The Two Towers: Kyshri's Story - The quest to destroy the One Ring told through the eyes of a runaway elf (part eight of thirteen)
Recap of Tale 7 . . .
Silence fell again as the dark army drew nearer. Aragorn paced back and forth along the battlement between the first and second rows, speaking soft reassurances in Elvish to keep the rest of us calm. This, of course, did not work at all on Gimli, but his fidgeting did not distract us from our focus.
Then it happened. One of the archers of Men lost his grip and loosed an arrow into the army. It was a good shot, for the goblin fell, but that ended the standoff we had been in. The other goblins and orcs roared and rushed forth.
The battle had begun.
I strung arrow after arrow, emptying my quiver far quicker than I would have liked. As Haldir had, for some reason, insisted on taking his arrows back for this one battle, we had switched. I paused when I realized I had no more arrows, then reached over and pulled one from Legolas' quiver.
But by then, the army had started raising ladders. I freed my sword and sliced at the wood. The blade caught momentarily, but did eventually go through. The top, heavy with orcs, fell back onto the army. I grabbed the ends now leaning against the wall and shoved backward, toppling the whole ladder.
I turned to Haldir, who had nearly every arrow in circulation. [What?]
He risked a short look at me, pausing to place an object in my hand. I knew what it was. [Summon the Keepers!]
[Have you gone mad?! I have never successfully done so! They could easily get out of control and become a serious problem rather than a great aid!]
[Kyshri, we are not going to win this! You must try! Would it not be better to die trying than die because you were afraid?]
I took a breath. [. . . As you wish. I must find a safer place.] I ducked behind him and ran around to where Rilloc was still perched, her wings outspread as a warning and challenge to the dark army that she would not be at all kind to them if she got her talons into them. Passing behind her, I climbed to the highest outcropping and cupped in my palms the item Haldir had given me.
It was a perfectly round black stone. I did not know where it had come from, since Lady Galadriel had given it to me to help me learn to focus my summoning power. However, I had always had a tendency to use it for every little thing, which I quickly got out of once I ran away. But I had never had the focus to summon the Keepers and had therefore never tried more than that first time . . .
I held it about chest height and blew gently on it. It glowed a deep, royal purple. I lowered my hands from it and then lifted my arms as though to embrace the sky. I could see its glow as it floated before me even with my head tilted back. I closed my eyes and let the purple light fill my mind, then began to chant.
I summon thee from thy
Cloaks of Nature's life:
Sentinel of Earth,
Protector of Fire,
Defender of Water,
Guardian of Wind--
I ask now for your aid,
Keepers of the Elements.
I lowered from my stance and looked across the land. A shout of alarm ran through the dark army and I watched as the head and neck of a beast made of rock appeared from within the army's ranks, as though it was rising straight from the earth. The creature held its ground, gazing around curiously, but did nothing yet--it became flesh; the wingless dragon Terrashi, Keeper of Earth.
In the fortress, several torches blazed underneath rain shelters. Each trailed off a long string of fire, which formed a spiral of flame. It took the solid shape of a beast with outstretched wings; the wyvern dragon Pyrin, Keeper of Fire.
Also in the fortress ran a large stream. The orcs had already broken through the wall barricading it and it had flooded out into the army. From what flowed from the mountain rose a tall spout of water that solidified into the sea-dragon Hydriva, Keeper of Water.
Finally, a tornado took form behind the army. Six streaks of lightning flashed from it, two of which were moving up and down rhythmically, like wings. It shaped to reveal the two-legged dragon Aeryc, Keeper of Wind.
They remained where they had formed, seemingly waiting for some instruction. They apparently felt no need to attack, since the battle had ceased at Terrashi's appearance and all were staring at them in awe.
Well, I was not so awed. They were perhaps truly at my command this time. I screamed my order so there could be no small mistake of my wishes. [Kill the Dark Army! Kill them!]
That was all it took. Terrashi raised her head in a shriek that was joined by the others. Then she swept her tail, capable of knocking over fully-grown trees, into the army and killing dozens. And bracing her feet, she levelled her head and neck with her body and opened her jaws wide. A powerful spray of earth buried hundreds of orcs and goblins in seconds.
Pyrin flew eagerly over the army and breathed intensely hot flame across it. His fire seemed to lick along the army's surface, engulfing each orc/goblin. Those struck caught fire and died with a horrid cry.
Hydriva, somehow able to fly without wings, glided to the hole made in the wall. Stopping, she curled her tail elegantly beneath her, raised herself, and spread her forelegs in a bracing position, then cut loose with a deadly funnel of water. Any caught in its path drowned, washed away, or were killed by the sudden impact of water on them.
Aeryc swept his wings forward quickly, using the wind gusts to cluster a pack of the army together. Then he dove at them, opening his mouth to allow wild but well-aimed bolts of lightning to strike multiple targets.
I watched the destruction impassively, trying to keep my hold on the dragons' lust for justice. If they got out of control, they might turn on the fortress and there would be no hope. I leaned slightly over the purple orb, my arms loosely encircling the area it was in, and stared hard at it, ignoring the destruction going on around me. If never again, now was not a time to get distracted.
Suddenly, the orb jumped into my body. It was as though I had been struck with a troll's club which, by the way, is not a particularly fun experience. I dropped to the ground, unable to control myself, and coughed reflexively to try to regain my breath and rise.
But I could not, and the world went black.
He smirked to himself as the Keepers took shape and both sides stopped and stared in awe. He could hear the other elves around him murmuring to each other, that the myths were actually no myth; the Element Keepers were there--alive and breathing as though it was a natural occurance.
But he quickly grew nervous. If Kyshri had been unable to secure command over them, they could easily turn on those they had been summoned to aid. Then he heard Kyshri's shout from behind him.
