8. Never Vanquished Be
As the first rays of the sunrise sprang into the sky, the orcs ceased their attack. A murmur arose from behind them, off in the distance, and the rumour rippled through their ranks, magnifying as it spread. A nameless terror filled them and they were dismayed and faltered, looking back over their shoulders with fearful glances.
And then the sound of a great horn rang out, blast upon blast from beyond the Deep, as if upon every cliff and hill a mighty herald stood. The orcs cast themselves to the ground, and upon the walls the men lifted their faces to the heights and marvelled at the echoes of the hornblasts through the hills. "Helm! Helm!" the men took up the cry. "Helm for Theoden King!"
Theoden rode forth, thundering forth from the gates upon his white steed, his spear catching the sun's light and gleaming as pure gold. At his side was Aragorn son of Arathorn, and all the lords of the House of Eorl. The men of Rohan cheered at the sight and new strength drove their assault upon the forces of Isengard, and the orcs wavered and fell back. Down from the Hornburg Theoden and his riders swept, driving through the enemy as a wind among grass.
Upon the parapet of the Deeping Wall two figures stood sillhouetted by the sunrise. One was shading his eyes to look out upon the onslaught, standing tall and fair, his back straight and his hair flowing from beneath his helm in the glorious breeze. The second was as still as the rock beneath his feet, both hands resting upon the hilt of the axe planted on the ground before him. Though they spoke not, they knew one another's thoughts, and rejoiced that they were alive and there to see the dawning of a new day.
The horn blew fierce and free, and they watched the Riders cut through the black host, orcs falling or fleeing before their shining spears. The keen sight of Legolas Greenleaf caught the glint of the king's armor and the white flash of Snowmane before the charge, and also, to his great delight, Aragorn upon Hasufel with his sword brandished high. Legolas motioned to the dwarf, and Gimli hefted his axe into the air and gave a shout. He threw one arm about Legolas's waist and embraced him, laughing triumphantly.
Their revelry was cut short, however, by the sudden clamour of metal-shod feet and howling voices as the orcs caught behind the wall poured like rats from their positions outside the caves and the Rock in an effort to find a way to escape the wrath of the men of the Mark. Legolas turned and directed his gaze outwards across the Deeping-coomb, and his expression turned to wonder. Even as the orcs inside fought to get out, the host of Isengard who were gathered beyond the wall were pressed against the outside to get within. His brow furrowed and he cast his gaze further out to see the cause of their fear. The elf drew in a sharp hiss and tapped the dwarf's shoulder.
"Gimli! Look there! Do you see?"
The dwarf peered down upon the green dale which was... no longer there. Where the plain of grass had been there now stood a forest. He gaped in awe.
"Legolas!" he gasped, "The wood has moved!"
Indeed, the trees and tangled boughs were now rooted rank upon rank just beyond the Dike, looming dark and mysterious. He looked to the elf for an answer, but Legolas had none to offer. They watched in amazement as the orcs on either side of them cowered in terror of the king and in terror of the shadowed trees.
Bewildered, Gimli and Legolas could but ponder the strange sight for an instant. Gimli tugged at Legolas's belt to drag his attention away from the queer forest in the valley to more pressing matters. They found themselves above a scrambling mass fighting to clamber over the wall or claw their way through the culvert beneath. The enemy seemed more intent upon escape than confrontation, its courage failing. A large black orc tore up the stairway and came to a startled halt at the sight of a dwarf standing before it, axe resting casually upon his shoulder and a look of cold amusement upon his face. The orc yelled and threw its arms over its head. Gimli's axe bit deep, spraying black blood over the stones, then the dwarf kicked the thing's body back down the stairs, toppling two more who had followed. Before the others could regain their feet, a sharp whistle pierced the air and an arrow took one in the eye, then the other fell with a shaft through its temple.
"This is futile, Gimli!" Legolas shouted above the din. "Let them flee!"
Gimli sidestepped an orc that barreled past him and plunged blindly from the parapet. "Come, my friend. Let us go below where we might be of some service!"
They fought their way through the teeming horde, though the effort was not great. The orcs were in a panic and heeded them not. Yet Gimli's short stature might have proved his downfall as the orcs crushed in on all sides and would have borne him along, but Legolas stayed close by his side and the two carved a deadly circle about them as they made for safer ground.
Legolas swept his knife across the throat of an orc that hurled itself wildly at him, and Gimli drove his axe into the soft flesh of another's belly, ripping the blade back out and thrusting the body away from him. Legolas motioned to the dwarf to cut back to the side and away from the rush, then whirled to plunge his blade into the chest of a large hillman who had gotten too close. He wrenched his knife from his foe and the silver of his weapon no longer visible; his blade and forearm were drenched with dark ichor. He stepped over the steaming corpse and pushed Gimli to a recess in the rock wall to rest there for a moment. The heat and noise was stifling and he yearned for freer air. He glanced down at his companion. Gimli was panting from the exertion, and sweat and blood covered his face. The cut upon his forehead had reopened during their flight where his helm had chafed it. Gimli glanced up and met the elf's worried look.
"It is nothing! I am well," he shouted. "An irritation it is, and nothing more. We must get away from this throng!"
Legolas nodded and cast about, judging the flow of the wave of orcs passing by them. He gripped Gimli by the arm and pulled him along, making his way along the wall and keeping the stumbling dwarf from danger.
They found their way at last to the gates and heard once more the horn of Helm ring through the mountains. There they came upon upon a clash of men and orcs which was hot and brutal. There fought Eomer, Third Marshal of the Riddermark, and Gamling the Old, and a gathering of men who had come forth from the caves and the Rock in the wake of the king's charge, and who strove mightily to roust the remaining orcs from the Deep. There were not many now to challenge Eomer and those who stood with him, but the few orcs that remained were desperate and fighting hard.
Eomer slashed valiantly at the shield of a red-tongued Uruk who sought to skewer him with a glistening curved blade. He cursed and parried the orc's blows, blinking through the sweat in his eyes and feeling each clash of metal upon metal jar his teeth painfully. The path from the caves had been a long one and he was weary. Even as he shattered the orc's shield with a well-aimed thrust, his foot slipped and he hit the ground hard, rolling to avoid the orc's counter-strike. He moved too late and he felt steel pierce his shoulder. He screamed, his sword falling from his nerveless hand.
The Uruk howled with lust and moved to attack, lifting its bloody sword into the air to drive it deeply into the wounded man, but it stiffened suddenly and fell to its knees, a dark stain spreading across the front of its chest where an arrow had punched through. It toppled and collapsed motionless at Eomer's side, vicious eyes glazed and frozen in an eternal stare.
Eomer looked up from where he lay, squinting in the sunlight, and found himself reunited once more with Gimli the Dwarf and Legolas the Elf. The dwarf stumped forward and held out a strong arm, pulling the man to his feet.
"Well met, Eomer son of Eomund," he rumbled cheerfully. "I hope you were not planning to avoid our further discussion regarding the Lady of the Wood by throwing yourself beneath a sword on a battlefield."
Eomer stared at Gimli in amazement, hardly recognizing him beneath the grime and blood which covered the dwarf's face. The man's laughter rang out and he made to speak, but the pain of his wound assailed him and he swayed. Gimli gripped him on one side and Legolas upon the other, and the two bore him away and past the gates.
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.