In the Midst of Adversity: Part VI
Dawn came gray and dark, charged with the heavy clouds of a thunderstorm. Sarumanís army stood its ground, in front of the fewer rows of soldiers of the Mark.
Theoden stood on the battlements of the fortress, overlooking the battlefield
Eomer and Aragorn were in the field, leading the two wings of Rohirrim infantry.
Gandalf had gone away by midnight, speaking of finding allies for the battle. But the fight was about to start and Gandalf wasnít there.
Eomer looked up to the walls of the fortress. He saw Theoden standing on the highest vantage point. And then he saw Cyrene, walking through the archers, speaking to them, and he almost could hear her, encouraging them, lifting their spirits, smiling brightly at those she knew and patting their shoulders.
He smiled briefly himself, wishing she would be at his side like so many times before. But she was right when she told him that they needed her archery skills. She had no equal among the soldiers of Rohan. The skill with the bow of the amazons was legendary, and Cyrene excelled at it. The amazon and the elf on the walls of the Hornburg were definitely an asset to the battle.
The thought of Cyrene fighting at the elfís side was bitter to him. He had seen the elf looking at her at the dinner in Edoras, and since Eomer himself had seen her as the female she was, instead of the comrade in arms and friend, he couldnít get the woman out of his mind.
His last thought before turning his attention to Aragorn and the battle was a silent prayer for both to survive the day.
Legolas was already posted and ready with his bow when Cyrene returned from checking the other archers.
She threw her cloak off, and flexed her arms. Legolas saw the slender arms clad in chain mail and leather and wondered how this young warrior, for there was no doubt about the battle skill of the captain, was a leader of rank at such an early age.
And he also recalled the strange feeling that had coursed through him as he had touched the archerís hand. It was like a current flowing through the tiny patches of skin that had been in contact. Legolas felt uncomfortable; he had felt something similar many years ago, which made the feeling familiar but disconcerting, because the last time he had felt it, it had been anticipation, for then it had been the first time he had made love.
Cyrene felt the elf looking at her and tried to ignore him. She had to concentrate on the fight ahead of them. She still hadnít understood why she had felt so strange when the elfís hand had grazed her own. As an amazon, she was very wary of men and had earned her place and respect among the soldiers due to her sympathy and prowess in fighting. The experience from of Eomerís embrace the night before had confused her, and now the sensations produced by the elfís brief touch were still branding her senses. She could feel his presence, a couple of feet away, radiating awareness and tension. She shook her head, and rubbed her neck. She saw movement on the field and picked up an arrow, tensing it on her bow. The fight would soon begin.
The army of orcs and Uruk Hai was screaming, thumping on the ground and hitting their shields. The Rohirrim stood still, watching the hellish spawns in front of them, letting the rain soak them, but mindful of the fight before them. Theoden held his sword up high and gave the signal for attack. Aragorn and Eomer stormed into the ranks of Orcs, slaying their way through the mass of creatures.
On the walls of the fortress Cyrene gave the signal and the rain of arrows on the attacking army began. Out of the corner of his eye, Legolas saw that even though the archerís captain didnít have his amazing speed, all the shots were accurate and were taking their toll on the approaching enemies. But there were so many of them and so few soldiers of Rohan, that he had no doubt about the outcome of the battle. His friends, the Rohirrim, the women and children hiding in the caves of Helmís Deep, and the intriguing brave young captain to his left werenít going to survive the day.
Cyrene kept her mind focused on the ugly creatures trying to make their way to the Hornburg. Everyone she took in her aim went down. But they were running out of arrows, and the hordes approaching seemed endless. She noticed that Legolas shot two arrows at once and both hit their targets, and he kept shooting with amazing speed. Her admiration for the elf grew.
On the field, Eomer and Aragorn mowed through the bodies of the orcs and Uruk Hai mercilessly. Both were covered in the blood of the slain enemies and waded through the corpses followed by the brave men of Rohan. Around them the battle cries of the Orcs and the screaming of the wounded men and orc were deafening. The falling rain was tinted red when it hit the ground, flowing like bloody rivers on the mud. Both armies were sinking in mud, Sarumanís hordes intent on reaching the fortress, the Rohirrim fighting them back, in an almost hopeless effort to defend the Hornburg.
