The Nine – Chapter One: The Witch-King

by Jan 29, 2009Stories

Note: An amount of the script is purposefully taken from J.R.R Tolkien’s original work from Chapter 6: The Battle of Pelennor Fields in the Return of the King, and this is not to plagiarise but to complement this particular story. The Return of the King is owned by Saul Zaentz.

<strong>Chapter I – The Witch-King<strong>

From the sons of the great in Westernesse,
A black flower will spring.
The prince, the captain, the sorcerer of old,
Lord of the Nine, a black Witch-king.

15 March, 3019 T.A, The Pelennor Fields/Minas Tirith

Thrice he cried. Thrice the great ram boomed. And suddenly upon the last stroke the Gate of Gondor broke. As if stricken by some blasting spell it burst asunder: there was a flash of searing lightning, and the doors tumbled in riven fragments to the ground.
In rode the Lord of the Nazgul. A great black shape against the fires beyond he loomed up, grown to a vast menace of despair. In rode the Lord of the Nazgul, under the archway, under the archway that no enemy ever yet had passed, and all fled before his face.
All save one. There waiting, silent and still in the space before the Gate, sat Gandalf upon Shadowfax: Shadowfax who alone among the free horses of the earth endured the terror, unmoving, steadfast as a graven image in Rath Dinen.
‘You cannot enter here,’ said Gandalf, and the huge shadow halted. ‘Go back to the abyss prepared for you! Go back! Fall into the nothingness that awaits you and your Master. Go!’
The Black Rider flung back his hood, and behold! He had a kingly crown; and yet upon no head visible it was set. The red fires shone between it and the mantled shoulders vast and dark. From a mouth unseen there came a deadly laughter.
‘Old fool!’ he said. ‘Old fool! This is my hour. Do you not know Death when you see it? Die now and curse in vain!’ And with that he lifted high his sword and flames ran down the blade.

Gandalf did not move. And in that very moment, away behind in some courtyard of the City, a cock crowed. Shrill and clear he crowed, recking nothing of wizardry or war, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn.
And as if in answer there came from far away another note. Horns, horns, horns. In dark Mindolluin’s sides they dimly echoed. Great horns of the North wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last.

But it was no orc-chieftain or brigand that led the assault upon Gondor. The darkness was breaking too soon, before the date that his Master had set for it: fortune had betrayed him for the moment, and the world had turned against him; victory was slipping from his grasp even as he stretched out his hand to seize it. But his arm was long. He was still in command, wielding great powers. King, Ringwraith, Lord of the Nazgul, he had many weapons. He left the Gate and vanished.

The coming of the Rohirrim host had shaken his followers, yet the terror of his presence made the fear of the Northmen but fleeting dust in the tempest. Marshalling his forces, he ordered that the Gate be held and Minas Tirith taken before Rohan reached it. He trusted in the ability of the Haradrim cavalry and the reinforcements at Osgiliath to hold them at bay. Dismounting his ashen-black horse, once again he raised his dire sword and cried ancient words of dread.
In answer, an abomination took flight. It had waited amidst the ruins at the river for its master’s call, and now sped to him with fell swiftness. The Witch-king took to the air, and none dared behold his sight.
Of his order he and five were present – three were at war in other lands. But their combined power and command was overly sufficient. The Tainted and the Undying pressed the garrison at the city, grim spectres of death whose coming heralded the fall of the White City. The Blood Archer spiralled about the field upon his winged beast, cruelly shooting down those below, bereft of remorse. Like a scythe through the harvest went the Outcast, his rampage amongst the Rohirrim unceasing. And the Black Captain’s most trusted ally, the Dark Marshal, kept the players of Gondor’s demise in check, directing the iron will of the Witch-king and orchestrating the hordes of Mordor with steely ruthlessness.

But still ruin found the Witch-king. The darkness was breaking. At the vanguard of the Rohirrim was their fell king, who had cast down Suladan, general of the South, and his serpent banner, and the Southron riders withdrew with guttural cries of despair from the spears of the North.
Here the Witch-king was needed. Soon he would rejoin the stage of this black opera. A great mace he now wielded, and raised it, freezing the hearts of those who heard his cry. Hearing his lord’s call, the Blood Archer shrieked in answer. A black dart rushed from his bow, the shaft as swift as the Witch-king as he swooped down.

