4. 8 April, Morning
Morning of 8 April
Two vast armies against one!
The Steward's soldiers, outmanned and outmanoeuvred, are pursued by Easterlings north across Limlaith... but, beyond, broad Anduin bars their way.
There is but one escape from Parth Celebrant's narrow peninsula, and a horde of Orcs rushes south from Nanduhirion to block it.
Snared between Balchoth and Glamhoth, the Steward will fall.
But what is this? A great host of fair horsemen hastens southwards through Anduin's vales... Riders of the North! Come to aid Gondor? Will they reach the beleaguered remnant in time?
Does my Mirror show what was, what is, or what may yet be?
Wearing naught but breech-clouts and braids, and bearing live steel, our sword-thrusts flash harder, faster, closer.... Drops of sweat fly off our bodies. We dance the ancient patterns of pending death — lunge, duck, feint, and spin. The ever-circling contest of will and skill focuses our awareness, as the quickening clashes of blade measure a lethal cadence.
"Celeborn!" Galadriel's call intrudes; Grandfather's parry is delayed an instant. I snatch my steel away and dive aside gracelessly.
Breathing heavily, he lends me a hand up, and then turns to chide Grandmother for inopportune timing — but halts the moment he sees her eyes.
I consider Galadriel's tidings.
"Though your Mirror is at times unreliable, we cannot disregard portents of warfare nearby. We must assume they will soon come to pass.
"Two tasks now lie before us:
"We must prepare Lórien's defence. The Orc-captains will skirt our boundaries, but their ill-disciplined ranks may stray."
My second-in-command nods, already devising plans.
"And we must aid these Riders, if they are to turn the tide of Gondor's war. They alone have the numbers. We will send word of the battleground and disposition of their foes."
I need no Mirror to foresee our grandsons claiming this mission.
"Your plans, Hirvegil?"
"My lord, I will send dispatches to the march wardens now, to alert them of possible Orc activity.
"And I will muster all off-duty warriors. They leave at daybreak to reinforce the eastern and southern marches.
"The outposts were just provisioned; I will request a speedier resupply of lembas, by the Lady's leave."
Celeborn nods. "And the outside scouts?"
"Will be recalled at once. With intelligence from the Mirror, we need not risk sending spies outside our borders — especially to Nanduhirion. We will monitor enemy movements from within Lórien."
"Good. See to it."
I bow and depart.
"Hold a moment, Hirvegil!" I exclaim.
"You have further thoughts?" asks Celeborn.
"Indeed. We know that the strongest weapon of the Northmen is surprise; yet they approach watchful lands, south of Gladden.
"The Shadow can make much mischief if they are betrayed by sight or sound. We must blind the eye of Dol Guldur."
"What do you intend?"
"I will summon a shadeless fog to surround the Riders and conceal their passage. It will also hearten them, heal their weariness, and thus speed their way.
"We have held back Darkness for many ages. This mist will be Light made manifest."
"Your plan should indeed permit these Riders to arrive in secret, with strength left to avail. But can you sustain so vast a shield for so long?"
"I can." With your support, my love. "And, if you concur, I will first veil Lórien."
"Could our warriors discern lurking enemies through this mist?"
"Yes. Elven eyes will pierce its walls outwards, but not inwards; mortal eyes will not. Within, the mist will be well-lit."
"Good. Though our scouts must be recalled beforehand. Hirvegil?"
"I will notify you of their return, likely by nightfall."
"Very well. My lady, I accept your proposal."
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