicket into Maz and Shagrat’s path, and waited a little way ahead of them.

“Wot,” the new Orc’s sarcastic voice called back to them, “did you say you was looking for in Maz’s kecks, Shagrat, mate?  You wanna watch yourself, Maz.  He’ll be up to ‘is old tricks in a minute, given ‘arf a chance.  They didn’t use to call ‘im ‘Cap’n Shag-anything-wot-moves’ for nuffink.”

 

TBC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

  

  



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