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Old 10-07-2022, 08:36 AM   #1
Mithadan
Spirit of Mist
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Tol Eressea
Posts: 3,170
Mithadan is a guest at the Prancing Pony.Mithadan is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
A Life of Whips: Tales of Mordor’s Slaves, By Durelin, First Posted June 13, 2004

A Life of Whips: Tales of Mordor’s Slaves
By Durelin
First Posted June 13, 2004


Foreword

This series of tales was inspired by the creation of a character for a recently appearing RPG: The Land of Darkness. It will tell of the lives of slaves of Mordor, beginning with Jordo, my character created for the RP. This expands on the history part of his bio.

Jordo of Mordor

A calm voice murmured softly in the boy’s ears, and its warmth traveled throughout his body. He sighed in happiness as he curled up within that blanket of familiarity. He could discern none of what the voice said, but he preferred it this way. Today he was a manifestation of ignorance in bliss, tomorrow he would understand why. Now, today, the warmth slowly receded as he began to understand what was being said. He began to feel the itch of the small cover that was draped over his shoulders. Slowly the darkness became less dark, and the voice’s murmur sent a ripple of grey light through it. Warm skin touched his arm, and the voice said, “We must wake up, Jordo. To work now,” and it brought light to his eyes. It was a dull red glow, a light only compared to the former shadow of sleep.

Then he saw the dark hued, gritty soil beneath him, and felt jagged pieces pressing into his skin. A hand lay upon his arm gripped him harder, and all the strong feelings brought to him a reality, catching him unawares. A tingling spasm ran up his spine, and he wriggled his body onto his hands and knees. He scrambled over the rough ground until his skin had had enough of the rocky soil. He then decided to face whatever it was that he was escaping from, and rolled over to plop his bottom down on the ground. The gravel could be felt as tiny pinpricks, only slightly brushing the skin, through the piece of cloth that covered it. It was so hard to ignore the pain, including that which had not worn off in his knees and hands, but it was impossible to ignore the fear. He now looked into a woman’s eyes. Her lips moved and he heard a voice that he would forever find refuge in.

“Jordo!” the voice said, with sharpness and concern. It sent a calming jolt through him, and he now stared into dark eyes that he knew, set in a soft face that he knew. Though he would not know this face free of grime, it would never be thought of as rough. He smiled at his mother, and she smiled back.

“We work now?” he asked quietly, afraid that speaking too loudly would re-awaken his fears. It was not pure silence that all but silenced him, but the distant rumbling that could be heard might as well have been silence. “Of course, but first – drink, and eat.”

His mother went to him, and Jordo was handed several shriveled strands of some kind of dry, stringy meat and a small leather pouch full of water. Whether the murky color of the leather made the liquid look a brownish tint, or this had become its physical color was practically impossible to tell. And it was of little importance. This morning meal consisted of precious savings from last night’s meal, for the slaves of Mordor only received two meals a day. One came sometime in the mid morning, when chunks of bread were thrown at you – and cut you or bruised you like pitched rocks – and some kind of liquid was poured down your parched throat so that more spilt on the ground than trickled into your mouth. A tragic sight it was to watch as a shiny liquid surface receded to a dark patch of soil. The wetness Jordo now let trickle into his mouth from his pouch was necessary, just as anything edible was. Sleep alone did not prepare these people for their morning.

His mother turned away from Jordo to grab her own, single piece and meat and her own container of water. It was less full than her son’s, without any doubt. With his eyes now on her back, he was able to notice even in the glowing darkness a wetness shining on the back of her tunic, in stripes and small globs. Jordo remembered how strange it was that last night his mother had put him to bed before she went to bed herself. It seemed that his mother had not been able to return for some time to get sleep. His eyes remained on her back as he reached out to her, forcing his water pouch toward her. Her head turned slightly to look at what his hand held, and then to look at him once more.

“Drink that,” he said, gesturing to the leather container in his mother’s hand, “Wash with this.” His eyes hovered once more over her back.

