The Army of Rohan Moves Out
June 12; Dawn - 60 miles northeast of Helm's Deep; nightfall, 30 miles northeast of Helm's Deep
The army of Rohan breaks camp and sets
off as the veiled sun begins to rise in the east. Guarding their
southern flank is the main bulk of the Army of Lorien commanded
by Celeborn lord of Lorien; mounted elves, many of them archers,
a force about 800-elf strong. On the northwestern flank is the
remainder of the elvish army, a force of 200. If the sun could
look down upon the land in her fullness and glory, the golden
hair of both races, the firstborn and secondborn, would gleam
softly in the growing light.
Helm's Deep lies 60 miles to the southwest. The plan is to move 30 miles closer by evening, camp for the night and wait at this point for the day of the 13th. Then when night falls and midnight comes, travel the rest of the journey to Helm's Deep, coming in contact with the first parts of the Mordor army around the dawn of the 14th.
Outriders go far out on all flanks. Any enemy scouts lurking about in these lonely lands are attacked with a vicious, long pent-up fury, and are slain as they try to fight the crazed Rohirrim or hunted down by the horsemen like foxes during a hunt and slaughtered as they try to flee. Wargs are shot out from under terrified orcs, and gruesome heads topple and land amid the tall grasses, spraying black blood upon their long green blades; lifeless bodies fall to the ground, their backs filled with arrows. The riders of Rohan are aided by the dim light of the day, and the eyes of the elves can see far, whether it be day or night, and seldom does an arrow miss its mark. Few, if any, of the orc scouts, survive to report the advancement of the army of elves and men back to the Mordor army.
By evening, the two armies halt, having traveled 30 miles. They make camp, utilizing whatever meager cover they can find to conceal their forces, copses of small trees and shrubs, scant patches of woods planted by people who had long since fled to mountain refuges. No campfires are lit, and the camp is utterly dark. Pickets, both man and elf, patrol the outskirts of the camp, keeping an ever-vigilant watch upon the lands to the south and east, and to the dark sky above their heads.
TERROR IN THE SKIES
June 13, early evening
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.
The Riders could be smelled long before they could be seen, and the aroma which drifted back on the eastern wind was a mixture of edain, horseflesh, and the hated reek of the golug-hai. The stench of elf came as no surprise to them though, for just the day before, Shakh Rut and Udu had been attacked by one of the bright, glowing fiends near Edoras. The memories of all Nine long ago had absorbed the certain, unique scents that marked and differentiated between each different race and group, and now here, the breeze told them that the stench of elf was strong among that of the edain and their beasts.
Not too long after, the unmistakable whinny of a horse was heard, and then its call was joined by that of others the closer they came to the large mass ahead. The Dark Riders remained silent until they grew closer to the beings below them on the ground. Then, before the surprise of their appearing should be lost, all Nine dropped lower and drew arrows from their quivers, notched them, and let out a stream of nine deadly shafts. At least some of their arrows hit home, for they heard the startled screams of horses and men below. "Ukh sûr!" their Captain shrieked, and almost as one, nine great beasts and their riders rose back up in the air before any on the ground could retaliate with a storm of arrows.
They circle around the camp, far above bow-range, madly weaving in and out of the darkened sky above the Riders, combining the full fury of their evil with deadly shrieks. They call upon the power of Sauron, His Ring and their Rings combined and the Darkness that lies within them to issue forth unbelievable horror upon the minds of the Riders, and inflict the Shadow on all who succumb to the madness of uncontrollable fear and despair. Below, sounds of pandemonium reach their senses as they hear the galloping hooves of horses frantic in fear and the screams of men. Picket lines are torn up as many of the horses of the Rohirrim stampede and rush into the darkness, fleeing from the terror in the skies.
Constantly circling and swooping and then rising into the air, the bows of the dark shapes hurl out more deadly darts, all dipped in poison, quick working and fatal. The fierce, bright demons are favorite targets for the riders, and all hope that before Arien sinks totally below the horizon, that at least some of the Eldar may join Namo in the dark House of Long Waiting. Besides the hated elves, Eomer King is a longed-for trophy, but none can be certain of whether he fell or not.
Their goal of spreading terror and confusion completed, the Black Riders disperse into the air unseen to those on the ground, and each knowing his own mission, they leave. Two circle wide, and fly towards the southeast towards the far outskirts of the camp, about a league away from the main body. The outriders in this lonely area panic and run at the approach of the Nazgûl. The fiercely burning red hue of the eyes of the Shakh of Dushgoi flame higher as he recognizes the scent of the familiar. He commands his beast to drop lower. He laughs as he draws an arrow from his quiver and lets it fly. The sound of a screaming horse tells of his true aim. He motions for his companion, Shakh Skri, to leave him and fly towards the southeast to Edoras on a pre-appointed dispatch mission.
Before him, Angmar sees one horse down, struggling in its pain, the rider unhorsed, lying on the ground. Another horse stands nearby, unmoving and unafraid. The other six horsemen struggle to keep their trashing, rearing horses under the control of their reins. He laughs again at the sport that this unlucky group will provide.
