Field of Battle, The: 10. Chapter Nine: The Battle of the Eastern Eye

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10. Chapter Nine: The Battle of the Eastern Eye


The campaign of terror that had been kindled in Lebethron to sweep across Middle
earth from Lossarnach to Eden Ardhon finally arrived in Emyn Arnen.

When Eowyn, Lady of Ithilien was delivered the news that an army of Wainriders
and Rhovanians were approaching Emyn Arnen from a northerly direction, she
almost laughed at the masterful strategy of the Confederacy’s leader. The attack
upon Lossarnach had rightly drawn away the bulk of Gondor’s forces to defend the
vale and to reinforce the fortifications at Gondor. Until that threat was made
known to them, it had been assumed by the king and by the lord of Ithilien that
when war came to the lands of the Reunified Kingdom and its allies, it would do
so from the east, striking at Ithilien first for it was the outermost fiefdom.

However, with the threat appearing to be directed at Lossarnach, the armies had
left Ithilien, led by Imrahil to answer the king’s call to arms to defend the
city at all costs. Only a third of the army still remained in Emyn Arnen for it
did not seem possible that the enemy could be at two places at once.
Unfortunately, it was that assumption that left Ithilien in the situation it now
faced. Reports, erratic as they were, spoke of widespread strife across Middle
earth. Her own homeland of Rohan had fallen under attack, the Marshall of the
Mark slaughtered by the goblins of Moria while rogue Dunlending tribes closed in
on Edoras. There was even an unconfirmed rumour that the Easterlings had
attacked Eden Ardhon, the elven colony in South Ithilien.

Now, they were faced with the news from the Rangers that the Wainriders were
marching upon Emyn Arnen with an army of warriors from Rhovanian. Word had been
sent to Gondor and Lossarnach of the threat approaching Ithilien but it was
difficult to discern where their forces were at this time for the enemy had been
leading them on a merry chase indeed. Still, Eowyn was confident that Emyn
Arnen’s defences would hold because a healthy contingent of soldiers still
remained in Ithilien and in particular around Emyn Arnen itself.

As soon as the news reached them of the impending attack, Eowyn had sent out
word to all settlements to abandon their homes for safe havens until the enemy
was dwelt with. Some took to the foothills of Ephel Duath while others retreated
to the stronghold at Henneth Annum. Most however, flocked to Emyn Arnen,
believing the only safest protection would come from the armies stationed there
already. Their fear was no stranger to Eowyn, who in her time suffered similar
experiences during the War of the Ring.

The former White Lady of Rohan moved swiftly to counter the anxiety of her
people by instilling in them the hope that they were lost and that the armies of
Ithilien were more than capable of defending them against the scourge marching
from the north. In truth, she believed it herself. The armies of Ithilien were
in much better stead to match the Wainriders then the Rohirrim were against the
overwhelming numbers of Saruman’s army of the White Hand during the War of the
Ring.

Once the countryside of Ithilien was removed of its people, the armies retreated
to Emyn Arnen preparing to defend the stronghold from the invaders by taking
advantage of the mountainous terrain that was the ruling centre of Ithilien.
Reinforcements would take little more than a week to arrive from Gondor and
Lossarnach but while the fortress of Emyn Arnen was nowhere as formidable as the
Hornburg, it was well secured and could withstand a siege until the Prince of
Ithilien returned. After all, the last war had ensured that the numbers of the
Wainriders were sufficiently depleted and the men of Rhovanian were unseasoned
warriors in this particular arena of battle.

Eowyn had no intention of fighting though the decision had been a difficult one
to make. For the first time in her life, she was forced to concede that it was
necessary for her to step aside and let others fight for her. It was a hard
decision to make for one was self-sufficient as she. All her life, Eowyn had
been forced to endure the belief that women should be protected and even though
women of Rohan were not above picking up a sword, it was something that they
were not called upon to do. Her prowess with the sword was something that she
had learnt in secret, her only confidante the brother she loved dearly. Even at
the Battle of Pelennor, she was forced to ride with the Rohirrim in disguise
where she distinguished herself in battle despite the loss of Theoden.

Now, she had to make a conscious decision to yield because it was not merely her
life that was held in the balance but also the life of the babe slumbering
inside of her.

In the weeks since her husband’s departure, little had changed in her body that
allowed anyone else to guess that she was with child. Eowyn knew she should have
told Faramir the truth prior to his departure but she feared that doing so would
make it harder for him to leave. However, it now appeared that the war was not
going to be ended swiftly and he needed to know that there was something greater
than both of them from which to draw hope. As the days progressed, Eowyn began
to look forward to telling him and remembered how pleased he had been when she
suggested naming their first child after his beloved brother, Boromir.

She worried a little about the attack coming, aware that in every engagement
there was risk but the contingent advancing upon them were reportedly equal to
the forces that would be defending Emyn Arnen. Like the rest of Ithilien’s war
masters, Eowyn surmised that this attack was just another effort by the
Easterling Confederacy to show the Reunified Kingdom its ability to assail their
enemies on all fronts. While the advancing army was not to be taken lightly
under any circumstances, the warriors of Ithilien were confident that they were
capable of holding their own until the rest of their armies returned to take
part in its defence.

The fortress and watchtower, known as the Eastern Eye and home to the Prince of
Ithilien was constructed upon the hills of Emyn Arnen and sat almost at the peak
of this slight range. In the days before Hurin had been made the Ruling Steward,
Emyn Arnen was the traditional home of the Steward of Gondor. Built in the years
following the Battle of the Camp, the purpose of the Eastern Eye was to maintain
a vigil over the lands of Rhun, to ensure that the Wainriders were not able to
rise up again and trouble the kingdom of Gondor. Unfortunately, following the
vanquishment of the Wainriders, the fortress found it had a new enemy to concern
itself with.

