In Times Like These - Chapter 17- Beginning of the End
Disclaimer: All characters are Tolkien other than my "OC."
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PrincessofNúmenor- O-o You are going to blow a vein when you finish reading this chapter.
angel_elf & lady_of_rings- Thanks! ,_,;; So much support.
17: The Beginning of the End (April 21, 2003 to April 25, 2003, rewritten: May 11, 2003 to May 16, 2003)
Hope was almost lost when hope became renewed. The simultaneous help that came from the sea and the land bolstered their failing faith. But their wandering brothers, the Dunedain had come to fight by their side. And yet, maybe the greatest aid that they received was the otherworldly presence of an old friend that came to renew old alliances. Aragorn, the true King of Men and the last of the elves had come to see Gondor and Middle Earth through to the end of their strength.
When the elves had finally glimpse at the battle to determine the fate of Middle Earth, they knew instantly they had come too late. One of the large strengths of the elven army was their ability to work together and drive arrows with punishing speed into the enemies that cut their ranks far quicker than any other method. Their late arrival meant that were not going to have a chance to use that tactic.
Instead, the elves discarded their bows and arrows as it would only encumber them as they split into three main groups. The largest group quickly launched themselves into battle to help Gondor and Rohan push back Mordor. The next largest group set up ground next to the human healers and helped tend to the wounds of those that could be saved. The smallest group led by Haldir was off to find Anaire for he knew that it wasn't only his wish to have Anaire safely next to him, it was also Celeborn's. The Lord of Lorien knew that his March Warden would give his life to protect his beloved.
It was with a wistful smile that he saw the standard of Arwen on Aragorn's ship bearing toward them. He with his small and loyal group of Galadhrim made haste speed toward the ships. He had this nagging feeling that she wasn't with them, but she had been a part of the Fellowship and this was where she should be. He brushed the feeling aside and charged toward the ship where the Dunedain were pouring out and overwhelming the forces of Mordor.
The shock of surprise on the faces of the orcs, Uruks, and Easterlings was exactly the response Aragorn had hoped for. It had been a stroke of brilliant luck when they had managed to demolish the orcs that were intending to offer reinforcements to those already battling at Pelennor. With the Army of the Dead on his side, they had sent the orcs into the hell hole that they deserved. Having done what had been promised years ago, Aragorn had then released them from their duty. What they had done was enough to let them finally rest in peace. Hope was renewed.
"Where is she?" Haldir asked with a sharp voice as cut down several Uruks and Easterlings that stood in his way to get to Elladan and Elrohir. With the puzzled look they gave him, his frustration and irritated came out with a fury in his displeased tone, "She was not waiting at Helm's Deep. They said she had left! Care to tell me the meaning of that?"
Elrohir's face went pale as he sliced off the head of an orc neatly. "She did not leave with us."
Elladan nodded, confirming Elrohir's response as he drove his sword into the brains of a warg that charged at them. "She must have left with the Rohirrim when they went to join Gondor." None of three lost their concentration as they battled their way through the ranks of orcs and Uruks that had come to replace their dead and dying comrades.
"I told her to stay and wait for you!" Elrohir exclaimed with as much anger as Haldir had ever heard come from the gentler, milder twin. "Why did she not listen?" he cried out as he decapitated a Uruk easily with the force behind his fury. "I only wanted to keep her safe!"
"We have to find her," Haldir remarked fiercely as he had a brief breather to glance directly at Elrohir. "It is not safe on these fields. There is too much of a risk that even with her skills, she could fall. It must have been hours since she started fighting."
"Indeed," Elrohir agreed grimly. "Elladan tell the others that I've gone with Haldir to search for Anaire."
Elladan nodded that he had heard as he covered their backs as they back trailed to a part of the field where the fighting was less intense and where they could begin to start searching for the errant Anaire. As hard as they tried to make haste speed to where most of the main force of the Rohirrim were battling, their progress was slowed by the enemy that kept getting in the way. But they were making their way, they were moving forward.
"They came!" Eowyn cried out with relief as she gutted another Uruk. "They have arrived Anaire! Hope is restored!"
