51. The Battle of the Camp
"They're drinking again!"
"This is what we do to celebrate," Ulfad said, trying to explain to the cursed Haradrim the proper ways of celebrating a victory. "Drink is a celebration."
"You're going to get drunk again and what's-his-name's going to find us and kill everyone!"
Ulfad sighed. The Haradrim was crazy as well as cursed. Although it wasn't such a bad curse. To live forever and never age…Ulfad wanted a curse like that.
"We'll be ready before Earnil comes," he promised.
"You better be," the Haradrim warned.
"We will be. We always are. This is just our way of giving thanks to the dead for giving their lives for our glorious victory. You do want to thank the dead, don't you?" Ulfad raised an eyebrow, daring her to defy him.
"Fine, fine," the Haradrim snapped. "Just make sure they sober up quick in the morning."
"Will do," Ulfad said with a quick nod.
Earnil won't be coming, the Easterling thought as he walked back to his drunken, partying troops. He'll have his hands full with the normal Haradrim.
Khamul's frown of disgust and irritation degenerated into a scowl of fury as the evening turned into night, and then the sun rose the next day. And still the bastards were drunk. They were bloated with food and drink, so tired they could hardly move. It was exactly like Dagorlad. Earnil was going to slaughter them.
But does it matter? Khamul thought as she watched the Easterlings. Gondor's in a panic and Morion's preparing his masterstroke. There's no way Gondor could send aid to Arthedain in time now.
If Earnil comes, it means the Haradrim failed. Have I condemned my people to death? They signed up for it though. Willingly. They flocked in droves to our banner. And Harwan… Will he have survived? No, of course not. If the Haradrim go down, so will he.
What to do? Khamul wondered as she watched the sun rise. I could stay here and maybe take down Earnil, but what good would that do? I've already killed the king and his heirs. Anarion's line has ended.
Khamul felt a thrill of pride at this, but it wasn't what she'd imagined feeling when one of Elendil's lines had ended. She felt like she'd missed something. Well, yes, there was Firiel to the north, but that was all. The king and his sons were dead. Who would lead them now?
Khamul's heart suddenly froze. Arvedui. Araphant's son could claim the throne of Gondor! No! He would reunite the kingdoms! All their hard work, gone!
"No," Khamul whispered in horror. Her mind raced. How to stop this…how to keep this from happening.
Earnil's descended from one of the kings, isn't he? Ah, yes, he is. If he were to win a great battle against the Wainriders then the people would love him. They'd rather have him on the throne than Arvedui. They'd never let the king of Arthedain rule them.
A smile slowly spread across Khamul's face. She walked back to the camp where Ulfad was trying in vain to rouse his men.
"Let them celebrate," she said. "Drink yourselves to death for all I care."
Ulfad smiled. The Haradrim had come to her senses at last. "Yes, of course," he said. "Continue the feast!" he exclaimed. There was a ragged cheer at these words.
"Unfortunately, I need to find out what's happened to the Haradrim," Khamul said. They should've been here by now.
"Of course, of course," Ulfad said, taking a drink from a sack of wine. "You do that. I'll keep order here."
"Good to hear it." Khamul whistled to her horse, jumped on its back, and took off north. No one noticed that she was heading away from both the Easterlings as well as the Haradrim.
It was many months later, when Khamul was passing through Bree, that she finally learned what had become of her army.
"Earnil killed the Haradrim," one grizzled old man whispered to a friend in a local tavern. "Slaughtered 'em all. Then he caught the Easterlings. They were all drunk and sleeping. Killed 'em. Every last one of them. Won't be troubling the Southern Kingdom again."
"But the king's dead," his friend hissed. "And so's his sons. What happens now?"
The old man shrugged. "Suppose Earnil might be king. Also suppose our king'll make a bid for the throne. On account of his wife."
Khamul smiled. The people would choose Earnil. They would never accept Arvedui for king now that their general had avenged them. Khamul might've lost the battles, but she had succeeded on the point that mattered. Arnor and Gondor would never be reunited, and the naming of Earnil as king would only drive a wedge between the two kingdoms.
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.