Day and Night: 3. Twilight

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3. Twilight

Estel heard the beast before he saw it. The horrendous, near-deafening bellows seemed so unnatural, he could scarce believe that such a sound could be produced by any living creature on Arda.

He stood with the Imladris patrol in battle formation at the point where dense forest met the sharp up rise of the jagged mountains that marked the western side of the High pass. The hill-troll’s monstrous roars reverberated off the steep rock walls of the mountains ahead of them, making it difficult for the patrol to determine exactly from whence the sound was originating. Each step the mammoth creature took as it lumbered between the massive rocks caused the very ground beneath their feet to shake, further adding to their difficulty in locating it.

Despite the ear-splitting ferocity of the beast’s roar and the great tremours sent through the earth by the movement of its vast bulk, the patrol stood their ground steadfastly, each warrior fully focused on scanning the crags and caverns of the massive rocks. The archers had taken to the trees, their arrows notched and their bows pulled taught, ready to fire with deadly elven accuracy at the first sight of the troll.

Then, with another mighty bellow, the creature stepped out from behind a particularly large formation of rocks and Estel saw for the first time a live troll. His eyes widened in disbelief at the sight of the behemoth before him. It was colossal in size, with huge muscles rippling on its broad chest and enormous arms, and it stood upright more than twice as tall as the tallest elf amongst them. Its skin, covered by dense, thick scales, was a grayish hue which seemed to blend in with the surrounding terrain. Truly it appeared as if the troll had been born from the very rock around it. It carried in its massive hands a mighty hammer, which if he judged correctly was almost as long as Estel was tall.

Through his many years of study, Estel had been well-trained in the theories of battle against all the fell creatures he might encounter, including, of course, trolls. Facing the monster before him, that training seemed woefully inadequate. Estel glanced at the weapon which he held at the ready. So experienced had he become in battle that now his sword felt like an extension of his very arm. Always when he wielded it he possessed a sense of power, as though he were ready for any challenge he might face. At this moment, however, he felt as though he may as well have been wielding a dinner knife.

Elladan and Elrohir flanked Estel closely, and Elrohir, as if reading his thoughts, whispered in his ear: “Remember what you have been taught, keep your focus, and have courage. All will be well, brother.”

Had the situation not been so dire, Estel might have found himself laughing outright as his mind worked furiously to recall all that he had learned about strategies for fighting these beasts. The troll’s weak points, if such they could be called, were its eyes, inside its mouth and its neck, right under the jaw, Estel recalled. He mentally sized up the enraged troll that was rapidly approaching and then he considered the length of his sword. “If I could but reach its neck.” he muttered to himself.

The twins, of course, heard this whispered comment and Elrohir responded softly. “Do not fear so greatly the beast’s size, for while it is strong and ferocious in its attack, so is it clumsy and very dull of mind. Use that to your advantage.”

The troll was coming ever closer. With each lumbering step it took toward them, its blind rage seemed to grow in intensity and its ferocious roars increased in volume as it swung its huge hammer in an apparently random manner, shattering boulders and felling trees with each clumsy yet mighty stroke. The archers released their volley with an accuracy which would have stopped most beasts dead in their tracks, but many of their arrows merely bounced off the troll’s hide as if impacting with rock, and those few which actually stuck in its flesh seemed to have little effect other than to further enrage the beast and add more strength to the fury of its attack.

The warriors began to spread out to try to surround the troll, in the hopes of bewildering the dim-witted beast and depriving it of an obvious target. Estel, Elladan and a few others moved around to the left of the troll while Elrohir and Glorfindel where amongst those who started to fan out to the right.

The troll’s ear-piercing bellows and the loud thud of each of its steps, as well as the crashing of trees and the shattering of rock created a cacophony of noise which made it exceedingly difficult to detect individual sounds, even to the acute hearing of the elves. However, Elladan could feel that something more was amiss. Pausing briefly he strained his senses and then turning to search the forest behind him, he declared urgently: “Another of these fell beasts approaches from the north-west!”

Elrohir, sensing the same discordance as his brother, turned as well to listen. “Nay, it approaches from the south-west!”

As if in answer, the party was suddenly inundated by a harsh chorus of vicious roars and noisy grunts that seemed to be coming from all around. With the loud crash of falling trees, two more trolls emerged from the forest behind them. Three trolls now surrounded the elven patrol.