The beast circles around and comes in closer, and this is the final terror that sends all the other six galloping away in fear. The unhorsed rider has now struggled to his feet, aided by a smaller figure, and they look up at him. The Dark Rider slowly circles about the pair, and calls out in a fell voice:
"Hail, Eowyn daughter of Eomund, well met! Thy bravery has once again bought thee mercy. Go now, back to thy kin if he still lives, and spread the news of thy Master!"
With those words, he laughs again, commands the beast to rise back up, and then, almost like a bolt, flies off towards Helm's Deep.
"Ukh sûr!" = "Go Up!"
"Tark" = A Gondorian
"Nay! At least thou art valiant; beyond
all whom I have met. And they lie who say that we of our part
do not honor the valour of foes. See now! I offer thee freedom.
Go to thy kin, if thou canst. Get thee gone! And if Elf or Man
be left to make tale of these days, then surely in scorn they
will name thee, if thou spurnest this gift." - Glaurung to
Turin, "Of Turin Turambar," The Silmarillion, page 214
"Dagor Bragollach," the "Battle of Sudden Flame." "Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin," The Silmarillion
6:00 - Nazgûl set off from Helm's Deep
7:00 - Nazgûl find Rohirrim camp
7:00-7:30 - Nazgûl spread terror over camp
7:30 - Nazgûl leave the camp, going seperate ways on different missions
8:00 - Shakh Skri reaches Edoras
"Fell Riders in the Sky"
Rohirrim camp, 30 miles northeast of Helm's Deep
June 13, evening
The morning went by with little event as
the Rohirrim and elves prepared for attack the next day. A week
now had the dark clouds that belched forth from Orodurin far in
the east hung heavy over the land, smothering the light of the
sun with their thick, murky shadow. A cool wind from the north
stirred the leaves in the trees around the camp, and unease fell
over the hearts of some of the elves... Though the Great Enemy
was now imprisoned in the Void, a northern wind never bode well...
Perhaps somewhere a great evil was befalling or was soon to befall,
but all was well in the camp.
The sun continues her journey towards the west, and morning turns to late afternoon. The wind from the north subsides, and a gentle breeze blows from the east. Though more pleasant than the northern wind, still it is a source of unease, for all lands towards the east are controlled by the dark power in Mordor. Yet the hours pass by with little event.
Then evening arrives, and the faded orb of the sun comes ever closer to disappearing beyond the western horizon. The eastern wind picks up. The insects hiding among the plants and trees still their noise, and frogs no longer dare to sing. Few of the Rohirrim could recall when it first began, or if it happened slowly or suddenly, but gradually many became aware that a thick, foreboding silence had descended upon the camp.
Heorl, one of the riders, has been engaged in a long conversation about crops with a comrade. Suddenly, the air around them seems colder and somehow oppressive. "There is a strange chill in the air," Heorl remarks to his friend, then adds, a slight look of puzzlement upon his face, "and the wind no longer blows from the north."
His friend opens his mouth to respond, but the man's eyes widen and he gasps in pain. He slumps forward, and Heorl catches him in his arms... the shaft of an arrow sticks out of the man's back. "What..." begins Heorl, his mind numb from shock. "What is happening? Are we under attack?"
Anguished shrieks of men and horse struck by arrow ring out in the evening air. Then cries of alarm resound throughout the camp. "FELL RIDERS IN THE SKY! FELL RIDERS!"
And there they are suddenly, for all to see, nine fell shapes of unbearable evil, circling above the camp like birds of carrion waiting for their prey to die so they can swoop in and feast upon on the still-warm flesh. Archers - men with pounding hearts and shaking hands, and the calm, fearless elves - let loose a barrage of arrows at the enemies above, but the nine riders quickly rise beyond bow-shot and the missiles fired from below miss their marks in a frightful memory of Pelennor.
The dreadful shrieks of the Nazgul echo through the night, as they cry out with the voices of death, calling upon all the powers of Darkness to aid them in their mission of evil. Each time one of the fell riders passes by, it seems that great shadows fall upon the ground below, and the air around becomes colder, as if touched by bitter frost. Men blanch and tremble in fear, cowering behind trees and crawling blindly upon the ground seeking protection from the fear that twists at their hearts. Even some of the most stout-hearted of the Rohirrim are overcome with terror and fling themselves to the ground, their hands over their ears trying to block out the dreadful cries, and some stand as carven statues, their minds lost to madness and horror and darkness and death. Those who fought at Pelennor suddenly find themselves in the midst of that dreadful battle in their minds, and experience the horror anew. Riders are thrown off their horses or borne far away, and picket lines are torn up as horses pull at the lines, trying to flee from the terror that rains down from the sky. The whole camp is in chaos, with horses stampeding and men running hither and thither in their fright.
Elves and men scurry about in dismay, trying to calm their comrades and corral the terrified horses of both armies. Eomer is almost ran over by a crazed horse coming straight for him, but he jumps out of the way in the nick of time.
Horrible, unreasoning fear that grips the hearts of many in a trammel of icy iron is not the only thing that rains down from the sky. Ever does the barrage of arrows continue, and those who do not receive mortal wounds quickly die from the fatal poison upon the arrow-heads, their faces twisted and contorted in death, as though they died in excruciating pain. Many are the men, elves and horses that fall victim to the cruel darts, as the Nazgul wheel and circle in the sky, shrieking their cries of malice and hatred.
