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Mordor and Beyond

By
 
Happy Hobbit

Warning!  This section contains extremely graphic depictions of torture and mutilation. Not for the faint of heart! If this sort of thing bothers you, don't read this section.

Beyond the Gate

 

The last hours tied in a sack passed as the fleeting life of a sun kissed snowflake, gone forever lost in the blackness of Mordor. Estella had no idea what carried her nor to where she headed. As a prisoner in the dark rough sack, she felt the oppressive evil that bore down upon her soul, crushing the very essence of life within her. Holding tightly to Babe, she fought its numbness, struggling to deliver herself from its torturous grasp. She plunged down the deep caverns of her mind, as her soul screamed to be released. Suddenly it stopped, a brief pause, then the ground hit her and she lay silent in the confines of the sack that held her. They lay together mother and daughter, Estella encircling Babe, protecting her as she had when Babe lay within her womb. The horror of the journey seared her mind. She felt no pain from the heavy landing. Indeed, save for some bruises, she remained unharmed, saved by her compact and robust Hobbit nature. Time passed in the outside world, but within Mordor time lay dead. Days and nights blended into a singular pulse of despair.

 

Finally, Estella regained consciousness and became aware of the small form lying still within the protection of her body. She fought her fear and her very senses, until at last she mastered them. She determined that Babe still breathed and lived. As she sought to discover any hurts on her child, she became aware of Babe's singing. Almost inaudibly, but singing, and for a moment hope sprang anew in Estella's heart. She struggled to resist the urge to lie dormant. Instead, she reached under the tattered cloak she wore and freed the small knife she concealed there. With deft strokes, she freed Babe and herself from the confining sack and soon they sat staring at the dark world about them. Estella first noticed the light, or rather the lack of it,. The very sky itself brooded in a deep dirty red glow, echoed in the lands about them. While not in Barad-dr itself, they had come upon the barren and tortured wastes of the surrounding lands, a place known as the Plateau of Gorgoroth. Here lay the scarred lands over which the Dark Lord Sauron held sway. Here the slag and spoils from the scouring of the lands, the delving and the mining, produced piles of wastes that now smouldered and added their own reek to the foul airs. Here dwelled the servants of evil, the prisons of the slave labour, the pits of despair of the lost.

 

Estella gazed about her, drinking in the almost palpable pain of the ground they sat on. They had dropped into one of the larger craters honeycombing the broken surface of this forsaken land. To her left loomed the large mass of Orodruin, the volcanic mountain more commonly known as Mount Doom. From this belched the stench and foul, ash laden fumes that lay as a coating on the surfaces of the surrounding pits. The deep evil glow of its fires rent the air in occasional fits of furious temper-filled malice. Into the darkness, the sounds of its foul, tempestuous ranting spilled and numbed the ears and the heart.

To Estella's right, emerged the dark and brooding evil of Barad-dr itself. Despite the constant scouring, the lands here did not appear totally barren. Scattered about the plains, thickets of thorns and brambles grew, but they would not offer any safety to the little Hobbits nor bear fruit that might stem their growing hunger. Nor did they see any water to drink, save the foul reeking pools of wastewaters and rains that lay in mires in the bottoms of the pits. Estella's gaze returned to Babe, who like her mother, looked out at the world they had dropped into. Her childish face reflected the land's agony.

 

Estella drew Babe back into her arms and silently tried to relieve the sorrow in her child's eyes. As she watched, Estella became aware of movement around her. Out from the deep caves poured streams of the same foul beasts that had attacked her and destroyed the little goat cart. From the bowels of the earth streamed Orcs, but not only Orcs began to people this land. Others, groups of tattered peoples of different races, Men, Dwarves and Elves, joined the exodus. The slaves of Mordor, each face telling its own sorrow, and in none shone the light of hope. The Orc hordes drove the slaves, but even among them also the Orcs had ranks. Some bore whips and cruel blades, which they brought to bear on the lesser Orcs of their companies. Even among their own kind they exercised cruelty. Trembling, Estella watched from the edge of the pit where they sat as the masses spread out. Slowly, she came to understand they searched for something and to her deepening horror, she realised they sought her.

