7. Dagor Dagorlad and the Siege...
The host of Gil-galad and Elendil had the victory, for the might of the Elves was still great in those days, and the Númenóreans were strong and tall, and terrible in their wrath. Against Aeglos* the spear of Gil-galad none could stand; and the sword of Elendil filled Orcs and Men with fear, for it shone with the light of the sun and of the moon, and it was named Narsil.
From the Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
Chapter 7 Dagor Dagorlad and the Siege…
It was the seventh day since their departure from Imladris, that the head of the host crossed the Misty Mountains. Ordering a halt, until all the troops had crossed, Gil-galad and Elendil set up camp.
As Elrond, after supervising the raising of his own tent, made way for Gil-galad's, he was joined by Isildur. His face expressed irritation.
'No bad news, I hope?' Elrond enquired.
'Actually, I fear there is. Word comes from Erech; they will not stand with us against Sauron.'
Elrond nodded. Gil-galad had shared with him, confidentially, that he expected their decline. Especially after the troops from Erech failed to arrive at Imladris. The King of the Mountains might have sworn his allegiance when the realm of Gondor was young, but their worshipping of the Dark Lord in the Dark Years made them reluctant to stand against him.
Together they entered Gil-galad's tent, also finding Elendil at the map-covered table. Both seemed to know the news already. After a short exchange, Isildur called for a messenger. His voice was filled with rage when he dictated:
'Tell the King of the Mountains in Erech; 'Thou shalt be the last king. And if the West prove mightier than thy Black Master, this curse I lay upon thee and thy folk; to rest never until your oath is fulfilled. For this war will last through years uncounted, and you shall be summoned once again ere the end.'* So says Isildur of Gondor, son of Elendil.'
The messenger left. Gil-galad spoke to reassure Isildur:
'One good might come from this; likely they will not fight against us. Sit down and eat, it cannot now be altered.'
Isildur sat down and said little for the duration of the meal.
The next day, their march down the river Anduin began.
Within three months, the Dead Marshes were reached.
Elrond had not thought that, after the marshes, it could become worse. Now he knew it could. They had already lost many men there, Malgalad, the commander of the force from Lórien, one of the first. He had gone astray and, like many others, drowned in the treacherous pools that lay before the Battle Plain.
But then it was at last that they came upon the host of Sauron on Dagorlad, which lay before the gate of the Black Land. It seemed as if almost all living things had been divided on that day. With a certain pride, Elrond could say; all living things, but the Elves. They alone had been united, and had followed Gil-galad into battle.
The rush of adrenaline, and the impressive unison the Elvish soldiers emanated, had driven not only Elrond, he concluded from the flashes of the others he saw. After the first lines had inevitably been broken; the archers retreated after their volleys of arrows had run out. The blades-men had taken their place, even the Elf-lords stepping in: Gil-galad, thrusting his spear clear through the chest of an Orc; Glorfindel, his hair clearly distinguishable, together with an equally recognisable Círdan, no match for the five Orcs that at one point surrounded them; cutting off an Orc-hand and, with one and the same fluent movement, beheading another. Even Erestor, swift on his feet, as one would expect from an Elf, piercing his sword into an assailant. Elrond himself, caught up in the heat of battle, wielded the sword Gil-galad bestowed on him, when he had first been sent out to Eregion.
This time he would not be driven back.
The victory at Dagorlad was the first and most strategic triumph that anyone could have hoped for. Securing the dusty plain before the entrance of Mordor was decisive; the Dark Lord was forced to retreat into his lair.
The instance of the Enemy's withdrawal, was one that Elrond would never forget. An ambiguous feeling had come over him; of success, but also of loss. Loss of friends, and the loss of a certain compassion. He could only stand and watch, see what had been done.
We are fighting for our freedom… If not them, in the end, it would be us .
It was a hand on his shoulder; Gil-galad, boisterous, eager to clear his mind of the clouds.
'Hail! Master Elrond, and well met. Daer tûr*.'
Turning towards him, Elrond let himself be pulled into an embrace, their armour giving a metallic clash upon colliding.
'Indeed, my Lord.' He answered softly, slightly bewildered.
