THE SIEGE BEGINS
June 12, 11 PM
The commanders of the West at Helm's Deep have turned down Mordor's terms of surrender. The siege of Helm's Deep is about to commence. The Witch-King of Angmar returns to the Mordor Army after the unsuccessful parley. He will now, for a while, command from behind the lines. He gives this command to Maugoth Lomin, "Diis rad, az uk!!!"
The hours of darkness hold the land in its tight grip. Down the chain of command of the great Army of Mordor comes the order, "DIIS!" Horns are sounded, a stark call in the quiet of night. Then the drums begin to beat a dire cadence of despair and death. Those in the fortress hear them chanting as they move stealthily forward in the darkness. "Grish agh matum!" Then silence. One phalanx advances on the road and it is flanked by two others, each a twelfth of a league apart and 7000 strong.
The archers flank the left phalanx. They moved to the rear of the left phalanx, waiting for the path to the Deeping Wall to be cleared before them. Total silence now reigns in the darkened gloom and all orders are whispered down the lines. The central phalanx makes contact with the enemy posts, then a bloodcurdling yell, first from the central phalanx and then from the left and right. While confusion reigns, the orcs' eyes seem to be gifted with unnatural powers of penetrating the gloom that covers all. Wild fighting erupts and the clash of metal on metal and the cries of dying and wounded are heard. Men from Gondor and Rohan fight gallantly in the darkness, but they are horribly outnumbered with only one defender for every six of the enemy. The defenders' vision is hampered by the darkness and confusion. The orcs seem to be everywhere and nowhere in the dark.
The archers on the Deeping Wall squint to no avail. The enemy is before them, well within bow range, but where? Those on the walls of the Deep hear blood chilling cries in the distance, moving ever nearer. The calls intensify and as they approach, their shrieks seem deafening, as the calls mix and begin to arise to a crescendo of terror. "AGAN!" the voices cry. The men of Gondor had heard the sound before and a fearful shudder of recollection grips their hearts.
Many of the men begin to fear that their path of escape to the drawbridge will be cut. The choice is either to stand and die outside or retreat within the walls.
Then those who have been at Pelennor hear
the fearful cries once again. As Sauron grows and puts forth his
strength and the power of His Ring upon His hand, so are the death-filled
shrieks of the Nazgul filled with terror and fear. They circle
above the city, like carrion birds seeking the corpses of dead
men. Out of sight and shot of those below they fly, their death-like
cries pierce the sky and their voices grow with every cry. Many
men fall upon the ground as the unseen horror flies over them
and some, trembling in fear, drop their weapons to the ground,
and then throw themselves there, quaking in absolute dread. Their
minds are filled with a dank darkness of gloom and death, and
they think no more of war, but only of hiding and death.
"Diis rad, az uk!!!" - Attack now, kill all (Black Speech)
"DIIS!" - Attack (Black Speech)
"Grish agh matum" - Blood and death (Black Speech)
"AGAN" - Death (Aduniac)
91, 96, 97, 101-102, The Siege of Gondor, ROTK
BATTLE OF THE DIKE
June 12, Helm's Dike, 11 PM
The left phalanx advances as a giant earthworm to the dike. Fifty ladders are extended in unison and orcs bearing shield and sword begin their assent barely two rungs apart.
The men of Gondor and Rohan attempt to push the ladders back with poles. A cheer goes up as a ladder with seven orcs tumbles on the warriors below. The cheer is cut short as a long armed orc on an adjacent ladder grasps the pole. A tug-of-war ensues. The orc wins the pole and is rewarded with a 20 foot plunge to the ground below.
Other tugs-of-war follow along the 100 foot battle front. When the men of Gondor and Rohan do not yield their poles, the orc is pulled into their midst. The swords of Condor quickly separate orc limbs from torsos but too late! Sword wielding orcs climb onto the dike and engage the men of Gondor and Rohan. First it is two men to one orc. But the ratio quickly changes. One to one. Then one to two. Then one to three. The orcs pour onto the dike.
Archers on the dike shoot arrows at what appears to be a ribbon of darkness. Occasionally, a shot is answered with a cry of pain, but the sound of battle upon the dike grows louder and louder. Defenders on both the left and right rush to contest the increasing numbers of orcs. The men of Gondor and Rohan slay ten orcs and twenty take their place. The phalanx has reformed. The thin wall of defenders upon the dike is split. The orc phalanx drives ever closer to the Deeping Wall. Out-numbered and fearing being cut off, men and archers peel from the fight and flee through the gap between the phalanx and the wall.
The record of the battle between the right phalanx of orcs and the men of Gondor and Rohan is nonexistent. Some say that the commanding officers perished in the fight. Others say the officers mistakenly ordered their men to join the fray against the central orc phalanx. Whate'r happened, no one knows or cares to tell, but years later, one old veteran of the war said, "This I know, those orcs scaled the dike much faster than any of Gondor or Rohan could believe. And join the central fray Gondor and Rohan, they did." What happened at the ravine that night will be told by man and orc for eons yet to come.
That central phalanx sought to drive straight to the bridge 'til they thought better of their plan. Though they hid beneath their shields and maintained their phalanx ranks, arrows took their toll and then the men of Gondor and Rohan hurled spears from elevated land on both sides of that ravine. It is said the orc phalanx was fifty yards shorter 'cause all of those at the head were dead. There are tales of flying rocks and flaming timbers and dead and dying orcs. And all this may be... But all agree, the defenders of that road stood until more orcs than can be counted closed about them from both the left and right. Then the central phalanx called for ladders from the rear. On three sides the battle raged. The men of Gondor and Rohan will tell tales of severed orcs and acts of heroism. But there were fifty who held back a thousand for a time. They are no more but revered is their memory in the lore of Gondor and Rohan of the fifty made their stand til the drawbridge saved the remnant that remained.
Four thousand orc archers behind their screens posted along the Deeping Wall, while catapults upon ramps were winched onto the dike.
The light of dawn revealed the number claimed by arrow, sword and pike as well as all who tasted his own blood by the blades of Mordor.
The blood of over four thousand orcs was shed that night as they fell in heaps.
THE BLOODSHED CONTINUES
June 13, dawn throughout the day
The blighted orb of the rising sun only marginally melts the blackness of night, but is successful, nonetheless, in chronicling the cost of the assault of Helm's Dike. Each of the three points of attack on the dike are littered with the corpses of men and Orcs.
The Orc archers, nearly 4,000 strong, are concentrated near the Deeping Wall. A volley of boulders from the catapults behind the Deeping Wall falls harmlessly 30 yards from the nearest archer. The command to shoot is issued and 4,000 arrows arch over the wall aimed in the general direction from which the catapults fired. The short range of the Orc bows is ideal for the task at hand.
Arrows rain down upon the defenders behind the wall. Men and boys run for cover, some to the base of the Deeping Wall and others into the Berg itself. Catapults were never intended to assault infantry or archers and the price of manning the machines hardly seems worth the effort.
The Orc archers' primary assignment is to quiet the bows of Gondor and Rohan, allowing the Orc catapults to hurl gigantic boulders into the Deeping Wall. Occasionally, a Gondorian arrow finds its mark, but the engineers manning the Orc catapults are well protected behind screens of wood. And each Gondorian arrow is answered by 100 Orc missiles.
Not every Orc catapult directs its attention to the task of destroying the Deeping Wall. The projectiles that drop this time strike with a dull, sickening thud. Men recoil in shock and horror as they see the gristly sight. The severed heads of their friends and kin, inscribed upon the foreheads with the mark of the Great Eye, are flung in over the wall. The Orc foot-soldiers had gathered the heads of all whom they had slain, almost 3,000 men. It is with great delight that the Orc catapulters hurl these heads into the Berg.
