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Fanfic / Splint

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Splint is a The Lord of the Rings fanfiction by helenamarkos. Set several years after the events of the War of the Ring, it follows the story of a Ranger named Cadoc whose life is changed forever when he is rescued from a wolf pack by an Orc named Rukhash, with the pair forming an unexpectedly close bond. However, with on-going mistrust and hostility between Men and Orcs, the pair must face many challenges to their relationship and enemies on both sides. The fic is notable for it's more complex and sympathetic portrayal of Orcs, though it does not downplay or whitewash their brutal nature either.


First published in 2011, the fanfic is currently ongoing. It can be read at here and on Archive of Our Own here. There's also a Spin-Off Prequel by Zoop named Freedom's Limits.

Has a character sheet that is currently under construction.

Splint contains examples of:

  • 0% Approval Rating: Even the Orcs despised and feared Sauron and Saruman. They apparently weren't too keen on the Witch-King of Angmar either; Rukhash is thoroughly impressed when she learns Eowyn killed him. When Eowyn expresses surprise at this, as he was one of Mordor's leaders, Rukhash bluntly states that he was an "arsehole" and a "great big prick".
  • Adaptational Villainy: Saruman. Technically, he's still the same treacherous and evil Sorcerous Overlord he's always been, but he's been made even worse than he is in The Lord of the Rings with the confirmation that he had orcs rape and impregnate human women he'd enslaved to breed an army of orc hybrids. Heck, it might not even be Adaptational Villainy, as in the original book Saruman also mixed human and orc blood (it's just not mentioned how exactly he did it).
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  • Age-Gap Romance: Between Cadoc and Rukhash. He's forty-two at the beginning of the story, while she puts her age at around twenty-three (she never really bothered keeping track), making a for a gap of nearly two decades. It never really seems to be an issue for them, although on one occasion Cadoc has to reassure Rukhash that although he's quite a bit older than her, he probably won't die for several decades yet.
  • The Alcoholic: Baladnor, Ingrid's second husband.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Deconstructed for Orcs. Although they can be violent and brutish, in this fic they are depicted as being far more complex than most people give them credit for. Most only served the Dark Lord because they had nowhere else go and now just want to live in peace. Although their culture can seem strange to humans, they also do have a sense of morality and values, and they are capable of love and loyalty.
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  • The Aloner: Rukhash, until she rescued Cadoc, had lived alone for around three to four years.
  • Battle Couple: Rukhash and Cadoc from time to time.
  • Big Brother Worship: Rukhash was very close to her brother Thraangzi, who was older than her by a decade. After the Battle of Pelennor Field, she'd wanted to go find him despite the great risk in case he'd survived, but she later learnt from a surviving captain that he fell in battle.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Although it's acknowledged that the Orcs were technically the original aggressors, Orcs and Men both have sympathetic viewpoints and both have some legitimate grievances against each other; this is particularly demonstrated during some arguments and conversations between Rukhash and Cadoc in early chapters.
    Rukhash: I know my lot has always been a little...heavy handed...when it come to your folk-
    Cadoc: A little heavy handed? [...] A little! [...] Your lot has raped and murdered its way across my country, and you consider that a little heavy handed? Do you know how many lives your kind has destroyed? How many sons and daughters your people have ravaged and maimed? I think you would choose your words more wisely if you saw the children orphaned and mothers now grieving for their sons, if it's even possible for your kind to feel an ounce of compassion at all.
    Rukhash: What do you know about anything? [...] I were just a girl when I lost my dad and mum and sisters and then my brother and then, after it were all said and done and the War was finished your folk still wanted more. So I lose my clan and my mate and my whelps and now I'm here with nothing. [...] I don't need to see them women or them kids because I was one!
  • Broken Bird: Rukhash is clearly traumatised and filled with grief and bitterness from the Trauma Conga Line she went through during and after the War of the Ring, but she's also a kind, nurturing and even lovable person in her own way.
