Shadow: 59. LIX

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59. LIX

"The Orcs are attacking from the North and West, our people are currently engaged in driving them off. All seems well at the moment, for the Orcs are attacking in small to medium companies, and the defences will hold. There are reports, however, of a large massacre of Orcs within a metre's radius around the site of the feasting grounds. Even the trees were killed by whatever attacked them." Felnor concluded his report, and waited patiently for his orders.

"And my son?" Thranduil asked, as he suddenly realised where Legolas was supposed to have been.

"There is still no news from Lord Glorfindel and Elrohir."

The doors to the study were flung open, and a pair of young Elves rushed in.

"Your Majesty, we found Legolas!" Esendri cried.

"How fares he?" Thranduil asked, noting with increasing apprehension that Legolas was nowhere in sight.

"He is unconscious and has suffered cuts to his face. The healers are working on him, but we have been told it is nothing serious. He now rests in the great hall, my lord," elaborated Esendri.

"Keep him there, especially when he awakes. Tie him up if you have to!" Thranduil commanded. "I cannot afford to have him, or you, for that matter, go out there and risk your lives! If anything, there is the quest to consider!"

"We can fight, my lord!" Elrohir exclaimed.

The king of the Silvan Elves shot him a venomous glare so reminiscent of Elrond in a black mood that Elrohir held his tongue.

"Do as I say: Legolas needs you!"

Elrohir and Esendri nodded vigorously and took their leave, working their way amidst the blaring of horns back to the great hall, which they found to be filling up.

"We were sent by the king to watch over Legolas," Esendri said, as Nearil came over, ready to chase them away.

"Rest assured that he will get nowhere in this state. What I need is for you to help with the injured, as we are short on healers. Do you know anything about healing, Master Elrohir?" he asked, not bothering to ask Esendri, whom he knew was far better at inflicting injury than healing.

"My father has taught me a thing or two."

"Very well, come with me. Esendri, go to the palace gates and help to direct the flow of the injured, Linriel will be in charge!"

The servant obeyed, although not without throwing an envious look in Elrohir's direction. So this was how it ended, him being naught but a shepherd, while the rest of them went to battle. He ground his teeth in frustration, and made his way to the entrance.

"Linriel, I was sent here to help!" he called to the graceful lady who standing at the entrance to the palace, speaking quietly with the bearers of an injured soldier. She turned over and beckoned for him to go over, which he did, with some misgivings.

"Listen carefully, Esendri. The great hall is starting to fill, and is already more than a quarter at capacity. If the fighting persists, we will need to sort out the wounded as they are brought to us. Those whose wounds are mortal and those who do not require attention so urgently need to be placed in the Great Court, while the rest are to be sent straight to the Hall."

Esendri blanched at her words. "Then we condemn them to death!"

"This is a battle, Esendri! We need only to hold out till dawn ere the Orcs retreat, and that is a full five hours from now. I shall leave you hereon your own. I am needed in the Hall."

Leaving him with little choice, she squeezed his arm before disappearing back toward the palace. He had only time to turn when two heavily bleeding Elves were brought to him. Then, the ugliness of war hit him, as he beheld the huge wounds all over one warrior, and the severed right foot of the other.

"Take them to the great hall!" he commanded, voice unnaturally high. All this while, fighting had been something that he and his friends had done, even revelled in. Now he saw how lucky they had been to escape relatively unscathed each time around. Sure, he and Legolas had suffered more than their fair share of injuries, but to them, it had always been more of a game than something real.

And so he worked, examining each warrior brought to him in turn, often Elves he knew by face or name, before making the heart-wrenching decision of whether to send them to the healers, knowing very well that it could easily have been him being brought back to the palace, barely alive, with a huge hole in his side, or with a dagger lodged in the back of his head. Some of those brought to him were barely breathing, but he still tried his best to offer them a chance. It was too soon before word was sent from the halls. The healers were being flooded with too many new injuries, and that he had to send more of those who were severely injured to die in the court.

Hours passed this way, and eventually, the first rays of sun broke through the trees, drawing a smile from his blood-stained face. The bloodshed would stop for the day at least, for Orcs sought shelter under the light of Anor. Even so, Esendri held onto his position for a full hour, awaiting the return of the warriors that from the battle.

"Esendri!" Nardor, a member of the Home Guard approached him, his arm in a sling and a bandage slung across his face, covering his right eye. "Nearil seeks your presence; I shall relieve you!"

"Did he say why?" A sinking feeling overtook Esendri, and he prepared himself for the worst. Nardor shook his head, his good eye revealing his pain and exhaustion.

"Will you be able to hold it here?" asked Esendri, only to receive a gruff affirmation.