It is a day of leisure for the attackers. The foot-soldiers cheer with every boulder that smacks into the wall. Sometimes the damage is imperceptible; sometimes more; yet slowly, but surely, the upper parts of the wall crumble.
The day wears on. The bows of Gondor and Rohan speak from time to time. But the answer is always the same - hundreds of Orc arrows. The catapults work slowly but ever weakening the wall. It will not fall this day. The Orc commander instructs his soldiers to dig trenches to the right of the catapults. "When the fire is needed, it will be ready," he says.
The Orcs see little reason to hurry. There is much manflesh for the pot and they consume it with great gusto.
In the late afternoon, a slight breeze from the East stirs the red and black standards of the Great Eye over the huge, black and red headquarters tent of the Mordor Army. "Shakh gothûrz Dushgoi-ob!" an exuberant Maugoth Lomin says to his master. "The battle goes well, and soon Helm's Deep will be ours!"
His master replies in a cold, chilling voice, "Perhaps that is so, but the puffed-up poppet of the meddling graybeard, who deems he is wise in his own thought, said much in the little that he said. The king of Rohan is not here! That means his army is elsewhere! We shall see where the riders are."
Leaving command of the army with Maugoth Lomin, the Black Captain turns his attentions to other matters. He leaves the tent, a quiver of arrows, their tips dipped in poison, slung over his shoulder. Soon, Nine Shadows mounted upon fell beasts turn from the west and fly towards the northeast. Lomin issues orders to his subordinants, "The cavalry is to mantain constant patrols in the rear of the army, and guard against the attack we know is coming."
Four thousand snarling wargs and their riders extend their patrols towards the east. The two thousand Easterling cavalrymen sharpen their swords and prepare for the battle soon to come.
By 6 o'clock in the evening, the eastern wind picks up, causing the cloaks of the Dark Shadows to swirl and billow about them as they fly. Far out of the range of any bow of man or elf, the fell beasts bear their Dark Riders as they fly northward, surveying the lands below them. Their Captain directs them with commands spoken in the language of their Master. Their eerie shrieks echo in the lonely silence of the Mark as the faint light of the day begins to wane.
"Shakh gothûrz Dushgoi-ob!"
"Powerful Lord of Minas Morgul!"
TOO LATE AGAIN
June 13, Around 5 PM
"We ain't got wot's our share!" Bashrash complains.
"It's better than eatin' field mice, even if it is a bit on the stringy side," Lugag retorts. "No Tark now for weeks, so take as wot as can be 'ad and be quiet about it!"
Bashrash, his mouth stuffed with meat, says, "Ai, wot, now's our time to make with the pinch on that big uruk wot's been 'oardin' that loot from the White City. You make like you have something important to tell 'im, as to lure 'im off to the side, while I stick 'im real good in the back."
"Garn, mate! Don't you know anything? One of the lads already stuck a maggot 'ole in 'im last night, and pilched all 'is swag!"
The Tark flesh in his mouth flies out in Bashrash's gasp of amazement. "Urk! You say the bloke's already dead!"
"Akh, an 'ole as neat as a gold piece, right in 'is gut, and nobody knows who did it!" Lugag adverted his gaze at that moment, and Bashrash never saw the look of cunning satisfaction light up Lugag's face and the gleam in his yellow eyes. "Akh, as neat as a gold piece it was, they say."
"Garn! Too late again," curses Bashrash.
OF THE SECOND BATTLE OF HELM'S DEEP
June 14, all day
Through the inky haze of Mordor's clouds,
the sun begins to rise, and ere the first beams of faded light
show forth from the horizon, the heavy darkness is stained with
bright crimson. Somewhere, on one of the abandoned farmsteads
nearby, a cock crows, the bird having been left behind when the
master of the house fled from war. His voice rings out in the
still air, welcoming the coming of dawn. As the camp of the Rohirrim
and elves slowly comes to life, a breeze from the west begins
to blow, its scent fresh and pure, easing both heart and mind.
Out-riders who had been scouting to the southwest return to the camp and report to Eomer, who is in his pavilion. "My lord, we encountered many cavalry patrols of the enemy north and east of Helm's Deep, both wolf-riders and men on horses. Out-riders of the enemy, doubtless a much larger force lies just behind." Eomer nods and dismisses the men, telling them to summon Celeborn of the elves. Eomer is tightening the buckles on one of his plated leather vambraces when Celeborn arrives. The elf-lord, the Lord of the Mark, Erkenbrand, now Marshal of the Westmark, and other high-ranking marshals of Rohan hold conference in the pavilion.
The majority of men and horses who had been driven away by the attack of the Nazgul the last evening have returned and are now accounted for. The Riders of Rohan and the Army of Lorien prepare to ride to war. Riders with grim faces and set jaws saddle their horses, hands moving quickly with steady motions. Some are filled by the cold, eerie sense of calm that comes with the knowledge that death and doom draw nigh; others nervous, perhaps from the shadow or their own fears, their minds clinging to fond memories of their families, for not all who ride this morning shall see their loved ones again. Every muscle taunt and tense, little weariness remains from the night before. Hearts are afire with long-suppressed anger and resentment that will soon manifest itself in the swing of the sword.
A faint red light spreads out over the eastern sky mixing with the black reek, like the blood of both man and fiend of Mordor which would soon stain the ground. The sun is rising. Widfara of the Wold breathes in deeply, watching the sun rise. "The sky is aflame with the tidings of rain," he tells a companion, "and, lo, the wind has changed. This day will bring new things."
Eowyn tends to the buckles on Dushtala's saddle in a fairly secluded part of the camp. His mane is braided, the plaits woven with ribbons of red and white. She turns to Pippin, who waits nearby. "Once again I ride disguised into battle with a hobbit secretly in tow. Though it is you now, Pippin, and not..." her voice trails off, and she looks towards the southeast, towards the field of Pelennor where her life was so drastically changed and ripped asunder. She turns back to Pippin, and he can see that her normally light grey eyes are now dark with a bitter fury and have a fey look about them. "But no matter. Your time is coming.... my time is coming," she says softly, pausing for a moment. Then she resumes in a louder voice. "We shall meet whatever dooms that lie before us with our hearts free of fear and shall avenge our hurts by the blood of our enemies. Come now, fell deeds await!"
She lifts Pippin onto Dushtala's back and then mounts the horse herself. She spreads her cloak about the little hobbit who rides behind. "Soon you shall no longer have to fear being hit by my shield!" she whispers and though he cannot see it, a grim smile appears on her face after she makes this ambagious statement.
Soon the force of both man and elf is ready to set off. Horses paw the ground restlessly, their muscles tense and taunt in balls of pure suppressed energy, ready to burst forth into battle. Men hold shields in one hand, spears of ash in the other; long swords are at their sides. Elves are with them, clad in shadowy-grey, quivers on their backs, bows at the ready.
Eomer, mounted upon Firefoot, addresses the captains of the eoreds and the Riders who wait behind. His helm is adorned with a white horse-tail; he carries his uncle's shield, gold, emblazoned with an image of the fiery sun. The grey horse Firefoot is as eager for battle as his rider.
