16. Invasion of Corsairs
"I'm going to be sick."
"I fail to see how that is possible. You haven't eaten anything in days."
Khamul groaned and leaned over the side of the ship. "I hate sailing," she muttered.
"You enjoyed it when we sailed to Numenor," Vorea said.
"I was young and foolish then. Why can't we ride?"
Vorea sighed. "Would they ride as well?" She gestured to the fleet around them. Corsairs of Umbar sailed against their most hated foe. They were out for blood, but Khamul didn't think they'd be getting a whole lot. Rohan would come to Gondor's aid. And the fierce and wild descendants of Eorl would deal swiftly with the Corsairs.
"It was wise of Morion to organize this attack so soon after the Long Winter," Vorea commented. "The Dunlendings and Easterlings in the north have forged an alliance out of desperation."
"So they have banded together against a common enemy: Rohan."
Khamul glanced up. "They won't come?" she asked.
Vorea shook her head. "They cannot. To do so would be to abandon their kingdom to destruction."
Khamul smiled. "That's good for us. So Gondor's weakened from the Winter, and they don't have any allies. That should make them an easy target."
"Our goal is to weaken them further," Vorea said. She gestured to the Corsairs. "They will all perish."
Khamul nodded. Of course they would. Corsairs were expandable fodder to throw against the gates of Minas Tirith. Wouldn't they catch on one of these days?
"Land!" the lookout screamed. Echoing shouts from other ships confirmed his sighting.
"Pelargir," the Corsair captain growled, walking over to the bow where Vorea and Khamul stood. "We'll be making landfall soon."
"Can't you take it up the Anduin?" Khamul asked.
"If I wanted to die," the captain snorted. "You've got to wipe the land of defenders before you move on. I shouldn't've expected a woman to know any better."
Khamul growled and she started to draw her sword.
"My friend has not commanded a battle in a long time," Vorea said, seizing Khamul's wrist.
The captain rolled his eyes. "A long time," he sneered. He paled then, for he had momentarily forgotten what the women were. "Yes, of course," he muttered. "Of course…"
"Why are we letting the Corsairs attack Gondor?" Khamul hissed. "They'll screw it up! Just like the damn Easterlings!"
"The Haradrim did little better."
"They didn't get drunk and get slaughtered while they were still half-awake!"
"I am sure they fought valiantly, but southern Gondor is not our target."
"So what is?" Khamul asked.
"There is a large shipping yard in Pelargir," Vorea said. "If we burn it, it will cripple Gondor."
"Destroying Minas Tirith would also cripple Gondor."
"It is impossible to destroy Minas Tirith with our limited resources."
"So we're just going to let them live forever?"
"The time has not yet come," Vorea said. "When Lord Sauron returns to Mordor and gathers his minions to him, then the time will be ripe to raze the Tower of Guard."
Khamul heaved a sigh and watched the land approach. Alarm bells started ringing out as they neared shore. The Corsairs readied ballista arrows and set them on fire. The result was that by the time they landed, most of the town was in flames.
The men of Umbar leaped off their ships, screaming and waving cutlasses and daggers. They cut through anyone in their path, making straight for the shipping yard.
"Get the guards!" the ships' captains screamed. "The guards, you damn fools!"
Khamul cursed and jumped off the ship. Soldiers of Gondor were hurrying out of buildings to protect what little remained of the town and its populace.
The Haradrim was almost hit by a young man with a longsword, but he was suddenly impaled on a metal spear.
"Good to see you aren't averse to a fight," Khamul said with a grin as Vorea pulled her spear out of the soldier.
"When have I ever been?" Vorea asked.
"Just good to know you haven't lost your touch."
It didn't take long for the town to be in flames, the residents to be dead, and the shipyard to be nothing more than charred sticks.
"That should keep Gondor from the seas for a good long time," one of the captains said with a smile.
"And now we go up the Anduin?" Khamul asked.
The captain shrugged. "I suppose so. Seems a bit dangerous though."
"Gondor has a large army. They're weakened, but we can't take on the whole damn country."
"Might I suggest something?" Vorea asked.
"Sure," the captain said. "You're reasonable."
"Gondor knows better than to leave valuables near the outskirts of its realm, including the coast. If we were to sail up the river, deeper into Gondor's territory, we would encounter wealthier and wealthier towns."
The captain considered this. At last he nodded. "I reckon you're right," he said. "They've got a big army though. Big damn army."
"The Long Winter greatly injured them, and do not expect aid to come from Rohan. The Horse Lords are fighting for their lives against the Dunlendings. I have heard that they have even been driven from their capital."
The Corsair chuckled. "Now ain't that a shame? Ah, well, I suppose it wouldn't hurt to go a little farther."
"Do you have something in mind?" Khamul whispered to Vorea as the captain shouted orders.
"I do not like sending men to certain death, but I make an exception in the case of these foul Corsairs," Vorea replied. "Liken the situation to that of two people with a large bomb. We are the people, the Corsairs are the bomb. We must explode this bomb where it will hurt the most. The bomb will, of course, be destroyed in the process."
"You mean bring the Corsairs upriver to Gondor's centers of commerce and let them loose?"
Vorea nodded. "Exactly. Gondor will eventually crush them, but by then Rohan will surely have fallen."
"If Yanta's doing her job right. Which I seriously doubt."
"We have control over very little. We can only make sure that our part goes well."
And watch as everyone else screws up, Khamul thought.
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.