[Kill the Dark Army! Kill them!]
The dragons set to work. Each had their turn at the army and completely destroyed a small section of it. It was the might of Nature coupled with the ferocity of dragons. As such, they could have done far more damage, but to allow it would have taken power Kyshri did not possess.
Abruptly, however, the four Keepers vanished. He whirled to look up where she had been, but there was only darkness. He would have gone to find her, but there was a substantial amount of the army left. He could not abandon his post, no matter how important he felt the reason was.
He turned to the orcs that were spilling over the wall and drew his sword, striking immediately, taking out two or three at a time because of their thickness. He thrust his sword through the final one, prepared to turn and head back to clear the other way.
Before he could do so, however, he felt a searing pain right at the base of his neck, as though something had struck into his spine. Paralyzed, he could neither attack nor defend himself from the goblin that rushed up before him and drove its ax hatefully into his side. The pain was indescribable and as the ax was pulled from his body, the pain intensified. Whatever was in his neck left as well and dropped him to the battlement walk. Pain exploded through him, dragging him nearer and nearer to death.
But he could not yet let go. He clung desperately to the dregs of life that he had left and closed his eyes to assume death. There was no point in . . . no point in destroying . . . destroying his final chance . . . to see . . . [Kyshri . . .]
Legolas stopped and looked across the army at one of the wide, steep paths it had come down to see Gandalf on Shadowfax, leading a sizeable company of Men. He took a closer look . . .
It was Eomer!
And then, beyond him, was a skinny sort of horse . . . it was hard to distinguish its silhouette against the rising sun . . .
No, it was no horse. It had antlers . . . It was a deer buck! And judging from the missing prong, the buck was no other than Damone! Its rider appeared to be the young elf Istaq. And then from behind the boy soared a brown, gray, and white creature that he knew as well: Pikmon. And the greater owl carried three elves; probably Sulaine and the two Patrons who were still alive.
Rilloc gave a cry of greeting but did not move from her perch. Gandalf raised his staff. Pikmon dove and then pulled up sharply. All three elves leapt into the mass of orcs and goblins and began their work. A sea of deer, both buck and doe, poured over the edge of the rise and down at the army. In return, the army set of a line of spears to pierce the hearts of the fragile deer as they charged at them.
But that had already been planned for. At the last possible second the deer stopped and their riders lunged over their heads into the army, immediately continuing the destruction that had started. The deer hopped to the side and formed a line, making a large circle around the army before leaping into what was left and beginning their own sort of battling.
And then, with no threat of being lanced, Gandalf and Eomer led the company of Men down into the already overwhelmed army and began decimating it almost gleefully.
The appearance of the allies gave those in the fortress hope. Now separated from the rest of the army by a mound of Terrashi's earth, the troop of orcs that had invaded the fortress was obliterated in mere moments. A cheer of sweet relief and triumph went up.
Legolas sheathed his daggers and sought out Gimli. "Ah, Gimli! I am glad to see you well!"
Gimli grinned. "And I you. Forty-two, Master Legolas! But alas, my ax is notched--the last wore a collar of iron. How is it with you?"
"You have passed my score by one. But I do not begrudge you the game, so delighted am I to see you on your legs!"
They began walking back the other way in search of Aragorn, but their joy soon became solemn when they found their friend knelt in a small circle of Elves and Men. They hurried forward and edged through the gathering to find a blood-bathed Haldir, pale and barely breathing, in Aragorn's arms.
"Find Kyshri!" Aragorn commanded, looking up at them. "She was last on the hill by Rilloc!"
Legolas pivoted and dashed for the outcropping. Climbing beyond it, to the highest possible point, he found Kyshri face-down on the rock. [Kyshri?!] He grasped her gently and rolled her onto her back. [Kyshri? . . . Kyshri, please wake! You must!]
She stirred weakly, flinching as the last drops of rain fell on her face. Her eyes opened sluggishly. [. . . Legolas, what . . . what is wrong?]
[Haldir! You must come!]
She got to her feet, though each movement of muscle seemed to be a struggle to perform. He steadied her, urging her to walk almost faster than she truly could. But as she moved she seemed to regain some of her strength and focus.
[Where is he?]
He motioned for her to follow and leapt down the rock, darting across the rampart to where the congregation stood.
I felt my blood freeze as I took in the sight before me. I knew what it was I was seeing, for though I was an immortal elf, death and I were not strangers. Yet this was far different from even the deaths of Tirash and Ceripe. I knelt beside Haldir, shocked at the wedge that had been taken out of his side, despite his armor, and stunned that he was still alive.
[Haldir . . .] I whimpered helplessly.
No, I was not helpless. I could still heal him, for I had been practicing that magic since Boromir's death. I placed my right hand over the wound and closed my eyes, but could not find the well of magic I had always been able to tap. It was completely dry.
[Haldir . . .] I whimpered again, feeling more helpless than before and still blinking back tears. [Haldir . . .]
He chuckled softly; I could hear blood bubbling in his throat. [I should never . . . have turned . . . my back on the wall.]
The tears threatened again and my voice choked. [. . . Oh Haldir . . .]
[I am pleased . . . to see you unhurt.]
[. . . Haldir . . . No . . . Please . . .]
[Begging does not . . . become you,] he noted with a frown.
I could see him slipping away and grew angry. [Haldir . . .] I warned, taking his face in my hands. [Haldir, do not dare leave me as they did!]
He smiled sadly. [As if there is anything . . . either of us . . . can do. Remember . . . Remember that you are . . . my dindae.]
I watched his eyes fall slowly shut and snarled, pulling his head nearer to me so that there was no way he could misunderstand me. [Haldir! Do not dare leave me as they did! Do not dare! Do not! Haldir! Haldir!]