In the year 2002 of the Third Age, the witch king who had led the destruction at
Angmar struck at Minas Ithil and took the Gondorian city for his master Sauron,
bestowing upon it the name of Minas Morgul. The conflict which was to end with
the death of King Eärnur often found its direction utilising the intelligence
gathered by the watchers of the Eastern Eye and during the course of the
fighting, its walls had been the last safe refuge for the people who dwelt in
Ithilien.

After the death of Eärnur and the ascendancy of Hurin, the Eastern Eye was
abandoned because Gondor was too weakened to maintain a permanent fighting force
within its walls. With the darkness of Mordor spreading outwards, many of the
folk who resided in North Ithilien chose to depart to safer lands and the
Eastern Eye was eventually forgotten. It was only in recent years that the
Rangers of Ithilien had adopted it as one of their many havens during their war
with Sauron. With the return of king, Emyn Arnen had once again been returned to
the Steward and Faramir had embarked upon a course to restore the Eastern Eye to
its former occupation.
Perched almost upon the peak of Emyn Arnen, the Eastern Eye was fortified with
high stonewalls that were serrated along its edges, like a row of uneven teeth.
Stone spikes protruded outwards from the wall with the same irregularity, making
it difficult for the enemy to secure their ladders against the wall without the
use of ropes. The palace itself was a series of terraced levels, the lowest was
an encircling canyon of solid rock, where the enemy who breached the walls would
be required to penetrate massive doors leading into the rest of the structure.

The highest point in the Eastern Eye was stone spire that rose above the
fortress, providing an unimpeded view of the surrounding terrain for many
leagues. A great horn occupied the space within the guard tower. When sounded,
there was not a corner of Emyn Arnen that would not hear its alert. The top of
the spire bore the ring of a walkway wide enough for several men. This had been
an added construction, built when the Eastern Eye found itself contending with
Mordor, in particular the Witch King and his flying Winged Beasts.

While Faramir had turned the palatial residence of the Eastern Eye into a place
of beauty for his bride, there were some parts of it that retained its martial
appearance. The Lord of Ithilien had lived far too long with the threat of
enemies at his borders to be capable of allowing peace to make him complacent.
In between the canyon of stone and the tall spire, was a residence as royal as
any might be, befitting the lord and lady of the realm, yet both were too
accustomed to war to do away with the fortifications.

Eowyn had been more than ready to lead her people to the large halls beneath the
Eastern Eye where refugees in the past had flocked together in safety during
great battles, when she heard the great horn booming in her ears with its
baleful din. It sounded like the songs of the tree shepherds whose voices could
be heard from the forests of Fangborn. She felt a pang of longing as she ushered
the last of her people into the underground sanctuary, wishing very much to
join the battle before common sense prevailed. It was her responsibility to
protect her baby and if doing so meant allowing others to protect her instead,
then Eowyn would do so even if it were begrudgingly.

Following the winding staircase into the darkness below the fortress, Eowyn was
more than prepared to leave the warriors of Ithilien to their battle when she
heard above her, the horn blaring once again. She paused in her advance below
and puzzled at this second issue for the sounding of the great horn was not to
be taken lightly. Though it may seem like a simple mechanism for alerting their
warriors, there were complexities to its signal that was a language on its own
and to her hearing at this moment, the great horn was telling her that something
unexpected had taken place.

Despite the promises made to protect herself, Eowyn abandoned her descent
momentarily and hurried up the steps, determined to learn what warranted the
second sounding of the great horn. When she emerged on the surface once more,
she saw that the urgency that was evident upon the faces of all warriors had
changed drastically. She watched them for a moment, taking in the organised
chaos that had become pandemonium. It appeared that suddenly, their preparations
were no longer enough. More and more swords and arrows were being raced to the
warriors on the wall. Spears and pikes were hoisted to the walls with the
weapons kept in reserve now produced for apparent use.

Elsewhere, the great doors were being fortified and braced, not merely with wood
but wagons and barrels were being piled against the entrance, ensuring that even
if the thick wooden doors would yield, no one would be able to penetrate the
barricade being placed before it. If the sudden need for more fortifications
were not evidence enough for some alteration in their circumstances, then the
panic and anxiety she saw in the faces of the men who rushed past her without
looking up to notice her presence was proof enough. Eowyn felt her heard begin
to pound in alarm and saw Beregond, the captain of the guard stationed against
the wall, shouting orders to his men.

Eowyn picked up her skirts and hurried up the steps to the wall, determined to
learn the truth. Her heart was pounding so fiercely that she suspected she knew
the answer even if it would take Beregond to confirm it. Praying inwardly that
she was wrong, she made her way to Ithilien’s trusted captain barely earning
notice from Ithilien’s warriors who were too busy with their preparations. As
she neared Beregond, the former soldier of Gondor lifted his gaze and caught
sight of her before his expression evaporated into shock.

“Lady Eowyn!” Beregond exclaimed. “What are you doing here? You should be below
with the rest of the women and children!”

“You know perfectly well that I am not just another woman Captain,” she said
firmly, forgiving him his reaction because she was more interested in what they
were facing. “Now what is happening? I hear the great horn sounding again and it
does not appear to be the signal of the first.”

“No it is not my lady,” Beregond shook his head, coming to the conclusion that
he did not have time to argue with her about her safety because she would only
turn a deaf ear and because at this moment, the presence of the shield maiden of
Rohan was not an unwelcomed thing.

“Look to the north,” he instructed Eowyn.

Eowyn followed his gaze and saw the army of the Wainriders of Rhun. Despite
having seen worse at Helm’s Deep and the battle of Pelennor, the army, four
thousand strong, appeared quite formidable indeed. However, it should have been
no shock to them because they had anticipated this very number when news had
come from the Rangers of this eminent attack. These were large numbers to say
the least, but there was enough troops left behind in Ithilien, when Faramir and
Imrahil had set out to Lossarnach, to hold the Eastern Eye in such a conflict.
They had been prepared for it. What had changed that struck so much fear into
the hearts of these seasoned soldiers?

