Chapter 25 – Siege of Gondor
Pieces of wall and buildings crumbled down around us as we ran. True fear choked me as I followed Gandalf, ushering along straggling citizens.
"Retreat! The city is breached! Fall back to the second level!"
I shouted out as we sprinted along. The streets were in pandemonium: boulders crashed in to crumbling walls; fires raged everywhere; men and women rushed to and fro, many of them trying to locate missing children in amongst the chaos.
"Get the women and children out! Get them out! Retreat!"
Gandalf reiterated my orders from before, running along. My heart wrenched as I spotted a young woman, desperately scrabbling at rubble. I ran over, ready to pull her away, when I saw a small foot poking out.
"My daughter! She was buried! Please! Help me!"
The woman grabbed my ankle, tears streaming down her face. I nodded and dropped to my knees beside her, hurriedly flinging aside rocks. She aided me and we worked quickly. A hole appeared, large enough so that I could see the girl underneath. One look at her face told me that she was long gone.
"Come on! Come on!"
I looked up as I saw a soldier waving people through the gate to the second level. Looking back, I saw a great wave of Orcs advancing. I jumped up, pulling the woman with me. She screamed and twisted, trying to get back to her daughter, but I pulled her along as I started running towards the gate. We passed through and I shoved her forwards. She whirled around, but I grabbed her by the shoulders.
"NO! She is dead! She is DEAD! Flee. Save yourself."
I shoved her away again, and she stumbled, her eyes blank. Tear tracks made clear paths in the grime coating her cheeks and I forced myself to look her in the eye. She let out a small sob and hurried away. I had been harsh, but we were in the middle of a war. I had no time to be gentle. I located Gandalf and ran to him, pushing through the heaving masses. Anguished shouts filled the air as the trolls followed, throwing soldiers aside like rag dolls.
"Fight! Fight to the last man! Fight for your lives!"
Gandalf raised his staff, and the soldiers looked to him. I drew my blades, standing beside Gandalf. The soldiers drew their own swords, ready to engage the Orcs, when we heard it.
A horn blowing across the Pelennor Fields.
I looked out, and, at the break of dawn, a great army of riders appeared on the horizon.
Merry stared in awe and fear at the enemy forces gathered in front of the White City. He began to tremble when he felt Éowyn hold him tighter.
"Courage, Merry. Courage for our friends."
At her words, Merry stopped. Pippin appeared in his mind and he straightened. Somewhere in that city was the other half of him. He was probably scared, and bewildered, not knowing whether to run or fight. Merry had to save him; had to save his best friend. Gandalf was there; Seraphina, too. They needed him…and he would come to their aid.
"Arise! Arise! Riders of Théoden!"
The King rode past and Merry felt Éowyn turn her head away. He averted his gaze too; to be discovered now would be disastrous.
"Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered! A sword-day! A red day, ere the sun rises!"
Around Merry, the Rohirrim lowered their spears, preparing themselves for battle. He was scared, more terrified than he had ever been; yet, there was something in him. A steely resolve that would not let him give in to this fear, for he was one of the Rohirrim now.
"Ride now! Ride now! Ride! Ride for ruin…and the world's ending!"
Théoden stopped his horse and turned it to face the army. Merry felt a stirring at his words.
Théoden screamed the word, and the Rohirrim replied, their voices roaring out.
As Théoden repeated it, Merry and Éowyn joined in, raising their swords. This was it. The end of days. Merry was sure of it. He was also sure that he would not go quietly, and that he would fight until he was spent, if only to keep Pippin safe.
The horn sounded again, and Théoden spurred his mount on, galloping full speed at the enemy. The Rohirrim followed suit, and as Merry and Éowyn charged towards them, their screams mingled with the others, and although they could not see it, the Orcs trembled where they stood. They knew death would come..and it was coming now.
I raced along behind Shadowfax. Gandalf and Pippin were mounted and they drew ahead, but I did not panic about the distance; we were heading for the same place. Pippin had arrived, panting and incoherent. When Gandalf had finally calmed him, we managed to discern that Denethor was to burn himself and Faramir…even though his son was still alive.
I had completely lost sight of them but I kept on. I had to reach the top; I had to. I finally charged up the steps, reaching the top in time to see a man, engulfed in flames, running out of the hall. I knew it was Denethor; Faramir was taller than his father. He kept running along the length of the parapet until he tumbled over the edge. I blinked once, expecting to feel horror, but I felt nothing.