"We ride into familiar lands, though the field of battle before us is unknown and yet lies under the shadow of the enemy, and little plan can be made. A concentration of enemy cavalry is gathered to the northwest of Helm's Deep. Smash through their out-riders; we are needed at the Deep. The force of elves from the North should be in a position to attack, so the forces of the West swell. The enemy has gone far too long unaccounted-for in our land, looting and pillaging, stealing our horses and burning our homes and fields; far too many foes have wished to destroy the Mark. Fear no darkness, for it is a red dawn: our hopes have increased and the winds have changed." he pauses. Theoden had told the men similar things ere he set off for Pelennor.... Eomer wonders if perhaps he shall meet the same fate as his uncle. But he does not quail; determination is written in his face and voice. Perhaps he shall meet a similar fate, but the honor and glory he would win in the battle would be his forever in the Halls of his fathers. He continues. "Now is the hour! To win honor and glory for the Mark! To Helm's Deep!"
Spears clash upon shields. Men cheer for victory or death, their eyes gleaming with the overwhelming desire to spill the blood of their enemies. Thunder rumbles in the distance. A horn is blown, the sound cutting through the heavy air, and Eomer cries out in a mighty voice, "Forth Eorlingas!" The riders set forth for Helm's Deep, banners of green and white streaming in the wind as they ride.
One of the riders, a man of slighter stature than the rest, strays away from the eored to which he was assigned, and draws ever nearer to the King, almost riding with the knights of his house.
The sound of thunder intensifies as thousands of hooves pound into the ground. A few droplets from the sky fall upon the faces of the Riders, then comes the downpour. The rain comes down in angry sheets and the riders must slow their course, for the world of sight around them has turned to dreary gray. Just at that time, the advance guard encounters out-riders mounted on wolves. The men ride back to the main body of the army of man and elf, alerting them that scouts of the enemy have been found, and not too far away lies the main body of the cavalry force.
The Rohirrim thunder forward in the storm, slaying or routing any out-riders that have the misfortune of impeding their way. The brilliant flashes of lightning catch upon the striving swords and spears, the reflection shining white like the stars in the night sky. Rain beats down upon the fallen, their bodies acting as dams to the little rivulets of water which surge over the ground.
The storm begins to slow, then subside. The clouds change from black, to dark grey, lightening as time goes by, and finally a beam of pure, golden sunlight shines through the clouds, now the palest grey of the sea. The plain is laid bare to the Riders; for the first time they can see their enemies before them, and their enemies, in whose veins flow the blood of Man, can see them as well.
The Easterling commander catches the clear sunlight gleaming on the spears of the Riders, their faces fierce and fell, and he is struck with a feeling of sudden dread. The king and his knights ride in the center front, his banner fluttering in the wind; to his right is a Marshal bearing a red shield. To the left is another commander; a high lord of some sort, bearing heraldry not of the Mark. Golden is the hair of his knights, yet they are not men; elves they are, and their eyes shine with a burning light. The eyes of some of the Easterlings widen in fear. Had they not heard of elves? Evil sorcerers they were said to be; witches practiced in dark arts of magic and devilry. The riders ahead continue their approach, crying out dreadful cries, shouts and challenges and songs of battle and war, in the strange tongues of the Rohirrim and Eldar. This did not bode well for the Mordor cavalry, and it also appeared that the Western force was equal to or larger than theirs.
The orcs, those of pure orcish blood not mixed with that of Man, cringing and shielding their eyes from the light, see the approaching army and panic. No longer now do they only fret about the sunlight making them sick and burning their skin; instead they now fear for their lives. Some break and run back towards the way they came, causing confusion in the ranks of both man and orc. Arrows fly from the bows of Mordor, striking some of the deserters in the back as they flee. Commanders try to get their companies in order and force their terrified troops to stand their ground, to fight and make a stand ere they are overrun by the army of men and elves.
The Riders, seeing that their enemies are distraught, seize the opportunity and thunder forward to meet them, singing songs of war and death, speaking of victorious battles fought in long years before. Eomer and the knights of his house gallop ahead of the main army and hit the enemy force first. The king's spear strikes the stunned Easterling commander, and the writhing body of the man from the East falls off his dark horse, his last breaths in the circle of the world coming in shaky gasps. Eomer pulls forth his sword, swinging it at the enemies gathered on his flanks. "Guthwine! Guthwine for the Mark!" he cries out in a dreadful voice.
The might and strength of Eomer and the men of his house, some of the most experienced fighters in the Mark, make the orcs and Easterlings quail in fear. Some, seeing that the rest of the army approaches rapidly just behind the king, drop their swords and break and run like the previous orcs, either on horseback or on foot. No one bothers to shoot them as they run, for the task of staying the force of the elves and men is the only thought that remains in the desperate minds of the soldiers of Mordor.
The force of Rohan and Lorien quickly catch up to Eomer and his knights and crash into the force of Mordor to his sides with dreadful fury. The spears of the first line of riders demolish the first few lines of the enemy, impaling men with sharpened tips of steel attached to strong poles of ash. Horses rear up and twist in the air, men fly from their saddles, crashing onto the hard ground below. Bones are broken, men are crushed by falling horses, and loud and horrendous are the screams of both man and beast. Bright swords sweep from scabbards and hew and slash at the dark-clad riders; arrows from Elvish bows are let loose, piercing dark mail with dreadful impact. Blood, both black and red, flies into the sky and falls down like the rain that fell earlier that morn. Bodies fall like the leaves in the autumn, some wounded, twitching and writhing, crying out in pain, others silent and still as they lie upon the ground.
The Easterlings, bereft of their commander, and the orcs, suffering from the light of the sun, are dismayed by the valor and strength of the terrible elves and Rohirrim, sound a retreat, turn their horses and wolves away from their enemies and set spurs to their sides. The Riders give chase, their fury blazing as a white fire, the lust for battle and blood flowing through their veins, choking out all thoughts other than the swing of their swords, the movement of their shields, the words of their songs and shouts. What remains of the Mordor force is quickly routed, men and orcs running hither and thither in their panic across the plain.
The army of Rohan and Lorien continue their journey, slaying all who dare stand in their path. They go at a slower pace now, their way being mostly uncontested, their enemies fleeing before the hooves of their steeds, the gleam of their swords. The Riders cross over the Great West Road and travel the road that leads to Helm's Deep. The sun soon moves directly overhead.
The scene lies before them: the Deeping Wall lies in shambles, and beyond it they can see the shapes of dark tents and pavilions. The ground is burnt and barren, filled with pock-marks from hurled boulders; some rubble still lies upon the field. Far above in the sky, Nine black shapes circle lazily, waiting for the darkness of night to descend upon the land, like vultures biding their time until their dying prey finally expires. Darkness they crave, and the fear and uncertainty it produces, for the harsh light of the noon-day sun beats down upon them, and their powers are greatly diminished. Yet diminished though they might be, the powers of the Nazgul are still great.
Her hair flowing out behind her, gold strands of different shades sparkling in the light of the sun, still-wet braids bobbing up and down on her back, Eowyn gallops in a state of bliss, warm wind kissing her face. Her brother rides a few rows in front of her, the white horse-tail of his helm floating out behind him, banner bearers carrying flags bearing the heraldry of the Mark, the white horse upon a green field. The knights of the house ride to her sides, the eored to which she was assigned forgotten somewhere behind her. The sun beats down upon her shoulders, the heavy layers of mail and wet padding being warmed and dried by the blessed light. She looks ahead to the walls of the Hornberg that lie before the Riders, to survey the field into which they ride. But her vision is drawn towards the sky, and her eyes begin to drift upward against her will.
And no longer does she ride her horse alongside comrades, nor does she see the scorched fields of the Mark before her. She can see nothing but darkness, feel nothing but the damp, cold floor made of stone that lies under her. Her arm is wracked with pain and she cries out in anguish. Waves of heat wash over her, but are soon replaced by a frigid cold.... vaguely she discerns that a figure, blacker than the darkness around her, looms over her. He kneels and begins speaking, his voice deep and icy, sending a chill down her spine...