If ever a smile had ever graced the timeless beauty of Anaire's lips, this was the smile that all her other smiles would be fond lacking to. //The tide is turning, she replied, the smile that she had on her face infecting Eowyn when she smiled too. //They arrived not a moment too soon. It will not be long before Mordor is completely emptied. If we are victorious here and the ring does not fall into the hand of the enemy, then everything will be restored.\
"Help needed here!" Merry exclaimed as he attempted to dodge the warg that his rider had sent after the vulnerable hobbit. What the orc that was currently steering the wild warg hadn't counted on was the stern mettle of the human woman and the elf maiden that were both garbed as two lanky warriors of Gondor. "About time too," Merry muttered when he saw them glance in his direction.
The smile was still on Eowyn's face as she and Anaire attacked in perfect synchronization the warg that was charging at them. First, they plunged their blades into the eyes of the warg to effectively blind the beast. That then gave Merry the opportunity to leap onto the warg and thrust the point of his sword into the orc's belly. As soon as he was done, he jumped off swiftly and watched as they finished off the warg with the efficiency that spoke volumes of how well they complimented each other in battle.
The hobbit wasn't given much time to think about how well Anaire and Eowyn matched since he was too busy trying to keep his head on his shoulders as a heavy Uruk swung his sword in a deadly arc that was aimed to decapitated Merry. If he stopped to think about the situation, he would have found it shocking that he didn't run anymore from danger. Instead, he was reveling in his capability to disarm a being much stronger than him by the merit of his speed and agility, then when the danger was gone, aim either at the throat or get underneath the armor and do a gut thrust with his blade.
The pure absorption that Merry was feeling in the battle was the exact same feeling that Anaire and Eowyn had acquired a long time ago. What use was it to think? What was needed wasn't thought, all that was needed was for them to be efficient in their movements and to make their strength last as long as possible. It didn't matter how much blood they had made their enemy shed, more was still coming. But unlike an hour ago, this time they had the reinforcements. It wasn't only one sided.
It was a good thing too. Eowyn had noticed how sloppy her movements were becoming. If anything, she thought she was doing better than Anaire, who had small superficial wounds that riddled her arms. It wasn't that she doubted the elven maiden's prowess. Anaire had proved it again and again by protecting Eowyn's and Merry's back; she just wasn't as good at keeping herself from harm.
Eowyn deflected the blow that would have given Anaire another cut on her arm and panicked when she began to realize how hard it was to keep having the edge over these Uruks. She was relieved when Anaire plunged her spare dagger into the throat of the Uruk since the sword had been wrenched from her hand, it gave Eowyn the chance to kick the legs out of the foe and plant her sword into his brains. "That was close."
//There seems to be no end to this. Even Anaire's mental voice sounded weary, despite the infusion of strength that had come with the arrival of Aragorn's Army of the Dead and the remnants of what was left of elven potency. //I do not know how much longer I can go on, Eowyn. She hated to admit her weakness, but she wasn't blind to the fact that she was failing and that soon she wasn't going to be much use to anyone. She was only going to be a hindrance. //It is getting harder to continue on.\
"I know," Eowyn responded tiredly. "But we have to keep going on," she said resolutely, placing a still strong hand on her friend's shoulder. "I know you have more strength in you, Anaire. Don't give up; don't lose hope. Are you not the one that kept sprouting that there is always still hope left?"
She nodded, so it seemed that Eowyn had listened to her brother on occasion, she only wonder when she had. There had not been many moments when Eomer and Eowyn had gotten the chance to be alone and to reflect on what was happening. It didn't matter, all that mattered was that Eowyn understood that there was still something to believe in.
On their rampage to find Anaire, Haldir, Elrohir, and Elladan had been slaughtering numberous numbers of the foe that came into their path. Their searching had taken to the very forefront of the battle to the backlines where the healers were trying frantically to save those that could be saved. Yet, still they had not found her. As more time passed, the more desperate Haldir became. It wasn't hard for him to imagine that she was one of the disfigured bodies that littered the bloody battlefield.
No, if she was gone he'd know. Even if she hadn't bonded herself to him, he had to her. There was no place in his heart for another, there was only place for her. She consumed him. He had to find her, he couldn't be without her. He wished he had acted on his feelings earlier because he wanted not to spend a lifetime with her but an eternity. However, he knew before she hadn't been ready, he only hoped she was ready now.
