Unto the ending of the world: 37. Fire

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37. Fire

September 11 – 20, 3019

Can you go to Tharbad and report back on the work there? And deliver some letters as well.

Elrohir welcomed having something to do. Even so, at first he had felt some resentment over being given such an undemanding task, yet as he rode towards Tharbad the resentment had soon faded.

Without any need for haste, Elrohir had taken his leisure on the journey, even taking a long cut from the Forsaken Inn towards the South Downs, avoiding both Bree and the Barrow-downs. He knew he would miss Elladan more if he was by himself, yet he also found it was easier to bear than when he had been surrounded by everybody's constant concerns in Imladris. He had much to think about as well – not that he would go back on his Choice, even if he could. They had never made a final decision, postponing it for as long as they could, but it had always been understood between Elladan and him that if one brother were to die first, the other would follow his Choice; and thus it had gone for them. Had it been Elrohir's decision, he would have Chosen Elfkind. Father, I am sorry, but I could not do otherwise. He shook his head. Either Choice would have brought grief.

Now, though, at last the ruined town came into view. Relieved that he could put his thoughts aside again, Elrohir looked to where he knew a sentry post was usually placed.

The sentry raised a hand in greeting as soon as Elrohir caught his eye. "What news of the road?" he called out.

"Greetings, Halmir. All is quiet," Elrohir replied as he recognised Halbarad's son. "And how are things here?"

"Quiet also," said Halmir, turning back to keep an eye on the road as he spoke. "What brings you here? I hope no bad news?"

"I merely carry messages and letters," Elrohir replied, "and your father asked me to see how the work on the river goes."

"Go on into town," Halmir said. "We can speak later when I am off duty."

Once in town, Elrohir saw to handing out the letters and messages to the Rangers. Though they were pleased to see him – and the news from home he brought – the initial worry that he had brought news of war coming to Eriador from beyond the Misty Mountains was easy to see.

*~~*

In the morning, Elrohir took his mare to be reshod, intending to go for a walk along the river for a first look at the work after that. From what Daeron had said the evening before, the work was coming along well.

Halbarad should be pleased. With the work on schedule, the grain for Gondor can be taken across the river without problem, once they decide how to get it here. It was not a message that had to be delivered without delay, so there was no need to rush back. Nor does sitting around at home hold much appeal. I must find something useful to do, though – other than running messages for the Rangers. Still, a few more days before I start back... Even by himself, it felt good to be back among the Rangers. The time spent here might even help him to put to rest some of his doubts over his Choice. At least he did not feel less at ease among Men than among Elves.

As he kept his horse standing steady while the smith worked, Elrohir considered that she had done well so far; she was still young, and though she had both speed and endurance, he did not yet know her limits, and neither did she.

"Elrohir!" someone called him from outside the smithy's courtyard.

"Hunthor. What is it?"

"There is a messenger from Gondor, and the captain said to call you," the Ranger said.

"Do you know what his news is?" Elrohir asked.

Hunthor nodded grimly. "Yes. There is a Corsair fleet coming north."

Not much later the Rangers were gathered in the old inn's common room; Daeron called everybody who had no other duty in to attend. The messenger, who had ridden all the way from Dol Amroth, opened the meeting, telling them what he knew of where the fleet had been seen, how large it was and its general course.

"We cannot know where they will attack," Daeron said, "However, we do know that there may be a thousand Corsairs coming to land somewhere along the coast, and we must consider all options."

"What about the Isen?" Elrohir said.

Daeron looked thoughtful. "You are thinking of the Long Winter?" he asked

Elrohir nodded.

"I passed the warning to the Rohirrim also, so they are on their guard," said the Dol Amroth man. "Unlikely though it is, as the Isen no longer runs deep enough for the Corsair ships to get far upriver."

"Then what about us?" one of the Rangers said. "Did not Tharbad take large ships once?"

"The Greyflood also runs shallower than it once did," Daeron said. "Our concern now is to prepare as best we can, and sending messengers comes first, since we do not know that they will strike here. Hunthor, you will go to Bree and Fornost…" He looked around searchingly.