"So passes Denethor, son of Ecthelion."
Merry's very bones seemed to ache, but he kept on, focusing to keep his balance as his mount weaved between an Oliphaunt's legs.
"Take the reins! Pull him left! LEFT!"
Merry obeyed Éowyn's orders, yanking hard on the left rein. His horse snorted but dutifully dodged left. A spear whistled past Merry's ear as Éowyn threw it. It embedded itself in the Oliphaunt's leg. A great roar rang out and it stumbled, making the ground shake and pitch. Merry's horse reared in fright, staggering back. Letting out a yell, the Hobbit tumbled off, hitting the ground with a thud. The Oliphaunt's body fell just as Éowyn looked up. Her heart stopped as she desperately searched for the Hobbit.
Gandalf, Pippin and I sat huddled by a broken wall. Nazgûl circled the city while Trolls battered the remaining gates. Pippin looked to Gandalf as the gate splintered.
"I didn't think it would end this way."
I looked at Pippin in surprise. He was always so enthusiastic, so optimistic. Looking at him now, he seemed drained of that vitality; that hope that always seemed to flicker inside of him.
"End? No, the journey does not end here. Death is just another path. One that we must all take."
I closed my eyes, leaning against Gandalf slightly. He continued on, and his smooth voice was like music, the way they hung in the air, seeping in to your ears before fading in to nothing. I knew that Pippin was rapt with attention without looking.
"The grey rain, curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass. And then you see it…"
He paused for a moment, and Pippin prompted him, his voice containing a hint of his former curiosity.
"What, Gandalf? See what?"
Gandalf chuckled slightly before continuing.
"White shores. And beyond…a far green country, under a swift sunrise."
I smiled as the image became clear in my mind. It was beautiful.
"Well, that isn't so bad."
Pippin murmured the words, and I opened my eyes, looking at him. He was lost in thought, and I glanced at Gandalf.
"No. No, it isn't."
He spoke to both of us, and I nodded. His words seemed to comfort Pippin, as they did me. I looked down at my abdomen, placing both hands there. I felt a slight pain as I shifted, but pushed that thought to the back of my mind. No, I could not go down that road. Not after everything I had been through; after everything Legolas had been through.
A solitary tear rolled down my cheek. I wiped it away and glanced up to find Pippin staring at me, eyes wide. I looked back, and was about to answer when the gate began to break. I stood, already tense. Looking down at Pippin, I saw him clutching his sword, eyes closed. He had survived so much; handled trials that grown men would weep at. He was a remarkable creature, as were all the Hobbits. As the gate began to splinter, and the first glimpses of the dark creatures behind it showed through, my mind flashed to Legolas. Did he ride out with the Rohirrim? Was he now battling the foes of Mordor? I had no time to answer my questions as the gate finally gave up its fight to stay closed, and the enemy swarmed through. Stepping in front of Pippin, I put on the cold, hard armour I had perfected over the years, swinging my blades in to the first Orc I could reach.
Legolas leapt from the ship, landing gracefully on his feet, bow already drawn. Gimli landed beside him, eyes shining. Aragorn walked forward, every step defiant. The Orcs began to laugh as the three friends ran forward.
"There's plenty for both of us! May the best Dwarf win!"
Legolas smiled at his friend's words as they charged forward. He felt the cold rush of air behind him as the Oathbreakers glided out behind them, slaughtering the Orcs as they reached them. Legolas battled through counting as he went. Yet, a part of him was not at this scene. That part was frantically searching his senses. He could not feel the searing pain and hollow emptiness that meant Seraphina was dead. However, he could not feel the love and rush of undiluted joy that meant she was alive. He could not find her and pulled that part of him back, a question hanging on his lips: where was she?
Okay. This chapter was maybe not as good as the last so apologies. I had to make Sera stay (at least for this bit) so she could hear Gandalf's little death speech. It gets me every time. And I hope that me switching to scenes outside of Sera's POV was not too confusing. I had to.
One last thing: my best friend Yash has recently started a fanfic on Merlin. Check it out. I know I probably shouldn't promote her thing on here, and I know its not LOTR but check it out! You'll find her on the reviews…she's the angsty one…
Thank you all! I love you!