Legal Disclaimer: The Power Rangers belong to Saban or Disney, not
me. Lord of the Rings and all associated characters are copyright of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Harry Potter and all related indicia is copyright J.K. Rowling. I'm not making
any profit from this story. I own Vadaei, [that's pronounced VAY-di-I,] the Phaedos
Powers and their bearers, Mistri, Geneva, Calcia, Edy, Asharani, Karei, Vedi,
Dalila and Bambi. These nine characters cannot be borrowed, as I'm using them
in a story for publication. They are protected under international copyright
law. I also own Niamh Ralin, Kalika Alinir, Fleure Vahala and Dylan Jalaz. Those
four may be borrowed, but drop me a line, okay? Ellen Brand owns Trevor Park.
Resemblances between characters and real people, dead or alive, is purely unintentional.
This story comes after The Unveiled in the series The Circle Draws
Inward. This is the third in a determined six story arc. This is rated PG-13
by the Motion Picture Association of America. Cameo appearances are welcomed.
In Flanders Fields is copyright of Lt. John Macrae, a soldier in WWI.
Author's Note: I'm going by the books on this one. This story starts in Volume II, The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter I, The Departure of Boromir. This part follows the experiences of Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Trini and Adam, which therefore means that at the end of Volume II, Book Three, I will then continue to Volume III, The Return of the King, Book Five, Chapter I, Minas Tirith. Regarding Power Rangers ì Whether morphed or not, they are referred to as first name, no matter which morph they are using. Regarding the LOTR characters and book, I promise to stay as close to the actual happenings as I can. It is unfortunate that I cannot incorporate any part of the third movie The Return of the King into this fic, but rest assured, parts of The Two Towers will make it in.
Shire Reckoning: The Shire Reckoning related to years and months. I admit that I do not fully understand the explanations given to all of the Shire Reckoning. Therefore, I do not relate YEARS by Shire Reckoning. I relate MONTHS by the Shire Reckoning, in which there were thirty days to a month and twelve months to a year. So where it says in the Shire Reckoning I am referring to months. Confused? I sure am.
Crossover: This is a crossover of PR, HP, and LOTR. In case you hadn't guessed.
February 26th, 3019 in the Shire Reckoning.
"You mean not to follow them?" cried Legolas. Aragorn looked after the disappearing boat, until it was gone.
"It is no longer our path. We must now go to Minas Tirith, following those Orcs. They will no doubtless go and report their failure to get the Halflings, and the death of Boromir," replied Aragorn at last.
"Then we have failed. It has been in vain," said Adam. Trini came over.
"Let us send Boromir to the River of Gondor. And it is not in vain. We must hold true," she whispered.
"Not while strength remains," said Aragorn. And so they sent Boromir to the River of Gondor in his boat, and then they looked at each other.
"Leave all that can be spared. If not, Adam will shrink it," commanded Aragorn. And once they were ready, they again looked at each other.
"Let's go," said Legolas, quietly. And so the five of them moved out, pursuing the Orcs and Uruk-Hai.
Trini stopped almost at once. "Adam and I will go on ahead of you," she said.
Aragorn looked at her. "And for what purpose?"
"I cannot say, for it is only a feeling, that our greatest allies are now no longer available to us, if we pursue this way," she said.
"Edy mentioned that our allies would be reached by those who were captured. None of us were, so obviously, the hobbits were before. We must now take the place of the hobbits," said Adam.
"Are you sure?" asked Gimli.
"We're not. Edy was."
And so Aragorn blessed their leaving, and changing into their spirit forms, the eagle bore the frog away.
Then Aragorn stooped among the corpses and looked at their shields, and then to their iron helms. There was an S-rune. Gimli looked at it also.
"S is for Sauron, that is clear enough," he said.
"I fear not, Gimli. Sauron does not use our Elf-runes."
"He does not use his right name, not will he allow it to be spelt or spoken. I would venture that S is for Saruman," said Aragorn. "by some means, he knows our journey. But whether he knows what truly happened, is unknown to me." And then the three fell silent, and looked to the River of Gondor, where they had sent Boromir.
"They will look for him from the White Tower, but not will he return," murmered Aragorn. And then he and Legolas sang of the West Wind, South Wind and North Wind, leaving the East Wind to Gimli, who would say naught of it. And all was as it should be then, for in Minas Tirith, they endured the East, but asked it not for tidings.
"Trini and Adam have followed them. Therefore, we shall be as if they were captured, for they may end up captured, for all we know," said Aragorn. "On foot, and we shall go swift. The Three Kindred: Dwarves, Elves and Men. Gimli, Legolas and Aragorn."
And they ran over many terrain, Aragorn seeking the path of the Orcs. And in the hour before the dawn of light, they rested, and Aragorn was lost. The trail descended into the valley, but there it ended from sight.
"Would they go north towards Isengard? Or to Fangorn, if I guess their aim?" asked Legolas.
"Or south to strike the Entwash?" returned Gimli. Aragorn smiled.
"Never would they make the river, which mark they aimed for. They will take the shortest way over the fields of Rohirrim. We will search northwards!" And so they pursued the Orcs, finding five dead and no reasons to be had for the deaths. There they lost the tracks, and found them again, in a tiny stream. They moved up the hill, and once at the top, they looked back.
"Would that I looked on Gondor in happier hours! Not yet does my path lie southwards to your bright streams!" cried Aragorn.
It was a steep descent to the shelf which ended in a cliff. This was the end of the Emyn Muil, and the East Wall of Rohan. And Legolas shouted, having seen the eagle again.
"I cannot see him, if he is the same one I saw before. But I see movement over the plains," said Aragorn. Gimli snorted.
"It could be the Lady Trini, though I seriously doubt it."
"It is a great company on foot, but what they be," said Legolas; "I cannot say. They are many leagues off."
And so now they followed in the clear day. The trail was marked by little remnants of discarded property and so, it was soon they were on the plains, marked with sweeter smells. Here they ran ever faster, faster than the heavily clad Orcs. And they ran onwards until night, ever closing the distance, though it remained great. And at nighttime, they stopped.
"I will not lead you any further," said Aragorn. "I will not lose the trail, for they are bound for Isengard, and I pray not with Trini and Adam."
"My heart hopes not, and bids me go on," said Legolas. "But I will stay here."
"You are skilled at this, and I agree with your choice, whatever it be," said Gimli.
"My choices have all gone wrong, since the Argonath. I am ill fated," said Aragorn, humorlessly.
The next day brought them twice twelve leagues closer, not seeing anymore sign of them. Once Legolas thought he may have seen Trini's eagle form, but he could not swear to it. And at dusk, they halted again, much to Legolas begrudgment.
"I am not pleased. The Orcs have run as if Sauron's whips were on them," announced Legolas. Gimli agreed.
"It seems we are getting no closer in terms of closing the gap," said Gimli. "The Lady's gift of lembas has been much appreciated, but still it is as though we did not have it."
And then by Aragorn's command, the three slept and waited for the dawn. And as was his fashion, Legolas was first awake and fresh, giving rise to the question of whether he had even slept. "We are called," he said, awakening the others. "Strange things await by the forest, good or evil, I cannot tell." And they began tracking the Orcs again. And Aragorn, west of the southernmost slope, stopped and examined the tracks.
"Legolas was right. I fear thrice fifteen hours have passed, since they were here. We must go on."
Gimli sighed."Let us go on. My legs must forget the miles, and would, were my heart less heavy." And they marched on. As dusk came upon them, they had marched for many miles. Gimli was beginning to despair, and he found it more wearying to travel onwards. Aragorn was grim and silent, often pausing to check a track. And only Legolas moved as he had before, but still he was weary, and he found no solace in the resting of his mind in paths of elvish dreams.
"Three suns have risen on our chase, and brought no counsel!" roared Gimli.
"True, but still rede oft is found at the rising of the Sun," repeated Legolas.
February 30th, 3019 in the Shire Reckoning.
That morning they rose, Legolas never having seemed to sleep, and they saw ahead the Wold of Rohan. Aragorn and Legolas both traced the visible orc-trail to the river, and then to the forest, they saw a swift moving blur, behind them rising a dark smoke in curling threads.
"One hundred and five riders, five leagues distant," said Legolas. "The leader is tall, bright are their spears."
"Keen are your eyes, and of those of Elves," said Aragorn.
"Five leagues or one, we cannot hope to escape. Shall we wait?" asked Gimli. And so they waited, Aragorn knowing the hunt had failed.
"Three empty saddles," Legolas reported.
"I know them," Aragorn said. "The Riders of Rohan. Proud and wilful, but true-hearted. Bold, but not cruel, wise, but unlearned. They will not love the Orcs, that little is sure."
And before they knew, the Riders of Rohan were passing through, whirling and not appearing to notice the three strangers observing them, clad as they were in the elven cloaks. And Aragorn stood up, and called:
"What news from the North, Riders of Rohan?"
And they checked their horses, and wheeled and charged back to them.
"Who are you, and what do you do here in this land?" asked their leader, having pointed his spear a foot away from Aragorn's chest.
"My name is Strider, out of the North. I am hunting Orcs," Aragorn replied.
The man dismounted. "Then you know little of Orcs, if you hunt in such a manner. You would become their prey, not their hunters. But strange you are, for Strider is no name for a Man. And strange, too is your raiment. Are you elvish folk?"
"That is not so, for only Legolas is an Elf, from distant Mirkwood. But we have passed through Lothl¾rien, and the favour and the gifts of the Lady of the Golden Wood go with us," replied Aragorn.
"Then if that is so, then you are also net-weavers and sorcerors, maybe." Turning his glance upon the two forms of Gimli and Legolas, he asked, "Why do you not speak, silent ones?"
And Gimli planted his feet and laid his hand upon his axe. "I will give you my name, and much more, once I know yours," he growled.
"Regarding that," the Rider said, "strangers should declare themselves. Yet I am ªomer, son of ªomund, brother of ªowyn, Third Marshal of Riddermark."
"Then, ªomer, let Gimli son of Gl¾in, a Dwarf of the Lonely Mountains warn against foolish words. Speaking evil of that which is far beyond your thought. Only little wit, if that, can excuse you," growled Gimli.
"I would cut off your head, if it stood higher off the ground," returned ªomer.
Legolas had an arrow ready faster than sight. "He stands not alone, for you would die before the stroke fell." And ªomer looked at them all.
"It would not be wise."
"Tell us who you serve," snapped Aragorn. "Sauron, Dark Lord of Mordor?"
"Never will we serve him," spat ªomer. "But now we are not at war with him. I only serve the Lord of the Mark Th’oden son of Thengel. But who are you, who do you serve and why do you pursue the Orcs?"
"I serve no man, but servants of Sauron I pursue wherever I must. I do not hunt in this fashion by choice, but by need. I am not weaponless." Aragorn swept out AndËril, glittering like a flame. "Elendil! I am Aragorn son of Arathorn, and am called Elessar, the Elf-stone, DËnadan, the heir of Isildur Elendil's son of Gondor! Here is the Sword that Broken and is forged once more! Aid me? Thwart me? Choose quickly!"
"We burned the Orcs, you need not pursue them any more," replied ªomer.
"Did you see a lady and a warrior?" asked Legolas.
"We saw no one."
"An eagle and a frog?" asked Gimli.
"An eagle, disappearing into the Forest," replied ªomer. "A frog? What is that?"
But Gimli did not answer. And long did ªomer and Aragorn now talk, and at the end, two horses were lent to Legolas and Aragorn, Gimli having refused one when he found that 'No horse of the Mark has ever been given to a Dwarf.' And he sat with Legolas, so as to not slow them down. And the two groups parted. And the day passed, and the three reached the battlefield, but did see no sign of Trini or Adam, in either form.
Beyond the battlefield they camped. Since they had only one blanket apiece, they lit a fire, taking care to not cut any living wood. While the Rohirrim may have made a great burning, for which they had evidently felled trees, Aragorn was not as confident as they, and soon they had a small blaze going.