Eowyn, her eyes shut tightly, hunches down in her saddle and whimpers. Yet all her comrades experience is a vague sense of anxiety as they look to the Nine riders in the sky, too far are they away from the fell shades to experience the fury of their might.
Though the land around Helm's Deep has suffered greatly from the effects of war, nearby tall trees grow, their leaves glistening with drops of rain in the sunlight, a strange sight to see after the Army of Mordor had burnt everything in their path as they traveled through Rohan. Yet the Riders know from the first battle of Helm's Deep that these are no ordinary trees, but rather Ents from the legends of old. Spread out on both sides of the road between the edges of Helm's Dike and the Hornrock is the Army of the Western Lands. There is fighting between the elves and the evil men and black uruks of Mordor, but the forces of darkness are driven back just as the riders reach the Dike. The elves cheer the riders as they climb up the road to the top of the Dike and gallop towards the Hornburg. "Riders of Rohan and our brothers from Lorien! The light of the sun blesses them as they ride! Praise the Valar!" Songs of gratitude to the Valar ring out as the riders pass.
Eowyn's head shoots up and she quickly straightens up in the saddle, something having broken the shackles of fear that had restrained her mind. The riders are almost to the Great Gates, yet the ramp and causeway is no longer there. She sees before them a drawbridge that is slowly being lowered.
The men inside the Berg espy the riders coming from afar, and begin letting down the drawbridge. "Rohan! Rohan has come! And the elves of Lorien!" the cries in the Berg and courts ring out. The riders quickly gallop over the drawbridge and through the outer court. The men of Gondor cheer wildly and sing with joy at the sight of the riders from both the Mark and the forests of Lorien. Those inside the outer court quickly open the rear gate, and out pour the riders, followed by the men of Gondor. "Forth Eorlingas!" Eomer cries, and spurs Firefoot forward.
The King of the Mark and the knights of his house are the first to plow into the camp of the nocturnal orcs, followed quickly by the rest of the men in his force. They are quickly flanked on the right and left by the riders of Erkenbrand and Celeborn. The men of Gondor follow behind on foot.
Yet not all of the orcs are hampered by the light of the sun. A fairly large group of black uruks with long halberds take a desperate defensive stance against the new flood of enemies. Horses are thrown backward by the collision of the two forces and the sharp tips of halberds, knight-hookers as they are called, catch some of the riders, twisting them off their mounts. Then the sharp, axe-like blades of the halberds cleave the stunned bodies of the fallen riders. Yet the spears of the riders are longer than the halberds of the enemy, and the riders who still have spears quickly leave them behind, stuck in the still-twitching bodies of orcs. Swords sing through the air again, their melody the sweet instrumental accompaniment to the Riders' songs of slaying.
The battle is long and bloody. Great are the sounds of metal upon metal, the agonizing screams of the wounded and dying, battle cries and songs of war. The camp behind the Deeping Wall turns into one massive, seething pit of slaughter and bloodshed, with little mercy shown by either the West or the East. The Nazgul circle wildly overhead, shrieking cries of hatred and death, full of the malice of once- proud foes suddenly finding themselves in dismay. Horses and men run wild in terror from the Nine riders and are struck down by their enemies; then the survivors regroup and strike back at the fiends of Mordor with increased fury.
Eowyn, braving the fear of the fell shades hovering above, abandons her comrades and charges forward into a group of orcs, screaming a long, drawn-out battle cry. Her spear already having been put to good use earlier, she swings her sword at the enemies on her right, her shield deflecting blows made upon her left side. The orcs scatter in fear before the sudden onslaught of this fey rider, his face fierce and terrible, his cries dreadful to hear.
However, one of the orcs notices that the rider is alone, separated from his comrades. The orc holds his ground and holds aloft his halberd as Eowyn swings at his head with her sword. The orc ducks and thrusts his halberd forward, the hook hitting Eowyn in the shoulder, catching the rings of her mail. She lurches backwards at the impact and finds herself being twisted to the side. Her left foot is yanked out of her stirrup, her leg is roughly dragged over the side of her saddle and she finds herself falling to the ground.
Pippin, now alone on a galloping horse, looks over his shoulder. He sees Eowyn lying face down on the ground. The orc stands above her, his halberd raised high, ready to let fall, the blade to cleave her helm and skull in two. Pippin gasps and screams. Dushtala leaps over something on the ground, his sudden movement forcing Pippin to turn his head back to the path before him. "Oh, Eowyn!" he cries, clenching the back of the saddle as Dushtala rushes forward, for he thinks that she lies dead now, her skull undoubtedly split in two by the orc. "First Merry, and now you! Oh no! What am I to do?" he sobs, at the moment no longer caring where Dushtala bears him.
The Riders of Rohan, the Army of Lorien and the Men of Gondor continue to fight the forces of Mordor, their anger at the destruction upon their lands and people wrought by the Dark Land fueling the fires of their fury. The orcs who retreat or are routed over the Deeping Wall are quickly met by the Army of Western Lands and ents below, and terrible is the damage upon their numbers caused by the pounding feet of the tree-herders or the bows and swords of the elves. Great is the slaughter of man, both good and evil; elf and horse; orc and other creature of Sauron.
The fighting goes on all day, until finally the Army of Mordor is driven from the Deeping Coomb and back to the Great West Road. The armies of the West fight into the night, repulsing the forces of the enemy, and fighting their rear guard as the massive, black worm of the Mordor Army turns upon its slimy stomach and crawls back towards the dark land where it was spawned.
The last rays of the setting sun reach over the mountains, touching the ground with beams of golden-red. The evening sky is a brilliant shade of pink, and a gentle breeze blows from the west. When night falls, the stars of the Sickle burn with a white fire, and the men wonder if perhaps the stars seem brighter because they had been hidden for many a day by the foul clouds of Mordor, of if they truly are radiating with a stronger brilliance, silently celebrating the victory of that day.
Pippin rises to ease his mind with a walk
camp. The Riders of Rohan are all making ready for
departure. They eat light breakfasts, tend to their
horses, and sharpen their weapons. Some of the men
are pale, their lips pressed tightly together as they
work. Others move with purpose, their bright eyes
flashing. For Pippin, these sights bring the reality
of the impending battle into sharp relief. His grief
is replaced by surprise, then numbness.
Faint rays of sunlight penetrate the clouds,
the dawn that is breaking above the fell haze. A cool
breeze from the West blows throughout the camp. The
Riders welcome it. Even the most nervous among them
smile. To Pippin, the breeze feels like Merry or
Frodo ruffling his hair. Pippin closes his eyes and
breathes a long sigh of both relief and resignation to
whatever the day may bring.
"Good morning, lad." Pippin looks
up to find the elf
who helped him tend Aldfrid, one of those who fell to
the Fell Riders' arrows yesterday. The elf smiles
warmly at Pippin, who returns the smile.
"Here." The elf hands him two
wafers of lembas and a
flask of miruvor. "You and your master must be hungry
this morning." Pippin pretends not to be familiar
with the Elvish food while the elf explains what it
is. "It doesn't look like much, but it will
sthrngthen you throughout this coming long day. Don't
eat too much now, lad!" the elf cries as Pippin bites
off a big chunk of lembas. "You will want to make
that last a long time."
"Thank you sir, thank you very much!
You are very
kind. Thank you for your help, for everything!"
