The Choice

Chapter 26

A soft breeze drifted through the cool night air, wafting the light scent of faraway flowers to her nose. It brought the sounds of the night to her ears, filling them with music. The hobbit's snores by her side were the drums keeping rhythm. Hasufel's steady breathing at her back helping to pull her into a trance. She could feel the soft grass become dew covered. Each new drop seemed to speak to her the more she relaxed. To all those around her she looked as if in a deep slumber, only a trained eye would know better. The fear rooted at the back of mind preventing any true sleep.

Her mind, though troubled, drifted to pleasant thoughts. The music the night made took her back to her time on the Irish coast—the cool moist night air rushing over the shores cliffs, the cold salt water lapping up against the age battered rock. She saw her mother and her standing near the edge, the wind carrying their hair and clothing, their arms outstretch as if they were moments from flying away. They looked at each other a moment, broad grins stretching across their faces before they broke out in fits of laughter. A small smile spread across her face with the memory.

She saw herself lying in the warm night air of Lothlorien, the towering golden mallorns glittering in the moonlight creating their own array of stars on the dewy grass. She could hear Zenith eating grass close by, keeping a silent watch over her.

Then a sudden jolt passed through her body, jerking her from the trance like state, receiving an unimpressed snort from Hasufel. The serene peace she experience for a brief moment left as suddenly as it had come, replaced with a sense of fore boding. On full alert, she looked around their little camp. No fire was started that night, but she could see the men's outlines well enough. Most were resting peacefully, their blankets moving in time with their deep breathing. All seemed to be as it should, but she could not help the hairs on her arms from standing on end. Something somewhere was out there beyond her senses disturbing the peace. A shiver traveled down her spine and she buried deeper in the stallion's warm body. They were only a days journey from the tower of Isengard. The evil there was beginning to wash away, however, it remained. But to Evelyn, this felt different somehow. Whatever this disturbance was, it did not come from Orthanc.

Evelyn then noticed Legolas standing alert at the far edge of camp. She could see his rigid posture even from her distance. 'So it was not just her,' she thought. The disturbance, whatever it was, was real. Carefully wiggling herself free from the clutches of the hobbits, who had made her their pillow, She dusted herself off and tip toed towards the elf. Not that she would actually sneak up on him, even if she tried.

"You should be resting." Legolas spoke in a low tone, without facing her. He kept his attention to the East.

She chose not to answer his statement. Instead, she replied with one of her own, "There is something stirring in the sir. I can feel it. Any rest I may have found will not come now."

He stole a quick sideways glance at her, taking in her somewhat disheveled appearance. Her hair, which had been tightly bound, was beginning to break free of its bond in the breeze, and dirt smeared her face and clothing. The woman now was the picture of calm looking at her face with her eyes straining forward, almost willing something to appear. Only in their depths could he see the fear that always threatened to strangle her.

They stood in silence side by side, neither having anything else to say. Evelyn found comfort in not being alone and from the Prince's steadfast and strong demeanor. The soft crunch of grass drew her attention to her right, where Aragorn had made his presence known. Looking up, she offered a slight smile, the corners of her lips barely lifting up.

"You as well?" She asked.

"Aye, and Gandalf as well." He replied looking over his shoulder, where the wizard stood surveying the others. He placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, giving it a little squeeze. He was close to quickly withdrawing it, fearing he had crossed the line into her comfort zone, but was surprised when she made sudden move or protest. Therefore, he left it where it was, joining them in their silent watch.

Evelyn was not sure how long the three of them had been standing together, when she felt the wind begin to change. A gust of wind whipped from the south, strong and warm, slicing her hair across her face. Grains of dirt stung her eyes. The tides were turning and she did not think it was for the best. The tensing of the men beside her told her that her suspicions were correct.

Then she heard it, drums, the sounds of drums echoing in the night, reverberating around them. Instantly the horses woke. Hasufel let the sleeping hobbits tumble as he scrambled to his feet, nostrils flaring. He stamped his feet and gave a shrill whinny of anxiety, waking the Rohirrim who had remained asleep.

She looked to her companions for answers, but they were looking over her head at each other, a grim set expression on their faces. She looked then to Gandalf. He looked old, much older than she remembered.

"Orcs, and they are close. Some evil speed is given to these creatures to arrive so swift and silent. This is the work of Sauron." Gandalf's voice was low but clear. All present heard his words, and they all immediately rushed to prepare.

The blood in her veins turned to ice. Not again. She was not ready to face the monsters again; she did not think she would ever be ready. She saw the hobbits then, the terror on their faces matched her own she was sure. Evelyn gulped, and shook herself. She had to be strong; she had to be strong for Merry and Pippin. If there were any innocent in the company that did not deserve the evil covering this world, it would be them. With a new resolve, she walked to them, placing a strong hand on their shoulders. Giving them the same strength Aragorn gave to her. Everything that was in her power she would do to keep them safe.

"Form your ranks!" Gandalf cried. "Prepare for battle!"

It was as if the world sensed the fight to come. The strong south wind that replaced the earlier breeze was now suddenly gone. The air hung still and loose in the sky. It was stifling. It was the calm before the storm, and she found herself wanting the gale force winds back.

"You stay behind us, the three of you." The voice spoke in her ear, causing her to spin around, looking for the source. Moreover, Evelyn was not surprised to see the elf there watching her with interest. It was not the normal nonchalant gaze, there was something else there, something much deeper that she could not place, and so she shook it from her mind, and nodded her consent.

In the blink of an eye, the men had their armor on, their swords and bows at the ready and their line formed to face the attackers from the East. Evelyn felt her stomach twist in to knots, and a strong sense to throw up overcame her and she had to fight the urge vigorously. The rumble of drums drew closer, their sound filling her ears, until it was all she heard.

