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Fanfic / Freedom's Limits

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A The Lord of the Rings fanfiction by Zoop. Technically, it's a fanfiction of a fanfiction, being based upon minor characters mentioned in helenamarkos' fanfic Splint, although Zoop collaborated extensively with helenamarkos to make it accurate to the world and rules she made; with helenamarkos' blessing, Freedom's Limits is regarded as canon within the Splint universe.

The fic revolves around the tragic love story between Madavi, a human girl, and Smador, a young Orc, both of whom were once slaves in Barad-dûr.


The story is on-going, though not updated regularly, and can be read here.

Contains examples of:

  • Absurdly Youthful Parents: Madavi and Smador are indicated to be only around fourteen or fifteen years old when their eldest child is born. This is justified, as being quite young and unworldly (including not realizing female humans have some biological differences from female Orcs) pregnancy never actually crossed their minds when they began having a sexual relationship.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Madavi, Pratima and Sima are implied to be Haradrim (Southrons) or possibly Easterlings, and Madavi is explicitly stated to have black hair. In artwork helenamarkos has done of them, they're depicted as brown-skinned with dark hair and eyes.
  • Armour-Piercing Slap / OOC Is Serious Business: When Seri continues taunting Pratima after she was injured falling off a wagon, everyone is shocked when Madavi, of all people, smacks her across the face.
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  • Ascended Extra: Madavi and Smador are briefly mentioned in passing in Splint. They're the main protagonists in this fic (and also Named by the Adaptation). Also, Sima, a minor character in Splint, is a supporting protagonist here.
  • Bad Boss:
    • Were you really expecting the Dark Lord to be a kind and considerate boss, who lets his slaves openly criticise or question him, or have free healthcare and vacations?
    • Matron, the overseer of the kitchen slaves, is a miserly and short-tempered old hag, who beats the slaves with a switch and threatens to feed them to the orcs if they don't work fast enough or talk to each other too much.
  • Beast and Beauty: Smador and Madavi, respectively. That being said, Smador’s actually pretty nice for an orc (although Madavi’s influence helps too).
  • Beautiful Slave Girl: Madavi and a few other attractive slave girls are depicted as such - some of the particularly pretty ones specifically become "whores" when they're older (they live in much nicer conditions compared to the kitchen slaves and don't have to do hard labour, so for some slaves it's an enticing option despite the nature of their position). It's especially squicky in Madavi's case, as she's only thirteen when she starts attracting attention from the soldiers.
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  • Because You Were Nice to Me: It's implied one of the reasons Smador warms so quickly to Madavi is because she treats him like a person and offers to share her food with him. He implies she's one of the few people in Mordor who cares about what happens to him and treats him as someone of value.
  • Benevolent Boss: Himdol towards Pratima and Madavi; he's stern but fair and comes to see them as part of the family as opposed to just servants. Inglenn is also very kind and welcoming to them, even more so than Himdol at first.
  • Birds of a Feather: Madavi and Smador. They're both lonely, confused orphaned slaves looking for a place in a world they know little about.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Despite the Downer Beginning of this fic, a Bittersweet Ending is pretty much guaranteed, as later chapters in Splint confirm that Amani, Madavi and Smador's daughter, successfully escaped the orc hunters and eventually met up with her paternal orc grandmother, who took her in and taught her healing. This means that although Madavi, Smador and Rauni are dead they live on through Amani, who was able to build a happy and peaceful life for herself.
  • Bonding over Missing Parents: Madavi and Smador, a little bit. During their early conversations, Madavi reveals her mother is long dead while Smador was taken from his mother and rarely sees her. Neither of them ever knew their fathers, either.
  • Born into Slavery: Madavi, Smador and presumably Pratima and Sima as well were born to enslaved parents in Mordor.
  • Boy Meets Girl: The first few chapters generally revolve around this; Madavi meets Smador while he's stealing food from the kitchens and they become friends. When Barad-dûr collapses due to the destruction of the One Ring, Smador helps Madavi escape, then leaves to help the other Orcs and they are separated, with Madavi not knowing if he made it out. Months later, she and Smador meet up by chance while Smador is looking for food and they rekindle their relationship.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter / Spoiled Brat: Seri. Her own father calls her an "insolent, spoiled child" and she goes out of her way to be nasty to Madavi and Pratima, even mocking the latter when she falls from a wagon and knocks her head.
  • Call to Agriculture: Madavi and Pratima get jobs as farm/kitchen hands after being liberated.
