Written by Tanith 11-20-2002 09:56 PM
Grima Wormtongue shuffled up to the guards that stood at the gates of the Golden Hall. A messenger stood there at attention, with dusty robes just off the road. As Grima nodded at him to report, the messenger spoke to the king's advisor in furtive tones.
"The ones you spoke of come, my lord. Two men dressed in the garb of Gondor, and three strangers that are unlike any in the West."
"Do they come alone?" asked Grima.
The messenger shook his head. "Nay. They are accompanied by the Riders of the Mark, and Eomer is at their head."
Grima thought for a moment, then nodded. "Go tell the gate wardens. Only the five strangers and Eomer son of Eomund may enter the city. Tell the Riders of the Mark to await outside the gates; tell them the king would speak to their marshall but for a moment."
The messenger bowed. "As you command." Then he turned and quickly ran down the stairs.
Grima smiled a sinister smile, and called for Hama, the doorwarden of the Golden Hall. The good man came to stand before Wormtongue, stiffly at attention. No sign of his distaste of the sniveling toady could be found on faithful Hama's face.
"You will have the guards on alert, Hama," commanded Grima Wormtongue. "Five strangers shall ask to enter the Golden Hall to the king, and Eomer shall be with them. The two men from Gondor you will allow in, but only if they cast all weapons behind. Eomer you shall tell to await the king's command in the fourth room down the Golden Hall. Tell him his sister awaits him there."
Hama nodded. "What of the other three strangers, milord?"
"You shall see to it they never take a step into the Golden Hall," commanded Grima. "Else your life and the life of the guards be forfeit."
Hama nodded once more, stiffly. "Yes milord. If that is all..."
With a dismissive wave, Grima sent the man away. Turning, he made his way back into the Golden Hall, where he would speak once more to the assassins he had placed for the two men of Gondor and for Eomer.
Theoden he was not worried about, for the king has long fallen under his spell. It would only take a few whispered words to convince the king that the two men of Gondor that had suddenly been shot dead before him were rightly executed for their plot to kill the royal family of Rohan. And with the dead body of his nephew and heir as proof, Theoden and the Riders of the Mark would easily be swayed to turn their anger upon Gondor... and the three strangers.
Grima smiled as he hurried to make his arrangements. His plan, he felt, was perfect.
Written by Mg_knt 11-20-2002 10:34 PM
"Only the men of Gondor may enter the hall." Hama stated.
*Meta and Writerboy started to protest but Mg shot them a glance. Montioning for the to follow Mg walked to the side of the hall.*
"I smell an ambush. Meta use your spatial manipulation to look into that hall. If I remember Wormtongue has the king under his influence. Writerboy as soon as you see Wormtonque make him spill his guts. I want the king to see how much he has been betrayed."
Written by Tanith 11-21-2002 12:37 AM
As the men of Gondor walked toward the gate, one of the guards stepped forward and spoke in the Common Speech. "Hail, comers from afar! I am the Doorward of Theoden. Hama is my name. Here I must bid you lay aside your weapons before you enter."
Boromir frowned, and made to protest. "It is not my will," he said, "to put aside my sword or to deliver it to the hand of any other man."
"It is the will of Theoden, through the voice of his advisor," said Hama simply.
Aragorn, likewise frowning, agreed with his countryman. "It is not clear to me that the will of Theoden son of Thengel even though he be the lord of the Mark, should prevail over the will of Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elendil's heir of Gondor."
"This is the house of Theoden, not of Aragorn, even were the King of Gondor in the Denethor," said Hama, stepping swiftly before the doors and barring the way. His sword was now in his hand and the point towards the strangers.
Eomer, visibly troubled by the exchange, tried to smooth things through. "This is idle talk," he said. "A king will have his way in his own hall, be it folly or wisdom."
"Truly," said Aragorn grudgingly. "And I would do as the master of the house bade me, were this only a woodman's cot, if I bore now any sword but Anduril."
"Whatever its name may be," said Hama, "here you shall lay it, if you would not fight alone against all the men in Edoras."
Eomer tried again. During his ride to Edoras with the strange group of five, he had become fast friends with the heir of Isildur. He could only hope that his friend would heed his words. "Come! We are all friends here. Or should be; for the laughter of Mordor will be our only reward. If you wish not for any here to touch your sword, Aragorn, why not let your companions keep watch over them?"
But Aragorn knew well enough of diplomacy to realize that if he did not bring the sword with him, then it would serve more to bridge the trust between Rohan and Gondor if it were left with the gate guards. Slowly, he unbuckled his belt and himself set his sword upright against the wall.
"Here I set it," he said; "but I command you not to touch it, nor to permit any other to lay hand on it. In this elvish sheath dwells the Blad that was Broken and has been made again. Telchar the first wrought it in the deeps of time. Death shall come to any man that draws Elendil's sword save Elendil's heir."
The guard stepped back and looked with amazement on Aragorn. "It seems that you are come on the wings of song out of the forgotten days," he said. "It shall be, lord, as you command."
"Well," said Boromir, "if it has Anduril to keep it company, my own sword may stay here too without shame." As he spoke, he laid it on the floor. "Now then, if all is as you wish, let us go and speak with your master."
Hama hesitated once more, then blurted out what was on his mind. His voice softened. "I believe you are friends and folk worthy of honor, who have no evil purpose." He gestured to the other guards. "You may go in."
The guards now lifted the heavy bars of the doors and swung them slowly inwards, grumbling on their great hinges. The two men of Gondor entered. As Eomer made to follow them, Hama stopped him.
"The king asks that you wait his command in the fourth door down the Hall, lord," he told the marshall. "I am told that your sister would seek words with you there."
Puzzled, but accepting, Eomer thanked the doorwarden and started down the hall.
Written by Metaphysician 11-21-2002 05:40 AM
Meta: "Okay, it looks like they split up. I'm keeping both their positions under monitoring. Aragorn and Boromir are heading to the king's hall. Eomer just got told his sister is waiting several doors away. Sounds fishy to me."
Written by WriterBoy 11-22-2002 12:53 PM
From beside Theoden, a shabbily-clothed, mean-faced man rose and pointed a finger at the two men. "Do not trust them, sire, for they wish only to..." He trailed off mid-sentece.
Outside, WriterBoy held a hand to his temple and muttered, "All too easy. Now for the worm to turn."
Inside, Theoden turned to hsi trusted advisor. "What ails you, friend Grima?"
Wormtongue spoke slowly and methodically. "No friend, old fool, but an enemy, a spy in the service of Saruman. These long months, I have used the gifts my lord gave me to turn your mind away from the needs of your country, and cause you to grow cold and impotent on your throne. 'Twas I who set in motion the death of your beloved son, Theodred, and caused you to reject your sister-son Eomer's offers of aid. Long have I hated him for denying me access to the fair Eowyn, who I would have as my own. Even now, my assassins are closing upon him, assassins I intended to begin war with Gondor. While they slew your beloved nephew, assassins in this very room would slay both you and the men before us. Then, with Rohan at my command, I would crush Gondor between the bludegeons of Isengard and Mordor. And still it shall be. Assassins! Kill them all!"
As black-clad men burst from the shadows, the main hall door flew open. The three adventurers strode into the room. Two swords soared through the air on telekinetic lines to the waiting hands of the men of Gondor.
"Change in plans, Wormtongue."
Written by Metaphysician 11-22-2002 06:22 PM
Elsewhere in the castle, an arrow is fired from concealment at a waiting Eomer. While flying in mid-air, it slows to halt. Just as Eomer notices it, it suddenly turns around and strikes its firer, an assassin hiding in the shadows.
Eomer: "What sorcery is this!!"
