“What do you think is going to happen?” Silvren asked Legolas as they walked with Gimli, Eanil and Aragorn upon the inner wall of the keep.
Gamling followed behind them as Théoden showed them about the keep.
“I don’t think any of us will make it out of here alive unless there is some type of miracle.” Legolas murmured as they followed Gimli down a set of old stone steps.
“We’ve seen it before.” Silvren heard the king say. “Crops can be resown, homes rebuilt.” Théoden continued to show them a long the walls and past armoured soldiers. “Within these walls, we will outlast them.”
“They do not come to destroy Rohan’s crops or villages.” Aragorn finally said. “They come to destroy its people, down to the last child.” He said as he walked down the stone steps behind Théoden.
“What would you have me do?” Théoden hissed, snatching Aragorn by his arm. “Look at me men. Their courage hangs by a thread.” he whispered. “If this is to be our end, then I would have them make such an end as to be worthy of remembrance.” He finished then let go of Aragorn’s arm and turned away.
“Send out riders, my lord.” Aragorn suggested to which Théoden turned back around. “You must call for aid.”
“And who will come?” Théoden whispered to Aragorn’s face. “Elves? Dwarves?” he nodded to Legolas, Eanil and Silvren who stood behind Aragorn and Gimli who stood beside them. “We are not so lucky in our friends as you. The old alliances are dead.”
“Gondor will answer.” Aragorn said with certainty.
“Gondor?!” Théoden spat in anger. “Where was Gondor when the Westfolds fell? Where was Gondor when our enemies closed in around us? Where was Gon-” Théoden stopped suddenly, trying to control his temper as he glanced down at the ground. “No, my Lord Aragorn.” he said in a now soft tone. “We are alone.” he whispered, but yet it sounded frightening and harsh.
They all watched as Théoden turned around and walked away, leaving them standing there in wonder and dismay as Gamling darted past them after Théoden.
Silvren’s trembling hand grasped Legolas’ as she stepped closer to him and began gnawing on her bottom lip. A lump the size of a large marble developed in her throat and her stomach felt deathly ill as a pang of fear shot through her chest; Théoden’s words resounding in her mind.
* * *
“Get the women and children into the caves.” Théoden ordered Gamling.
“We need more time to lay provisions-” Gamling started but was cut short by Théoden.
“There is no time. War is upon us.”
“Secure the gates.” one of the guards said as they entered the hall.
* * *
Silvren looked up at the sky as loud squawks came from above. Her heart sank even more at the sight of a great flock of black Crebain flying above their heads. As if their situation wasn’t bad enough, Saruman had to send his wretched birds to spy on them. Silvren turned and ran after Legolas who was heading towards the caves with Eanil.
“Move back! Move to the caves!” someone called out to the men, women, and children.
“Come on, people! Quickly, now!” a guard urged them as the people carried all that they could.
“We’ll place the reserves along the wall.” Aragorn said as he walked against the flow of people with his three companions. “They can support the archers from above the gate.”
“Aragorn, why don’t you get some rest while you have the chance.” Silvren placed a caring hand on his arm.
“We can take care of things for you.” Legolas nodded in agreement. “You’re no use to us half-alive.” He added.
“My lord Aragorn!” a female voice called out.
“I’ll be fine; I have a duty to uphold.” he said to Legolas and Silvren before acknowledging Eówyn.
“I’m to be sent with the women into the caves.” she breathed sadly.
“That is an honorable charge.” he said calmly, knowing she desired to fight as would Silvren.
“To mind the children, to find food and bedding when the men return. What renown is there in that?” she asked her blue eyes searching his.
“My lady, a time may come for valor without renown. Who then will your people look to in the last defense?”
“Let me stand at your side.” she begged.
Silvren glanced down at her feet as a twinge of awkwardness gripped her gut. She had grown to be good acquaintances with Eówyn but it wasn’t until now that she realized how much Eówyn liked Aragorn. Silvren ached for Eówyn, knowing the pain she would feel when she finally realized Aragorn would not take her as his wife, not as long as Arwen remained in Middle-Earth.
“It is not in my power to command it.”
“You do not command the others to stay! They fight beside you because they would not be parted from you. Because they love you.” she cried in what appeared to be agony.
“Lady Silvren will be accompanying you.” he said softly, knowing the reaction he was about to endure.
“What?!” Silvren gasped hearing what Aragorn had said. She glanced up to gaze at Aragorn in surprise, though he would not return her gaze. She knew he could not bear the pain of seeing her hurt or upset therefore he had learned not to look her in the eye when such matters arose. She glanced over at Legolas as he looked down at the ground, also not meeting her gaze. Eanil was the only one who would look at her and even though his expression was full of pity, she knew there was nothing he could do to help her. Silvren clamped her mouth shut as she felt her rage rise up within her.
“I’m sorry.” Eówyn whispered, and then followed the others towards the cave.
“I’m to go to the caves as well?” Silvren asked Aragorn as he turned to face her, knowing he could not run from her.
“Yes.” he replied simply as people continued to walk past them into the caves.
“But I can fight just as well as you and Legolas. Please don’t make me leave your side.” Silvren pleaded.