"You may need this." Legolas said drawing to her side once more, as he held the object in his hand to her.

"Where did you find it? I thought it lost in the explosion?" Evelyn stammered, surprised at seeing her sword once more. Even more to her astonishment was the fact there seemed to be a no blemish upon it.

"It was in the rubble, remarkable unscathed. I have kept it on my person, feeling Théoden's lenience may not extend to you having a weapon." In his head he was thinking it did not truly matter, she was a walking weapon herself. "However, under the circumstances, you once again may have need of it."

Gingerly, she reached out for the sword, taking it slowly into her grip and felt the odd tingling travel through her arms, as the blade seemed to turn to ice. Legolas eyed it warily but also with a reserved awe. Much, he felt, the same way she did. He could see her fascination and fear at what powers she held.

Now, she thought, comes the worst part, the waiting.

The wait was not long, the hellish creatures broke through the darkness with amazing speed and swiftness, she was sure Legolas was the only one who saw them coming ahead of time. They hit the front line with enough force to send the men reeling backwards. The bows were of no use; this was not going to be a long distance fight. The clang of metal filled the still night air, and reverberating around her. She kept Merry and Pippin behind her as best she could, throwing quick glances over her shoulder to make sure no harm was coming from their rear, but she found she had a hard time taking her eyes from the battle before her. Her heart hammered in her chest. The men fought with ferocity, but Evelyn quickly realized they were outnumbered. There had to be at least four or five orcs to one man. It was not a fair fight.

The first cry split through the air like the crack of a whip, jerking Evelyn's attention to her left. She watched with horror as one of the Rohirric soldiers fell to the beast. She watched the life quickly drain from his eyes that would see no more. A choked sob escaped her lips.

Whether it was her movement or the sob that brought the creature's attention to her she was not sure, but she heard Merry's cry and turned in time to see the beast lumbering down on her, much quicker than his stocky misshapen body looked capable. Without thinking she blocked his blow, pain rippled up her arms, shaking her to the bone. Her fear threatened to take over, was boiling at the top, and then she heard the voice in her mind, "What will you do with that fear?"

What would she do? She thought and she thought hard. "Use it," she answered herself. She could not run from it, it always found her, found its way back to claim her, but she could use it, use it against her enemies. What was it Legolas had told her about the sword? An extension, use it as an extension of her arm.

When her mind focused back on the orc coming for her, Evelyn realized she must not have spent much time in her mental debated, for their swords were still locked and the attacker just started too disengaged, but she would not give him the time. She dropped, catching him off guard and as he stumbled forward, she held up her sword, letting him impale himself against it. He looked down in shock and fell to the ground, his lifeless eyes looking into hers. Quickly jerking her gaze away, she pulled the sword free, with a hard tug, and watched the body freeze over. 'Well that is new,' she thought, giving the weapon another quick glance, wondering what else it may do.

Now the orcs attention had all moved to her, they attempted to rush her at once. Some of them managed to get through the lines. There was nothing to be done to stop them; everyone was fighting their share or orcs. Swallowing the bile rising in her throat she prepared to face them. She did not want to die; she would give them everything she had until she had nothing left to give.

Evelyn waited on them to make the first moves, knowing she had not the strength or the energy to be the offensive. She would defend the hobbits until the end.

Finally, they made their move and she did her best to hold them off. She blocked blow after blow, but found she was quickly being pushed back and away from the group. Looking quickly around she tried to analyze the scene in front of her. She had three orcs around her, though only the middle one was truly attacking her; the guards on the side seemed just to make sure she did not try to run. She had to get the numbers more even; she had to take one down. Without a moment's hesitation, she fainted charging forward and swung her blade to the right, catching the one orc off guard and sliced his arm. He howled in rage and began to rush her when he fell to the earth in a cloud of dust. His body turned to ice, just like the first. She stumbled away from the body, her foot catching on a root. She hit the ground hard on her rump, teeth clanging together. It was only by the grace of the Valar she kept her grip on the sword, and good thing too, for they did not waste time for their fallen comrade, they pounced at her, giving her little time to block.

"Evelyn!" both Merry and Pippin cried simultaneously.

She did not look their way; she kept her eyes fixed ahead. Her arms where already shaking with exhaustion as she used both to hold her sword against the orcs. She was not sure how much longer she could keep it up. Just when she knew she would give out, the pressure was suddenly gone, and if she had not seen the blur of golden hair, she would have thought they had already killed her from the relief she felt from the missing weight.

Lifting up she saw Legolas engaged the two creatures with a terrible rage. There was a blood lust shinning in his eyes that sent fresh chills done her spine. Then to her horror, she watched one of the orc's blades come down, slicing into the back of his shoulder. He went down on one knee from the blow, and Evelyn felt herself scream, though she never heard the sound. She spared no second thought; her emotions ruled her in that moment. Rushing forward, she implanted her blade into the orc that was seconds from killing the elf Prince. She felt the power rising up in her, with no control to stop it, in her mind she pictured the creatures, pictured their death and she let the power go. The force sent her flying backwards to land on her bottom yet again, but this time when she looked up, it was not the orcs faces she saw but a cloud of settling dust and armored soldiers scrambling to their feet. The orcs did not rise. They each were incased in ice. Then she watched as they crumbled into millions of pieces that would melt away come the morning sun.

Then she remembered Legolas. Was he all right? Quickly she looked around at the men who were slowly getting their bearings and finally found him, with Aragorn helping him to his feet. She gave a sigh of relief, and let herself fall to the earth as the exhaustion crept over her.

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