 

Panic filled her and she grasped Babe to her, desperately looking for a place to hide. Her gaze alighted on a spoil heap, rising some five feet away. She held Babe's hand and as stealthily as she could, she drew Babe after her. Placing the slagheap between the hordes and herself, she began frantically to dig in the cruel soil. Shavings and splinters of metals wrought in the fires below the Plateau soon bloodied Estella's hands. Undeterred, she dug on and slowly fashioned a small cave into which she pulled herself and Babe. With careful hands, she sealed the entrance, effectively hiding two Hobbits from the searching masses.

 

Had Estella known more of those that sought her she would have known her attempt to hide would not deter them from their hunt. Their Master had ordered them to find the missing Hobbit. Most did so now under pain of death should she not be found. Such dread of displeasing him did they have, each became desperate to fulfill the request of their master. Of the others, the high-ranking Orc masters, they contested with each other to find her, each desiring to receive their master's praise. Each aware his own success would allow the pleasure of brutalising those that did not find the Hobbit. Yet none among the masses knew of what Hobbits looked like. It did not matter, greed, lust of power or fear of torture at their masters hands drove each one to the utmost efforts.

 

Slowly, the agonising wait drew on. Though Estella and Babe remained hidden, they had neither food nor water to sustain them. Their Hobbit bellies cried out to be filled, but they could find nothing to stem the hunger pangs that wracked their small bodies. Estella had unfastened the tattered cloak and attempted to line the floor of their hiding place. The thin layer of material proved useless against the shards of metal that poked and pierced through it to prick their skins. Estella could not cry out, and with the threat of discovery, neither did Babe. Finally, overcome with thirst and weariness, they fell into a pitiful semblance of sleep, more nightmare than restful repose.

Outside, the hordes searched on, ignoring hunger, thirst or weariness. They knew only a successful hunt would bring relief and that only for the band finding her. Despite the rivalry, they sought the Hobbit with great skill, combing each area of the vast land forming the Gorgoroth Plateau so that none remained unsearched. At last, after many long hours, they came upon the Hobbits' hiding place.

 

The Orc master Kurtrak eagerly snatched up Estella, ready to claim his reward, and completely overlooking Babe, that had lain beside her. With a howl of triumph, he slew several of his pack in celebration of his victory. Old scores settled he marched off towards Baraddr, dangling the feebly struggling Hobbit in his left hand. Defeated and knowing punishments would soon be visited upon them; the losing gangs slunk away into their caves and burrows, seeking refuge from the might of Kurtrak.

 

Undiscovered, Babe crawled from the spoil heap. Hunger and thirst wracked her tiny form. She needed both food and water for without them she would not live to see her third birthday. Upon reaching the dead Orc bodies, she carefully searched them, turning over their heavy armoured hands until she found a crudely fashioned bottle. Once she opened it, she found it contained a thick grey liquid. She poured a little into the palm of her hand and then tasted it. It burnt her mouth, causing tears to run down her face. Yet once the shock of its foul flavour had passed a little, she determined it some kind of Orc draught she could drink. She need only take a little of the liquid, for it seemed a kind of stimulant, used to strengthen the body, to allow it to keep working when otherwise it might fail. In this way, the Orcs ensured they could hold mastery over the Middle Earth's races. Whilst the slaves suffered from their toils, the Orcs' liquor relieved their own fatigue and hurts. The concoction revived Babe and since she still needed her Mother's comforting hands, she started out after the band of Orcs, following them at an ever-increasing distance.

 

It would have been impossible for Babe to reach them had it not been for the events that unfolded in Kurtrak's camp. He had tired of Estella's struggles and had stopped to bind her. However, when he lay her down, she had at once attempted to flee. Quick hands had grabbed her and one of the smaller Orcs held her as a prize. Kurtrak did not want to become the cause of his master's prize's death, which could have happened if he took her through force. He felt obliged to bargain with the smaller Orc, though he intended to gain as much as he could from the situation. The smaller Orc knew Kurtrak would kill him if he released his grip on Estella, so he sought to become the one to carry her to Barad-dr. Kurtrak saw this as a challenge to his authority and argued against it. This delay allowed Babe to slowly gain on the Orc band. The following day she had reached their camp.