“It is the army of the Wainriders,” Eowyn nodded, “it is what we expected.”

“Come with me,” Beregond spoke as he started away from her. The captain
travelled along the length of the wall, striding past the soldiers arming their
quivers with as much arrows as it could carry, ensuring that other weapons were
in close reach other than the swords in their scabbards. Eowyn called out to
Beregond, insisting that the captain tell her where they were going. It was not
only until they had reached the southern wall did he paused and regard.

“Look there,” he said simply.

Eowyn turned to the south and felt her breath catch in her throat, realising at
last what had been the cause of the panic that was sweeping through the
fortress. In the distance was the Easterling army. She knew that they were
Easterlings because the army moving towards them like a swarm across the plain
was surrounded by at least three dozen mumakils. The Easterlings were not alone,
she saw the banner of the black serpent flying high above the invaders and knew
that the Haradrim were also there. Her breath caught in her throat when she
realised that she was looking at a force almost equal to the one she and her
people had faced Helm’s Deep.

“That was their plan,” she whispered softly.

“My lady?” Beregond stared at her.

“It was their plan,” Eowyn met his gaze somewhat dazed. “They attacked
Lebethron, Lossarnach, Edoras and possibly Eden Ardhon to scattered our forces
across Middle earth. It was Ithilien that they wanted all along. The other
attacks were merely to draw away a good portion of our forces instead of keeping
them here to protect our eastern borders. Ithilien is full of grain, north and
south. From here, they can not only feed their army but they can also feed their
people. Their lands are under threat of famine, they need Ithilien for its crops
but so long as the Eastern Eye is fortified, they could never pillage it
safely.”

“We have sent word to Lord Faramir,” Beregond answered. “He will return soon
with our armies,” It did not occur to Beregond to doubt her estimation of their
circumstances because he had been captain of the guard in Ithilien long enough
to know that the Lady Eowyn knew a good deal about war craft and often sat at
her husband’s right hand to provide opinions in such matters. Lord Faramir loved
her not only for her courage but because she had the strategic acumen of a
warrior.

“There are almost ten thousand warriors converging upon us like a pack of
wolves. We but number two thousand in all totality, our ability to hold the
Eastern Eye becomes uncertain with such odds,” she met his gaze.

Beregond opened his mouth to answer but Eowyn gave him no chance to speak.

“However, we will hold this fortress,” she said firmly, walking past him. “If I
have discerned this plan then I am certain that Faramir and Aragorn will do so
soon enough if they have not already. We will prevail until those reinforcements
arrives.”

“They will not breach this walls my lady,” Beregond spoke with more confidence
than he felt but neither he nor the Lady Eowyn were willing to admit this fact
to each other.

Faith in their ability to overcome would be a far greater tool to their survival
than all the weapons in Ithilien. Without speaking the words, Eowyn and Beregond
made an unspoken pact that no matter what happened during the course of the
battle, their faith in the ability to overcome would be unshakeable. The
warriors who battled this night had to believe that it no matter how strong the
enemy appeared to be. Eowyn remembered how Theoden had fought at Helm’s Deep.
They had held for as long they did because of his unshakeable belief that they
would prevail and she was determined that it would be the same here. They would
survive.

“I supposed it would useless for me to tell you that you would be safer below?”
Beregond met her eyes with a faint smile after the moment had passed and the
understanding between them was cemented.

“Even my lord would not be able to keep me out of this battle,” Eowyn returned
with a faint smile. “What makes you think you will succeed where he could not?”

“I was a fool to assume such,” he replied with unhidden admiration. “I would
have you safely below my lady but you slew the witch king and fought with us at
the Battle of Pelennor. You are too skilled to be wasted waiting below.”

“Thank you,” Eowyn answered graciously but this was one battle she wished she
did not have to fight.

***********


Dernhelm breathes once more.

Gazing into the mirror of her chambers, Eowyn had dressed alone and tried to
ignore the overwhelming sound of silence within the empty halls of the royal
residence. In stark contrast to the quiet within, the sounds of preparation
beyond its walls were at a juggernaut pace. The enemy was not far, she surmised
by the haste in which everyone was moving. She would need to join them soon.
Tying her long golden hair into a thick braid, she then turned her attention to
the most important aspect of her preparation.

Adjusting the belt around her waist, she ensured that the sheath of her sword
hung comfortably from her hip. Once it was secured, Eowyn slipped Anglachel into
its scabbard. The sword forged by the Dark Elf Eol, had come to her when she and
Arwen had set out on the quest to keep the ancient enemy Glaurung from infusing
the spirit of Morgoth in Arwen’s unborn child. They had retrieved the weapon
after slaying the worms guarding it and then used the weapon to slay Glaurung
himself. Arwen had made a gift of the sword to Eowyn after the quest was done,
as a gesture of gratitude for her courage.

When Eowyn looked into the mirror and saw the Shield Maiden of Rohan staring
back at her, she knew she was ready at last for the battle ahead. She turned to
leave the chamber shared by herself and her lord when suddenly, the will to
leave faded. In a daze, her eyes drifted to her belly, her hand leaving the hilt
of her sword to caress gently the slight swell of her stomach. No one else in
Emyn Arnen knew and if she died today, they would never know.

“I did not mean for this to happen,” she said softly, as if the child nesting
comfortably in her belly could hear and understand her. “I did not wish to fight
but the choice is taken from me in this. I am what I am, my child. I am the
daughter of kings and it is has been in my lot for as long as I can remember to
be what I am. I no longer know how to deny it. For you I would have lowered my
sword but the battle beyond these walls will not allow me the chance to do
nothing. So I must go and risk both of us. I wish that it had not come to this,
I wish that your father were here and I grieve that I did not tell him about you
because he deserved to know the glimmer of hope that you were, even briefly. I
wish that I were different but I am not. They are our people and they need me.”