Glorfindel ordered the party to regroup in the face of this new threat. As the warriors moved to cover their now vulnerable backs, he spoke urgently to Elrohir. “It seems as though we have been led into a trap, though I know not how. Hill-trolls are even more simple-minded and beast-like than their stone-troll cousins. Never have I seen a hill-troll employ such tactics. It is as though some fell master adds strength to their will!”

The first troll, apparently emboldened by the appearance of its comrades, began to swing its hammer with even greater vigor at those who were now moving to regroup. As it raised its weapon high for a particularly mighty stroke, Elladan, much to his horror, now understood who was the intended target of the strike.

Estel, too, knew that he had become the focus of the troll’s wrath when he saw above him the enormous metal hammer descending with tremendous force. Though the stroke was occurring in mere moments, for Estel, with quick reflexes born of his natural ability and intense training, time seemed to slow and with a calm clarity of thought he willed his body to move. However, though he moved with a haste which could only result from fear for his very life, he also realized in that instant that he could not possibly move fast enough to completely escape the blow.

Suddenly Estel felt a solid weight impact against him. Much to his surprise, however, the force was not followed by the painful sensation of the crushing of his bones, but rather a feeling of being propelled backwards. With earth-shattering force, the head of the hammer collided with the ground where a mere moment before he had stood. Breathing heavily, Estel looked up at the rather disheveled figure laying atop him. With super-human speed, born from his inherent elven ability and his sheer terror, Elladan had saved Estel from the crushing blow of the troll’s mighty weapon.

The troll, still unaware of what had transpired, slowly lifted its hammer in anticipation of admiring its crushed prize. It was confused to see nothing upon the ground but the deep indent caused by its own weapon. Bending its mammoth body over, it studied the earth directly before it. Now convinced that its quarry was not there, it again stood upright and shaking its large head in disbelief, it then scrutinized the hammer closely as if the object held the answer to this conundrum.

In the meantime, Estel and Elladan scrambled to their feet, both a little surprised that they remained hale and whole. Quickly they assessed the situation. While Elladan had pushed Estel out of the way of immediate harm, in his desperate bid to save the young man, he had unfortunately driven them both further from the rest of their party, and now a rather confused and very angry troll stood between them and the others. Remaining silent, Elladan gestured to Estel that they should attempt to sneak around behind the beast while it was distracted in order to rejoin the group.

The troll saw a movement from the corner of its eye and, finally deciding to look around, it slowly turned its head to the side, catching sight of the two little creatures which were trying to skulk away. Turning its huge body to fully face them and further block their path, the beast let loose a roar of pure rage at the realization that its prey had somehow escaped the attack. No longer concerned with the other trolls and elves behind it, the enraged beast began to advance with a single-minded ferocity on the two who had denied it its prize.

The troll was now close enough to Estel and Elladan that they could smell its wretched breath and feel a spray of foul, slimy spittle upon their faces as the beast released its ferocious roar, and as it bore down upon them, they soon realized that they had become the whole focus of its wrath. Sharing a quick glance, they did all that they could reasonably think to do in such a situation; they backed away from the approaching behemoth as rapidly as they were able. Unfortunately, however, they were being driven closer to the rocky outcroppings of the mountains which marked the western entrance of the High Pass and away from the forest where the others remained. They were being driven ever further from any hope of assistance.

The rest of the elven warriors were surely now fully engaged with the other trolls and with the addition to two more of the giant, loud brutes, the din and chaos of the battle had grown exponentially. Elladan knew there was little use in trying to call out for aid, as he was unlikely to be heard above the noise. Closing his eyes, briefly he sent a thought to his twin.

While Elrohir had not witnessed Estel’s near brush with death, he now saw the troll turning and apparently fleeing. At this he was baffled, for while trolls were brutish and dull, they could never be described as cowardly; they were ferocious and single-minded in their attack and never would they abandon a battle, not even at their bitter end. Turning to Glorfindel, he voiced his confusion. “Why does that troll run from the battle?”

While remaining wholly focused on the trolls in front of him, Glorfindel still managed to respond with a hint of his characteristic humour. “With the turn of our luck lately, we can not assume that it is due simply to our good fortune.”

Again Elrohir paused briefly, and turning his head as if listening to something that the others could not hear, he then spoke urgently. “Nay, it is not our good fortune, for Elladan and, no doubt, Estel, are the objects of that troll’s chase!”