  • The Cameo: Aragorn very briefly appears when the slaves are liberated, though Madavi can't see him well from the back of the crowd. Grazad and Rukhash are both mentioned; in fact, Smador indicates he and Rukhash hooked up. Cadoc also appears briefly in Chapter Six.
  • Child of Forbidden Love: Madavi and Smador's children, as most humans view an Orc and a human having an intimate relationship as utterly repulsive.
  • Cool Big Sis: Pratima towards Madavi and Sima. She's the oldest and most worldly of the three, doing her best to advise and look out for her friends.
  • Darker and Edgier: It actually manages be bleaker than Splint in places, mostly because of the Foregone Conclusion that both protagonists die horribly. Also like Splint, it's a lot more graphic and sexual compared to The Lord of the Rings.
  • Death by Sex: Madavi is executed for having sex with an orc.
  • Death of a Child: In the very first chapter, Madavi's infant son is murdered by orc hunters in front of her.
  • Destructive Saviour: The Fellowship of the Ring and their allies are inadvertently (and perhaps even unavoidably) this for the slaves of Barad-dûr. When the tower is brought down with the destruction of the One Ring, the falling rubble and collapsing ground ends up killing or injuring many slaves, forcing them to flee in terror before they're crushed or trapped.
  • Doomed by Canon / Foregone Conclusion: Both Splint and the prologue of Freedom’s Limits makes it very clear that Madavi and Smador don't live happily ever after.
  • Downer Beginning / How We Got Here: The story opens with Madavi about to be executed for the 'crime' of loving an orc, with the rest of the fic serving as an extended flashback.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Dellon is fine with executing any orcs he comes across, executing humans who fraternize with them and killing hybrid infants in front of their parents...but he draws the line when one of his men tries to molest Madavi before hanging her, saying that it "isn't right". Considering they're going to kill her either way and they just brutally killed her lover and baby in front of her, Madavi seems to consider this as a cold comfort more than anything.
  • Fantasy Contraception: Matron provides slave girls who get 'chosen' by soldiers with a kind of plant (it's only ever referred to as "the herb") which prevents pregnancy, as having a bunch of children running around would be inconvenient and make the slaves less productive. Madavi never mentions taking the herb after she starts having sex with Smador; he made sure to only sleep with her when wasn't 'in heat' and so assumed they'd be in the clear (they're both quite young and know very little about reproduction). They find out that biology doesn't quite work like that when Madavi does indeed get pregnant.
  • Fantastic Racism: Men and Orcs towards each other, obviously (more so from the side of Men in this fic, as it focuses more upon their perspective). However, some Men even show prejudice and discrimination towards the Mûlrim (what they call the freed slaves of Mordor, many of whom are implied to be from further east or south), though not with the same level of hostility they show towards Orcs.
  • Fantastic Slur: The Rangers call the freed slaves Mûlrim, but some people shorten it to the more derogatory "mule".
  • Forced to Watch: Madavi can only watch helplessly as orc hunters murder her son and mate; she thinks to herself that if they'd caught her daughter, the hunters would probably have made her watch her die too.
  • Funetik Aksent: The orc characters, who seem to have Cockney accents.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Madavi can't bring herself to abort her first pregnancy, even though having a baby would make her life ten times harder.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Madavi's son Rauni is killed due to this trope.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Madavi and Smador have two orc-human hybrid children, Amani and Rauni.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Downplayed. Although she doesn't threaten him outright, Pratima gives Smador a lecture or three on being a responsible father and taking care of Madavi and their unborn child; she also makes a point of reminding him it's technically his fault she's in this situation in the first place.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Madavi is repeatedly described as being quite pretty. Not that this is necessarily a good thing, as she attracts unwanted attention from the soldiers in the barracks.
  • The Ingenue: Madavi has shades of this. Though she's not a virgin for most of the story (and in fact is quite sexually active later on), she's young, beautiful, kind-hearted and rather innocent and naïve. Some of this is justified to due being Born into Slavery and never setting foot outside of Barad-dûr before she was fourteen, but even Pratima says she can be too trusting at times. Given the story's Foregone Conclusion, this ultimately leads to tragedy (see also Too Good for This Sinful Earth below).
  • Interspecies Romance: Between Smador, an Orc, and Madavi, a human. They start out as friends and then upgrade to lovers (or "mates", as Smador says).
  • Irony: Orcs are seen by many humans as violent brutes...and yet Smador is far more gentle, considerate and compassionate towards Madavi than many humans.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: When Seri is attacked by an Uruk, Madavi and Pratima both rush to protect her despite being much physically smaller and weaker, with no weapons.
  • Like a Daughter to Me: Himdol comes to view Pratima and Madavi as being like surrogate daughters. This eventually leads to him following Pratima to Madavi and Smador's den when her due date arrives, as he wanted to see she and her child were alright.
