The spring of 3019 was a long and bloody one, when Mordor assailed the West, eventually taking all of the lands to the east of the Misty Mountains and beyond the eastern borders of Rohan. There was war in several fronts - to the north, Lorien and Thranduil's Realm was assailed by forces from Dol Goldur, and Erebor, Esgaroth and Dale were assailed by the Easterlings of Rhun; to the south, Gondor and then Rohan were assailed by forces from Minas Morgul and the Black Gate.
The Battle of Pelennor Fields, March 15, 3019, was won by Mordor, and the city of Minas Tirith soon fell to the dark hordes. During the battle, Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, burnt himself upon a pyre, and King Theoden of Rohan fell beneath his horse when the steed was shot by a dart of the Witch-King of Angmar. The Black Captain then descended upon his fell beast to defile the body of the fallen king, but he was challenged by Theoden's niece, the Lady Eowyn, who had disguised herself as a man to ride into battle. However, her attempts to save her kin from disgrace were to no avail, and Lady Eowyn was struck down by the Witch-King's mace and taken to the Dark Tower.
On March 25, the One Ring of the Great Enemy, which was thought to have been lost many long years, found its place one again upon the dreadful hand of the Dark Lord Sauron. The Ring was taken from the Halfling, Frodo Baggins, who had been captured in the plains of Gorgoroth when he and his servant, Samwise Gamgee, were journeying to the Mountain of Doom to destroy the Ring.
Lorien, which was once protected by Nenya, was laid bare to the forces of Dol Goldur, for no longer could the White Ring protect the forest while the Great Ring rested upon Sauron's finger. The Golden Wood fell on April 1, and soon, one by one, all of the lands to the north were vanquished by the Dark Lord's armies, their people sent fleeing for Rivendell or any refuge in the mountains or forests they could find.
After the battle of Pelennor Fields, the forces of Mordor swept through southern Gondor. Chaotic and confusing were the days that followed after the many battles and skirmishes upon the fields of Pelennor and the surrounding lands. As the bloody spring progressed, the largest part of the Riders of Rohan went to the north and west, traveling through Anorien to defend their own borders from the dark flood of enemies which they knew was sure to come.
In the middle of May, part of the Army of Mordor, using the defeated city of Minas Tirith as its staging point, began to march up the Great West Road to Rohan. Strangely, a few days later, the forces of Mordor in southern Gondor retreated, falling back east. Gandalf and Aragorn suspected some devilry, and led the Gondorian army and civilian refugees north through the mountains to Rohan. This was marvelous good fortune for the refugees of Gondor, for in early June, the Dark Lord Sauron sent an evil plague borne on a fell eastern wind over the south-lands, and many who remained perished.
After the fall of the northern lands, an endless stream of refugees - elves, men and even dwarves - poured into Rivendell, some staying in the hidden valley, while others left to find homes elsewhere. In late May, a host from Rivendell and the Grey Havens departed and set off to the south to aid the Rohirrim and the Gondorians. With them was a sizeable contingent of Halflings, many of which were skilled archers.
By May 24, the massive army of Mordor, stretching on for miles upon the Great West Road, had reached the Firien Woods upon the eastern border of Rohan. A black cloud obscured the light of the sun as endless rows of orcs and men marched or rode. On June 2nd, a heavy rain began to fall, washing away the foul air. The army of Mordor, still camped at the Firien Woods, was reorganized into two sections men from the South and East and the uruk-hai who were not bothered by the light of the sun; and the orcs and trolls who had to travel by night and hide from the day in tents and pavilions. However, in just four days time, the dark cloud returned, and hung heavy over the lands of the Horse Lords.
