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It’s dank and filthy here. The Lands’re always dank and filthy, but somehow I thought His tower would be...grander.

Guess I’m wrong.

Don’t know what I’m going here, anyway. Death Duty, hah. The breeding pits are too full, more likely, but I can’t say I’m sorry. Some like them.

I don’t.

We Uruk-hai have been bred for war, not sniveling in the Pits like the snaga. Shame we can’t join the battalions ‘til our breeding years are over. But no, Death Duty. Rotting tark prisoners in stinking cells, screaming when we prod ’em. What’s the fun, I ask you?

None of them show any spirit, anyway. Think they’re so great, but they scream at the tiniest prod. Pathetic cowards, the lot of them. Any Uruk would’ve done better.

Except maybe that girl, the one I’m supposed to be “guarding”.

Mighty pretty one, too, it’s a shame they’re not hammering her, but special orders. Right from the top, they say she’s some tark general’s brat. Don’t know, don’t care, but that’d show why she thinks she’s above us. Stupid regular spitfire.

Now she’s standing there staring. I feel like going in and shaking her.

I do.

“Stop it,” she says, all lordly and queen-like.

I laugh. “Scared, little princess?” Even though she’s been to the Irons. This can’t be worse than those. Ugh.

“No,” she snaps, and her voice isn’t trembling. Huh.

I backhand her across the chest, just because. “Watcha think, little tark’s telling the truth?”

I’m talking to myself, but she doesn’t know that. Or maybe she does, because she glares at me. “Get out.”

I get out. Don’t know why, but I do.

Little tark’s getting jittery, playing with her hair and prowling around. It’s annoying.

“Stop that,” I yell at her.

“Or what?” she yells back. But her voice’s cracking with the effort, almost gone—took the Wrangler today, screamed like hell, but didn’t give anything. That’s what they say, anyway.

It’s not worth arguing with her, anyway. I go back to spitting on my nails, polishing them until they shine.

I’m still on Death Duty when they bring her back from the worst Thing—the Gong. She’s a heap, pale and sprawling, blood running over her, but they’re still glaring.

Nothing, then. Heads are gonna roll, soon. Just hope they’re not mine.

Can’t help but stare at her when they’ve gone, but she’s bloody and faint-y and boring. Few hours, and I give up. Start flicking my sword through the dust.

My little Luzburg’s coming along nicely; so I don’t hear her stir. The feeble “May I have some water, please?” startles me.

She’s not allowed water, I know.

I pass her my water skin anyway.

Like I said, heads are gonna roll. And chances are, mine’ll be on the floor too.

Orders came down last night. She’s good for hammering by her guard. And her guard only.

Which is me.

I don’t know how to hammer her. I don’t want to hammer her.

I’ve taken to watching her, and she looks at me, sometimes, her mouth twisting upwards into a strange shape. I’ve come to not hate her, and hammering’ll ruin it. ’Sides, it’s obvious she won’t squeal, the’ll take her to the Pits soon.

The thought makes my chest hurt. Funny. I must be getting older. They better put me in battle ’fore I die.

I go inside her cell, once. Her mouth does that funny think again, and she lifts up her hand.

To my sword, I think for a moment, but she can’t reach it.

Her hand touches my ankle.

Tarks are so strange.

They put me on patrol for a while. When I come back, she’s huddled on the ground. Ragged and torn. Hammered, I think. Strange water-like things leaking out of the corner of her eyes. “Tears”, I think the tarks call them. Death Day, I know. They wanna take her the Pit.

She sees me. Looks up. “Please,” she whispers.

I don’t understand what she’s asking for. I don’t get it.

Later, they send for me. Tell me it’s not the Pit for her. Death Day’s gonna be with the guys, and it’s my turn to kill them.

“Ok,” I say.

And I kill her.

Her blood splatters the floor and joins the other man-tarks’, her head flying clean off her shoulders.

I thought, for a moment, that she whispered something to me at the end, ’fore her head came off. “Thank you.” Don’t know what that means. Gotta find out.