Gimli took first watch, and Legolas and Aragorn slept. As Gimli sat, suddenly a man appeared just at the edge of the firelight, leaning on a staff, a wide hat over his eyes, wrapped in a cloak. Gimli started, in fear that Saruman had caught them. Legolas and Aragorn awoke, but the man made no movement or sound.
"Well, what may we do for you?" asked Aragorn. "If you are cold, come and warm yourself." But the man had disappeared, and trace of him was not to be found. Suddenly, Legolas cried; the horses had disappeared. For a time they stayed silent, pondering this new ill luck.
Finally Gimli spoke. "I believe it was Saruman. For ªomer said: he walks about hooded and cloaked. He has taken the horses! More trouble will come!"
"The man had hat, not hood," returned Aragorn. "But I fear you are correct in assessment. I will watch, whilst you rest Gimli."
"I wonder how the Lady Trini and Warrior Adam are faring," muttered Legolas.
And so Trini and Adam had followed the Orcs more quickly then their friends on foot. And Trini flew as close as she dared, to hear what they could.
"We were asked to kill all but the halflings," said a deep growl. "And there are no halflings at all! We have killed one of their number, and have been driven off, without what we came for!"
"Then why do we return?" asked another. "We have failed."
"Orders, We return to Isengard by the shortest road. If we could, we might cross the Great River, you say? Think again, no Nazg€l will report our failure before us!" said the deep growl, who identified himself as Ugl€k. "I am Ugl€k. I command."
Command what? Your despoiled arse? asked Adam, in his frog form. Trini chuckled, and listened intently, to what she could hear. Obviously not, added Adam, as the group descended into a brawl, leaving five dead.
And the Orcs moved onwards, and only stopped when they met the scouts that had returned.
"We discovered naught save one horseman, who made off West, and all is clear now."
This may be good, said Trini. We may have help. Ugl€k yelled something about the alarm being up and marching doublefoot, and so the group descended into a misty plain, and began to run while the night lasted, so as to lessen time spent running in the sunlight. Time passed to the sun, and then to the noon, and then to the nightfall, and still they ran, and still Trini pursued them, carrying Adam. And Trini saw a sight that made her heart most glad. The Riders of Rohan were aware of the Orcs, but night had fallen, and they did not close in. And as the sun rose, the Riders of Rohan closed in and destroyed the Orcs.
Having seen enough, Trini whirled into the forest.
There they resumed form, and they looked at their supplies. They were reasonable, but would not last terribly long, for the lembas they carried would go quickly. They made their way through Fangorn Forest, noting the beauty of the nature that resided. And as time passed they grew to like the forest. And Adam even ventured to say, "It's interesting, I'd ask Gandalf more, if it were possible."
"Good! You seem to like this place, I am glad. I feel I like you, but turn around, and I will see," said a voice. "I shall not be hasty." And so Trini and Adam turned, and they were picked up by a strange creature. It seemed that they were looking at a large figure, sort of Man, sort of Troll like figure. Fourteen feet high, sturdy, tall head and not much neck. Arms covered with smooth brown skin, seven toes to the large feet, a sweeping grey beard, and eyes that were deep, slow and solemn, brown, shot with green.
"Do not be hasty, my motto is precisely that. I heard your voices, and liked them, but I may have mistook you for Orcs. Hoom, hrum."
"Who and what are you, please?" asked Trini as respectfully as she could.
"Well, I am an Ent," said the Ent. "Fangorn is what some would make my name to be, and others would have it be Treebeard. Treebeard will do. But as for you, are and what are you, if you are not Orcs?"
"Please, Treebeard. I'm of the race of Men," said Adam. "My name is Adam, I am a wizard. And this is the Lady Trini and she is an Elf." Trini looked astounded at this misinformation.
"Adam, I don't really think . . . " Trini broke off.
"Haven't you felt it?" Adam whispered. "I've seen it happening. You're becoming elven like, I'd say you have elven blood in you, and it's asserting itself!" Now that she came to think about it, Trini did realise that she had felt strange sensations in her body.
"You are hasty folk," said Treebeard. "But I will call you Adam and Trini, if I may. I will not tell you my name, not yet at any rate, for it would take a long time. But what are you doing here?"
"It would take too long to say," Trini said. "But in any case, we came to be here by a stroke of bad luck, for we were captured by the Orcs." And Treebeard took them along to one of his homes, talking of Celeborn and Gandalf and of Laurelind¾renan or as the Elves would now, Lothl¾rien, and of Ents. And ere the day passed, and after seventy-thousand entstrides, they came at last to Wellinghall, and they rested.
"This is a nice place," said Adam, observing it. Treebeard went to several large jars, and filled three bowls with some liquid from the jar. Coming over, he gave the two smaller ones to Trini and Adam, and they sat on the table, and drank together.
And slowly, they began to tell their tale as Treebeard asked, and went it was finally done, Trini hastened to ask, "Can you and your peoples do anything?"
"I do not know, for we must agree to do something. But did you see Entwives?" They regretted they had not.
"But Saruman," went on Treebeard. "He is a Wizard. They came after the Great Ships, but if they were on them, I cannot say. Saruman was thought to be great among them. After a time, he gave up wandering, and settled at Isengard, as the Men of Rohan say. He would walk in Fangorn Forest and I would sometimes speak to him, telling him things, but he never repaid in turn. And now he is making havoc upon us, felling trees, good trees and feeding the fires of Orthanc! I will stop it! And you may help me as you wish. Our road is the same ì to Isengard."
"I would like to see the White Hand overthrown," said Trini. "Never will I forget Ugl€k and the crossing of Rohan." And so they talked some more, mostly of the Entwives. And then in turn, Trini and Adam spoke of the poppies:
And so then the friends slept as best they each could.
February 30th, 3019 in the Shire Reckoning.
When she awoke, Trini found her voice was gone. It was no surprise, but she was shocked at it, because it had just gone, and it had seemed to be better the day before. But for now she was voiceless. She turned and saw Adam, and she woke him as she saw Treebeard come in.
"You have slept long," he said. "Now we must drink and go to Entmoot." And so they drank, more of a foodlike drink, and they set off, perched on his shoulders. Adam tried to count the strides, and failed miserably, but after a good while, Treebeard slackened his pace, and they began to see many other Ents. It was a great dingle they headed into, round as a bowl and only three silver birches were in the bowl. Trini and Adam listened wearily to the Old Entish, and soon Adam cast a wake up charm on them.
"I am sorry," said Treebeard. "You may go for a walk, if you wish, we are just getting past the deeds of Saruman." They nodded, and knelt briefly, before leaving. They simply walked around and looked at the nature of the forest and more than once, tried to find Isengard, but failed.
At long last, Treebeard came along, with another Ent. "Hoom, well I am here. I hope you are not impatient or hasty, but I have brought a companion for you. We would make our decision quickly, but we always take time in going over the facts and events we must make up our minds over. But here is your companion, Bregalad in the Elvish tongue. He says he has made up his mind, and does not need to stay. He is the closest thing to a hasty Ent. You may get on well together." And Treebeard walked back, and Bregalad took them to his ent-house close by .
"I am Bregalad, Quickbeam in your language. They have called me that ever since I said yes to an elder before he had asked his question in full. Also I drink quickly, and go out while others are wetting their beards." And for the rest of the day, Trini and Adam walked with him in the forest, and Bregalad showed them many things, and even pointed out Isengard to them, and so they knew where it was. At nightfall, they went to his house. Two days passed, and at noon on the third day of Entmoot, that is, March 2nd, 3019 in the Shire Reckoning, it ended.
And with a great clash there came a shout: ra-hoom-rah! And a marching music began, and voices rose solemnly above the music.
Bregalad strode out of his house, taking Adam and Trini with him, walking towards the Moot. They quickly came to the lines of marching Ents, some fifty followers with Treebeard at the head. Bregalad joined the line by Treebeard's side, and the song rose up.
"The Ents made up their mind quickly, didn't they?" asked Adam, translating the look Trini gave him, when the song had paused.
"Quickly indeed," said Treebeard. "Most unexpected, but then I have not seen them this roused for many an age. We do not like being roused, and we are never roused unless our trees or lives are in great danger. This has not happened since the Second Age. But we will see Saruman brought down."
"Oh," said Adam.
And so the marching party of Ents went onwards to Isengard. Through the forest, and then through plainlands, across a ridge and at last they were on a great summit, looking into a valley. Nan Curunr, the Valley of Saruman.
"And over Orthanc, Isengard, night will lie," murmered Trini, having gathered strength to utter the sentence.
March 1st, 3019 in the Shire Reckoning.
Day came at last to the Three Kindred. And they looked on the scene with puzzlement. Breakfast had been taken at dawn, and no signs of eagle, human or frog or of the cloaked man could be seen, must to Gimli's unease.
"I am sure it was Saruman," he iterated and reiterated many a time.
"But if it were the man who released the horses, did they sound as to be in terror?" asked Aragorn. "You said that they were scared away, Gimli."
"If it were to me," began Legolas. "I would venture that they sounded as if greeting a lost friend, as horses will, but for the darkness and our fear, which makes me unsure."
So the three companions looked, to see if perhaps they had resumed human form outside the forest. And at last, Aragorn stepped back, and thought. And at last, he had the inklings of a theory. "I would surmise that neither Trini nor Adam were here. Which means they must even now be in the Forest. But, if you remember, Adam said 'Edy mentioned that our allies would be reached by those who were captured. None of us were, so obviously, the hobbits were before. We must now take the place of the hobbits.' I would then, say that two hobbits were captured. Why then would they not be harmed, as was Boromir, and the rest of us?"
Legolas turned, this was interesting enough to pause lookout.
"The Uruks and Orcs sought us all out, but clearly, they were looking for that which was not here, hobbits. They would return to Isengard, to report their failure. So . . . I would think that they were to capture any hobbit alive. For the Ring was carried by a hobbit. But their masters would not be so plain. So they were after hobbits, who were replaced by the three who say they are Ninjetti," continued Aragorn. "The Enemy, therefore knows a hobbit carries the Ring. I do not think, though, that the Enemy knows of our three unexpected Ninjetti, as it were."
"That is a good idea, Aragorn," said Gimli. "It makes much sense with what we know. But where then, are Lady Trini and Adam?"
"That is what I do not know. But I would say the Forest," said Legolas.
And so they entered the Forest, Legolas assuring them the wood was not evil, or if it were, it was far away. But it was tense. Aragorn led them through the Forest, trying desperately to find signs, and at last he found them, on Treebeard's Hill. They looked around, and saw naught that made much sense. And Legolas trained his eyes on something.
"Look! It is he, passing from tree to tree."
"Saruman!" cried Gimli, watching the man. He looked beggar like, leaning on a staff, clothed in grayish white.
"You are all here, clad in elvish fashion. Why is that?" asked the old man.
"Might we know your name and then hear what you wish to say to us?" asked Aragorn. "We have an urgent summons, and the day passes."
"I have said it: What may you be doing, and what can you say of yourselves? My name!" He laughed. "You have heard my name, though you cannot say it. You may be trying to find a Warrior of the Race of Men, and a Lady of the Elven folk? And would you know that they were here, but they were picked up day before last? I can tell you more, but your summons is no longer as urgent as was thought. Let us talk." The man sat on a low flat stone, and they suddenly saw beyond all doubt that he was clothed in white beneath his gray rags.
With a fierce yell, the three swung round to attack in accord. They were suddenly blinded by a bright light emanating from the White Wizard. Gimli's axe and Legolas' arrow were deflected. Aragorn's sword became too hot to hold.
"Gandalf?" asked Gimli, dumbstruck.
Aragorn gathered his wits long enough to say, "It cannot be! You fell!"
