Prince of Horses, Lord of Stone: 9. Attacked in the night

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9. Attacked in the night

The first Théodred knew of the assault was a sudden sound of rushing figures, pounding up the long slope of land behind the knoll – then black-fletched arrows stung the ground at his feet. Fifty paces away, he saw the elf he’d recently passed drop to the ground, an ugly arrow-shaft through his throat. Théodred unslung his borrowed bow and notched an arrow, yelling the alarm with all his might as he did. He let fly into the silent, huddled mass running towards them, his cries echoed by nearby sentries who also found themselves suddenly under attack. The camp was roused. More and more elves leapt from the sheltering banners, bows notched and firing at the hordes who now gave evil tongue to their hatred. The first ones fell before the elven archers but more orcs followed, trampling heedlessly over the bodies of their fallen. Orders were shouted that Théodred could not understand, yet he held his ground the best he could, finding his own spot among the archers. In no time his arrows were spent, but still the ugly brutes pressed forward. Other elves came from behind, having been given mere moments to seize swords and knives. They prepared to stand and fight hand to hand.

The elf who had brought the food shouted urgently at Théodred to go back behind their line. The rohir felt insulted, ‘…I have skill at arms!’ but the elf shouted again.

“Lord Celeborn cannot fight!”

Instantly Théodred understood: for Celeborn to loose hold of Boromir would be to kill him. He turned and ran; the gap behind him was closed instantly by seasoned elven warriors. He thudded through the trees and banners, distressed to realise they rang in other places than where he ran, for that meant the orcs had broken the perimeter. Not caring, he dragged the fine banners aside or down in his haste. Once, he stumbled over a fallen elf, his wide-open eyes sightless, three arrows deeply embedded in his chest.

“Boromir!” Théodred screamed. A hulk lurched at him and he slashed fiercely, hearing a satisfying roar as his sword sliced home. A retaliatory blow from the orc staggered him, but the horse-lord rallied and hacked again and again until the orc dropped, lifeless. Ahead he saw the pale glow that silhouetted more dark grotesque shapes in the darkness, and beyond them the flashing white knives of the elves. He saw Haldir’s silver hair whirl as he spun and slashed at the attackers, his face a mask of snarling rage. At his side Gwindir dispatched death with equal ferociousness. At his back, Gelmir, disabled by his injured leg, fired arrows over their heads to keep back the second wave of attackers. Headlong in his rush, Théodred charged towards the group defending Lord Celeborn. He screamed his war-cries to the night, hacking left and right to clear a path to the beleaguered elves. Surprised by the attack from the rear and not realising he was one alone, the orcs fell back a little, enough for Théodred to carve a path to Haldir’s side.

“How many?” shouted Haldir.

“I saw forty,” shouted Théo, avoiding a lunging pikestaff wielded by a scarred brute with fearsome tusks. He slashed down towards a knife-wielding hand and felt satisfaction as his sword hit bone.

“Forty and more from the other side also…” Haldir’s sword whirled in a blur of steel and death, now blocking with his shield, now, slashing to kill and maim.

“…and we are less than thirty.”

“Less than that– I’ve seen dead elves,” shouted the horse-lord, parrying a rushed attack that left his opponent skewered. Théo braced his foot on the orc's chest to free his blade from its' ribs.

Gwindor yelled a vehement cry that could have been challenge or curse as a huge orc lumbered forward, already stiff with arrows piercing the mail on its arms and shoulders. It wielded a great axe in a mighty arc that clanged against Gwindor’s sword, sending numbing shock-waves up the elf’s arms. A second orc thrust at him with a wicked spear of jagged metal that caught Gwindor’s shoulder half-spinning him around. With a great roar the giant orc lifted his axe to deal a death-blow, but froze – a grey arrow from Gelmir’s bow through its exposed mouth. The orc toppled forward, its momentum catching Gwindor off-balance, crushing him to the ground. Gelmir screamed and hobbled forward to defend his companion; he dragged long-handled white knives from his back-harness, standing astride Gwindor’s body screaming defiance. The spear-bearer jabbed at him and Gelmir took its throat with a double slash of the wicked blades. Théodred stepped over Gwindor and took the next orc in the ribs. Gwindor, stunned but alive, tried to scramble backwards, his shoulder running with blood that stained his whole sleeve; the jagged wound had left his arm useless. He slashed at another orc with his good arm as Gelmir staggered to his injured side to shield him from more howling orcs.