 

Fate here played its hand again, for amongst the slaves there abided a recently captured Elven lord. He still fought the overwhelming dread, for the moment he still dared to hope. Manthalath, a fair elf from Lorien, had spent many long ages with his family in Rivendell, the home of his late wife, Arnorwiel. Whilst searching for Arnorwiel, an Orc raiding party had caught him. He still bore the wounds of their whips about him as Orcs especially hated Elves and singled them out for the worst of the daily beatings. The only hope he held came from that of praying his daughter, Nillaniel, had escaped. During the first hours in Mordor, Manthalath had found his wife's body lying in the open, ravaged by the wild beasts housed in the nearby caverns. The Orcs had greatly enjoyed watching his pain as they decapitated her head and proceeded to kick it across the barren land. Only when the call to search had come did they finally cease in their sadistic game.

 

Manthalath sat a little apart from the others, still in the deep throws of grief. Suddenly, he became aware of the softest of touches against his cheek. He barely stifled a cry of surprise, though he quickly regained his senses and drew his cloak about him, shielding the little Hobbit child from the enemies' eyes nearby. Once he made certain none had noticed, he returned his gaze beneath his cloak, believing for a moment it had been part of some long lost dream. Instead, he found the tiny form sitting beneath his cloak, head bowed. As if called, she raised her head to gaze into his eyes. Though they did not speak openly, he understood her and she him. From even the shortest distance, those watching Manthalath would believe that he slept as all Elves, with open eyes. However, in truth he spoke in the Elven way with the small scrap of life that had fallen unwitnessed into the darkness. So powerful her presence Manthalath felt a new sense of strength and purpose. With this exchange he accepted the charge lain upon him, to guard this frail star that had settled before him in the darkness of Mordor.

Orc Holes and Hell Pits

 

During the night, Estella had been loosened from the grasp of the small Orc holding her as ransom against Kurtrak's wrath. She took her chance and fled, seeking a place to hide. Many Orc holes pocked the sheer mountain walls upon which Barad-dr sat. Estella fled into one of the smaller holes. Orc slaves used it as a communal dwelling. Large Orcs lived singly as they tolerated no competition. The smaller Orcs used weapons and rudimentary tools to dig out their roost, this one scraped with hand and fang from the very mountain. Lesser Orcs seldom had weapons except when they went to war. The smell nearly overcame Estella at first, for though Orcs did not foul in their holes, the reek of the nearby spoil heaps seemed to thicken the very air, making breathing difficult. Slowly, Estella became used to the dim interior. Not entirely dark, a lantern hung in the corner, out of reach of the wind. She looked about her, fearing she had stumbled into more danger.

 

As she surveyed her hiding place, Estella could see the great gouge marks that fashioned the cave. Sticking out at an angle, the shaft of a long bone made a hook from which the lantern hung. As she studied it, she realised the lantern had been fashioned from the skull of some poor victim, human maybe, definitely too big for a Hobbit. Estella recoiled at the sight, but her gaze returned. With renewed horror, she realised the rope the skull hung from had come from the skin of the same poor creature that had been slaughtered there. Within the skull burned a thick oil, smelling of rancid butter, Estella feared it had been rendered from the slain.

 

To the left of this grisly light, a shoulder blade shelf sat, a rarity in small Orc holes. Orc masters prized these and often took them. Had Estella been able to see high enough, she would have found the bone knives fashioned from hip and breastbone lying there amidst scraps of human hide, nail, hair and the long forgotten eye that now lay dehydrating against the wall. Backing away, Estella's foot stepped on something sharp, piercing her skin. Instinctively, she reached down and grasped the offending item. She examined it, discovering a fragment of bone, and as she looked around she saw many of these scattered in this one corner of the cave. Among the fragments she found arrowheads, some already bound to metal shafts with skin bindings. Only small Orcs possessed this skill, for they alone had the dexterity of hand to fashion such things.

