Banners Onlist Challenge


12. Raising The Dead

Now others give us our names for we know them no longer; the Sleepless Dead, the Shadow-people, the Forsaken-ones. Oathbreakers are we, Cursed-ones, the Defiled.

He cheated us, who offered us freedom from death, if we should only worship Him. Bitter now our fate, doubly cursed, lingering on un-living, ruing all choices made. Now we spread our horror, cast about our despair, savour the wailing terror of the living as if it were our due, for there is nothing more.

Jealous of secret hoards, still we mount our endless patrols, take up our banners, though their meanings are long lost, like dead branches in skeleton hands. Ragged, pale they stream behind us in tattered threads, like ghastly shrouds.

Yet even now, some nights without a moon, something stirs within and we pass out to our Stone, our trysting place. It changes not, though the grasses grow and the long work of worms mound up the land. Once, once we know it had a meaning, yearning we stretch out our hands to touch it, but all we can do is whisper, melt back into the mountains before the breaking of the dawn.

But even as the Shadow’s strength grows stronger, now comes the strange time, the summoning time. Memory creeping ever closer and the longing for something, we know not what, becoming as the stretching of a rack that would tear us all in twain.

Grey-shrouded are they, these intruders in our halls, yet one glows with a green light, clear and clean, that is not the corpse-light of decay. The still-living hands of another grasp a staff, close-furled, black yet heavy with a meaning un-revealed. Can this be fear? How dare he summon us! Yet we are drawn. So we take up our faded banners our spears and our horns and follow on.

Ah, the memories break upon us like a storm. The Master defeated, the tall, grey-eyed Sea King, strong and commanding, showing us many things. Isildur that was, he who planted the Stone, brought from the West in defiance of the dark. What a wonder that seemed to us, raised as we were under Sauron’s sway. Darkest black, yet it gave rather than devoured, mirrored in its shining crown a circle of glittering stars. Eager, then, we offered our oaths, only to fail when the Master returned. Years beyond count we paid for that shame.

Yet Isildur’s Heir stands here now, names himself for the elf stone he bears, and I feel, this time, there will be no failing at the test. He unfurls his banner, black in the night, and I would weep, if I could, at the wonder of it all. That the eyes of a wraith, so long used to the dark, are those first able to see its light. At the last I know I will find my peace and follow this King of the White Tree and Stars.

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This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

In Challenges

Story Information

Author: HA Writers Group

Status: General

Completion: Ongoing Serial

Rating: General

Last Updated: 07/15/03

Original Post: 07/15/03

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