The new morning was blotted from the sky. Dark fell about him. Horses reared and screamed. Men cast from the saddle lay grovelling on the ground.
The Rohirrim king’s steed, wild with terror, stood up on high, fighting with the air, and then with a great scream he crashed upon his side: the black dart had pierced him. The king fell beneath him.
The great shadow descended like a falling cloud. And behold! It was a winged creature: if bird, then greater than all other birds, and it was naked, and neither quill nor feather did it bear, and its vast pinions were as webs of hide between horned fingers; and it stank.
Upon it sat a shape, black-mantled, huge and threatening. A crown of steel he bore, but between rim and robe naught there was to see, save only a deadly gleam of eyes: the Lord of the Nazgul, who now was come again, bringing ruin, turning hope to despair, and victory to death.

The Black Captain surveyed the carnage about him – the knights of Rohan lay dead or maimed about him, or if not fled in utmost fear. Only one still stood before him.
‘Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!’
The Lord of the Nazgul was amused by such foolish valour, yet his laughter quickly twisted to contempt. His cold voice answered: ‘Come not between the Nazgul and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye.’
A sword rang as it was drawn. ‘Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may.’
‘Hinder me? Thou fool. No man may hinder me!’
Then the Witch-king heard a strange sound in such an hour: the fool laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. ‘But no living man I am! You look upon a woman. Eowyn I am, Eomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.’

The winged creature screamed at her, but the Witch-king was silent, for he was in sudden doubt. He thought back to a distant time, when he had made battle upon the Kings of Arnor, and was routed at last by the armies of Gondor and the Elves – the memory continued to send surges of anger through him. In that long past hour, a prophecy had been made. The Elven Lord Glorfindel, even as the Lord of the Nine had fled from him had spoken: “Not by the hand of man will he fall.”
And now a woman stood before him. He still did not answer, yet was intent on the foe before him. He brushed any thoughts of doubt away: this foe was still mortal – a shrub that stands in the face of a coming storm.
Suddenly the great beast beat its hideous wings, and the wind of them was foul. Again it leaped into the air, and then swiftly fell down upon the woman, shrieking, striking with beak and claw.
Still she did not blench: maiden of the Rohirrim, child of kings, slender but as a steel-blade, fair yet terrible. A swift stroke she dealt, skilled and deadly. The outstretched neck she clove asunder, and the hewn head fell like a stone. Backward she sprang as the huge shape crashed to ruin, vast wings outspread, crumpled on the earth; and with its fall the shadow passed away. A light fell about her, and her hair shone in the sunrise.

It was not over. Not so easily would he be defeated – the loss of his steed but humiliated him, turning him to blacker wrath. Out of the wreck rose the Black Rider, tall and threatening, towering above her. With a cry of hatred that stung the very ears like venom he let fall his mace. Her shield was shivered in many pieces, and her arm was broken; she stumbled to her knees. He bent over her like a cloud, and his eyes glittered; he raised his mace to kill. Not by the hand of woman would he fall either, he thought.

But suddenly he too stumbled forward with a cry of bitter pain, and his stroke went wide, driving into the ground. A pain like clear ice sped through his form – a sword of Westernesse had stabbed him from behind. Shearing through the black mantle and passing up beneath the hauberk, it pierced the sinew behind his mighty knee.
A shrill, high-pitched voice cried from behind him, the same voice that had dealt the blow.
‘Eowyn! Eowyn!’ The woman tottered, struggling up, and the flaming eyes of the Witch-king burned bright, yet now in fear. With her last strength she drove her sword between crown and mantle, as the great shoulders bowed before her. The sword broke sparkling into many shards. The crown rolled away with a clang. The Lord of the Nazgul felt his majesty crumble like the weapon that had pierced him. And then the mantle and hauberk were empty. Shapeless they lay now on the ground, torn and tumbled; and a cry went up into the shuddering air, and faded to a shrill wailing, passing with the wind, a voice bodiless and thin that died, and was swallowed up, and was never heard again in that age of the world.


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