Elrohir saw the conflict that ran through Haldir's face. He rested his hand on Haldir's shoulder and reassured him, "We will find her, she is here. I can feel her presence, it's getting stronger. We must be getting closer to her. Do not worry so much, if there is anyone that can protect herself--- it's her. She did learn from the best warrior in Lorien, did she not?"
Haldir shrugged, his mind focused on other things that Elrohir had spoken of. "Can you feel where she is?" he asked, letting the hope seep into his voice. If Elrohir felt her, then maybe he could find her.
Sadly, Elrohir shook his head and answered honestly, "If I had stayed closer to Anaire longer, perhaps I could feel where she is. But I can only know when she is somewhere but not her location, unfortunately."
Letting out a ragged breath, Haldir's eyes scanned the fighting crowd frantically wanting and needing to find her, to see that she was safe. He didn't doubt her fighting skills, but if she had been with the main force when the battle had commenced, then that meant she had been on the field fighting for hours on end. Even with her elven strength and skill, there was only so long that she'd be able to keep on at her best. And hours of nonstop battle was hardly going to help her stay alive.
He only hoped that she had the ring on, but in his gut he was sure that she didn't. When he had given it to Galadriel to look at, she had only said that she had blessed it. It was her way of approving him. Yet in his heart, he had this feeling that she had done more than blessed this ring, that if Anaire wore it she'd be safe. While he knew his beloved wasn't wearing the ring, she had it close to her heart. He only prayed it kept her safe.
Though they had stayed away from the main body of the Rohirrim force so they'd not be recognized by those that knew Eowyn too well, they kept close enough to keep watch over Theoden and Eomer. Anaire knew that Eowyn kept glancing over to what was left of her family because she was worried about their safety. It was the same anxiety that Eomer had had when he had tried to keep Eowyn from her destiny. Ever since the reinforcements could be felt pushing back Mordor, the enemy had renewed its assault with even more fervor.
But Anaire saw that this was not going to be a victory for Sauron. The tide had turned, and it made her happy to know the elves had come to lend their aid. She was worried what was going to happen now that things had become desperate for the other side. It was not like Sauron was going to give up. But what could now? No longer did she feel like she was battling for her life, it was now only for the cause. It was a good thing too because she was feeling the burden of her tired limbs even more. Soon, it'd be over. All over.
Maybe not as she watched with horror when she saw the WitchKing approach the battlefield, clearing a wide path when he swung his sword one side to another. Anaire had paused to watch, frozen where she was when the WitchKing turned to her direction. His dead evil gaze pinned her where she was, leaving her entirely vulnerable to attack. If it wasn't for Eowyn, she would have died where she stood.
"Anaire!" Eowyn shouted, trying to reach where her companion had gone. "You cannot lose focus now!" She shook her friend hard, not understanding the darkness that was consuming Anaire. "What is wrong?"
Everything, Anaire thought. Her eyes were still focused on the terrifying form of the WitchKing as he wrought destruction on their cause. The tide had been turning, but it had stopped with the disastrous coming of Sauron's righthand. The light and the glory she had been filled with faded with that one glance from the WitchKing. Darkness consumed her with as much power as it had in her worst nightmares of her past torture.
"Anaire?" Eowyn said with concern, continuing to shield the paralyzed elf maiden from harm. "Anaire, what is wrong?" she asked when she had a pause in action of defending her friend.
Anaire couldn't form her thoughts into words, all she could do was point. As soon as she pointed, Eowyn turned to where Anaire was directing her gaze and didn't see what Anaire was seeing, the WitchKing. Eowyn saw the larger picture. The path that the WitchKing was making was heading straight toward her uncle. A quick look at where she had last seen her brother confirmed that he was too caught up in his battle to help.
"Theoden needs help," Eowyn said sharply, shaking Anaire hard to get her to focus on the present. "Anaire, I need your help." It wasn't like Eowyn to admit her weakness, but if she wanted to reach her uncle's side, she knew she needed Anaire's help. "Anaire!"