And with that, Eowyn looked up and hurried out of the chamber to join the
battle.

**************

In stony silence, the defenders of Ithilien watched as the Wainriders reached
the foot of Emyn Arnen and advanced no further. The enemy lowered their shields
and their weapons, keeping themselves beyond the reach of Ithilien’s archers and
simply waited. They made no move towards the fortress and this lack of movement
was harder against the nerves of those on the wall, then open combat. This
limbo seemed to breed greater anxiety upon the warriors of Ithilien though ti
was no mystery why the enemy had chosen to wait. The noonday sun rose high in
the clouds and crossed across the sky into afternoon before the wait for both
sides came to and end.

The Easterlings and the Haradrim, having met at the banks of the Anduin as each
army neared Emyn Arnen, now moved as one and made their way northwards at a
rapid pace. They were led by their mumakils whose size and strength was capable
of accomplishing what a thousand men armed with battering rams could not and
that was to break open the gates of the fortress. They reached the Wainriders
and the army of Rhun as the afternoon grew late and as the sun began to set,
turned their eyes to their quarry in the twilight hour. Once the enemy was
gathered in its terrible numbers, the defenders of Ithilien held their breaths
in anticipation of the inevitable order to proceed. Warriors rushed to the
gate, armed with long spears and equally sharp pikes, painfully aware that if
the gate was breached then the Eastern Eye would be lost and perhaps with it,
Ithilien itself.

”UNTASARE!”


The word had no recognition to the people of the Westerness for the language was
that of that Haradrim but of it’s meaning there could be no doubt. The earth
shuddered as the great horde began its swift advance across the hills framing
the peak of Emyn Arnen. They moved across the land like an ocean swell, a tide
of bodies rushing to meet the shore. The mumakils numbers were divided with one
contingent taking the beaten path of dirt through the hills that would lead them
straight to the main entrance of the fortress while the other advanced with
their army. The great beasts curled their trunks and raised their heads as they
charged, dozens of men borne on their backs, ensuring that once they broke
through, there would be warriors to flood the opening.

It was decided that there were too many of the enemy to meet them on the field
so the defense would take place on the wall. Archers lined its length, with bows
armed, ready to release a deadly barrage upon the enemy as soon as they neared.
Beregond took charge of directing the archers while Eowyn hurried along the wall
to the gates because she was certain that it was there that they were at their
most vulnerable. She saw the awesome might of the mumakils moving up the path
towards the great doors and knew that the warriors charged with barring that
entry to the enemy were rushing to brace the door even as she stood watching.

“Release!” Beregond’s voice snapped her out of her observation and she turned to
see a wall of arrows surging through the air like a black storm. They slammed
into the enemy with such force that the sudden halt of so many was like a ripple
in the tide. As they fell to the ground, the others behind them forged on ahead,
trampling them underfoot without concern. Though the journey took them over
hilly terrain, it did not hinder their rapid progress at all and the scaled the
hills separating them from the fortress with surprising speed. More arrows tore
into their numbers and the cycle of death was repeated as they neared the base
of the wall. Some had paused to return arrows of their own.

Eowyn flinched seeing crossbows employed, thinking how much like Melia’s weapon
they looked. It was easy to forget Melia’s origins because of their friendship
but the lady of Eden Ardhon had made no secret of it. Melia was not ashamed of
where she had come from, merely saddened by the way her people had been moulded
to suit Morgoth’s and then later on, Sauron’s purpose. Eowyn wondered what Melia
must think of all this and hoped that she would survive enough to see her friend
again.

A scream brought her back to the moment when she saw an arrow embed itself in
one of the soldiers near her. His scream followed him to the ground when he
toppled over the edge of the wall and landed hard. Eowyn immediately took cover
behind the wall and crawled to avoid the reach of arrows parlaying back and
forth between invaders and defenders. The enemy had yet to reach the wall but
she could hear the rumble of their approach growing louder in her ears with each
second. Upon reaching the gate, she saw the bracing continuing and the
barricade growing so large that even with the doors were to yield, the enemy
would have difficult entering.

Looking over the edge of the walls, she saw the mumakils were making better time
than their human counterparts. Their journey along the road created a cloud of
dust around them, making it difficult to see the exact number of men they
carried. Their size was so enormous that they stood almost the height of the
wall and Eowyn wondered if it was wholly possible to keep them out. They were
not far now, within the reach of arrows and Eowyn knew the order to shoot would
have to come soon. They had to stops the animals from reaching the gates because
she suspected that despite all the precautions, the barricades would not hold.

“Shoot now!” Eowyn shouted.

“We must wait until they are closer!” One of the minor captains leading the
defense of the gates protested.

“You cannot afford to!” Eowyn barked back sharply, her eyes shifting back and
forth from the mumakils to the man before her. “You must keep as many of them
away from the gates as possible. I do not know if we will be able to stop one,
let alone five! NOW SHOOT!”

The captain wrestled with the decision briefly, his face showing his anxiety at
what was coming at them. The thick horns alone would have little trouble
spearing the wooden doors, to say nothing of what their physical strength was
capable of doing.

“We do not have a great deal of time!” Eowyn insisted, prompting him into a
decision.

“Release the arrows!” He shouted turning away.

The archers let loose their arrows, causing a deadly barrage to strike the
charging mumakils. The beasts bellowed in pain as some of the arrows met their
mark but their thick hides made any serious damage impossible. The bombardment
had better affect upon the men perched upon the creatures’ backs then the
mumakils themselves. Their charge did not halt despite the arrows that could be
seen protruding from their bodies, trailing rivulets of blood down their flanks.
If anything the pain seemed to make them run faster and their bellowing grew
louder and louder as they approached the door.

