Dark Horizons: 25. Light of Earendil

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25. Light of Earendil

“Gimli?”

The voice came as if from a great distance, cutting through the blackness and jarring into his semiconscious mind like a spear through a ripe melon.

“Gimli, you must wake!  Come, my friend, show me some life.”

Gimli moaned.  At least, he tried to moan, but his vocal chords no longer seemed to be obeying his mind’s commands.  His eyes also were rebelling against him, for as hard as he tried, he could not seem to get them open.  It seemed as if a great, numbing blanket had settled over his body, and he wished for nothing more than to give into its weight and drift back into the painless comfort of nothingness.

The voice would not let him.  That nagging, incessant voice that had been calling to him for what seemed an eternity!  Gimli tried even harder to press his mind into consciousness, if for no other reason that to shut up the voice!

“Gimli, if you do not wake, I shall shave your beard and turn your armor pink!”

It was the last straw.  With a gigantic effort of will, Gimli forced his eyes open and glared up at the figure bending over him.

“You wouldn’t dare!”  he growled, even as he tried to fight off the waves of nausea and pain that crashed down on him.  His eyes refused to focus, and there were three Aragorns looking down at him, each one nothing but a blur, but that did not stop Gimli from glaring at all of them.

“Ahh, so there is some life left in you after all,” Aragorn said wryly, his voice sounding distant, as if it were coming to Gimli through a heavy fog.

Gimli grimaced, trying desperately to focus his eyes and watching as Aragorn’s three heads slowly melted back into one.  “What happened,” he asked, breathing deeply and trying to summon the energy to push himself upright.

“You were knocked unconscious,” Aragorn answered, reaching forward and helping Gimli maneuver into a sitting position.  His tone was half worried and half angry, and as Gimli focused on him, he saw the same odd mix on the man’s face.

He glanced around him, ignoring his dizziness and trying to collect his scattered thoughts and summon some memory of what had happened to him.  It did not take long for everything to come crashing back, and he jerked himself further upright, his hands desperately searching for his axe.

“Malek,” he gasped, his eyes searching through the nighttime darkness and shadows cast from the fires along the wall.  There was no sign of Malek anywhere, and no sign of any orcs either, at least, no live orcs, and he frowned in confusion.

“Gone,” Aragorn said calmly, placing a strong hand on the dwarf’s shoulder to steady him.  “He has retreated along with all his orc army and will not trouble us further this night.”

“Gone,” Gimli repeated, still confused.  He glanced toward the eastern horizon, half expecting to see the light of dawn, and frowning when there was only darkness.  “How long have I been unconscious?” he asked slowly, eyeing Aragorn suspiciously.

“A matter of minutes,” Aragorn answered immediately, returning Gimli’s look with one of his own.

Gimli frowned.  “If that is the case, it is still hours until sunrise.  Why would Malek retreat so early?”

Aragorn opened his mouth to reply, but before he could speak, a sudden realization struck Gimli, causing him to snap his fingers loudly.

“The lightning,” he gasped, watching Aragorn’s face carefully for confirmation.  “The lightning,” he repeated, “It got him, didn’t it!”  His voice was filled with excitement, but also no small amount of disappointment.  Oh, how he longed to drive his axe into the heart of Malek, and the thought of lightning stealing that joy from him was somewhat disturbing.

Aragorn shook his head.  “It was not lightning,” he answered easily, “and yes, it did get him.  Not hard enough to cause serious or lasting damage, but enough to cause him to retreat for the night and take his foul army with him.  We have been given several extra hours, and I suggest we find the best way to put them to use.  That is, if you have finished your little nap.”

Surprisingly, Gimli offered no retort to Aragorn’s words.  He was still busy trying to mull through what his friend had told him.  “Not lightning,” he whispered, his brow wrinkled in thought.  “If it was not lightning, what…” he trailed off, comprehension dawning.  “Gandalf!” he exclaimed, his eyes widening.  “Gandalf was the one that blasted me!?”  It was more a statement than a question, and Gimli’s voice was outraged.

“Blasted Malek,” Aragorn corrected, his voice still annoyingly calm.  “You just happened to be a little too close.”

Gimli grumbled a curse loudly, glaring at Aragorn.  “He almost killed me,” he huffed, and would have continued, but Aragorn cut him off.

“He saved your life!” the ex-ranger replied sharply, his eyes flashing dangerously.  “Going after Malek on your own was not the wisest thing you have ever done, Gimli.  In fact, I would dare to say it was the most unwise.  What where you thinking?  You knew, at least should have known, that you could not hope to win against him.  Have you gone utterly and completely mad!?”