That snapped Anaire back and away from the evil that was infiltrating its way into her heart. //I am sorry, she apologized. //It is just... Just that looking at the WitchKing had reminded her of the darkness that had nearly absorbed her. The other Nazguls had been bad enough, but this was the WitchKing. Her worse feels were realized in him for his gaze penetrated farther. It reached inside of her and tempted her forcefully to acknowledge that she wasn't pure, hadn't been for a long time.
"I understand," Eowyn responded with a reassuring smile. "Let us go help my uncle." Anaire nodded while Eowyn alerted Merry to their plan. Once Eowyn caught Merry's attention, they began to make their way steadily to her uncle's side. With extreme efficiency of having fought by each other's side for hours with only brief respites, they had become in tune to one another's movements. Leaving a path of dead enemies, they were coming to lend aid to Theoden.
"Lorien is saved, my Lady."
Those words meant nothing to Galadriel as she stood on the ledge where she had successfully cast spell after spell to push back the wave after wave of orcs and Uruks that had left Lorien in almost utter devastation. But somehow they had survived and Lorien still had some of her light. The cost had been enormous as she stared at the elven maidens that had given their life to protect their home.
If she was not the Lady of Lorien, she would have allowed herself to collapse and to weep for the destruction and horror that War brought, but she was the Lady of Lorien and she needed to be the strength that her people leaned on. If she gave in to the tragedy and pain, what could they do? Oh, she knew very well that her people regarded her as the most powerful sorceress on Middle Earth. She could not let them down.
"Yes, Lorien is saved. Lorien is safe," she stated with her calmly serene voice, meant to soothe away any anxiety and worry in the elf's mind. "Go see to the injured while I peer into my Mirror." It wasn't a moment before the messenger left to return to the bloodied battlefield to lend what aid she could. When she had gone, Galadriel took a deep breath and made the long journey to the Mirror, dreading what she was going to see.
The images that she saw sliced her heart into two, the pain that overwhelmed her shattered all that remained of her strength. How was she to continue if she had nothing to live for anymore? But there was still the chance that this awful price might not have to be paid. After all, had she not averted the disaster at Lorien? Not without a terrible cost, but still it had been done. Her fears for Anaire increased tenfold, where they had been inside of her since Anaire had left.
The ring that she had enchanted did nothing to lessen her fears. The mithril ring Haldir had given to Anaire had not been given for value of the metal, though it was truly priceless, nor for the beauty of the craft. In the promise ring, Galadriel had poured her love, Celeborn's love, and Haldir's love into a powerful enchantment that was made to protect her daughter. She had told no one of it because for it to work to its full affect, Anaire had to accept the ring and the love.
Yet even she did not know if it'd work. The sense of foreboding was terrible. It was going to be soon when Galadriel received her answer, whether Anaire was safe. All too soon because in the distance away from the empty battlefield surround Lorien, there was another fight being waged that would determine the fate of Middle Earth, that would determine her own fate. What had her precious Fanyarelisse once said to her? I will know before the night is over what course I will take.
She was so tired, so entirely weary that she did not know she continued to fight and protect Eowyn's back as her companion plunged into the battle recklessly, trying... trying so hard to reach her Uncle in time. The more obvious that the WitchKing was aiming for Theoden, the harder that Eowyn pushed. The hard Eowyn pushed forward, the more she didn't watch her back.
In a way, Anaire thought it was only fair since she hadn't been paying attention to her back when she'd been lost in thought. But this was different. Then they hadn't been charging into the enemy. Then they had been stationary, able to watch for each other. Eowyn wasn't watching anymore, there was only one thing on her mind--- to get to her Uncle before it was too late.
"NOOOOOOO!" cried Eowyn as the WitchKing brought his blade down to sever her Uncle, killing him instantly. "Uncle!" The sight of Theoden dying, drawing his last breath as he collapsed to the ground only pushed Eowyn harder to be by his side. Now, they didn't have to push through the crowd of men, instead they had to prevent themselves from being push backward as the men nearest him started retreating.
