Lady From Beyond the Sea - Chapter 25 - Dyryn
Tinania: Zandra's eldest sister, she became Dae Kular and went away. She has fire power.
Jaessa: Zandra's other sister, described as sweet, and calm. She has earth power, which includes plants.
Zandra's Mother: associated with stars
Zandra's Father: associated with shadows
Dyryn: Zandra once thought she loved him, but he tricked her and imprisoned her in Dol Guldur He had a ring, and became the Witchking of Angmar.
Gallin: Boy from Rohan, a friend of Zandra's, died at Helm's Deep
Lady From Beyond the Sea - Chapter 25 - Dyryn
A sudden change in the air had Zandra looking up from her study of the host of Rohan that lay before her. She could not find Merry anywhere. Had he perhaps actually stayed behind? She looked to the south and there was a fresh wind blowing in her face, and the light of dawn was glimmering. Far, far away, in the South the clouds could be dimly seen as remote grey shapes, rolling up, drifting: morning lay beyond them.
Then there came a bright flash, as if lightning had sprung from the earth beneath the City, but it was no lightning. Zandra knew lightning. That was Gandalf, and Dyryn was there as well. For a searing second the City stood dazzling far off in black and white, its topmost tower like a glittering needle; and then as the darkness closed again there came rolling over the fields a great boom.
Zandra urged Serilla forward, a sudden urgency pulling at her heart. Dyryn was here, and she knew that she had to face him. For better or worse, in order to escape the influence he had over her she had to face him.
Behind her she heard Theoden call, in a voice loud and more clear than any she had heard a mortal man achieve before:
Arise, arise, Riders of Theoden!
Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter!
spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,
a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!
Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!
Immediately after came the horns of the Rohirrim, calling loud and strong, calling their people to war, calling them forth to their slaughter, and perhaps to the end of the Rohirrim, with little hope of victory. But with their hopelessness was the knowledge that they were going to glory, to fight a battle that was perhaps the most worth fighting of any that had gone before.
Zandra cried aloud herself, the excitement of battle coming upon her. A feeling that was both exhilarating, and horrifying. It was a sensation that is seldom spoken of, though it is the only thing that made fighting bearable, the only thing that prevented Zandra from going mad. It is a response undescribable, but one that every warrior recognizes. Some crave it, it is the experience that brings men to maim and rape after battles. Some hate it, driving them to the brink of despair, and of suicide. For Zandra it was both and neither, it provided a type of detached horror that kept her sane, but at the same time she hated it. It was a heady sense of power, knowing that you danced with death, that your life, and the life of many others lay in your hands, and at the same time it was all a game of chance, a cruel game played for the amusement of Fate.
With the knowledge that she might live, or she might die, Zandra plunged into battle, accompanied by the host of Rohan, who burst into song, and they sang as they slew, for the joy of battle, that terrible joy, was upon them also.
The Southrons were scrambling to come about, their whole attention having been focused previously on the battle at the City walls. Now they were being attacked from behind. Zandra drew her blades in a single fluid movement, hewing at the first of the enemy that she encountered. As she hacked and parried, fighting her way towards the City she realized that there had not been another flash, there was no more sense of power coming from the Walls. What was going on? In a moment of distraction she felt Serilla fall beneath her.
Instinctively Zandra rolled through the air to come immediately back to her feet. "Thank you Jaessa!" she said aloud, as she struck at the nearest Orc. Jaessa had helped her perfect that trick, she remembered absently. She glanced quickly about for Serilla, not knowing if she lived or not, but could not waste enough attention to search for her.
"Goodbye Serilla," she whispered sadly, and she took her sorrow out on the Southron who was currently before her. She suddenly remembered Merry.
Zandra pulled her sword from the Southron, whirling about to slash at an Orc that came at her, pike raised. His blow never fell. Left for a moment without an opponent Zandra brushed the tears from her face and looked frantically about for Merry. She had caught a glimpse of a huddled figure behind one of the knights that surrounded the king, but where they were now she could not guess.
There! There was the king's Banner, his knights gathered around. They were sweeping through the main force of the Haradrim, a spear driving through to their heart, to the king of the Southrons. Fewer were the Riders, but they clove through the Southrons like a firebolt in a forest. Right through the press drove Theoden, and his spear was shivered as he threw down their chieftain.
Zandra was forced to turn her attention back to staying alive, as a Haradrim decided that she was easy prey. She proved him wrong, leaping out of the way of his spear and slicing deftly at his steed's hamstrings. The poor beast fell, but his rider leapt clear. He had no time to come about and attack Zandra again however, because he fell, Zandra's knife in his chest. Her father had taught her well.
She looked up again to see the unslain of the Haradrim calvary turn and flee far away. Rather than exult in that no small victory she began to run anxiously toward the king's company, towards the flashing of the king's golden shield. Merry was among them. Did he still live? Or did his small body lay among the dead and dying?
The king and his knights were crying aloud in victory, but suddenly in the midst of the glory of the king his golden shield was dimmed. The new morning was blotted from the sky. Dark fell about him. Horses reared and screamed. Men cast from the saddle lay groveling on the ground. But all this chaos was dim to Zandra. Blood pounded in her temples, and fear gripped her heart.