Metaphysician: "Just me." Two more assassins break there surprise, and attempt to attack the two heroes. One is snapped in half by a grav distortion, the other is quickly skewered by Eomer.
Meta: "Grima had planned your death, and the death of your father, in his plot to take over Rohan. He is under orders from Saruman."
Eomer: "Saruman!! We must hurry to the king's side. . .
The two vanish at the word, reappearing in the main hall.
Written by Mg_knt 11-22-2002 06:31 PM
Mg:"Would you mind if I show Grima the error of his ways?"
Written by Tanith 11-22-2002 07:44 PM
Aragorn cautiously approached the other king. "What ails you, Theoden King? Surely you were not hurt in the furor?"
Theoden sighed. "Dark have been my dreams of late," he said, "for I fear that already you have come too late, only to see the last days of my house. Not long now shall stand the high hall which Brego son of Eorl built. Fire shall devour the high seat. What is to be done?"
Aragorn looked at Theoden with piercing eyes. Not for naught was he the foster son of Elrond the Healer. As he spoke, his voice regained the majesty that had addressed the Riders of the Mark to his true name.
"Theoden. Son of Thengel. Will you hearken to me?" asked the Heir of Isildur. "Not all is dark. Take courage, Lord of the Mark; for better help you will not find. I bid you come out before your doors and look abroad. Too long have you sat in Shadow and trusted to twisted tales and crooked promptings."
Slowly, Theoden left his chair. A faint light grew in the hall again. They came to the doors that had been burst open by the guards and two of the outlanders.
"Hail!" cried Aragorn. "The Lord of the Mark comes forth!"
As they stepped across the threshold of the gate, Aragorn turned to Theoden. "Now, lord. Look out upon your land! Breathe the free air again!"
From the porch upon the top of the high terrace they could see beyond the stream green fields of Rohan fading into distant grey. Suddenly through a rent in the clouds in the distance, a shaft of sun stabbed down. Far away, the river glittered like a shimmering glass. Even as the king gazed out at his land, Eomer rushed back to the gates and came to an abrupt halt as he took in the changes to his uncle. A maiden, fair as the day, also stepped out from within the hall. Thus it is that Eowyn, the sister of Eomer, first beheld Isildur's Heir Aragorn.
"It is not so dark here," said Theoden quietly.
"No," said Aragorn. "Nor does age lie so heavily on your shoulders as some would have you think. Cast aside your prop!"
From the king's hand the black staff fell clattering on the stones. Theoden drew himself up, slowly, as a man that is stiff from long bending over some dull toil. Now tall and straight he stood, and his eyes were blue as he looked into the opening sky.
"There is no time to ell all that you should hear," said Aragorn. "From the Riders of the Mark and the scouts upon thy border, Rohan itself is indeed in peril. For while the forces within Orthanc have been timely destroyed, the forces of Saruman there yet are many. And still, the Dark Lord is regaining his strength in the East, under the black shadows of Mordor. But see! you dream no longer. You live. Gondor and Rohan do not stand alone. The enemy is strong beyond reckoning, yet we have a hope at which he has not guessed."
Quickly now Aragorn spoke. His voice was low and secret, and none save the king heard what he said. But ever as he spoke the light shone brighter in Theoden's eye, and at the last he rose to his full height, and together they looked out from the high place towards the East.
"Verily," said Aragorn, now in a loud voice, keen and clear, "that way lies our hope, where sits our greatest fear. Doom hangs still on a thread. Yet hope there is still, if we can but stand unconquered for a little while."
A short pause later, Theoden sighed again, as if weariness still struggled to master him. He turned and looked at his great house. "Alas!" he lamented, "that these evil days should be mine, and should come in my old age instead of that peace which I have earned."
"Your fingers would remember their old strength better, if they grasped a sword-hilt," Eomer boldly suggested from where he had stood and watched in wonder.
Theoden put his hand to his side; but no sword hung at his belt. "Where has Grima stowed it?" he muttered under his breath.
"Take this, dear lord!" said Eomer as he walked forward, drawing his own sword. "It was ever at your service." So saying, he knelt and offered the hilt to his master.
For a moment of silence Theoden stood looking down at Eomer as he knelt still before him. Neither moved. Then, slowly, Theoden stretched forth his hand. As his fingers took the hilt, it seemed to the watchers that firmness and strength returned to his thin arm. Suddenly, he lifted the blade and swung it shimmering and whistling in the air. Then he gave a great cry. His voice rang clear as he chanted in the tongue of Rohan: a call to arms.
"Arise now, arise, Riders of Theoden!
Dire deeds awake, dark is it eastward.
Let horse be bridled, horn be sounded!
The guards sprang up the stairs. They looked at thier lord in amazement. And then, as one, they drew their swords and laid them at his feet.
"Command us!" they cried.
Theoden beckoned Hama the doorwarden forth. "Take back your sword, Eomer, sister-son! Go, Hama, and seek my own sword! Grima has it in his keeping."
As Hama left, he turned back to Aragorn once more. "Now then, what is your council, Lord of Gondor? How shall we face the forces of Isengard?"
"You have already begun it," replied Aragorn wryly. "To put your trust in Eomer, rather than in a man of crooked mind. To cast aside regret and fear. Every man that can ride should be sent west at once, as Eomer counselled you. Meanwhile, your people that are left, the women and children and the old, should stay to the refuges that you have in the mountains. Were they not prepared against just such an evil day as this? Let them take provision, but delay not, nor burden themselves with treasures, great or small. It is their lives that are at stake."
"This counsel seems good to me now," said Theoden. "But you my guests--truly you have ridden hard through the night, and the morning wears away. A guest-house shall be made ready: there you shall sleep, when you have eaten."
"Nay, lord," said Aragorn. "There is no rest yet for the weary. The men of Rohan must ride forth today, and we will ride with them, axe, sword, and shield. We did not bring them to rest against your wall, Lord of the Mark. And I promised Eomer that my sword and his should be drawn together."
"Now indeed there is hope of victory!" said Eomer. "Let us not delay, my lord king. Upon your word, I shall swiftly to the Hold of Dunharrow in the hills!"
"Nay, Eomer!" said the king. "I myself will go to war, to fall in the front of battle, if it must be. Thus shall I sleep better."
"Then even the defeat of Rohan will be glorious in song," said Boromir.
The armed men that stood near clashed their weapons, crying: "The Lord of the Mark will ride! Forth Eorlingas!" Hama came again from the hall, presenting to Theoden Herugrim, the ancient blade long in the bloodline of Rohan.
"Now my guests, come!" said Theoden. "Come and take such refreshment as haste allows."
They passed back into the great house. Already they heard below them in the town the heralds crying and the war-horns blowing. For the king was to ride forth as soon as the men of town and those dwelling near could be armed and assembled.
Written by Mg_knt 11-22-2002 08:24 PM
Written by Tanith 11-23-2002 01:52 PM
It was early evening when the host of Rohan made it nigh to Helm's Deep. From the words of scouts and from the unseen presence of the Andromeda far in the sky, they leared that a great host of orcs and wild men were hurrying southward from the Fords of Isen, and seemed to be making for the Helm.
"It is very great," said the scout. "He that flies counts every foeman twice, yet I have spoken to stouthearted men, and I do not doubt that the main strength of the enemy is many times as great as all that we have here."
"Then let us be swift," said Eomer. "Let us drive through such foes. There are caves in Helm's Deep where hundreds may lie hid; and secret ways lead thence up onto the hills."
"Trust not to secret ways," said the king. "Saruman has long spied out this land. Still, in that place our defence may last long. Let us go!"
"Not far ahead now lies Helm's Dike," said Eomer presently, "an ancient trench and rampart scored across the coomb, two furlongs below Helm's Gate. There we can turn and give battle."