Gandalf nodded. "Through fire and water. From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak, I fought him, the Balrog of Morgoth. Until at last, I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountainside. Darkness took me. And I strayed out of thought and time. Stars wheeled overhead and each day was as long as a life age of the earth. But it was not the end. I felt life in me again. I've been sent back until my task is done."
"Gandalf," said Aragorn.
"Oh yes. That's what they used to call me. Gandalf the Grey. That was my name," Gandalf said, reflectively. "I am Gandalf the White now. And I come back to you now at the turn of the tide."
"Are they safe?" asked Legolas, sitting down.
"I did not find them, but I know they are safe. As for Frodo, the Ring is beyond my help, or any help that the Company could give. It was very nearly revealed to the Enemy, but it escaped, as I fought the Shadow."
"Frodo resolved to go to Mordor, how are things?" asked Gimli, anxiously.
"He resolved, and he went, that is all I know and can say."
"It has long been my belief that the Evaelon went with him," said Legolas.
"She did," replied Gandalf. "But now, tell me of your tale."
And so the four sat around, quickly recounting their tale of chase. And Gandalf at long last told them of the Enemy.
"The Enemy, has long known the Ring is abroad, and is borne by a hobbit. He knows now the number of our Company that set out from Rivendell, but our greatest hope is that he thinks that there are four hobbits. He does not yet know our purpose clearly, supposing that we are all going to Minas Tirith, which he himself would do. He is fearful that one should appear and cast him and and take his place. The idea that we should cast him down and have no one in his place has not even entered his mind. So he gathers his forces and unleashes them against Minas Tirith, in the hope that if he strikes forcefully enough, he will have no more need to do so. But he has not the Ring, nor any hobbits. For if he did, it would be fatal. But his plans have failed, thanks to Saruman." Gandalf paused.
"Indeed Saruman is a traitor, doubly. But even so, the fact remains that the Enemy must now fear Isengard as well." And longer did they speak over events. And finally did they rise from council, to set foot to Edoras.
"The Dark Lord has Nine. But we have One, mightier than they; the White Rider. He has passed through fire and the abyss, and they shall fear him," proclaimed Aragorn.
Gandalf returned, "And so I shall, but I have been given a message for Aragorn, to say this:
To Legolas she sent this word.
Fear not, Gimli, for she have to say:
And my messages for the Lady Trini and Adam will wait," concluded Gandalf. "But we must now make haste! We have spent all the time we can as parted friends will. But we now go to Edoras!"
And so they descended to the grass beyond the eaves of Fangorn. And Gandalf whistled, and soon three horses came. Arod and Hasufel, and one great white horse. And so Gandalf spoke to them, and soon Arod bore Legolas and Hasufel bore Aragorn. And Shadowfax, horse of the White Rider, bore both Gimli and Gandalf. And so many hours passed, and so they were borne past field and slope, grass and plain, river and land, and once they rested, for a few hours; but soon they went on, under the cold moon. And as the hours passed, they began to see a cold grey instead of icy black, and soon Legolas saw the dwellings of King Th’oden son of Thengel, King of the Mark of Rohan.
"But we must ride warily," cautioned Gandalf. "The Rohirrim do not sleep, though it may seem so from afar. Draw no weapon, nor speak no haughty words until we have come before Th’oden's seat." And so in the bright morn, they travelled onwards on the simbelmyn‰, the bright eyes of the grass, which grow where dead men lie. And they knew they were come to the barrows where the sires of Th’oden slept.
"The raising of this house is not remembered save in song," said Aragorn. "And running thus in the Common Speech:
And once Aragorn finished, they passed the silent mounds, and came to the gates of Edoras. And the guards that guarded the gates sprang to their feet, and thus spake in the tongue of the Riddermark: "Stay strangers unknown! What is your errand, and who may you be?"
"If your tongue is understood by few, and well do I understand it," spoke Gandalf in the same, "why then not speak in the Common Language, the custom in the West, should you be wanting an answer?"
"by order of Th’oden King, no one should enter our gates unless they be known of our tongue and be our friends. In days of war, none are welcome, unless be they our folk, or those of Mundburg in Gondor. Why then do you come in strange raiment, and riding horses like our own?"
"I believe you would know that these are indeed your horses," said Aragorn. "But seldom does thief ride to stable. In any case, ªomer himself lent us Arod and Hasufel not more than two days ago, and we now return them as we promised. Did not ªomer tell of this?"
"Of ªomer I will say nothing," returned the guard. "But Wormtongue told us that by order of Th’oden King, none were to pass our gates. But if your coming is truth, then Th’oden will have heard of it."
"My errand is to Th’oden, not Wormtongue, and I am in haste! Will you not go or send to say that come are we, on errand swift?" Gandalf looked at him. "I am Gandalf, returning Shadowfax! Aragorn, heir of Kings. Legolas of Mirkwood and Gimli of Erebor, the Lonely Mountains."
"Very well." The guard nodded. And away he went, and when he returned, he had this to say: "Th’oden gives leave, but all weapons, be whatever they may, must be left into the keeping of the doorwarden." And they entered into Edoras, and went up the long steps, and only when they stepped into the paved terrace did the guards step forward.
"I am Hõma, the Doorward of Th’oden. You must now give up your weapons."
Legolas unhung his quiver, and placed it with his bow. He withdrew his knife, and placed it within his quiver. "These weapons are of the Golden Wood, and the Lady of Lothl¾rien herself gave them to me. Keep them well, and let to them come no harm."
"No one will touch them, save me, and only when I return them to you," said Hõma, laying them quickly and safely by the wall.
"I do not wish to hand over AndËril to any man, regardless of who wills it," spoke Aragorn. "Why should Th’oden's will prevail over the will of Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elendil's Heir of Gondor?"
"Would you rather all the men of Edoras were after you?" asked Hõma, barring the door, and taking out his sword.
"He would not be alone," said Gimli, taking his axe and looking at Hõma.
"We are friends here, or should be," said Gandalf. "I will give my sword up, Glamdring is its name, the Elves fashioned it long ago. Come Aragorn."
Aragorn slowly unbuckled AndËril and set it against the wall. "Here I leave it, and you are to let no one touch it. For this is the Blade-that-was-Broken. Death shall come to anyone who draws Elendil's Sword save Elendil's heir and the Evaelon and her comrades."
Hõma started at the name of the Evaelon. Gimli set his axe down, and Hõma let them pass quietly. And into the Golden Hall they walked.
"The welcomings of your hall are lessened of late, Th’oden son of Thengel," said Gandalf. "But let us not dwell, for the storm will come, and friends should be bound together, lest we be destroyed."
"Why should I welcome you, Gandalf Stormcrow?" asked King Th’oden. "You who come with ill tidings and evil."
The pale man rose. "Th’odred, Second Marshall of the Mark is dead, slain upon the West Marshes. In ªomer we can place no trust. Why then, should we welcome you, Master Stormcrow?"
"Wormtongue, you are no doubt a great support to your master," spoke Gandalf. "Yet a man may speak of good, and do evil, and speak of evil and do good."
"You have brought nor done good, Stormcrow. Th’oden tells you 'Take any horse, only be gone ere tomorrow is old', and you, in insolence, take Shadowfax. Greatly grieved was my lord, and yet some feel that the price was indeed fair," Wormtongue spat. "You only seek aid, and do not render it. Brought you have not sword, axe or bow, only beggars in grey and you the most beggar like of the four!"
"If our names were not reported then that is not our fault," spoke Legolas. "We have the protection of the Lord Elrond, the Lady of the Golden Wood and of the Evaelon. If that is not fair enough for you, Wormtongue, then cease your speech!"
"You who are in league with sorceresses?" Wormtongue spat. "Webs of deceit you spin."
"The wise speak only of they know, Grma son of Gõlm¾d. You have become a witless worm, therefore be silent, for I have not passed through fire and death to bandy words with you," rumbled Gandalf. He raised his staff, and the hall became dark as night. Only Gandalf could be seen.
"That fool, Hõma has betrayed us!" hissed Grma.
"Not all is dark, Lord of the Mark. Do you ask for help? No counsel have I for those who despair, yet counsel I could give. Will you not hear them? They are not for all ears, now come and see the light!" And so Gandalf and Th’oden, and the Three Kindred went out into the terrace of the Golden Hall. "Now look upon your land once more!"
And ªowyn, niece of the King was beheld in full light by Aragorn as she passed. Fair was her face, a golden river was her hair. Slender and tall was she in white edged with silver, but there was a strength in her. ªowyn, Lady of Rohan.
"Age does not lie as heavily on you as you would wish for people to think," said Gandalf. "Cast aside your prop." And Th’oden dropped his staff, and stood tall and proud.
"Dark have my dreams been of late. But I feel awakened. I fear you have come too late. What is to be done?"
"Send for ªomer first," said Gandalf.
And ªomer was sent for. And Gandalf and Th’oden set to talking.
"Your fingers would best remember their strength, were they to grasp a sword," advised Aragorn. Th’oden reached for his sword, and found it not at his side.
"Take this, dear lord. It has ever been at your service, should it be needed," carried the voice of ªomer. And ªomer knelt, and presented the hilt to Th’oden. Th’oden grapsed the hilt, and brought it from the scabbard. And as he brought it up, he chanted in the tongue of the Rohan a call to arms.
Guards sprung up the stairs, drew their swords and placed them at Th’oden's feet.
"Westu Th’oden hõl! Never shall it be said again that you only come with darkness, Gandalf! Our Lord is back into his own!" cried ªomer.
"You said you had counsel, if I would hear," said Th’oden. "And I would. What is it?"
"You have taken it, Th’oden," replied Gandalf. "You have put your trust in ªomer, instead of Grma Wormtongue. Now, the women and children must flee to whatever refuges you have in the mountains. Take provisions, but delay not. Their lives are at stake."
"This counsel is good! Let it be done! Truly you say the welcoming of our guests are lessened, but we will fix that now, you will sleep and eat, and be rested for the morrow," proclaimed Th’oden.
"There is no rest for the weary. The Men of Rohan must ride forth, and we will ride with them, sword, axe, bow and knife. We did not bring them to be rested against your wall, Lord of the Mark. With your leave, we willl take them back." Aragorn strapped AndËril back on, tossed Gimli his axe, and presented Legolas with his bow and quiver. Legolas replaced them in their places, and sheathed his knife.
And Hõma came forth with Grma, and a long sword in scabbard gold and green.
"Here is Herugrim, your ancient blade. Found in his chest, with many other things men have missed. Loath was he to give up the keys."
"This sword was given into my keeping!" cried Grma.
"And now I require it again," countered Th’oden. "Every man and lad able to bear arms, have them outfitted and be ready in the saddle ere second hour from noon!"
"You have been bewitched!" cried Grma.
"If that is so, then it is better than your foul whisperings. You shall ride too Grma. Go, and clean the rust from your sword."
"Have pity! Do not send me away!" cried Grma.
"I ask you to come and prove your faith," replied Th’oden.
And Gandalf looked at Grma, and said, "Hours of my time he has wasted. And yet . . . " here he paused.
And ªomer burst out, "How long has it been since Saruman bought you? What was the promised price, Grma? When all the men are dead you would take a share of the treasure? No more. For too long have you watched my sister, too long have you haunted her steps. And no more shall you."
"ªowyn is safe, ªomer son of ªomund," replied Gandalf. "You, Wormtongue, have done what you could for Saruman. I should advise you to go to him, lest he forget what service you have done him."
Grma spoke no word, but his eyes darted back and forth. "This was once a man, and did you service, after a fashion. Give him a horse, and let him go, and by his choice you shall judge him," said Gandalf.
"Ride with me to war, and let us see if you are true. Or go whither you will and then, if we meet again, I shall not be so merciful," said Th’oden. Grma rose, spat before the king and darted away. He was given a horse as the king commanded and he sped away. And now the tiles were washed clean, and they had refreshments as haste allowed. Gandalf spoke long of Grma's workings, and ªomer's safeguardings, and at long last, requested Shadowfax to be his own, by Th’oden's will of a gift. And to Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas, he gave whatever might be found in the armoury that they could use.