Aragorn was not shouting, but he came close.  Gimli did not answer him right away, partly because he didn’t know what to say, and partly because he was taken off guard by his friend’s obvious anger.  It was true, he knew.  The anger and battle rage had taken control of him at the sight of Malek, and he had thought of nothing other than revenge upon the one who had caused so much pain to his friends, Legolas in particular.  Now, with Malek gone, the mad rage that had controlled him had also gone, leaving him with the realization of just how foolish his actions had been.  Still, he could not rid his mind of his single instant of triumph, when his axe had sunk deep into Malek’s black flesh!  Even the knowledge that Malek would quickly heal from the strike did not steal away the grim satisfaction that the dwarf had felt!

“My mistake,” Gimli finally admitted with a shrug.

Aragorn sighed, the anger draining from his face as he sat back and studied the dwarf’s battered form.  It was obvious that Gimli’s statement was the closest thing to an apology that he would receive. 

“Let us get off this field and find Gandalf and the others,” Aragorn finally said, reaching forward and attempting to help Gimli to his feet.  “It is time we come up with our own plan concerning Malek, and he has kindly given us some extra time in which to do this.”

Gimli couldn’t have agreed more.  However, as he was hauled to his feet, a wave of pain and nausea struck him hard, causing him to sway unsteadily and moan loudly. His head felt as if it was about to burst.

Aragorn quickly steadied him, holding him upright until most of the dizziness had passed.

Gimli reached up and gently rubbed the back of his head, wincing as his fingers encountered a sticky wetness matting his hair.  When he brought his hand back down, it shone darkly with blood.  “I think I must have landed on my head,” he muttered softly, looking around him and grimacing when he spotted his smashed helm lying several feet away.

“Then it is a good thing that dwarves have such hard heads,” Aragorn answered lightly, still holding Gimli steady, but moving behind him to examine the wound on his own, “or else your brains would be scattered all over this field right at the moment.”

“Are you sure they aren’t?” Gimli muttered, wincing yet again at Aragorn’s gently probing fingers.

“Yes,” Aragorn answered, “but the gash on your head is deep, and will need tending, as well as all your other wounds. Come my friend, let us waste no more time here.”

Gimli nodded, but had only taken two shaky steps when he collapsed against Aragorn, blackness once again closing in on him.  He distantly heard Aragorn sigh, and felt strong arms close about him a second before everything went dark.

 

*****

“He looks so pale,” Sam whispered softly, staring down into the still face of Legolas lying on the bed before him.  Frodo stood beside him, but did not answer, his eyes sad as he watched his unconscious friend.

“Arwen said he woke about an hour ago,” Sam continued, “but he didn’t seem to recognize her, or even know she was there.”

Frodo nodded silently.  “That is what Pippin said he was like during their escape,” he whispered softly.  “Gandalf seems to think it will pass, though.”

“I hope so,” Sam muttered.  “I do not like seeing him like this, and I think it is driving Gimli crazy.”

Frodo nodded once more, imagining that he could still hear Gimli’s loud grumbling and muttering clear on the other side of the house of healing.  Aragorn had carried the dwarf there, where Arwen now tended him. He was awake once more and complaining loudly about anything and everything.  It was plain that the dwarf’s frustration was wearing away at his nerves, not to mention the nerves of everyone around him.

After delivering Gimli to Arwen, Aragorn had left in search of Faramir and Gandalf, and Merry had gone to see if Pippin was awake yet.  Frodo and Sam had decided to check in on Legolas, as much to get away from Gimli as for any other reason.

“You know what he reminds me of, Master Frodo,” Sam asked slowly, still staring down at Legolas’ pale features.  “He reminds me of you.”

Frodo looked at him in surprise, but Sam only nodded.  “Right after you got bitten by that big spider near Cirith Ungul.  When I saw you lying there, as pale as anything and not moving, well, I thought for sure that you were dead!”

“Don’t remind me,” Frodo cried, shaking his head fiercely.  “That is a time I would just as soon forget.”

“Aye,” Sam said slowly, “me as well, but I fear it is something I will never forget.”  He turned to Frodo then, and the sadness in his eyes was almost more than his friend could bear.  “I left you there,” he whispered.  “Just left you lying there.”

“You thought I was dead, Sam,” Frodo replied gently.  “You cannot blame yourself, for I never did.  There was no way you could have known.”

