After leaving the clerk's pavilion, the twins were escorted by their guard to the blacksmith's workshop. Situated around the hastily built wooden shanty were rows of shelves, each marked with painted runes and holding iron collars. Resting on a bench, his back leaning against the work table, sprawled a man whose bulging obesity had been the cause of the deep bow in the length of the wooden seat. His face was covered with a coarse, bristly black beard which was denuded in places with raised red pustules and splotches of lurid, inflamed skin. "Mange," Elfhild reckoned, "just like a hound." Sitting with his hand idly resting near his crotch, massive thighs spread obscenely, he gawked rudely at the twins.
His back towards the women, a much smaller man was bent over the work table, his attention concentrated upon some labor which he was performing. "Almost done, Master." As he turned to look at the massive brute beside him, the twins saw him in profile. An ugly little man, his face was not improved by the dark hair spread too thinly over an abnormally large skull; the sharply defined nose; and the weak, receding chin.
The guard ordered the twins to wait and be silent. Since there were no chairs in the building, the girls stood stoically. The guard seemed to find waiting as monotonous as the twins, and, to pass the time, he relaxed into a casual manner of speaking. He pointed out to the girls that the larger man was the blacksmith and the other man was his assistant. In an enthusiastic voice, he described the making of the collars, and remarked that the place where they had been forged was "as hot as the flaming fires of Udûn!" All that remained to be done now was the inscribing of their names and information on brass tags which would be riveted to the iron.
"Blacksmith, I will be waiting outside if you need me," the guard announced as he turned and walked out the door.
The blacksmith, who was wearing a leather apron over his enormous drooping stomach, arose from the work bench and stared at the twins. "Let us make this as quick as possible, slave girls." The twins tried not to gape at the monstrosity before them.
"Submit passively, or pay the consequences," the smaller man piped up in a voice with a distinctive nasal twang. "All you have to do is stand quietly while the collar is placed about your neck." He did not bother to hide the yawn which escaped his lips.
"And what if we do not?" Elfhild challenged. She did not want to have a collar locked around her throat, like some sort of animal!
"The guards will be called, and I do not think you will enjoy that," the blacksmith interjected. "They like to entertain themselves with pretty slaves. Their hands have a tendency to roam when they discipline a girl, and you might guess where their groping fingers will wander. I would not mind having a feel of you myself." The blacksmith smirked as his pig-like little eyes studied them, and his assistant gave a gurgling chuckle that sounded obscene. The smaller man blinked as though the light offended his vision.
Warily, Elfhild studied the two men. Should she give in and submit, accepting the collar like a trained dog? Or should she fight the degradation, and possibly suffer some dreadful punishment?
Licking her lips nervously, Elffled glanced between her sister and the men, praying that there would be no trouble. "Elfhild, please..." she whispered, but her sister ignored her.
"This will not take long. Just accept this gracefully and you will be on your way." Leering at her, the blacksmith revealed a gleaming gold front tooth in a mouth impossibly small for a man of his size. For a moment, Elfhild wondered how he had ever been able to stuff so much food into such a tiny orifice. Obviously, he had been more than successful, she thought wryly.
"I do not think we need any new jewelry today," Elfhild replied curtly as she stared the man straight in the eye.
"I do not know about these two!" the assistant whined as he looked nervously around at the blacksmith.
Both the blacksmith and his assistant had been taught their art in Lugbûrz. One thing that had always been emphasized there was the admonition, "Never trust slaves." There was no telling when one of the scum might go mad and grab some work tool lying about. Though it had never happened to either man, they had both heard tales of slaves who, with murderous gleams in their demented eyes, had come rushing with improvised weapons at guards or supervisors. More than one had slain his master. Lugbûrz was efficient, though, and any rebels were either struck dead on the spot or hauled away to the dark dungeons to provide sport for the guards.
This girl was much too saucy for his liking. Unwilling to take any chances, the blacksmith did the simplest thing possible. "Guards!" he thundered.
Hearing the alarm, five burly guards rushed through the entrance. Immediately surrounded by the men, each girl soon found herself held by two guards, the men's strong fingers pressing deeply into their arms. The other guard crossed his arms over his chest, ogling the girls as they struggled to escape. His eyes were riveted upon their jutting breasts, which jiggled deliciously with each desperate movement.
"No!" Elffled cried in dismay, her mind reeling at the sudden onrush of attackers. Snarling like a wild animal, Elfhild fought and kicked sideways at the guards.
"Bind them!" the blacksmith shouted. "They will claw out my eyes! I know these she-demons from the north!"
A look of near panic on his face, the assistant picked up a pair of pliers from the workbench and, trembling, he stood up, holding the pliers defensively before him. "Do not let them near me!"
Elfhild could have laughed at the foolish little man and the equally cowardly giant blacksmith. However, her situation was much too unpleasant to permit any mocking laughter.