His mother knew exactly what Jordo spoke of. She understood that he could be greatly concerned about her. And she understood that the concern, the preoccupation with someone else’s being, helped, for it helped her, as well. Knowing this, she took her son’s offering without argument. Pulling off her ragged tunic, she poured the warm liquid down her bleeding back, and she gritted her teeth so as not to cry out. She refused to make her son listen to his mother’s cries of pain until the pain refused to go away and finally forced a break in the silence. In this case, the pain soon departed, for the most part, along with the wet blood that had been seething up from long gashes in her skin, striping her back. The maroon lines, the brown and red stripes that resembled some of the soil in this forsaken land, would remain as sharp signs in the foreground of her back, reminders of this life of whips. Later they would fade into the background with the rest, lines more pink in color and lighter in hue.

As Jordo stared at these sharp reminders, he found his hand tracing the lines on his own back. His scars were fewer, and less deep, and he intended it to remain so. Staring at the blood and seeing the memories of pain in red upon his mother’s back, he felt hear. Fear her knew, and pain he knew. And it was the fear of pain that drove him harder than any whip.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Jordo itched all over as sticky sweat covered his body. Everything stuck to his skin, adhered to it by the sweat, all the soot and grime and dust, gravel and mud. Nevertheless, Jordo did not pause long in his work. At times he was forced to, as his arms refused to go on without some respite. Today a burly orc taskmaster, barely wearing more clothes or looking cleaner than the slaves he watched, made sure Jordo was doing his work. Today, this was the worst of all tasks assigned to slaves: keeping the forge fires going. This was a relatively new task for Jordo, as he had not been large enough to handle shoveling the fuel in the fire, and fanning it to keep it at a high temperature, until recently. Luckily, the orcs even recognized this, if simply for the sake of productivity.

Jordo remembered the first days that he had been assigned to this position. Most of all, he remembered the bruising, the bleeding, and the searing of skin when he allowed the fire to lessen in its intensity. He could not forget the fiery metal that the blacksmith had used to release his anger upon Jordo, giving him several black brands to match the Eye on his palm.

When you became a slave of Mordor, which usually occurred on the day you were, you had to be hardened, and quickly. The first infection you would ever get would be in the burnt skin on the palm of your hand. If you body was not strong enough, or did not become strong enough to fight off this infection, you were worthless. Since this was widely known as ‘the test’ among both the slaves and the lower ranking orcs who came into contact with the slaves the most, it made many slaves who had lived for years now as marked property of Mordor feel a sense that they had accomplished something. The brand unmade the being that was enslaved, and the black eye was a focal point of the new being’s fear. Bt remembering that he had passed the test made it possible for that being to stare back at it.

And staring at his palm was what the blacksmithing orc using the forge caught Jordo doing as the fire’s temperature began to lessen. A quick flick of the orc’s wrist slapped the fiery steel in his hand on Jordo’s face. The boy cried out as he listened to the flesh sizzling just above his eye. The sound that emerged from his mouth sounded a pitiful squeal, and the orc laughed at the little slave writhing in the soot whimpering. The blacksmith’s moment of amusement could last only so long, and when he found the boy still on the ground when his laughing was complete, he reached down with a large, leathery hand. Jordo was finally able to still himself with a harsh grip holding his head up, the orc’s hand squeezing hard just above his chin. But the yellow-green eyes and their huge black pupils that stared into his own wet eyes caused new whimpers of fear. The orc, disgusted, allowed his hands to do what they had desired to do since they had touched the boy’s face, and tightened his grip.