“Then we shall have to give the beast another target! Why does that brother of yours always court trouble?” Shouting out some final orders to the warriors who remained in the battle, Glorfindel turned in pursuit of the retreating troll, knowing full well that Elrohir would be close on his heels. He did not even attempt to order Elrohir to remain behind, for, with the safety of his brothers at stake, he well knew it would be a waste of his breath.

As the troll continued its persistent chase, oblivious to everything but the objects of its pursuit, it swung its hammer in a frenzy of rage with no regard for the havoc it was wreaking around it, and Elladan and Estel found they were dodging not only its massive weapon but also the shattered rocks and broken branches dislodged by the beast’s mighty strokes. Soon, however, their retreat came to an end, for they were now in a clearing with the steep craggily rise of the mountain at their backs and they could go no further. Elladan, sensing that his twin was coming to their aid, drew himself to his full height and readied his sword, firmly fixing his gaze on the approaching troll. Without turning to look at the one who stood at his side, he spoke with a firm resolve: “Prepare to dance, Estel. Move now with greater speed than ever you have before, for we will flee no more!”

Upon seeing the little creatures with their backs to the mountains, facing him with their pointy sticks raised defiantly, the troll grunted in satisfaction at finding its prey exactly where it wanted them. Surely it would only be a matter of a few strokes of its hammer and it would have its prizes. However, as it started to swing its hammer down upon the head of its quarry, it roared in confusion at yet again finding its target no longer where it was supposed to be.

The more that Estel observed the troll fight, the easier it became for him to anticipate the beast’s actions, for truly neither its brain nor its movements were very swift. He had learned that the troll’s mobility was hindered by its vast bulk and slow mind, and its attack was cumbersome and awkward. He was able to dodge the attacks with ease and in the time it took the troll to lift its hammer for another blow, he found that he could get in one or two strikes of his own.

Estel noticed that Elladan had adopted a similar strategy and the two began to work effectively to coordinate their attacks and baffle the dim-witted beast. Often Estel had observed with a sense of awe the synchronicity of the twins actions and the unity of their attack as they fought together. Always did they each seem instinctively to know what the other would do next. Now, he and Elladan found a similar rhythm in their fight against the troll and it seemed as though they were dancing around a near stationary object. The problem they were now facing, however, was that their sword slashes had little effect on the beast’s thick, armour-like skin.

The troll roared its frustration at being ganged up on by these swift and clever little creatures. They seemed to move in a blur around its legs like annoying insects, and truly the beast was becoming confused. Then it heard a shout coming from behind and, turning its head, it was dismayed to notice the arrival of two more of these pesky little things.

Remembering what he had learned of the weak points in a troll’s hide, Estel knew that he needed to reach a higher point of attack. Taking advantage of the beast’s distraction at the arrival of Glorfindel and Elrohir, Estel managed to scramble up a large jagged rock projecting from the side of the mountain and with a great thrust of his sword, he succeeded in deeply piercing the soft skin directly beneath the jawbone on the side of its neck. As he saw the gush of blood and felt its warmth on his hand, Estel knew that he had thrust the sword upward through the troll’s neck and mouth and directly into its small brain.

Upon feeling the sword piece its skin, the troll’s eyes widened in disbelief and it raised one hand to touch the side of its neck. The other hand continued to firmly clench its mighty hammer. It tried to open its mouth to release a howl of anger and pain, but the only noise that escaped its lips was a small gurgling sound and a pathetic whimper. Its body began to spasm and its limbs flail about uncontrollably in its throes of death.

Estel quickly jumped down from the rock, and seeking safety from the spastic movements of the beast in its death throes, he pressed himself into a small cave formed in the craggily surface of the mountain. He did not wish to be anywhere near the giant when it fell. Elladan, feeling a swell of pride at the courage, cunning, and skill that Estel had displayed, came to stand protectively in front of the young man.

What happened next, no one could have anticipated. With one last great flail of its arm as it fell, the troll’s hammer impacted with the rock above the crevice where Estel and Elladan attempted to take shelter. Elladan heard the mighty crash and felt the rock walls around him shake, and looking up, he saw a cascade of enormous rocks beginning to descend upon where they now stood. Acting quickly, Elladan pushed Estel more deeply into the cave and attempted to shield the young man with his own body. He felt the first crushing blow of a large rock impacting against his back, and then all went black, and Elladan saw, felt and heard no more.

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: peredhil_lover

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - The Stewards

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 03/12/07

Original Post: 11/17/06

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