Pippin rocks on the balls of his feet with each
He returns to the lone tree where he and
the night, and they breakast on the lembas and
miruvor. They both feel much better for it. Then,
without warning, Eowyn rises to saddle Dushtala. As
she tends to the horse, Pippin looks toward the camp;
all the other Riders are also ready to depart. A
group of richly clad knights approaches from the far
end of the camp. Their leader wears a helm crested
with a white horsetail.
Pippin's heart leaps, then thuds so that
fills his ears. He goes to the supply pack to put the
finishing touches to his armor. If only I could take
a bath! he thinks. I have never worn the same
clothes for this long in my life! But there is no
time to worry about that. He smooths the livery of
Rohan on his chest, then picks up his Gondorian helm.
I am a knight of both Gondor and the Mark now, he
thinks, if there still was a Gondor. I fight for
both myself and Merry. I fill two places, like
Faramir. For a moment he is lost in memories of
Minas Tirith and the battle of Pelennor. He shakes
them off and strides over to Eowyn. But even as he
walks he wonders, Is this really my place? Would it
have been better if I had stayed in the Shire, with my
family? Why, they don't even know what ever happened
to me! But...Frodo needed me. Yes. He needed me and
Merry, not only Sam. And Frodo was on quite an
important errand, to be sure. Pippin sighs. And to
think it has ended this way! Well, I'll do what I can
now. I'll kill a thousand orcs for Merry and Frodo
and Sam. And I will look after Eowyn, as I promised
Aragorn I would do. Despite his small stature,
Pippin is an erect, proud figure as he stands beside
Eowyn, awaiting her orders.
She turns to him. "Once again I ride
battle with a hobbit secretly in tow. Though it is
you now, Pippin, and not..." Her voice trails off,
and she looks towards the southeast, towards the field
Pippin turns and looks in the same direction,
at Eowyn with a sad smile. "...Merry," he whispers
Eowyn turns back to him. Her normally light
are now dark with a bitter fury and have a fey look
about them. "But no matter. Your time is coming...my
time is coming," she says softly, pausing for a
moment. Then she resumes in a louder voice. "We
shall meet whatever dooms that lie before us with our
harts free of fear and shall avenge our hurts by the
blood of our enemies."
All the "hurts" in Pippin's heart
begin to bleed at
once at her words--the loss of his home, then of Frodo
and Sam, then Merry, then Gandalf and Aragorn. But
instead of blood, the wounds bleed fire. It courses
through his veins, filling this normally gentle hobbit
with battle fury.
"Come now, fell deeds await!"
Eowyn cries. Pippin
surpresses a triumphant yell as she lifts him onto
Dushtala's back. She spreads her cloak around him
again, for boys as young as he is pretending to be are
not allowed to fight. "Soon you shall no longer have
to fear being hit by my shield!" she whispers. Pippin
frowns rather than laughs; Eowyn's ominous last words
sent a chill through him.
Eowyn guides Dushtala to the eored to which
been assigned. Pippin feels the heat of so many
horses and riders gathered close together. He hears
the snorting of the horses, but the Riders are eerily
quiet. The air crackles with surpressed energy.
A clear, strong voice begins to speak.
resist a peek out from under the cloak. He beholds
Eomer, a magnificent warrior on a splendid horse, with
the white horsetail on his helm, and a shield
emblazoned with the sparkling sun in his hand.
"We ride into familiar lands, though
the field of
battle before us is unknown and yet lies under the
shadow of the enemy, and little plan can be made. A
concentration of enemy cavalry is gathered to the
northwest of Helm's Deep. Smash through their
out-riders; we are needed at the Deep. The force of
elves from the North should be in a position to
attack, so the forces of the West swell. The enemy has
gone far too long unaccounted-for in our land, looting
and pillaging, stealing our horses and burning our
homes and fields; far too many foes have wished to
destroy the Mark. Fear no darkness, for it is a red
dawn: our hopes have increased and the winds have
Their destination is certainly not familiar
The hobbit tries to comprehend Eomer's hastily
announced battle plans, but all the names and
directions and armies swim in his head. All he knows
is that he must fight, fight blindly with all the
courage he can muster, no matter what enemies he
meets. He must be always ready to attack. He must be
bold, fierce, fell. Me?! his mind screams. But all
thoughts of fear and doubt fall silent as Eomer speaks
"Now is the hour! To win honor and
glory for the Mark!
To Helm's Deep!" Spears clash upon shields. Men cheer
for victory or death, their eyes gleaming with the
overwhelming desire to spill the blood of their
enemies. Thunder rumbles in the distance. A horn is
blown, the sound cutting through the heavy air, and
Eomer cries out in a mighty voice, "Forth Eorlingas!"
Pippin almost raises his arms to pummel
the air with
his fists, but remembers to stay hidden at the last
second. He cheers along with Eowyn and all the other
The horses burst into a gallop. One voice,
young, shouts a lone cry that is lost among all the
deep voices cheering for the Mark. "For the Shire!"
THE EASTERLING CAVALRY
Hidden under Eowyn's cloak, Pippin can
only feel Dushtala's back surge up and down as he
gallops. Pippin is tossed on a great sea of thunder.
The horses' hooves all around him pound the ground.
The rumbling increases steadily until he hears a great
crack and exclamations from the Riders of Rohan.
Suddenly rain is beating down on his hunched back.
The water quickly soaks through his livery, mail, and
padding. He shivers, wet and miserable, wondering
when the fighting will start, and hoping the exertion
will warm him up.
Pippin hears a Rider shout over the thunder.
King! We have met the enemy's out-riders! Orcs
mounted on wolves ahead, and behind the Easterling
Eomer's horn sounds the charge, and before
time to react, he hears Eowyn give a great battle cry
as her right arm swings out to lop an orc's head from
its shoulders. Peeking out from under the cloak,
Pippin sees that the orc's mount is still alive. The
fell gleaming eyes and sharp teeth are at the ready.
Terrified, Pippin realizes the animal is about to
attack. Its open jaw moves for Pippin's leg, but the
hobbit's sword flashes out of its sheath and into the
Pippin's confidence grows with every blow
He has done this before, he reminds himself. He and
Eowyn are just as deadly now as when they escaped
through the Harrowdale Valley. Intent on his sword,
he does not even notice that their dark surroundings
are gradually growing lighter, and that the faintest
ray of warmth shines down upon them.
But then the orcs that surrond them are
another charge is sounded. "Guthwine! Guthwine for
the Mark!" Eomer cries in a terrible voice. Pippin
feels Dushtala's pace quicken. Terrified screams
burst forth from ahead, screams of...men?
With a terrific crash, they are upon the
cavalry. Pippin was not sure, before, exactly what an
Easterling was. Now he looks out from under the
cloak, and finds they are men! Not horrible, hated
orcs, but men, kin to hobbits, and the same race as
the Rohirrim! He has heard that men fight for the
enemy, but it has never seemed real till now. This
shock, along with the gruesome chaos around him,
paralyzes Pippin with fear.
Eowyn notices Pippin's hesitation and sternly
him to strike out with his sword. He turns to do so,
but in the process he looks directly into the face of
the man he is supposed to kill. In that moment, many
things happen at once. Pippin's heart twists, his
sword arm goes still, and he fights the impulse to
cower and sob aloud. The Easterling laughs at him.
Pippin feels a blow to his side, but Eowyn screams
at the Easterling and runs him through.
"You must be quicker!" Eowyn
admonishes Pippin. She
continues to fight boldly through the enemy riders.
Pippin crouches under the cloak a few moments, waiting
for the pain to subside. Eowyn is still urging him
on...there is chaos all around him...these men are of
Mordor, Mordor....they would destroy the West, the
Shire! Gritting his teeth, tears streaming down his
face, Pippin wields his sword again, trying not to
look at the men he kills.