Eowyn and the warriors stationed on the wall quickly grabbed spears while others
armed themselves with pikes as the distance between the gates and the mumakils
grew shorter. They had to avoid being struck by archers riding the backs of the
beasts, attempting to clear the path to the gate. She flung her spear as far as
it would go and had some measure of success as the weapon struck the first in
the throat. However, while the pain registered upon the creature, it did little
to hinder its advance. The beast was simply too big to be halted in that
fashion. Eowyn was starting to wonder if anything could.

“Brace yourselves!” She heard someone shout.

Eowyn quickly grabbed hold of the stone edge as she saw the distance between the
mumakils and the gate close.

“Archers! We must kill as many of the riders as we can!” She shouted to anyone
listening. It seemed like the more achievable goal then attempting to stop the
mumakils.

Her advice seemed to be accepted as wise for a phalanx of arrows was soon
surging across the sky towards the enemy. It struck many of the riders upon the
back of the mumakils as the beast near the gate and sent many falling to their
deaths after they were pierced by arrows. Unfortunately, this success was small
in comparison to the calamity that would befall the fortress now that the
mumakils were upon them. The beasts slammed into the gates so hard that even the
stone pillars beside it shuddered in protest. Eowyn could see chunks of mortar
coming loose from the cracks where the stone slabs met. She had to hold on
tight or else she would have been thrown to the ground as many of the men on the
wall. The wooden gates strained against the impact but managed to hold for the
moment. The collision renewed attempts to bring down the animals but the
mumakils were quick to resume their relentless pounding. The defenders were now
hurling anything they could lay their hands upon to stop the beasts from
breaking through.

Eowyn hurled spears at the beast that was soon joined by another and under the
heavy assault of these formidable creatures; she could feel the wall beginning
to weaken. The wooden gates were buckling under the strain of the mumakils’
bombardment. Wood began to splinter despite the best efforts of the defenders to
brace the doors. Unfortunately, it was losing battle as the pounding continued
without pause until at last, the doors gave way dull crack of wood tearing
apart. Not only did the door give way but the back of the bracing was snapped in
half under the power of the mumakils. Even the wall to which the doors were
attached broke apart with a great heave.

Eowyn felt the weight the floor give way beneath her and only managed to keep
herself from being buried under debris of the collapsing wall because she had
dug her nails deep into the stone and refuse to be pulled down. Others were not
so fortunate though they were unable to lament their fate from beneath the pile
of stones they had been buried. Eowyn pulled herself to safety and look below
her, hoping that not all who had fallen had been entombed. Yet she could see no
signs of life, no heaving of dust and rock to indicate that someone was
burrowing out of their prison. Nor was there any time to dig them out if any
were injured because once the wall had crumbled, the enemy had directed its
attention from the frontal assault to infiltration of the newly created opening.

The invasion of the fortress appeared on two fronts, from the diverted forced
attempting to scale the walls and the contingent of warriors riding the backs of
the mumakils had broken through the gates. The beasts forced themselves past
the opening, ferrying their masters deeper into the walls of the Eastern Eye.
Once within the perimeter of the walls, the Easterlings lowered themselves to
the ground with ropes. Eowyn watched in growing horror at the growing number of
enemy filling the floor below her. With a heavy heart, she began to see the
fortress was taken; that the beloved home she shared with Faramir would fall.

Valor did not come without a price, she told herself and unsheathed her sword.
Along the wall, she could see the enemy beginning to overwhelm the exhausted
warriors of Ithilien who had fought bravely and continued to fight, even though
each of them that fell was replaced by another enemy troops penetrating their
front. It would be a fight to the death, she decided as she rushed forward to
ensure that she did not go to her end without ensuring a good many of the enemy
went with her. Eowyn swung Anglachel at the first Easterling warrior that came
into sight, taking his head away from his shoulders in one single strike. The
decapitated skull spun into the air as the body dropped to the floor without
further resistance.

Eowyn did not wait to see where it landed before another enemy soldier
confronted her. The curved blade came at her with the same force she had
delivered to his predecessor. She blocked it easily, no stranger to a stronger
opponent because her sparring partner had been a man of the Mark, a race of
physical strength in comparison to these Easterlings who were lean, agile and
relied more upon cunning than power to fight. Unfortunately for him, being a
woman, Eowyn’s fighting skills were an amalgamation of both. She kicked out
with her foot as their swords met, the ball of her heel meeting the soft flesh
of his stomach and driving him backwards, breaking their connection. Whilst he
was off balance, she surged forward in a powerful offensive. He tried to recover
the weakness but Eowyn never gave him the change and tore open his chest before
he could raise his sword to deflect her blow.

Realising that a formidable warrior had entered their midst, at least three of
them charged her. Eowyn dodged the blow of the first as he struck. Slipping
under his blade, she took a swipe at the second closing in on her, slicing his
throat with a well-coordinated strike. Blood spilled forth from his bleeding
throat as he dropped to his knees. Eowyn turned around and caught the blade of
the first, forcing him back with an equally powerful strike. He staggered
slightly but did not falter and returned with even more ferocity. Eowyn defended
herself capably before her senses felt the presence of the third, waiting for
the moment to inflict the killing blow. Her eyes turned just in time to see a
sword raised over her head, the blade about to come down upon her skull. She had
little chance to do anything as she was still fighting his companion and was
struck by this terrible feeling of failure because she was about to die.

Suddenly, the point of an arrow burst through his chest.

The sudden death of his comrades distracted both her opponent and Eowyn for a
brief instance but it was Eowyn who recovered first because it was her life that
had suddenly been given a chance of continuing. She smashed a fist wrapped in a
gauntlet of mail into his faceplate, causing blood to spill from the seams and
impaled him with Anglachel before he had opportunity to do anything else.
Without wasting any time, she promptly shoved him over the edge of the walkway,
not bothering to see his fate upon hitting the ground. Turning to the man who
had died, Eowyn’s eyes noticed something she had been unable to earlier. Her
hand flew to the arrow and ran her thumb across its flight.