The guards took no time in drawing the girls' wrists together behind their backs and tying their hands together with stout ropes. Growling in frustration, Elfhild continued her vicious kicks, aiming for the guard's shins. A man beside her gathered up her hair in his fist and gave it a fierce tug, sending Elfhild into a paroxysm of pain and drawing from her throat shrieks of agony. At the sight of her sister's distress, Elffled, close to swooning, began to sob hysterically.
"Do you want to be bald, slave girl?" the guard threatened Elfhild as he gave her hair another jerk. "I will tear your hair out by the roots if you do not hold still!"
Wincing from the severe pain, Elfhild ceased her struggles, submitting unwillingly to her tormentors.
Now that both twins had been subdued and tied, one of Elffled's guards stepped behind her. Holding her around the waist, his other hand fondled her firm rump. She squirmed in his grasp, trying to evade him, but his hands pressed their merciless attack and slid upward, groping her full breasts. Weeping even harder, her cries turned into wails.
"I tried to warn you!" the blacksmith admonished. "But, no, you little chits would not listen!"
"Hold the little wildcat steady, men," the assistant hissed through his teeth. Moving around behind Elfhild as the men held her, he placed the circle of iron about her neck. A small metal rod clicked in place in the lock at the back of her iron collar. "Are you not pleased with your new necklace?" the little man chortled, his hand moving forward to squeeze her breasts painfully.
"Damn you, no, you scrawny little weasel!" Elfhild shot back, hate dripping from every word. "You deserve to be hanged from the highest scaffold by this horrible thing!"
"Bring me the other collar. I will put it on this little beauty myself." The blacksmith wiped off his sweating brow as his assistant went back to the worktable, soon returning with another collar. "Hold her tight, men! She is probably as vicious as her sister!" the smith told the guards as he moved behind Elffled and lifted her hair to the side. Too frightened even to struggle, the girl stood there trembling as the man slipped the cold iron about her neck and locked it in place. The key in the lock sounded with an echoing finality.
As she watched the huge blacksmith collar her sister, Elfhild felt as though the iron band around her own neck was squeezing it slowly, cutting off her air. Although the collar fit snugly, the band was not painful in itself, and was far from imperiling her life. Still, the hateful iron collar was greatly vexing, and she highly resented both it and the doom that it represented. Enraged at the indignities to which she and her sister were being subjected, Elfhild's chest heaved and her blue eyes burnt with a fierce hatred.
Finished with Elffled, the blacksmith lumbered around to face both girls. "Just cannot satisfy the two of you, is that it?" he chortled. "Perhaps you do not like the color, or you think they are not fancy enough to suit you? Or maybe you do not think that the black metal favors your fair skin. While they might not be extravagant enough for your tastes, I assure you that both collars are quite stout and very serviceable. And another thing," he rubbed his hand fondly over his huge stomach, "since they are so close to the veins in your precious necks, you will think twice about trying to file them off."
Elfhild stared defiantly at the ruddy face of the man, resentment boiling inside her. There was nothing she could do; her wrists were tied behind her back, and she and her sister were entirely at the mercy of these louts.
Looping a finger in one of the iron rings on Elfhild's collar, he pulled her face close to his. "You probably are not impressed with the workmanship of this collar, but I assure you it is well made and strong. Possibly you noticed that it is hinged on the side with a loop both in the front and the back. These rings are the places where chains will hook you to the other slaves in the line. No," he laughed unpleasantly, "it is not to double-hitch you in a stall like a horse! Although it could be used for that, should your master have the yearning to do so."
"By Melkor's seething balls, Master Smith! I would like to be the one to hitch her between the posts and hump my way to paradise inside her!" The blacksmith's assistant produced another one of his gurgling, obscene laughs. The he blinked, hiccupped, and broke wind loudly, the combined sounds resembling a small dog suffering from intestinal distress.
"It would take that to hold this one," the smith chuckled, "but she would be worth it!"
Clenching her fists behind her back, Elfhild sucked in her breath through gritted teeth, hissing like a viper. She glared at the crude men, her eyes narrow black slits of contempt.
"Flash your eyes at me like that, pretty wench," the blacksmith held his thumb under her chin as his forefinger stroked her lower lip, "and I will have a kiss from your sullen lips!"
"Take your hand off me," Elfhild spat, each word falling like icicle spears, cold and sharp. "I would rather kiss a hog than you!"
"Hear that, men?" the blacksmith put his hands on his hips, his elbows cocked out at an angle to his body. "She would rather kiss a hog! Is that not the quaintest thing you ever heard in all your days?" He guffawed, his huge belly shaking with every sound. A grime-covered hand reached out for her neck, the other clumsily groping for her buttocks. Pulling her to his face, his bulbous red lips harshly pressed against hers, and she felt as though her mouth had been engulfed by a slimy piece of raw liver. A sharp pinch to her bottom had her screaming, and he took the opportunity to plunge his unwholesome tongue into her open mouth. The excitement must have been too great for him, for he belched into her face, spewing garlic and onion flavored spittle upon her lips and cheek.