The Easterling cavalry turns and runs from
Rohirrim. Pippin is relieved. The Riders of Rohan
slow their pace, their progress steady and mostly
"Are you all right?" Eowyn whispers over her shoulder.
Pippin checks to see if he is bleeding,
and breathes a
sigh of relief when he finds he is not. "I'm fine.
The mail blocked it."
"Good," Eowyn replies. "You
must be bolder at Helms
Deep! It is an honor to fight, to spill the blood of
your enemies. And have you not as much to avenge as
any of us?"
"Yes," Pippin whispers, "yes,
I do." But he cannot
help thinking, I hope there will only be orcs at
THE SHIELDMAIDEN AT HELM'S DEEP
Afternoon of June 14
Her hair flowing out behind her, gold strands
of different shades sparkling in the light of the sun, still-wet
braids bobbing up and down on her back, Eowyn gallops towards
the Hornburg in a state of bliss, warm wind kissing her face.
Her brother, the King, rides a few rows in front of her, the white
horse-tail of his helm floating out behind him. The banner-bearers
in the first rows carry flags bearing the heraldry of the Mark,
the white horse upon a green field. The knights of the house ride
to her sides, the eored to which she was assigned forgotten somewhere
behind her. The sun beats down upon her shoulders, warming and
drying the heavy layers of mail and wet padding which had been
soaked in the rain earlier that morn.
Eowyn beams with pride and satisfaction, her face shining with the triumph and joy of a victorious warrior. She had been a terror to behold in the heat of battle, shrieking cries of death, her face lit by a mad light, as she leaned far out of the saddle, her sword swooping down, biting into the flesh of her enemies, like a scythe cutting down wheat for the harvest. A bloody harvest it had been, and the field before her was ripe for reaping.
She looks ahead to the walls of the Hornburg that lie before the Riders, to survey the field into which they ride. Dark pavilions dot Helm's Gate and the Narrows, defiling the land with the filth of Mordor who sought to flee the light of the sun. But let sleeping orcs lie! The Riders would soon be upon them, slaying them while they slept. A forest grows before the Deeping Wall; the banners of a strange army flutter in the breeze as their forces strive with those of Mordor in the land between the edge of the Dike and the Hornrock. The light of the sun glints off their swords and mail, over a thousand points of light, like the stars in the nighttime sky.
But then Eowyn's vision is drawn towards the sky, and her eyes begin to drift upward against her will. Nine fell riders of the air circle around the Hornburg, their shapes making shadows of darkness and cold travel along the land below. And no longer does Eowyn ride her horse alongside comrades, nor does she see the scorched fields of the Mark before her.
.......She can see nothing but darkness, feel nothing but the damp, cold floor made of stone that lies under her. Her arm is wracked with pain and she cries out in anguish. Waves of heat wash over her, but are soon replaced by a frigid cold.... vaguely she discerns that a figure, blacker than the darkness around her, looms over her. He kneels and begins speaking, his voice deep and icy, sending a chill down her spine.........
Eowyn, her eyes shut tightly, hunches down in her saddle and whimpers. Pippin, sensing Eowyn's distress, furtively peers out from under her cloak and looks at the riders beside them. Terror does not show upon their faces; they look like grim men riding into battle, for they are too far away from the fell shades to experience the fury of their might.
........ "Fair Eowyn, my lovely little pretty...." His icy voice drips with sweet honey and false sincerity.... He only seeks to taunt me, she thinks... I have been taken to a place beyond hope, the dread tower of darkness. I am at the mercy of foes who have none. If I do not die of brutal torment, I will be made into a thrall, forced to toil in the mines.......
"O Elbereth Gilithonel!" one excited voice cries. Eowyn stirs. She hears the sounds of many joyful voices, thanking the Valar and singing songs of Elvenhome and victories of old. "Riders of Rohan and our brothers from Lorien! The light of the sun blesses them as they ride! Praise the Valar!"
Eowyn's head shoots up and she quickly straightens up in the saddle, the songs of the Elves having broken the shackles of fear that had restrained her mind. She sees a group of black uruks and evil men of Mordor fleeing from Helm's Dike. The elves of the Army of the Western Lands are cheering as the riders of Rohan and Lorien gallop towards the Great Gates of the Hornburg. Among the elves, Eowyn espies a group of small figures.... Her brow furrows in concern, and she wonders if things are so desperate that elves must now send their children to fight alongside the men.
But now is not the time to think or ponder. She looks back to the road. The ramp and causeway have been removed; a drawbridge is being lowered from the outer wall of the Hornburg. The hooves of the horses pound over the drawbridge, their horseshoes sparking against the cobblestone of the Outer Court. If the elves of the Army of Western Lands gave the riders a warm welcome, the men of Gondor in the Hornburg put them to shame. Cheers erupt and echo off the stone walls, sounding like the thunder that rent the silence of the Mark earlier that morn. The horn of Helm is sounded in the Deep.
"Forth Eorlingas!" the King cries and leads the riders in a charge through the Rear Gate, coming upon the enemy camp like a flood of water after a dam is released, shouting challenges and singing songs of slaying. The men of Gondor follow behind.
Their challenges are answered by deadly shrieks from the air. The horses become terrified of the fell shades that circle wildly now, but their riders are able to master both their fears and the fears of their steeds for the most part. The black horse Dushtala remains steadfast, yet his rider cowers in the saddle, struggling against the darkness that grips at her mind.
....... "How you strive, maid of Rohan. A pity you are always doomed to failure..."......
.....The scene unfolds before her, revealed in dreadful clarity. King Theoden lies upon the ground, his horse Snowmane atop him, felled by a black dart. The fell beast swoops down and perches upon the horse. All of the knights of the house were borne away by fear and the madness of their steeds, all save one.... faithful beyond fear, she stands before the Black Captain and challenges him...
.....the rise and fall of a mace.... over and over, it pounds the small figure into the ground until there is nothing left, nothing but blood and bone and shreds of material... The head of her uncle the Nazgul holds proudly aloft, a gruesome trophy to take to his dark master.... He stands over her as she lies upon the ground, holding his sword over her heart. "Shall I slay thee too?"
.......She looks up to him, and sees the sword, stained with her uncle's blood, poised high above her, ready to kill. Her eyes narrow, and there is an angry fire in them. "I fear not death, foul dwimmerlaik!" His eyes glow with a fierce red light, and the crown on his head seems to shine in a pale bitter glow of steel. She blinks hard, avoiding his fiery gaze, a new deluge of tears welling up in her eyes.
........"Nay, maiden, nay!" he says, his voice mocking. "I will offer you a choice. There is thy sword upon the ground. If thou hast courage, fall upon it!
........"Never! Never would I do your bidding!" she hisses.
......"A coward, I see!" his voice is fell and cruel. "Little maiden, thou boast loud words, saying that thou fearest not!"
......."Coward I am not, but worthless servant art thou. Tell your master that his best servant is powerless to frighten even a mere maiden!" she laughs at him.
......."Thou sayest that thou dost not fear death? Then thou shalt learn fear!" She feels herself being picked up, then thrown atop a fell beast. Every movement brings agony to her broken arm. Soon, they are high in the air, flying eastward to the Nameless Land, to the Houses of Lamentation, beyond all darkness, beyond all hope. Though her life has always been touched by sadness, Eowyn feels despair like she has never felt before......
Not all of the orcs in the camp are hampered by the light of the sun. A fairly large group of black uruks with long halberds take a desperate defensive stance against the new flood of enemies.
