Lord of the North, and Tyrant of the Mountains, was the Goblin-king in T.A. 1640. Eldest surviving descendent of the Seed of Skorg, he reigned on the Throne of the North for over one hundred and fifty years, having seized power after the failure of the Witch-king's last invasion of Arthedain. A powerful Uruk Warrior, Zalg was renowned as the most formidable Orcish fighter among all the mountain tribes. He had defeated even Trolls in single combat, and had thereby won the subservience of a number of these brutal monsters, who acknowledged no other Orcish authority. Zalg's fighting skills, however, were not the sole foundation of his power. He was a crafty and subtle ruler, who had mastered the intricate combination of diplomacy, double-dealing, and threat needed to hold the throne in Mount Gundabad. Also, he was well versed in the politics of the tributary Orcish tribes and of the Witch-king's capital, Carn Dûm. Zalg's policy was calculated to preserve his autonomy while giving the Witch-king, whom he knew to be far stronger than himself, all that the letter of their relationship required. At the same time, Zalg was greedy for both gold and power, and was constantly seeking to extend his control over the other Orc tribes of the mountains and to increase the flow of tribute. The Goblin-king had survived several assassination attempts and more than one rebellion.
Zalg in TA 1650
At present, however, Zalg's authority faces a new challenge as a result of his apparently growing dependence on the counsel of his Half-orc Consort. This relationship is considered most unusual and de- meaning among the Orcs who, adhering to the traditional goblin perspective, regard females as no more than property and certainly of no value for their opinions. Other members of the Seed of Skorg, potential rivals for rulership in Mount Gundabad, seized upon this situation as a focus for dissatisfaction and urge that something must be done to rid the throne of the influence of the half-breed woman. The dissenters' complaints and schemes are fueled not merely by their own self-interested fear of losing influence to the Consort, but also by disquieting legends of Orcish communities where the ordinary patriarchal order has been overturned in favor of a matriarchal leadership, after the Orc females learned that they, too, could fight and think for themselves. To many of the male Orcs of Mount Gundabad, a traditional goblin society if ever there was one, the example of the Consort poses a dire threat to their very way of life. It must be squelched before other females begin to emulate the Consort's assertiveness and poise. Zalg rules from his palace in the Great Spire of Mount Gund- abad. Physically, he is a most imposing specimen of Orchood, 6'3" tall, extraordinarily well-muscled, with arms as thick as tree limbs and legs rather less bowed than the Orcish norm. Large, protruding red eyes and long yellowed fangs enhance Zalg's terrifying coun- tenance.
The regalia of rulership in Mount Gundabad are in Zalg's possession: the Ghrazîm Banner, the Ice Helm, and the scimitar Thrakurghash. Zalg goes to battle clad in black full plate armor, wielding his enchanted scimitar and his mighty longbow (it is said no other Orc can string it). A skillful tactician, Zalg has rarely lost a battle; indeed, his very presence on the field is often enough to intimidate lesser opponents. As Goblin-king, Zalg also has an array of special powers conferred upon him by an evil artifact, the Ulûkai of Morgoth.
- MERP:Mount Gundabad
- MERP:Northwestern Middle-earth Campaign Atlas
- MERP:Northwestern Middle-earth Gazetteer