61. The Broken Line
"There's another case for you to hear, sire," Mardil said. Earnur had never noticed it until now, but the steward had this incredibly annoying way of walking. It was like he was bobbing along.
"I'm tired of hearing these stupid peasants and their stupid problems," Earnur snapped. "I want to get up and do something. I want to fight something."
"Oh shut up."
Mardil nodded with a sigh. "Oh, there's a message for you, sire. I didn't notice I had one. Funny, isn't it?"
Earnur just rolled his eyes. "Give it to me."
"I don't know who it's from, sire. Probably from Ithilien. The lord there is very talkative."
Earnur brightened up when he read the letter. "The Witch-King is challenging me once more!" he exclaimed.
"Get my horse saddled! I'm going!"
"Sire! I must protest!"
"Shut up, Mardil! I need to do something!" Earnur was off his throne in a second and was almost halfway across the room.
"But…but…the Witch-King will kill you!"
"Have you no faith in your ruler?" Earnur chastised him. "I am the greatest warrior Gondor has ever seen. I'll destroy that pathetic wraith and reclaim Minas Ithil!"
"Just by yourself?" Mardil asked.
"If I have to, yes."
Mardil looked doubtful.
"I go alone to Minas Morgul!"
"Shut up, Mardil!"
Mardil followed Earnur through the palace, trying to get him to reconsider, but each time he opened his mouth it was silenced with a 'shut up, Mardil'.
"Sire, this is most unwise!" he exclaimed as Earnur leapt onto his horse.
"I must reclaim my honor, Mardil!"
"At least return the crown to the Hallows!"
Earnur sighed and dismounted. "Very well. As a favor to you, Mardil." He went into the Hallows and placed the crown gently upon Earnil's breast. The dead man still looked like he was an ancient guard.
"I beg of you, don't go," Mardil pleaded as Earnur walked out of the Hallows.
"At least take a wife before you go! Have a child! Leave an heir!"
"No. I go at once."
"If you die, the line of Anarion will be ended!"
"Then that's just too bad," Earnur said. He mounted his horse. "Goodbye, Mardil. I will return triumphant in perhaps a month."
A month passed. Then another. Then another. Mardil spent the rest of his life sitting in the small throne of the stewards next to the great dais of the king. He ruled, and his son did after him, and his son after him. And always, the people of Gondor wondered what had happened to their king.
The white flowers increased on the Osgiliath-side of the Anduin until the countryside was swarming with them. When Earnur passed into Morgul Vale, the sides of the valley were covered with them. Though they looked pretty, they smelled like rotten flesh.
How beautiful this place once was, Earnur thought. Ah, but it will be again. As soon as I've destroyed the Witch-King.
He grimaced when he saw Minas Ithil. The once-fair city was now a sickly pale green. It shone in the gloom, giving off a ghastly light.
Earnur rode across a narrow bridge that led to the city. Hideous statues guarded the bridge and they seemed to leer at him as he passed by.
Tricks and shadow-plays, he thought. Nothing substantial.
The great gates of Minas Morgul swung to admit him and Earnur rode in. The gates closed soft as a whisper behind him, and he didn't notice. All his attention was focused on the figure in the center of the courtyard before him.
He was dressed in plain black. His hair was tied at the nape of his neck, and his skin was unnaturally pale. He looked ill.
"I am Earnur, king of Gondor," Earnur said. "Who are you?"
"I am the Witch-King," the man said. "If you would dismount. I'd prefer to fight on foot."
Suspecting trickery, Earnur nontheless dismounted. He liked fighting on the ground as well.
Around the courtyard were eight more Men and a number of orcs. The other Nazgul, Earnur thought. Seven women, surprisingly.
"Shall we begin?" the Witch-King asked, drawing his sword.
"I will avenge the trouble you have caused my people!" Earnur snarled, drawing his own sword.
Earnur struck the first blow, which the Witch-King easily parried. Neither of them ever managed to get first blood, but eventually Earnur began to tire. He started to make mistakes. The Witch-King's sword missed his head by an inch.
And then the Witch-King made a mistake.
"Elendil!" Earnur screamed, thrusting his sword into the wraith's chest.
There was the noise of steel sliding through muscle and bone. The sword came out the other side.
"Earnur," the Witch-King whispered as their bodies came together, as intimate as lovers. "I am a wraith."
There was a sudden, horrible sensation in Earnur's gut. Something sharp went through him and he gasped. His vision wavered and started dimming about the edges.
The Witch-King pulled himself off Earnur's sword and watched as the king of Gondor fell onto the ground.
There was utter quiet until Earnur stopped breathing.
"Are you all right?" Ringe asked, walking over to Morion.
"I'm fine. It wasn't magical," Morion said. He looked at Earnur with pity. "The last king of Gondor is dead."
"Araphant was right," Yanta said. "Remember what he said?" she asked Metima, who nodded.
"When one kingdoms falls, the other won't be far behind," her friend replied.
"Gondor hasn't fallen yet," Morion said. "Only its king has."
"The line of Anarion has ended," Ceure said sadly.
"Nope," Khamul muttered. "It lives on in Aranarth."
Morion looked up at Khamul. He smiled. "Take care of that, will you?" he asked.
Khamul smiled back. "Count on it."
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.