This story has been nagging at me for a while now, and I just had to write it down. It is meant to stand on its own and not as part of a series,but if it is well received and if the mood strikes me, I might write a few more parts, probably a sequel or two. Hope you enjoy it
The unceasing clang of battle drifted through the thick cave wall, exactly as it had for the last twelve hours. All within feared for their lives as the noise gradually became louder. That is, all except one, one who shook with fury, unable to move. Her brown eyes remained free from tears, menacing, threatening to pierce through the stone walls separating her from the battle. Her golden hair matched that of the other Rohirrim women, yet she stood apart from them, her glimmering eyes not perceiving their thoughts, uncaring that they sat there worrying for their husbands, fathers and children.
Over and over again her mind flashed the picture of her brother as he was dragged off to war. Her brother, a child, but twelve years of age. She had screamed after him, begging the guard to take her in his stead, knowing full well that she could fight. The guard had merely looked at her with pity and continued on his way, unheeding to her cries and brushing off her attempts to regain her brother. She would have followed him had not Éowyn stopped her. She had cried then, tears of anger at the injustice of this world. She had already lost her parents and an older brother to these filthy Uruks, must they claim her little brother as well? The brother whose care was entrusted to her? She knew there was no hope of his survival; he had never even held a blade, not having yet the time to learn swordplay. He had been studious, delving instead into books, for which she had always been proud, and now regretted. She forced herself to remain angry, anger was an emotion she could handle. If she lost her anger she would sink into despair, despair would come soon enough, but she needed to stray from it as long as she was able.
She stood like this for hours, and grimly thought to herself that she could stand for many more. For a reason hidden from her, she did not tire. Perhaps her anger had been so great that it fuelled her body, or perhaps it had been her sense of helplessness or lack of value. Guilt was also capable of such a feat. It was guilt that shoveled the coal for her burning anger, it was guilt that drove her mind to reliving the moment she failed the last member of her family. No, she thought, as she quickly pulled her thoughts from guilt back into anger. It was not yet time for guilt, it would come soon enough.
The silence surrounding the deep cave broke into excited murmurs. She turned her head and took a step forward, her limbs stiff from her long vigil. She put a hand on the cold stone wall as she looked out from her secluded alcove. The joy was evident on the women’s faces as they cried tears of joy and embraced their men.
“Néorrin,” came a gentle voice from behind her.
“Yes, my Lady?” came her reply, voice cracking from lack of use.
“Do not worry yet. Hope has seen us through this night, hope has not abandoned us.” Lady Éowyn comforted her.
“Yes my Lady,” she repeated, feeling a small glimmer of hope swell in her. With a short reassuring grip on her shoulder, Éowyn continued on her way out of the cave. Néorrin watched from the alcove as her Lady embraced the Lord Aragorn, her relief melting in with those of the other women. Éowyn’s faith had returned to her the one she had worried for, perhaps the same would happen to me, thought Néorrin. She noticeably brightened at the thought and she permitted a smile to slip across her countenance. What a wonderful thing hope was, so strong, able to push aside most thoughts of despair and guilt.
Néorrin now joined the throng of people, searching desperately for the familiar face of her brother. She caught sight of many she knew, yet her anxiety grew as the face of her brother continued its absence. She at last burst through the main entrance to the caves, and panic threatened to rise in her again. She grabbed at the nearest person and demanded to know the location of the injured. Even before the startled soldier could completely finish his directions, she ran off, all her worry and anger returning. No, she thought, as she pushed them aside and refused to let go of the sliver of hope she still retained.
She rounded the last corner and burst through the door of the hastily set up aide center. She ignored the bewildered looks of the healers and hurried up and down the rows of injured, desperately seeking a familiar face. By the time she came to the last stretcher, her heart was threatening to explode. A small body lay on the stretcher, covered with a coarse brown blanket. Néorrin reached out a trembling hand and pulled back the cover over the face.
A muffled gasp escaped her as she beheld the mutilated face of her brother, the last of her kin. His sightless, ashen eyes stared up at her, no longer gazing about the world with a keen interest, no longer gleaming with innocent curiosity, but dead. Lifeless. Robbed of the world he had only begun to explore.
“No,” she whispered, the last ounce of hope leaving her as she fell to the ground, clutching at his cold hand. Her guilt returned in full.
“I’m sorry, I am so sorry,” she whispered between tight breaths, held in to keep herself from sobbing outright. She tried to summon her anger, the anger that always saved her from such things, but it would not come. In its stead entered despair, and her ever-growing guilt consumed her. Tears flowed from her eyes just as they had less than twelve hours ago. How little time twelve hours was, and yet how powerful, she thought bitterly.
She stayed until her tears ran dry, pushing away the comfort the healers offered. With an air of defiance, she walked out of the room. She strode along the battlements, heading to nowhere in particular. She felt empty, she had cried all her tears, felt all her pain and worried all she could. There was nothing left, nothing except vengeance. Staring out over the great battle plain, she caught sight of the smoke from the pyre of Uruks. Hatred flared in her. She pulled out the dagger she kept at all times. With a swift, clean strike across her hand, a thin red line appeared on her palm.
“By the blood of my father, by the blood of my heart, I swear vengeance against the Uruk-Hai, and all servants of Sauron. I will see them fall or death take me,” she yelled to the air. With her oath said, she let one drop of her blood fall to the ground, she then slipped back the way she had come, back to the caves.