And then the nine riders are gone as quickly as they came, leaving behind the destructive chaos they caused in their wake. Hours will pass before the camp can be brought to some semblance of order, and many horses and men now lie dead and wounded. Others are missing, having been carried far away from the camp by their terrified steeds, and many of the horses which stampeded must be found and brought back.
STATISTICS (as of nightfall)
10 dead men (and elves among their numbers) from poison arrows
15 dead horses from poison arrows
3 men dead from accidents
1 man dead from heart attack
Many men and horses hurt (from miscellaneous causes)
3 horses dead from non-arrow causes
50-60 horses lost
12 missing men
"Riding From Danger Into Danger"
June 13; mid-afternoon to evening
Eowyn rides in silence, listening to the
conversations of her six new companions. It was obvious that these
men were close friends... well- acquainted with each other's kin,
frequent patrons of the same alehouses and mead halls, back when
the days were peaceful and the sun shone upon the fair fields...
Peaceful? It was never peaceful in the Mark, only an uneasy calm before some dreadful storm. Always present was the subconscious awareness that enemies were all around, waiting like ravening wolves slowly stalking their prey. It was only a matter of time until the bitter end, and even more foes would descend like carrion-birds hungry for the spoils, cold flesh from lifeless, bloating bodies.
She didn't want to think. It only brought the maddening confusion to her mind and bitter pain to her head. There was only this day, this moment, riding over the empty fields with comrades, the cool northern wind blowing their hair towards the south. She felt free in moments like these, like there were no chains binding her to the earth, and her spirit could soar as high as she wished, untrammeled and unhindered.
The riders stop to rest in the late afternoon.
Suddenly, their numbers grow from seven to eight, when a small
figure appears out from under Dernhelm's cloak when he dismounts
his black horse.
"My page, Holdwine," explains the quiet rider, his face slightly red, "He is but a lad of only 11 years, but he insisted upon coming, and he could not be dissuaded. His pony broke its leg some days back. The lad fancies himself a brave soldier, and wants to go off to fight in the big war!" laughs Dernhelm.
The men marvel at what they think is a young boy. He is clad in the livery of Rohan, but he wears a halberk of dark mail and a Gondorian helm. "He must be of gentle birth, a rich family, to be so young and have such a fine halberk," they conclude in their thoughts. "And a helm from Gondor! He must have friends in that realm... as must Dernhelm. The quiet soldier must be kin to some nobleman of Edoras; it is obvious by his appearance and demeanor... perhaps kin to one of the captains or marshals... they can get away with anything, after all.."
The men take an instant liking to "Holdwine," though they quietly disapprove of his presence in land now wrought with danger, and worry about his safety.
The men have an extra horse with them, a bay horse with a white star on its face; his rider was struck by an orcish arrow, they inform Dernhelm sadly. However, they offer this horse for Dernhelm and his page to ride, to allow the black horse to rest, and Dernhelm gladly takes them up on their offer.
Eowyn lifts Pippin up and puts him on the
back of the bay horse, then gets on herself. She holds Dushtala's
reins in her hands, waiting for the group to resume their riding.
"What is your horse's name?" one of the men asks with curiosity, a young rider named Hereric.
Eowyn panics. What IS her horse's name? Scur would be the Rohirric equivalent to his name, but he did not know it. She is forced to give an honest answer to the question.
"D..dushtala..." she swallows hard, turning her head away from the rider to the east, hoping the gentle breeze would cool the heat from her face. She hoped that the man was not familiar with any words in the dark tongue.
"A strange name! How did you come by it?"
"I made it up..." she lies. "I thought it was a nice name." She wishes the man would stop asking her questions.
"It certainly is interesting." She turns her face back to Hereric. The expression on his face is unreadable. Her heart pounds. What if he suspects her of being a spy? However, the awkward conversation is put to an end when the leader of the group, a middle-aged man named Redwald, says that they should be off. "We should get to the main army by late evening," he tells the men, "As you all know, they moved 30 miles closer to Helm's Deep yesterday, for the big attack tomorrow."
The man continues talking as they embark once more upon their journey, but Eowyn barely hears his words, so overjoyed is she to discover that the battle has not begun yet. Her heart thrills with the memories of her ride through the Harrowdale Valley the night before, and the promise of more fighting yet to come. They ride on as the miles pass and the dim light of the sun travels ever closer towards the west. Eowyn rarely talks unless someone asks her something, but she is happy, blissfully, giddily, nervously happy.
The veiled sun continues her journey towards the west. The riders' camp lies up ahead, only a few leagues away. Eowyn almost trembles at the thought of seeing her brother again. She hopes it will be from afar and she won't have to stand before the king and give him a report. It would be pure misery to resist the urge to embrace him and break down into tears in his arms, and doubtless if she stood before him, he would quickly see through her disguise, and see her not as Dernhelm, rider of the Mark, but as Eowyn, the White Lady of Rohan, his sister.