By early June, the majority of the civilians of the Eastfold had been sent to the mountain refuge of Dunharrow, but a few of the King's Household remained in Edoras. Despair and fear were as thick as the dark clouds that obscured the sun over the Riddermark. The armies of Mordor were moving slowly but steadily through the Eastfold, creeping up on Edoras, destroying everything in sight as they went along. As the days had passed and the foul host of Mordor drew ever nearer, strange things had been happening in the Mark, harbingers and portents of doom, the people whispered in hushed voices, confirming the dark days in which all now lived. The Lady Eowyn, under a spell of forgetfulness and thralldom to Mordor, was captured by scouts on June 2nd after she had been thought dead for so many months. Heightening the fears and superstitions of the Rohirrim, the elves of the strange and enchanted forest of Lothlorien, traveling through the Entwade, offered their services to aid King Eomer.
By the seventh day of June, the head of the Army of Mordor was only three leagues from Edoras. The few people and possessions remaining in the Golden Hall were sent to Dunharrow and the Riders of Rohan rode north, where they were soon joined by the small elvish army of Lorien in the days that followed. Three eoreds were left behind to guard the Harrowdale Valley.
On June 8, the dark horde arrived at Edoras and soon broke down the barricaded gates, claiming the abandoned city in the name of Mordor. On the same day, the Gondorians descended from the foothills of the White Mountains, arriving at Helm's Deep on the 9th.
On the night of the 9th, two Nazgul mounted on fell beasts flew over Dunharrow, inflicting many with the black shadow, one of which was the Lady Eowyn, who had been sent to the mountain refuge by her brother, King Eomer. The next morning, Gandalf and Aragorn arrived, healing Eowyn and many others of the disease of despair caused by the Fell Riders. Gandalf also broke the spell of enchantment which was laid upon Eowyn by the Witch-King, rending asunder the chains of thralldom he bound around her mind.
The black horde marched upon the Great West Road towards Helm's Deep, encountering little resistance. On the 11th of June, the first elements of the dark armies arrived at a staging point ten miles from Helm's Deep. The Riders of Rohan had been lying in wait to the north ever since they left Edoras on the 7th, in accordance to battle plans made between the lords of the elves, Gondor and Rohan. This decision sorely vexed many of the Riders, who could do naught but wait while their land was ravished.
At dawn the next day, the Riders of Rohan
and the elves of Lorien broke camp and rode all that day, stopping
when they were 30 miles northeast of Helm's Deep. That evening,
a group of riders from Mordor approached Helm's Deep. A parley
was called, and the Witch-King of Angmar offered terms of surrender,
which were rejected by Aragorn. The Army of Mordor then laid siege
to Helm's Deep, with the first assault beginning that night and
going on long into the next morning.
On the night of June 12th and into the wee hours of June 13th, there was fighting in the Harrowdale Valley when the territory held by the Rohirrim was challenged by an onslaught of orcs from the occupied city of Edoras. The skirmish was long and bloody, but the Riders were forced back to Dunharrow when the forest, its trees dry from lack of water, was set alight by the orcs.
The camp of the Rohirrim and elves was attacked by Nazgul mounted on fell beasts on the night of the 13th, causing several deaths of both man, elf and beast, and great confusion and disorder. However, this ambush did not overly hamper the Riders, for they set off the next morning for Helm's Deep.
The 13th was an evil day for the besieged Gondorians at Helm's Deep with great casualties and much destruction. Before the dawn the next day, the Deeping Wall had been breached and all of the men of Gondor either killed or driven inside the walls surrounding the Burg.
The low rumblings of thunder were heard ere the dawn of June 14th, and when the sun rose in the darkened sky, tinges of scarlet spread out over the eastern horizon through the murky haze. By eight o'clock, heavy rains had begun to fall in a brief but furious storm that sent the clouds of Mordor skittering, borne far away on a wind from the west. The Army of Mordor set up camp behind the Deeping Wall, waiting for darkness to assault the back gate of the fortress with battering rams that night.
After the rains had stopped falling, the Riders of Rohan and the elves of Lorien had smashed through the confused and frightened warg and Easterling cavalry. As the morning progressed, the Army of Western Lands and the many who chose to aid them approached the Hornrock and cleared away the rubble in the road, driving back the black uruks who were defending Helm's Dike.