"Never been kissed much, have you, wench? You do not even know how to kiss!" the blacksmith mocked, laughing at her crimson, spit-flecked face as he pushed her away.
"Y-you are a loathsome, repugnant beast!" Elfhild shrieked as spat profusely, trying to purge the foul taste from her mouth. And to think that was her first kiss! She longed to wipe off her lips, but her hands were bound helplessly behind her back.
The scene set the guards into riotous laughter. "Pity the poor maid! She has just been bussed by the great boar himself! Come now, men, do we want her to have that memory?" a guard exclaimed, chuckling. "You do not mind sharing her, do you, blacksmith?"
"Not at all," he smith returned, folding his dough-like arms over his immense chest.
The closest guard grabbed Elfhild, thoroughly kissing her. With a laugh, he passed her to the next. The guards were not content until each one had raped the girl's mouth at least twice.
"What about the other one? We do not want her to feel neglected!" their chief called out merrily.
"Oh, no, please!" Elffled cried out, sobbing.
"We insist," the chieftain murmured as he took her in his arms, delivering kiss after kiss on her cheeks and neck and concluding with the plunder of her mouth.
"My turn, pet!" the next one shouted.
"Here, here!" the blacksmith snarled. "Stop now! This is taking too much time!"
"We are almost finished!" the last man in line exclaimed as he squeezed Elffled's nipples through her dress. He capped off his achievement by lifting up her skirt and pushing an exploring hand between her legs. "Now you have been kissed by real men and not the Master Porker! Remember that," the man smiled as he gave Elffled a parting tweak to her rump. Violent sobs rocking her slender body, she fell to her knees, moaning in misery.
Muttering, the blacksmith turned his considerable bulk around, and after waddling over to the work bench, he sat down with a sigh. "All right, men," he wheezed as he wiped his forehead off with a dirty rag pulled from his leather apron, "you are dismissed, all save two of you."
"Wanting to have all the fun for yourself, are you, blacksmith? Do not forget; we will be right outside the tent. If there is any sporting to be done, we will take our share!" The chieftain of the guards winked at the blacksmith before he and his men moved out the door.
"Now you," the blacksmith pointed to one of the two remaining guards, "take the quiet, passive slave on to the next tent. I have a few more words to say to her sister."
Swaggering over to the trembling, crying Elffled, the guard pulled her roughly to her feet. "Get along, sweet beauty! Walk prettily in front of me... unless you would rather go with me behind the tent. We could get a lot closer there!"
"No!" she wailed, choking on her tears.
"You are going to get a nice pair of boots," he laughed and gave her rump an encouraging slap to prod her out the door.
"Thought you were so wise, did you not?" the blacksmith roared in laughter as he looked Elfhild up and down. "Maybe you will learn the way things go now. Dense fools are the Rohirrim, with heads as hard as oak casks! If your people had conquered mine, they would make us slaves, sure as anything! Perhaps you do not know it - and from the looks of you, there is not a brain in your foolish head - the ancestors of the allies of your country, the bastard Gondorians, took many slaves back to their island in the old days. Now they want everyone to think they are holy, but at heart they are no better than we are! Now, go wench, you have your collar. Wear it proudly!" He winked at her.
"I hate the accursed thing and I hate your accursed land and everything it represents!" Elfhild choked out, her lips aching and swollen from all the kisses which had been forced upon her.
"Not anything you can do about it," he smirked. "Whether you hate the collar or love it, there is one thing for certain - you will never be able to free yourself of it. Only your master can remove the iron band. No one will ever free you, though! Not a foul-tempered shrew such as you! Even with your legs spread wide and a man at your threshold, you would be as cold as the dead! Guard, take this impudent little whore out!"
"My pleasure, metal-smith," the remaining guard replied smugly as he strode over to Elfhild. "Come now, wench. Remember if you cause me any trouble, I will pull your dress up and blister your bottom with my bare hands! You might not like that, but I surely will."
As the guard escorted Elfhild to the door, the blacksmith called out, "You! Slave wench! Never again act like royalty with us! You are nothing but an ignorant village girl! You should take heart, though." He nudged his assistant and gave him a knowing look. "In addition to your new jewelry, you will soon have a pair of new shoes. Now you can never say that you walked into the Master's Kingdom upon bare and bruised feet. Guard, now get her out of here and slap her arse a few times for me!"
"Oh, I will, Master Smith, I will!" the guard guffawed. "Maybe a little more than a few slaps!"
"Bastards!" an enraged Elfhild yelled out. "Vile and detestable filth! I hate you all! May every one of your wretched days be a curse to you!"
The guard brought his hand back and slapped her bottom hard. "Hurry along," he ordered as he struck her again, "or we will stop on the way and have a little tumble behind one of the tents!"
As the guard disappeared with Elfhild, the massive smith chuckled softly. "Time for a little respite for our labors." He smiled as he wrapped a beefy arm fondly about his assistant's thin, scrawny shoulders. A high pitched laugh escaped the little man's chapped lips as he edged closer to his master, laying a hand upon one of his huge, trunk-like thighs.