"Nay," chided Theoden. "We are too few to defend the Dike. It is a mile long or more, and the breach in it is wide."
"Behind us in the caves of the Deep are three parts of the folk of Westfold, old and young, children and women," said Gamling, an old man and the leader of those that watched the Dike. "But great store of food, and many beasts and their fodder, have also been gathered there."
The king and his Riders passed on. Before the causeway that crossed the stream they dismounted. In a long file they led their horses up the ramp and passed within the gates of the Hornburg. There they were welcomed again with renewed hope; for now there were men enough to man both the burg and the barrier wall.
Quickly Eomer set his men in readiness. The king and the men of his household were in the Hornburg, and there also were many of the Westfold men. But on the Deeping Wall and its tower, and behind it, Eomer arrayed most of the strength that he had, for here the defence seemed more doubtful, if the assault were determined and in great force. The horses were led far up the Deep under such guard as could be spared.
The Deeping Wall was twenty feet high, sheltered by a parapet over which only a tall man could look. Here and there were clefts in the stone through which men could shoot. This battlement could be reached by a stair running down from a door in the outer court of the Hornburg. Three flights of steps also led up onto the wall from the Deep behind. But in front it was smooth, and the great stones of it were set with such skill that no foothold could be found at their joints, and at the top they hung over like a sea-delved cliff.
The three outworlders too aided where they could, making subtle plans and designs to subtly help the forces of Rohan. Through their link with the Andromeda, they were able to keep track of the enemy's movements with far more accuracy than the scouts of the land...
Written by Mg_knt 11-23-2002 02:15 PM
Mg:"Eomer I need the man with the sharpest eyes you have."
Written by WriterBoy 11-23-2002 04:43 PM
"All right, fellas. This isn't the big one, but it's heavy. Charizard, Dragonite, I want you two to stay out of sight as much as possible. We don't want to go scaring the locals." Dragonite nodded while Charizard let out an irritated snuff of smoke from its nostrils.
"Blastoise, Golem, your job is pretty simple: wipe out anything that stands in your way. I've psychically 'tagged' you, so you'll be able to recognize the Rohirrim on sight. No friendly fire.
"Venusaur, your job is the most important. We have to cut this off at the source, or Gondor is history. I know you can do it, boy." He gave the creature a pat on the nose.
Dragonite and Charizard took to the air, and were soon out of sight. WriterBoy recalled Blastoise and Golem for later deployment. Then he called up the Andromeda to arrange for Venusaur's transportation to Fangorn.
Written by Tanith 11-23-2002 11:08 PM
Even as the forces of Rohan prepared, far down in the valley scattered fires burned. The hosts of Isengard were advancing in silence now. Their torches could be seen winding up the coomb in many lines.
Suddenly, from the Dike came yells and screams, and the fierce battle-cries of men broke out. Flaming brands appeared over the brink and clustered thickly at the breach. Then they scattered and vanished. Men came galloping back over the field and up the ramp to the gate of the Hornburg. The rearguard of the Westfolders had been driven in.
"The enemy is at hand!" they cried. "We loosed every arror that we had, and filled the Dike with Orcs. But it will not halt them long. Already they are scaling the bank at many points, thick as marching ants. But we have taught them not to carry torches."
It was now past midnight. The sky was utterly dark, and the stillness of the heavy air foreboded storm. Suddenly the clouds were seared by a blinding flash. Branched lightning smote down upon the eastward hills. For a staring moment the watchers on the walls saw all the space between them and the Dike lit with white light: it was boiling and crawling with black shapes. The dark tide flowed up to the walls from cliff to cliff.
Thunder rolled in the valley. Fierce bolts of hot white lightning lanced down from the heavens, stabbing beams of light among the gloom.
Arrows thick as the rain assaulted the battlements, and fell useless against the stones. But no sound or challenge was heard within; no answering arrows came.
The assailing hosts halted, foiled by the silent rock and wall. Their brazen trumpets sounded, and the enemy surged forward once more, some against the Deeping Wall, and others towards the causeway and the ramp that let up to the Hornburg-gates.
Another crack of lightning. This time, it was no harmless bolt of light. The searing flash of electricity stabbed right down to the center of the gathering of orcs of the west and the wild men of the Dunland fells. Agonizing screams of death and fear melded with the war call of the invaders.
At that moment, an answering call came: a storm of arrows met the host, and a hail of stones. They wavered, broke, and fled back; then charged again, broke and carged again; and each time, like the incoming sea, they halted at a higher point. And each time, they payed for the wave with blood as the artificial weather rained down upon them with lightning and hail.
Finally, a press of roaring men leaped forth as trumpets rang. They held their their great shields above them like a roof, while in their mids they bore two trunks of mighty trees. Behind them orc-archers crowded, sending a hail of darts against the bowmen on the walls.
Lances of lightning forked down from the heavens, setting several trunks ablaze. Unseen in the uproar, several small metal harbingers of death rained down from the topmost turrets and killed several trunk-bearers as they ran. But still, others ran to take the place of the fallen, and a few giant trunks made it; and they gained the gates.
Eomer and Aragorn stood together on the Deeping Wall. They heard the roar of voices and the thudding of the rams; and then in a sudden flash of light they beheld the peril of the gates.
"Come!" said Aragorn. "This is the hour when we draw swords together!"
Running like fire, they sped along the wall, and up the steps, and passed into the outer ocurt upon the Rock. As they ran they gathered a handful of stout swordsmen. Together, they sprang through the small postern-door towards the great gate, their men close behind. The swords flashed from the sheath as one.
"Guthwin!" cried Eomer. "Guthwin for the Mark!"
"Anduril!" cried Aragorn. "Anduril for the Dunedain!"
Charging from the side, they hurled themselves upon the wild men. Anduril rose and fell, gleaming with white fire. A shout went up from wall and tower:
"Anduril! Anduril goes to war! The Blade That Was Broken shines again!"
Written by Tanith 11-23-2002 11:44 PM
"Well brother, what have we here?"
WriterBoy's Venusaur stopped its hurried pace toward the forest of Fangorn upon hearing the voices. It looked up to see two beings astride a pair of brilliant elven-steeds before it. They were obviously twins, dark as the twilight and fair as the elven lords that they were. Indeed, it was Elrohir and Elladan, the twin sons of Elrond Peredhil who rode there, and behind them arrayed on mounts of their own were many a stout and lordly warrior, each grim of face and worn like weathered rocks.
Fortunately, Venusaur had met the sons of Elrond during its master's previous stay in Rivendell. More fortunately still, the elven skill in bespeaking the creatures of the land extended to pokemon. So it was that Venusaur delivered its message to ears that could comprehend it.
The sons of Elrond listened patiently to Venusaur's speech, then nodded gravely.
"We hear of your master's peril, good fellow," said Elladan. "And we feel for the peril of Rohan. But timely indeed has been our arrival here and yours. Have no fear! That which you have set out to do is done!"
"Indeed," seconded Elrohir. "The friendship of the Eldar is not easily forgotten, moreso by the wardens of the forest. Saruman made one mistake too many when he slew the great trees of Orthanc."
"Even now," continued Elladan, "Treebeard the Ent leads all of Fangorn's wrath upon hapless Isengard. And the Rangers of the North, and we the sons of Elrond, shall ride to the aid of our kinsman and of Rohan."
Elrohir laughed cheerfully, a sound of sparkling brooks and playful winds. "Come, creature of our ally! Let us ride to Helm's Deep! Forth, Rangers of the North. For the Dunedain!"
Written by Mg_knt 11-23-2002 11:57 PM
Ceorl:"Dunlanding, bear skin pelt coming up the valley."
*Mg caught the Dunlanding in his sights, the man was leading a pack of orcs to try and help the trunk bearers."
Mg:"I am Death."