Elrohir raised a hand. "I will go to the Grey Havens," he said.

Daeron nodded. "Good. Bring warning to Sarn Ford also. Gilor, you will bring the news to Caras Dirnen, and Thelion will ride with you to the Last Bridge, and go on to Rivendell."  

"Should not Elrohir go to Rivendell?" Hunthor said.

Daeron looked at Elrohir questioningly.

"Mithlond is most urgent, and my horse is fastest," Elrohir replied.  

The meeting concluded quickly, and after some brief time to prepare, the messengers set off. There were still hours of daylight left, and they rode on even after sunset, until it was too dark to see.

*~~*

"I wonder about the Corsairs," Hunthor said the next morning as he stirred their breakfast porridge.

"How is that?" Thelion said, not sounding too interested.  

"Well," Hunthor went on, "First, the King's Men from Númenor settled in Umbar, and then Umbar was part of Gondor for so long; do you think there are still some with Dúnedain blood among the Corsairs?"

"And if there are?" Thelion said. "Do you think they are any the less our enemy?"

"I suppose not," Hunthor admitted. He then turned to Elrohir. "Have you ever been there, that far south, I mean?

"No," Elrohir, in no mood for talk, replied.

"Mind you do not burn our breakfast," Gilor spoke for the first time.

Hunthor shot him an offended glare, but went back to stirring their porridge, and did not continue his line of inquiry.

The silence continued for most of the day, all of them deep in their own thought. Elrohir wondered what the others were thinking. Hunthor was probably still thinking about the history of Umbar, ancient or otherwise, and Thelion and Gilor Elrohir did not know well enough to hazard a guess. As for himself, his doubts about whether he had made the right Choice already gave him second thoughts about going to the Havens. Still, he had taken on the task and his horse was fastest. Even so, it would be hard to see the Havens again, and know he would never set sail from there.

The day's journey was steady and uneventful, and by the time they stopped Elrohir reckoned they were not far from the crossroads. Rather than dwelling on what he could not – and would not – change, he had spent much of the day thinking about Hunthor's questions, trying to remember everything he knew of the Corsairs.

Unfortunately he did not remember all that much; all he had was what Estel had said of his attack on Umbar as Thorongil, and of his journeys among the common people of the Harad. At first, upon his return, they were more concerned with his betrothal to Arwen than with his deeds in Gondor. Later, it had been clear that Estel would rather not talk about Umbar. He had spoken to Elladan about the attack on the harbour and the destruction of the fleet, but his brother had told Elrohir that the tale was not his to share.

The four messengers reached the crossroads after only a few hours riding the next day. After a quick exchange of well-wishes for the road, Elrohir nudged his horse to turn to the western road, and after a final wave, they were off on their respective courses.

*~~*

Elrohir woke around sunrise the next day; he had only taken a few hours rest after riding swiftly until well past dark. He had to reach Sarn Ford today, and the earlier he got there, the better. It was almost a week to Mithlond and there was no time to waste. Now that he rode alone, he had to be on his guard more than before, yet he rode undisturbed until he was stopped about a mile from the ford.

"Halt! Who goes there?" A sentry stepped out on to the road with another Ranger further away raising a bow. Elrohir quickly pulled up his horse and dismounted.

"Hands away from your sword, stranger," the sentry warned as he approached. "State your business."

"Elrohir of Rivendell," Elrohir replied, wondering that the Ranger had not recognised him. "I have urgent tidings for your commander."

"Then you had best go on to our camp," the Ranger replied after a moment of thought; as he waved him on, he gave a sharp whistle to warn that a friend was coming.

While Elrohir led his horse on towards the camp, he tried to remember the Ranger's name. He looked very young, and Elrohir wondered how long he had had his Star. Then he remembered that most of the experienced men who had been posted at Sarn Ford had been slain by the Nazgûl almost exactly a year past. What good will a warning do when there is not even half a company stationed here? And too many of them little more than recruits too.