 

Reeling away, Estella fell into a recess. Her hands found the stored skins of slain Orc victims. The Orcs slept upon these very hides as they gave protection from the piercing bone and ravages of maggots. Lice and fleas covered the skins so that they seemed to move. Fleeing this sight, Estella ran into a deeper alcove, hidden from the door. She discovered within a greater horror... the Orc larder. The red glow of another skull lamp lit the place, illuminating hooks of bone, hung with carcasses. Before her a ripe horse, perhaps hanging for weeks, dripped maggots, masses of mating flies buzzed in foul testament of their passion. A far worse horror hung on the second hook. The partially skinned body of an Elf dangled from its own skin like a grotesque puppet. Silent wails of horror issued from Estella as she fought the paralysis of shocked limbs. Desperate to wrest her eyes from the sight, she threw herself backwards. Her head hit something hard and unconsciousness overcame her.

 

Outside the night waned, though none could tell as the deep pall of smoke and Orodruin's belching obscured the slight lightening of the sky above Mordor. The Orc hordes sensed daybreak's arrival and began to stir. Not long after, the terrified screams of a small Orc rent the air. Kurtrak had discovered the small Orc's loss and now exacted his revenge. Held above Kurtrak's head, the small Orc squirmed in terrible agony as Kurtrak feasted on his entrails. Chewing slowly each mouthful, he let the wretched creature view his own body being devoured. The other Orcs stood around, some larger ones cheering in their own cruel language, the smaller ones cringing in absolute submission, fearing to anger the Orc master.

 

The slaves feared the worst; the death of the small Orc would not sate Kurtrak's anger. He turned his wrath upon them, wielding his whip without regard. Upon the body of Manthalath fell the most blows. Staggering, the Elf still shielded the small life beneath his cloak. Desperate she should not be harmed, he sought shelter in the very same Orc hole where Estella's unconscious body lay. Soon he became aware of the mother Hobbit's presence, for Babe wrestled from his grasp and ran to her. Desperately, she tried to pull Estella to the back of the Orc hole. Following her lead, Manthalath lifted Estella and carried her to the back wall. He sat cradling the Hobbit in gentle arms, whilst Babe sat on his cloak's edge beside him.

 

They had moved Estella only just in time, for from outside came Kurtrak's bellow. The Orc master thrust his huge arm in, grasping the air over the very spot Estella had laid. Lying on the ground outside, Kurtrak attempted again to reach those within the Orc hole. His large arms flailed about the floor of the hole, but the trio remained just out of reach. Although in dire straits, Manthalath sought to rouse Estella from her unconscious state. From his pockets, he took a few dried leaves of athelas, chewing them slowly until their juice released. He then placed the fragrant leaves in Estella's mouth until she began to move. Her fear apparent in her face, she struggled at first, but Manthalath held her firmly until it passed. Estella looked around and with wide eyes, full of tears, she beheld her little child's form.

 

Overcome with emotion, she grabbed Manthalath and kissed him, then kissed and hugged her daughter, and finally returned to hug her childs saviour. Never in Mordor had there been such joy as at that meeting. Bright eyes shining, Babe joined in the hugging and for a few brief moments the three transported from the cruel world into one of love.

Soon reality returned as Kurtrak, in his temper, began assailing the Orc hole's walls until the walls gradually began crumble under his sheer brute strength. Moments later, he beheld Estella and Manthalath.

 

Sneering, he reached in and roughly grabbed Estella, his prize once more. As he turned to leave he remembered the Elf and reaching in, he sought to remove him from the hole. Instead, an Orc arrow plunged into his hand. Yowling, he withdrew it, although small the arrow had struck true. Shocked to feel pain, Kurtrak passed the problem to his minions, seeking instead to bear Estella to Barad-dr without further delay. Wincing, he snapped the arrow shaft, leaving the embedded head to trouble him ever after.