Suddenly, her thoughts are interrupted by a dull, yet increasing sense of dread. Though the wind no longer blows from the north, she feels a strange chill in the air. She looks to the other riders, to see if they feel the same sense of unease, but their expressions betray nothing. The eastern wind has picked up now, and lose strands of hair not confined by her helm curl out towards the west and brush against Eowyn's cheeks.
Eowyn hears the sounds of galloping hoof-beats coming towards them from somewhere up ahead. A patrol of outriders guarding the lands to the far east of the camp soon catch up with the seven riders. After a brief exchange of words and purposes, they are allowed to continue their journey, and the outriders continue their patrol. Soon Eowyn will arrive in the camp but somehow she does not feel comforted, and the inexplicable feeling of dread grows. It almost takes a form in her mind, a shadow of utter darkness seeking to find her, to pin her down and imprison her in the chains of fear, to take her back to some dark place just beyond the reaches of her memory. She shudders, feeling colder than ever, and pulls her cloaks closer to her body.
Then she sees them. In her mind. Oh, how she sees them. A little cry escapes her lips, her eyes wide with the terror to which she has quickly fallen prey. As though in a dream, she is vaguely aware of the other riders pointing to the sky and crying out, their voices hoarse with fear, "Fell riders! They approach!" She squeezes her eyes shut and cowers low in the saddle. Though her eyes are closed, she can tell there are two of them, two fell presences emanating maddening horror and hatred for all things which live and breathe.
And one of them is the Witch-King of Angmar.
Eowyn can feel her body as it bounces up and down upon the galloping horse's back, her feet having slipped out of the stirrups. Vaguely, she is aware that even though her stirrups are empty, her heels tap rapidly against the side of the horse, urging it to go faster. There is little need, however, for its hooves are already pounding over the ground. Gathering her wits once more, she forces herself to open her eyes and straighten up in the saddle. She looks to her comrades, who experience the same uncontrollable, unreasoning fear. The seven riders veer off their path, struggling to control their mounts as they gallop wildly, running senselessly to and fro in their fright.
And suddenly he is aware of her presence. She is revealed to him, and his mind to her. She senses that this brings him great delight. She can feel the fire of his eyes boring into her from above, and she braces herself, waiting for death. But death does not claim her.
An arrow strikes the bay horse's neck, just inches away from Eowyn's hands. She instinctively jerks her hands back when she feels the draft from the speeding dart and drops Dushtala's reins. The bay horse shrieks and rears up in agony. Eowyn tumbles backwards; Pippin falls to the side. Eowyn feels like she is slowly floating downwards to the earth as she sees her legs wildly flailing before her.
But then she hits the ground. She feels the first shock of impact, and then her back slams into her shield and the dirt. Her head hits the ground hard, followed by her legs. Suddenly, it is dark, a timeless oblivion, but quickly the darkness changes into the dim twilight that covers the Mark. Everything hurts.
She is vaguely aware of Pippin's blurry form hovering above her. He grabs her hand and tries to pull her up. "Eowyn! Eowyn!" she hears him cry. She is about to scold him for the use of her proper name, but she can't seem make the right words form in her mind. Addled, she sits up and looks around, and sees that they are completely alone, the six riders borne away by fear and the madness of their steeds, the bay horse lying dead to the side, Dushtala waiting nearby.
She sees the black shape of the fell beast circling her, a gruesome, twisting shape in a world which already swirls about her head. The foul breeze from the beast's wings whips her hair around her helm, as Pippin helps her struggle to her feet. She gingerly lifts her shield-strap over her head, holds the shield aloft, draws forth her sword and stares stupidly at the circling Nazgul. She already feels dizzy and unsteady upon her feet, and the spiraling movements of his beast make her feel like retching.
"Hail, Eowyn daughter of Eomund, well met! Thy bravery has once again bought thee mercy. Go now, back to thy kin if he still lives, and spread the news of thy Master!" With those words, he laughs again, commands the beast to rise back up, and then, almost like a bolt, flies off into the southwestern sky.
She stands there a moment, trying to comprehend the words of the Witch- King of Angmar. Then their full impact dawns upon her. She angrily throws down her shield and kicks it, crying out at the pain the sudden movement brings her. "Curse you, Angmar!" she screams, shaking her fist into the air. "Curse you!"
Eowyn, now in a black fury, picks her shield back up, turns on her heel and strides stiffly to Dushtala, ignoring her throbbing head and the aches and pains everywhere else. "Come, Pippin," she says between gritted teeth, her voice curt and icy in an attempt to restrain the fires that rage within. "We ride to camp."
She quickly prepares Dushtala once more for riding, and hoists Pippin upon his back. She then gets on herself, spurs the horse into a gallop and rides off towards the camp, silently seething in anger.
Riding from Danger into Danger
Pippin can hardly contain his excitement.
met Rohirrim scouts! They ride for the army of Rohan,
and then for Helms Deep! He fidgets so much under
Eowyn's cloak that she clears her throat at him,
exasperated, then has to pretend to be choking on the
dust that rises from the plain. But Pippin does not
mind her displeasure. He is too happy to see her
returned to her former self, a glorious Shieldmaiden
again. When he first joined the group of refugees
from Rohan, Eowyn had still been under enchantment.