  • Cain and Abel: Rukhash is forced to kill her own brother when he tortures and tries to kill Cadoc.
  • Casual Kink: Very casual. Most Orcs, Rukhash included, have a penchant for rougher sex and see biting and scratching each other as erotic or even affectionate in some cases. At one point, Rukhash tells Cadoc that although she likes that's he usually very gentle with her, she'd also appreciate it if he were a bit more wild sometimes. This is a pretty minor part of Rukhash's character and is so commonplace amongst Orcs, it's barely even seen as a 'kink', contrasting them with Gondor's more conservative views on sex.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Baladnor, Ingrid's Jerkass second husband, is revealed to be the man who killed Rukhash's children.
  • Child Soldier: Rukhash mentions that most male Orcs she grew up with didn't tend to live pasts their 20's due to the war; male Orcs were forced onto the battlefield as soon as they were capable of wielding a weapon.
  • Coitus Ensues: There are some sex scenes sprinkled throughout that aren't really necessary to the plot, though nothing drastic.
  • Conlang: Black Speech, the language spoken by Orcs, is frequently featured, although mostly just in single words or phrases. The author drew upon the Black Speech in the original book and the version developed for the film adaptations, as well as adding words of her own. She usually provides translations at the end of each chapter.
  • Cool Big Sis: Rukhash has shades of this towards Cadoc's niece, Morwen.
  • Cool Old Lady: Grazad, the elderly, potty-mouthed Orc healer who mentored Rukhash and takes no crap from anyone.
  • Covered with Scars: Rukhash has a deeply scarred back from whippings whilst she was a slave to Sauron. Many other orcs are heavily scarred as well.
  • Darker and Edgier: In comparison to Tolkien's original works, with a great deal more graphic violence, profanity, sex and moral ambiguity.
  • Dark Fic: Not that The Lord of the Rings is all rainbows and sunshine, but this fic is most definitely aimed at mature audiences.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Rukhash and Cadoc name their daughter Dera, after Cadoc's Dunlending grandmother. It's also a nod to the fact they both have Dunlending heritage.
  • Defecting for Love: Cadoc quits his job as a Ranger to be with Rukhash, although technically he was already planning on retiring.
  • Disappeared Dad: Being a Ranger, Cadoc didn't have much time to spend with his son Holgar, which led to them becoming increasingly distant. By the start of the story, Holgar has essentially cut his dad out of his life, to the point that he's completely apathetic about whether Cadoc is still alive or died on one of his outings.
  • Distressed Dude: Cadoc. He spends several months recuperating at the start of the fic after falling and breaking his leg following a wolf attack. He later gets taken captive and tortured by Rukhash's brother. Both times Rukhash saves him.
  • Doorstopper: As of September 2018, the story (as it appears on has seventy-two chapters and 410,326 words, and it's apparently not even close to ending.
  • Elsewhere Fic: Takes place in Middle-earth and even features appearances or mentions of canon characters such as Eowyn, Faramir, Aragorn, Saruman and Sauron, but otherwise follows the story of OC's not directly relevant to the main story of The Lord of the Rings — mainly the orcs that served the Dark Lord or Saruman, and the ordinary humans who fought in the War of the Ring.
  • Eternal Sexual Freedom: Orcish views on sex are portrayed as such.
  • Experienced Protagonist: Cadoc and Rukhash are both experienced warriors; Cadoc is particular is a Ranger in his 40's with years' worth of combat experience. Rukhash is also a skilled healer, having been trained by Grazad during the War of the Ring.
  • Eye Scream: Cadoc gets one of his eyes burned out with a hot poker and wears a patch for the rest of the story.
  • False Soulmate: Ingrid ended being this for Cadoc. They were married and had a son together, but while Cadoc loved her, he tended to put his duty to Gondor first and spent a lot of time away from home. Ingrid eventually got sick of this and her love for Cadoc faded; not even a year after their divorce, she remarried to Baladnor, whom she seems much happier with, while Cadoc eventually finds love again with Rukhash, who appears to understand him on a more fundamental level than Ingrid did.
