81. The Dawnless Day
Melkor stared out over the Morgul Vale. The army was in place, ready for his signal. It was going to be impressive, that signal. He'd been working on it specially.
All was quiet, all was still. The monsters at the gate of Minas Morgul stood eternal watch, but the Dark Lord liked to watch as well. His eyes narrowed as he saw something move. Several somethings. One was horribly pale and moved about on four legs as easily as any animal. The other two things were about the same size, but walked as Men despite their short stature.
Melkor hissed and breathed in a deep breath of air. He still couldn't smell anything. Perhaps they had the Ring, perhaps not.
One by one, the Halflings scrambled up a set of stairs. The stairs to the pass of Cirth Ungol. One of the many reasons Melkor despised living here. The constant reminder of Ungoliant was a vicious jab from Sauron.
Well, won't have to worry about them again, he thought, watching the Halflings without much interest. Shelob will eat them and pick clean their bones. And if they just happened to have the Ring, well, the orcs will find it soon enough and bring it to me. They are Morgul orcs, after all.
Most of them.
Melkor dismissed the thought immediately. He still lived partly in the First Age, where there had been only one type of orc: those loyal to him. The divisions among the orcs in the Third Age was unknown to him. And the bitter enmity between Morgul and Mordor orcs was ignored by Sauron, and perhaps even slightly encouraged.
And then, the signal. Orodruin shuddered and then erupted, spewing fire into the sky.
"Rally the orcs!" Melkor roared, dismissing the Halflings and hurrying down to the courtyard. "Send up the signal! We ride to Osgiliath! And war!"
A pillar of eerie green light shot up from the tower, piercing the clouds and sending bolts of the same green lightning crackling through them.
They were in remarkable shape, his orcs. The Haradrim were on their war elephants, the Variags in their chariots. They all awaited him, and Melkor took his time. He walked slowly to the front of his army, admiring the way his soldiers stood in perfectly straight lines…relatively.
"Your horse, my lord," a misshapen orc growled, holding out the reins to a midnight black steed.
"My thanks." In one quick movement, Melkor swung himself onto his horse. High above on the tower of Minas Morgul, his Fell Beast shrieked. Near it was another with Vorea in the saddle. She would guide them both to the battlefield.
"And now we march to war!" the Dark Lord screamed, drawing his sword and raising it above his head. "Open the gates!"
The gates were opened and the army of Minas Morgul streamed forth, marching in thunderous steps to Osgiliath.
Melkor spared a glance at the stairs to the spider's lair. The hideously pale creature was no longer visible, no doubt cowering somewhere in terror. The Halflings, however, were. Their heads poked up as they tried to inconspicuously view the army.
"Now to wrath," Melkor sneered, "now to ruin. And a red dawn. If there is a dawn, which I doubt very much."
There was no dawn. The darkness of Mordor covered the land as Melkor's had done millennia before. The orcs cackled with glee at this turn of events. The sun burned them terribly, and this darkness meant they could use their strength to its fullest extent.
At the very back of the army, traveling on foot near the Easterlings and glowering fiercely at anyone who gave her a glance, Khamul followed the army. The elves were a broken, weak people. Ancalime could handle them, and even if she couldn't, who cared? It was by Men that the fate of the world be decided, and Khamul fully intended to present at that determination.
The massive army wound its way through the Morgul Vale and toward Osgiliath. Soon the ruined towers and once-proud buildings came into view and the orcs gave a throaty cheer. The Men were fairly unimpressed. It was just rubble, another ruin. They had no conception of the strength that it had once wielded, and of the power that it had taken to crush it.
Khamul wanted to punch some of the Men who rolled their eyes at the orcs' excitement. How dare they make light of thousands of years of hard work? The bastards.
They slipped across the river in many boats, as silent as the grave. Only once the orcs were across was there noise, shouts and screams and metal-clad bodies hitting the ground as the defenders fell.
"Come on, come on," Khamul growled as the army slowly made its way across the Anduin. She wanted to fight the Gondorians. She was tired of standing around, especially around disgusting orcs and irritating Men. She wanted to cut some heads off.
By the time Khamul reached Osgiliath, the defenders were either dead or fleeing to Minas Tirith with their tails between their legs.
The orcs were cackling at the runners and taking bets as to whether they would make it. The general consensus among the Men was that they would, but the orcs disagreed.
A piercing shriek split the air and the Men gasped, covering their ears. The orcs hooted, already counting their winnings as Nazgul on winged monsters swooped down from the sky, massive talons extended, ready to pick up fleeing men and beasts alike.
"Some'll make it," a one-eyed Easterling said as he leaned on a spear. He seemed too old to be in a war.
"No they won't," an orc disagreed. "Those Shriekers'll cut 'em to pieces they will. And scatter 'em all o'er the land."
"Who's that riding out then?"
Khamul frowned and looked out over the Pelennor field. Sure enough, a white rider on a white horse was foolishly charging out of the city and toward the Nazgul.
"What a damn fool," the Easterlings muttered.
"Shut up," Khamul snapped. It wasn't a fool. It was Gandalf. She'd know him anywhere. But how had he gotten here so fast?
The orcs hooted and laughed as the Nazgul snatched up men and horses, but their laughter died in their throats as Gandalf…did something. The Nazgul whirled and spun away, frightened out of their wits, or unable to approach him.
"Elven magic," one orc spat.
"You owe us some money," the Easterlings said with savage grins.
Khamul quickly slunk away as the Nazgul returned to the ruined city. She didn't want to be recognized by anyone for a good long time. After all, she was supposed to be in Dol Guldur.
Oh Valar… Speaking of the fortress in Mirkwood, she couldn't help but wonder what disaster Ancalime had wrought.
The orcs huddled around the border of the wood, uncertain as to what they were supposed to do. It had been ingrained in their minds that they were supposed to wait for the order to charge before they did so, and yet, that order was not coming. Here they were, on the edge of Lorien, and the order to attack had not come. They were starting to get edgy and restless.
"Um, sir?" one of the chief captains of the orcs hissed.
"Hm? Are you talking to me?" Ancalime asked.
"Oh, sir. I've never been called sir before. Please, madam works so much better. I am, after all, a lady."
"Ah, right… Er, madam. Generally, if you want to start a battle, you give the order to charge."
"Oh yes! Khamul mentioned something about that. What do I do?"
"Well, traditionally, you shout 'charge' and go into the fray yourself."
"I'm not very good at fighting."
The orc sighed. "All right, then just shout 'charge'. Others will take up the cry and go to battle."
"Should I do anything else?"
"No. Please don't."
Ancalime smiled and nodded. "Charge!" she yelled, pointing at the rich green wood.
The orcs jumped to their feet, shook off their drowsiness, and started running at the wood, shrieking warcries and screaming for blood.
"My, they are rather bloodthirsty," Ancalime remarked to the grass and the wind. She was alone on the grassy plain before the woods.
Ancalime waited for a while before dismounting from her horse and sitting down in the grass. The orcs were sure taking their time about winning the war.