Making his way back to the hall, passing through the court, Esendri tried his best not to let emotion overcome him as he saw those he had condemned to death, all of them good warriors who had fought hard for their home. Already, he could seen that some of the Elves had been covered by sheets.

He entered the great hall. A grim silence hung over the place, and the air was saturated with blood and sweat. An occasional groan or moan pierced the air, and healers hurried about, white robes stained red with blood. The servant could not bring himself to look further, and instead started searching for the chief healer.

He found Nearil, and was made to wait as he attended to the stump that had been an arm of an unconscious warrior. When that was done, the chief healer indicated the Esendri follow him out of the hall.

"Legolas came to briefly, but was too confused to say anything. He has since been moved to the king's chambers. There is no cause for alarm, so do not fret. I need your help in the court. Make the dying as comfortable as possible, but do not hope for them, as to do so would be in vain. Visit Legolas if you wish, but make it hasty!"

Watching the chief healer turn back and re-enter the hall, Esendri was filled with a emotion he could not quite place. Still, he mechanically made his way to Thranduil's private chambers, where he was let in by two members of the Home Guard.

Entering, he walked up to the bed, and gently pushed aside the silk curtains that shielded the prince from the rest of the world. Legolas had been cleaned up, the slashes across his face had been dressed and were already starting to heal. Still, Legolas slumbered, eyes shut, the only sign of trouble being the perspiration on his brow and the hotness of his forehead.

Esendri did not linger, and instead squeezed Legolas's hand gently and breathed a few words of comfort before he silently exited the bedchamber. In doing so, he ran straight on into the king, who was just about to enter.

"Your Majesty."

"Do not worry, Esendri. Come sit with me as I see my son."

"How goes the situation, my Lord?"

"There should be time enough to recover and regroup for the attack that will undoubtedly take place tonight. How is Legolas?"

Esendri gave a brief re-cap of the circumstances in which they had come across the prince and his subsequent progress.

"It is strange indeed, for we too heard the screeching," Thranduil said, as he gently stroked the burning cheeks of his son.

A sharp knock on the door was answered by Esendri, and a breathless Felnor came in.

"My Lord, your urgent attention is required!"

Thranduil stood up quickly, and threw a last, fond glance at his son before he left.

Left to his own devices, Esendri decided to head to the courtyard as instructed by the healer. Once there, he started working with wild abandon, rushing around, bringing water to the thirsty, speaking with the dying, doing anything to alleviate their suffering.

Minutes passed this way, before he realised that the latest casualty being brought in was somebody he knew.

"Caeriel!" he shouted, rushing to where she was being laid down, abandoning the warrior he had been attending to. He saw that she was completely still, and a trickle of foam ran down from her lips. Her breathing was so light that it came and went.

"She is still alive!" Esendri pushed the Elves that bore her aside. "Bring her to the healers! She is the betrothed of your crown prince!"

Esendri picked up one end of the make-shift stretcher, and forced them to bring her into the Hall.

"Nearil! Caeriel was brought into the court! You must save her!" he cried for the healer, who rushed over and examined Caeriel, before the shaking Esendri was taken aside.

It was then that he noted that Gallenon was lying at his feet, and he crouched down to examine the human.

"Do not fear, it is but a few cuts that will heal in no time." The human was conscious, though in much pain.

"I am sorry, you need not have fought, it was our battle," Esendri said, examining the mortal's wounds, and breathed a small sigh of relief.

"Nay, Esendri, Orcs are foul creatures, and we would not have stood and watched them overrun your home! I fear the situation is bad for Greenwood. We had thought the battle over once the sun rose, but we were attacked by a host of giant spiders. I tried to save Caeriel, but lost sight of her after I was struck on the head and passed out!"

The young Elf thanked him for his information, and quickly rushed to the healers working on Caeriel, before he was dismissed and told to return to the dying. He followed the orders, his mind now numb with shock and sick with worry.

On his way back, he heard loud blasts of the horns of Eryn Galen, rallying all remaining to the assembly area behind the palace gates.

"Esendri! This way!" Felnor called as he sped past. "Take up your arms! King Thranduil is to go into battle with us!"

The chance to go into battle was a sweet one, and Esendri quickly changed courses and picked up a bow and a pair of knives from the armoury. Once the palace gates loomed into view, he saw that about two hundred had gathered behind the gates, and that Thranduil was speaking to them.

"Today, Eryn Galen's future lies in our hands. The enemy is strong, but with iron will and resolve, we will be able to take back what is ours!"

A disciplined silence greeted his words, and Esendri saw that those who had been left behind to guard the palace, and those who had brought the injured back to the palace and stayed on to help. Each one of them brought on extra weapons for those who still embroiled in the fight, and every Elf was carrying at least three quivers filled with arrows.