As the arrows were used up, Cyrene retrieved her shield off the ground, and plucked the battle-axe from her waist. She swung it with a flick of her wrist and yelled to the archers to join her as she charged down the stairs to the gate and out on the field. The archers followed her, and so did Gimli and Legolas, who pulled his two short swords from his back and stormed into the front line of the orcs overflowing Eomerís flank.
As soon as the archerís company reached the field, they felt the desperation of fighting against a sea of enemies, which threatened to drown their weak defenses in their assault. But as they saw the elf, the dwarf and the amazon charge into the orcs as one, the soldiers of Rohan stormed, with a war cry in their voices, swearing to keep the attackers at bay or die trying.
Gimli, Legolas and Cyrene almost instantly lost sight of each other, even though Legolas hair stood out from the dark mass of orcs like a beacon.
Cyrene felt the elation of the battle frenzy, and started cutting down orcs to both sides of her way, trying to kill as many of them as possible. When her axe got stuck in the armor of an Uruk Hai, she was defenseless for a second, and an orc hit her helmet with a maze. Dazzled for a moment, she staggered but caught herself again and hit him with her shield while reaching for the short sword fastened at her back. She heard metal clashing at her back, as another attacker tried to stab her and Gimli crushed him with his axe. She nodded to the dwarf and drew her sword to keep on fighting. At some point, she felt something hit her back and rapidly turned to hit the attacker, only to find herself back to back with Legolas. He grinned grimly at her and both kept on fighting, the corpses of orcs strewn around them.
It was then that Gimli cried out and they saw that the enemy had reached the walls and was tearing a breach into the side of the fortress.
With a desperate scream, Cyrene turned and ran towards the fortress, yelling orders to the surviving archers to join her, the elf and the dwarf running by her side.
Cyrene could feel her heart pounding in her chest, and her mouth going dry, as she ran as fast as her legs carried her to the breach in the wall of the Hornburg, where the orcs were entering like ants.
She tripped, but felt the strong hand of the elf pulling her up as he ran past her. She shook her head, to clear her sight that was blurred for an instant. The blow to her head was taking its toll.
The elf hadnít released her arm, and was pulling her with him toward the fortress. He seemed to notice she wasnít well and slowed down his pace, but she shook her head again and kept on running. She gathered her wits and focused on the task ahead, storming on the orcs and cutting through them as if they were wheat on the field.
Legolas saw the captain stumble and helped the comrade in arms up, while returning to the Hornburg. He had seen how an orc had given an awful blow to the head of the young man, but the captain had stood his ground and continued fighting. It seemed that the effort of running to the walls was taking all from the archer, but the young man had gathered himself and stormed into fight.
Meanwhile, even if her swordstrokes werenít as accurate and deadly as before, Cyrene was still slaying orcs, but letting her defenses down. Legolas fought at her side, admiring her courage and spunk, doing his best efforts to defend her from the enemyís attacks.
Eomer had almost lost sight of Aragorn in the battlefield, but one look around was enough to recognize that the battle was going to be lost to the army of darkness.
He had also lost sight of Cyrene and the elf, and Eomer saw the breach in the walls of the fortress. He prayed to the Gods that the orcs would never get to the women and children hiding in the caves.
It was in that moment that the sound of a horn echoed through the valley of Helms Deep. The answer of a hundred horns came back, as the first rays of sunlight broke through the dark sky, flooding the hills around the Hornburg.
On the hills stood trees, strange trees that hadnít been there before, reaching tall to the sky and hovering darkness beneath their branches.
Suddenly, on the top of the hill across the fortress appeared a rider, dressed in white, shining brightly in the light of the rising sun. The horns were blown again, as a thousand soldiers marched behind the white rider, lead by a tall warrior with a blood-red shield.
The Rohirrim yelled in joy: Gandalf the white and the army of Erkenbrand had come to the rescue, setting upon their sole presence the army of Saruman on the run.
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