40. Even The Stars Fall Part One
“Elbereth,” he whispered as he walked to the barracks, the banner of the High-king held in his hands.
Gil-Galad was already at the head of the large army, his finest warriors beside him. Elrond’s gaze travelled over the king’s shining armour that made him look like an infallible Vala. For the first time, Elrond felt hope in his heart as he looked upon his lord. Gil-Galad was the grandson of an elf who had wounded Morgoth himself in single combat.
Next to Gil-Galad stood Glorfindel, his golden mane tied into a long braid, his lips curved in the familiar half-sneer and his eyes dilated with battle-lust. Then there was Círdan, ever sedate, yet powerful and solid. Elrond held the banner higher aloft. He was proud of his king, of his people and of their cause. Gil-Galad’s eyes flickered over him confidently.
“A pretty picture you make,” Erestor murmured as he came to stand by Elrond. He was dressed in fine elven-wrought armour, his hair pulled away from his face. His dark eyes glittered with fire, the fire of his ancestors.
“A prettier picture you make,” Elrond replied as they began marching for the final assault on their enemy.
They were joined by the hosts of Gondor, for once, Isildur stood by his father proudly as a son should. His face was set in a fierce mask, Elrond could now see traces of Elros in him. The army of the dwarves blended in smoothly and they marched on.
At noon, the host of Greenwood and Lothlórien joined the large army. Thranduil and Celeborn were at the head. Celeborn moved to join his kinsman, Círdan. Thranduil moved towards Elrond and Erestor.
“Lord Gil-Galad is different today. His soul shines with an unparalleled might. I have never seen an elf look like this,” Thranduil observed quietly, his fair features drawn into an awed expression.
“Yes,” Erestor said, “He looks to me like how Círdan used to describe Fingolfin and Fingon.”
Thranduil said nothing, but he frowned.
“We may never return,” Erestor continued sadly, “We may never return to our lands that we have toiled so much for.”
“If we fall, we fall for the mightiest cause,” Elrond said softly, remembering Elros’s letter, “Is that not worth it? To me it is. That we follow in the footsteps of our forefathers.”
“Yes,” Erestor sighed, “That is the only thing that makes this bearable.”
“If we fall, we fall amongst friends,” Thranduil clasped them both by their forearms, “I would be honoured to fight beside you.”
“As we are honoured to fight beside you,” Elrond replied steadily, “Our friendships hold no regrets and will see us all through, Eru willing.”
Celebrían watched the candles she had lit for their fallen warriors. She could hear Amroth’s screams from her position. He had not gained consciousness since he had fainted on the journey home six years ago. Anoriel and Celebrían sat with him, talked to him, but there was no response. Celebrían had no idea how Anoriel had managed to cope with her father’s death, her father-in-law’s death, her brother’s condition and her mate’s peril. But the princess remained silently strong, aiding Galadriel to rule their realm and attending to her brother’s needs. Galadriel herself was another concern, Celebrían frowned. Though she bore no extreme love for her mother, it made her worried that Galadriel had changed subtly. Her mother’s eyes had the desperate determination of a person who would use any means to achieve the end.
A soft wind blew through the trees and extinguished all the candles. Celebrían felt tears gliding down her cheeks as she prayed for her father and the rest of those who were still alive.
Far away, on the banks of a river, a Silvan maiden sang lightly of love and freedom not knowing that she was the cause of a prince’s insanity. Celebrían cursed Nimrodel’s fair voice as she wrapped her arms around herself.
“It is a cold dawn, my lady,” Haldir stepped before her, his eyes flickering on the reddening skies above them. A shooting star fell from the skies, its brilliant light momentarily eclipsing the red dawnlight.
“It is a red dawn, marchwarden,” Celebrían said sadly, “And many more will fall in the cursed land.”
“Your mother’s house is to blame,” Haldir said harshly, “If not for their greed and pride, we would still be in Doriath!”
“Haldir,” Celebrían said quietly, the earnestness of her voice making him stare at her, “We do not choose our destiny. It has been pre-decided. Is it not better that we accept it and make the best of it?”
“Small comfort is that to me!” Haldir spat, “My brothers fight in Mordor. My king is dead. The crown prince is sick and fading. The king’s daughter is doomed to wear black when she should be rejoicing with her mate under the mallorn.”
Celebrían thought of Elrond, of their alliance by marriage. It would happen, however they strove to oppose it, for Galadriel’s will could never be vanquished. What then would remain for her? She looked at the handsome, yet, forlorn elf standing before her and sighed.
“My lady?” he asked concernedly.
“You said my words are cold comfort. Maybe my body can be better comfort,” Celebrían met his eyes steadily.
“You are betrothed,” Haldir said uncertainly, his face shadowed by the trees.
Celebrían noted amusedly that he did not reject her outright. There was still hope. She crossed the distance that separated them and embraced him loosely saying, “That is my concern. Let us not think of what we are in this world. Think simply of these two bodies and the comfort we can derive from each other.”
Elrond tried to be everywhere at the same time, exhorting his warriors, helping Glorfindel lead the charge, and co-ordinating their armies. Erestor and Thranduil had separated themselves from the main charge and were engaged in a fiery, daring assault on the wraiths. Elrond stared at their synchronized dance of death for a moment before reverting to killing more orcs. Gil-Galad and Elendil fought side by side, their helms shining in the harsh sun. Elrond wondered at the strange light in his cousin’s eyes. Gil-Galad turned once and met Elrond’s gaze with a reassuring nod. Elrond smiled grimly, they would win.
