The Coin of War
Soon. Soon the city of Minas Tirith, the jewel of Gondor will be ours. It will be as the dark lord promised our king when he swore allegiance. The white city is the unconquered virgin and we will force her to open herself to us, to pillage and plunder. We will take her innocence and taste her in all of her sweetness while the blood of her people is still wet on our hands.
We are almost there when a cock announces the rising of the sun and on its heels comes the faint whisper of a voice, carried to us by the wind over the alien, lush fields. Then the note of a single horn is raised in a stirring solo before the chorus of many horns, their voices achieving a chilling harmony that boded ill for us, joined it.
Fierce and fey, the riders in green descend upon us, unstoppable in their gallant charge. Yes, I tell you, though they were the enemy, their valor is no less praiseworthy than our own. Would that they had ridden with us, rather than against us.
I fall to the bright lance that pierces me. I think that if it is my destiny to die in this battle, at least it will be with honor and to a worthy foe. For this company of the Haradrim, defeat is to be our reward and though they have yet to win the gate and true victory, those things appeared to be within the Rohirrim's grasp. My people will reap a bitter harvest this day.
My sight grows dim and the roaring of my blood fills my hearing as it travels through my veins only to spill out on the crimson battlefield. Yet a cry breaks through, the wail of a fell voice from the bottom of deepest of well of despair.
I cannot see! What is happening! I force my arm, my hand to move; they feel weighted down. It is Death's promise that it will come for me soon.
What must have only been a few moments seemed to take hours but at last I free my eyes from their prison of drying blood and sweat. Was it my own or my enemy's? It matters not. I fear the worst, for I know whose cry of ruin I heard. Desperately I prop myself on the body of a slain horse, fighting off the waves of nausea. Please, I beg death, grant me this boon.
My prayer is answered and I am given that last moment though what little strength I have left is fading quickly, but the gods have been merciful to me and my people. I will die in peace for the salvation of Gondor's conquerors is at hand. It is borne upon the waters of the Anduin in the form of black ships with ebony sails. The Corsairs have arrived as promised. I embrace death with open arms, safe in the knowledge that victory will be ours.
The cock crows, the horn blows, and lo, we turn the tide of battle for Gondor. We press through the sea of scarlet and black on silver, leaving a trail of crimson blood on the green grass of the Pelennor. Our king has returned and leads us into battle himself. Why `twas the king's own spear that pierced the Haradrim chieftain, bringing him down. `Twas his sword the hewed the standard bearer and the staff he carried. The black serpent now drowns in the blood of it's own people.
Our voices raise exultantly, our declaration that victory would be ours this day. But the fickle tide of battle could turn in a single instant, with a single act. The gigantic wings of a nightmarish beast obliterated the rising sun. By some foul witchcraft, madness was cast over our Riders and caught them in its mesh as a fisherman's net ensnares fish. The minds of men fill with terror, as horses rear in panic, some flinging their riders to the ground before stampeding far from the beast and its rider. For a rider it does carry, a Nazgul, the witch-king of Angmar.
Chaos and terror reign. I fall.
"My Lord!" I cry as Snowmane falls to pin my king to the ground.
Blackness consumes me for a time and my dreams are foul. Unlike many of the king's knights, I survive. Left for dead by the Haradrim who believe the tide has turned in their favor.
I awaken to a cry, the likes of which I have never heard before and will never hear again. My eyes open, no, it cannot be. How is it possible ... I see the Lady Eowyn, barely able to stand, her sword buried in the hulking figure that would engulf her, the halfling behind them. 'Twas the witch-king's death cry that roused me. I have lost sight of my lady and raise myself. She has fallen on the empty armor of her vanquished foe, the halfling by her side, by his king's side. The words they speak are not mine to hear as I fall into darkness again.
A loud cry of despair brings me out of evil dreams once more. The king is gone, as is Eowyn and the halfling, and again I am left for dead. The hue and cry grows louder and now I know, it comes from the city. What has occurred that they think all is lost? The Corsairs! Even from here, propping myself on a dead Haradrim, I can see the black sails on the Anduin. But wait, a flag unfurls and a joyous cry spills over the white walls of Minas Tirith, echoed by my people on the battlefield.
I realize why I had been left for dead as the earth receives that last of my life's blood. Yet I am granted on last sight, one last thought. I see the sable standard of the new king, the one king, the savior of us all. We have won.