In the Midst of Adversity: Part V
It was at the break of dawn that the army of Riders of Rohan, the Rohirrim, stood ready to begin the journey at the entrance of the castle of Meduseld.
Eomer helped Theoden up on his horse, and swung himself up on his mount. Next to him Aragorn mounted and Legolas sprang on the horse given to him, helping Gimli up to ride with him.
Further back, where the captains of Rohan were also mounting up, Eowyn hugged her friend Cyrene, before she got up on her mare.
Eowyn wore a glittering silver chain mail, her golden hair flying in the wind. She resembled a warrior goddess from the ancient legends.
The amazon in her warrior garb blended in with the soldiers around her. Her face was covered by the nosepiece of the light helmet all amazons wore; she wore a chain mail that reached to her elbows and thighs. Beneath it she wore deerskin leggings and a short tunic, wrist guards that went to her elbows and high boots to her knees. On her back she wore her quiver and her bow. Her short sword was fastened by her quiver.
At her waist was her dagger and there also dangled the labrys, the short double bladed battle-axe. On her saddle was the pelta, the crescent-moon shaped shield of her people.
Cyrene hugged her friend fiercely, turned back and swung herself on the saddle.
Eomer saw his sister part from the other woman and walk up the steps of the castle. There she stood, awaiting the departure of the Rohirrim.
Theoden gave the sign, and the army moved on. Eowyn stood on the terrace, looking at the army until they disappeared from her sight.
After a perilous journey through the enemy lines, the Riders of Rohan lead by Theoden and Eomer reached the fortress at Helms Deep. A powerful army of Uruk Hai soon surrounded them.
Aragorn held council with Eomer and the king. “We are few compared to the hordes of Saruman”
Theoden looked from his nephew’s whose face was shadowed by doubt and worry and to the serene and composed features of Arathorn’s son.
“We will wait for daylight, then we fight”
Once the orders were issued to the captains, Aragorn approached Legolas and Gimli, and described the strategy.
“We are going to wait for sunrise, then we are posting archers on the battlements and the infantry is charging. We are going to attack on three fronts, hoping to break the mass of orcs. For our luck, there aren’t all Uruk-Hai.”
“But they outnumber us four to one, Aragorn. It is foolish to give battle under these circumstances,” argued Gimli.
“We have to protect the women and children retreating to the caves,” said Aragorn. “We are just giving them time and a chance of survival.”
Gimli nodded and went silent.
Legolas counted the arrows in his quiver. “How many other archers are going up there?” he asked Aragorn.
“Eomer promised fifty archers on all the length of the wall. And a big supply on arrows.”
Just as he finished speaking, fifty archers led by their captain approached them, carrying some baskets with arrows.
The captain nodded to Aragorn and instructed the archers to their positions on the battlements, then turned to Legolas. “Any position you prefer, Master Elf?”
Legolas noticed something strange about the voice of the warrior standing in front of him, but couldn’t recognize what it was. “I’ll take the center position, captain. Where will you post yourself?”
“Also in the middle, Master Elf. And you Master Dwarf?”
Gimli was intently observing the lean warrior talking to them. Tall and light of frame, this captain of the archers seemed very young. “I will stay on the battlements with Master Legolas, and then go into battle.”
Cyrene smiled broadly beneath her helmet and even if Gimli, Legolas and Aragorn couldn’t see her smile, they could almost hear it: “We will get into battle soon enough. Master Dwarf. May the Gods be with us this day!”. After this, she turned and left, going up to her position on the fortress’ wall.
It was not far from dawn when all archers had assumed their positions, and Cyrene walked to her place at the center of the battlements, a couple of feet away from where Legolas was leaning against the stone wall and Gimli sat on the ground, sharpening his already razor sharp axe.
She walked over to them and set close to Legolas a basket with arrows.
“I hope these arrows hit their targets and give us some advantage against this formidable enemy,” she said.
An archer close to them walked over to Cyrene and handed her a flask; she nodded, drank a bit and then offered the flask over to the elf and the dwarf. It seemed as if the other archer would object, but Cyrene just hissed something and he went away.
Legolas received the flask, and as he took it, his fingers lightly touched Cyrenes fingers. Both looked up at each other, as a feeling like tingling went through their hands from the spot where they had touched. The elf’s keen eyes saw the amazed look in the amber eyes behind the helmet's nosepiece, but he still didn’t recognize Cyrene. She had almost let the flask fall … as if it had burned her hand. Legolas held it and nodded to Cyrene, in thanks. He also drank some of the sweet wine with spices and passed it to Gimli. The dwarf drank a bit and gave the flask back to Cyrene.
“Thank you captain. You seem to be more generous towards strangers than your fellow Rohirrim,” said the dwarf.
Cyrene received the flask and put it down, and then she leaned on her bow and looked into the distance. “The Rohirrim are good and brave men. They are wary of what they don’t know. Most men are”
She didn’t say anymore, but for a moment, Gimli and Legolas felt the longing and sorrow that was laced in the deep voice of the one they thought a young man in the armor of a warrior.
| Part VI |
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