A golden dome glitters in the afternoon sun, proud in its impudent, arrogant splendor. I stare with horror at the tall, intricately painted red and black pillars, thick as three men, holding up the temple, twisted and sinister in its macabre elegance. The marble floor was once a gleaming white. Perhaps it is only a trick of the light, a deception of the setting sun, but the smooth tile seems stained permanently a dull, rusty, sullen red. ""
All about are tall, shining buildings; proud houses of noblemen, jeweled palaces. Even the stonework of the streets is as fine as any dwarf could ask for. Here is a city to rival that of the Valar themselves. So why does my skin prickle so, why does a feeling of menace, of an invading darkness, engulf my soul like a heavy cloak that I cannot shake off?
It is only 39 days since the king and his counsellors and his greatest warriors set sail for Tol Erressea, off into the West, the silhouette of the proud ship black against the last yellow-orange flames of the sun as it sank slowly into the sea. The sunset was strange that day; long after the fiery orb itself had disappeared, the sky remained a canvas of great swipes of color; long fingers of purple, great spears of red-orange, murky pools of deep blue, all mingled together in an awesome crimson haze. Even when Gil-Estel had appeared, shining as ever with unmatched radiance, stubborn dabs of yellow yet lingered, bright indeed against the darkness of the night. If only the Elvish languages were still permitted here, for men have not the words to describe such furious beauty.
But perhaps some day I shall visit the Elvish country itself, where it had been laid upon Men never to go. There has long been something mysterious at work here; a gnawing, malevolent power has taken shape slowly but surely within our city, while Men have sailed ever farther and smiled ever more upon their riches and turned their proud heads from the truth. Can it really be that we have destroyed Sauron's fastness in Middle-earth, only to have him rise from the midst of his destruction to pull us into the abyss at his side? The thought fills me with horrible, cold fear, and yet my heart feels ever the swift passing of the years. The inevitable frost of age dusts us all, until at last Death, its master, clenches us in his close fist.
I know not where to turn. A shadow and a threat has been growing in my mind. I was once filled with gladness to be one of the men of Numenor, but now inexplicably my homeland terrifies me. Though Death terrifies me most of all. And if not Death, Ruin, terrible Ruin.
The drums sound proudly, shattering the ominous silence of the lengthening day, and the sound is not one to raise my spirits. The trumpets blare and the drums beat as the heralds of impending Doom. And then there is that sudden roaring in my ears. I find myself running blindly, hands over my face, away, away from the fiercesome temple of Morgoth, away through the streets of wanton vanity, as the sky darkens overhead. At first a stormy gray, than black. Deeper than the black of any silent, moonless winter night. The Sun is veiled now, and Gil-Estel, the Star of Hope, does not shine. And the roaring grows ever louder, ever louder, as I stumble on, my feet bearing me I know not where, for there is no refuge now. . . The pounding of the waves, men screaming, thunder booming overhead. . .lightening, splitting the void above in a searing flash of angry gold, the same gold that gleamed so confidently on the temple only moments ago. . . a religion, a people, perverted and twisted. . . and not even the waves, the swirling, icy waters engulfing all, smashing the proud stonework in their fury, devouring the barren gardens where once the White Tree stood, casting to darkness the glittering riches false and treacherous in their fairness--not even this final apocalypse can grant absolution. Ah, Numenor, Numenor. . .
. . . as the black, frothing waters close above my head. . .
I dream, and the horror and sadness fill my heart, and the waking is scarce a relief. The gates of Minas Tirith are smote in ruin, the walls collapsing into piles of rubble, leaving gaping holes in the city's defense. The air is gray with smoke as houses burn, rent with shrill cries as men scream and abandon their weapons in terror. The braves of the archers stand still upon the walls, but ever more the shapes of men are sillhouetted against the brown, poisonous sky, flailing as they fall to their deaths amidst a sea of sneering, slavering orcs.
And what of the Rohirrim? Has the evil penetrated them too, so that they cast away the Red Arrow unconcerned with the fate of their sworn allies and brothers in war? But no, I must not think like that. I must force even the tiniest glimmer of hope to keep still within my heart. But oh Gondor, Gondor. I have already lost my brother Boromir to the Shadow, must I now lose Minas Tirith too? The White City, the love of my life. . .
I am reminded suddenly of the woman that I have sometimes seen in my dreams. Supple and fair as a young tree she is, and yet touched with the frost of winter also; for though her hair gleams a bright, cheerful gold and her face is noble and young, her blue eyes are cold and expressionless as stone. Though, in an unguarded moment, they may shine with the unshed tears, I see in them never even the smallest ray of hope. I clench the hilt of my sword grimly, praying that, though Gondor drowns now in a black sea even as Numenor did before it, my own gray eyes do not hold that empty desperation. It is a small, trifling, useless hope, but perhaps the Hobbits safely navigated the perils of Cirith Ungol after all. Perhaps, though Gondor shall remain only a memory, in the future there will yet be a Middle-earth in which a young man like me may dream, as I have dreamed of Numenor, of the final, glorious end of Gondor and the White City. For Gondor, unlike the isle of my forefathers, has been righteous to her death.
And I pray that that young man may wake to green fields and warm sunshine, and shake off the horrors of his nightmares with the pleasures of a beautiful, prosperous land. . .
But, as I look back at the ravaged city and the battle raging around me on the Pelennor Fields, at the endless ocean of the forces of Mordor, I know that this idyllic vision is only a foolish hope. A dream.
Perhaps the last dream that I shall ever have. . .
A/N: Sorry about the shameless plug from the movie FOTR. . . Couldn't resist. :-) Please r/r and tell me what you think. I am a young writer and so I would really appreciate your honest comments. Thanks for reading. :-)
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.