Eodred of Rohan - Part Fifteen
It was as if he stood upon some dreadful brink, and all was dark in the abyss before his feet. Eowyn had had the right of it; whether there was any light behind him he could not tell. For he could not turn yet.
He stood upon the Bridge alone...*
It rumbled through the air, under the stone, from the roof and from teh abyss below him. The darkness beneath the pillars drew itself up to a great height, a wall of shadow, and in the heart of that darkness a Fire kindled.
Eodred reached for his sword, but his hand froze halfway there. The Darkness stretched forward, one tendril on a hand long and black, and a shimmer of fear ran through him, fleeting. Then the tremor was a ripple, that grew into a wave, and then a wall, and Terror uncontrolled and uncontrollable ripped through him.
He felt the fear of a soldier ridden down by the winged Nazgul, a thousand times over; the field-folk of Rohan running from the burning torches of the Uruk-Hai, then thousand times again; he was a child, a mother, a brother, in hopeless escape.
Above it all a roar rose, a hundred thousand bass drums, the thunderous march of a countless host in deadly unison.
...Fire and Shadow...
The Demon of Shadow and Flame advanced, burning brightly amidst its darkness, and a Voice dark and terrible filled his mind with its shadow. He raised anger, and the darkness smothered it; he called sorrow, and the flames consumed it; he despaired, and Fire and Shadow exulted.
Eodred fell to his knees upon the Bridge, small and grey and alone, and the Balrog leapt with a bound upon the narrow span, brandishing aloft a blade of stabbing fire.
But amidst the darkness of his mind another light rose, small and faint, but all the fury quailed before it. The one piece of consciousness still his seized upon it, as a drowning man upon a piece of wreckage. He knew that Star; the Light of Earendil.
A bell chimed, clear and free, and suddenly Eodred could move again. His hand completed its journey and his sword flashed out pale and cold as he struggled to his feet.
The advancing menace halted upon the Bridge, spreading its vast wings of Darkness. The terror grew in his mind, stronger than ever before, but it was not part of him--he was one with the Star within him, and to Darkness dared approach it.
Then the Voice came. "You cannot enter here." And as it rang out, clearer and stronger than any mortal voice could be, he realized it was his own.
"Fall back to the Door unto the Night. Return to the Darkness that awaits you. You have neither place nor power here, Messenger of the Fire. The Light of Illuvitar shines free. Flee before his power destroys you! For either way the Void alone awaits."
The darkness about it seemed to fade, but the fire grew, until the chamber shone brilliantly in gold and orange, and the edge of Eodred's blade was gilded red. The Balrog's sword was fire, and the air roared as the blade cut through it. Down it swept, upon the tiny figure barring the way.
...his staff was broken on the stone...
There was a great flash of light, white and red; and the room was plunged into darkness as the Balrog traded Flame for Shadow. Eodred cried out, dropping his blade as it burned into his hand. Somewhere in the darkness a whip whined and cracked, and the Balrog advanced again.
Eodred raised an arm before his eyes. It was over, he knew; he stood there alone and weaponless before the fury of a Maiar.
...in Khazad-dum, his wisdom--
Before the rhyme coudl be completed he yelled out, fell and proud and strong, Illuvitar.
It began as a spark, a single star. But as it struck the Balrog it erupted into light as brilliant as a thousand suns, pure white light alone. There was a sound of stone grinding, shattering, and somehow Eodred managed to catch a glimpse of a dark form struggling, but the light remained.
The Bridge cracked beneath him, the stone crumbled, and he knew no more.
The elder huddled close to the fire in his robes, the children gathering about his knees. Teh women sat just farther out, their needles flashing in the firelight. The men stood beyond, just on the outer circle of the light, but they too were listening.
With a tremulous breath, the old man leaned forward and began in a soft voice:
Heark to my tale // and hear in the telling
Of Eodred the Mighty, // the Mark's swift warrior
Gold horsehead bearer, // bane of Balrog,
Swift Rider Fair. // One fresh spring morning
They came upon Eodred: // Eadil of Elros,
Anormene her brother, // Avar the silent...
*this, and the other italicized sections, are taken from Frodo's lay for Gandalf (FotR)
The final poem is in Anglo-Axon style, much as Tolkien wrote for the Rohirrim