The lieutenant who was in command of the camp was young also, and unfamiliar to Elrohir, having been promoted only after the Nazgûl attack. He blanched at Elrohir's warning that half a thousand enemies might come marching north along the Baranduin, but after he recovered his aplomb, he warned Elrohir against the mood in the Shire.

"The hobbits are still suspicious of strangers after the trouble with the ruffians; until word came that we are on their side, they were ready to chase us out of the Shire along with the ruffians, and some of my men were threatened by archers in the Tookland."

"If the Corsairs are going to attack the Grey Havens, I do not have time to go around the Shire," Elrohir replied, "but my route does not take me near the Tookland."

*~~*

The next day, Elrohir was up before daybreak again. This had been the last night that he could rest in safety and some comfort, but now he must be on his way; he wanted to reach the borders of the Shire before evening. To save time, he only took a cup of tea from the sentry, who had a small fire going and a kettle over it. He would break his fast from his own supplies later on.

The weather had turned cold and windy overnight. By early afternoon it started to rain, softly at first, but turning to a downpour towards dusk, so that Elrohir was glad of the meagre shelter of a tree when he finally stopped. As welcome as the rest was, he was reluctant to stop as well; the wind that lashed him with rain would also speed the Corsair ships to their destination.

It was only a few miles more to Sackville, and Elrohir was mildly surprised that he had not encountered any hobbits yet. Even with the Ranger lieutenant's warning it was still best to take the main road, rather than slow himself down on back roads, he thought, then shrugged. Most likely he would not have any trouble from vigilant hobbits

*~~*

In the morning, as he led his horse out from under the tree, it was still overcast, though it had stopped raining. He could see farm sheds and such near the road, and occasionally smoke from a chimney sticking out of a hillside. He breathed in deeply; the air had that lovely after-rain scent.

It was not long until he passed the first hobbit on the road, a farmer on a two-wheeled farm cart. The fellow gave him a wary look and did not respond to his greeting, other than by a silent nod, and lowering one hand from the reins to where Elrohir suspected he kept a cudgel or some such weapon. Elrohir did not look back as he outpaced him easily. By now there were hobbits at work in the fields around, and he could see people watching as he rode past.

Just before Sackville, he stopped to let his horse drink from a brook running along the road. As he dismounted, a hobbit riding a pony approached.

"Good day to you," the newcomer said, eyeing him suspiciously.

As he returned the greeting, Elrohir noted the other bore a feather in his cap. A Shirriff then; one of the hobbits he had seen at work in the fields must have raised the alarm.

"Where are you heading, stranger?" the Shirriff asked next.

Recalling the warning he had been given at Sarn Ford, Elrohir answered readily. "Today, I hope to get past Hardbottle, and I will be riding to Michel Delving and out of the Shire after that."

"See that you do," the Shirriff acknowledged his reply with a sceptical expression. "And stick to the road. People do not take kindly to strangers wandering about these days."

Even if he doubted he was in much danger unless he himself were to threaten anyone, Elrohir looked around warily as he rode on – not something he was used to within the Shire. Still two days to go until the border... He wondered what Bilbo would make of the encounter – and I hope I will have the chance to tell him.

Within Sackville, he had to slow to a walk; there were plenty of onlookers as he passed through, and he saw several Shirriffs among the crowd. Once outside the village, he nudged his horse into a trot again. Though he now passed quite a few hobbits going about their business he rode undisturbed, except for suspicious looks, throughout the day, passing Hardbottle by the end of the afternoon. As he still was close to three days from the Havens, he did not stop for rest until dark.

The reproachful look his horse gave him as he finally led her to a strip of grass in the bit of wood he had stopped in almost made him laugh. So far she was holding up well, though, and he hoped his luck would last. Wish I knew where the Corsairs are…

*~~*

He would see how far he got, Elrohir thought the next morning. Far ahead the White Downs rose, and even here the land was slowly starting to climb.

Just beyond Michel Delving he spied some hobbit children playing a ball game in a field. His imagination providing him with the sight of a band of Corsairs descending on them, Elrohir urged his horse to a burst of speed – all the Shirriffs and Took archers and other defenders of the Shire would be no match for Corsairs on the rampage.