By noon, the Riders arrived in the Deep, rode through the outer court of the Hornburg, out the back door, and charged into the enemy camp. They were soon followed by the Gondorians, and, together, the two forces wreaked havoc upon the surprised orcs and men in a long and bloody battle. Great were 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 turned into one massive, seething pit of slaughter and bloodshed, with little mercy shown by either the West or the East. The Nazgul circled wildly overhead, shrieking cries of hatred and death, full of the malice of once- proud foes suddenly finding themselves in dismay. Horses and men ran wild in terror from the Nine riders and were struck down by their enemies; then the survivors regrouped and struck back at the fiends of Mordor with increased fury.
The orcs and men who retreated or were routed over the Deeping Wall were quickly met by the Army of Western Lands and their allies, and terrible was the damage upon their numbers. Great was the slaughter of man, both good and evil; elf and horse; orc and other creature of Sauron. The fighting went on all day, until finally the Army of Mordor was driven from the Deeping Coomb and back to the Great West Road.
The black worm of the Mordor Army turned upon its slimy stomach and crawled back towards the dark land where it was spawned as the last rays of the setting sun reached over the mountains, touching the ground with beams of golden-red. The evening sky was a brilliant shade of pink, and a gentle breeze blew from the west.
The main parts of the armies of the West rested that night and the next in the Deeping Coomb, tending to the wounded, burying the dead, taking council with one another and celebrating their victory. On the 16th, the combined forces of Gondor, Rohan and elves from both Lorien and the north broke camp and continued pursuing the retreating and greatly reduced hordes of darkness.
Both the armies of Mordor and the West arrived at Edoras on June 18th, but the Army of Mordor did not fight for the prize that it once delighted so much in having, instead choosing to continue their flight upon the road. Two-thirds of the forces of the West gave chase; the rest stayed behind, sending messengers to parley with the occupational forces in the city.
The terms of surrender were refused by the Easterling commander, and then siege was laid to Edoras. The gates of the city were broken down on the 23rd and a long battle ensued, with the men and orcs of Mordor fighting to the death. Rather than allowing the Rohirrim to regain the Golden Hall, the Easterlings torched it during the closing hours of the battle.
The months of June and July passed by, the balmy days of summer hot and bloody, as the forces of the West drove the Army of Mordor ever eastward. By August, the forces of darkness fled beyond the Firien Wood, and the western commanders wondered if they could drive the forces of Mordor all the way back to the Dark Land and regain the conquered lands of Gondor.
Then forward scouts detected great numbers of the enemy approaching in endless ranks - the reinforcements from the Dark Land that all had feared. The armies of the West held their ground on the eastern border of Rohan. The summer was waning and soon it would be winter. There was little time to plant crops, and few had been planted in the spring and summer, since all the able-bodied men were fighting and the women and children hiding in mountain refuges. The men of Rohan and Gondor had lost too many men in the war and to continue fighting while their people starved would be foolish.
Gradually through the early part of September, the main parts of both armies dispersed, leaving Rohirrim and Mordorian border guards to patrol the marchlands. The Army of Western Lands and the Halflings said farewell to their comrades and began the long journey back to their own realms. The refugees of Gondor who had been waiting out the war in the White Mountains came out of their hiding places and into the fields of the Westfold.
All through September, buildings were quickly constructed to house the refugees of Gondor and Rohan and turnips and winter wheat were hastily planted. Arrangements were made with the northern peoples of Eriador to send any supplies and foodstuffs they could spare for the winter.
By the first days of the month of October, all who remained in the plains of Calenardhon were the people of Rohan and Gondor. King Eomer and all those of his household decided to abide in Dunharrow, while Aragorn and many nobles of the former realm of Gondor decided to winter around the Fords of Isen, in Orthnac and Helm's Deep. Life resumed some semblance of what it had always been, yet all knew that the world they had once known had been destroyed forever.
Winter is coming... and who knows what evils it will bring?
Return to Index