*The H&K .50 sniper rifle cracked and Ceorl watched as the Dunlanding's head snaped back and exploded in a gory mess. The orcs around the man fled. Though used to battle they were not used to having one of their number cut down by what they believed to be an invisable enemy. So, the battle went on, Ceorl was starting to get unnerved by Mg as Mg went into a trance like state and started to shoot anything Ceorl called out, only stopping to reload. Ceorl glanced at Mg and saw that Mg had a wide grin, like one of a man who enjoyed his work more then he should.*
Written by WriterBoy 11-24-2002 11:37 AM
During a relative lull, he looked in on Aragorn and Eomer. The men stood back to back, surrounded by a legion of soldiers, slaying orcs, goblins, and mercenaries with fierce abandon. he allowed himself a smile.
The smile turned to horror as he saw an entire division of orc troops bearing down on the scene. There were more than even those two great warriors and their immediate allies could hope to overcome. Blastoise and Golem were too far away to move there in time under their own power. He only had time to think his frantic command.
Charizard, Golem, Death From Above!
With a ferocious roar, a bright orange comet fell from the sky towards Golem's position. Almost before the combatants could register its presence, it grasped Golem in its talons and flew it high above the battlefield. Then, taking a stance disturbingly like that of a baseball pitcher, it hurled the Rock Pokemon directly at the groupa advancing on Aragorn and Eomer. Golem let out a ferocious kamikaze roar as it fell to the earth.
The shock wave knocked every thing on two legs for fifty meters around on its feet. Where once there was an unstoppable engine of death, now there was only chunks of bone, meat, and oily black hair. Golem rose to its feet and charged the stragglers, leaving neitherman nor monster alive in its path.
Unable to help himself, WriterBoy let out a joyous battle cry, in the manner of the city he called home.
Written by Mg_knt 11-26-2002 10:57 PM
Written by Tanith 11-27-2002 12:25 PM
Another bolt of effector-lightning ran jaggedly down from the heavens. Throughout the night, the pinpoint blasts of power had rained down from the skies to strike at the rear flanks of Saruman's forces, as regular as clockwork. Any of the Enemy that were not too close to the Walls of the Deep were under the constant threat of fiery death from above.
As the wind howled its rage and the hail-storm thundered in the area miraculously just outside the Deep and Hornburg, so did the defenders of Rohan keep the walls against the relentless assault upon them. Blasts of rock leaped up from below to shake the stones. Grappling-hooks were hurled, and ladders raised. Again and again the orcs gained the summit of the outer wall, and again the defenders cast them down. But the defenders persisted; and the Deep was not breached.
Touched by a vision of foresight, and upon conferring with the king of Rohan and one of the outworlder allies, Aragorn slowly made his way to the great gates just they nearly fell inwards under the prolonged assault. He stood high above them, heedless of the darts of the enemy. Then he raised his empty hand, palm outward in token of parley.
At that same moment, the regular thundering of skybolts suddenly ceased, and the hail storm began to die down far faster than any normal storm. To the ranks of the orcs, and indeed even to the defenders of the Wall, it seemed that the Heir of Isildur had commanded the heavens themselves.
In sheer panicked bravado, the few remaining Uruk Hai in the invading army cried aloud. "Get down or we will shoot you from the wall! This is no parley. You have nothing to say!"
"I have this to say," answered Aragorn, ignoring the jeers. "No enemy has yet taken the Hornburg. Depart, or not one of you will be spared. Not one will be left alive to take back tidings to the North. You do not know your peril."
So great a power and royalty was revealed in Aragorn, as he stood there alone above the ruined gates before the host of his enemies, that many of the wild men paused and looked back over their shoulders to the valley, and some looked up doubtfully at the sky.
But the orcs, boistered by the ceasation of bombardment from above, merely laughed in loud voices; and a hail of darts and arrows whistled over the wall, as Aragorn leaped down. There was a roar and a blast of earth and fire. The archway of the gate above which he had stood a moment before crumbled and crashed in smoke and dust. The barricade was scattered as if by a thunderbolt. Aragorn ran to the king's tower.
But even as the gate fell, and the orcs about it yelled, preparing to charge, a murmur arose, like a wind in the dawn. The orcs on the Rock, hearing the rumor of dismay, wavered and looked forth. And then, sudden and terrible, from the tower above, the sound of the great horn of Helm rang out.
All that heard the sound trembled. Many of the orcs cast themselves on their faces and covered their ears with their claws. Back from the Deep the echoes came, blast upon blast, as if on every cliff and hill a mighty herald stood. But on the walls men looked up, listening with wonder; for the echoes did not die. Ever the horn-blasts wound on among the hills; nearer now and louder they answered one to another, blowing fierce and free.
"Helm! Helm!" the Riders shouted. "Helm is arisen and comes back to war. Helm for Theoden King!"
With that should the king came. His horse was white as snow, golden was his shield, and his spear was long. At his right hand was Aragorn, Elendil's heir, behind rode the lords of the House of Eorl the Young.
The sky, which had cleared of the storm that had raged throughout the night, suddenly opened up. The black clouds of night and storm rolled back as if unfurled by the hand of Manwe. Light sprang forth from the seams, widening to reveal the blaze of the newly risen sun - light that was bane to the orcish race. Night departed.
"Forth Eorlingas!" With a cry and a great noise they charged. Down from the gates they roared, over the causeway they swept, and they drove through the hosts of Isengard as a wind among grass. Behind them from the Deep came the stern cries of men issuing from the caves, driving forth the enemy. Out poured all the men that were left upon the Rock. And ever the sound of blowing horns echoed in the hills.
Neither orc nor man withstood the charge of the king and his companions as they clove a path to the great Dike. Of the hosts of Isengard, their backs were to the blades of the Riders and their faces to the valley. They cried and wailed, for fear and great wonder had come upon them with the rising of the day. Even as the company of King Theoden halted and sat silent upon their horses, gazing in wonder down upon the Deeping-coomb, so did the orcs look upon the same sight in abject horror.
The land had changed. Where before the green dale had lain. its grassy slopes lapping the ever-mounting hills, there now a forest loomed. Great trees, bare and silent, stood rank upon rank, with tangled bough and hoary head; their twisted roots were buried in the long green grass. Darkness was under them.
Between the Dike and the eaves of that nameless wood only two open furlongs lay. There now cowered the previously proud hosts of Saruman, in terror of the king and in terror of the trees. They streamed down from Helm's Gate until all above the Dike was empty of them, but below it they were packed like swarming flies, vainly crawling and clambering about the alls of the coomb, seeking escape.
Upon the east too sheer and stony was the valley's side. Upon the left, from the west, their final doom approached. There on the ridge suddenly appeared two riders, clad in the craft of Elven-mail and shining like Noldor princes out of the tales of old. Over the low hills the horns were sounding. Behind them, hastening down the long slopes, were an array of mounted riders, their swords in hand.
Aragorn laughed as he recognized them, and rasied his voice to the wind. "Hail, brothers in arms and heart! Hail, the Dunedain of the North! Hail, the Sons of Elrond!"
The cry was taken up by the Riders, who welcomed their northern allies with high cheer, and gazed upon the legendary princes of Rivendell in wonder. The hosts of Isengard roared, swaying this way and that, turning from fear to fear.
Again the horn sounded from the tower. Down through the breach of the Dike charged the king's company. Down from the hills leaped the pair of fine elven-steeds, the twin elf lords upon them, bright as the morning sun.
The terror of their coming filled the enemy with madness. The wild men fell on their faces before them. The orcs reeled and screamed and cast aside both sword and spear. Like a black smoke driven by a mounting wind they fled. Wailing they passed under the wainting shadow of the trees. And from that shadow none ever emerged again.