Horses are thrown backward by the collision of the two forces and the sharp tips of halberds - knight-hookers as they are called - catch some of the riders, twisting them off their mounts. Then the sharp, axe-like blades of the halberds cleave the stunned bodies of the fallen riders.
"Eo.....A--oh! Dernhelm! Your sword! Use your sword!" cries Pippin. Eowyn still cowers in the saddle, her head bent down towards Dushtala's neck. Her shield is at her side, deflecting blows made by her enemies. Her sword is still held high by a hand that does not feel the hilt nor realize that it is even there. Pippin shakes her, fearing that she has been struck by an arrow. "Dernhelm! Oh! Dernhelm! Oh Elbereth! Wake up!" An orc rushes at their right side, striking at Eowyn's leg. His sword makes a gash in her leather boot and nicks her leg, but the cut is not deep. Pippin's sword darts out and stabs the orc in the eye. Soon, there is one less enemy who can harm them.
Eowyn rights herself in her saddle. Tears stream down her face and grief fills her heart. But now is not the time for mourning. She looks ahead and discovers that she has fallen away from the group of the King's knights. With a mighty battle cry, she spurs Dushtala forward, her sword swinging at retreating orcs.
The spears of the riders are longer than the halberds of the enemy, and the riders who still have spears quickly leave them behind, stuck in the still-twitching bodies of orcs. Swords sing through the air again, their melody the sweet instrumental accompaniment to the Riders' songs of slaying.
Though the Nazgul are dreadful to behold in their full fury, the riders know that the tide has changed and the battle now turns in their favor. This knowledge gives them hope to fight the shadows of fear, and their bloodlust and desire for revenge fuels the fires of their determination and resolve. They slowly begin to drive the orcs towards the crumbled Deeping Wall. Tents and pavilions fall to the ground under the feet of man, orc and horse, and the camp becomes a scene of utter chaos.
The Nazgul swirl madly in the air above, shrieking cries of hatred and death, full of the malice of once-proud foes suddenly finding themselves in dismay. Horses and men run wild in terror from the Nine riders and are struck down by their enemies; then the survivors regroup and strike back at the fiends of Mordor with increased fury.
Every time the Witch-King of Angmar passes above her, a deadly chill fills Eowyn and she struggles to regain control of her mind as it is plunged again and again into memories she had thought were lost forever. The words "Failure! Traitor to the West! Thrall of Mordor!" echo painfully in her head, as she sees her uncle and Merry fall upon the field of Pelennor, then sees herself later passionately kissing the Black Captain. She remembers how she fawned before him under her first enchantment, and the pure feelings of true love she felt for him when she thought she was Maltriel. Waves of guilt and shame wash over her, and she once again finds herself falling into the black pits of despair. But then anger rises within her. How dare he control her mind! She raises her head, the fires of her anger fanned higher into a blazing fury by Angmar's taunts and mocking words in her mind.
The riders charge through the camp, the terrified orcs running before them. A small group of orcs flee to the side as the King of the Mark and the knights of his house charge through, soon followed by other groups of riders.
Braving the fear of the fell shades hovering above, Eowyn abandons her comrades and charges into the orcs to the side, screaming a long, drawn-out battle cry. Her spear already having been put to good use earlier, she swings her sword at the enemies on her right, her shield deflecting blows made upon her left side. The orcs scatter once again in fear before the sudden onslaught of this fey rider, his face fierce and terrible, his cries dreadful to hear. Eowyn knows Angmar watches from above, and this display of defiance makes her heart swell with pride.
However, one of the orcs notices that the rider is alone, separated from his comrades. Eowyn swings at the orc's head with her sword, but the orc ducks and thrusts his halberd towards her, holding his ground. The hook hits Eowyn in the shoulder, piercing through her mail and padding as Dushtala gallops forward. The sharp hook is driven into her flesh, the rings of her mail holding it tight, and she screams in pain. The impact knocks her backwards, but the orc twists the halberd to the right. She cries out again as the point is twisted in her skin, driving the mangled, broken rings deeper into her shoulder.
Her left foot is yanked out of her stirrup, her left leg roughly dragged over the side of her saddle. The orc pulls the halberd back, out of Eowyn's skin and mail. She feels herself falling.... a blissful feeling, like floating. The shadows of the Nazgul pass by.
..........They were flying through the air, high above endless plains of tall grass, which shimmered from green to silver as a gentle wind tousled its blades. Maltriel leaned her head against Angmar's chest, the breeze tossing around a few stray strands of her bound hair. His strong arms reached around her to control the reins of the fell beast. She tilted her head up, looking into the dark hood that loomed above her. He gently kissed her forehead. "Oh, Lord Angmar..." she sighed, and reachd her arms up, clasping her hands behind his neck. His lips found hers, and they kissed each other passionately far above the clouds........
Eowyn hits the ground upon her right side. Pain jolts throughout her body, especially in her hip, which had hit the ground first. She screams in agony, and manages to roll over onto her stomach, her chin scraping against the dirt. Her right arm is pinned under her and she struggles to move it so she can support herself and attempt to get to her feet, but her shoulder throbs with pain and her arm feels weak and shaky. She lies there face down in the dirt, in too much pain to move. The orc hovers above her, the blade of his halberd poised to kill.
Suddenly, a rider gallops by, the metal tip of his spear finding its place in the orc's chest. The orc falls backwards, the halberd slipping from his hand and clattering to the ground safely away from Eowyn's head. Eowyn feels something warm on her shoulder - her own blood. She moans in agony, her shoulder and her hip throbbing with pain. She lies there motionless, breathing in purposely shallow breaths to ease her torment. She cries softly, tears of both pain and despair mingling with the dirt.
...... "Fair maid of Rohan! Do not despair! Perhaps thy master still has a use for thee!"......
Eowyn hears the mocking voice in her mind, followed by cruel laughter. It is the last thing she hears before falling into a swoon from the pain in her body and the pain in her heart.
PIPPIN AT HELM'S DEEP
Though he is hidden under Eowyn's cloak,
tell when the Riders of Rohan come within sight of
Helm's Deep. The Rohirrim hail it with joy and
anticipation. The air becomes charged with their
pride for their great fortress. Pippin lifts Eowyn's
cloak to have a look. He sees that the sun is now
shining in its full strength, drying the Riders and
revealing the field of battle. The imposing stone
refuge stands before them, a drawbridge lowering
across the Deeping Stream. Beyond it is the Deeping
Wall, in ruins now. Before the Wall is one of the
strangest sights Pippin has ever seen. There seems to
be an isolated forest growing amid the burnt, scarred,
rubble-filled landscape, but Pippin knows what those
trees are. He stifles a whoop of joy at seeing his
old friends the Ents again. Elves also defend the
Wall, their dazzling armor glinting in the sunlight.
They protectively flank a group of small soldiers who
have little armor, and whose only weapons are bows and
stones. These little figures move with amazing,
furious speed for their small size. Their aim is
nearly always true, but Pippin sees some of them among
the bodies that litter the ground. His jaw drops; his
eyes fill with tears of joy and horror. Hobbits!
Hundreds of hobbits! Why, his own kin must be among
their numberhis own father! He longs to call out to
them, but the reunion will have to wait until after
He hears a terrified whimper. Eowyn is
cowering in front of him. Pippin is baffled until he
hears the too-familiar Nazgul calls in the distance.
He looks around at the other Riders; they do not seem
to be as affected as Eowyn. She must be remembering
untold horrors from the Dark Tower. He wonders what
happened to her there, if he could ever comprehend the
evil, the despair and pain
And Frodo and Sam are still there.
