9. The Battle of the Fields of Celebrant
"My lord! The orcs and the Balchoth continue to press on! We cannot hold them back!"
Cirion cursed and wiped the sweat off his forehead. "Keep trying," he snapped. "Their advance stops now."
The soldier shook his head. He didn't stop until Cirion seized him by the shoulders and shook him until his teeth rattled.
"The cavalry," the soldier whispered. "They're all dead!"
Cirion suppressed an exclamation of dismay. Gondor's cavalry had been their only hope. That they were all dead… There could be no possible victory for the southern kingdom.
"The archers then, man! Shoot them full of arrows!"
"There aren't enough! It's a rout, sir! A rout!"
No! If the Balchoth continued their attack, they would be at Minas Tirith soon. The towers would fall, the city would burn, and everyone would be put to the sword or enslaved. And Cirion refused to let himself be remembered as the steward under whom this occurred.
"We will win!" he shouted. "Rally them together for a last attack!"
"It won't work, sir."
"Do it!" Cirion bellowed. This was it, he thought. Their last stand. And oh, what a stand they would make.
The hordes of Easterlings advanced slowly but deliberately, cutting down defenders wherever they stood. Their weapons glistened with blood and the edges gleamed in the bright light of the sun.
Cirion could have sworn he heard a horn. The heat must be getting to him.
"Did you hear that, sir?" the soldier whispered.
"The horn call, sir."
It wasn't his imagination then. "Yes, I think I did. More Balchoth, I suppose."
"No, sir. That wasn't one of their horns. Look, they're as confused as us."
More orcs then, Cirion thought gloomily. It couldn't be allies. Gondor had no allies in this part of Arda.
There was a ferocious, wild yell and horsemen stormed the field. One moment there had been thousands of Balchoth before Cirion, intent on slaughtering him and everyone in his army. Now there was only the rush of the wind as the horses stormed past.
Cirion and his army waited with wide eyes, too stunned to move. It was an endless stream of horses and wild riders. They whooped and screamed as they slaughtered the Easterlings. One even rode his horse bareback. They seemed like savages, but they had come to Cirion's, Gondor's, aid when he needed it the most. If they made it out of there alive, he would have to reward their leader.
Cirion had to do no more fighting that day. It was, indeed, a rout, but a rout of a very different kind than that which the steward had supposed would occur.
"I…I…" Cirion stammered as he looked out over the field of trampled, mangled Balchoth. He hadn't in his wildest dreams imagined something like this. They were all dead. Every last one of them.
"Came to your aid, didn't we?" the bareback rider asked, hopping down. Cirion's eyes bugged. He was a teenager.
"Er…yes, you did."
"Saved your skins, didn't we?"
"Saved Gondor, didn't we?"
"Yes, I must admit, that you did a great thing," Cirion said. "A very great thing indeed." This…youth, is their leader?
"Then I suppose we deserve a reward," the youth said with a smile. He was covered in blood, none of it his own. He was a savage, but as Cirion looked over the riders in the boy's army, he realized something else. He was a homeless savage.
"Might I be correct in assuming that you have no home?" he asked.
"Yes, you would be right," the youth said. "Orcs riding wolves." He spat.
An idea was burgeoning in Cirion's mind. A very clever idea, if he did say so himself. "There is some land. It is called Calenardhon. It stretches from the foothills of the southern Misty Mountains to the White Mountains that make up Gondor's borders. Long it has belonged to Gondor, but it is an unpopulated land now, thanks to the Balchoth. You are welcome to it." Cirion left out the bit about the Dunlendings. A nasty, vicious people. Perhaps Eorl could get rid of them for Gondor. Or, at the very least, they weren't Cirion's problem anymore.
Eorl grinned. "Thank you sir," he said. "All that for my people just for us saving your lives?"
"And an oath of alliance," Cirion added hastily. He could use warriors like this. "We shall swear it on Amon Anwar."
"We shall swear an oath of alliance upon a hill in my country."
"And what does this oath entail?" Eorl's eyes narrowed.
"I shall have a symbol...perhaps an arrow. If ever I have need of your aid, I will send the arrow to you. And you shall respond, if you are able."
"That in exchange for all that land?" Eorl asked, gesturing vaguely to the west.
"Yes," Cirion said.
"Sounds good to me. Would a red arrow be a better idea than a plain one? A red arrow would be harder to lose."
"Yes," Cirion said. "The Red Arrow it shall be." And now Gondor has fierce defenders to the north. Fierce defenders who will come when she calls. They will remember me for this. History will remember me.
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.