Written by Mg_knt 11-27-2002 10:23 PM
Written by Mg_knt
*Mg awoke. He ran his hands over his face and noted the stitches in both of his cheeks. His vest was laying on the floor beside the bed he was resting in. The communication light was flashing, evidently someone wanted to contact him.*
Mg:"Vest, communications on."
*Rommie's voice came through the channel.*
Rommie:"Tanith reports that the army of Mordor has been assembelled and is heading towards Minas Tritih at rapid speed."
Mg:"Thank You Rommie, Tell Tanith that we are going to intercept and quite possibly will bring the riders of Rohan and the Dundains with us."
Rommie:"I will tell her. Good Bye."
*Mg feel back in bed, it would be nice to have a few more days rest. His body just couldn't take the amount of punishment he did yesterday, but keeping Mordor in check was more important then what he felt. Crawling out of bed Mg suited up and headed out to inform the men from Gondor and Eomer.*
Written by Tanith 11-23-2002 12:59 PM
Soon after they crossed the riverbank upon which the group had found and tagged Gollum, night fell upon the land of North Ithilien. The group stopped for a moment to set up camp, to rest for the night before setting out once more in the morning.
The two natives of Middle Earth decided that it was time to have a change from the steadfast diet of lembas they had all been on throughout the arduous journey near the deadlands of Mordor's border. With the skill of an elven archer, it wasn't long before Legolas returned to camp with several rabbits in hand. Gimli went about making a fire, and the two companions amiably made to cook them, much to the bemusement of their outlander companions.
Tanith listened to their light banterings of Gimli and Legolas with a satisfied air as all four of them shared the repast. No longer were the elf and and dwarf shotting barbs and insults at each other in emnity. The long road to Mordor, and the Shadow that they had long traveled, seemed to foster good will more than ill among the group, once they had left its influence. Perhaps it had something to do with the burden of dangers shared...
Before she could ponder further, though, her scanners suddenly sounded an alert. Deftly, she concentrated on the readings, and raised an eyebrow in surprise.
"Gentlemen," she interrupted one of Gimli's tales of the glories of Moria in its heyday. "I do be believe we have company."
Immediately, the others made for their weapons. CBY frowned as he extended his senses. "That's funny... I didn't sense any evil moving up on us..."
"Perhaps they're not evil," suggested Tanith. "The readings are of Men, not orcs, and we are quite close to the stomping grounds of the Rangers of Ithilien."
"Faramir's group?" wondered CBY as he recalled the novels. "This should be interesting."
Legolas, who had been listening intently to the night air, suddenly nodded. "These men speak in a tongue not unlike Elven-speech. I too believe them to be the Dunedain of the South."
Even as the group waited, the heard the slight rustling of movement in the trees. There was also voices, speaking low and furtively, which became closer and nearer. Then quite suddenly one spoke clearly close at hand.
"Here! Here is where the smoke came from!" it said. "'Twill be nigh at hand. In the fern, no doubt. We shall have it like a coney in a trap. Then we shall learn what kind of thing it is."
At once, four men came striding through the fern from different directions. Two had spears in their hands with broad bright heads. Two had great bows, almost of their own height, and great quivers of long green-feathered arrows. All had swords at their sides, and were clad in green and brown of varied hues. Green gauntlets covered their hands, and their faces were hooded and masked with green, except for their eyes.
"We have not found what we sought," said one. "But what have we found?"
"Not orcs," said another, releasing the hilt of his sword, which he had seized when he saw the glitter of Legolas' arrow and Gimli's axe.
"Elves?" said a third, doubtfully.
"One of them perhaps, the one with the bow," said the fourth, the tallest, and as it appeared the chief among them. "Elves are wondrous fair to look upon, or so 'tis said..."
"Meaning the rest of us are not, I take it," Tanith said dryly, unsure whether to be amused or affronted. Legolas just appeared to be annoyed.
CBY rolled his eyes as he also addressed the men. "Thanks for the tip. I'll remember it if I ever enter a beauty contest. And if you're finished discussing us like we aren't here, how about you tell us who you are and why you're opposed to just letting a couple of travelers be."
The tall man laughted fimly. "I am Faramir, Captain of Gondor," he said. "But there are no travellers in this land: only the servants of the Dark Tower, or of the White."
"We are neither," growled Gimli. "No dwarf would serve the forces of evil."
"Nor any elf, of which indeed I am," added Legolas as he stared at Faramir.
"Then make haste to declare yourselves and your errand," said Faramir. "We have work to do, and this is no time or place for riddling or parleying. Come! Where is the fifth of your company?"
"Yes, the skulking fellow that we saw with his nose in the pool down yonder. He had an ill-favoured look. Some spying breed of orc, I guess, or a creature of theirs. Buthe gave us the slip by some fox-trick."
"He's not exactly one of our group..." Tanith hedged. "But for now, I guess he's our guide. We follow him to what he seeks."
Introductions were made then, to the wonder of the Rangers of Ithilien to behold a Mirkwood prince and a dwarf lord in their lands. The rangers were gratified to hear that the younger son of their lord steward, Boromir, was already on his way back to them from Imladris. More surprised were they, though slightly dubious also, to hear of the reforged Narsil and the heir of Isildur who weilded it.
But the rangers also had pressing duties of their own. Thus Faramir left two of his men to stand guard with the strangers, as he left to carry out his tasks. The group, who weren't planning to go anywhere that night anyways, engaged the two rangers left behind in conversation.
Presently, one of the rangers, Mablung by name, revealed a bit of why the rangers were out there. "...we seldom come so far afield, but we have a new errand on this journey: we come to ambush the Men of Harad. Curse them!"
"Aye, curse the Southrons!" said the other ranger, named Damrod. "'Tis said that there were dealings of old between Gondor and Harad in the Far South; though there was never friendship. But that is long since. Now of late we have learned that the Enemy has been among them, and they are gone over to Him, or back to Him. And now you bring ill tidings of the gathering of the Easterlings in Mordor. I doubt not that the days of Gondor are numbered, and the walls of Minas Tirith are doomed..."
"But still we will not sit idle and let Him do all as He would," said Mablung. "These cursed Southrons come now marching up the ancient roads to swell the hosts of the Dark Tower. We come to teach them another lesson. The road may pass, but they shall not! Not while Faramir is Captain."
Slowly, the conversation faded into silence, and there was only the sense of waiting. The foursome decided to get some rest, while they could. But it was later in the night that they were all awoken by thrashing sounds still far off; noise that grew nearer.
"They are coming!" cried Damrod. "Some of the Southrons have broken from the trap. There they go! Our men after them, and the Captain leading."
The travelers joined the guards and peered intot he forest gloom. Suddenly, faster than the eye could see, Legolas had notched and let fly an arrow. At that moment, straight over the rim of their sheltering bank, a man fell, crashing through the slender trees, to rest in the fern a few feet away. His scarlet robes were tattered, his black plaits of hair braided with gold were drenched with blood. His brown hand still clutched the hilt of a broken sword.
Just as Mablung stepped towards the fallen body, there was a new noise. Great crying and shouting. Amdist it they heard a shrill bellowing or trumpeting.
"Ware! Ware!" cried Damrod to his companion. "May the Valar turn him aside! Mymak! Mymak!"
Tanith and CBY turned just in time to see a huge shape crash out of the trees and come carerring down the slope. They were both reminded of an elephant of Earth Prime, yet much larger. On the great beast thundered, blundering in blind wrath. Arrows and axes skipped and snapped harmlessly about the triple hide of its flanks. Men of both sides fled before it, but many he overtook and would have crushed to the ground, if it were not for the judicious use of Force TK and sorcery by the two offworlders. Soon the beast was lost to view, till trumpeting and stamping far away.