Sam was shaking his head.  “But I did know, Master Frodo.  At least, I should have.  When I took your phial out, the one from the lady Galadriel, you looked so peaceful in its light, as if you were merely sleeping.  I should have known then that you were still alive, but I just didn’t understand it until it was too late.”

Frodo shook his head helplessly, unable to come up with anything to say that would comfort Sam.  It was obvious that this was a burden the hobbit had been carrying deep within himself for quite some time, and Frodo only hoped that talking about it might clear Sam of some of the guilt he seemed to feel.

Silence fell between the two for several long minutes before Sam suddenly jerked upright, turning to Frodo with an excited look.  “That’s it!” the hobbit exclaimed, snapping his fingers.  “The light!”

“What about the light?” Frodo asked, confused.

“Maybe the light in that phial can help Legolas,” Sam explained.  “Arwen said he was trapped in darkness, maybe the light will help bring him out!” 

It took Frodo a couple of seconds to figure out what Sam was talking about, but when it finally dawned on him, he too sat up excitedly.  “It might just work,” he whispered slowly. 

“It most certainly won’t hurt to try,” Sam commented, watching Frodo closely.  “Did you bring it with you?”

Frodo nodded.  “It is up with the rest of my stuff at the mayor’s house,” he told Sam.  “You stay here, and I will go and get it.”

Sam agreed, and Frodo quickly left the room, and then the building, striding swiftly up the dark streets toward the mayor’s large house.  He guessed that dawn was still close to an hour away, and when he finally reached the house, he paused in the entrance, letting his eyes adjust to the almost pitch black inside the building before pushing forward into the gloom.  He found the room he had been sharing with Sam easily enough, and with a single wistful glance to the bed, he moved to where his and Sam’s packs lay discarded in one corner.  He fished around in his until he found the small compartment he had sown to the back of the pack.  Opening the pocket, he pulled out a small pouch and stuffed it inside his tunic before rising and leaving the building once more.

When he re-entered the room, Sam leapt up to meet him, and the two walked over to the bed, looking down once more at Legolas’ too pale features. 

“Let’s try it then,” Frodo whispered, pulling the pouch from his tunic and undoing the strings holding it shut.  The two hobbits shared one last hopeful look, before Frodo tipped the small pouch and let the contents fall into his hand.

The small phial glittered and twinkled mysteriously for a few long seconds, then slowly began to brighten, its white light spreading through the room.  Shadows fled before the dazzling light, and the single low burning lamp beside the bed seemed weak and dim when compared to the bright glow of Eärendil’s star.

Frodo and Sam watched in wonder, hypnotized by the unique beauty of the phial.  Sam nudged Frodo lightly and pointed toward the bed, and Frodo smiled and nodded.

Legolas did indeed look better, for instead of making him look paler, the white light seemed to enhance the color of his skin, bringing out a slight flush to the high cheekbones.  Even as the two watched, they imagined a slight flutter of Legolas’ closed lids, and they both leaned closer, praying the elf would wake.  However, several more minutes passed with no movement from the prone form, and Frodo and Sam at last sat back, their disappointed sighs echoing through the silence of the room.

Frodo moved to replace the phial in its pouch, when a sudden loud gasp from the doorway caused both of them to spin around.  They had not heard the door open.

The small boy, Dar, stood in the doorway, his eyes wide with wonder and his mouth hanging open.  He clutched the open doorway in one hand, while the other covered his mouth, his eyes wide with shock. He seemed unable to tear his gaze from the bright light emanating from Frodo’s closed fist.

“Hello, Dar,” Frodo called quietly, and as the boy’s gaze snapped to his own, he slipped the phial back into his pouch.  The sudden gloom that fell over the room caused all three of them to gasp in surprise and blink rapidly to clear their vision.

“Hello,” Dar finally answered slowly, moving fully into the room and shutting the door behind him.  He stood regarding Frodo and Sam intently, his hands twisting and gripping his shirt, and his eyes shining brightly.

“Come to see Legolas, have you?” Sam asked cheerfully, motioning Dar over to the bed.

The boy moved slowly, nodding his head, but his eyes remained glued to the small pouch in Frodo’s hand.  He reached the bed, and at last glanced away to look down at Legolas.  His youthful face immediately scrunched up in a frown, and he gripped an edge of the blanket tightly in his fist.  “He doesn’t look too good.”  He commented softly, causing Frodo and Sam to exchange surprised looks.

“Legolas is very sick right now, Dar,” Sam said gently.  “But elves are also very strong.  Don’t worry, he will be up and about before you know it.”

