unfashionable south side of the sixth circle, when she
heard the horns and ran up the stairs to the top of
the tower to see what was happening.
The stone bastion that bisected the City blocked
her view of the initial Rohirrim charge but a spear
point of green cloaked riders soon came into sight,
piercing the black mass of the enemy.
"They are too few," said Luinil, who had followed
her up, clutching at the stone sill. "They cannot
Idril laughed. "What does that matter?" At last she
was seeing what she had longed all this endless night
to see; Men fighting back against the Shadow
unfettered by either hope or fear, and her spirit rose
fierce and fey in response. She laughed again and
"Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!"
Poor Luinil was staring at her in horror, she made
an effort to calm herself and explain: "That is a
stave from one of their warsongs. I am part Rohirrim
you know, and I agree with them that it is better to
fall fighting than to submit to the Dark."
Luinil seemed to straighten a little, her soft
young face falling into sterner lines. "It is not only
the Rohirrim who feel so!"
"No." Idril agreed, well pleased. "It is not."
It was she who had the Rohirric blood, from her
father's grandmother who had been daughter to King
Folcwine, but it was Boromir who had taught her the
poetry and all else she knew of that heritage. The
Riders' stern, warlike spirit had spoken to him, pure
Dunedain though he was. Perhaps it would inspire the
rest of their people as well to make an end worthy of
the heirs of the Fathers of Men.
"Oh no," said Luinil, eyes again on the field.
"They come late," Idril observed with an oddly
detached curiousity. "I wonder what delayed them?"
The Riders formed a line and charged the great
beasts only to be crushed under their feet or swept
aside by long swinging trunks armed with spikes. And
yet, unbelievably, the Mumakil too began to go down.
But not enough, not nearly enough. They came raging up
to the very wall of the City, bludgeoning it with
their massive bodies. Looking down the Women could see
the avenue up to the third circle was solid black with
Orcs and the buildings that lined it were aflame.
Luinil looked at her mistress, asked steadily: "Is
it time, my Lady?"
Idril drew her dagger, the morning light glittered
white on the blade. Luinil was right, if they waited
til the enemy was at the fifth gate there might not be
enough time for all to escape. Yet something held back
*Coward! You are afraid!* but even as her inner
voice jeered she knew it lied. It was not fear that
held her hand but hope, a mad, unreasoning hope born
of the new sun and the valor of Rohan - and of another
voice whispering in her heart that all was not yet
lost. For a long moment she stood still, torn between
hope and despair, faith and fear, Denethor's rearing
pitted against Elendil's blood.
Luinil's voice seemed to come from a great
Idril dropped the blade and it rang on the stone
floor, hope and faith had won. She would trust in her
heart. "No. No, we do not die today." she turned to
look at the river. "Help is coming. Hope is coming. He
is almost here."
"Who?" the maid asked in bewilderment.
Idril could only shake her head, knowing but not
knowing what she knew. "I cannot say. But he comes."
and then she saw the black sails. "He is here!"
Luinil saw them too, with horror. "My Lady, it is
But Idril shook her head again in dazed, wondering
certainty. "No it isn't."
Pippin crouched with Gandalf on a sort of porch
overlooking the fourth gate. Several ranks of
battered, grim looking guardsmen faced it, spears and
swords at the ready. It shuddered again under the
blows of the great Troll on the other side.
Pippin shuddered too. "I didn't think it would end
this way." he said, and hated the forlorn note in his
voice. *Fine soldier of Gondor you are!*
Gandalf gave him a sharp, surprised look which
softened into kindliness. "End? No, the journey
doesn't end here." he said gently. "Death is just
another path, one that we all must take." One he had
already taken. His eyes shifted from Pippin to
something only he could see as he continued softly:
"The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and
all turns to silver glass, and then you see it."
He stopped. "What? Gandalf?" Pippin prompted. "See
The wizard looked down on him and smiled. "White
shores, and beyond, a fair green country under a swift
Pippin's insides unclenched. "Well...that isn't so
bad." he said slowly.