CBY stared after the creature. "An Oliphaunt," he breathed. "Interesting."
Faramir returned not long after the hubbub had died down, inviting the travelers to spend the night at the fortress of the rangers, Henneth Annyn, the Window of Sunset. The travelers did not mind overmuch either way, though Legolas and Gimli both objected to being blindfolded and led there. Tanith pointed out that no blindfold would be able to hide the path from her and CBY's powers. Faramir, in the face of these contentions, acquisced, and merely led them to he cave-hewn fortress there. Gimli, of course, found the place fascinating.
They spoke on a little more that night, discussing the movements of Mordor, the path of Boromir's group out of Imladris, the path that still lay before the four travelers, and of the defenses of Gondor. Then they rested for the remaining part of the night. In the morning, the four travelers were led back to the banks they were at the night before, and amiable farewells were exchanged as both groups went on their way.
Written by The Watcher 11-21-2002 08:23 PM
The Nazgul sped over land, feeling they were drawing closer to the object of their quest. In the distance a wall high and strong could be seen. It was the Rammas Echor, which surrounded fertile land of the Pelennor Fields. Four leagues beyond it lay Minas Tirith, white-walled and many towered, proud and fair on its mountain seat. Their master would bring humble and ruin to it soon enough.
But now they were concerned with a more important matter. A lone figure trudged in the distance, wearing garb strange to Middle Earth. From his person they felt the dark power they sought. They spurred their dark steeds to gallop faster, intent on capturing their quarry. Meanwhile, an unseen onlooker behind them watched in excitement and alarm.
Watcher: They've found him.
Gandalf: Hurry, we must get to him before he is caught.
While the jamming from the Andromeda prevented him from quickly teleporting to Z-man, it didn't prevent him from using his Dimensional Manipulation in other ways. Manipulating space, he diminished the distance between themselves and the Ringwraiths ahead of them, allowing himself and Gandalf to be right behind them.
Watcher: Z-man, it's me! We don't have much time. They'll be on you any second! You're not yourself! The Ring has affected you! Just give it to us and we can lower the jamming and teleport us all away!
Meanwhile, eight dark riders rode on, determined to strike down those who opposed them and reclaim the Ring for their master. Closer they came to their quarry, Morgul blades drawn. And the Black Breath came with them.
Written by Z-man 11-22-2002 11:20 PM
As if suddenly realizing what he was saying, Z-man trailed off and began clawing at his coat pocket. He tore it off and finally managed to unzip it. He pulled out the Ring, and threw it, past the Nazgul, a look of absolute terror in his face.
The dark riders turned as one to watch the ring, while Watcher and Gandalf took off faster to try and catch it. Z-man never took his eyes off the Ring, but he was backing up quickly. No one noticed the small red light coming from Z-man's belt. Kadabra broke free.
The Ring stopped in mid air, and began floating towards him. Gandalf and Watcher's mounts froze, and the Nazgul found themselves being pushed back by powerful, Ring enhanced TK.
Gandalf got off, and began to utter a spell under his breath to halt Kadabra's TK. The Ring fell, and it turned into a free-for-all, as Kadabra, Gandalf, Watcher, and the Eight riders fought for control of the Ring.
Written by The Watcher 11-23-2002 04:08 PM
Reacting quickly, as the Nazgul rushed toward the fallen Ring the Watcher whipped out his phaser and cutdown the lead one's steed. Tumbling to the ground, the fallen equine forced the rest to suddenly halt lest they trip over its form. Another quick blast knocked a swooping Kadabra away before it could reach the Ring, yet it's TK shield prevented it from being knocked out.
Quickly riding around the momentarily stalled Ringwraiths, Gandalf and the Watcher quickly dismounted, Gandalf guarding the Watcher with Galmdring as he reached down for the Ring. Both were suddenly knocked away by the telekinetic force of an enraged Kadabra, and the Watcher's phaser was sent flying from his hand.
Then suddenly the Nazgul were upon them. The Watcher felt a chill sensation. The Black Breath washed over him, trying to press down fear and despair into his being, only to be held at bay by his immutable body and spirit. Beside him Gandalf was getting up. He too seemed not to be affected by the dark aura of the wraiths.
As they got to their feet The Watcher reached for his lightsaber and ignited it, wielding a glowing blue blade to face the advancing enemy. Next to him stood Gandalf, Glamdring in his hand glittering white. As if in response the Nazgul drew their morgul swords as one, and flames ran down their blades.
Gandalf: You can not pass. I am a servant of The Secret Fire, weilder of the flame of Anor. The dark fire will avail you not. Go back to the Shadow!
And then in answer the Riders charged forth.
Written by The Watcher 11-24-2002 01:58 AM
Meanwhile, Kadabra flew above the fray, searching for the Ring which lay below in its midst. Frustrated by its inability to find it, the pokemon knocked the combatants aside with a telekinetic blast, sending them flying in several directions. Spotting the object of its desire, it attempted to lift it with TK, only to be thwarted again by Gandalf. Released once again in midair, it tumbled back to earth.
Springing to his feet, the Watcher found himself facing three Ringwraiths. Reigniting his lightsaber, he struck one on the side, forcing it to retreat from the pain of its burning touch, then quickly parried a thrust from another. The third struck him on the arm to no effect, save a brief and minor pain, for his Immutability protected him on both a physical and spiritual level.
Gandalf, while this was happening, was facing of his own. Sparks flew as Glamdring and Morgul swords struck each other in a dazzling pattern of dancing blades. The remaining two Nazgul hurried toward the Ring, which lay on the ground, only to be knocked a good distance away by another telekinetic blow from Kadabra.
The Pokemon swooped down to pick up the Ring, only to be thwarted by Gandalf maneuvering his battle over the cursed artifact. Meanwhile, The Watcher and his opponents were in checkmate, keeping each other from taking action against their comrades.
Suddenly, from above, a beam of light shot down toward the Watcher, only to be deflected by his lightsaber. It appeared Kadabra had decided to change tactics, and retrieved the Watcher's phaser. Thankfully, his danger sense allowed the Watcher to anticipate the blast, thus preventing it from striking true.
Kadabra then turned his attention to Gandalf, and attempted to strike him down. But Gandalf wore the Ring of Fire, and metaphysically all energy fell under Fire's purview. The deadly beam was redirected, striking harmlessly on the ground. The Pokemon fired again, and yet again its blast was deflected.
Frustrated with its failure to clear a path to the Ring, and wanting to destroy Gandalf because his master desired to, Kadabra then changed tactics again. It adjusted some controls and then suddenly a high pitched whine sounded. The Watcher instantly recognized the sound of a phaser on overload, and looked in alarm as Kadabra launched it straight toward Gandalf. The power released from the resulting explosion could destroy them all.
The phaser blossomed into a sphere of light and then suddenly froze in mid explosion, for Gandalf had used the Ring of Fire to arrest the energies released by the blast. Yet the amount of energy involved required great effort and attention on his part to keep contained, thus leaving him almost defenseless as the Nazgul continued to strike at him with their swords. It was only a matter of time before Gandalf lost his control and the sphere errupted anew.
Gandalf: Fly, you fool, fly!
At this the Watcher heeded Gandalf's command, turning from his opponents and starting to run. As the Nazgul continued to hew at Gandalf he muttered words of power, consecrating the sphere of light which floated above him.
Then, as the blows of the Ringwraiths took their toll, the wizard could hold the explosion in abeyance no longer. The sphere errupted in a mighty blast, washing over Istari, Nazgul, and human alike. The Watcher was knocked off his feet as the wave of force reached him, tumbling head over heels and striking the Rammas Echor with a mighty blow. The last thing he saw was a radiant white light, and then the darkness of unconsciousness.
