60. Battle on Weathertop
"We are hunting a small creature in its home territory in a large group. What is wrong with that?" Melkor asked.
The other Nazgul didn't answer. They didn't care for him one bit. Even Aica, who'd thought anyone would be an improvement over Morion. Anything, it turned out, except for the first Dark Lord.
"We need to split up," Vorea answered. She was irritated at being called away from the war just when it was getting interesting.
"Precisely," Melkor said.
"Khamul's out there already," Yanta said.
Melkor snorted. "I don't trust her to do the correct thing if she should find the Ring."
"What is the correct thing?" Aica snarled.
"Give it to me," Melkor said with a smile.
"Shouldn't we return it to Sauron?" Ancalime asked. "I mean, it is his ring after all. Seems a bit rude not to return it if we have it."
Melkor sighed and gritted his teeth. "I'll return it to him," he hissed. "Don't worry about that."
"Oh. That's good."
"Eight is far too large of a group. However, this Halfling will not be traveling without some protection. Three of you, leave and search for the Ring."
"We'll go," Aica said, grabbing Ringe's hand and shoving it into the air with hers.
"Good riddance," Melkor muttered under his breath. His gaze swept the riders. "Anyone else?"
"I shall go," Vorea said.
"Dammit, Vorea!" Yanta hissed. "We need you!"
"Someone must keep an eye on them," Vorea said, nodding at Aica and Ringe.
"Very well," Melkor said. "Return to me if you should find the Ring."
"Aye, we will," Vorea said. "Come along," she ordered Aica and Ringe, turning her horse away from the large group.
"Where're we going now?" Yanta asked, watching as the three riders grew smaller in the distance.
Melkor lifted his head and sniffed the air. "Bree," he said. "I smell something there."
"Just one of the Rangers, probably," Yanta said. "They reek."
"Why the Hell are you coming with us?" Aica snapped as she pushed her horse to its limits, trying to keep up with Vorea.
"I wish to find Khamul," Vorea said. "Also, I do not like serving under the Dark Vala. His splitting of the group allowed me the opportunity to do both."
"Bet Osgiliah would've fallen if you'd been in the south," Aica snarled.
"What?" Vorea gasped. "How could it not have fallen? Our numbers were far superior! Even though it was a feint, we occupied much of the city by the time we crossed the river."
"The steward's sons took it back," Aica said. "Specifically, that big one. Boromir."
"He has been a thorn in my side since he became an adult. His brother less so, but the Ithilien Rangers have killed many orcs and Men."
"Did they die in the attack?" Ringe asked.
"No, they're both alive and well," Aica snarled. She took out the palantir, first glancing around just to make sure no one was watching. They were alone in a barren land.
"Sauron will one day learn of that, if he does not know already," Vorea warned.
"He's got other things on his mind," Aica said, gazing into the crystal depths.
"What do you see?" Vorea asked, watching the orb as well but seeing nothing. It looked flat to her, lacking the depth that Aica saw when she gazed into it. But then, most things looked flat to Vorea with her one eye.
Aica cackled. "The steward's only got one son left! Boromir's left him! I can see him traveling… Oh, he's in the north. I think he's heading for Rivendell."
"Imladris? What business does a Man have in the house of the elves?"
"I don't know. He's going there though. I'd bet my horse on it."
Vorea pondered this development. It was not good by any means. Another Last Alliance, perhaps? No. The son of the steward was an arrogant man. He distrusted and disliked the elves, just as the elves disliked and distrusted him and all his kind. There would never be another Alliance, just as there would never be another Elendil.
"What's that thing?" Aica asked, pointing at a hill in the distance, illuminated by the moon. It looked like the bottom of a jaw, jagged teeth-like stones sticking up at intervals.
"I believe that is the ruins of Amon Sul," Vorea said. "Weathertop."
"Let's go," Aica said, nudging her horse in the direction of the hill.
"We have more important things to do than relive our past glories," Vorea said.
Aica ignored her. "Never stood in the watchtower proper," she said. "Wasn't time. I want to do that now."
