14. The Riders from Erech
Little was visible. Yet Angbor’s men fought valiantly on against the foe from the south to defend the fords. The increasing grimness of the situation reflected clearly on his face as they charged down on a new influx of Corsairs. There was no help to be had. Minas Tirith itself was under attack; he had in fact sent some of his men to help them out. Those left fought under the shadow of fear that this sudden, unknown darkness induced. He felt its icy tentacles clutch at him too, but could not afford to display it, preferring instead to concentrate on the known foe.
The shouts came from the periphery first and went ignored, assumed to be battle cries. Then they got louder and clearer, as those nearer the water realised that their men were running towards them in great haste. The words tripped out of fearful mouths, above the sounds of weapons clanging.
"The King of the Dead! The King of the Dead is upon us!"
Despite the failing light, he could see them - a company shrouded in grey, some on horseback, some on foot, and all moving at great speed. In the background, pale banners bobbed up and down, still as the air above them, as the mass of shapes came closer and closer. The frenzy of battle was replaced by chaos and confusion. Horses screamed in terror, as did men, discarding weapons and backing away. A shield crashed to the ground near his feet.
"Stay!" he cried out to the melee, but it seemed all were assailed by a feeling of dread. They began fleeing and he shouted again, trying to calm them down even as his own horse shied in fear. He dismounted and stood, helplessly watching the new terror attacking his land. The shapes were clearer now. There were riders, some two score perhaps, and behind them came the Dead, the same that he knew from tales once told to frighten young children.
Then he saw the standard that was proudly raised, foremost. He had missed it at first for it was black, and went unseen in the surrounding darkness. Around him, the fighting had stopped as the black banner came closer and closer, followed by the pale ones. It was not just his men who had dropped their arms; the Corsairs had done likewise.
The horseman at the lead rode up to him, even as he stood waiting, sword in hand, ready in defence. Then the dread seemed to seep away. He looked up at the banner, seeing for the first time the devices on it, then turned his eyes to a king of the living, as hope replaced despair.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.