The walls of the city are blood-red in the sunset.
How very ironic.
I rub my eyes.
I will not cry.
I will not.
They did not, after all.
Those legions who rode forth, who strode forth, who fought and died on the plain below…
They did not cry.
I rub my eyes again.
So many years have passed…
You would think the pain would have subsided- that the memories would have dulled- that it would not hurt so much...
It does and worse.
Every day it hurts a little more.
Every night I wake up screaming…
I rub my eyes again.
Every time I come here I promise it will be different.
And every time…
I shake my head, trying to clear it.
I fail miserably.
Just like always.
So many years have passed, and yet…
I hear the sound of hooves, and I turn towards them instinctively- once a soldier always a soldier.
I do not recognise the rider.
He is hooded, his face hidden from me by the setting sun.
A shudder runs down my spine, born from hideous memories.
The winged fiend…
A faceless foe…
A blade blacker than night…
I close my eyes and pray that the memories are just that- that when I open them again they are just ghosts, that when I open them again I look upon naught but the blood-red walls of the city and not the slaughter of my friends.
I open them again.
Still the rider sits hooded against the setting sun.
My fingers flicker to my waist, where my sword once hung, and then I remember.
The Dark Lord is gone.
His armies are defeated.
I no longer carry a sword- have not done these long, long years.
Whoever this rider is….
He swings down from his steed with effortless grace, and I know who he is immediately.
I watch as he strides towards me.
I watch as he pauses for a second by the cairn.
I watch as he casually tosses a stone onto it.
I watch as he pulls his hood back and the setting sun turns the silver of his hair and beard to rubies.
"My lord, I…"
He raises a finger to his lips, and I fall silent.
He smiles and sits by me, and for long, long minutes we sit in silence, staring out at the blood-red walls, staring out over the thousands- millions- of poppies that nod gently in the late-summer sunset.
I say nothing.
He looks at the stump where once was my leg, at the ruin that once was my face…
He says nothing.
He is a King and I…
I am but his wounded subject.
King and subject, yes, that is all we might appear…
But boil it all down- tear away crowns and kingdoms and class…
…when you come down to the sword's point, all we are is but two old soldiers.
And in this moment, we remember what we were, who we were...
Oh yes, we remember.
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.