Looking From the Outside In
It is difficult to imagine life for the future. Such horrible things have happened in the past, is there any hope for what is to come? My father is gone; he has decided to abandon us to ride with the banished Lord Eomer. The king's son is dead; does the king even grieve? Oh King Theoden, my lord, what evil here caused you to be so weak, barely capable to manage the country of Rohan? May you be blessed back to your former capabilities.
My brother, Dothain, believes father will come back. I do not discourage his beliefs, though there is little reason to hope. He is of only thirteen and loves our father dearly; I would not change that for the all the gold and silver in Rohan.
Strange guests arrive this day-- I can see them from the open door of our house. A man who is darker than the normal shading of the people of Rohan is riding on a brown horse through the streets. An old man with glistening white hair and a gray cloak is riding on a mighty beast: a beautiful stallion with a shiny white coat. A third horse rides up toward the Golden Hall carrying two strange beings I have never seen before. One was short and stout and had a long red beard. He is clad in unique armor and armed with two axes. The other had a bow and quiver strapped to his back and was quite handsome with his long blonde hair and pointed ears.
I stood up from the chair where I was sitting and walked outside, following the strange company with my blue eyes.
"Anireth!" someone called me from behind once the company had gone. Dothain walked up to me from the house with wonder in his face. "Did you see them? Dwarves, Elves, and Wizards! Never did I imagine that they would come here!"
Dwarves, Elves, and Wizards? Were there more of them? Dothain must had seen the confusion in my face, for he laughed and explained which one was which and as much as he knew about each race. He loved hearing about the outside world and had spent many hours with the elders of the city, listening to their strange tales of far-off lands. He was almost done with what he knew about wizards when the doors of the Golden Hall were thrust open. Grima Wormtongue was thrown down the steep steps by two of the king's guards.
The next thing my eyes beheld shocked and confused me. It was Theoden King walking down the steps with his sword gripped tightly in one hand, No longer did he have the appearance of a sickly old man-- indeed, his countenance had returned to that of a healthy middle-aged man. I remember when he looked like that before -- not too long ago, before Grima Wormtongue came.
The king looked bent on slaughtering Wormtongue who lay prostrate at his feet, but the dark-haired man ran up behind him and grabbed the sword, whispering urgently in the king's ear. Grima stood up and ran toward the crowd that watched him, screaming "Get out of my way!" He then galloped out of the city on a black horse.
"Hail Theoden King!" someone shouted, and the people of Rohan bowed before the king.
"Where is Theodred, where is my son?" King Theoden muttered, but loud enough for me to hear in the stillness that had come upon Edoras. He didn't know, I realized. He didn't know his son was dead.
We are leaving Edoras. Perhaps Grima was correct in calling the wizard "Gandalf Stormcrow: the bringer of ill news." My brother Dothain is excited about leaving the city but also heartbroken.
"What if Papa comes back while we are away? He won't know what happened to us." Dothain was close to tears. I did not have the heart to tell him father may never come back.
The people of Edoras have traveled for at least two days toward Helm's Deep. We were getting close when there was a disturbance at the front of the line of travelers.
"Can you see anything Anireth?" my mother asked me.
"Wargs! We're under attack!" The dark-haired man, (whom I found out to be named Lord Aragorn) was coming down the hill toward the procession yelling these ill-favored words.
Pandemonium broke out as women and children screamed and cried in terror about the beasts. Most broke out running toward the refuge, but I stood still, silently criticizing Lord Aragorn for his lack of subtleties at the news of attack. Could he not foresee the dangers of shouting it out to the frightened and weary refugees?
Lady Eowyn appeared suddenly before me and encouraged me to move on with the others. I turned and ran.
I could hear the cries of "Helm's Deep!" from the front of the line. Most began to run towards it but I did not; I wanted to stay as far away from the place as I was able: I wanted to go home.
"Come on, Anireth, there is no reason to be afraid now," Dothain took my arm and guided me to the entrance. He must have thought I was still afraid of the wargs.
The warriors arrived at Helm's Deep less than before. Lord Aragorn was not one of those to return.
A few days have passed and my small family has made a little corner of Helm's Deep our own. We were restless, ready to go home, but still enjoying the adventure. Then Lord Aragorn appeared seemingly from the dead with more ill favored news. A band of Uruk-Hai was marching towards Helm's Deep to wage war on us. We, along with the other families, were herded into the caves. Then the soldiers came.