Not wishing to risk his horse unnecessarily when he was still so far from the Havens, he almost immediately slowed down again to a steady trot, but he still felt unsettled, looking around to shake off a sudden feeling that he was being watched.

The horse, no doubt sensing his anxious mood, broke into a run again, and he reluctantly reined her back to a trot. Not too fast, we still have miles to go. Miles, indeed; he reckoned he still had over a hundred miles to cover. Another day and a half…

Finally, long after dark, and after he reached the Far Downs, he had to stop. Going on was risking a fall in the dark; already his horse had stumbled a few times. Too much was at stake to take unnecessary risks for a few miles gained. I am almost outside the Shire, further than I thought to come today. I will make it up tomorrow.

*~~*

To his chagrin he woke up late the following day – a clear sign that he was as tired as his horse. Still over a day to go… He quickly ran his hands over his horse's legs, and found them sound despite her stumbles the day before. He apologised as he placed a hand on her head and tickled the soft skin on her nose. One more day, brave one.

Elrohir could just about make out the tops of the Blue Mountains in the morning sunlight. He recalled how he and Elladan had seen the Misty Mountains in the same way on their return from Lothlórien. He turned his gaze away, and mounted his horse.  

After a while, it struck him that he had not yet encountered any Dwarves travelling east or west along the Road; of course, there was little reason for them to travel. Even with the High Pass open, where would they go once they came into Wilderland? The Beornings might be willing to buy from them, but they had little coin, and with the road to Erebor closed – if the Mountain even still stood – there was no reason to go that far for so little return. Only once the Dwarves reached agreement with Gondor would there be point in travel for them. Elrohir realised that he had also not encountered any of the groups of Elves he knew were on their way to the Havens. That too was easy to explain, since he had turned south towards Tharbad, and thus missed part of the East Road.

It would still take some hours to reach them, but Elrohir could see the White Towers in the distance. Not that far now… So many times he and Elladan had ridden this road together, always with the understanding that one day they might ride it to take ship at last. Mother… please understand. I had to choose. He shook his head. There was no point in wishing for what might have been.

After another hour or so, he stopped to rest the horse for a while. There was a rivulet running along the road, so he took his water-bottle from his saddle and walked over to fill it. The water was cool and fast-moving, and somehow washed away his weariness along with the small ripples that formed on the surface as he moved his hand.

With a sigh, he finished refilling his water-bottle, and made ready to remount. Onwards now, he thought as he placed his hand on the horse's withers.

Elrohir! You must hurry.

Eärendil… Grandfather? Elrohir looked up.

The Corsairs are heading for Mithlond. I only just saw them.

Can you not give warning yourself? Círdan will heed you.

I may not. Already, by warning you I am close to overstepping… Ride! Go!

Spurred into new and sharper urgency by the frustrated anguish in Eärendil's thought, Elrohir swung into the saddle, remembering at the last moment to secure his water-bottle.

With the sun well on its way towards the horizon, the White Towers were less than two hours away, and the Road was starting to climb up more steeply into the Tower Hills. Elrohir stopped to let his horse rest and eat a few bites of grass. He would have preferred to push on, but she was starting to get weary and he could not risk her going lame if she stumbled on the rocky road.

After about half an hour he rode on again; one more stop near the White Towers, and then on to the Havens. He reckoned he should make it there halfway through the night, and his warning would be in time.

Looking west from near the base of the westernmost tower a while later, he could see the Sea – or rather the Gulf of Lune – far in the distance. As Elrohir's glance passed over the water, he blinked against the westering sun. There were black spots in his vision. Had he stared into the light too long, or were those the Corsair ships, still far out to sea?

Another blink, and he saw nothing untoward. OrNoperhaps… He could not be sure.

With a muttered curse of frustration, he mounted again. Everything in him cried out for haste, and against his better judgement, he nudged the horse into a gallop. Alas that what farmland Círdan's people maintained was all on the northern side of the water, or he might have borrowed a fresh horse. On this side, at most he would encounter a lone hunter or a patrol on foot.