And so they made ready to depart, and ªowyn was chosen to be as lord to the Eorlingas. At the gate, they found a great host of men, and there were the horses for Gandalf, Th’oden, Legolas and Aragorn. Gimli stood at ill ease, and ªomer came up to him.
"I have yet to learn gentle speech under your rod, Gimli. But put aside our quarrel, and I will say no evil again of the Lady of the Golden Wood."
"I will put it aside, but when you have seen Lady Galadriel with your eyes, you will then acknowledge her as the fairest of ladies, or our friendship will end," said Gimli.
"So be it. But until that time is come, please ride with me as a token of pardon for that. Firefax will bear us both, if you would?"
"If Legolas would ride beside us?"
"Aragorn on my right, Legolas on my left, it shall be done," said ªomer.
And Gandalf, clothed in white, leapt upon Shadowfax, and his robes dazzled in the sun, wearing no helm or mail.
"Our King and the White Rider!" The cry went up, and it sounded around the plains. The trumpet roared, and the last host of Rohan rode into the West.
March 2nd, 3019 in the Shire Reckoning.
The host of the Rohan rode on, as the sun westered, fearing they may come too late. Forty leagues and more were between Edoras and the Fords of the Isen, where they hope to find the king's men holding back the host of Saruman. After five hours, they camped, sent scouts out ahead, and the night passed to dawn, ere they set out again.
Gandalf dropped back to Legolas. "Tell me Legolas, what can you see towards Isengard?"
Legolas shaded his eyes, and at long last shook his head. "A darkness, and great shapes moving. A veiling shadow that some power lays upon the land, marching down stream defeats my eyes."
As the second day drew on to the last shafts of light, they saw a lone horseman. Once he was near, he dismounted and recovered his breath, and then he spoke.
"Is ªomer here?" he asked. "Too late you come, and great evil has befallen us since Th’odred fell. We fought bravely, but we were overmastered. Erkenbrand of Westfold has drawn of what men he may towards Helm's Deep."
"Then go shall we to Helm's Deep," spoke Th’oden. "The last host of Eorlingas has ridden forth, and shall not return without battle, Ceorl."
Whilst Th’oden had been speaking, Gandalf had ridden a ways ahead and gazed to Isengard. Now he rode back, and proclaimed, "Ride to Helm's Deep, Th’oden! Go not to the Fords of Isen, do not tarry on the plains. I go at once to Isengard on matter most urgent, await me at Helm's Gate!"
Like a arrow from Legolas' bow, Shadowfax bore Gandalf away. And the host bent their way southwards, to Helm's Deep, the great stronghold of the South, and a mighty stronghold of Rohan.
The scouts returned to them, and reported dismal news of the wargs abroad in the land, and the host of Orcs and wildmen making south of Helm's Deep. And onwards they rode, making haste as best they might. Onwards to Helm's Dike, lying before Helm's Gate they speeded, and there they would have turned and given battle, were it at all possible to defend the Dike. At the Dike they were challenged and stating their names, they rode forth.
"Erkenbrand has not been seen," said Gamling, an old man. "Do you have news?"
"None," replied ªomer. "I fear he will come no longer, the enemy is at our heels, almost." And so they rode into the Hornburg, and there they began to prepare in readiness. But on the Deeping Wall and its tower, ªomer arrayed most of his strength there. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas stood with ªomer, spread alongside the Wall.
And as it lay past midnight, the host of Isengard halted.
Gimli stood beneath the wall, unable to see. "What's happening out there?" he demanded impatiently.
Legolas smiled and answered, "Shall I describe it to you? Or would you like me to find you a box?"
The enemy surged forward, and the hosts of Isengard and the Deep engaged in battle. ªomer and Aragorn at once beheld the peril of the gates, and Aragorn smiled. "This is the hour when we shall draw swords together." They ran to the gates, and springing from the door, the two swords came out in one flash.
"GËthwin‰!" cried ªomer. "GËthwin‰ for the Mark!"
"AndËril!" cried Aragorn. "AndËril for the DËnedain!" Like Gimli's axe they fell upon the wildmen.
The cry went up that AndËril had been reforged and returned to war. Dismayed, the rammers broke form and were cast into the stony streams below. Returning inside, ªomer was besieged by two Orcs. But a small figure leapt up and smote them headless, crying: Baruk Khaz’d! Khaz’d ai-m¨nu!
"Gimli, I thank you!" ªomer said, once they were back inside.
"I am content, for I have hewn naught but wood since Moria," he said. Returning to his place on the wall, he said, "Two, Legolas!"
"Twenty, but no more," Legolas replied. "But I must grope for spent arrows."
"Arg! I'll have no pointy ear outscoring me!" Gimli cried. The sky began to clear, and the moon could be seen. Three times Aragorn and ªomer rallied the wearied men of Rohan, and three times AndËril flared in a charge that drove them away.
And Gimli, noting that some Orcs had crept into the Deep behind, leapt down, and engaged in work enough, calling for Legolas to share. And Legolas was busy himself on the wall, and once Gimli returned, he looked expectantly.
"Twenty-one, my count surpasses yours," he stated.
"Two dozen. It has been knife work up here," returned Legolas.
Dawn was nearing. But the enemy was still hammering at the doors. And Gimli and Aragorn crept outside a side door and looked at the host.
"Come on. We can take them! Aragorn, come on!" whispered Gimli.
Aragorn looked at the gap. "It's a long way," he said, thoughtfully.
Gimli looked at it, and then muttered, "Toss me."
Aragorn looked at him. "What?"
Sighing, Gimli reiterated. "I cannot jump the distance so you have to toss me." He fell silent, and then looked again at Aragorn. "Don't tell the Elf."
Aragorn smiled, and replied, "Not a word."
Aragorn tossed Gimli over, then jumped the gap himself. The two of them battled the Orcs at the front gate, slaughtering many. This enabled others to get to safety, and once they were succesful, they raced for the doors, and Aragorn clanged them shut. Gimli had escaped back to the caves.
"I should so desire to explain my count is now thirty-nine," said Legolas.
"I believe his count will surpass yours if he should reach the caves, were it not already past. But that I do not know," replied Aragorn.
Dawn came, with many more skirmishes. And at last the gate fell, and Th’oden, son of Thengel, King of the Mark rode forth. At his right was Aragorn, Elendil's heir. Legolas was upon his left, and Gimli rode with Legolas bearing the horn of Helm Hammerhand. Gimli blew the horn loud and clear. And they rode forth, and men and orc fell or fled before them. And so the king and his companions rode from Helm's Gate, onto the Dike.
Suddenly, upon the ridge appeared Gandalf, and beside him was a man tall and strong, with a shield of red and a horn of black. He blew a ringing blast.
"Erkenbrand!" the Riders shouted.
And so the host of Isengard turned from fear to fear, and as the two hosts of Erkenbrand and of the Deep rode forth, they were caught between them and to the hosts they fell, slaughtered mercilessly.
Down from the Dike came those who had been driven into the Deep.
As if remembering something, Gimli turned to Legolas, and said, "Forty-two!"
"You have surpassed me by one," answered Legolas.
"You have returned in the hour of need, unlooked for," said ªomer.
"I said I would return, and meet you here," replied Gandalf.
"Name not the hour or day, you did," retorted Legolas. "You just said you would meet us at Helm's Gate."
"Your own valour has done more, and the stout legs of the Westfold men marching trough the night. All I did was to give counsel, and made use of Shadowfax," countered Gandalf. "But no deed of mine is this, for it is better than I could have designed, and better than my hope dared it has been."
"Whose wizardry?" asked Th’oden.
"A power that walked the earth long ago," replied Gandalf.
"And what would be the answer to your riddle?" asked Th’oden.
"Then come with me to Isengard to learn the answer," answered Gandalf. "I am returning to Isengard, and they woho will, may come as well."
"But we can not hope, even if all the Men of the Mark were gathered here, healed of wounds and weariness, to assault the stronghold of Saurman," protested Th’oden.
"Then look for me in Edoras, ere the waning of the moon," replied Gandalf.
"No, I will go with you, if that is your counsel," answered Th’oden hurriedly.
"Then find all who wish to go with me, and bade them rest, for we shall ride ere evening is upon us," replied Gandalf. And so Theoden bade ªomer and twenty men of his household to ride with him. With Gandalf would go Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. Erkenbrand and his men found a great many of the hillmen alive, and set them to work on repairing they which they had destroyed.
And in the afternoon they set out to Isengard. Legolas and Gimli rode together, and rode close to Gandalf, for Gimli was afraid of the wood. But Legolas set him to rights over how the wood thought, and Gimli was more at ease, though they still rode close to Gandalf. Long did they talk of the ways of Dwarf and Elf and Men and they finally agreed. If they should return safely out of the perils they would encounter, then Gimli would go with Legolas to see Fangorn Forest, and Legolas with Gimli, to see Helm's Deep.
At last they exited the forest, and by chance, Legolas saw eyes as he looked back with regret. He shouted, the others halted and turned and Legolas turned back.
"Let me off!" cried Gimli. "Do as you would in your madness, but let me off!"
"Halt Legolas Greenwood of Mirkwood, son of Thrandruil!" called Gandalf in a commanding tone. "Now is not your time!"And they saw three Ents. Once they were past, they continued onwards, discussing it. Legolas followed a little reluctantly, but soon put it out of his mind. They passed the Fords of the Isen, and paid silent tribute to the Men of the Mark. Onwards they pressed, and camped beside the bed of the Isen river, only awking when a black mist approached, which passed them by .
March 5th, 3019 in the Shire Reckoning.
At dawn's breaking, they pressed onwards, unable to pierce the mists ahead of them, but knowing that Isengard's gates lay ahead. And ere the hour of noon was past, they found themselves at the doors of Isengard, the tower of Orthanc ahead of them, rising like a pillar of stone, the stronghold of the wizard Saruman. And as they looked at the destruction and desolation of Isengard, they perceived the power of Saruman was overthrown.
Now they turned their eyes to the ruined gates and the archway. And they beheld two grey clad people lying as they would, blended with the stones, with remnants of a past meal lying around them.
They were beheld in wonder by Th’oden and ªomer and all his men as the strangest sight in Isengard. Suddenly, one of them jumped up.
She looked tall and lithe, with long flowing black hair. She was clad in the same raiment as the companions of Gandalf had been when they had ridden to Edoras, though travel stained and weather beaten though it was. Her ears were pointed, her skin was pale and her facial features were the sharp, accentuated features of the Elven folk.
She knelt before them and then rose. Not seeming to see Gandalf or his friends, she turned to Th’oden and ªomer.
"My lords, I welcome you to Isengard . . . such as it is," she began, casting a look at Isengard. "I am Trini, daughter of Penelope, of the house of Kwan. My companion, who is resting himself, is Adam, son of Trevor, of the house of Park. The Lord Saruman is within, but is even now closeted within with one Wormtongue. Were he not, he should doubtless be here to welcome such distinguished guests, my lords."
"What is your race?" questioned ªomer. "No doubt you are one of Legolas' kin, but there is also no doubt that you are one of Aragorn's missing friends. Yet he said 'two of the race of Men. A warrior, and a Lady.' So if you would clear the uncertaincy?"
"We are both companions of the Fellowship, long broken at Parth Galen. But for whatever reason, my Elf heritage has long been assuming itself. Not that I am aware of how I came to possess it," replied Trini. "Having been long suppressed."
"Was it by the orders of Saruman that you guard his doors?" asked Gandalf.
"The matter passed him by ," replied Trini, mirth in her eyes. "He was otherwise detained, and so we were placed upon our guard by Treebeard, the new master of Isengard. He requested that I greet the Lord and the King of Rohan with words as best I might. And I have done so."