The soldiers passed through and picked men and older teenagers to go with them-- then they realized they still did not have enough. One of the soldiers, a tall and wide man with dark blonde hair pointed his finger at Dothain.
"He is too young, my lord," my mother protested.
"I am sorry, but he is needed as well," the soldier looked apologetic, but his voice was stern. My young brother is going to fight against orcs bred for war -- to destroy and kill and cause pain and suffering. I fear I shall never see him again.
The battle has begun. We, the women and young children, can hear everything in the echoing caves. I fear for Dothain. I fear for the people of Rohan. Rohan is like a mighty horse: proud and strong yet undoubtedly mortal to the arrow, spear and sword.
We can hear the army of Uruk-Hai come closer. They are pounding their feet and weapons. Silence. Then a roar.
It has been about an hour now and occasionally I can hear the sounds of war reverberating off the stone walls. It is hopeless. I do not mean to despair, but there are elders and children out there fighting for their lives against monsters. I heard the rumor that there are only three hundred of our soldiers, and ten thousand orcs. I wish to speak of my fears to someone but my mother will not hear of it. "Hush, child!" she told me. And now I am alone with my thoughts of despair.
Something terrible has happened. The floor and walls and the rocky ceiling above us shakes and children are screaming in terror at the mighty sound that is being produced. I wonder if Dothain is still alive.
It is sometime later, but it is near impossible to tell truly how long it has been inside these ageless caves. I hear yelling near the entrance and stood up. My mother asked where I was going.
"I'm going to take a walk," I answered and she let me. I walked to the entrance and saw men barring the doors with everything they had left.
"Pardon me, miss, but you cannot be here," a guard told me. It was Hama.
"Hama! Is Dothain alive?" I whispered urgently once I recognized my uncle.
"He is, but wounded." He pointed over to a group of injured boys and men. "But you shouldn't be here, Anireth, it's not safe, they are breaking in." The wooden doors shuttered violently and some of the men were thrown back while other piled more boards against it.
"Please Hama, let me be near him, please," I pleaded with him.
Hama hesitated. "Alright. But stay in the shadows where you can still watch him, but the second I tell you to go, you must run as swiftly as you can."
So I sat in the shadows for a while to watch him and to know that he still lived. Then I saw the king standing with his second-in-command in the side, doing nothing and their faces mournful. Lord Aragorn ran up to them.
"Is there any other way to get the women and children out of the caves?" When neither of them answered, Lord Aragorn looked desperate. "Is there no other way?"
Gamling, the king's second-in-command, looked hesitantly at King Theoden then said, "There is a way. It goes through the mountains. But the Uruk-Hai are too many, they will not get far...."
"Send a message to the women and children to make haste for the mountain pass and barricade the entrance!" And my uncle and Gamling both rushed to do so, with Hama completely forgetting I was still there.
Then Theoden turned to Aragorn with hopelessness soaking into the depths of his eyes and said "So much death. How can men stand against such reckless hate? The elf grabbed the table, knocked everything off it, and slammed it against the shuttering door.
"Ride out with me," said the dark-haired man.
"For death and glory."
"For Rohan." I choked on the last statement but swallowed it to make no noise. I was astonished. Here was this man who I had thought evil, yet here he was before me willing to give up his life for the people of Rohan who had not given him a warm welcome or done anything beneficent toward him -- yet here he was, willing to give up his life to a people he didn't even belong to -- here he was, willing to give up his life when he wasn't even asked to stay and fight. He could have easily left us to die alone and hopeless in this chilling and broken-down fortress. He is a king, I realized, then mentally chastised myself for thinking such traitorous thoughts. Well, then perhaps not of this country, but he should be king but elsewhere, and he would be a glorious king.
The men were getting out their cavalry and I knew I must leave soon. I took one last glance at my brother, and hurried to the caves to see no one there; they had already left to go through the mountains. I ran for several minutes until I saw them moving slowly ahead. We continued along our track for about an hour when near the back there was uproar. Women were yelling and laughing in joy and the children were smiling and looking confused as to what had happened. We had won the Battle of Helm's Deep and hope was renewed for the people of Rohan once again.