Another vile orc swung a war-hammer that narrowly missed Théodred, though the beast’s spiked armour raked the Rohir from hip to thigh as it fell forward, its belly spilling blood and guts from the slashing blow of the horselord’s sword. Théodred scarcely felt a thing; the battle-lust was on him and he screamed defiance at fanged faces as he thrust and parried. The elf on Haldir’s other side slumped to the ground under the onslaught from three of the beasts. Haldir dispatched one’s head in a mighty swing before returning to his own battle.

Behind them, the glow behind the banners grew steadily brighter and brighter, until it illuminated the whole glade. The orcs grew fearful and faltered in their attack. Suddenly a mighty figure of living silver flame, too bright to look upon, burst from the inner screen. Lord Celeborn, an elf-lord of old in all his power and glory launched an attack with a long, curved blade of glistening death, slicing through armour, flesh, bone. The orcs wavered before his wrath, and fell back. The Elves took heart and renewed their desperate defence. The orc’s retreat became a rout, then headlong flight as many of the beasts fell over each other in their efforts to escape.

Some stood their ground and fought on, back to back, bellowing defiance at the surrounding Elves, now in no mood to allow merciful escape when friends and comrades lay dead and dying. Théodred slumped to his knees for a second to catch his breath… Boromir! He scrambled up and staggered through the torn fabric, the bells trilling in his wake. Boromir lay on his side, his head pillowed by blankets, absolutely still. He might have been sleeping peacefully, except now he glowed softly with pale light, as if the moonlight had descended and shone out through his skin. Theo fell to his knees and crawled towards him – Boromir wasn’t breathing! His mind reeled with grief – Lord Celeborn had let him die! But then of course, he was their lord, he had to fight for his people… but in releasing Boromir he had let him die! His Boromir was dead… dead… dead.

He stretched out trembling fingers to the beloved flesh, fearing to touch skin he knew must be cold, so cold now, but desiring above everything to caress his lover just once more. The glow from Boromir’s flesh illuminated his own fearful fingers. His hand that hovered above Boromir’s face glowed rosy in the light that shone below it – yet he felt no warm breath issue from those so familiar lips.

“Boromir…” he whispered, “Oh, Boromir…”

“Touch him not!”

The voice from behind was a whip-crack command. Théodred whirled with a snarl at his lips – ‘how dare they order me!’ But before he could speak, the still flame-brightness, but now bearable, form that was Lord Celeborn swept by him, and the force of his passing caught the horselord unawares, like a huge wave rushing past. Caught in the turbulence of the air, Théodred was pushed sideways to fall sprawling to the ground. His hand was at his knife as he scrambled up, but instantly his arms were twisted back and held fast by Haldir in an unyielding iron grip that brooked no argument.

“You let him die!” shouted Théodred.

No one spoke.

“You let him die…”

Théodred slumped forward onto his knees, not caring if Haldir’s grip broke his arms, not feeling anything but the dull pain that Boromir was dead. The grip on his wrists eased, but his knife was taken from his numbed fingers. His hair in disarray over his bowed face, he could only whisper his own lament – ‘you let him die…’ Hands held his shoulders, preventing him from moving forward, but not as a prisoner, more as a child might be safeguarded from harm. He was dully aware through closed eyes that the silver flame of the elf-lord had intensified. He tried to open his eyes, but was dazzled and had to screw them tight shut - but still, there was not blackness, but red glare through his eyelids.

He heard soft words he did not understand, words of power that sent shivers through his flesh to the very core of his being. Even the ground beneath his knees seemed to shake briefly, and as suddenly as the silver flame flared… it was gone. Haldir’s hands released him and Theo blinked away the after-spots of red from his vision. When he could finally see, Celeborn was just taking his mouth away from Boromir’s parted lips. The elf-lord pressed down on the man’s chest with the flat of his hand – and Boromir gasped.

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: Elen Kortirion

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: Action

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 09/02/09

Original Post: 04/03/08

Go to Prince of Horses, Lord of Stone overview

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