Written by Tanith 11-24-2002 01:12 PM
The group of four tracking the creature Gollum had just barely started on their way in the morning when it happened. Legolas was the first to sense the conflict upon the wind, and pulled his steed to a halt. Tanith and CBY did likewise, looking at the elf in askance.
"There is a song of Power in the air," he muttered, as if to himself as he looked to the southwest with keen elven eyes.
Even as Tanith redirected her scanner and CBY began to extend his Force senses, they heard a loud explosion in the distance.
"Nothing in Middle Earth should have been able to make that sound," speculated CBY. "Unless there was a balrog living in the area or something."
"I'm getting high level EM fallout readings," Tanith informed him. "It's... I think it was a PaDT phaser on overload."
"Watcher." CBY frowned. "But why would he set it on overload? It'd be overkill to use on the Nazgul, wouldn't it?"
Tanith shrugged. "Let's ask." With that, she tapped open her communicator. "Watcher? Come in. This is Tanith."
There was only silence on the other end, a silence that disturbed them all, even Legolas and Gimli, who didn't quite know what was going on. Tanith exchanged worried looks with CBY, then tried a different tactic.
"Rommie? This is Tanith. Come in."
The Andromeda answered the call immediately. "Andromeda speaking. Is something wrong?"
"Yes," said Tanith. "Watcher is not answering his comm and we just detected a phaser explosion from nearby. What's going on?"
"My scanner records is a little spotty," reported the Andromeda Mind. "I believe he and Gandalf had succeeded in catching up to Z-man. Only the One Ring could have generated that much interference."
There were gasps all around. Rommie continued her report.
"But right now the ring seemed to have left the area. Sensors show that Watcher is alive but unconscious, most likely due to the resulting explosion of an overloaded phaser. Of the eight nazgul in the area, I have only detected two leaving it before the explosion. Most likely either the explosion or our people had eliminated the other six."
"What of Z-man? Gandalf?" asked CBY into Tanith's communicator.
"Sensors do not detect either of them." Rommie sounded worried. "But that's all the information I have."
Tanith sighed. "Thanks Rommie. Have Watcher call me when he's awake. Tanith out." Closing her communicator, she met the worried eyes of the others. "So I guess the Ring is most likely still in Z's hands. But I wonder what happened to Gandalf..."
"I know not," said Legolas at length, placing a hand over his heart as if it hurt. "But my heart tells me that some ill fate has befallen him."
Tanith and CBY did not reply, but both were thinking of the canon version of the story... and of the death of Gandalf in the darkness of Moria.
Written by Z-man 11-28-2002 01:31 AM
"You shouldn't have killed him," Z-man told Kadabra. "Gandalf will just come back even more powerful now. That's why I was going to send him to another dimension. He wouldn't be able to come back from that."
"Kadabra" Kadabra said.
"I know he already came back from another dimension. Mata Nui was unable to hold him. Now that Watcher's here, it makes sense for Tanith and her Andromeda to be here. They saved him. She'll probably want the Ring, too. I can't let that happen. Gandalf will come back more powerful, and he will take the Ring, and he will fall. Only I am immune, not you, not anyone."
As they continued walking, Z-man just kept mumbling "Only me," under his breath, over and over. Kadabra did not trust his words.
Written by Tanith 11-29-2002 04:08 PM
It was in the bright morning after the seige of Helm's Deep that the men of Rohan looked in wonder upon the changes of the night. Some glanced darkly at the far off wood, and passed their hands over their brows, as if they thought their eyes had betrayed them.
"Glad am I to see thee, allies of the north," greeted Theoden to the Dunedain. Wonder filled his eyes as he turned to the two elf lords among them. "And strange help you bring, oh Sons of Elrond. Long have I heard of the wisdom of the Master of Rivendell. But now I see that he is mighty in sorcery as well!"
Elladan laughed long and merrily at that. "The trees?" he said. "Nay, that is no sorcery wrought by my father's hand. It is a thing beyond the counsel of the wise."
"Then if not the work of Master Elrond, whose is the wizardry?" ask Theoden. "Not Saruman's, that is plain."
"It is not wizardry, but a power far older," replied Elrohir, "a power that walked the earth, ere elf sang or hammer rang.
Ere iron was found or tree was hewn,
When young was moutain under moon;
Ere ring was made, or wrought as woe,
It walked the forests long ago."
As the Sons of Elrond began to explain the Ents of Fangorn to the men of Rohan and their king, Aragorn stepped aside to speak with his northern kin.
"Halbarad!" he cried to the foremost rider of the ranks. "Of all joys this was the least expected!"
The man bowed to his chieftan and fell into step beside Aragorn. "I have all of our kindred that could be gathered in haste," he reported. "We met the brethren Elladan and Elrohir not far from Isengard, and they desired to ride with us to go to the war. We rode as swiftly as we might when your summons came."
"But I did not summon you," said Aragorn, "save only in wish. My thoughts have often turned to you, and seldom more than tonight; yet I have sent no word. But come! All such matters must wait. We will ride on together."
"Whither will we ride?" asked Halbarad.
"I cannot say yet," Aragorn answered. "As for the king, he will go to the muster that he commanded at Edoras, for nights from now. And there, I think he will hear tidins of war, and the Riders of Rohan will go down to Minas Tirith. But for myself, and any that will go with me..."
"I for one!" came the voice of Boromir. The man of Gondor was changed in mind as he beheld the one that could claim the throne of Gondor thoughout the night. He knelt before his leige-lord, with sword outstretched. "I would follow thee, my captain. My King."
Moved beyond measure, Aragorn could only accept the pledge of his fellow countryman.
"We'll be going with you too," came another voice. Mg, followed by Meta and Writerboy, also joined them. "I also have reports from our friends from afar. Mordor is already moving for war. We must move fast or Minas Tirith will be overwhelmed."
Aragorn nodded, and continued his words. "Well, for myself, it is dark before me. I must go down to Minas Tirith, but I do not yet see the road. An hour long prepared for approaches."
"Then perhaps the council of the Wise may aid you, brother," said Elrohir as he and his brother also joined the group. Theoden had finished his talk with them and had gone to round up his people. "I bring word to you from my father: The days are short. If thou art in haste, remember the Paths of the Dead."
"Always has my days seemed too short to achieve my desire," answered Aragorn. "But great indeed will be my hast ere I take that road."
"That will soon be seen," said Elladan as he held forth a round object wrapped in dark cloth. "Our allies retrieved it from Saruman's tower by their arts even as the Ents of Fangorn overran Isengard. This is the palantir of Orthanc from the treasury of Elendil, set there by the Kings of Gondor. It is a dangerous charge, but not to all. There is one who may claim it by right."
"Now my hours draws near," breathed Aragorn as he beheld the seeing stone. "I will take it."
Meanwhile, Elrohir turned aside his head. A smile of starlight sparkled in his eyes. "Now let us speak of more joyful tidings, brother. We bring with us a gift to you from the Lady of Rivendell."
Dubiously, Aragorn turned to where his foster brother looked. The light in Elrohir's eyes spoke of mischief that he was all too familiar with as he was growing up in Rivendell.
"It was wrought in secret, and long was the making. The days now are short. Either our hope cometh, or all hopes end. Therefore I send thee what I have made for thee. My Elfstone..." The soft voice came from behind him, speaking with all the beauty of Arda.
With baited breath, Aragorn turned. "Arwen..." he breathed as he beheld the face of his beloved.
With knowing looks, Elladan and Elrohir guided the others away to give their sister and foster-brother some time alone. For a while the two lovers spoke to each other in lowered tones. And none intruded upon them. Finally, Aragorn took leave of his lady, and sought out Theoden where he was readying the men of Rohan to leave for Edoras.
