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One Title: Your Story

A Fairy Tale, Middle-Earth style

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Friends in Small Places

Release by WendWriter


The Price of FreedomRating: R, for gore.

Summary: After the war of the Ring, Aragorn freed the slaves of Nϊrn and gave them the land for themselves. But what did they do with their freedom?





Near the still sad waters of lake Nϊrnen, a community of sorts had grown up. Composed of slaves culled from captives of Gondor and other lands, it was responsible for feeding Sauron's armies and the maintenance of food and other supplies for his realm. Though the tower of Barad-dϋr lay far to the Northwest, its lord was not distant from this place. His Eye was everywhere, it seemed.

The weight of his rule lay heavily on the people. The sensation of being constantly watched; the demands to produce enough food, textiles, leather goods and equipment to satisfy Sauron's needs; and the random punishments to ensure compliance made it impossible for people to become friends with each other. Love was an alien concept in this place. The idea that people might join together in common cause for any reason seemed to threaten the Dark Lord, so any sign of genuine affection was seized upon as an act of treachery. In this dark land, where despair reigned supreme, integrity was despised and decency outlawed.

This place was all Bandon had ever known. Born to a slave woman who had survived a raid on Ithilien, he had been sired by an Orc, and he hated each day of his miserable life. A pariah among slaves who mistrusted each other on principle, he had carved out a name for himself as a cruel but efficient slave-driver. His ambition was to create a realm for himself in Nϊrn as a subject of Sauron, and he had come close to its fulfilment when that man came with his rag-tag army of rebels and destroyed the Dark Lord.

The possibility that Sauron could actually be defeated had never occurred to him. Now that he faced losing everything he had worked hard for over the years, Bandon was afraid – and very angry. As he watched the victor lead his army through the district in his shiny armour, Bandon felt hatred bubble up inside him like the fires of Mount Doom.

This man had the power to take away his authority and give it to someone else. From his vantage point in one of the storage huts, Bandon could see him talking to some of the people, who were pointing in his direction. He knew what would happen. Well, he was ready. Like a Balrog of old, he would stand his ground with a whip in one hand and a scimitar in the other. He grasped his weapons firmly and waited, crouched in a battle stance.

They did not come. They did not even look in his direction! How dare they ignore him! He had it all planned out – oil spilt on the floor and soaked into the bales of hay and straw that filled the building, which he intended to set on fire when he had despatched as many of the strangers as he could. But first he had to lure them inside. How could he effect a glorious exit that would live long in the memories of all those slaves who dared to look down on him and call him 'Goblin-man' if his enemies would not come forth to fight him? He could see they had bows – he would be shot if he ran out and insulted them. This was intolerable!

Curiosity led him outside.

The man who led the rebels looked at Bandon with eyes the colour of storm-clouds. “Put the weapons down, Bandon,” he said.

Bandon could not abide the stern gaze of the regal man who sat on the large rusty brown horse who snorted where he stood, but stayed calm beneath his master. The dull clatter of the sword as it hit the hard-packed ground of the rough village square, followed by the soft thump of the whip, were the only sounds he could hear. Even the breeze had stilled for the moment.

“These people say you are the overseer here,” the man stated. “What say you?”

Bandon's mouth jerked and twitched as he tried to think of a reply. He felt as though he had been ordered to the Cracks of Doom; one wrong word could be the end of him. “I was,” he croaked. “I think you're in charge now.”

“I am,” replied the man, his tone firm. “I have given these people this land as their own. From this day forth, there will be no more overseers, and what they produce will be for themselves. Do you understand?”

“Yes sir,” affirmed Bandon.

“You may go now,” said the man, his grey gaze impassive and unreadable.

“Go where?” asked Bandon. Confusion furrowed his wart-dotted brow.

“You are free,” said the man, and turned his horse away.

The Goblin-man stood where he was for a moment, with his head on one side. All of his life, Bandon had taken orders. What would he do now? He was lost. This man had taken more than his authority away – his identity was gone. In the previous regime, he could torment others at will. He did not know how to do anything else, nor did he want to. Fear was the basis of his power. With that gone, he had nothing. The thought of working the fields with the others appalled him. Besides, he had never been one of them.

A shudder racked his body, and he bent down to retrieve his weapons.

They were gone.

Agony sliced through his side. Red sparks danced before his yellow slanted eyes. He slumped to his knees. Thick dark blood pooled around him. He turned his head to see who had dealt the blow. The furious glare of a man he had once whipped to within an inch of his life met his pain-clouded gaze. 

“No-one will punish me for this,” said the man. The purple scars on the sides of his cheeks rose and fell as he spoke.

Something shifted within Bandon and slipped downwards. His hand moved to the open wound, and encountered something he knew should have been inside him. He was coming undone. The fear he had felt earlier was nothing like the way he felt now. A creeping horror coupled with the certainty of  doom overwhelmed him. “I should have finished you while I 'ad the chance,” he gasped.

“I am glad you did not, Goblin-man. Freak!” shouted the man, his eyes wild with fury as he brandished the dripping scimitar. “Now is the hour of my revenge!”

“Well I 'ope you enjoy it!” croaked Bandon, his broken teeth bared. Darkness took him into its cold embrace and set him free indeed.

The End.

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