Gil-galad needed the embrace. He needed to convince himself that Elrond was alive and well, as he had lost sight of his herald during the tumult, and even though he was fully aware of the Master of Imladris's capability to stand his ground, he felt responsible for the young man that grew up at his court. He was fine, a little bruised, but they all were. Releasing Elrond, Gil-galad hit him on the shoulder and began to walk into the direction of Elendil and his men. He knew Elrond would make his way for the infirmaries and field-hospitals, rather than join him and Elendil in their victory celebrations. He was too serious, with far too many bad memories… Gil-galad trusted Celebrían would help Elrond with that; she had already uncovered different sides. Qualities which Gil-galad had never expected to see. He turned around, some paces removed.
'Dinner tonight, Imladris.'
Elrond moved his head, accepting.
It was indeed the field hospital Elrond visited; after shedding his armour and changing his clothing in his tent. The smell of Orc-blood was up his nostrils, the foul poison that, no doubt, lay in it, worrying him. Clad in simple grey Elven-mail, he entered the large complex, raised in haste, and was immediately approached by one of the other healers. He spent his time until dinner, taking pulses, prodding wounds, attempting to close bleeding arteries, to fight back poison fevers, not discerning whether it was Man or Elf.
His mood changed there, he was aware of it. It became easier to smile, to comfort, because here it didn't matter who he was, only that he was present.
Walking back to Gil-galad's tent, cleaning his hands with a cloth drenched in a herbal solution to remove potential germs, Elrond's mind wandered to Imladris, to Celebrían. It was recalling the warmth of her lips, their texture, that enabled him to gather the strength for a victory dinner with the High-king. No doubt Elendil would be there, Isildur and his sons, Círdan, Glorfindel…
When he entered, the large tent was empty, except for the High-king.
'How is the field-hospital handling the wounded?'
'There are three hospitals, and they are all managing.'
Gil-galad nodded as he sat down.
'And is the Master of Imladris managing?'
Elrond raised an eyebrow at Gil-galad.
Gil-galad placed his fingers around the stem of his glass, slowly shifting it over the table.
'Sit down, you haven't eaten since breakfast.'
Elrond took some bread and smiled.
'The people you send to check up on me can be used for more important tasks.'
'Is my peace of mind not important?'
Elrond grinned, aware that this was an attempt to cheer him up.
'Of course it is.'
Gil-galad split up the troops, two days after securing Dagorlad. A small detachment, under Isildur's command, was sent to Osgiliath, to help Anárion with the remaining bands of orcs that still roamed the area. The larger half went on into Mordor, making its way to Orodruin, and the Dark Tower of Barad-dûr.
There the Siege began; keeping a constant pressure on the Tower, and the Dark Lord within.
The first thing one was aware of there, waking in the cold and damp morning, was the smell. It made the throat thick, the eyes ache. Like rotting, except one had the impression there was nothing for miles that could rot. There was a dust, filth, that never left clothing, that collected in boxes, on the pages of books, and took ages to remove. Only when the wind picked up, which seemed to happen only in winter, they would be rid of those discomforts, exchanging them for others.
On one of the treasured days that there was wind out of season; four months into the Siege, Isildur and Anárion rejoined the main host. It would be the last time of celebration.
It was for six long years, every single day, that they watched the fumes rise from Orodruin, which the Númenóreans had renamed Amon Amarth; Mount Doom. Sorties were sent against them; and there, in the valley of Gorgoroth, many men were grievously lost to the poisonous arrows and projectiles of the Enemy. Among those, Anárion, son of Elendil.
But the Siege went on. For as long as there were men to fight and defend, neither Gil-galad nor Elendil were willing to withdraw.
The day would come, Elrond knew, that Sauron would be forced to come forth, and on that day, it would end. For better or worse.