  • Low Fantasy: Rather like parent series Splint, Freedom's Limits doesn't really delve into the more fantastical elements of its setting and is heavily focused upon individual conflicts affecting few people beyond the main characters. Particularly compared to Splint, the vast majority of the characters are human, Smador being the only major non-human character.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Madavi is eventually killed by orc hunters (led by Dellon) for being with Smador, they considering her to be 'tainted' by evil.
  • Missing Mom: Madavi's mother died when she was very young and she has few memories of her. She has a scarf that she was told belonged to her, but she can't even be completely certain of that.
  • Morality Chain: Madavi appoints herself as one to Smador, trying to encourage or help him to find alternate paths other than stealing and killing to survive so he won't end up like the more savage orcs, who act more like animals and often wind up dead one way or another.
  • Mordor: Literal Mordor is the main setting for the first four chapters.
  • Mundane Object Amazement: Having lived in and around Barad-dûr her whole life, Madavi is amazed and delighted to see greenery and flowers for the first time.
  • Nice Girl: Madavi. She is constantly kind, polite and helpful to everyone around her, be it orcs or humans, tries to avoid hurting people either physically and emotionally and feels terribly guilty for lying or stealing, even when it's necessary. Sadly, it doesn't do her much good in the end.
  • No Pregger Sex: Averted. Smador and Madavi decide that as she's only in the early stages of pregnancy, it can't hurt to have some fun together.
  • Not Used to Freedom: The slaves freed from Mordor following the destruction of the One Ring have known nothing but slavery all their lives, sometimes over multiple generations. As a result, they don't even understand what it means to be 'free' and wonder if Aragorn is supposed to be their new master. The same goes for the orcs, who were also slaves under Sauron. Madavi and several other former slaves end up going to work as farmhands and servants because they have nowhere else to go and know no other life than serving people; Madavi slowly begins to grasp what freedom means but she still can't quite figure out where the boundaries of freedom are drawn and why (hence the title of the fic) and comes off as very submissive to others at times. The orcs aren't so lucky; Men are not willing to forgive them for the atrocities of the War of the Ring, resulting in orcs turning to raiding human settlements to survive because they know nothing else.
  • OCs: The vast majority of the characters. As with Splint, they are generally well-written and avoid some of the common problems associated with this.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Madavi, Smador and Pratima realise Himdol has followed Pratima and witnessed Madavi giving birth to an orc hybrid.
  • Only Friend: Madavi is this to Smador eventually, as there are no other orcs to be found in the area (and every other human is hostile to him).
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Madavi and Smador very briefly outlive their son Rauni, although their daughter Amani managed to escape.
  • Parents as People: Inglenn mentions that because she felt sorry for her children being uprooted during the War of the Ring, she overindulged them and gave them a lot of leeway – especially when it came to Seri. Unfortunately, this resulted in her becoming a Spoiled Brat.
  • Prequel: Serves as a bit of one to Splint, with the story ending three years before the events of Splint.
  • Rape as Drama: Some of the female slaves, including Madavi (who's only thirteen), are used as sex slaves by the human soldiers fighting for Sauron. They don’t really seem to consider it a violation as most people wouldthey don't actively fight back, they view being 'chosen' as an inconvenience more than anything and Madavi doesn't even consider it the worst thing she's ever had done to her. That said, they're told not to fight back to get it over with more quickly, it's doubtful the soldiers would stop if they protested and Madavi doesn't even seem to fully understand what is being done to her. Not to mention, she's only thirteen. Madavi doesn't give it much thought, until Smador informs her how sex is actually supposed to function between friends. She is surprised, saying she "didn't think it was meant for me" and they go on to have a very happy, consensual sexual relationship.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Madavi and Smador go from best friends to Friends with Benefits sometime after they're both freed from slavery. They gradually fall in love and upgrade again to 'mates' when Madavi gets pregnant.
  • Saved by Canon: Sima and Amani both eventually show up in Splint, which is set three years after Freedom's Limits, so we know they'll ultimately be alright in this story.
  • Screaming Birth: Averted for the most part. Amani's birth is depicted as painful and exhausting for Madavi, but not particularly traumatic, even though she's giving birth in a small underground den with only the rather inexperienced Smador and Pratima to help her. The only thing that goes wrong is Himdol unexpectedly turning up.
  • Secret-Keeper: Pratima becomes one for Madavi and Smador, being the only person who knows about their relationship.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: Pratima eventually reveals that she and Sima knew Madavi was giving half her rations to Smador, but kept quiet about it so Matron wouldn't find out.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Implied with Himdol. Inglenn indicates he came back from the war a changed man and he refuses to talk about his experiences with her.