  • Fantastic Racism: Comes up a lot between Orcs and Men, with both sides of the story presented. Also present between different breeds of Orc; Uruk-hai have a habit of looking down on goblins and treat them like lesser beings, which the goblins don't much appreciate. They sometimes get along, though, (usually if they have a common enemy to fight) have even being known to interbreed.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Rukhash and Cadoc's relationship begins when she saves him from wolves and treats his injuries.
  • Freudian Excuse: Rukhash and Cadoc both have pretty good reasons to hate each other's species (especially the former, as her mate and children were slaughtered by Orc hunters). Dellon, as it turns out, used to be more lenient towards orcs. Then two particularly bloodthirsty ones got their hands on him...
  • Funetik Aksent: The orcs' dialogue is written this way; they seem to have Cockney accents, as in the films.
  • The Glomp: Rukhash to her father when they are re-united
  • Going Native: Rukhash initially tries to integrate herself with human culture. It doesn't turn out so well. Later, Cadoc decides if his people won't accept her, he'll leave with her and try becoming part of Orc society. It's not going too bad for them so far.
  • The Good King: Aragorn, of course. He's presented as a benevolent Reasonable Authority Figure who willingly listens to both sides when told of Rukhash and Cadoc's relationship and her presence in Cadoc's town. Though surprised, he's very open-minded about it all, declaring that if Rukhash and any other orcs like her aren't causing trouble, then he sees no reason why they shouldn't just be left in peace.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Though some characters are definitely more moral than others, you'd be hard pressed to find a character completely devoid of sympathetic traits.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Rukhash mentioned she sometimes gets crap from other orcs for being a "mongrel"; she's Uruk-hai on her mother's side and goblin on her father's (with a bit of human thrown into the mix as well). She mentions her siblings used to stick up for her if anyone made fun of her "goblin feet", while a clan of goblins refused to let her shelter with them on account of being badly treated by Uruks during the war.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Cadoc, a Ranger, wields a sword.
  • Hot Guy, Ugly Wife: Played with. Cadoc is considered a reasonably attractive guy, whilst Rukhash is considered pretty ugly. However, by Orc standards, Cadoc is the ugly one, whilst Rukhash is attractive. Interestingly, after a while, Rukhash and Cadoc both start to rather like how the other looks.
    • Of course, if you look at some of the artwork helenamarkos has drawn of Rukhash and a few other female orcs, they honestly aren't that hard to look at.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Quite a few Orcs, including Rukhash, take this view, especially when Men kept on fighting and hunting down Orcs even though the war had ended, including children. It's deconstructed; Rukhash herself acknowledges that humans do actually have legitimate reasons to be pissed off at Orcs and both of them have a habit of doing nasty things to each other. Overall, Men and Orcs both have some members who are good people and some members who are assholes. Rukhash also concedes that she personally was never bothered about Men and loved her Dunlending grandfather until the War started, with there being implications that Sauron and Saruman encouraged or even conditioned the Orcs to hate and fear Men.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Although it took him a week to agree, Cadoc eventually willingly signed the divorce papers Ingrid served him, as he saw how unhappy she was in their marriage and didn't want her to suffer anymore.
  • In Medias Res: The story begins with Cadoc having been attacked by wolves and awaiting a grisly end, passing out moments after Rukhash leaps to his rescue. The second chapter fills in a few basic details about who these characters are and how they got here via exposition, with more details being added as the story progresses.
  • In-Series Nickname: Rukhash almost constantly refers to Saruman as 'Sharkey'. This is actually accurate to the original book – the Uruk-hai called Saruman 'Sharku', which is Black Speech for "Old Man", 'Sharkey' being another form of it used by the band of Ruffians who helped Saruman invade the Shire.
  • Interspecies Romance: The central plot is the development of the romance between Cadoc, a Man, and Rukhash, an Orc.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Rukhash. She's foul-mouthed and aggressive, but has a good heart at her core and is very loyal to her loved ones.
