28. Fall of the Tower of the Moon
"What a fine day," the Lady commented as she strolled the ramparts of the great wall.
"Mother, it is a fine day," Ciryon said, gazing up into the sky. "But a storm gathers in that Black Land."
"Do not think of such things, my child," the Lady said, gently touching her son's arm. "Your father is a mighty warrior; you have seen his skill before. And Elendil is the finest leader the Edain have ever had, or ever will."
"I only wish I shared your optimism," Ciryon said grimly.
"Nonsense," Aratan said, stepping into the conversation. "We may not outnumber the orcs, yet, but we soon will. And every Numenorean can kill at least a dozen orcs before dying themselves."
"Ah!" the Lady groaned. "Do not talk of dying."
"Forgive me, Mother," Aratan said, bowing. "I only meant to inspire courage in faithless Ciryon."
"If only Elendur was with us," Ciryon said. "But no, he is needed at Minas Anor."
"He's not much of a fighter anyway," Aratan said. "Worthless, really."
"Children!" the Lady exclaimed, pressing a hand to her stomach. "Cease this banter!"
"Are you ill?" Aratan asked, clasping his mother's hand.
"I am pregnant, child," the Lady gasped. "Do not upset me so! I could not bear it if you died."
"We won't die," Aratan said soothingly. "We are Numenoreans, Mother, and wary of Sauron's treachery."
"There were many good Numenoreans who died that terrible day who were also," the Lady said. "I must retire to my rooms. I cannot bear this anymore."
Ciryon sighed as his mother walked down from the high walls. "I fear for her," he said.
"Your fears are groundless," Aratan said. "Look at these walls? We have built them in peace and secret, killing every orc who came near. And see the fruits of our labor! Sauron – returned, or dead – has no knowledge of our triumphant arrival on Middle-Earth!"
"He is not dead," Ciryon said grimly. "The Dark Lord lives still."
"Think what you wish," Aratan said with a shrug. "I, for one, believe him to be rotting in the Void with his monstrous master."
"Look there!" Ciryon exclaimed suddenly, gesturing to a narrow road that led over the mountains into Mordor.
"Eh? What is it?" Aratan asked. He gasped. "Orcs!" he snarled.
"By the thousands," Ciryon whispered. "And I see trolls and ogres there as well. We must leave."
"What are you talking about? We can't leave."
"We cannot fight either! Hurry! To Osgiliath!"
"How is this possible?" Aratan asked as his brother sounded the alarm and they hurried for the horses. "Nothing from Mordor for years and years, and now this!"
"They have gathered their strength," Ciryon hissed. "They are ready."
"And we are ready as well!" Aratan thundered. "We are ready to crush them once and for all!"
"That may be," Ciryon agreed. "Or it may be that we are the ones who are crushed, and all Numenorean blood shall go out of Arda forever."
"Do not think like that," the Lady whispered, running past her sons and the crowds of people who were rapidly filling up the courtyard. "We will prevail. The Valar are on our side."
"Much good that did Numenor," Ciryon muttered bitterly, leaping upon his horse and pulling up his mother in front of him. "The horse is strong enough to carry both of us," he said.
"All of us," the Lady whispered, touching her belly. "All of us."
Khamul stood, resplendent in her black cloak that fluttered like a raven's wing in the wind, watching the pillage and looting of Minas Ithil.
"What I wouldn't give to be fighting down there," she said.
"I don't think you'd like it very much," Morion said. "Though, considering Umbar, I may be wrong."
"You would be very wrong," Khamul said.
Morion nodded, watching the ogres closely.
"You've made some friends, I see," Khamul said, watching the savage beasts shove orcs out of the way so they could destroy the remaining people inside the city. There weren't many left. A good half of Minas Ithil had escaped, and were already across the river in Osgiliath, curse their souls. But the rest were dead, spitted on orc spears, or their blood on ogre tusks.
He wasn't such a horrible captain, Khamul thought, watching Morion shout at a band of trolls. She would be a better leader, no doubts there, but he wasn't the disaster she'd feared.
"This is too easy," he said, looking back onto the battlefield.
"They weren't expecting us," Khamul said. "There were hardly any soldiers whatsoever. We should press on to Osgiliath. Maybe even Minas Anor."
"No," Morion said, shaking his head. "Osgiliath is a garrison of many hundred soldiers, and the fortifications there have been in place longer than Minas Ithil's. The soldiers know how to fight off invaders there."
"Just orc raids," Khamul sneered. "They know nothing of true battle."
"Many are veterans of Numenor's army," Morion said. "I fought beside several of them. A victory there would not be easy."
"Then what do we do, honored general?" Khamul snarled. "What is your wise and sage advice?"
Morion considered this carefully. "I do not like the idea of spreading our forces so thin. Defending one city is bad enough; I'm considering simply abandoning it. But three? No. Elendil will know his way around those cities; their weaknesses, their strengths. We do not. The destruction of Gondor is not what this war hinges on."
"What does it hinge on then?" Khamul asked, impressed despite of herself. Vorea must have been teaching him tactics, she thought.
"The destruction of the Numenorean army," Morion said. A flicker of pain crossed his face. He did not relish the idea of fighting his cousins. "I think it likely that the elves will march with Elendil, perhaps even Gil-galad himself will come. In that case, we have two armies to defeat."
"Where shall we meet them then?" Khamul asked. Yes, she thought. With the armies out of the way, we can destroy Gondor, and then raze Arnor in the north. Finally the Numenoreans will be completely obliterated as they should have been years ago. And we get the elves in the bargain this way, too. I like that. We'll be the sole great power left in Arda then, now that the Valar have disappeared.
"I'm not sure that we will," Morion said, gazing off into the distance.
"What?" Khamul snapped.
Morion looked back at her and grinned. "I think we should let them come to us."
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.