He who laughs last... by Nath

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"We can defend the Pit. Let'em try taking it," Azog stated.

"If you hadn't been so damn stupid to provoke the Dwarves, we wouldn't need to defend it," Slubgush snarled, but backed down as soon as Azog looked at him. He wasn't dumb enough to challenge Azog's temper, and the great Orc had torn out throats for less.

Azog was right as well. Numbers were on their side, they had the high ground, and if things got out of hand the Pit's entrance could be held by no more than two or three.

"Get your lot in position," Azog barked at Slubgush, who quickly scurried off.

His lads were already in place, behind Azog's lot, and out of sight of the Dwarves. Azog's host would draw the attack to them, then Slubgush and his lads would pop up as soon as the Dwarves were committed to their attack, and push them back into the woods below.


Yes, just a bit more… come on… Slubgush raised his left hand, and looked behind him. His crossbowmen were in position. "NOW!!!" he shouted as soon as the Dwarves were close enough.

If it hadn't been for their helmets hiding their faces, Slubgush was sure their enemies' expressions of shock as the bolts pierced armour would have been a laugh and a half. There was time to get off another volley, and then… "Charge!" The Dwarves were running, and this part of the field was a slaughter.

Slubgush risked a glance to see how the battle was going elsewhere. Their lot weren't holding their own everywhere, but all in all the fight was going their way.


Their luck was really holding, Slubgush thought as he pulled his knife from a Dwarf's belly. The day was still cloudy, and the Dwarves were still failing to break through.

Wait, what's that? Suddenly there were horns blowing at the bottom of the valley, and from up near the entry to the Pit, Slubgush saw another army of Dwarves march into view. One of Azog's lookouts was already running off to notify their leader, but Slubgush could count; even if all of Azog's lot still inside came out, they were done for. This lot was fresh into the battle and they outnumbered what was left of the Orcs as well.

Some of Slubgush's lads were already running. He'd have cursed the yellow-livered cowards, but it was each for himself, and he didn't exactly fancy being chopped up by Dwarf axes for Azog's sake.

He growled as he looked around. Now his position high up against the mountain was a disadvantage. He could hide somewhere up here – he glanced back towards the Pit, but if he tried to get in there, Azog's lads would save the Dwarves the trouble of killing him – but an escape across the bare terrain further down was out of the question, at least right now. Waiting for night and dark would give him a better chance to make it out.

Slubgush slowly edged towards better cover. Just a bit more and I can lay low until the Dwarves are gone. Azog got me in this, but he can get himself out. He scowled. Or not. I don't care as long as I get out.

Just as Slubgush made it to cover, a group of Dwarves made it through to the entrance of the Pit, shouting for Azog. Slubgush clenched his hand around the Dwarf axe he had been using after his sword had broken early on in the battle. If they saw him, he was dead meat. Luckily they only looked at the entrance as one of theirs stepped right up to the gate, and shouted a challenge that Slubgush couldn't make out.

To Slubgush's surprise, Azog came out along with his guard. Azog was a full head taller than the Dwarf who had challenged him, and he was unwearied by battle. Slubgush made himself as comfortable as he could. If he couldn't escape right now, he might as well enjoy the entertainment.

And entertaining it was. Slubgush had seen Azog fight often and knew the Dwarf who had made the challenge was no match for Azog, but he was angry enough to make the attempt. Azog wasn't quite toying with the Dwarf, but he did make a show of it, and clearly was having fun. Finally, the Dwarf made a mistake too many, and Azog broke his neck with a single stroke as if it was a tree branch.

Azog let out a triumphant yell, but fell silent as he looked at the main battle for the first time. He turned and made for the Pit, but before he reached the door, another Dwarf had caught up. If he could have afforded to make any sound, Slubgush didn't know whether he would have cheered or whimpered as the Dwarf slew Azog.

Soon the area was so full of Dwarves that Slubgush had to crawl further back for safety and he could no longer see what was going on.


It was a full three days before Slubgush dared to leave his shelter for more than a few minutes, and he could finally make his escape. Perhaps some of his lads had survived the slaughter. If Slubgush could find them, they could set up again somewhere quiet and far from here.

As he made his way down past the lake, Slubgush wasn't surprised to find Azog's head on a stake.

Hey, what's that? he thought as he noticed something stuffed in Azog's mouth. Looking around and seeing no one, he decided to risk a closer look. It looks like… a coin purse? Remembering how this whole mess had started, Slubgush laughed. Who'd have thought the cave rats have a sense of humour



Chapter End Notes:

A/N: Slubgush's final line refers to the description of the events that started the War between the Orcs and the Dwarves in the Misty Mountains. From LotR, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Durin's Folk.


When Thrór came to Moria the Gate was open. Nár begged him to beware, but he took no heed of him, and walked proudly in as an heir that returns. But he did not come back. Nár stayed near by for many days in hiding. One day he heard a loud shout and the blare of a horn, and a body was flung out on the steps. Fearing that it was Thrór, he began to creep near, but there came a voice from within the gate:

'Come on, beardling! We can see you. But there is no need to be afraid today. We need you as a messenger.'

Then Nár came up, and found that it was indeed the body of Thrór, but the head was severed and lay face downwards. As he knelt there, he heard orc-laughter in the shadows, and the voice said:

'If beggars will not wait at the door, but sneak in to try thieving, that is what we do to them. If any of your people poke their foul beards in here again, they will fare the same. Go and tell them so! But if his family wish to know who is now king here, the name is written on his face. I wrote it! I killed him! I am the master!'

Then Nár turned the head and saw branded on the brow in Dwarf-runes so that he could read it the name AZOG. That name was branded in his heart and in the hearts of all the Dwarves afterwards. Nár stooped to take the head, but the voice of Azog said:

'Drop it! Be off! Here's your fee, beggar-beard.' A small bag struck him. It held a few coins of little worth.

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