42. Anarion's Blood
"Farewell, my dear," Narmacil said, tenderly kissing his wife on the cheek. "I will see you soon after I've dealt with these upstarts."
Dabbing at her eyes, the queen nodded. "Farewell," she said.
"I will manage Gondor in your stead, Father," young Calimhetar promised. "I will keep the throne safe for when you return."
Already an adult, Calimhetar was going to be one of Gondor's finest kings. Narmacil could feel it. He just hoped the responsibility of kingship wouldn't land on his son's shoulders too soon.
"I will dispatch these Wainriders swiftly and be home before Yule."
The sun shone down on the army of Gondor, glinting off their steel breastplates and spears. The black flag with its white tree flew in a brisk wind.
Good signs, Narmacil thought. Good omens for a swift victory.
Not two years into his reign, the blasted Wainriders had arisen, forged together from many conquered Easterling tribes. They raided Gondor's farms, slaughtered her peasants, and exacted tribute from her former vassals. The Wainriders had now overrun the provinces east of the Anduin. They had to be dealt with.
"We head to Rhovanion," Narmacil told his general. "Their army is there, and that is where we shall destroy them."
"Yes, my king," the general said. His face betrayed his unease. "My king…there are many Wainriders. What if there are too many?"
Narmacil did not let these thoughts enter his head. "We will conquer them," he said.
"But what if…"
"We will win. The Easterlings are lesser men, and in us flows the blood of Numenor."
"Yes, my king," the general said. The look of unease had increased to full-blown fear.
What is there to fear? Narmacil thought. He looked behind him at the stream of soldiers. He'd only taken a fraction of Gondor's might. Someone had to keep the Haradrim in line in the south, and these were only Easterlings. True, they had troubled the farmers and settlers, but they would run as soon as they saw a real soldier.
The lands before the army were deserted, strangely free of Easterlings or indeed any other type of people.
"Curious," Narmacil commented.
"They heard we were coming," the general said, looking even more worried. "My king, perhaps we should gather the rest of the army and return."
"No. We continue."
The general sighed. "Yes, my king."
Three weeks journey brought them to Rhovanion, where spies said the Easterling army was.
"I don't see anyone," Narmacil said, glancing around.
"There are many bushes in this land," the general muttered. "They could be hiding anywhere."
A wild warcry startled both king and general. Out of the bushes streamed Easterlings painted in earth colors so as to blend into their surroundings.
"Ambush!" the general roared.
It was too late. The brave soldiers of Gondor died where they stood, some not even having the chance to draw their sword.
"How is this possible?" Narmacil gasped.
"Oh, it's very possible," the general growled. He cut down an Easterling as the man lunged at his horse.
The general just rolled his eyes and continued attempting to defend his flustered king. He clashed swords with many Easterlings, killing them all, but never did the spark of hope enter him that he might live out this day.
That knowledge was verified as he crossed swords with a Haradrim. Curious, to see a Haradrim out of Harad. And it was a woman. Even curiouser.
She was quite the fighter, and the general felt uneasy in her presence. There was some foul magic here, he was sure of it. They fought for a while, but at last she broke through his guard, there was a splatter of red, and his vision went dark.
"Foul creature," Narmacil snarled, spurring his horse toward the woman who had killed his general.
"Ah, you must be the king," she said. She didn't seem at all perturbed that she was facing the king of Gondor, heir of Anarion, descendent of Numenor.
"Indeed I am," Narmacil said. "And you shall pay for this destruction!"
"Oh, I don't think so," the woman said. "I must admit, killing you will be a treat. I've never killed a descedent of Anarion before."
Narmacil's blood ran cold. Had this creature killed his relatives in the north? Had Arveleg fallen to this monster?
"Yes, I've killed Isildur's heirs," the woman said, swinging her sword and taking Narmacil's head off with one blow. "And Isildur himself."
"They celebrate too much," Khamul commented as the Wainriders drank themselves into a stupor after the victory in the Battle of the Plains.
"Let them enjoy themselves," Ulfang said. "They killed the king of Gondor today."
"I killed the king of Gondor."
"And we killed his soldiers. It's a great day for us Easterlings. We have had our revenge."
"Not yet," Khamul said, remembering Arveleg. "Narmacil has a son. He's going to come after us."
"Ah, not yet, I think. He will be in mourning for his father for a long time."
Considering Araval, I think not, Khamul thought. Well, I'm in charge and I'm sure not going to let this army get destroyed.
"They better be sober by midday tomorrow," she warned.
"Er…" Ulfang muttered.
"Calimhetar's going to come after us, and I won't be drunk when he does!"
"Yes, lord," Ulfang mumbled, casting an angry glare after her as Khamul walked off.
So, a blow struck against Gondor, Khamul thought. I wonder what they'll make of that. Quite a lot, I bet. Enough that they don't care what happens to Arthedain in the north.
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