Grishnákh Uruk of Mordor
“They might agree with me, with Grishnákh their trusted messenger;
and I Grishnákh say this: Saruman is a fool. and a dirty treacherous fool. But the Great Eye is on him.”
LOTR:TTT B3 C3
Grishnákh was an Orc of Mordor, who likely was garrisoned in Barad-dûr. After hearing that the Nine Black Riders were engulfed in the floods at the Ford of Bruinen, the great Eye in the Dark Tower looked inward, long in thought. The Dark Lord wondered who among his foes would take up the Ring and set themselves against him. Sauron knew that if one of the powerful put on the One Ring he would feel their presence. After a time of waiting and doubt, he sent spies to keep watch upon the lands to the north.
After receiving reports that a company of nine from Rivendell was passing south through Egeion, Sauron sent Uruks north to Moria, though they only reached the East Gate after the Fellowship of the Ring had entered the West Gate and traveled nearly halfway through the dark halls of Khazad-dûm. After escaping Moria and fleeing into the lands of Lothlorien, Sauron sent more orcs to spy along the eastern shore of the River Anduin, believing the Ring was being taken to Gondor. One of the Nazgûl was sent upon a Fell Beast to the eastern side of the River, ready to take any prisoners directly to the Dark Tower, but when the Uruks of Mordor camped along the river edge spied the Fellowship in boats, they were unable to capture or kill them. The Nazgûl attempted to crossed the river feeling the presence of the Ring, but was shot down by the swift arrow of Legolas. The Nazgûl, now without his winged steed, stayed upon the eastern side and a company of Uruks was sent over the river to waylay the Ring Bearer.
Grishnákh was one of these Uruks. After Crossing the Great River, they searched for the Fellowship in the woods along the West bank, until they came upon northern Orcs from Moria, who were also tracking the Company after they left the Elven wood. The orcs banded together and traveled south along the river tracking the company. As they entered woods north of Parth Galen, they came upon and even larger band of Orcs from Isengard. As they stood facing each other, not sure whether to join them or fight, they heard high-light voices on the wind. Without speaking, they moved silently in the direction of the voices and came upon two halflings in the wood.
After killing the great warrior who came to protect the haflings, they fled into the hills with the prisoners. There they argued over which way to go, Grishnákh and his uruks demanding they return to the river, where one of the Nazgûl lay in wait upon the other side to take the prisoners back to Lugbûrz, but he was outnumbered by the Uruk-hai of Isengard commanded by Uglúk, who had orders to return at once to Orthanc. After killing several of the northerners, the orcs descended out of the hills down to the grass plains of the Wold. They traveled with great speed northwest to the eves of Fangorn on their way to Orthanc, but they were discovered by the Rohirrim under the command of Éomer and were destroyed.
Grishnákh was remembered in the Red Book of Westmarch for the part he played in the escape of the two haflings.
To Pippin’s surprise he found that much of the talk was intelligible many of the Orcs were using ordinary language. Apparently the members of two or three quite different tribes were present, and they could not understand one another’s orc-speech. There was an angry debate concerning what they were to do now: which way they were to take and what should be done with the prisoners.
‘There’s no time to kill them properly,’ said one. ‘No time for play on this trip.’
‘That can’t be helped,’ said another. ‘But why not kill them quick, kill them now? They’re a cursed nuisance, and we’re in a hurry. Evening’s coming on, and we ought to get a move on.’
‘Orders.’ said a third voice in a deep growl. ‘Kill all but not the Halfings; they are to be brought back alive as quickly as possible. That’s my orders.’
‘What are they wanted for?’ asked several voices. ‘Why alive? Do they give good sport?’
‘No! I heard that one of them has got something, something that’s wanted for the War, some elvish plot or other. Anyway they’ll both be questioned.’
‘Is that all you know? Why don’t we search them and find out? We might find something that we could use ourselves.’
‘That is a very interesting remark,’ sneered a voice, softer than the others but more evil. ‘I may have to report that. The prisoners are not to be searched or plundered: those are my orders.’
‘And mine too,’ said the deep voice. ‘Alive and as captured; no spoiling. That’s my orders.’
‘Not our orders!’ said one of the earlier voices. ‘We have come all the way from the Mines to kill, and avenge our folk. I wish to kill, and then go back north.’
‘Then you can wish again,’ said the growling voice. ‘I am Uglúk. I command. I return to Isengard by the shortest road.’
‘Is Saruman the master or the Great Eye?’ said the evil voice. ‘We should go back at once to Lugbúrz.’
‘If we could cross the Great River, we might,’ said another voice. ‘But there are not enough of us to venture down to the bridges.’
