It was raining over the ocean. Luckily for the inhabitants if the Scrag, it was a mere shower. If it were a storm, the small boat would have stood no chance. But it was a shower, and nothing will change that. So let’s move along.
If you were to observe the Scrag from an overhead view, you would see a small basket, one most often used for the lookout. At present, the lookout is being relieved. ‘Relieved’ being the term used to mean released from your shift and replaced. Below we see a human child climbing down the rigging as he is replaced by a smaller creature. This next being was female and obviously hobbit. She was wearing a ragged, brown, faded, excuse of a dress and a magnificent green shawl. She was a quiet soul with a strange sadness about her. Even when she smiled you thought she was never really happy. She had smoky reddish -black hair that looked extremely choppy. The reason for this was because she had chopped it off herself with a knife she had stolen. But the most grotesque feature to know about her was a scar over her eye that only she knew from where it had originally come.
Few knew her real name as she was not acknowledged very often, but she told whoever asked that it was Ivy. It suited her most said. She was always moving despite the pain she clearly had weighing on her heart. Ivy was the perfect name for a person who always held her head high despite her suffering. Ivy represented green and growing and moving on. And that was the ultimate Ivy.
Although her likeness was not like most of their women, she was said to have originated from the Shire. It was interesting to think about if you had ever seen her. The Shire was happy and open. There were no secrets there. The Shire represented honesty and happiness itself and she was always so deep; so sad. Ivy thought it ironic that the her home country was untouched by the darkness and here the Shire’s own has become a part of it. The Shire was oblivious except for various rumors creeping their way into a child-like state of mind. It was untouched by all the death, humanity, violence and slavery. Well, for now anyways.
It was raining. It was that same kind of rain that looks like teardrops falling down to touch the earth. You know what kind of rain I mean: light and airy, stretched out longer than most rain. However, that day, it was different. Today’s tears seemed like they were above all other tears ever before cried, holier and with more dignity. It seems to Ivy that the angels are crying for some reason. Or perhaps they were crying for a someone instead.
Ivy hesitated to gaze up at the sky. Although one must ask if you could honestly call it a sky at all. It seemed that nothing was above Ivy but an immense cloud, blocking out the sky. A cold wind surrounded her and tugs at her ragged clothing as if it wanted her to come and fly away with it. She smiles as she gazes out on the waters around her. Ivy had been sailing on the Scrag for only a mere six months, but it seemed like she had been there forever. It all seemed so peaceful. The mist was thick and it was an effort to breathe. The winds pressed more urgently against Ivy’s skin. They were getting impatient.
“Not yet.” she told it. Then she whispered to herself, “Not yet.”
“Pay attention to the water not your daydreams, lookout!” The peace breaks once again by the hideous voice of an orc. Ivy looked down to see her prosecutor below on the weather deck. He glared back and shook his whip menacingly. Ivy nodded respectfully and looked out on the water again. After making sure that he had left, she closed her eyes and mumbled a curse in Sindaran. Although a hobbit, Ivy had learned an extensive amount of Elvish in her youth. She smiled to think of the olden days, when she roamed free in the Shire.
The thoughts brought back old memories to Ivy’s sad heart. It all seemed so long ago. She remembered those bright mornings of the Shire. She remembered awaking with a smile and a spring in her step, humming sweetly all the while. If anything could be said for Ivy, It was that she always had a rhythm to her every move that no one could describe. She was an excellent musician and had one of those voices in which you visualized every word. You saw kisses slide off her lips and fly to the one she loved when she sang of it, and you could picture her heart breaking when she sang of broken hearts. It was indeed a voice that could melt the hardest of hearts. It could melt even a rock. But an orc’s heart is harder than any rock as she learned the hard way. Ivy still dreamt of the days when every morning she spent singing to the flutes in the colors of her flowers and dancing to the smell of pancakes she was scraping off the pan. Ivy felt that she had nearly forgotten the taste of any food other than fish. It had been months since she had eaten a crust of bread, let alone a fruit of any kind.
The quiet evenings of the Shire were even better than the mornings. She was so tired at the end, after a day of labor. But she always looked forward to late at night, and walking during the sweet, cool, nights of the Shire. How she loved coming home after a visit with the Tooks or Bagginses to sit on her porch swing, counting fireflies and naming the stars with her warm blanket cuddled up next to–
“Charlie.” Ivy whispered. She hadn’t thought about Charlie for a very long time. A chill went up her spine and it was not from the cold sea winds that attacked her once again. She bit her lip and clutched her green shawl close. She remembered when he had given it to her. The way he had kissed her on the cheek and told her that he loved her and how she had kissed him back. It was all so clear as if it had happened yesterday. She remembered how he had clearly paid close attention to her interests to know exactly what she loved in a gift. How she had marveled at the way it changed itself when you held it up to the light. She had loved the flowers on it and the yellows, reds, blues, purples, and other colors that ever so skillfully had been woven into it. It was obviously of Elvish making. Charlie knew how Ivy loved Elvish things. Elvish was extremely rare in the Shire and you had to have friends in extremely high places to get it. Ivy was amazed.