  • Shown Their Work: Zoop extensively collaborated with helenamarkos and looked over her notes for Splint in order to make the characters, timeline and setting accurate.
  • Sigil Spam: Sauron's symbol, the Eye of Sauron, is put on almost everything in Mordor just as an extra reminder of who they're serving. It even gets put on the food - there's actually a scene where Madavi and the other kitchen slaves are making bread and they have to painstakingly shape the dough into an eye-like oval and put a slit down the middle for a pupil.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Smador. What were you expecting from an orc character?
  • Slave Liberation: All the human slaves of Barad-dûr are freed by Aragorn and his allies after the destruction of the One Ring. Many of them don't even understand what it means to be free.
  • Starcrossed Lovers: The Official Couple of Madavi and Smador. A young orc-human couple in a world hostile to such relationships, whose love is doomed to end in tragedy.
  • Surprise Pregnancy: Madavi's first pregnancy comes as a complete shock and definitely wasn't planned. She doesn't even realise she's pregnant until another woman points out the symptoms. Smador is shocked too, to the point of But You Can't Be Pregnant!, as he thought he'd been careful not to sleep with Madavi when she was in heat. He then realises that humans are physically different from orcs in that regard, which hadn't occurred to him before. To be fair, they're both pretty young and naïve; Madavi's only around fourteen/fifteen and Smador is implied to be around the same age.
  • Tamer and Chaster: Compared to Splint. While Freedom's Limits does have sexual content, it makes use of the Sexy Discretion Shot and has comparatively far fewer sex scenes than Splint, which tends to be much more explicit.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: Smador and Madavi first become friends when she offers him some of her food, so he won't have to steal from the kitchens. She continues sharing her own rations with him; much later, after she's freed, she sneaks food from her employers to him when he struggles to find his own food.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Madavi's only around fourteen/fifteen when she has her first child.
  • Third-Person Person: Smador occasionally refers to himself in this way.
  • Those Two Girls: Sima and Pratima, initially.
  • Tsundere: Pratima is a Type 2, being fierce and sarcastic, but also loving and loyal.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Poor Madavi. She doesn't even fully understand why she's being executed, wondering what on earth she did that was so terrible that she and her family should be condemned to death (her only 'crime' is falling in love with an orc in a world that doesn't tolerate such things). In her final moments, she politely asks the Powers That Be (asks, not demands) to please let her go to Smador in the afterlife – and that if that's not possible, would it be too much trouble to make sure her son finds his way to his father so he won’t be alone and afraid?
  • Tragic Keepsake: Madavi's blue and yellow floral scarf, which is her only memento of her dead mother.
  • True Companions: Madavi and Pratima become even closer after they both make it out of Barad-dûr alive, sticking together as they venture out into the world for the first time. At one point, Madavi states "I don’t have a sister, but if I did, I think she'd be Pratima."
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Madavi is considered quite pretty, whilst Smador is seen as ugly. It's played with though, as Madavi finds him rather handsome for an orc and he's not that bad-looking in illustrations helenamarkos has done of him.
  • Uncertain Doom: Subverted. Madavi and Pratima get separated from Sima while escaping the collapsing tower and never see her again, leading them to assume she didn't make it out. However, Splint reveals that Sima did survive and got a comfortable job working in an inn, though it's unclear if Pratima and Madavi ever learn of this.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Although she does tone her bullying behavior down for a few a bit, Seri generally continues to taunt and belittle Madavi and Pratima even when they risked their lives to save her from a rampaging Uruk.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Played with. The Fellowship of the Ring were more than justified in destroying the One Ring and with it Barad-dûr, and knew what they were doing, but they couldn't have known that when they did, the collapsing tower would end up causing the deaths of many innocent slaves that worked within in it.
  • Upbringing Makes the Hero: Inglenn brings this up in a conversation with Madavi, expressing surprise that she and Pratima turned out to be such well-adjusted and polite girls despite growing up in Barad-dûr surrounded by Orcs and all manner of nasty company. Madavi starts to say that not all the Orcs were horrible, thinking of her close friend Smador, but then thinks better of it when Inglenn looks shocked, saying instead that she never really interacted with any Orcs.
  • Villain of Another Story: Sauron is this here, combined with Greater-Scope Villain. Although he's the Evil Overlord that Madavi, Smador and their friends are forced to serve, they never actually encounter him and he doesn't have much of a direct impact on the conflict in the story after the first few chapters, with other villains being more immediate threats.