1. Tattered Hopes
My body is covered in dark blood. My blood, and the blood of my comrades. I watched my proud king fall, struck down by the fire demon, fearless until the end. I have seen my childhood friends twisted and mutilated by the wiles of the Enemy. Yet still I remain. And still our banner flies.
When the Gates opened and the demons poured forth from within – the legion of Valaraukar, and the fiery Urulóki – my heart nearly failed me. But I raised my sight to the banner held in my grasp, and my heart was sustained.
Even now, when all is lost, the blue and silver of the standard shines under Arien’s light. My gaze wanders, and for a moment I can almost see a figure of light hovering above the battlefield, looking upon us with compassion.
But no! The standard in my bloody and weary hands sways dangerously. I must not let it fall! No matter the injuries I have received, I will hold this symbol until my dying breath, and pray that my body will support it when hands can clasp no longer.
The banner still soars, but it sways again, the heavy weight cruel in my hands. I do not know how much longer I can bear it. Minutes…seconds…it is all the same now. The sounds of battle are far away, echoing faintly in my mind. The bitter winds sweep the blackened plains, raising the smell of death and decay along with jagged pieces of ash. Invisible hands snatch at the tattered standard.
Blue and silver mingle with the filth of the battlefield as the standard strikes the ground, raising a small cloud of ash around it. A moment later, the rich cloth is reddened by my blood as I fall beside it, tearing half the banner from the pole. My heart bleeds, and my soul weeps.
A shadow hovers above me, a few scraps of speech floating through my tortured and dying mind.
“I tried…” I whisper. “I failed.”
Success? Was there ever any hope of success? “I failed…” I say again.
“You fought bravely. Your wounds prove that. You did not fail.”
My wounds? What do injuries matter? Mere scratches upon my body. My fëa cannot be harmed.
But the banner has fallen, and nothing else matters. Hope is lost, and I have failed. My breath comes in short gasps, and I know my last is soon to come.
The winds pick up again, teasing the frayed edges of the banner. A sudden gust sees a part of the heavy cloth airborne, soaring high above the bloodstained battlefield. We have tried, and we have failed.
But our banner flies high again.
Nirnaeth Arnoediad by Jenny Dolfen
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.