A Lady's Tale - Part Twenty Four
The title of this is pronounced MA-dur high.
Analsiel's group rode hard through the rain. When it came down to it, all the ladies were very helpful. Even Lhunidil had passed out arrows to all the archers without cursing at someone. But the rain slowed down their progress immensely, and it made Analsiel frantic. She had to get there before Reliand's group was destroyed. She kicked Carandae lightly in the sides to make him go faster.
"Analsiel!" called Quelleanon. "I see them!"
Analsiel could just make out a fire roaring in the midst of the rain. Something had been set on fire, and it was too strong a blaze even for this rain to deal with quickly. Analsiel spurred Carandae on.
She pulled up sharply behind a hill, and gathered the soldiers about her. "The plan is as follows. Waenaren, you take your group and stay behind this hill until we summon you. I don't want to spend all our force at once. If we don't come out of this, you must wait here and help Mena. Follow her orders as you would mine. Carneth, you take your group to the east of that fire, and try to put it out once the battle begins. I don't want to lose anyone to a burning fire. But try to light a few torches and keep them. We may need dry wood later. Theraug, I want you with me. Just follow my lead. Vanath, you go to the west with Durim's squad, and squeeze in when Carneth moves. Avnetiel, you are to go to the south and come at the same time as Vanath and Carneth. Sindal, the same to you, except to the north. If we lose, any survivors are to go with Reliand's group to the keep where the messenger is waiting. Valar be with us all tonight. Now ride."
Analsiel looked at every face as they rode away, knowing full well she might never see them again. Then she turned to her unit and Theraug's. The ladies looked terrified, but they seemed ready. She nodded briskly at them, and at every one else, then pushed Carandae out from behind the hill and rode out onto the field, her cry of "Galadriel!" tearing from her throat. Her fighters streamed out behind her, taking up the cry. And then all was chaos.
The darkness was deep, but the fire made the area around it as bright as day. She noticed that it was made by some kind of magic, and there was no way Carneth could get it put out. She almost called to him to tell him so, but bit her tongue. He was an intelligent man, and would eventually get his group to give up and focus on fighting. So she took her own advice, and settled in to the grim work ahead of her.
Not only had she resolved to do this, then all her resolve vanished. The light of the magical bonfire illuminated their adversaries through the rain.
They were at least eight feet high. There muscles were the size of swords, and their swords the size of spears. They were great hulking messes, bleached as pale as dew, and covered with a sickly grey sheen. Their eyes burned with black fire, and their hair was long, black, and lanky. Their teeth were molding and their voices sounded like the shrieks of a hundred men being tortured.
Analsiel almost had her head chopped off by one as she stared at it. But she reacted quickly enough to duck, and then she flung up her sword in a wild swing and cut off the creature's head. Then she slipped into battle fever, and didn't notice anything.
Throughout the fighting, visions slipped into her head. They were mostly of a place she had never seen before, and of Galadriel. She thought the place must be the Gray Havens but she didn't really get a chance to think about it. But mostly she saw her friends slipping swords through the bodies of the foul creatures, and her own soldiers slaying and being slain. She could feel it every time someone died, and her heart was sore. But she didn't have to dwell on it.
Her blade, Ruthruin, had worked itself into a fever of color. Everything within ten feet of it was stained
blood-red, and Analsiel's leaf glowed a deep silver that seemed to intertwine with the red, making the blade faster and sharper in Analsiel's hand.
Lhunidil and Luinduriel fought back to back on their horses, circling around a clump of Reliand's wounded. They didn't seem too worried about the creatures appearance, but their horses were close to hysteria. Analsiel rode over too them.
"Keep them at bay as along as you can!" she yelled over tumultuous sound that filled the space. "I'll send someone to help you!"
Lhunidil nodded, and hacked off a creature's head. Analsiel noticed sweat and blood on the faces of both women, but also a liquid of a sickly green color. Looking down at herself, she realized she was covered in it too.
It must be the blood of these creatures, she thought.
And then the time for thought was over.
Analsiel fought with every ounce of willpower she had, because exhaustion had set in a good hour ago, and she was running on strength she didn't have. But then a horn call sounded through the trees and Analsiel whirled around. She saw her friends do so as well, and suddenly the world seemed to slow down. She was acutely aware of everything around her. Of her head turning, of her eyes opening wide, of her black hair whipping across her face, and of her own voice shouting "MENA!" for all she was worth.
Then suddenly, it ended, and the world was moving as quickly as it had been before. Mena and her group moved quickly out of the woods, and Analsiel realized they couldn't possibly have been told by her messengers. Reliand must have sent someone to her too. He was truly an intelligent man.