At this, Gimli exploded. "And what of your companions, that you deserted long ago? We have gone on many a long chase to find you, and now we have found you, lazing, eating and drinking? I am going to kill you slowly, I am that enraged!"
"Would you begrudge a kinsfolk of Lady Galadriel and a Lady in her own right, the pleasures of eating, drinking and lazing? They were well earnt," said Trini gaily. Gimli snorted, but he was silent.
"I must agree with Gimli. But I would question the whereabouts of the wine," said Legolas.
"This is very well," said Trini. "But you would wish the presence of Treebeard, Gandalf? The north side is where he should be, gauging by the time. Adam! Come and escort Gandalf and the Lords of Rohan to Treebeard. There they should feast. Then if we could eat together, my former companions, once Adam has returned?" Adam had awoken, and at once, he led them away.
"Farewell, my friends," Th’oden and ªomer called in the same breath. And Trini turned to Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli.
"The hunt is over, and we have met together at last," said Aragorn.
"Now that the ones of great importance have left, we can perhaps learn the answers to little riddles?" asked Legolas. "There is still some things I would like to know."
"Us as well, Legolas," said Trini. "And there is time enough for that."
"We hunted you, you should be the first," smiled Legolas.
"Second. It is past midday, and I would be most glad of a meal. You can settle part of my score," grumbled Gimli. Trini smiled, and led them to the guard house, where she lay before them salted pork, bread, and butter and honey.
"These is man food, as Treebeard says. No green food, I am sorry to say. Wine or beer; which would you like?" she asked. And so the Three Kindred ate away, and Adam at last joined them again.
Once they had eaten, they came back to the grass, and sat. Trini brought out some tobacco, and looked at Gimli and Aragorn questionly. And Adam produced two pipes.
"Does this settle the score between us?" Adam asked, grinning.
"Settle it! Most noble Adam, I am in your debt!" cried Gimli. And so Aragorn and Gimli set to smoking, and at last, they heard the story of Trini and Adam.
"It has been nine days since the Fellowship broke," said Adam. "Although Trini has regained her voice somewhat and I have done as I can, it is best that she does not strain her voice terribly. And welcoming you all, may have just been too much for her." Trini smiled and shook her head.
"I was glad to welcome you, but yes, I should like to be silent for a while, and rest my throat." Aragorn handed them their treasures from L¾rien, that they had left behind, and they received them gladly.
"Anyway, we followed the Uruks as close as we dared," began Adam. He recounted the flight, and the others nodded, this fit in with what they had found. "Finally, we had seen enough of them, and we went into the Forest of Fangorn. But in any case, we may as well say the Eye will be looking towards Isengard, and Saruman is in a hole of his own digging."
"Gandalf hints we saw a glimpse of him, on the edge of the Forest. Five nights ago," reported Gimli.
"Well, here are some new tidings. We had met Treebeard that morning, and the next morning we went to an Entmoot. It's a gathering of Ents, and it lasted that day and the next. On the third day of the Moot ì we had been with Bregalad since the afternoon of the first day ì the Ents blew up in much anger. And so we marched to Isengard, singing a song. I cannot remember it at all," said Adam. But in response, Trini sang:
We come, we come with roll of drum: ta-runda runda runda
We come, we come with horn and drum: ta-rūna rūna rūna rom!
To Isengard! Though Isengard be ringed and barred with doors
Though Isengard be strong and hard, as cold as stone and bare as bone,
We go, we go, we go to war, to hew the stone and break the door;
For bole and bough are burning now, the furnace roars ì we go to war!
To land of gloom with tramp of doom, with roll of drum, we come, we come;
To Isengard with doom we come!
With doom we come, with doom we come!
"Yes, that was it," said Adam, grinning. "We thought it was just marching music, but when we got here, oh boy. We were so wrong! In the night, we came into Nan Curunr, and into the end of the Wizard's Vale we crept. Treebeard carried us, and suddenly, we all froze, because a horn blew, and we thought we were captured. But a host from Isengard just departed. At least ten thousand were there. Treebeard, when things were settled again, began to hammer on the doors, and got no answers except arrows and stones. Useless, of course."
Trini grinned in memory, and then contributed some. "Ents are very hard to wound. You'd have to hack at them with your axe, Gimli, but after the first blow, you'd be dead. A punch from an Ent-fist crumples iron. After they had been shot a few times, they got enraged, and began to destroy Isengard."
"Yes, it is true," confirmed Adam. "The gates fell first. After that, most people escaped. The Orcs did not, but the Men did, after they were questioned. Saruman got safely inside Orthanc and set his machinery to work. One of them, the Ents I mean, got set on fire. And now they were truly enraged. And most were hurting themselves by hurling themselves against the stone of Orthanc. So Treebeard shouted, calmed them and they stopped."
"Oh, they set watches from then," said Trini. "But we could not see them, not that we were looking for them. We were looking for food, having forgotten that Adam could conjure up food. That afternoon, we looked around, keeping out the way, but could make no sense of it."
"At dusk, we saw Treebeard, and we were settling down to sleep at the safest place we judged, when Gandalf, to our shock, came up," continued on Adam. "Says I, 'Gandalf?' He says not, 'It is a pleasure to see you both.' No, he says, 'Where in this ruin is Treebeard?' So I got Treebeard, and they talked. When we met again, he explained nothing of his return. But he gave us a little news of you and it cheered us. Then day before yesterday, Isengard was filled with black streams and pools. Great white steam hissed up, smoke rose, a coil of vapour rose up slowly."
"Still more water poured in," added Trini. "And at last, it was a flat saucepan, bubbling and steaming. by yesterday, the water was sunk into the holes, and there remained a dense fog. The Ents stopped the flow, and that was the end."
"Interesting," said Legolas. "That explains much."
"Oh yes," realised Adam. "Wormtongue arrived this morning, and we half expected to see you three when we heard hooves. But when he came in, 'bearing messages for Lord Saruman', Treebeard booted him into Orthanc, saying that 'Gandalf got here first, and explained all about you, Grma Wormtongue. You may go to Orthanc and give him all the messages you like.' So he did, I think."
"Then we were set to finding man-food for twenty five. Having no real luck, Adam went up to where the Ents were and conjured it all up. All we found was not fit for eating."
"All is understood," said Aragorn. "Except leaf from Southfarthing. How come Saruman by it? Secret dealings with the Shire, I would say. Was the barrel marked?"
"1417, a good year, so we are told," replied Trini. "Last year . . . no, the year before last, now. Anyhow, Aragorn. You may enter Isengard now if you desire. But it is an unhappy sight."
And so they went inside and went to meet Th’oden and Gandalf.
"I trust you are all rested?" he asked. They nodded, and he continued. "As have we. And we must all be going on again. Anyhow, I must see Saruman before I leave. If you wish, you may come with me ì but beware of his voice."
And so the remaining Fellowship plus Th’oden and ªomer went up to Orthanc. And after a time, Wormtongue cried out, "Who are you, and what do you wish?"
"Fetch your master, Grma Wormtongue, since you have become his lackey!" cried Gandalf. And out came a voice.
"Well? Why you disturb my rest even now? Can there be no peace?" A kindly heart, aggrieved by injuries undeserving was its tone. And they saw Saruman. An old man, wrapped in a cloak of changing color, deep darkling eyes, grave and benevolent, and a little weary. His hair was white, with strands of black.
"They are indeed alike, but unalike," muttered Gimli.
And Saruman spoke quietly, nobly and long to Th’oden, coaxing him to be his friend and desert this rabble. And Th’oden semed to be long considering this route of escape. But Gimli roared.
"Reverse the words of Saruman and understand what he means! Help means hindrance and ruin! Saving means death and slaying! But we have come not yonder to beg!"
And Saruman continued onwards, broken by ªomer.
"We have ridden to victory, and I would not wish to see it ruined by a serpent with honey on his forked tongue! Would you deal with him in treachery and murder? Th’odred and Hõma deserve better!"
Saruman continued on, desperate. But at last Th’oden spoke.
"Peace we will have," he said. "Peace when you and your works have perished, alongside those of your dark master, Sauron! You speaketh of only lies, and you have destroyed many a life, by setting out against the lands of Middle-Earth!"
And then Saruman bandied words with Gandalf, trying to gain a better position than the one he had. And at long last, Gandalf spoke clearly.
"I am no longer Gandalf the Grey, whom you betrayed, Saruman! I am returned from death, and I am Gandalf the White! You have no color, and you are cast from the order and from the Council. Saruman," and now his voice was clear and cold. "Your staff is broken."
A crack was heard, and the staff split asunder, the head falling at Gandalf's feet. "Go now!" commanded Gandalf. Saruman crawled away, and a heavy shining thing glanced off the rail, snapping it, passed Gandalf's head and smote the stair, cracking and splintering it. Adam whipped out his wand, murmured "Wingardium Leviosa," and floated it back to Gandalf.
"I thank you Adam," he said, wrapping it in the great folds of his cloak. They went back to the ruins of the gate, where the Three Kindred were introduced to Treebeard. And Treebeard gave Legolas and Gimli leave to visit Fangorn as they would, and was especially pleased when he heard that Gimli's axe was only for orc-necks, and that he had hewn forty-two in the last battle.
"So you are all leaving?" he said. "Well, I shall miss you both, Lady Trini and Adam. Saruman will not leave unless I let him, you can be assured."
"He has the Key of Orthanc, be sure to remove it from him," said Gandalf.
And so Gandalf and his companions and Th’oden and his Riders set out from Isengard when the sun was sinking. And after a while, Trini chanced to ask Gandalf if they would be riding any further.
"We will ride a few more hours, yet, Trini. We must ride faster tomorrow. For we can no longer go to Edoras, but instead we return to Helm's Deep," he replied. Seeing as he seemed to be occupied, Trini bade farewell, and rode off to Strider.
Finally, they rested, and guards were set. But some evil came in the night, and they were at once awakened to a strangled cry, a shout of defiance, and a shadow slipping away. They awoke at once and Legolas raced after the shadow, to see what he might.
They found Adam, wracked with grief, where he and Trini had slept, from where he had shouted in defiance. And Trini was found, holding the stone that Wormtongue had cast down; she was the one who had loosed the strangled cry.
Gandalf brought them together, and demanded an explanation. But Trini seemed totally unaware of what had happened, and so they turned to Adam.
"I woke up, and I felt a great will imposing itself on me. I tried to fight it, but it overpowered me. It said to me, then: 'You cannot hold the palantr but I can use you to get another to handle it.' It then made me cast the Imperius curse upon Trini. That's a curse that allows the caster to control the other. And so I was forced to make Trini wake up, and go and take the palantr and do with it as was needed. I was fighting the will, and when I finally won, a great shadow left me, I let out a shout of defiance and broke the spell, and I heard Trini give a strangled cry."
"Would she remember anything?" asked Gandalf.
"Perhaps nothing more than a voice saying 'do this'. Perhaps everything," answered Adam. Gandalf gently questioned Trini, but got not much out of her. He turned to Aragorn, and asked:
"Will you take the palantr?"
"Only one may claim it by right. This is, definitely the palantr of Orthanc, from the treasury of Elendil, set here by Kings of Gondor. My hour draws near, I will take it."
Gandalf then gave it to Aragorn, and bowed.
Suddenly, a blind fear seized them, and cold fell. A vast winged shape fell upon the moon, and with speed greater than wind, it was gone.
"Nazg€l!" cried Gandalf. "They have crossed the River! Wait for dawn or ride slow not! Ride, ride! Ride fast and hard!" At once the host of Rohan leapt upon their horses. Arod again bore Legolas, Hasufel bore Aragorn. Trini was carried by Gandalf to Shadowfax, and Shadowfax bore them both. Adam leapt on his horse, Jupex and Gimli took Trini's, Xali.
And Gandalf and Trini raced far and fast. Ere an hour was past, they were past the Fords of Isen.
Trini remained silent, her cry having torn her healing throat open, by the burning feeling. And she rested her head against Gandalf, and lulled to sleep, she almost missed the mumbled words of Gandalf.