"I am troubled in mind, lord" he said. "I fear that I must change my purpose. Tell me, Theoden, you ride now to Dunharrow, how long will it be ere you come there?"
"At the noon of the third day from now we should come to the Hold," said Eomer from beside the king. "More speed we cannot make, if the strength of Rohan is to be gathered."
Aragorn was silent for a moment. "Three days," he murmured, "and the muster of Rohan will only be begun. But I see that it cannot now be hastened." He looked up, and it seemed that he had made some decision; his face was less troubled. "Then, by your leave, lord, I must take new counsel for myself and my kindred. We must ride our own road, and no longer in secret. For me the time of stealth has passed. I will ride east by the swiftest way, and I will take the Paths of the Dead."
"The Paths of the Dead!" said Theoden, and trembled. "If there be in truth such paths, their gate is in Dunharrow; but no living man may pass it. But you will do as you will, my lord Aragorn. It is your doom, maybe, to tread strange paths that others dare not."
"Alas! My friend!" said Eomer. "I had hoped that we should ride to war together; but if you seek the Paths of the Dead, then our parting is come, and it is little likely that we shall ever meet again under the Sun."
"That road I will take, nonetheless," said Aragorn. "But I say to you, Eomer, that in battle we may yet meet again, though all the hosts of Mordor should stand between."
Giving his farewells, Aragorn walked back to the others. There the three children of Elrond were conferring quietly with their outworlder allies. As he came to them, the group regarded him solemnly.
"I will travel with the hosts of Rohan, beloved," said Arwen. "Our friends have given me the means to move the muster of Rohan quickly to Gondor's aid in the same manner as you left Rivendell. We shall meet again, in shadow or in light. Namarie."
With that, she gave her burden to Halbarad and called for her horse. The elvish steed came to her and she mounted it. In farewell, Aragorn pressed one last kiss to her palm. "Go then, my lady. I will wait for thee in Minas Tirith."
So Arwen went to join Theoden's men, and Aragorn watched silently as the Riders of Rohan set forth, until they passed from view. Then, he sprang upon his steed and drew his sword. "To the Stone of Erech! I seek the Paths of the Dead. Come with me who will!"
Halbarad lifted a great horn, and the blast of it echoed in Helm's Deep; and with that the company leapt away. And while Theoden went by slow paths in the hills, the Grey Company passed swiftly over the plain, and on the next day they came to Edoras; and there they halted only briefly, ere they passed up the valley, and so came to Dunharrow as darkness fell.
Written by Tanith 11-29-2002 05:03 PM
At Dunharrow the Lady Eowyn greeted the company, and was glad of their coming. No mightier men had she seen than the Dunedain and the fair sons of Elrond; but on Aragorn most of all her eyes rested. At supper they told her of the battle in Helm's Deep, and her eyes shone with the telling.
At last, she rose and said, "Lords, you are weary and shall now go to your beds with such ease as can be contrived in haste. But tomorrow fairer housing shall be found for you."
But Aragorn quickly repled, "Nay, lady. Be not troubled for us. If we may lie here tonight and break our fast tomorrow morn, it will be enough. For I ride on an errand most urgent, and with the first light of morning we must go."
Eowyn seemd puzzled by his words. "Then, lord, you are astray; for out of Harrowdale no road runs east or south; and you had best return as you came."
"Nay, lady," said he. "I am not astray. I walked in this land ere you were born to grace it. There is a road out of this valley. I shall ride by the Paths of the Dead."
Eowyn stared at him as one stricken. She blanched and fell silent. "But, Aragorn," she said at last, "is it then your errand to seek death? They do not suffer the living to pass."
"They may suffer me to pass," said Aragorn, "but I will adventure it. No other road will serve."
Despite Eowyn's best efforts, she could not disuade Aragorn from his path. At last, they fell silent, but her her eyes were ever upon Aragorn, and the others saw that she was in great torment of mind.
After their repast, as the members of the company sought their rest, Eowyn came again to Aragorn, this time with intention to follow him on his journey. But again, Aragorn gently refused her. For though he felt for her caged warrior spirit, he could not free her from the bonds of duty laid upon her by her king.
And so in the morning, Eowyn stood as a figure carved in stone, hands clenched as she watched the Grey Company as they departed, until they passed into the shadows under the black Dwimorberg, in which was the Gate of the Dead.
There, at the Haunted Mountain, the company found a hollow place opening at the mountain's root, and right in their path stood a single mighty stone like a finger of doom. The horses would not pass the threatening stone, until the riders dismounted and led them. All except the three artifact steeds of the outworlders, which did not know fear.
At the lst deep of the glen they halted, before a sheer wall of rocks where the Dark Door gaped before them like the mouth of night. Signs and figures were carved above its wide arch, and fear flowed from it like a grey vapor.
There was not a heart among them that did not quail, not even those who have know greater evils of other worlds. Mg felt the disturbance deep in his mind stir, and it took all of his will constrain it.
Then Aragorn led the way, and such was the strength of his will in that hour that all the Company and their horses followed him. Aragorn had brought torches from Dunharrow, and now he went ahead bearing one aloft; and Elladan with another went at the rear. The three travelers brought flashlights of their own, but in the endless darkness their rays seemed as dim as that of the torches.
Nothing assailed the company nor withstood their passage, until a time unreckoned passed, and the company came suddenly into a great empty space with no walls upon either side. Away to the left something glittered in the gloom as Aragorn's torch drew near. The man halted and went to look what it might be.
As the rest of the company drew near, they saw Aragorn kneeling, while Elladan held aloft both torches. Before him were the bones of a mighty man, a notched and broken sword by him.
Aragorn did not touch him, but rose and sighed. He turned back and spoke to the whispering darkness behind. "Keep your hoards and your secrets hidden inthe Accursed Years! Speed only we ask. Let us pass, and then come! I summon you to the Stone of Erech!"
There was no asnwer, unless it were an utter silence more dreadful than the whisperings inthe dark before. Then a chill blast came and put out the torches, which could not be rekindled. So it was that the rest of the journey was made under the artificial lights of the outlworlders gagetry.
Suddenly, there was the sound of water tinkling. Light grew and the company passed through another gateway to a deep and narrow chasm. The Company now mounted again, but still fear pursued them. Beside Boromir, Meta paused as the man of Gondor peered behind them with fearful eyes. Behind them rode Elladan, last of the Company, but not the last of those that took the downward slope. With his nightvision and farvision gear, Meta could see the forms of the fear that followed.
"The dead are following. They have beend summoned," Elladan told them simply.
The Company came out of the ravine, and swiftly rode past the morthond Vale. They passed the hamlets in the mountain-fields, until at last they came to the Hill of Erech, and to the black stone atop it.
Then Elrohir gave to Aragorn a silver horn. He blew upon it and it seemed to those that stood near that they heard a sound of answering horns, as if it was an echo in deep caves far away. No other sound they heard, and yet they were aware of a great host gathered all about the hill on which they stood.
Aragorn dismounted, and standing by the Stone, he cried in a great voice. "Oathbreakers, why have ye come?"
A voice was heard out of the night, as if from far away. "To fulfil our oath and have peace."
"The hour is come at last," announced Aragorn. "Now I go to Pelargir upon Anduin, and ye shall come after me. And when all this land is clean of the servants of Sauron, I will hold the oath fulfilled, and ye shall have peace and depart forever. For I am Elessar, Isildur's heir of Gondor."
And with that he bade Halbarad unfurl the great standard which Arwen had brought. It was black, and if there was any device upon it, it was hidden in the darkness.
At the break of dawn, Aragorn rose at once, and led the company forth. Past Tarlang's Neck and Lamedon; past Calembel upon Ciril; passed on into the darkness of the Storm of Mordor and were lost to mortal sight. But the Dead followed them.