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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. The author has on both sides several related stories, including Rotten Fruit and The Black Heart as well as Fan Art in DeviantArt and Flickr.

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).
  • 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. It's actually his way of coping with the chronic pain, joint problems and inability to get aroused he's been suffering from because of the Orc poison in his veins.
  • 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.
  • Amicable Exes: Downplayed with Cadoc and Ingrid. The two of them remain civil with one another despite the unhappy ending of their marriage and care enough to not wanting either to suffer. After Rukhash cures Baladnor and leaves with Cadoc towards Mordor, Ingrid is one of those who supports having the unfair charges against them dropped so that they won't get killed by Orc hunters.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Cudgel (originally Curudal until Rukhash renames her), the old mare that ends up being accepted by the Gundbarashal tribe, is noted by multiple characters to act in a more conscious way than a horse should.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: When Magistate Halbard first speaks with Rukhash to determine if she's a threat or not, he tells her to answer his questions honestly and promises her species won't affect the outcome of the interview. She responds that the very fact he chained her up before taking her to the courthouse speaks volumes on how she's already been judged because of her species. Halbard realizes to his own mortification that by capturing her without cause and letting her be paraded through town, he hasn't been treating her like any mannish prisoner as much as he believed, and he himself would feel equally defiant in her shoes. He proceeds to remove her chains, and the interview continues without problem.
  • Aura Vision: It turns out that Rukhash's mother Hegdash and Old Granny, an ancient Orcess from the First Age, are able to see in the hearts of living beings sparks of light which Orcs have been gaining with an increasing rate since Sauron's final defeat.
  • Battle Couple: Rukhash and Cadoc from time to time.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: The Orc Butcher Dellon used to believe that Orcs and Men could live together in peace, but his views changed completely when he was captured by two Uruk-hai females who tortured him half-dead and, as confirmed in the author's one-shot fic Rotten Fruit raped him with the intention of getting offspring.
  • 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. This turns out not to be the case, but unfortunately, Thraangzi seeks to avenge his dead shaûk and sons by torturing and killing Cadoc, and Rukhash is forced to kill him, much to her distress.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In Chapter 32, Rukhash is saved from Dellon at the last minute by Hedon.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Rukhash mentions that one of the things she loved in her late shaûk Anbagûrz was having "the finest pecker she'd ever seen". She also likes Cadoc's size though it doesn't compare to Anbagûrz's.
  • 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. They eventually come to a mutual agreement that both their people have wronged the other in some way and that maybe it would be better if they tried to move past this together rather than getting trapped in a Cycle of Revenge.
    Rukhash: …I know… 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 loose 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!
  • Breeding Slave: Sauron and Saruman are revealed to have forced Orc females to live in various levels of seclusion and procreate to aid their war efforts, including Rukhash's mother Hegdash, older sister Botarg and grandmother Bidush. Saruman also acquired human women through dubious means to be used in his Uruk-hai breeding project along with Angmar's female Orcs. Rukhash would have likely ended up in this situation herself had the War not ended.
  • 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 and mate (though only the latter one personally).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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:
    • Cadoc reveals that his Dunlending grandmother had a brother named Cadoc who gave his life to help her escape their chieftain's order which she was unwilling to obeynote . She requested Cadoc's father to name her grandson after her beloved brother.
    • 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. The author's spoilery artwork also reveals that they'll later have a son whom they name Geth after Rukhash's Dunlending grandfather.
  • Defecting for Love: Cadoc quits his job as a Ranger to be with Rukhash, although technically he was already planning on retiring.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: After Thraangzi escaped the massacre of his clan with his injured son Maudur, he held his dying son until the end.
  • 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.
  • Dramatic Irony: Cadoc learns that Rukhash's brother Bogdish was part of the Uruk-hai unit Uglúk led against the Fellowship of the Ring at Amon Hen. He could have caught Frodo and Sam when they escaped on a boat, but he let them go and deserted, unaware that they had the One Ring (though all he knew was that they were after an "Elvish" weapon). Though Cadoc doesn't tell this to anyone, he lampshades that the War could have easily ended differently had Bogdish caught Frodo and Sam.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Baladnor's alcoholism is his way to cope with the constant pain, joint problems and inability to get aroused he's been suffering from ever since he was injured by Rukhash's poisoned blade.