Dar nodded, and his eyes strayed once more to the pouch lying in Frodo’s lap.  “What is that?” he finally asked, obviously unable to contain his curiosity any longer.

Frodo glanced at Sam, who merely shrugged, before turning back to Dar.  “It is a gift,” he explained slowly.  “Something that was given to me by the Lady of the Wood.”

Frodo had not expected Dar to know whom he was speaking of, but by the sudden stiffening of the lad’s body, and the gleam in his eyes, he guessed that Dar might know more than he thought.

“The Lady of the Wood?” Dar gasped, his eyes going as round as saucers.  “Is it magic then?”

“It’s Elven,” Frodo replied, as if that was the only answer needed.  “It is the light of one of their stars, set amidst the water of their land.  It is very powerful.”

“Can I see it again,” Dar begged, “please?” 

Frodo shrugged, and once more removed the phial from the small pouch.  The bright light returned in full, and not a shadow was left in the room.

“It’s very beautiful,” Dar commented, unable to stare directly at the blinding light.

Frodo smiled at him, and then held the phial out toward Dar.  “Would you like to hold it?” he offered, grinning wider at the delighted look in the boy’s eyes.

Dar reached forward and reverently took the phial from Frodo’s hand, his face ecstatic.  Frodo allowed him to hold it for a several minutes before finally retrieving it and dropping it back into the pouch.

“Thank you,” Dar said politely, his eyes shining brightly.  “I had better go now.  My dad doesn’t know where I am, and he will probably be looking for me.  Wait until I tell him.”

“Goodbye, Dar,” Frodo and Sam called after him as the boy raced to the door and yanked it open.  He waved back carelessly over his shoulder, then charged through the door, nearly knocking over Merry and Pippin, who had been about to enter.  Yelling back an apology, he disappeared down the hall.

“What was that all about?” Merry asked as he walked into the room.

“Come on you two,” Pippin called from where he still stood in the hallway.  “Merry and I are going to find some breakfast, you want to come along?”

“That is a dumb question,” Sam mumbled good naturedly, already heading towards the door.

“You don’t have to ask us twice,” Frodo agreed, joining his companions in the hall, and shutting the door quietly behind him.  The four friends started off down the hall, arguing about the best breakfast meal Sam had ever prepared.

Back in the room, Legolas shifted slightly, the fingers of one hand fluttering softly before he once more lay still.

 

*******

Dar found his father down near the southern gate of the city, and the lad wasted no time in telling his father everything about the small crystal phial, and its powerful magic.  Kenson listened patiently, allowing his son to rattle on and on for several long minutes before he finally dropped to one knee before the boy.

“That is a very interesting story, son,” he told Dar fondly, reaching out and ruffling the lad’s hair, “And I would love to hear more about it, but right now, I have a lot of work to do.”

Dar’s small face scrunched up in disappointment, and he let out a loud sigh.  “When is this whole thing going to be over?” he asked grumpily, his shoulders slumping.  “I want things to go back to normal now.”

“I do as well,” Kenson replied honestly, “But right now, there is a very bad creature leading the orcs to attack us, and until he is defeated, we must continue to fight.”

“Why don’t you just kill him?” Dar asked simply, his face puzzled.

“I wish it were as easy as that,” an amused voice spoke up from behind the pair, and Kenson immediately jumped to his feet and bowed low to Aragorn.

“My lord,” he gasped. “I am sorry, but I did not hear your approach.”

Aragorn waved away his apology, a small smile briefly flashing across his grim features.

“Why isn’t it?”  Dar asked, and both men looked down at him, confused for a second before remembering what the lad was speaking of.

“The creature leading the orcs is very evil and very powerful,” Aragorn explained gently.

“I bet my dad could beat him,” Dar boasted proudly, “He can beat anything.”

“I am sure you are right,” Aragorn replied seriously, and Kenson shifted uncomfortably.  “But you see, this creature is not normal.  He cannot be killed at night, and is powerful beyond anything you could imagine.”

“You mean he is immortal?” Dar asked, confused.

“Invincible,” Aragorn corrected, “And only at night, for he is a dark creature.  He hates light, for it steals his strength and leaves him weak and pathetic.”

Dar nodded slowly.  “I do not think he would like Mister Frodo’s star very much then.” he commented lightly.

Aragorn frowned slightly and shook his head.  “What do you mean, Mister Frodo’s star?” he asked slowly.

Dar brightened, having found a new audience to whom to tell his tale.  “He said it was a gift from the Lady of the Wood,” he explained excitedly.  “It’s a star, and it gives off a beautiful white light.  He even let me hold it!  It lit up the entire room just like it was day!”