With incredible effort, she managed a whispered, "What do you mean?"
"A Rhyme of Lore, or at least some of it," said Gandalf quietly.
"What is it?"
"It is about the palantri of the Kings of Old," said Gandalf. "The name meant that which looks far away, and the Orthanc stone was one. Not made by the Enemy or Saruman, beyond both of their crafts. But nothing is safe, for Sauron can turn it all to his evil ways. It was Saruman's downfall, to keep it secret. They are not remembered save in various rhymes and books of old."
"Then what were they used for?" said Trini, her voice rapidly growing less and less. Inwardly she cursed the arrow.
"To see far off and converse in thought," answered Gandalf. "Gondor was long united and defended because of this. Each palantr replied to each, but all those in Gondor were opened to the view of Osgiliath. Because Saruman used the stone, and tried to get more results more satisfying, he was caught by Sauron. Sauron, who must have the Ithil-stone, taken when he turned Minas Ithil into Minas Morgul. Even now I desire to see if I could wrench it from him and look across the wide seas of water and time to Tirion the Fair, and perceive the unimaginable hand and mind of F‰anor at their work, while the White Tree and the Golden were both in flower!"
"You could not know know what you have done, even unwillingly, Trini, and I hold it not against you. But even now, you are coming with me to Minas Tirith. For I desire to help you as such I can, and I cannot do that if you are not with me."
And so they were borne away by Shadowfax, who sprang away at his fastest speed possible, and Trini was lulled to sleep.
March 6th, 3019 in the Shire Reckoning.
Only four of the Company remained. They were on their horses, and were ready to move off. "We will not be alone. The King is determined to go at once, to the muster he commanded at Edoras, four nights from now. He may hear tidings of war, and then the Rohirrim will go to Minas Tirith," said Aragorn. "But as for me, and those who will come with me . . . "
"I for one," said Legolas.
"And Gimli with him," agreed Gimli.
"If you will still have me," said Adam.
"I must go to Minas Tirith, but the road I cannot see. An hour long prepared approaches," Aragorn said. And presently they were ready to depart, and they rode swiftly, soon passing the Fords of Isen. They were not long past the mounds at the Fords of Isen, when a Rider came to say that a group of horsemen were riding hard to overtake them. A halt was called, and the Rohirrim grabbed their spears, and turned about. Aragorn dismounted, and drawing AndËril stood by the king's stirrup.
ªomer and esquire rode to the rear. Legolas had arrow fitted, and Gimli had axe hefted. Adam was focusing his power into a complex bodybind spell. And when the riders were fifty paces off, ªomer cried, "Halt! Who rides in Rohan?" The riders halted, and a horseman dismounted and strode forward, stopping at ten paces.
"That is a name most glad to hear. We have sought in haste for the land of Rohan from long afar."
"None ride here save by the will of Th’oden King," said ªomer. "Who are you, and what is your haste?"
"I am Halbarad DËnadan, Ranger of the North. Having heard he was in Rohan, we sought one Aragorn son of Arathorn," answered Halbarad. Aragorn ran to him, embracig him.
"Of all pleasures, this is least expected," said Aragorn. Turning to the others, he explained. "These are some of my kin from where I dwelt."
"I have thirty," Halbarad said. "Gathered in haste we were, but the brethen of Elladan and Elrohir have also ridden, desiring to go to the war. We have ridden as swiftly as we may when your summons came."
"Save only by wish, I never summoned you," returned Aragorn. "Ride with us now, if Th’oden gives his leave." And so they set out, Aragorn riding for a time with the DËnedain. Talking with them he found that they had spoken with the Lady of Rivendell, and brought a gift and the words: The days now are short. Either our hope cometh, or all hopes end. Therefore I send thee what I have made for thee. Fare well, Elf-stone!
They came back to the Hornburg, as the East was greying. There they rested and took counsel. Adam slept for a little while, until Legolas and Gimli dragged him around to look around and see the place whilst he still may.
"Do you know why they came?" asked Adam. And they debated over it, before deciding that Galadriel had summoned the DËnedain, and that none of the Elves or Dwarves would come, for war marched on their lands, they needed not to ride to war. And they had lunch, such as it was, and then it was time that they must ride. And Aragorn spoke quickly in counsel to Th’oden, saying that the Paths of the Dead was his and his kindred's road. And with a nod, Th’oden, ªomer and the Rohirrim rode over the Dike and down the Coomb. And then Adam, Gimli and Legolas sat with Aragorn as he ate.
"Shake off this shadow!" coaxed Legolas. "Speak of it and be rid of it!"
"I looked in the Stone of Orthanc," replied Aragorn. Adam simply procured chocolate with a wave of his hand, snapped off a piece, and handed it to Aragorn, who took it, noting the warmth that spread through him. He looked better, though still as if he had not slept.
"But did you say aught to ì him? Even Gandalf feared the encounter," said Gimli.
"You forget. I proclaimed my title before the doors of Edoras. Do not worry. I am the lawful master of the Stone, and I had the right and strength to use it. Or so I thought and judged. The right is undoubted. The strength was enough ì barely," said Aragorn.
"I spoke no word, and in the end, the Stone was wrenched to my will. That alone he will find hard to endure, and yes, he beheld me, but that was a blow to him, for he knew it not til now. Sauron has not forgotten Isildur and the Sword of Elendil. Now Isildur's heir and the reforged Sword are revealed, for I showed both."
"But now he will strike, is that not so?" said Adam.
"Now we must press the Enemy. Once the Stone was mastered, I saw that the defence of Minas Tirith will be drawn off by a great peril. Left uncountered, the City will be lost ere ten days be gone. I have no help to send, therefore I will go and must go myself. But I can only be quick enough if I go through the Paths of the Dead."
"It sounds fell to me," said Adam.
"The living have not used it since the Rohirrim came. But the Heir of Isildur may use it in this dark hour, if he should dare. For the sons of Elrond reminded me of the seer Malbeth's words.
And after that, they spoke of the history of this lore. And so the Grey Company passed over the plains, and the next day, in the afternoon came to Edoras. And there they were greeted by the Lady ªowyn. And they supped together. And the next day, ªowyn wished to go with them, but Aragorn refused to let her, quoting her duty and her charge to govern the people.
But when it did come time for them to depart, ªowyn, clad as a Rider, girt with sword, came and drank the cup of parting with them. Once more she asked to come with them, and once more Aragorn refused.
The Grey Company rode onwards to the Haunted Mountains, and once they were at the Dimholt, they found their entrance: a hollow place opening at the root of the mountain, and a single mighty stone in their way. The riders had to dismount and lead their horses around the stone, and in sight of the Dark Door, they halted, once more afraid.
Adam was terribly afraid, and he took his wand, and murmered a spell to instill courage in himself. And then he just did it again, on a group scale. And so all Men, Elves and Dwarves, and their steeds passed through the Door. Adam murmered "Lumos," and bright light shone from his wand. It was so bright that no other torches were needed, and slowly, they began to pass through. A great fear grew on Gimli, for he knew that they could never go back, for an unseen, unknown host followed them.
And so they walked on, and once they stopped. Aragorn was looking at a dead man. He finally said, "He has lain at the door he could not unlock. Where does it lead; why would he pass? None shall ever know! For that my errand is not! Keep your secrets and hoards in the Accursed Years! We only wish speed. Let us pass, and then come! I summon you to the Stone of Erech!"
At that moment, Adam's wand dimmed greatly. And so they continued onwards, in the dim light, and suddenly they passed through a gateway, and remounted their horses. Some hours passed, before Legolas announced that the Dead were following. And at last they came out the ravine. And forgetting their weariness, they speeded to the Hill of Erech. And they halted at the Stone of Erech.
Aragorn dismounted, and cried, "Why have you comes, ye who broke oath?"
"To have peace, ere our oath is fulfilled," came the voice out of the night.
"Then the hour is come at last. I go to Pelargir upon Gondor, and ye shall follow. And when the Servants of Sauron are gone from this land, the oath I shall hold as fulfilled," spoke Aragorn. "For I am Elessar, Isildur's Heir of Gondor." Halbarad unfurled his standard as Aragorn bade, and it was black, if it were bearing any device, it was hidden in the darkness. And when the dawn came, they rode onwards, past Tarlang's Neck, Lamedon, and to Calembel upon Ciril, wherin they camped.
The Darkness had come. There would be no dawn.
March 9th, 3019 in the Shire Reckoning.
Many, many leagues had passed and Gandalf and Trini were now in the realm of Gondor. Gandalf spoke of the customs of Gondor, to which Trini only paid half-attention. They had seen red fire, and sped away going faster towards Minas Tirith.
Trini slept for much of the journey, only awakening when they came to the seventh gate and were required to dismount from Shadowfax. And so they were admitted and they hurried across the court, Trini noting a dead tree admist a fountain.
Seven stars and seven stones and one white tree.
The words of Gandalf came back to Trini. And as they walked down a paved hall, Gandalf spoke to Trini. "Lady Trini. Be careful of what you say, for Denethor is a man of great power and lineage, though not called a king. He will speak most to you, seeking news of Boromir. He loved him greatly, and under cover of this love, he may think it easy to get what news he seeks from you, rather than me. Do not say more than you need, and say nothing of the mission of Frodo. I shall deal with that as it is due. And mention Aragorn not, unless you cannot avoid it."
"He meant to come here?" asked Trini, questioningly.
"He did, but he may not, as you well know. But it is best that he come unheralded by us," said Gandalf. "When you bring the news of the heir's death, you must not mention the coming of someone who will claim the kingship, if he comes at all." The door opened as Gandalf knocked on it. They walked down an avenue of Kings long dead, and stopped once they were three paces from the footstool of the Lord Denethor, Steward of Gondor.
"Hail, Lord Denethor, Steward of Gondor, son of Ecthelion. I have come in this hour dark, to offer counsel and tidings," spoke Gandalf.
"It is said that you bring one who saw my son die," said Denethor.
"One, yes. The other is with Th’oden of Rohan, and may come hereafter," spoke Gandalf, quietly.
"We have need of Boromir. Faramir should have gone in his stead."
"My liege, Boromir was very masterful. He shouldered this errand, and would see it done by no other but him," spoke Trini. "I journeyed with him to the end, and learned something of his mood. But you have had news of that ere I and Gandalf came?" she asked, clearly startled. Gandalf nodded approvingly, but discreetly.
Denethor held up two halves of a great wild ox horn bound with silver. It had been cloven in half. "I received this," Denethor said. Trini gasped.
"The horn of Boromir. He wore it . . . But always have I let my horn cry at setting forth, and thereafter we may walk in shadows, I will not go as a thief in the night," Trini spoke of long ago, in Rivendell.
"In in my turn I bore it and so did each eldest son of our house," said Denethor. "Thirteen days ago, I heard it blowing dim. And the River brought it to me: it will wind no more. What do have to say to that?"
"Thirteen days . . . " began Trini. "Nine days afterwards, I met with Th’oden, and then four days travel to here. Yes, thirteen days since I stood beside him, as he blew the horn. No help came. Only orcs."
"And why would such a Lady as yourself escape, yet a valiant man such as Boromir be slain? Why did no help come?" Denethor asked.
"My lord, I must correct a statement Gandalf made. It was only I who stood with Boromir at the end, fighting. The others were also fighting Orcs and Uruk-Hai, and if they could see our own fight, I am not aware of it." Trini spoke quietly, but carefully. "A man may be slain by one arrow. Boromir was pierced by many. I myself received an arrow through my throat. But he fought valiantly to the end, refusing to die."
Trini took a deep breath and went on. "He stared at the Uruk-Hai, who was going to finish him off. With my last strength, I killed the Uruk before he could kill Boromir. I had hoped to save him, but I fainted from my wound. I lived, but my throat is feared to never recover fully. by the time I awoke, Boromir was dead. He died trying to protect me, and even though some may say he failed, my thanks and appreciation are undiminished." She had lied slightly, so as to not mention Aragorn until she could not avoid it.