  • 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.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Baladnor's thoughts reveal that when there started to be less of Orcs who were actually raiding people and more of dens with females and children as well as males defending their homes to be killed, many Orc hunters quit their profession at that point. Baladnor himself, who never enjoyed killing Orc children and viewed it as a necessary evil at best, was planning to leave the profession after one last hunt, which ironically enough left him in his pained state after Rukhash poisoned him.
  • Exiled to the Couch: When Cadoc returns to the Gundbarashal tribe with the bear he hunted down, it's revealed Fiilmor made Takhbork sleep in the main den during their last argument. He anticipates Rukhash, worried sick for him, will do the same to him, but she doesn't.
  • 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. The person who does this to him, Thraangzi, was also burned in the eye by Cadoc in the heat of battle.
  • 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.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: After Old Granny nearly kills Cadoc and is discovered to have killed some Gundbarashal members, Grazad feels fondness for the ancient Orcess she knew as a child and beseeches Durkarn to lock Old Granny up instead of killing her. After weeks of showing no gratitude towards Grazad's attempts to take care of her, Old Granny attacks Gruk and Bhrafmor as well as nearly kills Grazad, after which she's killed by the tribe.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Rukhash and Cadoc's relationship begins when she saves him from wolves and treats his injuries. Her relationship with her late mate Anbagûrz also started this way; he first came to her clan injured and she saved his life with her medical skills.
  • Foil: Both Rukhash and her older brother Thraangzi were born in Isengard, got separated from the rest of their kin when Isengard was flooded, and made it to Mordor where Thraangzi was sent to the army and Rukhash learned healing and midwifery. After the War ended, both started a new life in an Orc tribe with a shaûk and had two children, but they became the Sole Survivors when their respective clans were slaughtered by Orc hunters and Rangers. Though Rukhash doesn't stop hating Baladnor for his role in the massacre, she ultimately chooses to give up on vengeance to have a new life with Cadoc, but Thraangzi is so obsessed with having his revenge on Cadoc that he ignores his sister's pleas to let her new shaûk be, leading her to killing him in defense of Cadoc.
  • 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 reunited.
  • 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.
  • Groin Attack:
    • A male-on-female example is done by Dellon to Rukhash during their first encounter. It's acknowledged the effect's the same if she were a male.
    • Rukhash strikes Hurug square in his privates when he strips in front of her.
  • 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.
  • Half-Human Hybrid:
    • Half-human/orc hybrids are called baalak by the Orcs. There are several living in the Glokong tribe, a result of crossbreeding between Orcs and the shara living among them. The examples include Amani, the daughter of Smador and Madavi, the two children of Bogdish and Esha, and Cadoc and Rukhash's daughter Dera and (future) son Geth.
    • Curiously, while the Uruk-hai were bred out of Angmar Orcs and (mostly) Dunlending humans (as was speculated in canon), they are not considered this trope. This is because (as is all but hinted in The Black Heart) Saruman worked his magic to ensure that while his Uruk-hai inherited the desired Mannish traits, they would still be full Orcs instead of baalak.
  • Healthy in Heaven: When Rukhash has a dream of meeting her dead shaûk and daughter following her near-death experince in Chapter 24, they all lack their scars, and Anbagûrz is able to speak clearly without the brain injury he suffered in life making it difficult for him to form words.
  • Heel Realization: When Baladnor is provoking Rukhash in prison to prove she's nothing but a monster, he learns that she lost her mate and children when he took part in slaughtering her clan. Seeing her raw grief makes him concede that her hatred towards him is justified. When Barmund tries to recruit him to attack Elador's farm and kill Rukhash, he refuses and rides out to warn Magistrate Halbard, allowing him and his men to rescue Rukhash just in time.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Cadoc, a Ranger and one of the two main protagonists, 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.
  • 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.
  • Innate Night Vision: Orcs are able to see in darkness better than most other races. There are differences between different Orc types though; Black Uruks can see perfectly well in pitch blackness, but while night vision of the Uruk-hai is rather good, they can't see in pitch blackness as clearly as Black Uruks.
  • 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. It also turns out that there are several similar pairings among Orcs and humans in Mordor, including Rukhash's brother Bogdish and Esha.
