And my apologies for any errors I make in my vague references to the layout of Helm's Deep. I seem to have lost all my maps and blueprints and am going by memory.
(That's the LAST time I leave my pack in the care of Merry and Pippin....)
There came a blare of trumpets, then a crash and flash of flame and smoke. The waters of the Deeping-stream poured out hissing and foaming: they were choked no longer, a gaping hole was blasted in the wall. A host of dark shapes poured in.
"Devilry of Saruman!" cried Aragorn. "They have crept in the culvert again and have lit the fire of Orthanc beneath our feet. Elendil!" he shouted, as he leaped down into the breach; but even as he did so a hundred ladders were raised against the battlements. Over the wall and under the wall the last assault came sweeping like a dark wave upon a hill of sand. The defense was swept away. Some of the Riders were driven back, further and further into the Deep, falling and fighting as they gave way towards the caves. Others cut their way back towards the Citadel.
Gimli hewed a two-handed stroke and laid an Orc before his feet. "Twenty- one!" he shouted to Legolas, who was whetting his long blade upon the wall above him. "Good!" the elf cried. "But my count is now two dozen. It has been mostly knife-work up here." The dwarf approached him and stood leaning against the breastwork.
"There are so many," the elf sighed. "Our count is only a few leaves in a forest. It is disheartening."
"Aye. But this is ground which I could defend and be content. There is good rock here," Gimli said, "and this country has tough bones. I feel it beneath my feet. Give me a year and a hundred of my kin and I would make this a place that armies would break upon like water."
Legolas smiled grimly, still staring out at the vast horde clamoring beyond the wall. "I do not doubt it, my friend. But I do not like it here. It is too confined and the greyness of it does little to lift my spirits. Men build their fortresses and towers to last, but I do not see how they can find them habitable. This is a bleak place."
Aragorn's voice echoed down from far along the battlements. They heard the men take up his cry for retreat and all took to their heels, leaping from the heights to get to safe ground. Those with them were the last to withdraw, standing as long as they could at their posts to buy time for their comrades to get to safety. The trumpets sounded and they knew that the game was up, and it was time to give way and fight later. The men of the Mark raced back, some battling their way for the Rock, some cutting their way to the caves, stumbling over shadowy shapes and dispatching enemies as they went.
Legolas stood still at the wall, an arrow nocked in his bow, firing at the orcs who would trip up the heels of the retreating Rohirrim. Gimli stood beside him, his axe held high. Men darted past them, momentarily pausing to look at the two warriors who were oddly out of place amongst the horsemen of the Mark, but danger and death were nigh and there was no time for wonderment.
Legolas fired one last arrow into the breach and caught an orc through the throat. "Come, Legolas!" Gimli tugged at the elf's sleeve and lowered himself down onto the parapet. "All who can have now got safe within. It is time for us to follow!"
Legolas nodded and slung his bow over his back.
Even as he turned, there was a great shout from outside the walls and the evening sky lit up like a frozen sunrise. Sheets of harsh white light shot through the air, crushing rock and foundation where they struck, drawing screams from orcs and men alike who had hesitated and were lost.
"Gimli! Legolas's voice rose with alarm. An orc lying motionless among the slain had crept behind Gimli as he gazed in horror at the forces of Orthanc tearing into the Helm's defences, and it now grappled fiercly with the dwarf. Gimli twisted, trying to break its hold, but the thing had grabbed him from behind and he was having an difficult time shaking it off. He twisted and turned, growling as the orc snarled and snapped at his neck, seeking a firmer grip on him. With a fluid motion Legolas unsheathed his knife and cast it, burying it deep within the orc's back. It fell limply over Gimli and he heaved it off in disgust. He kicked it once in the face and bent to retrieve the elf's blade, then lifted his head to shout up at his companion.
His words never came.
A flickering shaft of light blew away a piece of the wall above Legolas. The elf jumped lightly from under the crumbling stone, but even as he moved the white fire shattered and flared out from the wall's surface behind him, striking the elf, flooding through him.
He stiffened with a wordless cry. His body arched. He was engulfed by the unwholesome light and he disappeared in a blinding flash.
"Legolas!" Gimli's deep voice boomed. There was no answer, or if there was, it was drowned out by the rushing noise of the sorcerous blasts and the sound of distant horns. The dwarf cursed fervently, and kicked aside corpses and debris in a frantic effort to reach his friend's side.
The light gradually faded and Gimli blinked, trying to see past the afterimage lingering before his eyes. He picked his way towards where he had seen Legolas go down, clenching his axe so tightly in his fist that he shook.
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.