A TALE OF MIRKWOOD - Chapter Thirty-one - Invasion
Sorry, I know I was supposed to have htis up last week. Too bad that last week was totally hairy! I was sick this weekend to boot, so I'm only just getting around to it now. Sorry! Thanks again to everyone who posted last time. I really appreciated it!
The Orcs had invaded. The words resounded in Mithryn's head. Her vision had become a reality.
"Do not get any ideas, Mithryn," Haldof said, setting her down in the grand hall as other Elven women and their children came streaming in. "Legolas asked me to keep you safe, and I intend to do just that even if it means locking you in the dungeon. You must stay here, do you understand?"
"Haldof, I can help! My powers. . ."
But Haldof had no interest in her arguments. "Mithryn, I refuse to listen! You must promise me you will stay here. Do you swear to do so?"
Reluctantly, Mithryn nodded, and Haldof sprinted out of the Palace. Mithryn stood a moment, gazing around at the assortment of Elven maidens clothed in fine robes, but all with fearful and anxious faces.
The child in her body moved, and with it her determination to keep all that she loved in this world safe. Try as she might, it pained her to sit idly by while friends, dear friends, fought to the death, and while her home, Legolas' home, was ravaged and destroyed. Walking stick in hand, Mithryn quickly exited the palace, and in the chaos of the moment, went unnoticed.
She had not walked far when she realized the impossibility of her situation. Though the stick helped, Mithryn's ankle was still stiff, and, thus, she lacked the free and fluid movement required for battle. "Anfalas," Mithryn whispered, remembering her beloved horse. "Riding would make combat much easier," thought she, and so turned and made her way to the stables.
Muffled noises resounded in the distance and she made her way as briskly as she could down the forested hills to the stables by the stream. A crescent moon and lucent stars provided only dim light, but it was enough to help her find her way in the eery shadow of night. A light shone ahead and, as Mithryn approached, her heart quaked at the site her eyes beheld.
The stables were ablaze, their roofs curling as fiery bits flew up into the sky setting the trees above them on fire. Inside, the horses were screaming, ramming and kicking against their stable doors, desperate to escape the fire's merciless claws. A group of a dozen Orcs stood about, laughing with torches in their hands.
A rage came over Mithryn of such a nature as she had never felt before. It welled up inside her, and before she knew what had happened, her arms shot out, walking stick pointed towards the intruders. A great force was released, more powerful than she had ever before experienced. The Orcs were sent flying overhead, crashing into the flaming rooftops, and began to scream and flail about.
In shock, she gazed at her walking stick, but lost no time in raising it again, commanding the stable doors to fly open. Horses and ponies quickly bolted out, kicking in panic as they ran for freedom. The roof caved in, and, sadly, only a few ponies did not make it out alive. Mithryn gazed around frantically, calling Anfalas' name, and quickly the great steed trod over to her.
"Thank goodness," Mithryn said, stroking the horse's shoulder and neck as she whinnied and nudged Mithryn, telling her of the horror of smoke and flame. "Come Anfalas," Mithryn commanded, climbing onto her back with difficulty. "Are you ready for a fight? Well, let's give them one!"
Anfalas leapt forward into the night, running swiftly toward the palace. No elves were in sight but she felt their eyes on her from hidden vantage points. The great stone doors were now firmly closed, held fast by the ancient magic of the elves. Mithryn, however, had no intention of returning inside. Never before had she felt so powerful, and she longed to use this new force on her enemies.
Urging Anfalas to continue onward, they hastened deeper into the forest. It was not long before Mithryn spotted her next victim. The dirty beast charged, cutlass in hand, toward her, and Mithryn aimed her staff at it, releasing her awesome fiery bolt. The Orc shrieked as he flew high into the sky, arms thrashing around as he tried to grab hold of the tree branches. Mithryn's power, however, was too great. The Orc rose ever higher, until Mithryn let it fall. It had travelled some distance and fell beside a group of Elven archers. Orcs falling from the sky? They glanced up, but having seen no more, continued their battle.
Mithryn rode on, unleashing a rain of fireballs unto her enemies as she went. Haldof was near, witnessing the fiery downpour. Rushing to her side he yelled, "Mithryn, what are you doing here?! You gave me your word!"
"They set the stables on fire, Haldof," she replied, releasing more fireballs. "I was able to get most of the ponies out, but not all. We must stop them," she said, discharging another blast of power sending a group of Orcs high into the air.
"Mithryn!" Haldof said, grabbing her skirt in an attempt to gain her attention. "Mithryn!"
She looked down and, perhaps for the first time, recognized Legolas in his face. They shared the same eyes, she thought, but were now so full of fear. Her rage was summarily quenched, and she listened more intently.
"Mithryn, you are magnificent, indeed. If not for your child, I would willingly let you fight alongside me. You bear great power, and how I envy it. Your feelings do you credit, but your safety lies elsewhere which you are neglecting. Legolas is fighting. His fight is monumental. When he comes home, how are we to tell him that we lost his wife and child in battle?" How those words broke Haldof's heart as he said them, for he knew them to be too true. How, indeed, would he tell Legolas upon his return that Mithryn had been too ill? How would he tell his beloved brother that her ailing body had given out, and both lives were long gone?
Mithryn felt his heartache, and for the first time, acknowledged the wisdom of his words. "You are right, Haldof. I shall return."