  • Knight Templar: Dellon, the 'Orc Butcher', who takes his job very seriously, to the point of hunting Rukhash and Cadoc half way across the country just because he hates orcs that much.
  • The Lad-ette: Many female orcs tend to be this.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler:
  • Lethal Chef: Eowyn still can't cook after all these years.
    Rukhash: You don't cook?
    Eowyn: Only if you want food poisoning.
  • The Lost Lenore: Rukhash's mate and children, who were killed by Orc hunters.
  • Low Fantasy: Despite being set in Middle-earth, beyond having Orcs as major characters and Sorcerous Overlords as Predecessor Villains, Splint really doesn't delve that heavily into more fantastical elements, focuses more on personal or small-scale conflicts than an epic-scale good-vs-evil conflict, has rather mundane antagonists and threats and features characters with varying degrees of morality, if not outright Grey-and-Gray Morality at times.
  • Made a Slave: Rukhash towards the end of the War of the Ring, along with most of her family.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Rukhash and Cadoc. The fact that a human would love an Orc is seen by other humans as strange at best, abhorrent at worst. Dellon mentions having killed another orc-human couple a few years back. In contrast, most Orcs don't have an issue with it, though some are less than impressed to find out Cadoc is a Ranger.
  • Mills and Boon Prose: Some of the sex scenes slip into this.
  • Monogender Monsters: Played with. In The Lord of the Rings, it's hinted that there were female Orcs, but they are never seen or directly mentioned. In Splint, it's made very obvious there are female Orcs (and baby Orcs too); after all, one of the main protagonists is an Orcess. Rukhash explains that Saruman and Sauron kept a lot of the women back in the "breeding pits" to continuously supply Mordor’s armies with soldiers, while the men were sent out into battle, which explains why few female orcs were seen. Under normal circumstances, female Orcs also often fight alongside the males, with Cadoc later admitting he never really bothered to look too closely to tell the difference when he fought them.
  • Near-Death Experience: Cadoc at the beginning of the story; his is thrown from his horse and breaks his leg, then gets set upon by wolves. He has another one later after being captured and tortured by Rukhash's brother.
  • Non-Human Humanoid Hybrid: Rukhash is mentioned as being part Uruk, part goblin. She's also got some human in her, too, mentioning that one of her grandfathers was Dunlending. She later gets pregnant with a half human, half orc hybrid, fathered by Cadoc.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. Rukhash is very blunt about the matter, much to Cadoc's embarrassment.
  • OCs: The vast majority of the cast are OC's, though they're well-developed and interesting.
  • Odd Couple: The Official Couple of Cadoc, an aging Ranger, and Rukhash, an Orc once enslaved in Isengard and Barad-dûr.
  • Odd Friendship: A peculiar friendship develops between Rukhash and Eowyn, of all people; they bond over their shared skill and interest in healing, their toughness and desire for independence and Eowyn's slaying of the Witch-king, which Rukhash is seriously impressed by.
  • One Head Taller: Cadoc is around a head taller than Rukhash.
  • One True Love: This seems to be the closest interpretation of the orcish term shaûk, described as being "someone who's always got your back, someone who's with you until the bitter end" and your "heart's companion". Rukhash eventually informs Cadoc she believes he's her shaûk.
  • One-Word Title: The title of the fic is simply Splint. A splint usually refers to a piece of wood or other material used to support a broken limb that has been set so it heals properly. At the start of the story, Rukhash splints Cadoc's broken leg, which marks the beginning of their relationship. From a metaphorical perspective, Rukhash and Cadoc could also been seen as 'emotional splints' to each other; two broken but strong people supporting one another as they start to heal.
  • Our Nudity Is Different: Orcs and Men of Gondor have very different views on nudity. Rukhash thinks nothing of walking about with only a loincloth on, which Cadoc is positively mortified about. When Rukhash figures out why he's embarrassed, she finds it both confusing and hilarious.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: They are based directly on the Orcs Tolkien created, but are depicted as more emotionally and morally complex beyond being simple Mooks, with some dashes of Blizzard-style orcs.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Rukhash.
