The forest was growing dark and grim. The days of winter were approaching and the woodland grass was bending from the weight of night frost. But frost wasn't the only thing that crept through the forest at dark hours.
A small figure, female and wild, strode through the night atop a feral warg. She was after nothing, only basking in the light of the moon. The dark hours were a time she took to herself, to enjoy a moment alone.
Though in the shade of darkness she appeared as an orc on the hunt, the moonlight revealed a supple woman with crimson hair and bright, proud eyes. She was Rimkaur, a maiden of wild nobility.
Though black blood coursed through her veins, Rimkaur was also of a royal Elvish line; she was the granddaughter of king Thranduil, ruler of the realm of Mirkwood.
The path she chose for her life was not that of an elf, however. Her path was far darker and more harsh, and she served another king. He was no elf, and he was no human. He was one feared by the free world. And he was her mate.
Rimkaur wandered through woods, admiring the stars much like her Elven kin did. Perhaps this was inherent to her. A snap of a twig pulled her attention from the sky and towards a large, menacing form that approached her. It was him.
He did not frighten her, and very little did frighten this wild maiden. Rimkaur was his queen, and was one of the only things in the world able to soften his stone heart.
Known to most as the Defiler, to Rimkaur he was known as the truest love she had ever known. He loved her back equally as much.
"I told you not to wander into the forest alone. Beyond my kingdom are powers I can't protect you from if you insist on riding without me," he said in a gruff, slightly irritated voice.
"Azog, you know I can fend for myself, for I am not the small and fragile thing I once was. I have my own power, and enough wit to keep me out of trouble," teased Rimkaur as she rode by his side.
Beside the pale orc, Rimkaur was overshadowed by his size. The night was cold and the puffs of their breath were visible before them. That frost, which foretold the death of summer, grew like a weed across every branch and thorny bramble. Rimkaur gazed up at the black branches decorated with browning leaves.
Azog turned to her and said "when winter falls upon us, I will take my sons into the wild and make them into warriors."
His comment was oddly placed and struck her curiosity. "Why do you say this? They are still so young. Can't it wait another few seasons?"
He snorted, "I expected you to say something like that. I will not have weak offspring; should my life come to an end, my line will rule Moria so they must be strong."
Rimkaur was a little offput by his stern train of thought. Azog had been king of the Moria mines for centuries and ruled with an iron fist. It was hard for her to imagine his life and reign ever ending. She knew in her heart that Azog would not always be king of Moria but it wasn't something she would dwell upon.
His kind did not share in the gift of immortality with elves. Perhaps orcs lived longer than the old Númenóreans, or perhaps they did not. Not many knew for certain.
"Perhaps I am overthinking it all," Rimkaur pondered, "his sons will be strong I'm sure of it. Maybe these are the types of things an old orc king worries about."
She herself was just a young woman. Azog's specific age was not known to her, though she guessed he was at least 300 years old, and at most 500. Being of elvish blood, she also would live for centuries, maybe even a millennia.
But Rimkaur wasn't worried about the hundreds of years she had before her. As the summer season saw it's end, her mate would take their offspring into the wild so that they may learn to fight and survive the harshness of the elements.
Anything could happen to them, and as a mother she worried for their safety. What if her children were injured? The world was such a big place, what if they got separated from their father and were lost? Should elves or men stumble across young orclings, they would likely slay them!
Azog saw her brow tense, "do not worry for them. No son of mine will die before he leads his own army in battle."
"That doesn't make me feel much better, Azog. I too want strong and brave sons, but for them to be exposed to the dangers of the world makes a mother fret. Do you not worry for their safety?"
Azog looked stern. He did not like to confess his emotions. Even his thoughts were kept private from most, even from his trusted queen. Of course, it was to be expected from the cold orc king who was bred in the mountains of Gundabad.
"I - can't have a weak line. You know this," he said as he stroked her soft cheek. "I don't expect to be king forever. My sons will rule one day and so I must be firm with them."
There it was again. Even the Defiler had reckoned with his own mortality. After all, he had seen defeat in battle and faced the humiliation that followed. He had seen his own blood pour from his body from wounds meant to take his life. Azog would not be king forever.
The green summer withered into the dull colors of autumn, which then would be blanketed by the whiteness of winter. The passing of time would accompany her children as they grew strong, like their father wished. The ever aging world and ever changing seasons were a constant reminder of the mortality of the ones she loved.