  • Ironic Echo: When Rukhash's having it uneasy when meeting Cadoc's family for the first time, he tells Rukhash that she might come to like his sister's family if she could bear to not being so judgmental. When they're later taken in by the Gundbarashal tribe, Rukhash tells Cadoc to give the Orcs a chance while using his own words from all those months ago.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Rukhash is often on the receiving end of this from humans, including Cadoc and Hedon at first until they learn to respect her as a person.
  • 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.
    • When Rukhash gives Baladnor the antidote against the orcish poison in his system, he and Ingrid suspect it might be poison. Baladnor drinks it anyway because he's tired of living as a drunken cripple who needs Ingrid to take care of him. Even if he dies, he'd be free of his pain, and Ingrid would be free to find happiness with a new husband. The antidote turns out to be real, much to both of their happiness.
    • After Cadoc has left with Rukhash towards Mordor, Ingrid tells Holgar that even if she doesn't approve of his father's love towards an Orc, she won't deny his happiness now that she has regained hers thanks to Rukhash curing Baladnor and hopes King Elessar can be convinced to call off the unjust charges thrown against the couple.
  • The Lad-ette: Many female orcs tend to be this.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler:
  • Lecherous Licking: While Rukhash is in heat during the fourteenth chapter, she suddenly gives Cadoc's jaw a lick, much to the shock of them both as their Unresolved Sexual Tension is still in the air.
  • 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; he's 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 Pregger Sex: Averted. Rukhash and Cadoc have sex even after learning she's pregnant with his child, but they get more careful about it as her pregnancy progresses.
  • 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 lost her little daughter and infant son to Orc hunters five years before the start of the story. Her brother Thraangzi also lost his twin sons in similar circumstances nearly eight years ago.
    • Rukhash's mother Hegdash gave birth to more than a dozen children, but by the time she enters the story, she has only Rukhash, Bogdish, Botarg and Zarkug left. Rukhash's father Gijakzi also had another daughter who died in Barad-dûr.
    • Grazad used to have children before they died in Barad-dûr.
  • 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.
  • Potty Emergency: One of the first subtle signs of Rukhash's Surprise Pregnancy is her constant need to urinate. Remembering how she had the same problem while carrying Rangmau helps her connect the dots.
  • 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.
  • Properly Paranoid: After Rukhash is captured by Thraangzi and Lugat, Thraangzi orders Lugat not to let Rukhash out of his sight for any moment because he knows what an escape artist his half-sister is thanks to the flexibility she inherited from her goblin father. Confident his bindings can hold Rukhash, Lugat gets bored and leaves her alone, but when he's ordered back by Thraangzi, he discovers to his shock that Rukhash has escaped, and when he finally figures out why his companion insisted on guarding her so vigilantly, she attacks and kills him by dropping from the cave's ceiling.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Rukhash has a dream where her deceased daughter Rangmau 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 the 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 – is given some semblance of peace, and Rangmau makes Cadoc promise to look after her mother and unborn half-sister.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: In Chapter 42, Rukhash tries this trick to convince the reluctant Hedon to go hunting with her early in the morning. The Ranger is creeped out by the orcess' "please face", but agrees to come along anyway.
  • Redemption Earns Life: After Rukhash learns that Baladnor is the Orc hunter she poisoned and thought had killed during the raid that killed her mate and children, she ultimately decides to settle for letting the poison in his system to do its work of gradually killing him as revenge. When he has his Heel Realization and sees Rukhash as the Broken Bird she is instead of just a beast who poisoned him, he refuses to join Barmund in murdering her and saves her life by warning Magistrate Halbard whose men stop Barmund and his gang just in time. After Rukhash is told of what Baladnor did, she reluctantly gives him the antidote against the poison, freeing him from his chronic pain and joint problems as well as allowing him to have sex with Ingrid, allowing them to live happily again.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Rukhash and Cadoc finally resolve their Unresolved Sexual Tension in the fifteenth chapter.
  • Restrained Revenge: Discussed. Rukhash's original decision to have her revenge on Baladnor was to let the poison in his system slowly off him. However, after his actions save her life, she gives him the antidote while warning that it'll be painful. He truly ends up being cured after the antidote puts him through so severe pain Ingrid is convinced it was more poison. He afterwards muses that maybe it was Rukhash's final revenge on him.