 

Manthalath fought bravely within the Orc hole, killing several small Orcs with their own arrows. Numbers told though and finally they overcame him. As punishment, they broke his hands. Placing them upon the ground, they brought down a large club, repeatedly smashing the Elf's delicate hand bones until they no longer resembled hands at all. Taking up the whip, they beat him into a forced run. So focused on their torment, they did not see the small Hobbit beneath his cloak, clinging for her life. Such an injury as Manthalath received would never heal and in normal circumstances would have resulted in a slow lingering death by starvation. Babe however tended well her Elven hero, seeing he took a little of the Orc draught she still carried. In this way, the three entered the tower of Barad-dr.

 

The dark door of the tower swung slowly open. From within the pain and suffering swept out to beat down upon the souls of those outside. The smaller Orcs did not enter here often and those that did never returned. For the slaves too, no hope of return presented itself. Driven inside by cruel whips, they stood on the very brink of death. Very few here would survive longer than a pain and despair filled year. The tower consumed them as a man might consume corn. Beneath Manthalath's cloak Babe trembled as the despair of those imprisoned in the tower washed over her, but his cloak at least spared her the sight that met the Elf lord and her mother's eyes.

 

The Pits of Hell resided here, in the very bowels of the tower. Into these pits servants poured the remains of the victims the Dark Lord had finished with, each tortured and twisted soul testament to his cruelty. These living souls, divested of limb or skin, lay or sat upon the layers of the dead or dying beneath them. Upon occasion, an Orc master would come to a pit, scoop out the contents and throw it into a large vat where fire would consume those that still lived along with the dead, their flesh rendered into oil for the lamps and from their bones glue for the fashioning of weapons. At meal times the Orc lords would feast here, selecting those that still lived, for Orcs preferred to dine on living flesh. When Manthalath and Estella arrived in the tower, such a mealtime had arrived.

 

Around the Pits the Orcs sat. Estella watched as a nearby Orc dipped his large hand in to pull a young man from the pit. She saw the marks of torture across his naked body, but unlike most, his limbs remained still sound. The passage of fire had blackened almost all of his face and Estella could see he had been blinded. The Orc that held him placed him in the space between his tree-trunk like legs, then took from its garb a fine stiletto knife and proceeded to torment his meal, much as a cat would tease a mouse. Each time he would stick the wretched creature it would lurch away, only to fall blindly against the surrounding limbs. Finally, consumed with hopelessness, it sat in a heap and even the hardest jab failed to bring any reaction. Displeased at his meals uncooperativeness in continuing the game, the Orc swept the man up and to the screams of pure agony, skinned him and devoured him.

 

This would be the fate awaiting Estella and Manthalath, but first they would see the Dark Lord himself. With the other captives, the Orcs drove them up long flights of stairs. The steps themselves proved difficult for Estella's short legs and when whip and blow failed to make her progress faster, the Orc lord had given her to another captive to carry. Reluctantly, he bore her upwards. Though he dared not refuse, still he felt aggrieved to have this extra burden and so he dragged Estella, battered and bruised, up the long flights of stairs. When finally they reached the top, the Orcs threw them into a cell to await their fate.

 

The Dark Lord felt no pleasure in seeing them die of starvation, for he desired to use and experiment with his own devices. Because of this, he made certain the Orcs fed and watered the prisoners, yet they received only the barest amount to sustain them. However, between Manthalath and Estella, they managed to find food for Babe. They waited as each day saw a new victim from their cell selected and tortured to the edge of endurance, and then lost to the hell pits below.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Months passed and the cell became a cesspit as no provision for waste removal had been provided. Slowly, those within began to fall ill. At this time Manthalath alone stood, for he could rest without needing to lie down. In his arms he held Babe, which allowed her to continue in relative good health. Estella, however, became very sick, and soon Manthalath and Babe feared she might die as some of the others did. Not long after this, the Orcs moved the remaining prisoners to a large side room. From its appearance, it seemed this room held facilities for the living. Manthalath felt it only proved Sauron would not tolerate the loss of even one life at anything but his own hand, determined he would be their ultimate end. Orcs forced Estella to drink a foul liquid, which after a week, had restored her enough that she would survive for her meeting with the Dark Lord. Whilst they waited, Babe learned of Manthalath's search for his lost daughter. He had feared, like her mother, she had been captured and held within the tower.

