Blackest Fate

Author: Branwyn

Nominator: Anoriath

2007 Award Category: Times: Mid Third Age: 2851 - 3017 TA: Drabble - First Place

Story Type: Fixed-Length Ficlet  ✧  Length: True Drabble

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: In Mordor, two prisoners from the Mark remember their home.(100 words, written for the "Doom" challenge at Tolkien_weekly)

Read the Story

Reviewed by: annmarwalk  ✧  Score: 10

[spoiler warning] When I first began to write, I was taught this definition of a drabble: “A complete story, told in exactly 100 words, with a twist or kick at the end.” By that standard (or just about any other imaginable), [Blackest Fate] is as perfect a drabble as can be. We are immediately pulled into the story of the two prisoners and their torment. But who are they? Who are their captors? The words [black-haired men] are troubling: surely neither elves nor dark-haired men of Numenorean descent would treat their captives so. Would they? The mood changes fleetingly in the second paragraph, as the prisoners seek consolation in shared memories of happier times. If there is anywhere a lovelier phrase than [resting where clear water washed the flat stones], I don’t think I’ve encountered it. [galloping through the grass as it bowed before the wind] finally gives us a surprising hint as to the identity of the prisoners and the dark forces who have captured them. [Reaching through the bars, each gently searched for the other’s face…] There's achingly lovely imagery here, as the mysterious prisoners exchange compassion and encouragement,[ until the black muzzles brushed together.] then pow! as the identity of the prisoners is finally revealed. I had to stop, catch my breath, then read it all again. [Dead to their Riders and kindred, at least they two could share this evil doom.] Honorable, courageous, and loyal, Branwyn’s Rohirric steeds are just as heroic and unforgettable as their Riders. An amazing piece of writing. *stands and applauds the wondrous Branwyn*

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 5

Moving; the drabble is so very sad and at the same time heart-warming and gentle. The drabble plays with the identity of the two "prisoners", and even if the first assumption of the readers had been right, it would still have had the same impact. I like the fact that this misconception is not used in a "sensational" way, as a loud punchline, but that it comes about quiet and unobtrusive. The contrast between their bleak and oppressing surroundings and their happier memories of lovely places of their home is particularly poignant, as is their deep bond, and the shared comfort they try to give each other.

Reviewed by: Tanaqui  ✧  Score: 5

Oh, what a wonderfully effective drabble Branwyn has created, with a surprising twist at the end – this is very nice misdirection! I love the descriptions the author gives here of what the prisoners remember of their lives in Rohan which are such a sharp contrast to the vivid portrayal she provides of their current torments in captivity in Mordor. The pacing and language all contribute to helping shape the mood of the drabble, which is quietly sorrowful. This is a beautifully written and moving piece, and a very fine example of the drabblist's art. Very well done!

Reviewed by: EdorasLass  ✧  Score: 5

Oh, the poor, stolen horses of Rohan! We do often tend to forget that it wasn't only humans who suffered at Mordor's hands, that all the creatures of Middle Earth were affected. And I can't think of a worse fate for these horses, especially since that for most of their lives before being taken, they were likely treated with nothing but kindness, patience, consideration, and near-adoration. I love how, like all creatures taken from their home, they communicate to each other their longing to return, even though they do seem to realize that the chances of returning are slim to none. It's somehow worse with these horses as well, for it isn't as if they can truly understand what's happened to them.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 4

This drabble gets me every time I read it; it's simple, sympathetic, and utterly heart-rending. The drabble presents the sorry lot of two of Sauron's most silent slaves; and how they manage to endure their unhappy fate. Even in the doleful environment of captivity, friendship can lift spirits; as it does here, in an unsentimental but beautiful moment. As usual, Branwyn evokes moments and moods with minimal verbiage and maximum emotion.

Reviewed by: Llinos  ✧  Score: 4

An excellent nod to a brief reference in the books. The language is beautiful here and the thoughts suit the two prisoners very well. I had no idea at all just who these poor unfortunates were until the end and the realisation was a jolt, but a good one. I'd love to read more about these two, especially their escape or rescue. It makes me very sad to think that they ended their days in servitude in an evil foreign land.

Reviewed by: Lindelea  ✧  Score: 3

Oooooh. This was heartbreaking, even as it left me reeling. There is poetry in the carefully chosen words and images: [They spoke of simple things--of galloping through the grass as it bowed before the wind, of resting where clear water washed the flat stones. Of the first glimpse of home above a distant ridge.] And perfect in its timing and delivery. Very well done! I'd love to see more on this subject (complete with liberation, and healing).

Reviewed by: Linda hoyland  ✧  Score: 3

[spoiler alert] I loved this dark drabble about the suffering of Mordor's captives and how they help and support each other.The twist at the end catches the reader entirely off balance,yet the identidy of the captives could not be more apt,especially as Tolkien mentions their capture.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 3

Two prisoners of Sauron's folks regret the loss of the life they knew in Rohan. But they do not yet know the intended uses to which such as they have been put. Wonderful twist at the end as we realize the identity of these two, and wonderful reference to an easily forgotten detail from the books.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 3

You really climbed into the headspace of those horses, making me think about characters that I'd never thought about before. They really are tragic in their own way, when you put it like this.

Reviewed by: Marigold  ✧  Score: 3

I loved the unexpected twist in this drabble and was taken by complete surprise! The author captures the thoughts of the two slaves perfectly and it was so sad to think of them held captive in stony, bleak Mordor instead of free in green and growing Rohan where they belonged.

Reviewed by: Elena Tiriel  ✧  Score: 3

(Possible spoilers within:) This is a heartbreaking vignette of a pair of slaves from Rohan who reach out to comfort each other and help bear the burden of their captivity. We empathize with them so much, even -- especially -- through the surprise at the end, when we learn more about who they are. Well done!

Reviewed by: Isabeau of Greenlea  ✧  Score: 2

I liked this one! I didn't suspect the prisoners' identity until the very last line. Very poignant!