  • Retirony: Downplayed. Baladnor had planned the attack on Rukhash's clan to be his last hunt before he gave up the profession of a Orc hunter. The wound inflicted by Rukhash's poisoned blade left him plagued by chronic pain as the poison was killing him slowly over the following years, with no healer able to cure him. Fortunately, after he foils Barmund's attempt to murder Rukhash, the Orcess gives him the antidote that finally rids him of his pain and prevents his death that would have eventually followed.
  • Revealing Injury: When Rukhash's clan was slaughtered, she stabbed Baladnor in the abdomen and believed he was done for before killing his companion Dran (whose name she heard him saying) as well. When he pesters her during the Winter Festival, she fails to recognize him until he offers a toast to Dran. She then removes his shirt and sees his blackened wound, and it's the moment both recognize each other.
  • Running on All Fours: The goblin anatomy enables them to go on all fours when they want to. The Uruk-hai are too humanlike for it.
  • 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.
  • Share the Male Pain: Cadoc grunts in sympathy when Hurug gets a Groin Attack from Rukhash.
  • Shout-Out: Amani uses Hattori Hanzō's quote about revenge in response to Baan's question if she's bothered by being near tarks after her parents were killed by some.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: All the orc characters are prone to profane language.
  • Sole Survivor: Rukhash is the only member of her old clan who escaped a massacre led by Orc hunters. She initially believes she is the only member of her family who survived the flooding of Isengard and the War, but it later turns out this isn't the case. Her brother Thraangzi was also the only survivor when his clan was massacred by Rangers.
  • So Proud of You: Cadoc tells this to Rukhash after she has given Baladnor the antidote against the poison that's been killing him for years to repay him for saving her life by alerting Magistrate Halbard of Barmund's intention of murdering her.
  • Straight for the Commander: When Cadoc's surrounded by Orc hunters in Chapter 32, Rukhash recalls a lesson her grandfather Geth taught her when he killed a dangerous snake by cutting its head. She applies that lesson by recognizing Barmund as the leader and shooting him, which leads to disarray with everyone but Dellon.
    Geth: Cut the head and the body dies too. This is as true of snakes as it is of men, and groups of men. Kill the head and the rest follow, scattered like frightened rats.
  • Surprise Pregnancy: Rukhash is dumbstruck when she figures out she's been pregnant with Cadoc's child for a few weeks after they started their journey to Mordor. She was under the impression that like the majority of orcesses, she couldn't conceive between her estruses, which come only thrice a year. The only exception to this rule are the Uruk-hai thanks to their human heritage, and it's a rare occurrence even among them. Rukhash herself was conceived when her Uruk-hai mother Hegdash was out of season.
  • Villain Has a Point: Rukhash tells Cadoc that Sauron was right about one thing:
    Rukhash: 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.
      Rukhash: …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.
    • Rukhash alone knows that Baladnor is slowly dying of the poison that transferred into his body when she stabbed him with a blade five years ago, and she chooses to settle for leaving him to that fate as revenge. However, after his actions rescue her from being murdered by Barmund's Orc hunters, she tells him about the poison and gives him the antidote for the sake of having a future. Cadoc lampshades afterwards how this action proves Rukhash's nobility.
      The knowledge of what she had intended to do, to leave Baladnor to a pitiful fate, was a horrifying thought, and yet, he was proud of her. She could have never told a soul about the poison and the orc hunter would have died miserably, her family avenged. Instead, she offered him a cure. Cadoc would not call what she did gracious. Sentencing a man to a vile death was a terrible punishment, no matter how deserving Baladnor might have been of such an end in her mind. What Rukhash did was show him mercy. Cadoc was proud of her for doing the right thing, no matter how much she may have wished to do otherwise.
  • You Killed My Father:
    • Rukhash recognizes Baladnor as one of the Orc hunters who slaughtered her mate and children along with the rest of her clan, but she's restrained before she can attack him, and after a good deal of thinking later, she decides to look into the future and let the poison in his system to kill him for her, but she ends up giving him the antidote after he helps rescue her from Barmund and his men.
    • Thraangzi lost his shaûk and twin sons when a party of Rangers led by Cadoc slaughtered their clan. After capturing Rukhash and Cadoc, he tortures Cadoc to the brink of death and refuses to heed his sister's pleas to give up on revenge, leading to her killing him in defense of Cadoc.