A sudden horn, more piercing than any he had ever heard, disrupted the war. From within the ranks of the wraiths, a shadowy figure rose. It became larger and larger until Sauron the fallen stood before them, in black armour holding a large mace. Elrond’s eyes widened in fear as the yellow eyes, that he had seen only in dreams before surveyed the field. The eyes lingered on the high-king a moment before the figure raised his sword with a roar. It was then that Elrond realized that Erestor and Thranduil were still combating the wraiths, they had not even seen the arrival of the dark lord of Mordor.
Thranduil raised his sword in defiance as he stood back to back with Erestor, surrounded by a circle of nine wraiths. The witch king of Angmar, the leader of the wraiths, strode forward his blade dully shining in the sun. As Thranduil charged, his battle cry in Quenya, the entire battle seemed to have stopped. The witch king parried easily, the wraiths’s power increased by the presence of their lord. Erestor caught Thranduil and helped him regain his balance, and they began the deadly dance again. Elrond and Glorfindel rushed with a war cry to the aid of their friends. Celeborn, bound by his promise to his cousin, rode to Thranduil’s side.
Sauron’s eyes flickered over to them before he raised his arm, and swung his mace at those who stood before him Scores of elves and men were smote in the ash of Mordor by Sauron’s hand. Elendil raised a warcry and charged, the ring on Sauron’s hand shone and the hand swung the weapon throwing the last of the true kings of Númenor to the ground. Isildur rushed to his father, grief and fear on his dark features, abandoning his panic-stricken swordsmen.
Sauron turned to face the lone soul who had withstood his charge. Thranduil watched in horror as Gil-Galad, High-King of the Noldor, son of Fingon, son of Fingolfin stood his ground, his sword raised in eternal defiance of the darkness.
Gil-Galad felt a dark calm pervading him. As he saw Sauron’s mace swing towards him, he smiled grimly. This was what his aunt had foreseen, he realized immediately. He would not return. He would not get the chance to fulfil Erestor’s wish, to know him better. It was over. He raised his lance and charged, his voice proud and clear as he shouted, “FOR ELBERETH!”
Celeborn watched in horror as a shining star rushed across the lines of fallen warriors towards the black lord.
Erestor felt fear and love rush through their wedding bond in a staggering amount, disturbing his concentration and nearly making him faint. He turned about and screamed in fear and despair as the mace of Sauron smote down his king, his mate and his shining star that he had never had the chance to know completely. The white hot pain that flashed through their bond made him scream more louder and he convulsed falling to the ground limply. Strong arms dragged him up, but he did not care, not anymore as the bond between their minds broke leaving behind nothing but darkness.
Elrond’s sword fell from his arms as he watched his cousin being turned to ash at the burning hand of Sauron. He was dimly aware of Celeborn and Glorfindel rallying their soldiers, but made no attempt to assist them. The wraiths closed in around them. A hand, he did not know whose it was, placed his sword back in his hands.
Elrond whispered to the skies above him, “Fair shall the end be,” though he no longer believed it would be. A star had fallen and it would never shine on them again.
Tears flowed down Galadriel’s pale features as she watched her nephew die. The last of those who knew her as Artanis had passed to the eternal keep of Mandos.
Isildur took the shards of his father’s blade, Narsil, and got to his feet with a wild scream. He was alone, against Sauron. The elven leaders were fighting the wraiths and the human commanders had all fallen.
Sauron laughed, at the mortal man who had dared to challenge his might and swung his mace again. A surge of power shot through the human prince as he sliced the hand of the darklord and it fell with a thud on the ashes, the ring on one of the charred fingers. Isildur fainted, but in his last moment of consciousness, he reached out to grab the ring.
The wraiths disappeared, and the orcs scattered as the essence of Sauron vanished. The sun shone more brightly upon the battlefield.
“Elrond,” Thranduil’s voice was weary, “Come with me.”
“I have to lead the warriors into Mordor and save any prisoners,” Elrond closed his eyes, his mind recalling the sharp images of Erestor falling limp in Thranduil’s arms when his bond with Gil-Galad had been severed, “I can trust in you and Glorfindel to keep him alive.”
“Mordor can wait,” Thranduil snapped, “He is dying, he is already on the brink of Mandos. There was some evil in Sauron’s sorcery, that is pulling him after the high-king to death.”
“The bond is broken,” Elrond murmured fearfully, “How then will it be possible?”
Thranduil’s hand pulled Elrond around so that they were face to face. There was a strange expression in Thranduil’s eyes, almost fanatical.
“You said once that you would die to keep him alive, to keep safe,” Thranduil said sharply.
“I will,” Elrond said steadily, “If I can take his place, I would do so now. I would gladly enter the halls of death if it will save him.”
“Then there is a way,” Thranduil replied as he dragged Elrond into the hastily made tent where Erestor was.
Elrond smelled the pungent fragrance of athelas as he entered with Thranduil. Gildor was sitting beside the prone form, holding Erestor’s limp hands in his own and rubbing the athelas. But the despairing expression on Gildor’s face sent coldness along Elrond’s spine.
“I cannot even penetrate the darkness surrounding his soul, Lord Thranduil,” Gildor said gloomily, “He is fast dying. Celeborn was here and Galadriel channelled her healing energy through him, in vain.”
“Gildor, will you get Glorfindel?” Thranduil asked softly, “There may yet be a way.”
Gildor nodded and left hurriedly leaving Elrond and Thranduil alone with Erestor. Thranduil moved quickly towards the prone form and hastily peeled away the shattered armour from the slender body saying, “Come, Elrond. Now is our chance to keep him with us.”
“My healing energy will not be enough,” Elrond said with tears flowing down his cheeks as he watched Erestor shiver in Thranduil’s arms.
“Your healing energy is not required,” Thranduil said angrily, “Bind with him now, and pull him back.”
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.