The Witch King of Angmar-the same fiend who killed
Merry, Pippin thinks with a shudder-had put a spell on
her when she was his prisoner in the Dark Tower. She
had believed she was Maltriel, a woman of Mordor. Ill
and despairing, she had been tormented by a hundred
confused thoughts Pippin had only guessed at. But
then Gandalf and Aragorn came, for the Nazgul had
flown over the camp and given many refugees the Black
Shadow. Pippin's old friends healed both Eowyn and
him, and now they are strong, ready to meet their
destiny at Helms Deep.
The small group of Riders stops to rest.
relishes their surprised looks when he appears from
under the cloak. Eowyn introduces him as her page,
"Holdwine." An appropriate name, Pippin thinks, since
he is most certainly good at holding his wine (though
he prefers ale). He bristles when Eowyn calls him a
"lad" and mocks his desire to fight, but then he
remembers it is only an act. She really does consider
him worthy to fight; otherwise, she wouldn't have
taken him with her.
Soon Pippin is chattering with all six
finds most of them friendly and cheerful, despite the
battle looming in the near future. They seem so
comfortable around one another that he asks if they
"Yes, in fact we are," one Rider,
replies. "Redwald, Arwulf and Éobold here are my
brothers, and Leofen and Hereric are my sons."
"So the whole family is here," Pippin laughs.
The Riders exchange awkward looks. "Well,
entire family," Leofen says. "We had another brother,
but he was killed at Pelennor."
"Or taken!" corrects Elfwine.
"He may yet be alive."
Leofen frowns as if to reproach his father for nursing
a false hope.
Hereric's face darkens. "I would rather
he were dead
than a slave in Mordor," he mutters, "and,
undoubtedly, so would he."
"I'm sorry," Pippin says. "What was-is-was his name?"
"Ceolwulf," Hereric answers.
"He was the eldest, and
the best horseman among us three. He was one of the
King's Knights, while Théoden King lived." Pippin
After an all too brief rest, they must
but Pippin does not mind. Too long the hobbit has
been cooped up in the despair-filled, suffocating tomb
of Dunharrow. Now he savors the freedom of riding
across open lands, unhindered, the wind whistling past
his helm. As he rides behind Eowyn, he relives their
escape through the Harrowdale Valley. He tries to
remember how many orcs he killed, but he lost count
long before the end. His grin widens even more. At
Helms Deep, he will finally prove his worth and earn a
place in lore beside Merry. Everyone has sung Merry's
praises to him-justly, of course, but still
embarrassing, because they think Pippin himself
useless. He will show them! Gandalf shall not have
been mistaken in allowing him to go on the Quest!
A group of outriders meets the six, speaks
briefly, then departs. Pippin is distracted from his
daydreams. He notices that Eowyn is shivering, her
cloak pulled tightly around her. She lets out a
small, terrified cry. "What is wrong?" he whispers.
But at that moment the whole group bursts into
"Fell riders! They approach!"
Nazgul! Two of them! All the horses are
the men are panicking, and even Eowyn is cowering in
front of Pippin. He bends down to the galloping
horse's back and clasps his hands over his head to
make himself as small as possible. They are looking
for him; he knows it! They want him back! They will
seize him this time!
Come with me, O last of the halflings!
he hears in his
mind. That was what the Nazgul in his dream said when
he was dying of the Black Shadow. Is the wraith truly
calling him now? Perhaps he is imagining it
But then the bay horse shrieks and rears.
glimpses an arrow protruding from its neck as he is
thrown to the side. He lies in shock for a moment,
then struggles to his feet, his bruised arm and side
aching. The cries of horses, men, and Nazgul fill the
air. He stares dazed through the commotion, then
gasps as he notices Eowyn's prone form on the ground.
And he was supposed to look after her! Forgetting
everything else, he rushes to her. "Eowyn! Eowyn!"
he cries, taking her hand. She sits up and tries to
speak, but seems disoriented. Pippin's heart races.
He carefully helps her rise and put on her shield.
She stands at the ready, but he can see that she is in
no condition to fight. A foul wind blows around them.
Pippin slowly turns and follows her gaze to the fell
beast that now circles around them. A Nazgul
emanating an unimaginable aura of evil rides on its
back. Pippin feels sure that this is the Morgul Lord
himself. He watches in terror as his nightmare comes
As the fell beast descends, Angmar laughs,
tearing laugh. Pippin can sense Eowyn flinch at his
side. His terror turns to anger. He will fulfill his
promise to Aragorn. By Elbereth! They shall not
recapture her! Amazed at his own actions, Pippin
draws his sword and runs within a few yards of the
beast, its hot rancid breath blasting over him.
Holding his sword aloft, he shouts the
that enter his mind. "This is the Bane of Mordor.
You shall not touch her!"
He hears a soft gasp from Eowyn. Angmar's
gleam, and amid the sheer malice Pippin can sense
something else. Recognition.
And then it hits him: this is exactly how Merry died.
Then so be it! It would be an honor to
thus. Pippin does not move, his sword at the ready,
his once-innocent eyes glaring into Angmar's. But
Angmar finds the sight utterly laughable. He brings
the beast over Pippin to close in on Eowyn.