Reluctantly, he slowed down again. The horse was weary, and starting to falter. Even at a trot, she felt unsteady now, and he was still too far from Mithlond.

Suddenly, he felt her pulling with her left rear leg. With another muttered curse, he stopped, and after he had dismounted, he watched closely as he let her walk unencumbered. Even now, she was limping, and the leg felt warm to the touch.

Even if I stop now, this will not be better by tomorrow. Elrohir realised with a sinking feeling in his stomach. And I cannot wait even that long. I will have to run.

Elrohir took off his sword belt and adjusted it so he could hang the blade over his shoulder rather than have it on his waist. He was loath to leave the horse here, as she was too inexperienced to find a place of safety if he did not come for her again. It was the least bad choice, though, and he quickly led her further back from the road to a small field shielded from sight by a stand of trees along a rocky ridge, asking her to stay there until he came for her.

Hoping she would be safe, he set off, alternating running and walking. The chalky surface of the road gleamed palely under the stars, though the moon had already set some hours before. Of course in the dark he could not see the Gulf of Lune, far in the distance, other than as a faint shine hinting at water. The black-sailed Corsair ships would not have been visible even under the brightest full moon; besides, his own anxious thoughts were enough to drive him on, distant specks on the water or not.

He had to stop regularly to catch his breath – and to ease the headache that worsened each time he pushed himself to his limits; clearly he was not in as good shape as he had thought. Even so, close to dawn at last the gates of Mithlond came into view. Good enough to make it here though…

"Halt! Who goes there?" a challenge rang out from the wall.

"Elrohir of Imladris. Corsairs are coming… Sound the alarm!" Elrohir gasped, trying to give warning and catch his breath at the same time.

Almost immediately a wicket gate opened.

"Elrohir! Enter!" a guard called him in. "What? When? How do you know?"

"No time! Just sound the alarm!" Elrohir repeated as he entered. "I will go warn Círdan," and on he ran towards Círdan's residence.

He had not gone far when he heard a bell starting to peal, but it was not the bell from the gate.

The harbour bell! I am too late!

Elrohir quickly turned to head down to the harbour – he would find the Shipwright there soon enough. At least the streets were still quiet, and he ran as fast as he could, soon reaching the broad stairs that led to the lower part of town and the quays. Panting and with another headache starting to throb, he descended as far as the sea defences. As he paused to regain his breath, he saw that by now there were archers up on the ramparts, gazing out to sea, and there was Círdan!

Obviously, the lord of Mithlond had rushed to make it here, for he was dressed in no more than a pair of light trousers, and was hastily putting on an undershirt, while someone stood by holding his mail and sword.

"Elrohir!" Círdan called as the peredhel came over. "Why are y…"

"I bring warning," Elrohir replied quickly. "The attackers are Corsairs out of Umbar. I had hoped to be here before the atta…"

"Yes, yes," Círdan said. "How many ships, and what else can you tell?"

"At least twelve ships; they may carry a thousand men, Imrahil of Dol Amroth thinks." At Círdan's questioning look, Elrohir added, "He spied them at sea, and sent warning north."

Círdan nodded and turned his attention to the harbourmaster, who came running up.

"Twelve ships, and the scouts further down the Gulf report that none have set men ashore yet," the harbourmaster said. "They are all coming here. I have told the archers to use fire arrows on the ships."

"Good," Círdan said, "Let me know if any do try to make landing further out. Our task is to stop them from entering the harbour."

"There they are!" the shout went up from further down the wall.

Elrohir could see ships still some distance from the harbour, and still out of range. They were being rowed, their sails down – that will make it harder for our archers once they come into range, Elrohir thought. If they want to land with boats from that far off, they have no chance. Mithlond was not heavily fortified, but Círdan did have some defences on the seawall. Once our catapults are set up, we can pick off any ship that enters the harbour, and the quays are within range of the archers on the wall.

As it grew lighter, he saw the men on one of the three nearest ships were loading small catapults. Of course… Behind him Elrohir heard an order to ready a ballista, but he kept watching the ships. Until the Corsairs landed watching was all he could do.

