24. Battle is Joined
They reminded Boromir of the Khandish raiders he had faced from time to time; tall, swarthy Men wielding axes Dwarf fashion, shaggy haired and heavily bearded. Dressed for the most part in leathers and furs with scraps of ill fitting, scavenged armor. But their princes and leaders were attired from head to foot in plate and mail of dark metal with a Mordorish look to it.
They halted well short of the Dunedain postition, the mass of Men seething with balked anger but clearly intimidated. Suddenly they eddied aside to form open lanes through which stalked five massive figures more than twice the height of a Man. Not trolls, taller, straighter and somewhat better favored with streaming grey hair and beards, armed with great granite clubs.
"Stone giants of the Northern Mountains." Aragorn explained in response to Boromir's questioning glance. He seemed slightly troubled. "They are destructive creatures, delighting in storm and avalanch, but not evil. Nor do they willingly leave their mountains. Some Dark art has forced them to come here." The giants started up the long, steep slope towards the army. "Their hides are as hard as stone, this is work for the archers."
"Eye and ear are their only vulnerable places." Arallas, the Captain of the Bowmen, was telling Legolas, farther down the line. "Or the mouth should they chance to open it."
The Elf nodded. "Like trolls."
"Save their hides are even harder. Sword and axe will be of little use here."
A snort came from elbow level. "We'll see about that." said Gimli.
The giants started up the slope against a rain of yard long steel arrows. Two fell, eyes pierced, but the other three shielded their faces with their arms and came on.
A number of archers left the line, moving between the giants, aiming upward at the tiny ears. A near impossible shot from such an angle, even for Rangers or a prince of the Woodland Elves, their arrows either rebounded from the stone hard flesh or stuck in its craggy folds.
The Giants swiped at them with their clubs forcing the Men nearest them to scatter. Those at a greater distance fired at the exposed faces and two more giants fell.
The sole survivor uttered a roar that, quite literally, cracked the rocks on the hillside and warding off arrows with its arms began stamping around trying to crush the archers under its massive feet.
The swift footed Dunedain avoided its efforts with little difficulty but could not get a good shot at eyes or mouth and all the time they were getting nearer the battle line.
Suddenly a stocky figure darted forward with a cry: "Baruk Khazad! Khazad ai-menu!" and sank his axe deep into the giant's big toe.
It roared again, bent down to grab the Dwarf. With a frantic cry of his own Legolas sent one of his green fletched arrows directly down the giant's gullet just as it swept Gimli up in one massive hand.
Still bent over the giant gave a sort of cough, then tumbled forward, headfirst, into the ground. Legolas ran forward to tug desperately and fruitlessly at the great paw still clasped around his friend. Then suddenly the stonelike flesh under his hands crumbled into gravel and boulders and the Dwarf rolled free.
"Gimli! Gimli! speak to me, my friend!" the Elf begged.
One eye opened and then the other. "No need to shout, my ears are undamaged." the Dwarf rumbled.
Legolas gave a gasp of relief.
"And the rest of you, Master Dwarf?" that was Boromir, come down from the line and Aragorn with him.
Gimli tested his limbs and sat up. "I'm well enough, but I fear my axe is notched."
The King picked it up and examined the blade. "It is, but can still do you service." he decided and handed the weapon back to Gimli.
"Bravely done, Master Dwarf." Arallas complimented as the friends returned to the line.
"Swords and axes of little use eh, Master Bowman?" Gimli demanded with a sly, sidelong twinkle.
"I stand corrected." the Man conceeded smiling in return.
All five giants had crumbled into mounds of rock scattered down slope, increasing the difficulty of the terrain. Nor had they succeeded in slaying a single Dunedain.
Yet Aragorn seemed sad. "They were innocent creatures for all their ferocity. It was a pity to slay them."
"Hadn't much choice." the Dwarf pointed out.
"I know." Aragorn agreed. "But still I am sorry for it."
Gimli shook his head. "You Men are sentimental creatures, worse then the Elves."
"Fortunately for the Dwarves." Legolas retorted.
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.