"Hail, Eowyn daughter of Eomund, well
met! Thy bravery
has once again bought thee mercy. Go now, back to thy
kin if he still lives, and spread the news of thy
Master!" With another mocking laugh, he rises on the
fell beast, then turns it away towards the southwest.
Pippin feels about to burst. Angmar cannot
to ride away in triumph! Fury fills the hobbit as
never before. He runs after the flying beast.
"Coward! Coward! MURDERER!" Each
syllable is a
prolonged, strained scream. "Coward who runs from a
hobbit! Come back! Come back here and die!!!"
His words are cut off by more screams from
He turns to see Eowyn shaking her fist at the sky.
"Curse you, Angmar! Curse you!"
But there is nothing they can do now. Almost
with disappointment, Pippin watches Eowyn limp over to
Dushtala, the horse she brought from Mordor, who did
not run from the Nazgul. "Come, Pippin," she says
between gritted teeth, her voice curt and icy. "We
ride to camp."
Pippin obediently trudges over to the horse.
lifts him onto its back, then gets on herself. Pippin
realizes he is shaking all over. It is long before he
can catch his breath. For the next hour, the dark
horse gallops over the plains, ever nearing the
"The Riders Regroup"
Night of June 13
30 mi. NE of Helm's Deep
It was half of an hour that was filled
with horror seemingly never-ending, far beyond the sense of time,
yet so short in its actual ellipse. The Nazgul are gone as quickly
as they came, leaving behind only the dreadful memory of their
horror. They dispersed into the sky to the south and west, but
the damage their appearance wrought will take much time to amend.
By an hour's time after the Nazgul left, the camp is brought to some semblance of order. The weary process of tending to the wounded and burying the dead begins. None survived the wounds from the fell riders' darts, and even the most minor wound proved to be fatal due to some unknown poison, undoubtedly brewed in darkened chambers filled with evil. Ten men and fifteen horses now laid dead from the poisoned rain from the sky. Three men were trampled by fear crazed horses, and three horses were mortally injured when they collided with other horses or trees, or fell down and broke their legs. The heart of one elderly man stopped when faced with the horror of the Nine assembled together in their full number, the powers of their evil combined as one. Many men and horses were hurt when they ran blindly about to and fro with little thought only to flee from the fell shadows, their minds darkened by madness and fear. Several men sit on the ground beneath the trees, holding their heads in their hands, sobbing like infants or staring into space, the effects of the Shadow and memories of the dreadful sights of Pelennor.
The dead are buried in a mound near the camp; spears surround it in a circle. Two hours pass, and twelve men and fifty horses are counted as missing, and scouts are sent out to look for them. Yet even though the attack of the Nazgul caught the two armies at unawares, still they plan to break camp at dawn and ride to battle of Helm's Deep.
Eowyn and Pippin ride into the camp about
an hour's time after the encounter with the Witch-king of Angmar.
Eowyn's eyes widen at the sight that spreads out before her...
the camp is in a state of disarray, but it is slowly being brought
to order. Healers are tending to men and the dead are being carried
away. She sees among those in the livery of Rohan strange men,
fair and tall with golden hair, clad in shadowy-grey, who carry
themselves with a grace of long years, a certain mystique about
them. Elves, she realizes. But - why? Why does the elder race
come to our aid, when for so many long years they hid in their
forests and kept to themselves?
So much had happened since the beginning of this war, and Eowyn feels like a visitor from another land; the doings of her own people are strange and foreign to her. Suddenly, she is acutely aware that now a great rift seems to separates her from her people; a great, dark chasm of unknown depth that seems to get wider and wider as each second passes. Though she only spent four months in thraldom, it could just as well been forty years. She tries not to think about it and concentrates only on the present.
Eowyn knows it would not be wise to ask about the presence of the elves. However, it would be safe to ask what was the cause of all the chaos in the camp, though she had a strong suspicion she knew what the answer might be. "What... what happened?" she asks the nearby picket, her voice deep and hoarse.
"The nine fell riders attacked our camp," responds the picket, both sadness and anger in his voice. "Fear came wherever their shadows touched, and they sent down a barrage of poisoned arrows."
Fires leap up inside the shieldmaiden, and she feels she is about to burst into flame. Her eyes narrow and her hands tighten around the reins. "Angmar," she thinks, her suspicions correct. "Curse you to eternal darkness!" Yet she only nods briskly to the picket and rides on into the camp.
Eowyn offers her services to help the other riders tend to the wounded and bring the camp into order. After a few hours, weariness begins to afflict Eowyn, and her head throbs with a renewed passion. Taking leave of the men, she and Pippin walk to a large oak tree on the western border of the camp. There, after a brief supper of the remnant of the stolen orc-food and more wholesome fare from the Riders and elves, they rest for the night, in preparation for the big battle which is soon to come.
The Riders Regroup
Night of June 13
Pippin is exhausted after the confrontation
Angmar. By the time Pippin and Eowyn reach the
Rohirrim camp, his head has drooped forward to rest
against her back. But the closer they get to the
camp, the more his rest is disturbed. There is a
noise of men yelling, feet hurrying to and fro, and
even the wails of wounded men. Pippin's head jerks
up. His jaw drops at the sight he beholds.
