Lothriel’s lips curled into a dour smile as her eyes trailed along the parapet, and found the sturdy fearless Dwarf, yelling loudly as he tallied the number of orcs he slew. He was perched fearlessly, right upon the balustrade, smashing orcs back down as they came to the top of the wall.
What fools. She thought to herself with grim satisfaction as she sighted on yet another snarling uruk that had pounced over the ledge of its ladder to land flat footed upon the parapet. She released the string, and watched the silver arrow fly true to its mark, thumping hard into the creature’s throat. The orc squealed and fell, twitching as it tumbled over the ledge and landed with a hard splash into the mirky water pooled about the grated arch of the drain. They may cut a few of us down. But they will never make it past us. They will never breach the wall.
The dead orc sank quickly into the dim water, bubbles popping in its wake. But as it went, Lothriel’s eyes caught a new movement beyond the trickle of water, through the rusted iron grate. Even with her elven sight, it was difficult to see through the mirky darkness of the drainage tunnel, but it seemed to her eyes that she could see the stark outlines of two more huge uruks scrambling forward toward the grating. They were heaving something between them, as they struggled along through the trickling stream. Something massive and heavy, round and cumbersome between them. Her eyes shot open in alarm. It was a great spiked sphere.
“Causeway!” Lord Aragorn’s voice screamed down from above, once in the Common tongue, and then again in her own language. “Causeway! Release the arrows! Kill them!” He shrieked, and Elves turned from the orcs climbing below them to fire their arrows in a whistling hail off at a target unseen by her, where she stood beneath the wall.
Orcs were making their way up the high exposed bridge toward the gate, attempting to ram it, she realized. And as a shiver of horror rattled through her, she decided that that was what these creatures must be doing, here. Perhaps this great iron orb was meant to ram through the weak iron grating.
This drain was the wall’s one weakness. If they could but bash through the iron grating, the Elves would have to deal with a steady stream of orcs upon the ground, as well as on the wall.
Dashing into the pool, she clambered through the slog, struggling with her footing, and fighting the nausea that once again gripped her stomach as her boots stumbled over something submerged, It felt like a drowned tree limb, but it was too soft beneath her boots. Lothriel fought the urge to retch, realizing that it could only have been the dead orc, and she had caught her foot on one of its limbs. She stumbled over the submerged body and struggled on until the cold chilling water reached her mid-thigh. Once again she drew her arrow back again to her cheek, took aim, and let it fly through the iron grate. It struck one of the shadowed figures, and the creature uttered a harsh squeal before it collapsed. The other orc gave a bark of fear, dropped the heavy iron sphere, and turned around, sprinting out of the tunnel. But no sooner had it gone, than two more orcs came scampering from behind, carrying a similar looking ball of iron.
Tightening her jaw, Lothriel drew and released another arrow, striking another of these two orcs. The second spiked iron sphere dropped beside the first, striking it with a hollow clang. The surviving orc, squealing and scrambling to get back out of the tunnel, had not made it far before another stinging arrow found it, cutting through its muscled back, and it fell writhing and squealing before it lay dead.
Lothriel allowed herself a broad grin now. It appeared that she had foiled their plans. No more orcs were coming, attempting to force their way through the grate. She had succeeded.
But then, a slow weight seemed to drag her satisfied grin from her face, for now, through the darkened tunnel, she could see yet another orc approaching. It was a great goblin man, bound in thick muscle, clad in little more than a dark loincloth, and a hard metal helmet. Within one thick fist, it bore a torch, unlike the flickering yellow and orange flames in the torches borne by many other orcs. This torch hissed and spit, white hot, scattering sparks upward about it. The other uruks had parted to one side and the other as the one orc, alone, ran with hard, determined stride, splashing hard up the small draining stream toward the drainage tunnel.
A sick feeling seized her. What was Saruman’s plan here? What were these orcs attempting to do? Her mind scrambled for a question, but she could not find the answer. All she understood now, was that if she could not take the orc down, something unspeakable would happen.
“Bring him down, Legolas!”
Lothriel lifted a scattered, frightened look upward to the parapet. She had recognized Lord Aragorn’s frantic shout. He had noticed the orc coming, too. Crushing her teeth together, Lothriel’s gaze shot back to the creature she could see through the grating, approaching the arched tunnel. She drew back her string to her cheek releasing it with a sharp twang as her arrow through the grate, hitting the uruk in the stomach just as another arrow flew down from above and drove down into its body through its shoulder.
The orc hardly seemed to realize that it had been pierced by two arrows, and still it kept coming, its torch clutched as tightly as ever within its fist.
“Kill him!” Aragorn’s voice screamed through the haze of her panic as other of her arrows flew from the string through the grate, out of the shadows of the tunnel and into the creature’s chest, just beneath its ribs. Still it came. “Kill him!”
Another arrow loosed from the parapet, drove down through the top of the orcs chest as Lothriel once again drew her string back, sighted down the shaft of her arrow, and released the string, the arrow flying true into the very center of its chest.
The arrow riddled orc writhed, and almost stumbled, but still it stayed upon its feet long enough to leap forward into the dim shadows of the tunnel. For the splinter of a moment, the sparking light of the white hot torch illuminated the stone walls and low arched ceiling of the tunnel as well as the great iron spiked globes that waited before the woven iron grating. And in that instant, Lothriel understood. And her fate, cruel and stark, stared hard into her face.
As Haldir watched the orc rumbling toward the yawning archway of the shadowed tunnel, a heavy feeling of dread clutched his chest. But as he spun to avoid the thrashing black blade of an orc, he had no way to help the Mirkwood Prince bring the creature down. He stumbled to one knee as the orc’s heavy black blade swung around its head and arched downward toward his face. But the tempered steel of his elven blade, lifted in time, struck the hard orc blade. And as metal stuck metal, the opposing blades screamed, grating one upon the other, as fierce sparks flew between them. He saw the orc’s hard yellow eyes beneath the shadows of its helmet, and saw the stark, boiling hatred within them.
With a fierce shove, he threw the creature off of him, and as it stumbled back, he thrust his sword forward, and cut the blade hard into the orc’s side. Black blood spurted forth as the creature fell dead, splashing into his face and his eyes, blinding him momentarily. Flashing his hand across his blood splattered face, he looked up again over the balustrade. The orc had almost reached the dark void of the arched tunnel, though it was riddled with arrows, Legolas’ arrows as well two buried in its stomach. Both bore the white feathered fletchings of Lórien arrows. His eyes flashed down to the dirty water pooled inside the wall at the grating, to see another Elf-, his heart nearly stopped.
His own Lothriel, her dark cloak flowing behind her through the dark water, stood thigh deep in the water, only paces away from the rusted iron grating, her bow in hand, as she snatched an arrow from her quiver and nocked it smoothly to the string. He watched her draw her string to her cheek and release it in the fluid grace of motion that was hers, and the arrow sped beneath the wall, striking through the snarling beast in the center of its chest just as it dove through the opening.
“Lothriel!” He cried. “Get out-,” but his voice was drowned in the sudden deafening cacophony and mind numbing confusion that followed.