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Lord of the Rings: What If? - by Steele Simpson

Scenario #1:

With a bloodcurdling scream, the orcs began their charge. They stormed down the hills surrounding Hobbiton and began their onslaught. A few unlucky hobbits were caught unprepared and butchered by orcs giddy with bloodlust. Within minutes, the ground was tinted crimson with Halfling blood. Then, all the hobbits disappeared.

Gazbolt, the leader of the orcs, blew his horn and drew his bewildered soldiers’ attention. "Fools, they’ve gone underground. The Halfling rats went into their burrows! Go in after them!" With that, he ordered one of the smaller orcs to squeeze into a hobbit hole.

They watched attentively as he scratched the opening wider and wider still until he could fit. Looking back one last time, he turned and dove headfirst into the earth. Then, the air erupted into a cacophony of screams and shattering glass. They all listened to the carnage gleefully. After a few moments, all was silent.

"See how easy it is you fools, now…" Before Gazbolt could finish his sentence, a ball of fire bounced out of the hobbit hole. "What have we here, roasted Halfling?" Then he realized the error of his words, it was the severed head of the orc he had ordered down the hole. "Halfling bastards! We will make them pay! We shall fight fire with fire! Smoke the vermin out! A boon to the orc with the most hobbit heads after the battle! Kill them! Kill them all!"

Soon, it seemed that the very stars were falling from the sky and setting the Shire ablaze. Dipped in foul smelling oil, the orc arrows burned long and hot, incinerating the hobbits earthen homes. Thick, foul smoke filled the air. The orcs began lighting the fallen hobbits on fire and stuffing their corpses down the chimneys and into the doors of the hobbit holes. Before long, the acrid smoke was forming towers extending out of each and every hobbit hole in sight. The orcs cackled as they began to hear the hobbits shriek as they began to try and escape the pyres that had once been their houses. Every orc stood tense, quivering in anticipation, waiting for the little hobbits to come running out of the ground. Then, without warning, the dark sky began to rumble.

Never had there ever been a downpour like this in all of the Shire’s history. All the fires were quenched and the orc invasion had failed. Gazbolt commanded his warriors to dig into the earth, but by then it was already too saturated with water that each time they pulled a handful of mud out, two more flowed into its place. The deluge went on, hour after hour. Dawn was closing in. Gazbolt had expected to have killed all the hobbits by now and have been using their holes as refuge from the sun. He considered sounding a retreat, but he knew that dying in the sunlight was much better than what the White Ghost did to failures. He had to seize Hobbiton or he and his men would die one way or another.

The rain was falling so heavily that the lightning strike was barely noticed. As Gazbolt tried to pry open a barricaded hobbit hole with his sword, he noticed that some of his troops began to scream as if they were terrified. He pulled his sword loose and strode over to the site of the disturbance.

"Sir, look. It’s him… the master," said a fleeing orc. No, it couldn’t be, thought Gazbolt. Why would the wizard come here of all places? Why not go to oversee the destruction of Gondor, or perhaps the ravaging of Rivendell? He was supposed to be at Lothlorien battling Galadriel.

Gazbolt could feel his legs shaking as the white figure made its way towards him. Even though the tempest had not ceased, the wizard seemed completely dry. He reached Gazbolt and looked down at him. His long white beard whipped in the wind, and his long angular nose pointed straight at Gazbolt. Beneath his flowing white hair, two intense eyes burned down at Gazbolt.

"Sir, we tried to take the hobbits by surprise, but I fear we seemed to have… uh… underestimated them," Gazbolt stuttered, expecting these to be his last words. He waited for the blast of magic that never came. He began to raise his head slowly. His gaze went from the wizard’s feet, up his legs, past the belt where the mighty blade was sheathed. His eyes continued upward until he caught sight of the wizard’s hands. There, Gazbolt’s eyes froze. In one hand, the wizard held his gnarled black staff; on the other he wore the ring. It seemed to glow in the stormy weather. Gazbolt couldn’t help but to admire his beauty and wish it was he who wore it.

"Gazbolt," said the wizard, "You have done well." With that, the orcs eyes met the wizard’s, hiding under long white eyebrows. He could not believe it. The master never spared anyone. "I know the nature of hobbits quite well. They have puzzled me greatly over the years. They seem so simple, yet inside they carry a fire which burns far greater than their physical size. I, too, made the mistake of underestimating them once. That is why I came here, to finish what I should have done then. Watch me, Gazbolt. Behold the power of the Lord of the Ring!"

First, the storm ceased, driven from the sky as if it, too, feared the warlock’s wrath. The wizard seemed to glow brighter and brighter until Gazbolt had no choice but to shield his eyes. He kept his eyes shut for what seemed to be an eternity. He heard Halflings screaming, but not for long. He smelled burning flesh and he could feel the electricity in the air. Once all that remained was the scent of charred carcass, Gazbolt uncovered his eyes. The wizard had vanished, but that was not what surprised him most. He could scarcely believe his eyes. What he saw was no longer Hobbiton, but a wasteland akin to Mordor itself. Gone was all that the hobbits had made. It was if they had never existed. All that remained was a barren wasteland and his army of orc soldiers. For a while, they all just looked at each other. They knew their master was powerful, but they had no idea he was capable of all this. He had accomplished in a few brief moments what it would have taken two generations of orc warriors to achieve. Reaching down, Gazbolt noted that the soil itself felt dead, burned to its core, barren and spent. He stood up again, and tried to compose himself. All his troops looked to him, wondering whether they should celebrate their victory or begin wondering whether or not a master that powerful would need them much longer.

He saw the fear in their eyes and could feel it reflected in his own. He had known for weeks what these fools were only beginning to suspect now. In the days of Sauron, they had been indispensable. Now, however, they were nothing but trivial amusements and distractions to a master that no longer needed them. Soon, they too would feed the worms, if the worms were not obliterated as well. He pondered rebellion. He was the most respected warlord left of the orcs. He knew he could organize his race in an attempt to bite the hand that fed them. Perhaps he could succeed; perhaps he could seize the ring for himself. He entertained these dreams only shortly, however. Deep inside, he knew that a rebellion would not end in success; all it could do was postpone the inevitable. He, as did all those that still survived, knew nothing, absolutely nothing, could withstand the power of the one ring and the fury of its master, Gandalf the White.

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