“Dar,” Kenson began, intending to send his son away, but he stopped suddenly when he saw the expression on Aragorn’s face.

“What is it, my lord?” he asked worriedly, but Aragorn did not respond.  The ex-ranger whirled suddenly and grabbed a passing soldier by the arm, startling the man.

“Go and find Faramir and Gandalf,” Aragorn ordered the surprised man.  “Tell them to meet me at the Mayor’s house.”

The soldier nodded quickly, and Aragorn released him, turning back to Kenson and Dar.  There was an excited look in his eyes, and a wide smile on his face.  He dropped to his knees in front of a startled Dar and reached out to grip the lad’s shoulders tightly.

“Thank you,” he said softly.  “Thank you so much.”

 

****

Dawn was just beginning to lighten the horizon over Calembel, as Aragorn, Gandalf, Faramir, Gimli, and the four hobbits gathered together in the spacious room that had served as the office of Merton Fallow Candywell III.  Kenson Brantz had unexpectedly been invited to attend the meeting, and he stood awkwardly in one corner, obviously feeling out of place within the group of friends.  A tense excitement filled the air as all waited for Aragorn to reveal why he had called them together.

At the moment, both Aragorn and Gandalf stood at the far end of the office, speaking quietly together, and apparently completely oblivious to the seven sets of eyes that watched them intently.  The tension and excited anticipation within the room had risen quite high before Aragorn at last turned from Gandalf and strode toward the rest of the companions, smiling slightly at their eager and expectant faces.

“I believe our waiting is finally at an end,” he began softly, eying each of his companions in turn.  “I think the solution to our problem has at last been found.”

Gimli leaned forward in his chair, his face excited and his hand clenching tightly around the hilt of his axe.  “You have come up with a plan?” he asked eagerly.  “A plan to destroy Malek?”

“The beginnings of a plan,” Aragorn answered slowly. 

“The beginnings?” Gimli asked with a frown, his voice confused.

“Yes, the beginnings” Aragorn repeated, smiling down at the dwarf.  “That is why you are all here.  To help me figure out some of the finer…details.”

“Perhaps you should tell us what this plan is,” Pippin stated quietly, unable to hold back any longer.

“I could tell you,” Aragorn answered slyly, “yet I would prefer to show you.”  He turned to Frodo then, and arched a questioning eyebrow.  “Did you bring it?” he asked simply.

Frodo nodded and reached a hand within his tunic.  He alone, besides Gandalf, knew at least part of what Aragorn planned, for the ex-ranger had already met with him, and they had talked long.

All eyes had now turned to Frodo, eying him curiously, and at Aragorn’s slight nod, he withdrew his hand from his tunic.  In it, he held the small crystal phial given to him by the lady Galadriel, glittering and emitting rays of white light that twirled and shimmered around the room in a hypnotizing dance.

“Eärendil’s star,” Aragorn whispered softly into the ensuing awed silence.  “It shines brightest when things are darkest.  It is to be our last hope, the means with which to fight the evil that is Malek.”

No one spoke, and it seemed almost as if the companions in the room were caught in a spell cast by the tiny crystal object.  At last, Aragorn nodded to Frodo, and the hobbit returned the phial to the small pocket on the inside of his tunic.  Without the star’s light, the room seemed dark and gloomy, despite the early morning sunlight streaming in though the many sets of windows around the office.

“For many days, I have been trying to figure out a way to lure Malek from his underground cave and into the light of day.”  Aragorn continued, his voice hushed, as if reluctant to break the reverent silence that encompassed the room.  “Now, however, I realize I have been going about it the wrong way.  Why try to bring Malek into the light, when we can bring the light, to Malek?”

“Will it be strong enough?”

The question came from Gimli, who at last managed to tear his eyes from where the small phial had disappeared inside Frodo’s tunic.

It was Gandalf who answered.  “It will be strong enough,” the wizard replied, calm assurance filling his voice.  “With this, even the black of night will be unable to protect Malek.  He will be weakened and unable to withstand our attacks.”

“So, now we have the means to destroy Malek,” Aragorn stated boldly, “Now all we have to figure out is where and when.”

“Why not wait until Malek attacks us tonight, and then confront him with the light?” Faramir suggested.  “Once you destroy him, the orcs will most likely scatter.”