The Riders of Rohan are in a panic. Many
of them are
carrying their comrades into tents hidden behind trees
and shrubs. The wounded moan in pain, and the despair
in their eyes is heartrending. But some of the
stricken make no sound. Arrows are removed from some
dead bodies, while others, crushed under horses'
hooves, barely hold together as they are placed on
stretchers. The unhurt Riders shout to each other as
they struggle to bring order back to the camp. Some
Riders appear to be sick, their arms slung over their
friends' shoulders. With one look at the dazed terror
in their faces, Pippin knows what is wrong with them.
"The Black Shadow," he thinks with a shudder.
But his heart suddenly rises when he sees
graceful, otherworldly beings who tend the sick.
Elves! He had thought elves did not involve
themselves in the wars of men. But if they are here,
they will be a welcome help. Pippin remembers how it
was almost impossible to be sad in Rivendell, even
with Frodo so sick from the morgul wound. Pippin had
just KNOWN Frodo would get better, the entire time.
Eowyn brings their horse up to the picket
the camp. "Whatwhat happened?" she asks.
"The nine fell riders attacked our
camp," responds the
picket, both sadness and anger in his voice. "Fear
came wherever their shadows touched, and they sent
down a barrage of poisoned arrows."
Pippin closes his eyes, filled with pity
men. All too familiar with the terror of the Nine, he
wonders briefly why Angmar did not smite him and Eowyn
with poisoned arrows as well.
But it is good that they are here; now
they can help
care for the victims. Eowyn volunteers her services,
and he chimes in. It is a little disconcerting to see
her working alongside the healers, for Pippin has only
seen her as the ill, confused Maltriel; and as the
dark, stern Dernhelm. Even on the night of the
funeral feast, when she passed the cup as the White
Lady once more, Dernhelm had been in her eyes. Now
she shows a more compassionate side. Pippin wonders
how many facets of her personality will be revealed to
him in these days of war.
Pippin himself has never done this kind
of work and
feels quite ill at ease, but he tries his best. The
most difficult case is a Rider who fell off his horse
when it bolted, then had his arm broken by another
running horse's hoof. Pippin keeps a tight grip on
the man's wrist while a healer sets the bone, but it
is horrible work. The man's face twists in pain, and
he faints before the process is over.
A scout comes running up to report to the
have not yet accounted for everyone," the scout pants.
"There are still some missing!"
Pippin jumps at the chance to leave the
"I'll go look for them! Please, let me go look!" he
begs. After some deliberation they let him go,
warning him not to go too far.
Once outside the camp, Pippin breathes
a sigh of
relief. He stretches, then runs about for a little
while under the darkened sky. No one is around to
scold him, so he relishes this chance to release his
pent-up energy. But he soon reminds himself of his
task, and settles down to search the dim landscape.
"Hullo! Is anyone there?" he
calls as he walks in
widening circles around the camp. First there is no
answer; then he hears a faint sound and runs toward
it. Someone is crying. The voice confuses Pippin,
for it is too high to be a grown man like Elfwine and
his sons. The hobbit's suspicions are confirmed when
he finds a young boy curled into a ball under a tree.
In the distance, Pippin can make out the boy's horse
lying dead with an arrow in its side.
"Hullo? Can you hear me, lad?"
Pippin asks softly as
he approaches the boy. The youth opens piercing blue
eyes that are dilated with illness and the Shadow.
His skin is chalky and he trembles, but his only wound
is a scratch where an arrow grazed his right arm. He
tries to sit up but sinks back down wearily, and his
hands clench around the hilt of his sword.
Pippin's heart goes out to the boy. The
have no more than sixteen or seventeen summers.
Pippin has the strange feeling of being much older
than this boy, and a paternal impulse to protect
himbut then Pippin remembers that the Rohirrim think
he himself is even younger. To them, his name is
Holdwine, not Pippin, and he is eleven, not
"Who are you?" the boy demands
huskily, though tears
still stream down his face.
"I am Holdwine, page to Dernhelm," Pippin replies.
"I do not know your master."
"We've only just arrived. We came
to fight for Eomer
King." Pippin hesitates, then curiosity overcomes
him. "Who are you?"
"Aldfrid son of Deor." The boy's
hands clench tighter
around his sword hilt, and he begins sobbing again.
"Deor!" Pippin breathes. "Are
youare you his
"Is that his sword?" Pippin whispers.
Aldfrid raises himself on his left elbow.
"How do you
know about that?" he cries.
Pippin kneels before the boy. "I was
there when he
bequeathed it to you," he says softly. "I was in
Dunharrow. I was sick too, and I was near your father
when he died. I am terribly sorry for your loss, my
Aldfrid nods, biting his lip. "He
was a hero," he
says in an intense whisper.
"Yes, yes he was." Though he
did not know Deor,
Pippin considers all these soldiers of the West
The boy lies in silence while Pippin tries
whether to try and help him back to the camp, or to
leave him here and go for help alone. Though he
doubts that Aldfrid can walk, Pippin remembers how
afraid he was of the Shadow-induced nightmares, and
how much he wanted someone to sit with him.