The first attempt saw the catapults' loads splash harmlessly into the middle of the harbour.

Already, the Corsairs were readying a second load – depending on how well they had calibrated their catapult, it would strike the wall, or it would go high and the third attempt would strike the wall. However, the seawall was strong, and the catapults on the ships did not look like they could launch much of a load.

There it comes.

The catapult had been aimed near the ballista. Small objects scattered and broke, splashing their content over the top of the wall and the ballista.

Elrohir still watched. Fire casks?

Suddenly, fire flared up, setting off the ballista and everything nearby. Some of the defenders had run far enough, but others were caught in the flame.

A second load of casks struck the wall just as Elrohir and others started to run towards the fire. The heat drove him back, and he retreated reluctantly as the screams of those caught in the first fire stopped or faded to moans.

This is no ordinary pitch, Elrohir realised, gagging as he breathed thick oily smoke. It burns too hot, and too fast.

"Abandon the wall!" someone called.

"Not yet!" others shouted back.

Casks continued to hit the wall near where the ballista had been.

The other two ships were rowed closer, and their catapults were also being readied now. The first load went high over the wall, landing somewhere in the lower part of town. For the second attempt, the trajectory the catapults' loads followed was very high. As far as Elrohir could see, all landed high above, in the upper part of the town.

For a moment, nothing happened.

Then, a muted thump! followed immediately by several more, and a dull red glow, quickly brightening into orange flames.

Near the middle of the wall, Círdan stood, also watching the casks striking the town. He stepped back, hesitating, then returned to look out from the parapet. Elrohir ran over to see what was happening.

Another ship approached. The rowers would be slaves – Elrohir could not help but think of the men they had freed in Pelargir – whipped and beaten to force them to greater speed. At the top of the mast, a black and red and gold banner blew in the wind. On deck, there was only one man, at the helm.

Fire ship, Elrohir realised in horror.

The helmsman blew a horn, then fell back, pierced with arrows.

Too late, the signal is given and the ship is set on its course.

Smoke billowed from the hold.

Sudden flame burst from the fire ship, and even as he heard the slaves below deck screaming, Elrohir saw the ship was about to hit the ships waiting to Sail. People were running away from them. Without further thought, Elrohir dived to the ground, pulling Círdan down with him.

No explosion. Just the roar of flames, and more screams, cut short.

Slowly, Elrohir got up again to look over the parapet, belatedly offering a hand to Círdan. The fire ship had hit the first ship along the quay broadside on, and was just a blackened, burned hulk. The moored ships though… not just the first one was afire, but the others had also caught. Along the quay, further fires burned. Even the water near the ships seemed to be on fire.

Elrohir was starting to wonder whether the Corsairs even meant to land, and if their sole intent was not the destruction of Mithlond.

"Find Mithrandir!" Círdan shouted an order.

Mithrandir is here? So this is where he has been hiding, Elrohir thought as Círdan turned to him.

"You must go," he said. "Bring word to the Rangers, and to Imladris."

Reluctant to abandon the defence, even though there was naught he could do, Elrohir headed back towards the higher part of town. The thump! of casks striking their targets continued. He was about halfway up the stairs when he turned around.

Around the harbour, buildings were burning. It will be a long time before ships are built here again. Behind the seawall… the guesthouses where those waiting to Sail stayed were burning as well. Elrohir hesitated; should he go and try to help?

The three ships that had been involved in the attack so far raised oar and moved back. As they did so, other ships moved in to take their place, and with a shudder at the realisation that they would continue to lob fire at Mithlond until they had run out, Elrohir turned away again and continued up the stairs. There were small groups of people huddled to the side of the stair, trying to shelter. They were too shocked to take much notice of his passage, and he doubted he would get answers to anything he could ask.

Elrohir already knew that what he would find in the town itself would be bad. Though from below the first row of buildings appeared undamaged, he could hear the screams and moans of the wounded already on the stairs. The air was grey with smoke, and even here he could barely stop coughing.

"Are the defences holding?" an Elf in the uniform of the town guard asked as Elrohir reached the top of the stair.

"For now," Elrohir replied. "How are things here?"