Denethor looked at her. "And why would you live, and he die?"
"I am a Warrior of the Light, my Lord Denethor. That in itself is my protection," Trini said evasively. Looking at him, she noted his scorn and suspicion. "No doubt, my Lord, you would wish to see a demonstration," she said, careful not to show her dislike of this man.
"I would indeed," said Denethor. And in a yellow flash Trini was morphed as the Yellow Morphin Ninjetti, Avatar of the Eagle. Shifting into the Ninjetti suit, she was the Yellow Eagle Ninjetti. And then she went back to her ordinary raiment.
Denethor studied her display of great power. And he smiled. "Well met, Lady. If you would, please sit and speak of Boromir." Striking a gong, he commanded food and drink be brought for their guests, and that none were to disturb them for one hour.
And for one hour, that Trini would never forget, the Lord Denethor questioned her and back tracked to various points, whilst, or so it seemed to Trini, Gandalf held in check rising wrath and impatience. And once the hour was up, Gandalf and Denethor spoke some words, and Trini and Gandalf then left.
"Did I do well, Gandalf?" asked Trini.
"You did well enough, Trini. There was much you could not hide, like the fact that Boromir was not the one to lead you from Moria, and that the one who did, was of high honor and that he had a famous sword. Denethor has given long thought to the rhyme since Boromir went away. He is not like other men, Trini, and so you should be very cautious. I must now go to this lords' council and learn what I may."
"I should check on Shadowfax?" offered Trini. "I may as well acquaint myself with this place." Gandalf nodded. And so they departed their separate ways. Trini went down to the street, and checked her daggers, belted at her waist. The sun was now warm and bright, and Trini looked around the street, and began walking down the street, surveying the going ons. She found her way to the stables, where Shadowfax was seen to have been housed properly. She then walked back the way she had come.
She passed a citadel, and seeing a person coming out, she called to him, "Where can I find some rations, good sir?"
"Downstairs, my lady. I am Beregond, son of Baranor. Shall I take you to Targon?"
"If you will," replied Trini. "I am Trini, daughter of Penelope, of the House of Kwan. I had ridden for four days and have done hard labour." And so they descended, got some bread, butter and cheese, and ascended to the top. Escorting Trini to the battlement, from which that could see the city of Minas Tirith, they ate and talked of their separate lives. Trini only spoke very little of Angel Grove, and even less of her journey to here, but Beregond was content.
And Beregond spoke of the ruins of Osgiliath, and the Black Riders, and of the slim hope that Gondor had, being so close to Mordor. Trini remembered the words of Boromir. Long has my father, the Steward of Gondor kept the forces of Mordor at bay. by the blood of our people are your lands kept safe. For we of Gondor, are being driven further from our lands, and we cannot claim them again. And suddenly, she cowered, as she felt a Black Rider of the air pass over the sun, and heard a faint screech of the Nazg€l. For a time, they sat in silence. But again they talked, once it was past.
And when the noon-bells rung, Beregond stood. "If you would like, you may join my mess today, Lady Trini."
"I would be pleased to join you. Although my position in this place is unknown to me," replied Trini. "I must see Gandalf, or see if he has left any message." He was not at their lodgings, nor had he left a message, so Trini went with Beregond. And at the Third Company, Trini was regarded warily. For she had come with Gandalf, had been closeted with Denethor, and was a Lady. But she was befriended by Boromir. And so they listened to her tales, and once they were done, Beregond sent her to see his son.
Walking along the streets to Lampwrights' Street, she suddenly found herself surrounded by a group of men.
"Good afternoon, Men of Gondor," Trini said, courteously. "Is this the way to Lampwrights' Street?" They did not answer, just tried to attack her. In an instant, she held up her daggers and began to defend herself. "This is no way to treat a Lady," she spat. Their intents were soon made clear, though. And rage spread through her and also fear. In a yellow flash, she was morphed into the Yellow Morphin Ninjetti, and electricity was crackling off her.
And so Gandalf found her some time later, having being summoned as quickly as possible. The men were taken away and dealt with in the fashion of Gondor. She was curled up, still morphed, and still crackling with electricity. As Gandalf approached, she demorphed, and stood up, her face stained with tears. She belted her daggers, breathing heavily.
Gandalf took her back to their lodgings, and she slept off the shock of the attack, as Gandalf thought she might. And when she awoke, it was past her. For now all feared her, and would not approach her.
The Darkness had come. There would be no dawn.
March 9th, 3019 in the Shire-Reckoning.
Trini stood at the Great Gate of the City and saw the Prince of Dol Amroth ride in with his banners.
And the King of Rohan came down out of the hills, even as Trini saw the Prince.
Day was waning. The Rohirrim were riding slowly as close of day drew near. All day they had been companions to a stream. And as the Rohirrim rode, Harrowdale broke out before them. And from there, Th’oden son of Thengel, King of Rohan rode to Dunharrow. And there he was greeted. And from there, he rode to speak with ªowyn.
They spoke of the people's journey, and of Aragorn's decision to take the Paths of the Dead. And ªomer spoke.
"He is lost, our paths are sundered. Ride we will without him, but our hope dwindles." After he spoketh that, they passed to their lodgings, and from there they passed to food. And it was only broken by a messenger of Gondor.
Hirgon he was, and hailing Th’oden, he gave unto him the Red Arrow. And knowing what was meant by the arrow, they spoke quickly, and so the muster of Rohan would begin the next day.
The Darkness had come. There would be no dawn.
With the coming of war, and the onset of the Shadow, all the roads that once were separate, were now being bound together, running towards the East to meet that coming and onset.
March 10th, 3019 in the Shire-Reckoning.
Th’oden was silent. At sunset the previous night, a great cloud of darkness had crept up the Eastfold of the realm of Rohan, and it rose and crept along the sky, covering the stars from sight. Now it hung over all the land, and was deepening.
And so the mustering of Rohan commenced, as ordered by Th’oden. And then the King of Rohan was ready with the Rohirrim to ride forth. And in silence, they rode forth. At noon they came to Edoras, halted and ate, and gained some three dozen Rohirrim. And from there, they came to the Entwash, and camped. Then on through the Folde, and through Fenmarch. Rumors came of their east borders being attacked. And so King Th’oden departed from Rohan with the Rohirrim, and they went past the beacon hills, their flames quenched.
The Rohirrim were a day's ride from the outwalls of Minas Tirith. As it were, they were in DrËadan Forest, and they were in great council, late at night of March 13th. Finally, they prepared for a sudden move, for they knew not much of the force. And so while they prepared, a Wild Man, Gh’n-buri-Gh’n spoke to Th’oden King, offering to lead them where no pits were, where no gorg€n, that is, orcs walked. And so Th’oden and ªomer received the offer gratefully. Ten or so hours was reckoning on this passage, and soon they all were marching. All that day, they were led by the Wild Men. And camping at Mindolluin, the Grey Wood, ªomer counselled that they come to Minas Tirith as light was breaking.
This Th’oden assented to, and so when the hour came, all the ’oreds went forth on the fields of Gondor. And it seemed that once they could see Minas Tirith, that they had come too late.
March 15th, 3019 in the Shire-Reckoning.
But over the fields there came such a clatter and a great boom, that their spirits lifted. And Th’oden called:
And crying to his mount Snowmane, Th’oden was borne away. The ’oreds pursued him, but could not overtake. The host of Mordor wailed, as the Rohirrim burst into song, slaying the Mordor-host. And their song was come to the City.
March 10th, 3019 in the Shire-Reckoning.
Trini was roused by Gandalf. Sitting up immediately, she looked at him.
"Gandalf, what is my position here?"
"After what those men tried to do to you yesterday, Lady Trini, I think it best if you perhaps were to just be a companion of Denethor, and perhaps talk to him, as he wishes. He suggested that, and I agreed with him," said Gandalf. "The men have been dealt with."
And so Trini came to Denethor. And there she tarried with Lord Denethor, waiting to be useful in some small way. In response to his questions, she replied that she could sing, recite poetry, and some displays of her physical ability in personal training, which her people found enjoyable to watch.
And so Trini sat and listened to Denethor's conversations, learning much of little things. And in the eleventh hour, she met with Beregond again, as she sought her refreshment. And they talked of the current shadow and the impending war. And again they heard the screech of the Black Riders. They were chasing around four or five horseriding men. Beregond knew it was Faramir after the sound of a horn blew clear. Beregond ran away to help Faramir. And Trini morphed to Ninjetti Ranger, drew her daggers and built up the power, loosing yellow electricity at the Black Riders, which burst into great light as they were hit.
With great screeching, the five Black Riders of the air swerved away and left, and upon the Pelennor it seemed less dark for a time. Trini came back then, demorphing as she ran to the citadel. And when Gandalf came with Faramir and the others, she gasped.
For his likeness was like that of Boromir, and yet not like that of Boromir, but still so trustworthy and kind. And so she cried his name aloud with the others.
He broke away, to see her clearly. And somehow suspecting, he asked, "One of her kin, in the White City? From whence . . . ?"
"She shall come with us, and all will be explained." And so they came to the Lord Denethor, and Faramir at first only spoke of his errand to Ithilien. When he finally came to the part that Gandalf and Trini were most interested in, he paused.
"Strange matters are these. For in my errand, I came across two hobbits, out of legend, and I came across one who claimed to be the Evaelon." At the mention of the Evaelon, Lord Denethor had paled considerably. Before anyone could do anything, Trini had spoken in her quiet manner.
"Two hobbits?" questioned Trini. "I was only aware that one should be there."
"Frodo Baggins, and Samwise Gamgee," returned Faramir. Trini paled.
"This is indeed strange to me, Lord Faramir. But it will not make any difference to worry."
"True enough," said Faramir. And he spoke of what occurred, and of their parting. And Gandalf seemed to be afraid by each passing moment, hearing what he must hear, and yet wishing it was different.
"And when was this?!" cried Gandalf. "by when could they have reached this accursed valley?"
"In the morning, two days ago, we parted. I see what you fear, but they could not have come there before today. The darkness came yesterday. It is clear that the Enemy had been planning this attack, and the hour was chosen and prepared for already."
At this, Trini morphed. She carefully picked up Faramir, holding him comfortably. "If Gollum, as you called him can direct while being carried alongside those hobbits, by my companion the Evaelon, as I am holding you now, for she is like me, then it would have taken them much, much less time. Perhaps by noon yesterday they might be there." Setting him down, she demorphed.
"Your demonstration has increased my worry, Lady Trini," spoke Faramir, his brow creased. "But she did not display any sort of power like that at any time, not even as we parted. Perhaps she meant not to use it. But we parted some twenty-five leagues as a bird flies, and I have come as swiftly as I might."
"I and three others came here, whilst my company went to the fords of Osgiliath, to strengthen the garrison."
"Little of what you have half said or left unsaid is hidden from me now," spoke Denethor. "I now know the answers of many riddles. Alas for Boromir! In desperate hours gentleness will be repaid with death."
"I would have done no different, father. If you would will me not to make the decisions, then let them not fall to me. If they do, then complain not when they are not as you would wish. Your counsel has prevailed once before."
"Very well. But stir not the cup of bitterness I mixed." And they now took leave of the Lord Denethor and went to rest while they still might.
"Is there any hope? For any of them? Mostly for Frodo?" asked Trini.
"There never was much hope," replied Gandalf. "You fear not for Edy, I have seen. But once I heard of Cirith Ungol . . . well, I shall say no more. But maybe Adam's Imperius helped. For I would guess that Aragorn has now bent the Stone to his will, and has challenged Sauron, which then explains this blackness."
And the next day came, sinking the hearts of all those who had been higher in spirits because of the return of Faramir. And ever did they wonder where the Rohirrim were. But they must man the walls and wait. And Faramir was commanded to go to the River and the Pelennor and keep it from the Enemy. Gandalf cautioned him against recklessness, and bade him farewell.