Jordo cried out again, and hot breath that stank of hatred ran across Jordo’s face as the orc laughed again. He did not yet let go, but began to speak, which silenced the child. “That Eye watches me, too, little slave. That Eye tells me what to do, too, and he tells me to do this.” The orc gestured with the hot metal in his hand, causing Jordo to wince. The orc ignored this, having his fill of amusement with the boy. “He tells me to do this. I tell you to do that!” The screeching voice grew to a shout that’s high pitch almost reached an unbearable height. Jordo closed his eyes, squeezing them tight as he expected yet another blow. But the orc simply held up the still glowing metal and said with a smile, “And now I have branded you, too, man worm.” He gestured toward the raw red striped above Jordo’s left eye that had already started to crust over with bad humors.

Jordo’s hand automatically shot up to the spot, and the touch of his moist, grimy skin guaranteed infection. A sharp smell lingered slightly in the air, and his hand found that crispy skin could be felt where a part of his eyebrow had been. Jordo’s fingers ran along the hairs on either side, determining the size of the gap. Meanwhile the orc started chuckling once more, his throat screeching like rusted metal, most likely surprised that he had found so many things amusing these past few moments. Jordo managed to look into the creature’s eyes again as it spoke once more. Its voice seemed to grow in fervor and joy as it fed on the fear in the boy’s eyes. “You’ll remember that’s there, won’t you?”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

When Jordo returned to he and his mother’s sleeping spot that night, carrying with him his strings of dried meat and pouch of water, he found that his mother had had the worse of the two days. He also found that he was wrong about working the forges; it was not the worst of the various slave tasks. His mother’s day had been spent in the orc breeding pits. The paleness of her skin and her half-closed eyes showed more than exhaustion. What kind of work she had been required to do in these places Jordo did not know, or wish to. She was worn enough that she only kept her eyes on the pink and puss covered scar on his forehead for a moment before she simply smiled at him in greeting.

Jordo remained silent and took a sip of water from his pouch. All his energy that still remained at the day’s end was directed toward keeping himself from emptying the container. He needed more to drink, but he had gone without what he needed countless times before. He willed himself against it, knowing how parched his tongue would be on the morrow. And soon he found that the closed leather container lay several feet away from him. He could stretch his arm out far; he could reach it; but he would need it tomorrow; mother would need it; tomorrow was so far away… Jordo would not realize that he had won this battle until the next morning.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Slowly Jordo became aware of the ground beneath him, then of the sore pain in his forehead, and then of where his hands lay, his feet lay, his head. This time, he recognized that he was asleep, and the sound of his name forced his eyes open into wakefulness. Jordo then realized that his body lay differently than he had thought while asleep, and found himself curled up on her right side. This was lucky, as the miniscule rocks that made up the soil were pressing into his right forehead rather than his left.

Today, it was his mother’s turn to give up some of her life-giving water to pour over her son’s wound. Jordo felt guilty, and he tried to give her his remaining water in return. Still, he offered it reluctantly, and not expecting an acceptance. He was right not to. Though the sickly palor of her face made it clear that she was not well, she thought of her child first, others last, and did not think of herself at all. Jordo refused to recognize the drained look of his mother, was afraid to. She really did not look well, and he would not want to assume things, or to realize them.

Feeling strange and unreasonable guilt, Jordo left without even an embrace from his mother. It had been so for almost a year now, as there was no happiness in their love to share. Today’s work ended up to be a simple one: the transporting of weapons from the forges to the armory. The slaves pulled the makeshift carts full of rather makeshift weapons, but deadly chunks of steel, all the same. This was relatively simple labor, especially for Jordo, as it required only strength. Jordo had no trouble keeping himself moving on a job that allowed him to not think about things. Thinking about things always made everything more complicated for Jordo.

When he finally made his slow return to the sleeping place, only then did he allow his body to collapse. His muscles gave way in a burning fire and he fell to the ground, almost to the rock by which his mother had leaned every night for as long as Jordo could recall. Right now it was empty of her; it seemed he had beaten her back today, the armory being relatively close to this spot. Close, but not close enough, it seemed, as his muscles screamed for water. The true problem was that the forge and the armory were simply too far apart, and the cart far too heavy. His arms burned to remind him of this.