“Silvren, it’s not your place.” Aragorn swallowed back the lump in his throat. He had never believed in denying women the right to fight but now he knew why it was so. He was too dangerous for them and he did not want to lose those close to him, especially his family.
“But you know I can fight.” Silvren persisted.
“I know you can fight. We all know you can fight and we know you fight well.” Aragorn placed his hands on her shoulders as tears welled up in her eyes. “But we do not know how this battle is going to fare and we do not want to see you harmed or killed. Stubbornness is probably your biggest flaw and if you are not careful you could end up losing everything you love.” Aragorn said in a low voice.
“Legolas and I think it is the best thing for you. We are giving you the chance to survive if none of us do. We love you and want the best for you.” Aragorn said and walked away, but before he left Silvren had seen the unshed tears in his blue eyes.
“But-” Silvren choked but stopped as Gimli laid a gentle hand on her arm.
“Just go, sweetie, just go.” he said softly as she gazed down at his gentle, caring face.
Silvren nodded as she watched Aragorn go and turned to follow the rest of the people. She didn’t know who she was madder at; Aragorn or Legolas. She stopped and gazed over her shoulder at Legolas. Their eyes met and locked as people continued walking past them.
Sorrow and guilt clouded his expression as he gazed at her hurt and saddened face. He saw the anger in her eyes and felt his stomach twist with guilt. Then he watched her walked away, her brown dress moving about her legs as she took long strides towards the cave entrance.
* * *
Silvren slowed down once she reached the cave entrance and slowly walked among the other women and children. Torches lit the way through the maze like cavern all the way to the large opening where the majority of the people were gathered.
Silvren walked up beside Eówyn, who was pulling her hair back and offered her a comforting smile as she turned around and set to work. Silvren sighed as she pulled the leather band out of her hair and began braiding her hair. They began helping women and children get settled in as the guards walked about the caves searching for men and boys able to fight. The guards tore loved ones away from each other as mothers and wives cried in agony. Some had no one to comfort them and that was where Eówyn and Silvren came in. Small children said tearful farewells to their fathers, other brothers and older relatives. Cries of sadness filled the large cave within the mountains. It was almost too much for Silvren to handle.
* * *
The armoury was a small crowded room with warm, heavy air that Legolas and Gimli found themselves standing in. They stood back in a corner watching as men and young boys filled the room as they collected swords and other weapons or armour they would use.
Aragorn stood next to a wooden table that was covered with weapons, studying a blunt blade of a sword that looked like it would barely cut through raw meat. He dropped the sword back on the table with a clatter and made his way towards Legolas and Gimli.
“Farmers, farriers, stable-boys.” Aragorn said in a low voice as he glanced about the crowded room then back to Legolas. “These men are no soldiers.
“Most have seen too many winters.” Gimli said from where he stood leaning on is axe.
“Or too few.” Legolas added as he looked around at all the young boys who were as young as nine. “Look at them. They’re frightened. I can see it in their eyes.”
The low mumbling died down at Legolas’ words and everyone turned their attention upon him. Legolas turned and began to walk away but stopped and turned to face Aragorn again. “And they should be.” he said as he spoke in Elvish. “Three hundred against ten thousand.” he said bitterly.
“They have more hope of defending themselves here than at Edoras.” Aragorn replied in Elvish.
“Aragorn, they cannot win this fight. They are all going to die!” Legolas hissed furiously. All the anger and guilt that had welled up within him had been released unintentionally.
“Then I shall die as one of them!” Aragorn shouted out in Common Tongue, stepping towards Legolas. He stared at Legolas for a long moment and then turned and strode through the crowd of astonished men.
Legolas started after him, sorry for speaking what had built up inside him, but was stopped by Gimli.
“Let him go, lad.” Gimli muttered, placing his hand on the elf’s arm. “Let him be.”
* * *
“Move! Move to the outer wall.” A guard shouted as men filed onto the walls of the keep. Night had fallen and torches were lit and set into mounts upon the walls and other places to shed light upon the keep. A slight chill traveled through the air and clouds moved across the sky, blocking out what little light the pale moon had provided.
Aragorn sat on the stone steps in front of the hall, watching the men as they ran about the keep preparing for the fight. Glancing over, he saw a young boy standing by a small burning fire in a crate. The boy held a sword in his hand and looked frightened.
“Give me your sword.” Aragorn ordered kindly to the boy.
The boy looked over at the man then slowly began walking towards him.
“What is your name?” Aragorn asked as he took the sword from the boy.
“Halleth, son of Háma, my lord.” the boy answered. He had long wavy hair that was the color of damp straw and pale blue eyes shone against his dirtied face. “The men say we will not live out the night; that it is hopeless.” he said with undisguised fear in his voice.
Aragorn looked at him then glanced away, as if thinking about what to tell him. Aragorn stood to his feet and examined the sword the boy had handed him. He swung it around in several circles, testing it. “This is a good sword.” he said then stepped towards Halleth and handed him the sword hilt first. “Halleth, son of Háma,” Aragorn placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder and looked him in the eye. “There is always hope.”