“Who are you?” Ivy had asked. Charlie just smiled. That was always Charlie’s way, and Ivy loved it.
Then the darker memories returned. Ivy chewed on her lower lip even harder. She squeezed her shawl as the rest came back into her mind. She remembered how the beloved shawl was her only solace when they took Charlie from her. How she had used it for everything from keeping her warm during frigid nights to binding bite wounds inflicted by hungry orcs. How she had since fought for it to stay in her ownership to the hands of thieving creatures. Ivy remembered it all…and she hated every second.
“Quarter deck,” Called a voice, bringing Ivy back to reality. “Permission to relieve lookout?” Ivy remembered where she was and nodded a thanks to her relief before climbing out of the basket to head down the rigging. Something sticky was on her face. She suddenly realized that her lip had begun to bleed. It was more difficult for Ivy to climb the thick ropes that made up the rigging because of the obvious height difference, and the blood on her hands made it slippery to move. The boat was clearly made for the use of orcs which are better suited for the massive boats. Still, Ivy made her way down the ropes that were thick as her tiny fist.
She hoped to get down quickly and make her arrival unnoticed. Unfortunately, her wish was not granted as she was greeted by the orc that had so recently been taking careful mental notes of her actions when on lookout. If you have never experienced being greeted by an orc that you know is less than pleased with you for the offense of simply being another innocent life form that has made the mistake of existing in his presence, than I may tell you that it is a less than joyful experience.
“Hey, you!” called out the monstrosity. “Yeah, you the short one. What do you think you’re playing at? You think you’re royalty or something? You think you can just flounce around and daydream all day instead doin yer work? You’re stuck here like the rest of us. So don’t go thinking you’re better or something. You hear me?” Ivy knew better than to answer.
“How’d you like to learn what it’s like to be a real sailor?” he continued. His voice was now both soft and dangerous. “You want to be a real sea rat?”
“No,” Ivy thought. “what if I don’t you slimy troll?” But she said nothing.
“I’ll do what a real sailor would do to another.” The orc went on. Then he abruptly grabbed Ivy by the arm and dragged her to the mast. Strangely, Ivy did not fight back. She stood limp as she allowed the creature to tie her to the wood and panicked not even when she saw black leather emerging in his hand.
The great thing tested his whip and Ivy felt a slight tingling coming up her spine. The calmness and clarity that had once inhabited her mind was steadily leaking out. Ivy found herself from perfectly relaxed in a moment of crisis to one step from hysterical. The orc recognized this even in his brute mind and played along with her fears. Slowly moving closer, the beast carefully flicked his whip in the air a few times. Ivy found herself out of control, but when the pain flashed up her back, she went completely limp. The other orcs and goblins and any creature with a cruel heart, came to watch the fray. One horrible creature splashed a bucket of water on the victim so that the lashes may be felt through wet cloth and thus, extremely painful. Through dulled senses, Ivy could hear a blur of laughter and the slapping on her back that created the burning sensation of wet lashes.
After a time, the inhumane creatures became bored and left. The artist behind the ordeal eventually cut the ropes off the remains of a once-happy halfling. The broken, bleeding, body once had a life that it lived happily in the Shire. It once laughed and sang songs so sweet that the weeping willow dried her tears. It once had a name, Ivy, the name of the velvety green that grew up and around houses in the Shire; the name of life itself. And it once had a love, a blond halfling with blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair that had loved her almost more than anything. But he was gone now. A lifeless corpse no doubt. Like was this body here. But was it quite lifeless yet?
The body collapsed on the ground in a pile of ropes. The orc prepared to throw her overboard. But suddenly, a stir. Ivy groaned a little. Finding a touch of life in her, the orc carried her down to the lower decks. When reaching the quarters where Ivy lived, the orc casually tossed her limp body to some unsuspecting female humans. Upon realizing Ivy was still alive, they hurried to fetch some water for her. Then he said to her limp self, “If there’s any more slacking off, you’ll be answering directly to me. Keep to your place, and remember who you are, or we’ll be having that little chat again.” Ivy was unconscious but he knew she heard him. The ragged women arrived to pour water down her throat. The orc turned and left them in the darkness as he returned to the land of the light. An orc snarled at them before closing the door to the upper decks. Then the world was more.
“It’s so annoying when the slaves do that.” Growled an unknown creature from behind the door. “Who do they think they are?” Ivy lay on the cold ground listening to bits of dry fish being torn up for her to nibble on. Even after she had regained her strength, Ivy did not say anything.
And she wasn’t about to say anything again for a very long time.