Jordo managed to turn his head as it lay in the dirt enough to look at the water pouch that lay next his hand, sprawled above his head. He made his fingers stretch out and bring the pouch in underneath his hand. Looking only with his eyes around him, he decided that that was enough to see if his mother was here or not. Seeing no one, he slowly picked up his head and undid the string enclosing the pouch. Then, forgetting tomorrow or any day, he tipped the bag over his thrown back face. The deluge that fell rushing into his mouth, and around it, was unlike anything he could remember experiencing in his life. This was bliss, with wetness filling his mouth and covering his face, and without a care for the wetness that fell in streams to the ground. The falling water seemed to go on for so long, and yet it ended all too quickly. With a smile daring to play on his face, his head sank back to the ground and his eyes found their rest. Jordo’s hands gripped the cool, damp soil next to his face, and he was sure that far away tomorrow could not steal from him.

Ania of Mordor

Waves of heat played on the horizon as Ania looked across the Lithlad, the Ash Plain of Mordor. The flat plateau was completely barren, though slaves worked everywhere in Mordor. Today she worked far out in the wastelands surrounded by the Ephel Dúath, where the signs of work slowly began to dwindle close to the Shadow Mountains. It was against those looming shadows - they really were properly named - that the heat waves danced in her vision. They mesmerized her, being part of her hazy world that sent a disturbance through her sight. Her vision had begun to blur yesterday, and she knew exactly why. The wounds on her back were now adorned with green fringes, and a puss-like substance, not natural of these types of wounds, filled in the areas surrounded by the putrid green, forming canyons of disease in her back. She sweat harder than she had on the hottest day she could remember out working on the Lithlad. Still, she shivered with every breath. She found herself staring at nothing and seeing something, the heat waves rippling across it.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

She saw bright yellow eyes staring at her from underneath flaps of skin that protruded from the forehead of the orc. It smiled at her, and she could no longer hold its gaze in her disgust. The orc snarled under her breath, and, seemingly without any effort, pushed her away, leaving her sprawling on the ground, a useful tool, perhaps, but an object nonetheless, and one that any orc hated to use. The red glow that kept the world around Ania from being dark was nearly at its strongest. The harsh luminosity streamed into huge pits around Barad - Dûr, many the size of lakes or larger, from the battle that constantly raged atop Mt. Doom. The heat from the molten lava, adding to the general heat of Mordor's climate, could be felt even down at the bottom of one of the pits. In the pit was cooler than outside, but Ania could feel the sweat pouring out of her skin in what felt like rivers. She constantly found herself trying to wipe it off her arms and legs, as it itched. But even more often, she found that she wanted to cry as she felt all that water running out of her body, all going to waste. She thought of the small swig of water she had taken of the life giving liquid that morning, that was to last her the much of the day. It was then that she wanted to gather all the sweat in her hands and pour it back into her body through her mouth, but she lacked the energy to do so.

Ania let her head fall to the ground to lay with the rest of her body, and looked up to see flashes of fire illuminate a black sea of clouds. It was a circular window to a hell that she looked into, though the hell around her seemed so real. She let her senses go to feel the world around her, to test its reality. Her nose smelt the sharpness of the constant burning scent, her tongue tasted grit in her mouth, and her ears painfully listened to harsh voices with thick, ugly tongues and undeveloped vocal cords.

"Why?" said one voice, hissing and writhing like a snake.

"The Master wishes it so," said another, seeming more fit for cackling, creaking and mocking like a crow.

"But which 'master' do you refer to?" came the snake voice.

"What does it matter? The slave is here to be used." This voice growled like an hungry bear, but it frightened Ania the least.