The guard just shook his head, and flinched as another load of casks flew overhead.

Elrohir repeated his question, but the guard turned away, heading down the stairs.

The fires in the upper part of town burned high, the flames drawing in the air, feeding on their own strength. The town is lost, Elrohir thought. Many houses still stood, but only as burnt-out shells. Elrohir could only hope the inhabitants had escaped, but from the burnt and blackened corpses he saw in the street he knew that hope was idle. There would be no survivors here, and he quickly went on, stopping only to catch his breath even as the oily smoke and the stench of burnt flesh made him retch.

Further on, there was less damage, but still no living people either. As the air improved, Elrohir ran on to the town gate.

Outside the gate, there were about a hundred Elves milling around. One, a woman, was attempting to impose some order, and after she had finished speaking to someone Elrohir recognised as a healer, he walked up to her.

"Are you in charge?" he asked.

"And who are you?" was her return question.

"Elrohir of Imladris," he replied.

"Yes, with the soot wiped off your face, you might be," she replied drily. "I would ask your aid with the wounded, but you will be of more use if you go and ask for help from the Rangers."

"That is why Círdan sent me up here," Elrohir replied.

"Is our lord unscathed yet?" she asked sharply, adding, "Are the attackers in the town?"

"He was when he sent me away. The enemy appear only interested in destruction, not invasion," Elrohir replied, "But if you can…"

BOOM!

He was cut short by an explosion that made the ground shake.

"Some of the enemy ships blew up!" someone shouted from the top of the gate's bell tower.

"All of them?" the woman asked, sudden hope in her eyes.

"No," was the answer. "The attack goes on."

After a short pause, the woman turned to Elrohir again. "If you are to fetch help, go!"

*~~*

Elrohir was about halfway to where he had left his horse – and it was not even noon, he thought numbly – when he heard hoof beats on the road behind him. With nowhere to take cover, he reached over his shoulder to draw his sword.

The horse was white, and on his back…

"Mithrandir!"

The wizard rode on.


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: Nath

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 10/31/14

Original Post: 06/16/07

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Unto the ending of the world

helga - 16 Oct 13 - 10:54 PM

Ch. 37: Fire

Oh my - what an exciting chapter!  Those Corsairs!  Seems like a pretty good strategy to cut off the Elves' one means of escape, if that's the point?

Along with the surprises and excitement, I really like how you very nicely mix in a bit of reflection (Elrohir mentally apologizing for his Choice) and  the hopeful thoughts that appear in spite of the situation:  "He wondered what Bilbo would make of the encounter – and I hope I will have the chance to tell him." Very nice work setting the mood at the start of the chapter, where Elrohir is taking a rather leisurely pace, figuring there's no need to hurry and wishing he was engaged in something more important , when the reader knows he' s  about to get his wish, big time....

And, also the humor: "Only had Denethor sent his own son and the Prince of Dol Amroth could he have sent a higher-ranking delegation. Only had he come himself would this delegation have been more difficult to deal with. "   The description of impatient Cirdan  getting ready for battle...

Well, I'm just glad Elrohir didn't have to shoot the horse.  Shades of Bill the Pony...  

Unto the ending of the world

Nath - 17 Oct 13 - 9:48 AM

Ch. 37: Fire

Hi Helga Wave

Seems like a pretty good strategy to cut off the Elves' one means of escape, if that's the point?

It's certainly part of the point... And I suspect Elrohir has a long walk or a slow ride ahead of him to try to get back home.

It was a toss-up whether Cirdan would be trying to armour up over a nightshirt, or this; but I decided it was more likely he sleeps commando and put on trousers before rushing to the wall. And now I can't unsee the nightshirt... Laugh out loud


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Playlists Featuring the Story

Different roads - 9 stories - Owner: Nath
My AU stories (mostly short) gathered in one place - I could explain here that I like seeing how changing one thing can affect everything that happens after, but perhaps it's just that I like breaking things ;-)
Included because: Dark AU in which Sauron has regained the Ring. Not a pleasant place for his opponents... (Story still in progress)

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