It was elven.

Turning sharply in the direction of where it had come, she saw what the other
defenders of Ithilien were now beginning to notice themselves. In the nearby
distance, closing in on the dark forces arrayed against them was an army of
light. Armour shinning like polished gold, astride horses without saddles,
directed by a language man would never understand or be able to speak, the elves
made their arrival.

For a moment, Eowyn thought she was dreaming for an alliance of men and elves
had not existed in three thousand years, not since the defeat of Sauron when the
ring had been cut from his hand. She blinked and saw that they did not fade like
a dream was meant to but were still closing in. They had begun the slaughter of
the enemy with arrows, sending a deadly barrage that was met every mark aimed.
The enemy army turned away from the Eastern Eye to confront this new threat that
numbered in the thousands. Eowyn did not think she would see so many elves in
her lifetime. She did not even think that there were so many left in Middle
earth but it appeared she was wrong. She estimated an army, at least four
thousand strong.

Relief flooded into her being upon seeing the elves approaching the enemy flank.
Now the defenders of Ithilien could focus on expelling the mumakils from their
walls. The enemy had began to drift away from the wall as they prepared to
engage the elves while some still remained at the wall, dividing their forces
even further. A dark shadow suddenly loomed over her whilst her attention was
focussed on the shift of the battle. Eowyn swung around to meet his new threat
and saw herself facing a mumakils that was charging at the wall, out of control.
The beast’s body was a bloody collection of pikes, spears and arrows. She could
see the pain in its eyes as it rumbled forward.

“JUMP!” She heard someone shout.

Without thinking twice, Eowyn leapt into the air, when the swaying trunk of the
animal struck her hard and swatted her aside like a fly. Eowyn felt the pain
coursing through her body as the ground rushed up to meet her. Struck by the
fear of what was coming, she managed to pull her knees beneath her chin and
holding her body into a tight ball before she landed, protecting her child as
much as she was capable. She did not even know where Anglachel had gone, aware
only briefly that it was torn from her hands. Thoughts such as this moved
through her mind at the pace of an instant before she saw the ground reaching
for her. Her landing was hard. The pain surged through her side and progressed
across the rest of her, dragging a curtain of blackness over her entire being
until she knew nothing more.

************

For the elves, the attack upon Eden Ardhon was not a warning of neutrality but a
declaration of war.

The race of men, save perhaps the heirs of the Numenor, existed under the belief
that the elves were a peaceful, beings of starlight that had long ago
transcended the ugly emotions that still plagued all others. The elves were an
ideal of purity and grace, a monument to the splendour of a past golden age that
rapidly in decline. Perhaps it was this perception that contributed to the
ignorance of the race’s nature. Serenity and peace was merely a by-product of
being ageless. Once could not live so long without learning nothing and the
elves had ample of time to become better than what they were because they had
been provided with immortality to do so.

The myth had become so prevalent that the reality of what they once were, had
been forgotten. The elves had lived during the worst ages of Middle earth, they
had survived Morgoth and wars that made Sauron’s bid for power pale in
comparison and they did so because they knew how to defend themselves and they
knew how to win despite overwhelming odds. When wronged, they hungered for
battle as thirstily as any other race and they avenged with as much vigour.

The attack on Eden Ardhon had shaken them to the core because all were incensed
by the arrogance that permitted the enemy to forget who they were dealing with.
The enemy had dared to believe that the elves would bow down to intimidation
when not even Sauron or Morgoth had made them falter in their course. When
Thranduil announced to the Woodland realm what had happened to Eden Ardhon, the
fury displayed by Legolas became a firestorm that would not burn itself out
until the enemy was vanquished. Many of the elves in the Woodland Realm were kin
to those who had been killed or defiled in Eden Ardhon and honour demanded that
restitution be made in blood.

At East Lorien, similar outrage was expressed. Celeborn had been easy to
convince because Miriel had been a loyal friend and ally to his wife Galadriel
and the dishonour to her sparked his fury. Haldir, whose feeling for the Lady
Melia had simmered in a deep friendship, shared Legolas need to exact vengeance
upon the Easterlings who presumed to defile the Lady of Eden Ardhon. Within
days, an army that likes of which had not been assembled for many millennia
departed the forest of Mirkwood and made swift journey southwards. They had not
travelled far when they discovered that another army was on the move, only a few
days before them.

It was Legolas who discerned where they were going and ordered that the army he
commanded with Haldir, as his lieutenant to make haste, for it appeared Ithilien
would need their aid. Thranduil and Celeborn had remained in their respective
realms, preferring to allow Legolas and Haldir to lead their armies since they
were needed to rule. Word had also been sent to Imladris that should Elladan and
Elrohir choose to involve themselves within this conflict then Rohan would be
benefit from their aid now that the goblins of Moria had allied themselves with
the Dunlendings. The lands of Rohan had to be guarded now that the formidable
cavalry of the Rohirrim was divided between providing aid to Gondor as well as
guarding their own.
In the meantime, they had work to do in Ithilien. Legolas knew that the
Gondorian army was not far away. Upon discovering the presence of an army making
its way to Ithilien, Legolas had sent riders at best speed to intercept the
Gondorian army and alert them of the danger. Whether or not those forces
arrived at Emyn Arnen in time did not matter much in the scheme of things
because the elves would reach the besieged fortress first.

Upon approaching the fortress called the Eastern Eye, Legolas with his keen eyes
had seen Faramir’s lady, Eowyn battling a trio of enemy warriors. The elf could
not help but admire the skill of the woman to be able to defend herself because
her swordsmanship was easily one of the best he had ever seen. However, the
numbers were against her and as he saw the one of her attackers preparing to
deliver a fatal blow, the archer immediately drew his an arrow from his bow and
dispatched quickly her would be killer.

