9. Chapter 8
Almost ten thousand men crossed the river and went north up the vales, the largest host Rhudaur had raised in many a year. Even the force that had taken Amon Sul had not been as large, the south had been emptied and although provision had been made to protect those left behind in the north, King Elion had gambled, perhaps correctly, that the approach of such a host would have his enemy drawing back all his forces to prepare a defence. This time though he did not have the advantage of surprise, and the columns were continually harassed by small bands of orcs, though my father and his scouts continually turned the hunters into the hunted.
At midsummer they reached the corner where the Trollfangs swung north, and the site of the battle of the camp. A fortress had sprung up there in the intervening years, and it was well defended. Once again the forces of Angmar sallied out to meet them on the plain, and though much greater in number and much better prepared this time the outcome was still the same, and they soon retreated back inside their walls. Elion and Barachon did not however lay siege to it, as the King Of Angmar might have hoped, but leaving a token force to guard the stronghold and carry word of any foray in their rear, struck immediately up the road towards Carn Dûm.
In three days they had followed the road out into the great plain beyond the end of the mountain ridge and met little resistance, sacking a couple of way stations and encampments as they went. Carn Dûm was no more than six or seven days march down the good paved road that now took them that way, and they were well armed and well provisioned for a long campaign. The land was flat, and marshy in places, with scattered stands of trees and the occasional line of low hills to break the monotony. In the far distance to their right the unnamed peaks of the northern Misty Mountains marched off into the mist. All unnamed save one, Gundabad, long known as a great orc citadel, and Elion guessed that the King Of Angmar would rely on aid from that quarter and kept especial watch on that flank.
The following day they came into populated lands with scattered farms and settlements, and eventually to a small town of the Northmen which was quickly sacked and burned. The far end of the mountains, where Carn Dûm lay, was now clearly visible through the haze to the north. Elion and Barachon realised that the reply could now not be long in coming and deployed their host along a low ridge above what remained of the sorry town in preparation. Their scouts, some of whom were now mounted, soon returned with news of a great host pouring down the road towards them, led by a mighty knight in shimmering armour. Elion rejoiced, it seemed his foe had come at last to meet him on the field of battle.
The following dawn revealed just how great the power of Angmar had become, and as the sun rose in a cloudless blue sky his heart must secretly have quailed, though he hid it well. Like him, the King Of Angmar had thrown all his strength into the fray, and his forces must have outnumbered the men of Rhudaur two to one.
Angmar made the first move, sending wave upon wave of orcs and northmen up the slope towards their lines, but the archers did their work and the centre held firm. Three times more they surged forward and were beaten back with heavy loss, and then Elion mounted his horse, put on his helm and led the counter charge. The men of Rhudaur, seasoned fighters and many thirsty for revenge, carved through the enemy lines at first but were slowed by the sheer weight of numbers of the enemy. In the midst of the press, Elion and his mounted guard fought fiercely and sought to come up against the enemy king. At first he was nowhere to be seen, but then there was a lull in the fighting where they stood and he was there, flanked by a guard of his own in fine Numenorean Armour. He was the tallest man Elion had ever seen, and wore a rich suit of armour and sat astride a large and magnificent horse. Elion lifted his visor and called out .'Sir, I demand satisfaction for all the wrongs you have done my Kingdom and my people. Let us cross swords and see justice done'. The King Of Angmar laughed a rich, deep, melodious laugh, and raised his own visor. He had the most beautiful face Elion had ever seen, wise, ageless and full of sadness, with eyes like bottomless wells, framed by long white hair. He felt suddenly unworthy and in the presence of greatness beyond his understanding, mere king of a dung heap rather than that of an ancient Dunedain realm. 'Begone worm' the enemy King uttered with sudden fury. 'It is I who am the injured party, and you and your ragged band of thieves and murderers who will pay'. And with that slammed his visor shut and spurred his horse forward onto them drawing steel as he went, followed closely by his guard. Fortunately for Elion two of his knights came against the enemy king before he could and both fell rapidly beneath a hail of blows from his longsword. Elion was nothing if not brave in battle though and engaged his foe, trading blow for blow in the first few moments. But then the other's greater reach and strength paid and he took a strike on the helm which he could only partially parry and which knocked him out of the saddle. He fell to earth with a crash and lay motionless, blood seeping from under his dented helm. That would have been the end of him there and then, as his enemy rode up and prepared to finish him, but at that moment horns blared, a cheer went up and all around them the orcs and northmen began to turn and flee the field. The King Of Angmar paused, raised his visor for a moment, saying 'Not today then' and once again laughed his rich deep laugh. Then he turned his mighty horse and vanished into the melee with what remained of his bodyguard.
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