And night came again ere news came. And they heard that a host had issued from Minas Morgul and was drawing to Osgiliath. And on March twelfth, they heard that Faramir had retreated to the Causeway Forts, and Gandalf set off, for he was needed there more than here. And all that night, Trini was sleepless.
And the next morning she saw fires spring to life where the walls of the Pelennor stood. And they saw Gandalf coming back with many wounded. And Trini watched fearfully as Gandalf and Denethor bandied words for she wished not to see a fight. Time passed, and passed. Til, at long last, the men returned. And with them was Faramir. He was hurt. Taking him to his father, Prince Imrahil recounted the deeds he had seen, but the Lord Denethor heard not.
And at last, Minas Tirith was now besieged. There still was no word of the Rohirrim and now they knew Rohan would not come. And they waited. During that day, Faramir lay in the chamber of the White Tower upon his bed. Soon all men were saying that he was dying. Trini knew words not to comfort the Lord Denethor. But she tried her best, and was careful not to mention Gandalf.
But it was Gandalf who was in charge of the White City's defences. Under his command, the men toiled to keep the White City out of the Enemy's hands. And on the morning of the fifteenth, two days after Faramir was wounded, men came to speak to Lord Denethor.
But Denethor commanded that they should burn sooner than later. And he decreed that he and Faramir would burn together. Trini took leave as he bid, and flew to find Gandalf, after summoning his servants, and watching them take Faramir to the houses of the Dead. For Denethor was purposed that he and Faramir would burn together.
Morphing once more, she withdrew her daggers, and spoke to one servant. "Allow no fire here, the Lord Denethor is not himself. Faramir lives, and I must find Gandalf. Do nothing until I have brought Gandalf." And in fear, he agreed. Running into Beregond, she bade him to stop anything dreadful happening to Faramir, telling him to choose between orders or the life of Faramir.
Trini found Gandalf. But shrank back from the Nazg€l that came up, for he had broken the Gates of the City, and entered. And as the Nazg€l laughed, a cock's crowing was heard, and then joined by the horns of the Rohirrim. Come at last was Rohan, through their perilous ride.
March 15th, 3019 in the Shire-Reckoning.
The Nazg€l, King of the Ring-wraiths, felt the victory slipping even as he tried to grasp it. Sauron, his Master had set a date for the breaking of Darkness, and it was breaking too soon. Leaving the Gate, he vanished.
Th’oden, King of the Mark was now less than a mile distant to the City. Slowing his pace, he sought new foes as his knights came about him. The Rohirrim were going about at will, and the North clove down the South, Th’oden himself splintering their standard. As he did so, a great shadow fell upon them. A dart pierced Th’oden's mount Snowmane, and Th’oden fell beneath. And a man drew himself up, and called:
"Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion. Leave the dead in peace!"
To which the Nazgul on winged mount replied, "You shall not come between mine and mine prey. Or I shall bear you away, so the Lidless Eye may feast on your mind!"
"Do as you wish." The Rider drew a sword. "But I may hinder it, by my leave."
"Thou are a fool, Rider of Rohan. No living man may hinder me."
The Rider laughed, and the clear voice was like steel. "But I am ªowyn, ªomund's daughter. You stand between a woman and her king and kin. If you be not deathless, you should leave. I shall smite you if you touch him." And the mounted Nazg€l was in sudden doubt. And the winged creature fell upon ªowyn, striking with both beak and claw. She clove off the head of the creature, standing tall, a light shining about her.
The Rider came out, making to strike her. But the strike went wild, for an unknown had pierced the mighty knee. And ªowyn in her last strength, drove her sword between crown and mantle, shattering her sword. And shapeless the raiment lay, but a cry went up, even as ªowyn collapsed.
Th’oden died, but before he did so, he recognised ªomer as King of the Mark, and he died in peace. And now, bearing Th’oden and ªowyn, the Rohirrim bore them to the White City. And in the City, they found that the Lady ªowyn was not dead, but still lived. And on the fields of the Pelennor the battle raged with ªomer as their King and leader. But even as the battle raged, it began to turn against Gondor. Still ªomer fought bravely, and then he laughed as wonder took him.
For a standard was unfurling. And it bore the White Tree of Gondor, with the Seven Stars about, and a high crown above the White Tree. The signs of Elendil. The stars were wrought of gems, and the crown was mithril and gold. Thus came Aragorn, son of Arathorn, Elessar, the Elf-stone, Isildur's heir of Gondor, from the fabled Paths of the Dead. And the host of the Rohirrim were beset with laughter and music, whilst the host of Mordor were bewildered.
Before all was Aragorn with AndËril, the Flame of the West, reforged as deadly as of old, and upon his brow was the Star of Elendil. Adam strode behind him, an idea of great magic flowing through him. Aragorn spoke very briefly with ªomer before they all plunged back into battle.
"Aragorn!" called Adam. Aragorn paused, and held AndËril high. Adam pointed his wand at the sword, and yelled for all to hear: "AVADA KEDAVRA SERVANTIS ENEMY INSTIL!" Instantly AndËril flamed green with the power of the Killing Curse. And in great green bolts, the Curse flamed outwards, killing all the Enemy. And now ªomer, Aragorn and Imrahil heading back to the White City. Many had been saved from death by this Killing Curse, but there were still those who had not been saved from injury or death, for it came too late.
Once the Nazg€l had withdrawn, Trini then approached Gandalf. Speaking quickly, she informed Gandalf of Denethor's plan to burn Faramir alive. And sighing, Gandalf came with her. In doing so, others would die, but that would have to be, for there were none else to go to Faramir's aid. And following Trini as she ran, Shadowfax bore Gandalf to where Faramir lay. Passing the citadel, they found Beregond gone.
Going to Rath Dnen, they found Beregond holding the door against the servants of Denethor, and two already lay dead by his sword. Coming fully in, he struck Denethor's sword away. For her part, Trini knocked the remaining servants unconscious.
Leaping up the stairs, Trini leapt onto the oil drenched faggots and bore Faramir down. Demorphing, she lay him to rest. And Denethor laughed, and withdrew a palantr. And mocking Gandalf, he snatched a brand of fire, and thrust it into the faggots. Standing in the smoke, he broke his staff of stewardship, and then lay on the table, clasping the Seeing-stone.
So passed Denethor, son of Ecthelion.
And Trini and Beregond bore Faramir to the Houses of Healing.
"Caught in a web of warring duties that wove you not," spoke Gandalf. "Would you have allowed the Enemy to win but a small victory. Blind in your obedience, were it not for the treason of Beregond, Faramir would have burned before his time." He dismissed the servants, and followed the procession. And in a rush of flames, as Gandalf and the servants exited, Rath Dnen fell in.
And so at the Houses of Healing Trini and Adam met once more, she having helped bring Faramir, and he having come along with ªowyn. At last then, were Faramir, ªowyn and Adam, by the insistence of Aragorn, were laid to rest in the Houses of Healing. For using the Killing Curse as he had, had greatly drained Adam of strength.
Trini preferred to stay with them, while Gandalf went about his business, and so was able to greet ªomer when he came in search of his sister. And ªomer ruled the Rohirrim, and was not yet taken of the post of the Ruler of Rohan in full ceremony. Faramir was now the Steward of Gondor, but lay near death. Who then, was to lead the City?
Thus Aragorn came.
Entering in, he crossed to Trini, and kissed her forehead in greeting and then he turned to the wounded. "Time runs out for all but Adam. Adam needs only rest, for he is much wearied by his efforts. I must put forth all my efforts of healing. You do have herbs of healing, Ioreth?"
"Not enough, I fear ì "
"Have you athelas?" questioned Aragorn, cutting her short. "It is also called kingsfoil."
"Nay, Lord, we have none. But I will go and fetch some, if there is any to be had." And so Ioreth left, and Aragorn discussed the dart that had poisoned Faramir, cursing the luck of it having been thrown away.
Now the herb-master entered. "You asked for kingsfoil, as the rustics know it, or athelas in the noble tongue, or to those who know the Valinorean . . . "
"I care not if you say athelas or as‰a aranion, so long as some is had in store by you," Aragorn cut the man off.
"Pardon, lord! But since it has no virtue that we know of, we keep none. Unless you pay attention to old rhymes such as Ioreth is wont to repeat:
"It is an old doggrel, but old folk still use an infusion of the herb for headaches."
"Then for Grid's sake," snapped Trini, "Find someone of less lore and more intelligence that has some!!!" And Bergil was sent, and he came back with two week old athelas. And Aragorn quietly took it, and went about what business he must and so he awakened both Faramir and ªowyn.
"The Lady ªowyn should not rise ere ten days have passed, though she will wish to rise and depart as soon as she thinks she can. Faramir should also not be released ere ten days. Restrain them both if you can. As soon as Adam is rested, he may depart," proclaimed Aragorn.
And the next day, Legolas and Gimli went to see Trini and Adam in the Houses of Healing, not having seen Trini for a while. On their way, they sent Imrahil to Aragorn's tents, for he wished to see all commanders, but not enter the White City again as of yet. And talking to Trini, Legolas fell silent, and saw and heard the gulls on the shore.
"Deep within the hearts of my kin, lies the sea-longing which is perilous to stir. Alas for the gulls. No peace shall I find under beech or under elm," Legolas sighed.
"Do not go to the Havens, Legolas!" cried Gimli. "We who are left may still need you fair folk!"
"We will indeed!" cried Trini. "But what of these Paths of the Dead?"
"If not for my spell, I do not know if any of us would have gone in, excepting Aragorn," said Adam. "I put enough courage in us to step into them . . . but I knew it could not last." Legolas then told quickly of it all, for Adam and Gimli were still afraid and touched by the horrors. And Trini shuddered to think that she might have gone with them.
March 16th, 3019 in the Shire-Reckoning.
Now ªomer and Prince Imrahil went down to the tents of Aragorn. There they met Gandalf and the sons of Elrond. Aragorn spoke of how he had turned the Eye of Sauron away from Frodo, it being ten days since he and Edy had set out. They spoke too, of the great army known to them.
They agreed that they had no choice but to go onwards from what Aragorn had begun. And so they agreed to go two mornings from then with seven thousand.
Thus it was, that on March 18th in the Shire-Reckoning, that the Host of the West set forth. Ere noon was come, they reached Osgiliath. Five miles beyond they camped, seding the horsemen further afield. by the third day the heralds were proclaiming: The King Elessar is come! Let all leave this land or yield them up! But none answered the challenge. And onwards the Host of the West moved.
On the Slag-hills they were surrounded. March 25th in the Shire-Reckoning. And they called for the Lord of the Black Land to come forth and repent his deeds, and then depart forever.
And suddenly, an embassy rode forth. After he had insulted their troops, Aragorn held his gaze, and he quailed. "I am an ambassador and herald! I may not be assailed!"
"Where such laws hold," spoke Gandalf, "less insolence is used by ambassadors."
"So you may be the spokesman? Then I have tokens for thee," the Messenger said. And he had brought forth: a short sword, a cloak with elven brooch, and the coat of mithril mail that Frodo had worn.
"It is useless to deny them," said the Messenger.
"I should wish not to deny them," retorted Gandalf. "I know them and their history, but you cannot say as much. But why would you bring them?"
"Marks of a conspiracy," said the Messenger. "Sauron does not love spies, and his fate depends on what you will do and say now." And they were horrified.
"He was dear to you. Resist, and he shall come to you, and you shall see what you have done. Unless you accept the terms." At Gandalf's nod, he enumerated the terms of surrender. But Gandalf snatched back the tokens, refusing the terms. And so each Host raced back, to prepare for battle.
But no sooner had the battle begun that Adam and Trini, fighting together in the fray, heard the voice.
"The Eagles are coming! The Eagles are coming!"