“Haldir!” He called out to the march warden in elvish. “Take half our people to
help with the defence of the wall! The rest of you follow me. The fortress has
been breached by the mumakils. Unless we drive them out, there will tear it
apart!”

The army of elves separated like a flock of birds parted against the wind.
Legolas saw Haldir urging those behind him to charge at the enemy at the wall.
The prince of the Woodland Realms and the Lord of Eden Ardhon was determined to
kill every last invader within the walls of Ithilien because mumakils were the
beasts of burden for Easterlings and Legolas was almost certain it was they who
had invaded Eden Ardhon and defiled his beloved Melia. As he led the charge
towards the breached gates, gapping open like wound, Legolas was determined to
make the enemy pay in blood for what they had done to her.

He carved himself a path to the gates in bodies as arrow after arrow escaped
Galadriel’s gift to him, meeting their mark with each effort. Bodies felt away
like the wind blowing away leaves until he passed through the ruin gate and
began to turn his attention to the mumakils. The beasts were big and they
towered over the horses flooding the fortress the same ways the enemy had done
earlier. Under the direction of their masters, the huge beasts were now
assaulting the protective walls around the fortress with similar. Ithilien’s
warriors were having great difficulty trying to defend the wall against the
invaders when they had to fear the mumakils.

Legolas thought quickly and an idea came to him at that moment. He searched the
chaos of fighting around him and saw what he needed. Slinging his bow over his
shoulder, Legolas removed his sword and cut his way through to the torch that
had so far managed to remain undisturbed. Once there, he put away his weapon
once more and retrieved his bow. Arming it with an arrow, Legolas lowered the
arrowhead into the fire and saw the flame snaking down the shaft. It did not
take long before the arrowhead was burning with strength and Legolas took aim,
his blue eyes fixed upon the beasts’ harness.

Releasing the arrow, Legolas watched as it sailed through the air and struck the
wooden contraption on the mumakil’s back that held so many of their soldiers who
was raining death upon Ithilien with arrows. The one arrow did not spread as
much as Legolas believed it would so the elf lord delivered another and then
more, until he had used so many arrows that the fires burning on the harness was
able to do nothing but spread. The mumakil’s panic was evident by the bellow it
made upon discovering the proximity of this natural danger to itself. Swaying
about widely, the beast attempted to shake of the burden on its back that was
now billowing with smoke. It smashed through the opening it had created in a bid
to douse the flames, it trunks flaying about in naked panic.

“The rest of you!” Legolas ordered the other elves and archers capable of
hearing him. “Follow my lead. Breath your arrows with flame and let it fly. If
the enemy chooses to remain in this fortress with their beasts, then we will
burn them down!”

The mumakils that Legolas had set alight had completely brought down the gates
and the doorway that held it. As soon as the beasts had cleared the fortress, it
dropped to its knees and then rolled onto its back. The Eaasterlings who had not
wisely chosen to jump off the creature’s back was crushed under its tremendous
weight as it tried desperately to smother the flames consuming the offending
harness. Their screams cut short with shocking finality. Legolas’ example soon
had many of Ithilien’s archers, including the elves themselves, making the same
assault upon the mumakils. Terrified that they would meet the same fate as the
first the mumakils masters, prudently withdrew.

Legolas was glad of this but the battle was not done, the beasts under the
mastery of the Easterlings were still dangerous even if he had driven them out
of the immediate vicinity. His use of fire had driven them out of the fortress
but he was not about let any of the Easterlings ferried on their backs, survive.
The beasts were not responsible for the actions of their masters and Legolas
preferred not to harm them if he could avoid it. Issuing orders to a small
portion of the elves riding at his side, Legolas sent them after the mumakils
fleeing the threat of fire. None of the Easterlings were going to survive this
day, not if he had anything to do with it.

The elves arrival provided much needed spirit to the defenders of Emyn Arnen who
launched themselves into battle with an unprecedented surge of determination.
Despite the terrible destruction wrought by the mumakils and the fact that many
of their people lay dead, they were determined to make the enemy pay for this
insult. However if they thought their determination was fierce, then they were
somewhat astonished by the frenzy by which the elves battled their enemy. The
elves were thought to be a dwindling power in Middle earth and many of the
warriors at Emyn Arnen had never even seen them until now. They carried images
of a fair and graceful folk, compassionate and wise. It was quite sobering to
find that the reality was quite different.

The Easterlings were suffering the brunt of the elves’ fury. It seemed as if
every elf who had opportunity to slaughter an Easterling did so with almost
cruel relish. There was vengeance in their eyes though many defenders were
uncertain what had caused such rage. It was rather frightening to see the elves
sweeping through the enemy, armed with daggers, swords and bows like a scourge
that might have been envisioned by Morgoth himself. Their attacks were almost
frenzied and so violent that after a time, the warriors of Emyn Arnen began to
see real fear in the eyes of the enemy.

They appeared to prefer dying at the hands of men rather than elves. As the
Easterling bodies began to pile, the warriors of Ithilien could well understand
why.

*************

Danallar of Harad was beginning to see that he had made a fatal mistake.

His gamble to keep the elves out of the conflict with the Reunified Kingdom had
not only failed but had ignited the fires of fury he had never seen in the race
before this. It had been three thousand years since the elves had gone to war
and Danallar had hoped that the years of peace had inured the race to the desire
for battle. Their departure from Middle earth seemed to indicate the truth in
this belief. He had thought the attack upon Eden Ardhon would strengthen the
elves resolve to depart Middle earth, not embark upon a path of violence that
was starting to bear all the marks of a holy crusade.