It was nearing the end of winter, the year following Anárion's death. The Siege was significantly less apparent. In Mordor this season meant icy winds and sand-storms, and the last days before spring seemed to want to prove their ferocity. The orcs seemed as unwilling to leave their encampments on these days as the members of the Alliance. Yet Elrond was out there, supervising discharges of burning arrows over the lower walls of Barad-dûr. The hood of his cloak taken off, shielding the back of his neck against the fierce winds, he scanned the area. Watchful as ever for Enemy attackers coming out of the large Gate, it were his ears that warned him first, this time. For a moment he thought it were the horns of Gondor; the sound carried by the wind. But as soon as the sound was joined by the terrible voices of death, and the skies darkened, he knew the Gates would bring forth the most terrible servants of the Enemy.
'Úlairi…' He whispered, while mounting his horse, shortly before raising his voice: 'Breitha-dírnaith*! Ad estolad*!'
As the archers sprinted back, retreating behind the swordsmen standing ready for such an occurrence, Elrond delayed his own departure, waiting, curious.
Only when the Gate opened, orcs looking on from the battlements above, and the Nine Dark Riders sped out, did he spur his horse into the direction of the safer ranks. As he rode, Elrond could hear the horns of the Númenóreans; able to clearly distinguish them from the ones sounding before.
As the ranks parted to admit him, Elrond turned the horse and watched the Nazgûl close in. They seemed careful not to come into the range of the Elvish archers, and stayed, just out of reach, simply halting their horses.
A voice rang from inside their own lines.
It was Glorfindel, also on horseback, nearing Elrond. Arriving next to him, Glorfindel rested his eyes on the Nine.
'They do not attack?'
Elrond shook his head.
'They simply came to drive us back.'
'That means an impasse is close.'
Elrond turned in his saddle towards a lieutenant.
'Assemble thirty archers on horseback.'
Glorfindel looked at Elrond.
'Are you planning what I fear you are?'
'Wish to join us?'
Elrond dismounted and gave some orders to the commander of the soldiers on foot, gesturing into the distance. As a group of Elvish riders approached, he mounted again. He addressed all that could hear.
'The archers ride within striking distance. Hopefully we will scare them back, and continue our endeavour… If not, we return here and wait for them to act. Be ready to return upon my word.' He looked at Glorfindel. 'Ready?'
A united call came from all. Elrond prompted his horse and rode forward. The archers, initially only following, overtook and passed him. As soon as they closed in far enough Elrond raised his voice.
'Daro*! Hado I philinn!'
As the rain of arrows sped through the air, at first only hitting the ground, meters away from the Ringwraiths, but soon landing beside them, the Dark Riders seemed to loose nerve and began to draw back slowly. Elrond, making sure the lines stayed closed, ordered an advance, while motioning Glorfindel forward.
'We cannot keep advancing, it will leave us vulnerable; if they do not retreat entirely, we must return.'
'At least you have tried.' Glorfindel argued.
Elrond nodded, biting his lower lip as he watched the Nazgûl.
Then he called for the retreat. The Nine seemed to mock him, as he was the last one to leave the open field.
Arriving back at the encampment, he was at once summoned by Gil-galad. Sweaty, his face and armour dirty with the remains of the early-morning sandstorm that had festered his party, Elrond entered.
Gil-galad was on his feet immediately.
'Egleris!*, and well met, my friend, but promise me one thing.'
Elrond nodded. 'Name it.'
'Never attempt such a pointless venture again.'
A laugh escaped Elrond's lips.
'I promise solemnly.'
'For I will strip you of every privilege you have.'
'I understand, sir.'
But the incident had indeed foreshadowed a standoff.
It was not three days later that spring arrived, and word came with it; a large army of orcs was leaving Barad-dûr, heading towards them.
The Alliance moved as one, the last line of defence between the Dark Forces and the free lands of Middle-earth.
The Last Alliance to protect against the power of the Ring…
Aeglos, also called Aiglos in 'Lord of the Rings'
This speech from Isildur comes directly from Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Daer tûr = literally 'mighty victory'
Breitha-dírnaith = literally 'break formation'
Ad = back again (there does not seem to be a Sindarin word for return L)
estolad = encampment
Tercáno = herald (Quenya)
Daro = 'stop'
Hado I philinn! = right from the movie 'Fire the arrows!', literally 'hurl the arrows'
egleris = praise!
Note: there is no evidence that Elrond ever fought Ringwraiths, still, there is none that he didn't either…
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.