Alfrid's desperate voice interrupts Pippin's
To his dismay, he can see that madness has begun to
creep into the youth's eyes. "They took him!" Aldfrid
cries. "They took him and now they come for me!" He
cringes, raising an arm in front of his face. "No,
Pippin slides an arm around Aldfrid's back
him to his feet. "No, they are not coming for you.
There's nobody here but you and me. You must walk
now! I'm going to take you back to the camp, and they
will fix you right up."
His hand on Pippin's head to steady himself,
struggles along as best he can, but it is not far. He
collapses within sight of the camp.
"Help! Help!" Pippin calls as
loudly as he can. An
elf jerks his head toward them, then runs and scoops
Aldfrid up into his arms. The elf carries Aldfrid
slowly, chanting verses Pippin cannot understand, but
a feeling of calm descends over them all. Pippin
walks with his head down. He only looks up when the
elf stops. They are standing in front of the mass
Pippin looks up to the elf. "What.!"
The elf lays Aldfrid down reverently. "He
with a poisoned arrow, lad. There was nothing anyone
could do for him." The elf claps Pippin's shoulder,
then strides off to help the healers.
"There you are!" Pippin turns
around at Eowyn's
familiar voice. "Come," she says, "we go to rest now.
I have food for supper." Pippin follows but lags
behind, a bit dazed. "Come on! What ails you?"
"I'm fine," Pippin sobs. But
then he straightens,
sets his jaw, and puffs out his chest, determined to
show Eowyn that he is worthy to be a soldier. A small
smile crosses Eowyn's face.
Soon they reach the tree Eowyn has picked
camp. They eat a much more satisfying supper than
their past meals, thanks to provisions from the elves.
They do not feel much like talking, but to banish
thoughts of darkness, fear, and tomorrow's battle,
they quietly braid ribbons into Dushtala's mane before
settling down for the night.
THE DAY ARRIVES
The sunlight seeps through Pippin's closed
Feeling the softness of his bed, he smiles and
stretches as he gazes at the familiar comfort of his
own room. The scents of first breakfast waft in to
him, and he dresses in a hurry. He bounds down the
hall to find his parents and sisters gathered around
the table. They all chatter merrily as they eat.
There is a knock on the door. Pippin jumps
answer it. It is Merry. He has come to fetch Pippin,
for they are going to visit Frodo in Hobbiton. The
Took family gives Merry a hearty welcome and insists
that he join them for breakfast. Merry takes a seat
next to Pippin, and the table chatter grows even
When the meal is over, PIppin hugs his
his mother and sisters, grabs his bag, and follows
Merry out the door. The journey to Hobbiton goes by
quickly, with much joking and roughhousing. At the
last stretch they race each other to Bag End. Merry
wins, of course.
The round door opens, and Frodo steps out,
At that moment Pippin feels a horrible shock. He
feels himself floating away from the scene. He drifts
outside it, an onlooker, though he can still see it
unfolding. Frodo hugs him and Merry and leads them to
a wonderful meal of Sam's coney stew with fried
mushrooms on the side. Frodo pulls a shyly smiling
Sam over to sit with them. As they all eat, they make
plans for the adventures they will have during this
visit. Soon they are all full of excitement, all
laughing and bouncing in their seats with anticipation
of the fun they will have.
But as he watches all this, Pippin feels
sense of alarm. How can he be in the scene and
watching it from the outside at the same time?
Something is wrong! Something terrible is brewing
under this scene of all that should be safe and
Then Pippin remembers. None of it is real.
dreaming. It was once real, but that time will never
come again. His eyes riveted to the picture of all he
has lost, Pippin weeps bitterly, his sobs rising over
"Pippin, wake up! You're having a
bad dream." Eowyn
is kneeling beside him, shaking him awake. Pippin
finds that he has been crying in his sleep. He sits
up and puts his head in his hands. He cannot stop the
tears for long moments, though he hates crying in
front of Eowyn.
"Take heart," Eowyn says. "This
is the day for which
we have waited! Today we ride to Helms Deep!" Pippin
looks up. Eowyn's face is passionate, and a fell light
gleams in her eyes.
"A great day indeed," Pippin manages.
"This shall not be a day of tears.
It will be a day
of joy, vengeance, glory, victory!"
Pippin pauses, sighing. "I wish I
could see cool
sunlight and green grass again," he says finally.
Eowyn's smile fades. "So do we all.
But deeds of
valor are more glorious than the brightest sunlight!"
She is so ardent that, despite his grief, Pippin has
to smile at her...though now that it comes down to it,
he wonders how much he really believes her words. In
Gondor, he once protested to everyone that he was no
fighter. After Merry's death his fury changed
that, but now he wonders if his desire to go to battle
was real or not. He remembers the awful sights of
Pelennor Fields, which he saw from the relative safety
of Minas Tirith. But now he will be in the thick of
it. A hobbit, fighting in such a fray? And he, of
"I wish the Ring had never been found," he thinks.
Return to Third Age: The War of Second Darkness
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