And then Mena was upon them, and the battle was theirs. Her troops were fresh, and they fought with excitement in every inch of their bones. It gave both Analsiel's and Reliand's men new strength, and they fought harder, desperate to beat back these creatures. Analsiel herself felt a tremor of excitement quiver in her sword, and answered with a grin. The two of them went blazing down the field and Ruthruin never missed its mark.
Then she saw, on the edge of her vision, a single monster creeping away, with a small wound in its arm. She couldn't risk the chance of it returning to where it came from, and besides, she wanted to know what it was. So she threw her beloved sword at its back, and the creature toppled with a cry, which resounded over the
"You alright?" called Mena as she rode up on her horse, Fleet. Then her face paled. "Have you lost your sword?"
Analsiel laughed. "No," she said. "It's resting in the back of that creature that tried to get back to the rest of its people. Over there, in the trees."
Mena smiled. "You're brilliant," she said.
"I know," replied Analsiel.
Mena called over two of her men to ride with her and Analsiel to the spot where the creature had fallen. Analsiel called over all the ladies. Mena looked down her nose at the, and Analsiel sighed.
"Mena, these women answer to Arwen just as I do, and they saved many lives only a few minutes ago. So let's put rank and breeding aside and find this filthy thing."
Mena nodded curtly at all the women, who did the same to her, and then they hopped on their tired mounts and rode to the spot.
It took only a few minutes, but to Analsiel it seemed and eternity. What if the creature was already dead? What if she couldn't find it? What if it leapt out at her from behind the bushes and attacked her while she was unarmed...
But now she was getting silly, and she had to focus on finding the beast. Suddenly, Mena stopped, and Carandae, as exhausted as he was, nearly bumped into Fleet. But he caught himself in time, and Analsiel pushed him up level with Mena.
There, in the middle of the path, was the creature. It was covered in cuts and wounds from which that sickly green blood poured. Its eyes were glazed and bloodshot, and Ruthruin seemed to burn deeper into its back every minute.
In fear of losing her sword altogether, Analsiel dismounted and walked up to the thing. She pulled her sword out of it savagely. Then she stood over it with her sword humming in her hand.
"What are you?" she asked it, and when her voice came out as a squeak, she tried again. "What are you?"
The creature groaned. "I...am...a Mador-hai.." it gasped out.
Mena stared. "A what?"
The creature seemed to laugh at her. "You...don't know...do you? We bred...from the great...Uruk-hai...and now we...are more powerful...than they were..."
"But we slaughtered you easily tonight," said Analsiel.
Again the Mador-hai moaned out its laugh. "You have never...fought Uruk-hai..then...because 100...Uruk-hai..would have been...killed very...quickly..."
"Never mind that," cried Lhunidil. "Where are the rest of your people?"
The Mador-hai's pale lips parted, and green blood gurgled out. "Here," it said. And then it was dead.
Analsiel walked up to the top of the hillside. She knew she should get back on her horse and ride to the castle with the others, but she had to rest for a minute. And something called her to the hillside. As she drew nearer to it, her leaf hummed and her sword quieted, and she knew who she would find waiting for her.
She fell down upon her knees as soon as she reached the top, trying to clean her green hands in the pale moonlight. Tears fell from her eyes as she relived images of the battle. Men dying all around her, and the death of the Mador-hai. She hated killing so coldly, but if she didn't she would never fight at all. So she won all her battles, and wept after every victory.
But tonight, someone knelt beside her. Someone who was tall, and pale, and very bright but very sad. Analsiel knew instantly who she was.
"Galadriel," she murmured. And then, without really knowing what she did, she slipped back into the Elf's cool arms, and cried.
It reminded her most strongly of how Celebra, her aunt, used to cuddle her when she hurt herself. But Galadriel was more like a mother. She didn't stroke her hair, or murmur into her ear, just held her close, and let her cry.
Then she spoke. "I was proud of you my child. You fought so well today, and your men truly respect you. You have won their trust through this battle. Be pleased. But prepare yourself fro the coming battles. You face a new evil now. You must fight in new ways, and with new spirit. And if you would cleanse yourself of the killing you hate so much, then you must learn how to heal, and how to use your own powers for that gift. It comes from your aunt. But my gift will only heal properly if you can use it properly. Now go, and do what you must."
And as the white arms withdrew from their charge, she spoke again, and her voice held a hint of vanity. "By the way," she said softly. "Thank you for calling my name. At the beginning. I'm glad you did."
And then she was gone, and Analsiel walked slowly down to her waiting horse.