Dyryn. The King of the Nazgul was here.
She watched in petrified horror as Snowmane, the king's horse, wild with terror stood up on high, fighting with the air, and then with a great scream he crashed upon his side: a black dart had pierced him. The king fell beneath him.
The great shadow descended like a falling cloud. And behold! It was a winged creature, like a War Shrike, but with no feathers. Instead its wings were webbed, like a great bat's, or like a dragon. Upon it sat a shape, black-mantled, huge and threatening. A crown of steel he bore, and to other eyes between rim and robe there would be naught to see, save a deadly gleam of eyes, but to Zandra there appeared the ghastly form of the wasted visage of Dyryn, the King of Angmar, the most powerful of the Nine.
Her heart quailed, as the memory of their meeting engulfed her. A black mist seemed to flood her mind as the terrible beast settled upon the body of Snowmane, and its rider's gaze turned towards Zandra.
A terrible expression of exultation crossed that horrible face. Then, to Zandra's shock he turned away, to face to the supine body of the king. All of the king's knights lay slain about him, or else mastered by the madness of their steeds were borne far away. Yet one stood there still, Zandra did not know who he was. Then she noticed in horror a small figure, his body shaking, on all fours crawling towards the king.
She tried to rush forward, to stop Merry from the harm that would surely come if he got closer, but her limbs refused to move, as though some other will had placed itself within her, limiting her control of her own body.
"Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion!" a strong voice called, a voice very familiar to Zandra, "Leave the dead in peace!"
A cold voice answered, causing Zandra to shudder in remembered agony, how she wished that she had never heard it, "Come not between the Nazgul and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in they turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shriveled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye."
A sword rang as it was drawn. "Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may." Zandra's heart stopped. That voice, it was Eowyn!
"Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!"
Eowyn laughed aloud, though the sound was cold, and hard as steel. "But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Eowyn I am, Eomund's daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him."
At the winged creature's scream, Zandra's paralysis fled. Eowyn, the child from her past, and Merry, both were in danger, a danger that, had she recognized Dyryn for what he was may have been stopped. She ran forward, crying aloud, hoping to turn the Nazgul's attention away from Eowyn. She succeeded, that dark gaze shifted towards her, and the cold voice cried out:
"Stay! Child of Light! Your turn shall come!" the spiteful mockery in his voice served to stoke the flames of Zandra's sudden determination.
"Dyryn, you have no hold on me any longer. I am free from your dark dreams."
Cold cruel laughter rang out, "You think yourself free? What of the prophecy? Do you truly think that you can escape your fate?"
"My fate is mine to choose. So it is with my people. That is our gift from Dae. Prophecies may be made, but if we so choose we can escape them." She did not know from whence these words came, but she knew that she spoke true.
"Your people!" Dyryn was mocking, "Where were your people when you languished in the Great Lord's power? Your people have forgotten you." He laughed again, "You are nothing to them, at least to the Great Lord you have a use."
Shock shook Zandra's newfound determination. She had not thought about that before. Why had no one come for her? Surely someone must have!
Suddenly the great beast beat its hideous wings, and again it leaped into the air, and then swiftly fell down upon Eowyn, shrieking, striking with beak and claw.
Eowyn did not blench: maiden of the Rohirrim, child of kings, slender but as a steel-blade, fair yet terrible. Zandra ran forward again, abandoning for the moment the doubts that Dyryn had placed in her heart. Eowyn dealt a swift stroke, skilled and deadly from the years of training, both with Zandra and Master Frugmar. The outstretched neck of the beast she clove asunder, and the hewn head fell like a stone. Backward she sprang as the huge shape crashed to ruin, vast wings outspread, crumpled on the earth; and with its fall the shadow passed away. A light fell about her, and her hair shone in the sunrise.
Zandra focused on the glow of her hair, she must reach Eowyn before Dyryn could harm her!
Out of the wreck rose the Black Rider, tall and threatening, towering above the Lady of Rohan. With a cry of hatred that stung Zandra's ears like venom he let fall his mace. Eowyn's shield was shivered in many pieces, and she screamed in pain. Zandra was certain that her arm was broken; she stumbled to her knees. He bent over her like a cloud, and his eyes glittered; he raised his mace to kill. She was but a few feet away, but there was no way that Zandra would reach her in time!
But suddenly he too stumbled forward with a cry of bitter pain, and his stroke went wide, driving into the ground. Zandra sprang upon him, her elven forged sword swinging to drive between the crown and mantle, shearing through the undead presence that was all that was left of Dyryn's life force. The sword broke sparkling into many flying shards which laced Zandra's face and hands with tiny burning cuts, she closed her eyes, and flung up her hand to protect her eyes. Icy cold invaded her left side, and she collapsed forward over the fallen form of Dyryn. But the mantle and hauberk were empty. The last thing she saw was the crown rolling away with a clang, and the glitter of something red near her face, she reached out to grab it, and knew no more.