Until the End of Days: 12. Dirge for the Dead

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12. Dirge for the Dead

Until the End of Days
By Camilla Sandman

Disclaimer: *bows*. The characters, the world of Middle-earth – all Tolkien's. Forgive me, Oh Great One, I am writing for joy, not profit.

Author's Note: When I said it won't get any lighter, I meant it. Angst o'hoy. If you want fluffy bunnies, head elsewhere.

Part Twelve: Dirge for the Dead

They came from the sky.

Silent they fell, white and cold, wrapping the earth in their deadly embrace. Snow. Snow was no longer falling only in the north, but came with the winds. Cold settled in Greenwood the Great, for so long known as Mirkwood and still thought of as such, and froze elves and animals alike. Trees died, while others stood defiant and leafless against the sky, clinging onto life with all their strength. Green became white, and white became soiled by blood.

Orcs crept out from the dark places of Middle-earth, hearing a call in the wind.

Animals that did not heed Morgoth's call sought shelter, trying to find warmth where they could. Men too, sought the refuge of their houses, huddling by the fire and telling themselves it was only the wind.

Only the wind…

And with the wind came the dragons.

Rivendell, empty but for the echoes of wailing winds, burned brightly in the twilight, set ablaze by foul forces. Wolves came to Bree and even the Shire, and whispers of a wolf-age spread through the land.

Wolf-ages, wind-ages.

North of Gondor, a band of wolves fell upon the company of King Elessar, and Narsil was wielded once more in the chill moonlight. But the wolves feared not the sharp edges of the King's sword, for they were driven by a greater terror.

And when the last wolf of the pack fell, the terror came.

They came from the sky.

Even the blood of Númenor could burn. Ashes to ashes, blood to earth. Ice and fire. A terrible fight and terrible silence. One fallen King in the blackened snow, crowned by the shattered pieces of his sword. Once more the sword was broken. It would not be reforged this time; there were no heirs of Isildur to lift it.

Aragorn, son of Arathorn, King Elessar, husband to Queen Arwen – was dying in the whiteness.

Snow fell onto his face, frozen tears of the sky. The winds wailed, and black against the grey sky a great form hovered. Pained, Aragorn lifted his eyes to the winged horror that had crushed his body. For a moment, it was all he saw.

And then, incredibly, the evening star shone down at him through the dragon, a single shimmer of light. Just for a moment. One moment, one breath.

No more pain. Only a veil passing over his eyes, over his senses and then nothing. Blessed nothing but for the star.

The dragon saw the light die in the Man's eyes, saw the broken bodies below, saw the death-grins still shining with terror, and let out a terrible cry. Far away, another joined in. And another.

The sky answered. There were no words, only a single note of music. Foul it was, but an echo of something once fair still rung in it. This was Morgoth's music. It had gripped Middle-earth once, and the land remembered. The mountains shook. The rivers stilled. The trees withered. Orodruin awoke with a great sprout of fire and ash. Shadows descended upon the towns and villages.

Middle-earth was under attack.

In Minas Tirith Arwen awoke from a dream and knew her husband had fallen. It was not a vision, simply a feeling of a light having gone out somewhere inside her. She knew and suddenly the price of mortal love fell on her shoulder and weighed her down. A claw clutched her heart and she heaved for air.

For days now she had feared for Valinor, strange dreams besetting her. They spoke of many things, but most of all death. Death to those who should not die. Death to the elves.

The city was awake, though it was not near dawn. Distantly, she heard cries and the distinct cackle of flames. Fires. And in the air, a foul note of music seemed to linger. An echo – of drums and horns and magnificence. A magnificence of darkness, but magnificence none the less.

She knew that music. All elves did, even though few remained that had heard it before.

Morgoth.

Her legs nearly failed her as she struggled to untangle herself from the sheets. They clung to her like seaweed, wanting to pull her down and drown her in dark dreams. Dreams of her father becoming dust before her very eyes, scattered over an empty sea.

The floor was cold and the wind ripped into her skin. For a moment she felt as if all the pain would stop her heart right there and then – but incredibly it kept beating. So frail was mortal life. The heart would merely stop – and life would be no more. How could that be?

Aragorn…

She was not sure how she made it out of the cold chamber or though the hallways. Suddenly she was just outside, looking upon a city under siege.

Not from orcs or from wolves. No, few creatures of the land could threaten the White City.

They came from the sky.

She stared up at the great dragon, black and shining, flames reflected in its hide. Arrows sought the beast, and fell off its hide like drops of water. They could not penetrate, and few even found its mark. The dragon moved faster than the wind and many arrows fell crisped to the ground. Blood was on its claws and teeth – her husband's blood. She simply knew it to be so, and cold anger filled her.

The dragon turned its head and looked down at her. She met its glance calmly. Her heart stilled. Her hands fell to her sides. The dragon swept downwards, eyes glittering.

The price of mortality to be paid so soon…

She lifted her voice, challenging the music of Morgoth with a single tone of her own – a dirge for the dead. For the fallen she could see in the grounds below, for the fallen she could feel in her heart. For Aragorn. For her.

And she stood still as the dragon descended upon her, black against her pale light.

They came from the sky.

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: Camilla Sandman

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Post-Ring War

Genre: Action

Rating: General

Last Updated: 11/05/02

Original Post: 06/26/02

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