Vorea rolled her eye and muttered under her breath but followed Aica. As did Ringe, but that was a given. He was just an extension of his sister now. Any individuality he'd once possessed had been wiped out of him after his break-up with Morion.
They rode up to the ruined watchtower. Aica jumped off her horse and started to head up to the tower proper.
"This is a waste of time," Vorea growled, but followed her anyway.
"No, it isn't," Aica said.
"Why is it that you believe that?"
"Did you hear that?"
"Hear what?" Vorea asked sharply. She had been more worried about traveling with Aica and what trouble Khamul was bound to have gotten herself in than in paying attention to her surroundings.
"I heard an interesting noise," Aica said. "Sounded like a horse."
"We are in possession of three horses."
"Ours don't make noise. There's someone here."
Vorea drew her sword. "They shall regret the decision to spend the night here."
Aica grinned and dashed up the steps to the tower. The broken, crooked stairs didn't slow her in the slightest, but Vorea was forced to slow to make sure she didn't fall.
"Are you ready for battle, Ringe?" she asked.
The pale man nodded. He didn't talk much anymore. He didn't do much of anything.
They emerged on an overgrown stone plateau. Weeds and brambles had grown thick over the centuries since the fall of Arthedain. The proud towers were nothing but crumbled ruins. Broken chunks of stone were all that remained of statues of great kings.
Vorea's sharp eye glanced over the ruins, searching for any sign of life. The wind made the bushes rustle, and her grip on her sword tightened, but then she began to relax. No one is here, she thought.
"There!" Aica hissed, pointing across the tower.
"I can see that neither Radagast nor Saruman were mistaken," an old man said, stepping out of the shadows and into the moonlight.
There was something about this old man that sent chills down Vorea's spine. He was far more than he appeared, that was for sure. That was not saying much though. He appeared very little, what with his plain gray robes, his crooked staff…
"Gandalf!" Vorea gasped.
"I'm pleased someone recognizes me," Gandalf said, inclining his hat in Vorea's direction, "though I can't say I recognize you."
"Doesn't matter," Aica hissed, drawing her dagger. "Three Nazgul against one Istari? That's not even fair odds."
Vorea was inclined to agree, though for different reasons. "How is it that you escaped Orthanc?" she asked. "Saruman told us that he had you captive there."
"I have friends," Gandalf said with a shrug. "Now, tell me what brings the Nazgul to the northern lands or else we shall have to fight."
Aica laughed and threw her knife at the wizard. As fast as a bolt of lightning, Gandalf's staff lashed out and knocked the knife away.
"That settles that then," Vorea muttered, charging the wizard. He blocked her attack with his staff, the blade not even cutting deep into the wood.
With a single hand Gandalf held back Vorea while he drew his sword with his other hand, parrying Ringe's half-hearted blow. The eighth Nazgul really wasn't putting much effort into his attack.
Vorea attacked Gandalf again, aiming for the wizard's head, but Gandalf ducked and Vorea neatly sliced Ringe's forehead open.
The eighth ringwraith shrieked and dropped his sword, clutching his head. Thick blackish blood trickled out.
"You coward!" Aica snarled, snatching up Ringe's sword.
"I advise you to return to your own lands," Gandalf said, a fierce and dangerous gleam in his eye. Before anyone could respond the crystal atop his staff flared with a brilliant light.
Aica screamed and covered her eyes, stumbling back so far she nearly fell off Weathertop. Vorea closed her eye and waited for the light to pass. When she opened it again Gandalf was gone. She imagined she could hear the neigh of a horse in the distance.
"My head…" Ringe moaned.
"Get up!" Aica snarled, kicking him in the ribs. "I can't believe it! Three Nazgul against one old man!"
"They say the Istari are Maiar," Vorea said. "If so, then it is as if we had fought Lord Sauron. It is not unexpected that we lost."
Aica snorted. "I can't believe it. I just can't believe it."
Vorea could believe it. She could believe it quite well. "Let us take our leave of this cursed place," she said. "We will have better luck once we find Khamul."
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.