 

He could not know it, but his daughter had escaped the attack and now hunted with Elves and Rangers for the creature Gollum, the very same creature Saruman had sought, the former possessor of the One Ring. Rumors placed the creature, drawn by its evil heart, made its way to Mordor. So Nillaniel headed for that dark land, too.

A Deeper Darkness

 

After many months, when numbers had dwindled to a very few, Manthalath's turn arrived. He still held Babe as they dragged him from the prison room into the large adjoining hall. Around the room lay many devices that Sauron used to extract the information he required. Yet not all his victims had any information. For many, they came before him and endured torture only because of his desire to bring them to total and utter hopelessness.

 

At last, Manthalath stood before the Dark Lord. Of all the peoples of Middle Earth, the Elven race provided his favourite target. Perhaps he once envied their immortality, believing them lesser beings and therefore undeserving of it, or perhaps that they still dared to challenge him, keeping hidden the three Elven rings of power. Whatever the reason, he delighted most in their torture, personally overseeing each grim task.

 

First, he demanded Manthalath strip. Manthalath carefully laid aside his cape, placing it at the side of the great hall where dark shadows lay. Within it, he laid Babe unseen. He returned to stand before the brooding evil, but proceeded to strip no further. Glad to have reason, the Dark Lord commanded his minions to the task. Soon the naked Elf stood before Sauron, awaiting the cruelty he knew would follow. Blood dripped from new wounds received during the enforced strip. It seemed a long age before the Sauron moved, instead piercing the Elf lord's mind, seeking his deepest thoughts. Manthalath fought back, trying to close his mind to the dark will that assailed every nerve in his body.

 

The Dark Lord laughed. Seemingly, he had obtained the information he needed. Turning to an Orc, he summoned a red-hot brand. This he placed upon Manthalath's abdomen, the burning iron sinking through the soft tissues and searing the abdominal contents below. Though pain filled him, Manthalath did not cry out. Falling to his knees, he still stared defiantly at Sauron. The Elven lord's refusal to utter his pain angered Sauron more than his refusal to speak and he ordered Manthalath chained to the wall. With salt and acid they filled the still smouldering vent in the Elf's body. His pain kept all but a single word from the Elven lord's lips.

 

"Nillaniel!" he cried out, then passed into unconsciousness.

 

Inside the cape, Babe lay silent witness to the great evil that occurring. From there, she watched as Sauron gloated at his handiwork. In time he would return to Manthalath, for now he would turn to a new victim. As Babe watched, she saw her mother brought before Sauron.

 

Where is the One Ring? his thought demanded of Estella, then again in words cold and cruel.

 

But Estella could not tell. She had no voice and she did not know.

 

"Saruman told me of your stubbornness. It will avail you not, for I am the Dark Lord. You will obey my will." The very words seemed to ooze menace.

 

Still Estella could not answer. She shook her head, trying to plead with her mind. If Sauron heard her, he showed no sign. Instead, he turned her to face Manthalath. Kurtrak came then from behind the Dark Lord's throne.

 

"Refuse me the information and your friend will suffer."

 

Poor Estella put every ounce of strength she had into making a sound, but try as she might none came. For Saruman had been thorough in silencing her. He forced Estella to stand and watch as Kurtrak slowly peeled the skin from the Elf lord's back. Finally, in triumph, he held his prize before the Dark Lord, then sniggering he stripped the clothes from Estella and laid the Elven hide about her. Estella fainted then; unable to bear the sight she beheld. For writhing in agony upon the floor, Manthalath's form still lived, its agony evident in the tortured twisting of limbs and face as he screamed for release. In the Dark Lord's presence this would not come, for he held the spirit as captive as the body.

 

Sauron retreated to the darkness behind the throne while large Orcs picked up Estella and bore her to the torture rack. Whilst they remained occupied, a small form moved unseen to the twitching wreck of her friend Manthalath. Babe stretched out her hands and gently cradled his face. As she held him, he gazed with pain-filled eyes into the deep night blue eyes of Babe. Slowly, a vision appeared there, a vision neither he nor Babe had ever seen. But Manthalath knew at once that he saw Eldamar, the home of the Elves away beyond sight in the very West, the tall peaks of the Pelori Mountains. The beauty of Aqualonde by the sea called to him, and then the Valar swept up his spirit and took it to the halls of Mandos, to wait the summoning of Iluvatar. At last, the Elven lord's body found peace. For a while, Babe sat transfixed as the beauty she had just witnessed washed over her mind like fresh mountain spring water over a new river bed.