She was here to be used, she knew; it was something every slave learned quickly, if not immediately, with the branding of possession. Ania knew this, but she refused to understand it or accept it. She knew above all that this was against the laws of nature, wrong in every way. Here, in this hell of the physical plane, the laws of nature ceased to mean anything, and so, all here shortly forgot them and their meaning, accepted their meaninglessness, or knew nothing of them to begin with. Ania had had the chance to know them for all the twenty-three years of her life, for when she entered this shadowed land, her life ended. One of the few thoughts of hope, or at least of contentment, in her heat, was that she at least had had a life. This was a small, and it shrank to being void of consolation when she looked into her son's cursed brown eyes. They had not had the change to see anything green, which grew in the splendor of life in nature, which shouted of the natural gift of life. Her Jordo had never seen this gift uninjured.

Ania was only a month away from turning twenty-three when she became with child. She lived with her husband in the wilderness of Gondor. He worked as a lumberjack, and had carried his lumber into town by himself for less than a year before the shadow grew too large for the to live peacefully. A sub-human creature's hand reached out and stole their lives from her husband and her, tying their hands to the back of a cart. The orcs were so very cruel, and were so disgusting slavers to the point that they did not care what kind of shape the slaves were in or how many they brought back to their Master. Whether they were meant to be horses or cattle for the slaughter, Ania had never pondered.

After a full three hours march, it had been clear that Ania could not go on, carrying her child with her. Durian, her Durian, then sacrificed himself for her and his unborn son. Ania would not have let him, would have remained with him forever, as she had sworn to do almost a year and a half before, if another life would not have been affected by her decision. Durian demanded of an orc that his wife be allowed a place on the cart, with a growing number of slaves that had staggered and fallen on the long road, though there were some that had not risen from the road, and so remained there. Ania knew her husband; her was strong as an ox in body and mind, and so what the orc replied did not bring warning to her, at the time.

"There be room for one. You or you?" He pointed to Durian then Ania, and Durian pointed to his wife. "Her?" the orc asked, disbelieving. Her husband nodded. "You?" he then asked Ania. She turned to Durian. He smiled at her, and she managed to nod her head in answer to the orc's question. "Fool," the orc could be heard muttering under its breath. A glance toward Durian made it obvious who it was talking about. Durian's eyes darkened, and he growled like a beast. Ania had just a moment to stare at her husband in surprise until he charged at the creature like a wild creature himself. A sickening crack and the orc's neck was broken, but the four, five, six more orcs surrounded Durian. They brawled with the man for several moments, Durian putting up an amazing fight. Horrified amazement was what Ania felt, with quickly escalating horror growing up from her gut to her throat. She felt sick, but she could still find a scream in her mouth as an orc finally decided it was time to pull out his belt knife and finish the fight. As the scream only grew in volume and the horror consumed her, she could not help but feel glad that it was over. The pain was over for her Durian, and this miniscule, warming thought lay at the bottom of her stomach, making her feel all the more sick.

And so Jordo was born in Mordor, and was - though Ania never would have believed it to be so in the days of her free life - her only son. He had been allowed to live, but had it really been worth the struggle to keep him alive, and so keep her alive? The realization that Ania could have died then, and gone with her husband, was a startling one. She had lived to see death and to see her son grow up to be an offspring of this madness. Her son sickened her too often for her to feel more than an attachment because she had carried him within her. But she was not sure if this would stay her hand when she found herself waning to end the madness. Besides, wouldn't this be freeing the boy, particularly from his fear? The sad part was, this fear was all that there was to blame for the boy's sub-human actions, and, Ania was afraid, his sub-human mind. She would set him free, and, of course, herself. They would be free together, and then she could love him.