As he watched Legolas Greenleaf leading the elven army, inciting any elf in
hearing distance to kill every Easterling in sight, he began to understand the
full weight of his error. The elves would turn the tide and unlike Gondor and
Rohan, would not stop when they were forced back to their own lands. It was
entirely possible that they might pursue the Confederacy back to home soil. That
possibility shook the leader of the war effort to the core for he had not
anticipated this outcome. However, seeing the fury of the elves told Dallanar he
could not take the chance. It was Legolas who was leading them, Legolas whose
rage was the match that had set the others aflame.

It was Legolas he had to kill.

***************


When Legolas heard the enemy calling for retreat, he was almost disappointed.

He had lost count of how many he had killed this day but was certain that if he
chose to tally the number, he would have won his contest with Gimli a dozen
times over. Yet despite the blood on his hands, his rage was far from abated.
All he had to do to set his anger aflame once more was to think about his wife,
the despair on her face after they had violated her and killed Anna in front of
her. His anger surged through his veins with such intensity he could barely
contain it. Across the Eastern Eye, Legolas could see the large number of enemy
forces becoming large number of dead bodies and still it did not feel as if it
was enough.

The mumakils had been driven away from the fortress and now the beasts stood
placidly at the foothill of Emyn Arnen now that their masters were killed. He
saw the warriors of Emyn Arnen were now on the offensive, driving the enemy from
their walls. They had fought a good battle, Legolas thought to himself, though
he was somewhat concerned for he had not sighed Lady Eowyn since the elves
arrived at the fortress. He offered a silent prayer to the Valar that she was
safe. Across the length of the Eastern Eye, the enemy was departing in great
numbers. Legolas led Arod to the ruined gate, preparing to issue an order to
give pursuit when something tugged at the edge of his senses and forced him to
turn.

Someone slammed so hard into his body that the elf did not have time to utter a
cry. The force of his attack was such that he was unseated from the saddle and
landed heavily on the ground below. Arod snorted in dismay, unable to do
anything but step back so as to avoid trampling his master. Legolas shook his
head to rid himself of disorientation when suddenly, a boot slammed into his
side breaking ribs with one swift kick. The elf let out a cry of pain but
recovered in time to see a shape looming over him, a sword held in the air
preparing to deliver a fatal blow.

Legolas flipped upright and stepped back just as the blade came down on the
space where he would have been. The elf unsheathed the daggers carried on his
back for his sword had fallen out of his grip when this new enemy had waylaid
him. Legolas stared for a moment at the tall Easterling warrior glaring at him.
The elf recognised him immediately as the same opponent that Aragorn had battled
at Lossarnach. Indeed the wound caused by Legolas’ arrow was still apparent upon
the flesh of his arm. This was the leader of Easterling Confederacy.

“You are their king,” Legolas stated.

“I am their king,” the enemy answered.

“We have business you and I,” Legolas said icily.

“Indeed we do,” the tall man agreed. “I will kill you tonight.”

“You may try,” Legolas answered.

The call of retreat was still echoing throughout the fortress but the man did
not move to escape the elf’s presence. Instead, he came at Legolas swinging. The
elf lord dodged the effort easily and slashed at the enemy’s body with an almost
casual swipe. The Easterling king hissed and spun around, his eyes narrowing for
a more cunning attack.

“I plan to honour those who took your wife,” he sneered, baring his white teeth
against the dark flesh of his lips.

He regretted the words as soon as he had spoken them, he saw something in the
elf’s eyes that made him shudder in fear. It was as if the storm had suddenly
been given life from Legolas’ intense fury. It rose to the surface with shocking
speed and before he could question what he was done, the elf lord was lunging at
him.

Legolas struck every blow the Easterling king offered barely noticing it. He
moved with speed only another elf could match and continued repelling the
enemy’s efforts to strike as if he were a child, fencing for the first time.
Legolas was relentless in his attack, driving the man of Harad back with each
contact of steel. He noticed nothing of the battle raging around him, his world
shrinking into a circle inhabited by two beings, himself and the enemy. Legolas
allowed the storm to sweep him away, relishing its power as it helped him to
focus himself as he had never been before. His mind was so painfully clear, as
was his vengeance. Blood was not enough.

Blood was never going to be enough.

When the king’s blade was finally ripped from his hands as he lay pinned against
the wall, both of Legolas’ daggers against his skin, the elven lord’s fury
seemed to simmer somewhat.

“Go on!” The enemy hissed. “Kill me!”

“It would make things simpler,” Legolas replied, wanting him to make no mistake
that he was conflicted about this. “Take your head and the war ends with your
blood spilling.”

“Then do it,” the king glared at him. “Do it!”

Legolas pushed the blade of one dagger harder against his throat, until the edge
bit skin and caused the enemy to flinch. Legolas could hear his heart pounding
in his chest, could smell the fear and defiance oozing off his skin and still,
it was not enough to sate his hatred for this man and all he had done, not
merely to the elves but to his friends throughout Middle earth.

“No,” Legolas shook his head. “I will not kill you.”

“Then you are not as strong as I thought,” the king hissed.

“What is your name?” Legolas asked.

“I did not give Gondor’s king my name, I will not give it to you.” He replied
defiantly.

“Very well,” Legolas answered and took a step back, his weapons lowering as he
stared at Aragorn’s nemesis and the object of his deep hatred. “I will not kill
you. You do not deserve to die just yet. You have violated my wife and my people
because you dared to presume to know elves. In the days to come, I hope you will
come to understand how much of an error you have made by that assumption. We
have been awakened and now that we are awake, we will not stop until it is your
city that burns, your people that are dead. Do you understand what you have
unleashed upon your race?”

The king did not speak because he did know but could not bear to answer.

“We are coming for you and all who have stood by you,” Legolas replied. “The war
is just beginning.”






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.

Story Information

Author: Scribe

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Post-Ring War

Genre: Action

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 04/07/03

Original Post: 04/03/03

Go to Field of Battle, The overview

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