"No. No, it isn't." Gandalf agreed, still smiling
at his memories and at Pippin.
The gate shuddered again, bringing them back to
this world. The enemy'd be through in another moment.
Gandalf gave Pippin a 'get ready' nod. He nodded back
adjusting his grip on his sword. Closed his eyes:
*Mum, Dad, I'm sorry, I really meant to come back.
Luinil was now quite certain her mistress had gone
completely mad. "It is the pirates of Umbar -" she
began then broke off with a gasp as something, a
greenly glowing cloud in which she could faintly
descry the forms of Men and horses, poured from the
ships onto the shattered docks of Harlond sweeping the
Orcs before them. "What is it?"
Idril laughed again, a youthful, joyous sound
quite unlike the mistress Luinil was familiar with. "I
do not know. But whatever it is, it is on our side."
The cloud lanced through the ranks of the foe and
came into the City, flowing up the levels like
unloosed floodwaters. Luinil and Idril saw greenly
luminous, cadaverous forms smother flames and enemy
host alike and then withdraw, like a turning tide,
flowing back out of the City to the battle still being
fought on the Pelennor, leaving behind dead Orcs,
Trolls and Wargs tidied into heaps.
The final blow, the one that would shatter the gate
and let the enemy through, never came. Pippin opened
his eyes to look blankly at Gandalf, who looked back
just as baffled. Then his eyes unfocused again as he
looked beyond, and he smiled. Standing he vaulted the
railing and headed for the gate. Pippin quickly
followed, using the steps.
The wizard pushed his way through bewildered, still
wary soldiers to where Lord Hurin stood with Prince
Imrahil and old Forlong. "Open the gates." he ordered
breathlessly. They stared at him. "Do as I say!"
Hurin turned to the Men still holding the great
doors shut. "You heard the Lord Mithrandir. Open the
gate, let's see what's happened.
Reluctantly they obeyed. Pippin braced himself for
a rush of enemies and felt the Men around him do the
same. But when the gates did open they revealed naught
but dead Orcs and Trolls and Wargs, all neatly piled.
Gandalf's smile became a grin. "Aragorn!"
Hurin turned to him, face kindling with joy at the
name. "He is here?"
"The pretender is come?" Imrahil asked, frowning.
And many of the Men around them shifted uncertainly.
Gandalf shook his head. "The King is come. And he
is no stranger but a Man you knew well once, my Lord
Prince, as Thorongil."
"Thorongil?" Imrahil whispered, and then his face
lit up just as Hurin's had. "*He* is Isildur's Heir?
Why do we stand here, Mithrandir? Our King and our
allies of Rohan fight before the walls, we must gather
all the strength we can find and join them!"
Idril felt the change in her people's mood before
she knew the cause. It was more than simple relief at
their reprieve. The air of dread and despair that had
brooded for so long over Minas Tirith had dissapated
along with Sauron's Shadow. Everywhere Men were
eagerly siezing weapons and hurrying to join the force
preparing to sortie while Women and children, the
elderly and the wounded, lined the avenues of the
upper circles to cheer them on. And the White City
shone in the morning sun.
Idril herself felt lighthearted almost to the point
of giddiness, as if a great weight of some kind had
been rolled from her spirit, but she didn't learn why
until she had led her nurses and healers back down to
the great square to re-establish their field hospital.
Only then did she hear the rumor being whispered among
the people: The King had returned.
So that was who was on the Black Ships. Though she
still did not know his name or his lineage Idril had
no doubt that he, whoever he was, was the true King.
No lesser Man could have brought light and hope back
to Minas Tirith when all seemed lost.
She remembered the other half of Telemmaite's
prophecy; he had predicted the Stewards would fail -
as they had - but also that the King would return to
Minas Tirith in the hour of her greatest need and
restore Gondor's glory.
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.