It was with the wave of retreat that Anaire got separated from Eowyn and Merry, getting shuffled backwards and nearly falling over several times before she regained her footing. It was when she felt solid again on her feet that she felt a sword plunge through the air, aimed at her. It would have killed, it would have torn into her but for the mithril ring that blocked her heart from being stabbed.
The Uruk then had jerked the sword away, ripping the ring from her neck. She should have been paying attention to the Uruk, gauging its move and seeing what attack it'd make. But no, her eyes were concentrated on one thing--- the mithril ring. She watched as it fell to the ground and her heart ached. Suddenly, she felt horribly vulnerable... something she had not felt in a long time.
And she sunk down to her knees and tried to reach the ring. She knew she had to get the ring, though she didn't know why. In her desperation to reach the ring, she saw her mother reaching for the promise ring that she had dropped. It was hard for her to see any difference from what she was doing now from what her mother had done then.
When she had first seen that dream, she had been confused and horrified about its significance then as a child. But when she had recalled it at Helm's Deep when Elrohir had placed Haldir's ring into her hand, she had been puzzled on why her mother had reached so frantically for a ring that would do her no good when she should have been reaching for a weapon to protect herself with.
Just liked her mother. Yes, she was just like her mother. She wanted to weep because all the memories came crashing back into her, threatening to overwhelm her mind. Her father had called her `my little girl' and her mother had been `my big girl.' How she wished her parents had not died, but she could blame no one but herself. She had been the one that had wanted them to go out that night--- that night when they had died and she had been captured by the orcs.
It was all her fault. All her fault that her mother had died, that her father had died. It was all her fault. And she knew now why her mother reached for that ring. It was more than a symbol of her parents' troth; it was the emblem of their love. As she was reaching for the ring, she knew she was trying to hold on to whatever love that Haldir must have had for her to give it to her.
Haldir loved her. Celeborn loved her. Galadriel loved her. She was still loved even though she had caused her parents' death. It strangely calmed her hysterical nerves as her hands stained themselves with the blood on the ground as she touched the ring. That was all she managed to do when she was violently struck by a sword. The blade should have decapitated her, but it didn't.
It left a nasty cut from her neck to her breast, but her head was still attached to her head. The pain shocked her back to what she had to do. She reached for her dagger, the only weapon she could get her hands on and she immediately plunged it into the belly of the Uruk that had been about to kill her. He roared with his pain and she didn't hesitate to grab her sword and finish the job off.
It was as she had slit the Uruk from neck to navel that she was struck from behind. In her folly, she had forgotten to watch her back since she had gotten too use to Eowyn covering for her foolishness. There was no Eowyn to help her or Merry to distract the foe, she saw where they were. They were standing before the WitchKing and Eowyn had her blade lifted up in a challenge.
Anaire could only imagine the gleam of bravery and determination that glistened in Eowyn's eyes. It was a pity she'd never see it again, she thought as the sword sliced into her chest. Her mind whirled in shock as she raised her sword and thrust it at whatever was behind her. Even in shock, she was still able to hear Eowyn's words ringing out clearly as her friend charged, "No living man am I! You look upon a woman... Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you."
So like Eowyn. Courage and fire and the unwillingness to give up. Though her body trembled and shuddered from the weakness of extreme blood lost, she felt the foe behind her collapse before she did. It was her only joy to find that she was now in arm's reach of her beloved's ring. With the remaining strength inside of her, she closed her hand around the ring and heard in the faint background a voice she wanted most to hear.
"Anaire!" It was him. He had come. "Anaire!" He had come too late. She did not even had the strength to turn her eyes in his direction; she had no more strength anymore. She had used it all to slip the ring onto her finger. She was his.
Author's Note: This chapter took by FAR the longest to write. I wrote a good portion of it today and I have to say that I'm pleased with the way that it turned out. But note, I expect good reviews before I come out with the rest of the story. I'm currently no longer have to worry about school and have quite a bit of free time, and reviews do the best to encourage me to write. So how about it? I am currently obsessed with Harry Potter, which means I'm writing a Harry Potter fanfic... which detracts attention from this one and another one that like this one is nearing completion. Actually, the other one is closer... ,_,;; but I've been neglecting it 3 months for this one and it can happen to this one. Please review and let me know what you think? Was this scene as terrifically touching as I thought it was?