Aragorn was already shaking his head before the Steward even finished.  “If we confront Malek during the battle, there is too great a chance of his slipping away and escaping us.  Either that, or calling his orcs to his aid before we can finish him off.  We will have only one chance at this, one chance to take Malek by surprise.  We cannot risk any possibility that he might escape.”

“What do you suggest then?” Gimli grunted, eying Aragorn shrewdly.

“We must confront Malek in an area where we can trap him, keep him from running.  Also, where the light of Earendil will shine the brightest and do the most damage.”  Aragorn glanced around at the faces staring at him questioningly.  “The most likely place will be within his cave.  It is time we bring the battle to Malek!”

Shocked silence fell, but did not last long.

“Are you suggesting that we attack Malek and his army at their lair?” Faramir asked, a slight frown marring his handsome features and his eyes doubtful.

“That’s impossible,” Pippin blurted out, his eyes wide and his face pale at the thought of returning to the place where he had gone through so much torment.  “To get to Malek, you would have to get past thousands of orcs,” he reasoned stiffly, trying to hide the slight quiver in his voice.  “There would be no surprise, and I doubt we would even manage to reach Malek before we would all be cut down!  It would be suicide,” he finished haltingly, beginning to feel slightly embarrassed by all the eyes on him.  His hand went unconsciously to the freshly healing cuts along one side of his face, and he could not hide his sudden shudder.

“Easy, Pippin,” Aragorn said calmly, giving the young hobbit an encouraging smile.  “I have no intention of facing Malek with all of his orcs around.  Malek chose his lair well, and a mere handful of orcs could defend it against our army easily, while the rest of the beasts circled around behind us and cut us off. We will just have to find a way to separate him from his army.”  His voice was calm, despite the enormity of the task he was now suggesting.

 “That will prove to be no easy task,” Gandalf pointed out quietly, watching Aragorn closely.

“I may have an idea,” Aragorn replied, “yet I need more information before I will know whether or not it will work.”  He suddenly turned to Kenson, the bright gleam in his eyes causing the man to give a slight start.  “Captain, how well do you know the land around the mountains?”

Kenson cleared his throat, straightening and trying to shake off his surprise at being addressed.  “I know the land quite well, my lord,” he answered immediately, not taking his eyes from Aragorn’s.  “I grew up here, and the mountains were like a back yard to me when I was a lad, and I have traveled through them often with the merchants.”

“Awful big back yard,” Sam muttered under his breath, and Kenson shot him a quick smile.

“Do you know of any area where a smaller army might be able to hold off a larger?” Aragorn asked without pause, ignoring the small exchange.

“You mean to leave the city?” Gimli gasped, hardly daring to believe what he was hearing.

Aragorn replied with a grim smile.  “As I said, it is time we bring the battle to Malek.”

“Yes,” Gimli spluttered, “but what could we possibly gain from such a desperate act.”

Aragorn gave a dismissive shrug of his shoulders.  “I do not now,” he answered honestly, “yet,” he finished.   “The act is indeed desperate, and Malek will no doubt believe it merely the last futile attempts of a defeated army.  If we play our positions right, we may be able to use this to our advantage.

Gimli shook his head, obviously not convinced by Aragorn’s reasoning, but he said nothing more.

Aragorn turned back to Kenson, arching a questioning eyebrow and repeating his earlier question.

Kenson nodded slowly, though he plainly did not understand where Aragorn was leading with his line of questioning.  “There is one area where what you speak of can be accomplished.” he answered slowly, his eyes distant.  “Several miles northeast of here, where the river Ciril begins its cut through the mountain.  The land around the river is mostly a maze of high canyons, where ambushes can be easily set, and were a small force can hold off a larger as long as they know well the area they choose to fight in.”

“And how well do you know this area?” Aragorn asked quickly, his expression telling the others that an idea had come to the ex-ranger.

“As well as any,” Kenson answered quickly.  “I traveled through the canyons often with my father as a child, and though the merchants usually choose to avoid them, I have also traversed them as an adult.”

“Tell me of them,” Aragorn ordered, “Everything that you can remember.”

Kenson complied, speaking of the high walls and many mazelike passageways cutting through the caverns.  He told Aragorn everything that he could recall, and when he had finally finished, the ex-ranger sat back with a small sigh and a very thoughtful expression on his face.

The others watched him closely, the four hobbits exchanging shrugs and confused looks.  At last, Aragorn leaned forward, a strange but familiar light glowing in his eyes.

“I think I have a plan,” he stated quietly.


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.

Story Information

Author: littlefish

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Post-Ring War

Genre: Action

Rating: General

Last Updated: 10/11/02

Original Post: 06/26/02

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