  • Perspective Flip: Mostly via Rukhash's character, we get to see some of the events of The Lord of the Rings (and what came after) from the Orcs' point-of-view. As a result, they come off as being a lot more sympathetic. That being said, Rukhash does eventually acknowledge that they were still technically 'the bad guys' of the story; they're just not as homogeneously or irredeemably evil as most people think and they were negatively affected by the war as well. They come across less as Always Chaotic Evil and more as Tragic Villains Trapped in Villainy; even if they wanted to stop fighting, which many of them did by the end, the Dark Lord wasn't exactly going to just let them walk away and no one else would accept them. A lot of them also grew up knowing nothing but war and serving the Dark Lord, never having a chance to lead a different life, not to mention their master was constantly telling them how if they lost the war, Men would hunt them all down to last sprog without mercy. Ultimately, they are just as much victims of Sauron's tyranny as the rest of Middle-earth.
  • Pregnant Badass:
    • Rukhash is more than capable of taking care of both herself and Cadoc while pregnant.
    • Downplayed for Eowyn, who admits she was out riding horses all day long until Faramir had to drag her away from the stables while she was pregnant with their son.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Rukhash has a dream where her deceased daughter warns her she has to leave right now, because a "man in black" is coming to kill her. Rukhash and Cadoc heed the warning, which is just as well, as the "man in black" is notorious orc hunter Dellon who is indeed on their trail. Cadoc also has a psychic dream of sorts, where Rukhash's deceased brother - whom she just killed to protect Cadoc - makes him promise to look after his sister.
  • Red Baron: Dellon is known as "the Orc Butcher".
  • Relationship Upgrade: Rukhash and Cadoc finally resolve their Unresolved Sexual Tension in the fifteenth chapter.
  • Savage Wolves: Cadoc is attacked by a pack of wolves in the first chapter, leading to Rukhash saving him.
  • Second Love: Rukhash and Cadoc are both this to each other. Cadoc's marriage to Ingrid failed partly because of her annoyance he was always away fighting. Rukhash once had a mate but he was killed by Orc hunters.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: All the orc characters.
  • Sole Survivor: Rukhash is the only member of her old clan who escaped a massacre lead by Orc hunters. She initially believes she is the only member of her family who survived the destruction of Barad-dûr but it later turns out this isn't the case.
  • Tsundere: Rukhash is mostly a Type 1 (default "Harsh"), being generally quite abrasive and blunt, but possessing a softer and more compassionate side which comes out more as she warms up to Cadoc.
  • Villain Has a Point: Rukhash tells Cadoc that Sauron was right about one thing:
    "In the end it all happened like He said it would. [...] He said that if we'd failed 'im, the race of Men would run us down 'til there weren't any more of us."
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Rukhash to Cadoc at times.
  • War Is Hell: It's made pretty explicit that the War of the Ring sucked for both sides; both Rukhash and Cadoc came out of it deeply scarred (physically and psychologically).
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Most people — including Cadoc to start with — see Orcs as nothing but violent monsters who deserve everything they get. To be fair, Orcs do have a tendency to commit Rape, Pillage, and Burn and kill humans indiscriminately. However, when Cadoc meets and gets to know Rukhash, he begins to view them more sympathetically and reassesses his previous beliefs about them. There are also some humans out there, such as the Dunlendings, who feel more kinship to Orcs than other Men and sided with them during the war for various reasons. The narrative itself largely takes the view that Both Sides Have a Point and that Orcs are just as much people as humans, with all that entails.
  • What You Are in the Dark: When Rukhash first finds Cadoc, she seriously considers killing him purely because he's a Man and to get revenge for everything his race have done to her and other Orcs over the years. She doesn't.
    "I thought for a moment to take that out on you while you were bleeding out, but I didn't. I didn't blame you because that weren't fair, because I didn't think it were right to make you pay for shit you didn't do".