‘I came across,’ said the evil voice. ‘A winged Nazgûl awaits us northward on the east-bank.’
‘Maybe, maybe! Then you’ll fly off with our prisoners, and get all the pay and praise in Lugbúrz, and leave us to foot it as best we can through the Horse-country. No, we must stick together. These lands are dangerous: full of foul rebels and brigands.’
‘Aye, we must stick together,’ growled Uglúk. ‘I don’t trust you little swine. You’ve no guts outside your own sties. But for us you’d all have run away. We are the fighting Uruk-hai! We slew the great warrior. We took the prisoners. We are the servants of Saruman the Wise, the White Hand: the Hand that gives us man’s-flesh to eat. We came out of Isengard, and led you here, and we shall lead you back by the way we choose. I am Uglúk. I have spoken.’
‘You have spoken more than enough, Uglúk,’ sneered the evil voice. ‘I wonder how they would like it in Lugbúrz. They might think that Uglúk’s shoulders needed relieving of a swollen head. They might ask where his strange ideas came from. Did they come from Saruman, perhaps? Who does he think he is, setting up on his own with his filthy white badges? They might agree with me, with Grishnákh their trusted messenger; and I Grishnákh say this: Saruman is a fool. and a dirty treacherous fool. But the Great Eye is on him.
‘Swine is it? How do you folk like being called swine by the muck-rakers of a dirty little wizard? It’s orc-flesh they eat, I’ll warrant.’
Many loud yells in orc-speech answered him, and the ringing clash of weapons being drawn. Cautiously Pippin rolled over, hoping to see what would happen. His guards had gone to join in the fray. In the twilight he saw a large black Orc, probably Uglúk, standing facing Grishnákh, a short crook-legged creature, very broad and with long arms that hung almost to the ground. Round them were many smaller goblins. Pippin supposed that these were the ones from the North. They had drawn their knives and swords, but hesitated to attack Uglúk.
Uglúk shouted, and a number of other Orcs of nearly his own size ran up. Then suddenly, without warning, Uglúk sprang forwards, and with two swift strokes swept the heads off two of his opponents. Grishnákh stepped aside and vanished into the shadows. The others gave way, and one stepped backwards and fell over Merry’s prostrate form with a curse. Yet that probably saved his life, for Uglúk’s followers leaped over him and cut down another with their broad-bladed swords. It was the yellow-fanged guard. His body fell right on top of Pippin, still clutching its long saw-edged knife.
‘Put up your weapons!’ shouted Uglúk. ‘And let’s have no more nonsense! We go straight west from here, and down the stair. From there straight to the downs, then along the river to the forest. And we march day and night. That clear?’
From The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in the Chapter ‘The Uruk-hai’
The night was cold and still. All round the knoll on which the Orcs were gathered little watch-fires sprang up, golden-red in the darkness, a complete ring of them. They were within a long bowshot. but the riders did not show themselves against the light, and the Orcs wasted many arrows shooting at the fires, until Uglúk stopped them. The riders made no sound. Later in the night when the moon came out of the mist, then occasionally they could be seen, shadowy shapes that glinted now and again in the white light, as they moved in ceaseless patrol.
‘They’ll wait for the Sun, curse them!’ growled one of the guards. ‘Why don’t we get together and charge through? What’s old Uglúk think he’s doing, I should like to know?’
‘I daresay you would,’ snarled Uglúk stepping up from behind. ‘Meaning I don’t think at all, eh? Curse you! You’re as bad as the other rabble: the maggots and the apes of Lugbúrz. No good trying to charge with them. They’d just squeal and bolt, and there are more than enough of these filthy horse-boys to mop up our lot on the flat.
‘There’s only one thing those maggots can do: they can see like gimlets in the dark. But these Whiteskins have better night-eyes than most Men, from all I’ve heard; and don’t forget their horses! They can see the night-breeze, or so it’s said. Still there’s one thing the fine fellows don’t know: Mauhúr and his lads are in the forest, and they should turn up any time now.’
Uglúk’s words were enough, apparently, to satisfy the Isengarders; but the other Orcs were both dispirited and rebellious. They posted a few watchers, but most of them lay on the ground, resting in the pleasant darkness. It did indeed become very dark again; for the moon passed westward into thick cloud, and Pippin could not see anything a few feet away. The fires brought no light to the hillock. The riders were not, however, content merely to wait for the dawn and let their enemies rest. A sudden outcry on the east side of the knoll showed that something was wrong. It seemed that some of the Men had ridden in close, slipped off their horses, crawled to the edge of the camp and killed several Orcs, and then had faded away again. Uglúk dashed off to stop a stampede.