Fury mounts in Pippin, fury for Eowyn,
and Sam. His eyes bore into the army that flees
before the Elves and hobbits. There are some men in
Mordor's army, but orcs far outnumber them. A group
of large black uruks fights alongside the evil men,
while the whole landscape is dotted with tents that
are shaded to protect orcs from the sunlight. "Orcs,"
Pippin mutters under his breath. "Easy!" He cannot
wait to join the fray.
Cheers burst from the Elves and hobbits
as they catch
sight of the Rohirrim. "O Elbereth Glithoniel!"
Singing fills the air, the magical harmonies of the
elves accompanied by music Pippin has never heard
before. The hobbits are singing a powerful, rhythmic
battle song, but it is new. They must be making it up
as they fight, or perhaps they wrote it on the way
here. The juxtaposition of the ethereal Elvish music
and the earthy hobbit music is strangely affective.
Pippin finds himself in a crush of horses
as they all
pound over the drawbridge into the Berg. A thousand
cheers drown out the horses' hooves. Pippin has never
heard such a joyful din. He starts when he sees the
White Tree of Gondor on the soldiers' chests, but
there is no time to wonder at them. The horn of Helm
sounds, its blare tingling from Pippin's scalp to his
toes. "Forth Eorlingas!" Eomer cries, and they are
outside, charging into a camp of sleeping orcs.
Yelling a battle cry, Pippin throws off
to slash at any orc who dares come near their horse.
At first the fighting is even easier than Pippin
expected, his long-repressed fury finding ample
outlet. But then a group of large black uruks, immune
to the sunlight, forms ranks and stands against them.
The Rohirrim are charging straight for the row of
halberd blades. Pippin becomes aware of the Nine on
their fell beasts, circling just overhead, screeching
their terrifying cries. His hand trembles. He wants
to scream, to cower. He wishes he had never come.
But there is nothing for it; he turns his fear to
energy. Raising his sword, he sings along with the
Riders as they crash into the enemy.
The halberds miss Eowyn and Pippin. They
straight over the uruks in their path. His body
twisting as he swings left and right, Pippin suddenly
notices that Eowyn is not fighting. She slumps
forward in her saddle, her hand still holding her
sword aloft, but paralyzed. She trembles whenever the
Nazgul screech overhead. "Eo.....A--oh! Dernhelm!
Your sword! Use your sword!" Pippin cries, but she
does not answer. He notices that arrows are flying
all around them; what if one has struck her? Pippin
shakes her desperately. "Dernhelm! Oh! Dernhelm! Oh
Elbereth! Wake up!" An orc rushes at their right side,
striking at Eowyn's leg. His sword makes a gash in her
leather boot and nicks her leg, but the cut is not
deep. Pippin's sword darts out and stabs the orc in
the eye. Finally Eowyn rights herself, and her sword
sings out with renewed vigor.
During the next hours, Pippin loses all
sense of time.
It is a single instant, and it is years. He operates
on a constant rush of adrenaline, out of the sheer
need to survive the attacks that come at them from all
sides. His arms never stop their work, even when they
shake with the effort. His legs soon bleed from many
small cuts, but each one represents a killed orc.
Uttering a defiant challenge, Eowyn steers
away from the other Riders to take on a group of orcs
single-handedly. Pippin's heart pounds even harder,
but he swings at them along with her. Most of the
orcs run before Eowyn's charge, but one stands its
ground, ducks her blade and thrusts its halberd up
into her shoulder. Pippin screams along with Eowyn.
He slashes furiously at her attacker, but the orc
twists his halberd, pulling Eowyn off Dushtala. As
she falls, it removes its blade, then holds it high
above her for the killing blow.
"NO!" Pippin screams, looking
back over his shoulder
as Dushtala carries him away. "NO!!!" Dushtala jumps
over a pile of fallen men and orcs, forcing Pippin to
face forward again. But he cannot see where Dushtala
is going through his tears. Now Pippin succumbs to
terror. He cowers, his face buried in the saddle.
"Oh, Eowyn!" he sobs. "First Merry, and now you!
What am I to do? And I was supposed to look after
you! Oh, forgive me!"
The distraught hobbit crouches against
until an arm grasps him around the waist and pulls him
off the horse. He thrashes, terrified, but then finds
himself on another horse in front of a Rider. "Don't
struggle! It's Hereric," the Rider says. Pippin
recognizes the youngest of the group of scouts who led
him and Eowyn to the Rohirrim. Hereric rights Pippin
in front of him, squeezes his shoulders encouragingly,
then returns to the work of battle.
It is harder to fight from this position,
is even deadlier now than before. He shouts Eowyn's
or Merry's name with every orc he kills. Again, time
stands still. Pippin barely notices when the haze of
flying arrows grows thicker. Hereric suddenly topples
from the saddle behind him, his back riddled with the
darts. Pippin again finds himself alone on a bolting
horse. He tries to take the reins, to guide Hereric's
horse, but it is all he can do to keep from falling
off. There is no more chance of fighting now. He
sheathes his sword.
The horse flees from the battle, away from
and the danger. It almost succeeds, but in its panic
it runs straight through a hail of arrows. A
tremendous blow knocks Pippin forward. An arrow's
point bores through his left shoulder, then emerges
from his chest. Pippin falls off the galloping horse
, losing consciousness as soon as he hits the ground.
Mercifully, he does not feel the scrapes and bruises
as his body rolls over and over until it hits a mound
He is cold, so cold. He shivers, but it
relief. Gradually he becomes aware of fiery screaming
pain, worse than any he could imagine. It is all
consuming. He cannot stand it; it must stop! But it
only grows as he awakens. He begins to cryand the
tears freeze on his cheeks.
His eyes fly open. He lies surrounded by
as though he were already in a coffin. He looks down
the length of his body; his armor, flesh, and even the
protruding arrow point are covered in glittering ice
crystals. But that is not nearly as bizarre as the
figure that stands over him. It is shrouded in black,
with nothing inside its sable hood except two red
glowing eyes. Its hands are extended as though it is
casting a spell. It is a wraith, undoubtedlybut it
is too small for a wraith. It is the size of a
Pippin stares up at it in total shock.
It cocks its
head up toward the sky, where a fell beast hovers.
Pippin recognizes Angmar's gloating laughter.
Last of the halflings, he hears in his mind, behold
Pippin gasps, then turns his gaze back
to the small
wraith. It seems to be listening intently to Angmar.
The Witch-King lets forth a commanding cry that almost
sends Pippin back into unconsciousness. Angmar lifts
an arm to point directly at the prostrate hobbit. The
small wraith looks down at Pippin, but hesitates. It
turns back to Angmar with a high, weaker screech of
its own, the most horrible sound Pippin has ever
heard. Angmar brings his fell beast closer, irate
now, and gives an even mightier command. The small
wraith becomes stiff and soulless, as though it were
made of wood. Its gloved hands fumble inside its
robe. They emerge gripping a gleaming blade. At the
same time Pippin's right hand grasps his own sword
The small wraith holds its blade over Pippin,
bring it down in a death blow. But Pippin is too
quick for it. He lunges upward, skewering the
wraith's faded hroa. An agonized screech echoes over
the battlefield. A cold gust blows over Pippin. The
black robe falls, empty, to cover him like a shroud.
Pippin drowns in suffocating darkness.
Pain racks his
body, but worse are the visions, the fell voices that
whisper withering taunts in his ear. The horror of it
is so extreme that if both of his arms were not
disabled, he would be sorely tempted to slay himself,
to escape it. But he can do nothing except writhe in
the cruel grasp of Angmar's Shadow.
Return to Third Age: The War of Second Darkness
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