 

Gradually, the horror of Barad-dr replaced it and she became aware of great suffering, her own mother's, beyond sight in the far corner of the room. She crept along the wall in the deep shadow until she beheld her mothers small body lying on the torture rack. She watched as the Orcs used hot brands. The smell of burnt flesh filled her nostrils, the very reek of evil laying siege to her mind.

 

Estella had moved beyond pain now, her body so tortured it no longer responded to the torments being laid upon it. Neither whip, brand or knife brought anything from her. Nor would it ever. But Sauron grew wearied of trying to prise from her his lost treasure's whereabouts and bestowed one final act of evil upon Estella. Angered, he sought only to wipe Estella from the face of Middle Earth. Calling two large trolls to him, he had them each grip an arm and a leg, then with a single gesture, bid them rip the little Hobbit body into four. In the end, they severed Estella's head. At this sight, Babe lost control and ran screaming from the shadows. She burst in, toward Sauron. He held up a single hand to stay her. At full charge, Babe ran onto it. The cruel hand, filled with the heat of hatred, burned deeply into Babe's shoulder for a minute. She pressed forward till pain swept through her and she passed into unconsciousness.

 

As with some of the dead, these bodies would be used to bait cages to trap wolves. The animals did not come willingly to Mordor, though they made good allies once ensnared and subjected to the will of Sauron. Thus these bodies from the day's torture session, the Orcs loaded onto a cart. Upon this cart lay Manthalath, Estella, and the smallest Hobbit, Babe. The Orcs slowly pushed and dragged the cart from the great Tower, across the Gorgoroth plateau, and out of the gates of Mornnon. Out of Mordor, the cart journeyed. It rocked gently and Babe awoke, for a moment certain her mother cradled her once more in her arms. All too swiftly, the pain returned to her, but she did not cry out. She sought the comfort of her mothers hand. Her seeking hand felt beside her, coming in contact with it, but it did not respond. The cold, damp, sticky flesh returned the horror of what Babe had witnessed. As the cart trundled on, it suddenly lurched sideways as one wheel jammed against some object on the road. Cursing at his bad luck, the Orc pulling the cart hauled it sharply forward. It moved with such a jolt that it threw Babe from it. She instinctively curled herself into a ball and rolled down a small embankment.

 

She came to lie beneath a thick thorn bush that defied Mordor and still grew. Its tangled mass pushed up as Babe rolled under it, then pierced her flesh as it closed over her. Once more Babe became overlooked, for the Orc did not notice the loss of one so small. He continued on his way, labouring under the burden of the cart. Babe lay undiscovered in the thick briar. This sad day had marked Babe's third birthday.

 

As the weak light of dawn broke on the 23rd September 3004, Babe awoke and for a few brief moments, wondered at her situation. All too soon, the horror of her birthday fell upon her and she shrank into total despair. She lay awash with the pain of the burning until she heard the soft call of her friend Manthalath's voice.

 

You are free child. Awaken.

 

Her mind stirred and she rose to climb from under the thorns. As she raised her eyes above the level of the ground, she spied the reason for the jolt that had thrown her from the cart. There, crushed into the dirt, bearing the cruel marks of the wheel, her own mothers head lay. Estella's last act had spared her child that last journey.

 

The sight appalled Babe, and frightened by her dire situation, she stumbled from the claws of the thorn bush and fled towards Minas Tirith. She did not get far, for the frailness of her little abused body, drained by the hideous burn of her shoulder, sapped even the strength fear had instilled in her. She collapsed into a deep pit and laid in a dark nightmare, alone and unnamed, the forgotten hobbit.

To be continued...

Note: In this story, Sauron can take some physical form when near his victims for defense or offense. Thus, when Babe rushes toward him, he forms a hand to push her aside.

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