Pippin and Merry sat up. Their guards, Isengarders, had gone with Uglúk. But if the hobbits had any thought of escape, it was soon dashed. A long hairy arm took each of them by the neck and drew them close together. Dimly they were aware of Grishnákh’s great head and hideous face between them; his foul breath was on their cheeks. He began to paw them and feel them. Pippin shuddered as hard cold fingers groped down his back.
‘Well, my little ones!’ said Grishnákh in a soft whisper. ‘Enjoying your nice rest? Or not? A little awkwardly placed, perhaps: swords and whips on one side, and nasty spears on the other! Little people should not meddle _in affairs that are too big for them.’ His fingers continued to grope. There was a light like a pale but hot fire behind his eyes.
The thought came suddenly into Pippin’s mind, as if caught direct from the urgent thought of his enemy: ‘Grishnákh knows about the Ring! He’s looking for it, while Uglúk is busy: he probably wants it for himself.’ Cold fear was in Pippin’s heart, yet at the same time he was wondering what use he could make of Grishnákh’s desire.
‘Find it?’ said Grishnákh: his fingers stopped crawling and gripped Pippin’s shoulder. ‘Find what? What are you talking about, little one?’. For a moment Pippin was silent. Then suddenly in the darkness he made a noise in his throat: gollum, gollum. ‘Nothing, my precious,’ he added.
The hobbits felt Grishnákh’s fingers twitch. ‘O ho!’ hissed the goblin softly. ‘That’s what he means, is it? O ho! Very ve-ry dangerous, my little ones.’
‘Perhaps,’ said Merry, now alert and aware of Pippin’s guess. ‘Perhaps; and not only for us. Still you know your own business best. Do you want it, or not? And what would you give for it?’
‘Do I want it? Do I want it?’ said Grishnákh, as if puzzled; but his arms were trembling. ‘What would I give for it? What do you mean?’
‘We mean,’ said Pippin, choosing his words carefully, ‘that it’s no good groping in the dark. We could save you time and trouble. But you must untie our legs first, or we’ll do nothing, and say nothing.’
‘My dear tender little fools,’ hissed Grishnákh, ‘everything you have, and everything you know, will be got out of you in due time: everything! You’ll wish there was more that you could tell to satisfy the Questioner, indeed you will: quite soon. We shan’t hurry the enquiry. Oh dear no! What do you think you’ve been kept alive for? My dear little fellows, please believe me when I say that it was not out of kindness: that’s not even one of Uglúk’s faults.’
‘I find it quite easy to believe,’ said Merry. ‘But you haven’t got your prey home yet. And it doesn’t seem to be going your way, whatever happens. If we come to Isengard, it won’t be the great Grishnákh that benefits: Saruman will take all that he can find. If you want anything for yourself, now’s the time to do a deal.’
Grishnákh began to lose his temper. The name of Saruman seemed specially to enrage him. Time was passing and the disturbance was dying down. Uglúk or the Isengarders might return at any minute.
‘Have you got it – either of you?’ he snarled.
‘Gollum, gollum!’ said Pippin.
‘Untie our legs!’ said Merry.
They felt the Orc’s arms trembling violently. ‘Curse you, you filthy little vermin!’ he hissed. ‘Untie your legs? I’ll untie every string in your bodies. Do you think I can’t search you to the bones? Search you! I’ll cut you both to quivering shreds. I don’t need the help of your legs to get you away-and have you all to myself!’
Suddenly he seized them. The strength in his long arms and shoulders was terrifying. He tucked them one under each armpit, and crushed them fiercely to his sides; a great stifling hand was clapped over each of their mouths. Then he sprang forward, stooping low. Quickly and silently he went, until he came to the edge of the knoll. There, choosing a gap between the watchers, he passed like an evil shadow out into the night, down the slope and away westward towards the river that flowed out of the forest. In that direction there was a wide open space with only one fire.
After going a dozen yards he halted, peering and listening. Nothing could be seen or heard. He crept slowly on, bent almost double. Then he squatted and listened again. Then he stood up, as if to risk a sudden dash. At that very moment the dark form of a rider loomed up right in front of him. A horse snorted and reared. A man called out.
Grishnákh flung himself on the ground flat, dragging the hobbits under him; then he drew his sword. No doubt he meant to kill his captives, rather than allow them to escape or to be rescued; but it was his undoing. The sword rang faintly, and glinted a little in the light of the fire away to his left. An arrow came whistling out of the gloom: it was aimed with skill, or guided by fate, and it pierced his right hand. He dropped the sword and shrieked. There was a quick beat of hoofs, and even as Grishnákh leaped up and ran, he was ridden down and a spear passed through him. He gave a hideous shivering cry and lay still.
From The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in the Chapter ‘The Uruk-hai’