Anfalas reared around, heading back toward the palace. "I shall ride with you," he said, leaping onto Anfalas. Mithryn was a trifle perturbed as she had not begged for his company, but did not feel partial to an argument she was sure she would lose.
* * *
The palace was reached and the doors remained shut firm. Haldof jumped off the horse's back and placed a hand on the cold stone wall. A low rumbling arose and magically the doors opened, leaving just enough room for them to walk through. They entered the palace compound meeting armed guards, and hurried through to the Grand Hall, now busy with Elves and servants. Haldof assisted Mithryn with her awkward dismount, and Thranduil walked in, eyes sparkling with restraint. "Haldof," the king said, "I wish to speak with you."
Haldof followed the King out and through the long, winding corridors to his study. When the door had been shut, Thranduil said, "Haldof, why was Mithryn out of these walls? We had discussed this, and I thought we had agreed. Mithryn is in no condition to be fighting."
"Mithryn is heedless, and is quick to act. Were she healthy and not with child, I think she would be a valuable asset to our forces. However, as it is, never would I wish her to act in so rash a manner. I escorted her hither, as promised to you, and she gave me her word she would stay. I thought she meant it."
"Heedless is correct. She cannot be trusted to do what is best for herself."
"Do not be too hard on her, Father. If you could but have seen how well she fought. Legolas would have been proud."
"Proud? To see his pregnant, ailing wife careering around on a horse in battle? Come, Haldof. No, let us have no more of this! Fear not, I hold no blame over you. Mithryn must be made to understand what outcome her choices create."
"Do you want me to tell her?" Haldof asked softly.
"Nay, you may mistake and say too much. I shall speak to her."
"Then," Haldof said, hesitantly, "then, she still is not to know her condition?"
"Nay, I see no good that it would do. Nay, I shall speak to her, and you shall say nothing. Now, give me an update of the battle."
"The Orcs have hit hard but our guards held fast and there have been no break-throughs. I have ordered more soldiers to the weaker posts and we have three hundred more archers standing by."
"Have there been any casualties?"
"Nine, at last count, I am afraid. Our enemy, however, has already paid a high price. I am guessing at least a hundred Orcs are dead and many more seriously wounded. The enemy was retreating when I left, but I do not think they will be gone long. No doubt they are regrouping their troops for another onslaught; valuable time for us to prepare. We shall be ready."
Thranduil patted his son on the shoulder. "May Eärendil watch over you, my son. Take care."
"May we meet again in the glow of the morning, Father," Haldof said before withdrawing and leaving his father alone.
* * *
Mithryn had returned, and none had scolded her for her actions, not even the king. She humbly fell into busy work, nursing wounded soldiers. The healers found her to be very gifted, but were firm when her weariness began to show. A full day passed, and little news came. She gathered what she could from the injured, but she had had no sight of Haldof, Tarnil or Galamed.
She was bathing a long bloody sword cut on the leg of a soldier when a servant approached her, asking her to follow for the king wished to speak to her. Another healer quickly took over her task and, picking up her staff, she followed the servant to the king's study.
"Ah, Mithryn!" the King said upon her entrance. "I hope you are well, my dear. You have been busy, I have noticed. And from the looks of you, have not had much sleep, either."
"Nay, my lord," she said, sitting. "The wounded are so many."
"Aye, they have grown in number considerably. However, our barriers are holding, thanks, in part, to you, I understand."
Blushing, Mithryn made no reply, and the king quickly continued.
"I hear you went for a little ride yesterday. Did you enjoy it?"
"Aye, my lord," Mithryn said, bashfully, "though I know it was wrong of me. I am sorry, and I shall never do so again."
Not totally believing this penitent admission, he had not the heart to scold her. "I know it is difficult for you, Mithryn. The body cannot always do what the heart bids it to do. You know your own strength. It must be the judge, not I. But you have another to think about, now."
"I know, and I understand, my lord. I cannot think how I was so foolish."
"Think no more of it, but be wary. Your strength must govern your actions. Now, come, walk with me awhile." The two rose to leave, Mithryn walking with her staff.
"You have grown quite accustomed to your stick, I see," Thranduil said as they made their way to the great hall.
"Aye, my lord, it has given me renewed might of which I cannot understand."
"Then Haldof was surely wise in the making of it for you."
They had only stepped into the Great Hall when more injured soldiers were being carried in. Healers quickly bustled about, tending to their wounds. Mithryn and Thranduil watched as writhing moaning, limping elves were brought in. She knew she could not leave them now.
"My lord," Mithryn said, quietly, "how long shall this battle last?"
"Alas, I do not know, my dear."
* * *
Three days and nights the elves battled the onslaught of Orcs, each time invading, and then retreating. There had been damaging losses on both sides, but more so upon the Orcs. On the third and final day, however, they rose up, spiteful for constant defeat, and came the last and final time with torches. Swabbing their arrows with oil, they lit them, firing into the trees, setting the forest ablaze with fire. Fire spread quickly, and for a moment, the tides had turned. Elves began to retreat, attempting to escape the fire, and the Orcs quickly ensued.
When all was believed lost, the sky opened up, releasing it's cool rain onto the burning woodland. Dousing the flames with cool water, a mighty wind also began to blow from the north, southward to the mountains. What the Orcs had begun had now turned against them, burning where they had come from. Swiftly the Orcs began to fall back to the mountains, never to return.
End of Chapter Thirty-one