"Esendri!" cried Felnor, indicating he move to the front.

"You are no trained soldier, but we need all we can in this fight. Stay close to me!" the leader of the Home Guard said. "The spiders are breaking through the defences to the north, and a call for reinforcements was made an hour ago. There are reports that the spiders have a deadly venom, and that their weakest spots are their eyes and undersides."

"Felnor!" Thranduil called, causing the captain to turn away from Esendri. It was then that Esendri realised that Elrohir was among the ranks, as was Allanor. He acknowledged their presence before turning his attention back to where Thranduil was issuing a few last orders to his captain.

"For Eryn Galen!" cried the king, and he started off in a quick sprint through the trees. Esendri kept to Felnor's side, heart thumping wildly. It was to be his first battle. So, this was what it felt like, to be fighting for your home.

A glance to his right revealed the Elrohir had pulled up beside him, and he risked a small smile at the peredhel. There was only hardness and determination in those argent, gentle eyes, and the transformation was remarkable. Esendri tightened his grip around his bow and concentrated hard on the path before him.

The sounds of a battle soon reached their ears, and in minutes, the king led his people straight into battle. Esendri saw then just how enormous the spiders were, for they were five feet across, and there were thousands of them. Bodies of his kindred lay scattered amongst those of the black creatures and Orcs, causing the bile in his throat to rise. He rushed straight at the nearest one, and fired an arrow straight into its underside, saving the hapless Elf it was about to pounce on. The creature rolled away with screams of agony. Esendri reached over and helped the Elf up, and was off, taking down the next one in his path. A manic strength seized him, and he hewed away at the foul arachnids as if possessed, the earlier horrors he had seen during the day lending him strength.

And so on the battle raged for close to two hours, the reinforcements lending new strength and courage to the worn-out warriors who had been fighting for close to ten hours. The spiders were beaten back, slowly but surely.

Just as it seemed as if the tide had finally turned, and the last spiders dispatched, the sounds of a thousand snarling creatures filled the air.

"Wargs! Reform your lines!" Thranduil cried, and there was a quick scramble to do as their king commanded. "Archers, your positions!"

Esendri picked up a fresh set of arrows that had fallen to the ground, and leapt into the trees, a short distance behind where the line was being formed and notched his arrow, keeping his eye trained on the ground, waiting for the Wargs to make their appearance. Just when it seemed as if they were about to attack, a sudden blast of the horn indicated that the warriors retreat. Confusion filled the air, and the Elves cast about in puzzlement.

"Fall back!" Thranduil cried. "There are too many of them! Bring the injured with you! Form a line in the rear and retreat!"

Felnor leapt into the trees and dragged Esendri down to the ground. "Have you not heard the orders!" he cried, and shoved him off among the retreating Elves.

Running among the confusion, Esendri was too tired to even think as they reached the palace, where chaos reigned. Scores of injured and dying lay scattered about the palace grounds. Warriors had simply collapsed in motionless piles, their eyes wide and haunted. Esendri too, fell to his knees in front of the steps to the palace, and there he keeled over in exhaustion, only to be joined by Elrohir and his twin. Both were tired and breathing hard, and Elladan had sustained a large gash to his forehead.

Glorfindel rushed past in a moment, carrying one of the fallen, calling out for Elladan to get his wound dressed. The trio struggled to their feet and staggered into the palace and the bedlam within. The halls were overflowing, and the injured were being treated in various bedchambers, making it impossible to locate anyone. It was not long before they were given instructions to report to the king's bedchambers, which they did.

Once there, the Elves were greeted by Felnor.

"His Majesty has given the order for the evacuation of the wounded to the caves. The Wargs have yet to attack, but we do not know how much time we have. The caves are but an hour east of us.. You are to deliver His Highness there safely."

All three looked at each other in dismay.

"What of the fate of Eryn Galen?" Esendri managed to ask.

"We will not be able to hold back the onslaught. Our dwellings were not built to withstand a direct assault. While our people are of strong heart, our only hope of survival lies within the caves in the mountains. There are adequate supplies in the caves, and much has been moved there in secret in the past weeks. Do not attempt to deviate from the path. Take the horses; they have been prepared by the grooms! Once there, stay put, and by no means are you to leave! Now go!"

Elrohir strode over to the bed and picked Legolas up. The other two flanked him, and the small group made its way out of the chambers to the stables.

Once within, the Elves leapt deftly onto the horses, Elrohir taking Nardawin. He cradled the still unconscious Legolas to his chest, and moved off quickly, and was followed closely by the other two.

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: fael bain

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - The Kings

Genre: Action

Rating: General

Last Updated: 08/10/05

Original Post: 09/21/03

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