Ania thought now that, perhaps, she had made her mind up. After all those years of struggling within her mind and heart, she decided that this was the right thing to do. This was not at all the first time she had considered this option, this possible escape route. And she had floundered when it came to doing to right thing, especially when she actually looked at her son, even into his eyes that were filled with fear and vacant of hope, or even anger, disgust, hatred. This was what was so unnatural about the boy. He did not even feel hatred toward the orcs, his named masters, for he did not know what to hate them for. And Jordo could not see what was wrong with his position - even if it could be painful - and, even more so, with his behavior. Part of this came simply from the fact that he knew of no other way of life. Ania had tried countless times to tell him of her old life, and of the life he should have. But - and she knew this all very well, even if her son did not think she did - he did not believe. And how could he believe? How could he hate? How could he even think for himself? Fear trapped him in a tiny corner of existence, and obedience poured from his soul. And there was no one to blame for putting Jordo in his corner except for Jordo himself. Ania's mind thought this logical, and her mind was able to convince her heart of its truth, as always. She could not blame the orcs for this; she had a logical explanation as to why, but her subconscious played tricks of its own in the formulating of her thoughts. If her mind truly worked logically, it would realize just how similar she grew in any of her thoughts to her son. Though perhaps a little heart needed to be involved of its own, as well. But for now, it was a prisoner of her mind.

"You. Slave. Come here." Ania stared at the orc, looking indignant, still lost in her thoughts, and angry to find someone interrupting them. But then a warm sweaty hand, covered in a tough hide, grabbed her bare arm with the force of hatred. All simple indignation was gone, but it was replaced by a loathing that made her forget to be afraid. She stared into the creature eyes of the orc, making sure that he saw the deep hatred in her, which went further than her eyes. The orc's eyes actually widened at what he saw, but he did not forget himself. His grip tightened on her arm, and he held her gaze as he spoke to his comrades behind him. "This ones got fire in her gut." It was the crow voice.

"We'll be putting it out soon, I think. Never have seen 'em come out of this one fiery," the bear growled.

All three of the orcs laughed, obviously finding some sick amusement in what they were going to do to her. Usually Ania would acknowledge this as a warning, but now she felt no fear. As it the orc who stared into her eyes were reading her mind, or at least reading what he saw, he told her, "you feel no fear because you don't know what we plan to do to you, yet."

"Should we tell her now?" asked the snake voice, a wild laughter making his voice almost squeaky. Ania finally looked away from the orc's eyes, and looked at the one who spoke like a snake. He was standing over a small pit filled with a sick brown-red substance, thick and steaming with the heat, that Ania hoped was simply some kind of mud, a natural substance. The orc then stuck a large wooden pole that he had been leaning against into the pit. A crazed orc head rose from it with a roar, then went back in to writhe beneath the mud-like, thick liquid. To her surprise, no sick feeling grew in the pit of Ania's stomach. No feeling at all filled her or consumed her as the orc that still held her by the arm proceeded to tear what few garments she had from her. He then led her to the pit of brown and red that still writhed, telling her that she should "close her eyes." Ania felt nothing but the heat.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

She squinted at another pair of orc eyes, staring down at her, as the sweat stung her eyes. She looked into them and her eyes began to burn. She squeezed them shut at the pain, and when she opened them, there was only one glowing yellow eye. Looking away from the sun, she realized that the sun was not what blurred her vision. This time the heat waves were not the only things that made the Lithlad hazy. And then realized why; remembered. It really was getting hard to focus her mind. She blinked several times, trying to refocus her eyes, but with no result. Ania then smiled, as she understood one more thing: that this world was blurring, disappearing in a hot fog. A hot fog…she found the strength to laugh slightly at this; everything was hot here. She hoped that where she would soon depart to was cooler.

Her skin burned, as it could not turn away from the sun. The fires soaked in through her skin, and she could feel a searing pain being poured throughout her body. Her bones began to ache with the knowledge that she was dying, though her soul felt light. A heavy weight was lifted from resting upon her heart. Her mind cried out that this was a blessing, and, as she thought of her son, she felt no regrets. She knew that he should envy her, as she had found the way to freedom. As she thought of how long it had taken her to find what looked her in the face every day, she cursed the day the brand on her hand began to heal. She had passed the first test, and now she failed the last, and she was happy. Ania greeted the cold, away from the blinding light and the burning sand of the Lithlad, the Ash Plain, of Mordor.
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