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Across the Sirion


During the War of Wrath of the First Age, a unit of elven rangers is sent behind enemy lines. Their young captain wishes to bring everyone back alive, while his lieutenant seeks vengeance for her fallen comrades. © 2022 Eric Fieldstone. Original photo by Timothy Dykes Disclaimer: I do not own LOTR, the Silmarillion, or any of the related characters. All rights to those worlds belong to JRR Tolkien and his estate. This story is a work of fanfiction and is meant for entertainment only. I am not making profit from this story. Before long, their daring raid goes wrong, but alongside disaster, an opportunity appears.

Fantasy / Adventure
Eric Fieldstone
Age Rating:


The host of Valinor had made landfall. The great Elven ships, their beauty beyond compare, sat in the bay of Eglarest, while the Vanyar came ashore on countless small boats. A two-hundred-thousand-strong army from Aman, under the command of Eönwë, herald of Manwë, and Ingwion, the high king of the Vanyar elves, had established a bridgehead in Beleriand. Meanwhile, a hundred leagues to the south, the Noldor of the west, under king Finarfin, came ashore at the Mouths of Sirion.

It was the Year of the Sun 545, and legendary tales awaited ahead. However, for Captain Thilion of Valmar, the glorious names and great heroics meant less than the everyday survival of his small unit of rangers. For the past three months, the vast host remained entangled with Morgoth’s forces across the banks of the Sirion. The river was immense; the crossings were few, and the dark lord’s orcs had erected extensive fortifications. Upon arrival, he commanded twenty brave elves, skilled with bow, spear, and sword.

That night, Thilion had less than half that number, sitting inside two Teleri-made boats. The captain was seventy years young, but yet unwed, which raised more than a few eyebrows back home. Few understood his passion to right the wrongs Morgoth had committed over the ages and to avenge the brethren who fell to the dark Valar’s malice. Thus, when the grand campaign to Middle Earth was first announced, he nearly burst with enthusiasm.

And now his mind was clouded by death; by the harrowing details of each ranger he’d lost.

To a lord observing from afar, the host of Valinor would seem like an unbeatable mass, but most haven’t seen actual combat, and the same could be said of the soldiers. Already, two costly frontal assaults had ended in small gains. Only three nights earlier, a forward encampment of one thousand elves had been utterly overrun by Easterlings.

Thus, when Commander Gwilitthor ordered Thilion, yet again, to cross the Sirion that night, he vowed in his heart to avoid all unnecessary risks. That he wouldn’t send his man into the grinding gears of combat with the same callousness of his superiors.

Three hours after the briefing, when their small boats floated on the great stream under the cover of darkness, and a diversion action was conducted to the north, he looked at his lieutenant and said, “We will all dine back in the camp tomorrow.”

At fifty years of age, Lieutenant Eithedir was a neophyte ranger, yet a capable archer, and the swiftest in the unit. Like himself, the younger elf had a long, golden mane and bright grey eyes. Under their field cloaks, they both wore padded gambesons, laced with riveted steel chains, sewn in to minimise noise.

Eithedir responded with a playful wink. “Is that an order, Cáno?”

His voice was soft, more fitting for singing than barking orders. The latter was Thilion’s realm. He nodded with a stern gaze and returned to inspect the shoreline. A throng of torches and braziers lit the night, revealing enemy outposts far and wide. Orc eyes, while inferior to Elven sight, could pierce the darkness. The fires were meant to deter incursions into the eastern bank, for they made the defending posts look more numerous and powerful.

Yet we cannot break them, he thought grimly. Now wasn’t the time for doubt, though. Thilion signalled to his lieutenant in the second boat, Ohtariel, and everyone rowed, silent as mist, toward a spot lacking flames. Ten minutes later, they were near the eastern banks, while the diversion attack continued to their north.

By then, two hundred rangers would’ve entered hostile territory. Every unit had a similar task—infiltrate behind enemy lines, record positions, disrupt supply lines, and destroy targets of opportunity. Through these routine actions, the lord-commanders hoped to discover an exploitable weak point without risking another disastrous major offensive. Thilion feared, however, that eventually Eönwë—or a Valar—would force their hands even though Morgoth’s hordes on the Sirion outnumbered the elves seven to one.

Hopefully, a grand plan was in the making. Some unstoppable secret magic or weapon that would provide the breakthrough they needed. Until that might happen, Thilion stuck to his vow. He and his eight rangers shall return to their camp in good health. Fifty more dead orcs wouldn’t change the eventual outcome, nor would ten burning supply carts.

“That filthy bug porridge—how do they even eat that?” he said; Eithedir chuckled. “Do you speak of Orcs or Men?”

“Or Dwarves!” another ranger whispered from the back, just loud enough for keen Elven ears.

“Let’s not discard the Noeg.” Thilion put on a mischievous smirk. “They may prove worthy allies—if their short legs carry them here before the war ends.”

“And if their odour won’t send us all into a rout!” the other ranger said, and a series of snickers spread inside the boat. It stopped when the captain held up a fist.

“Get ready.”

Nine arrows were nocked, all coated in matte painting to remain glintless under the silver moonlight. Bowstrings were kept loose while sharp Vanyar eyes scanned the shore. With narrowly a sound, their boats slid onto the muddy bank. The two squads hurried to hide them in the vegetation and pull black sheets over the sturdy wood.

Thilion drew in a deep breath. That was the simple part. He gestured for the others to follow and they moved in formation into the treeline, crouching. A loud blast from the north made him stop on the tips of his toes. Based on the vibration, it came from the passing three hundred ells away—or 375 steps.

Once they left the shoreline and its many dangerous light sources, the captain felt safer. Soon, his eyes grew accustomed to the darkness. Under pale starlight, the rangers slipped from cover to cover, trunk to trunk, and then leapt from branch to branch, taking vantage spots above a nearby stone trail. The quality suggested it was once built by Noldor but had fallen into disrepair.

Another blast shook him; then another. Did the diversion go wrong? Thilion drew out his spyglass. A master artisan’s lovework, coated black like his arrowheads, with a non-reflective lens.

“What do you see, Cáno?” Eithedir asked, silent as a midnight breeze. He used the title as a friendly nickname, expressing respect for his captain.

“Armoured Thangorodrim trolls... charging over a Morgul bridge.”

“They unleashed a counterattack?!”

The combat intensified. Brilliant blue flames clashed with sinister green rays from the east. The elves brought their enchanters to counter the dark foe’s sorcerers.

“Nothing we can do but fulfil our duty.” Thilion swung with his spyglass to survey the surrounding landscape. They strove to avoid raiding the same spots, so the enemy wouldn’t predict the next attack, but these aspirations grew more difficult as the months progressed. In short, his unit—the Star Spears—had been there in the past, and he knew the nearest outpost sat atop a small, forested hill. It was safe to assume the orcs had rebuilt and reinforced it in recent weeks.

Thilion glanced at his lieutenants. Eithedir, always dependable, was ready. Ohtariel, in contrast, seemed impatient. She was a fair maiden of forty-seven who was transferred to the Star Spears after an ambush had decimated her older unit. She spoke little and kept to herself, but a vengeful flame burnt in her crystal-blue eyes, and reining her in during combat had been difficult.

An icy breeze from the north carried scents of werewolves and Morgul flames. He pointed two fingers forward and leapt off to another branch. The eight rangers followed, their moves audible only to Elven ears.

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