REPORT A PROBLEM
The world had suddenly become dark. To some, it seemed as though the sun had not even bothered to set, merely wrapped itself in a blanket of night, perhaps never to be seen again by those that now prepared for a battle they could not possibly win.
King Theoden was speaking loudly, confidently, trying to give moral to his men, as well as to the elves that had so recently joined them in the stone sanctuary. 'They will break upon this fortress like water on rocks. Here, we will be safe, for no enemy has ever breached the Deeping wall.'
Even in the darkness, the soldiers could see the black ribbon of the enemy winding its way towards Helm's Deep. Only fools did not fear what would come. Only the arrogant pretend all would live through it. Legolas surveyed their own army. Most were but children, hardly more capable of defending themselves than the hobbits had been.
A pang of regret ran through his heart as he thought of their four companions. Were they all right now? Gandalf had said they were, but could they be sure? Forcing such thoughts from his mind, he turned to the task at hand.
In later years, few could recall how the battle began. Things moved too quickly, too suddenly, and fear has a way of making details slip past one's notice. None the less, none that could deny that it did start.
Legolas hardly felt the twang of his bowstring as he released the arrows. He didn't watch them as they flew, strait and true to their target. He was operating on instinct. There was no other way to survive.
'Hello my friend.' Came the voice of Haldir. The battle had brought them together and they fought back to back, the perfect team.
'I see your aim has improved.'
Legolas let a brief laugh escape his lips; when last they'd seen each other, a couple thousand years ago, Haldir had taken the Prince of Mirkwood under his wing- so to speak- teaching him the finer points of war-craft.
'Yes, and you haven't changed one bit!' He replied, unsheathing a pair of long knives for the close-combat situation the Orcken ladders had created.
'Not entirely true,' Orophin commented, passing by. 'His tongue has grown sharper and his wisdom blurred!' As the elf's younger brother, Orophin was allowed to make such remarks concerning the commander.
'Try saying that outside of a battle!' Haldir shouted after him as he disappeared once more into the melee of the fight.
Legolas' attention was diverted from his task as he caught sight of one of the children, lying crumpled below the wall. His glassy eyes stared up at the elf as if asking for aid, but then they went dark and lifeless. Had Haldir not been there, Legolas would have found himself in a similar situation.
'I know it's horrible, but we have a duty to perform. If we work hard enough, we might yet save some of them.'
He nodded but didn't take his eyes off the dead child. Like water on rocks. He thought, but in his mind, it was the other way around.
Haldir was shaking him again. 'Legolas, don't think. It'll only get you killed.'
Slowly, he nodded and did his best to block out all thoughts. They would not help him here. Nothing could. Nothing but skill and pure luck.
He heard his name echoed over the wind. It was Aragorn. He wanted him to kill something, but that was what he was doing! Then, he saw it. A larger orc, torch in hand.
It was moving swiftly through the sea of its comrades. Taking aim, he fired. Barely a stumble. Again, he sent an arrow flying. No more than a slight trip, and now it was too late. It dove into the drain- the only weakness of Helm's Deep.
For a moment, there seemed to be absolute silence, then a shattering crash boomed out over the world. Rock, water, and bodies all went flying into the air.
The Deeping wall had been breached.
Gimli saw Aragorn himself soar into the air, landing with a splash even the elves couldn't hear over the battle.
Without hesitating, he launched himself into war with the charging Uruks, hoping to single handedly hold them off long enough for his friend to re-join the fight.
He couldn't help but wonder if, a few months ago, he would have bothered to care.
'Aragorn!' He shouted to the unconscious man. The ranger stirred then climbed laboriously to his feet. Gimli could almost see the sudden determination in his friend's eyes as the full impact of their new situation hit him.
He took charge quickly, directing the ground-based soldiers to charge the enemy army that was now seeping through the hole.
The battle raged on, through the rain and flooding water, through the mud and the fallen bodies of orc, elf and man.
And child, Aragorn reminded himself, with only a hint of bitterness. But there had been no choice; they needed all the able hands they could get. When battle was over, then they could grieve their passing, should there be anyone left to grieve...
Dimly, he could hear Theoden ordering him to pull back. Somehow, despite the darkness, he managed to indicate to the king that he understood. He then turned to find Haldir, to pass the message on.
The elf was fighting valiantly, Legolas at his side. Even as Aragorn watched, an orc came up behind the captain of the Lorien host, only to have Legolas send a long shinning blade into it's gut. 'Haldir!' Aragorn called. 'Pull back to the Keep!'
Nodding, he began to direct his people towards the inner keep of Helm's Deep. A passing orc managed to slip past his defense and dig its sword into Haldir's rib cage.
So this is how it ends. He thought, doubling over in pain. He didn't see the second orc come up behind him, axe raised high…
It was preparing to dig the blade into Haldir's skull. He only barely saw it fall to the earth beside him before his vision went black.
Even as he slipped into unconsciousness, he heard Legolas mutter something in their own tongue. Though he could no longer understand the words, he could sense the comforting tone behind his friend's voice, as well as the barely-hidden worry.
As Legolas dragged his comrade away from the battle, he felt an arrow pierce his shoulder. It had been badly aimed, and had missed his heart by at least six centimeters, but it hurt none-the-less.
Staggering, he nearly dropped Haldir into the mud, but he managed to keep going. It burned like fire all the way down his arm and across his upper back, but he was able to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
At last he reached the inner keep, where Aragorn waited impatiently. The sight of Haldir momentarily blinded him to Legolas' injury, but it wasn't long before he began to fuss. 'You're both going to the hospital ward.' He said instantly.
With great effort, Legolas pulled the arrow from his shoulder, winced with pain but didn't cry out.
Aragorn secretly admired him for this, but didn't say anything. There would be time enough for that later, at the moment he had an argument to win. The elf was shaking his head. 'No, I'm fine. I can still fight.' He said.
'Don't be so stubborn!' Aragorn practically shouted.
'I could say the same thing to you.' Legolas replied calmly, then called over to a passing boy. 'Make sure he's taken care of, alright?' He asked the child. It would keep him away from the battle, if only for a few moments. It might just save his young, frightened life.
'Yes milord.' The boy said and took Haldir's weight onto his small shoulders. Legolas felt an embarrassed shiver run through him at the title but didn't correct him. There were more important things to do at the moment, like bar up the door, or head up to the wall of the keep and provide a bit of cover fire for those that still retreated.
'Milord?' Aragorn asked his friend, one eyebrow raised in amusement.
Legolas shrugged, then prayed to Eru he hadn't. Pain shot through his body, starting from where only moments ago and arrow had protruded from his flesh.
His face contorted itself in a silent scream.
'Are you sure you're alright?' Aragorn asked, clearly concerned.
'Yes, I told you. I can still fight. If we sent every injured person away, there'd be no one to fight but you, Gimli and Theoden, King.' Aragorn's face darkened at this. 'What?' Legolas asked. 'Nothing.' The ranger said, but the elf had known him long enough to detect when he was lying. 'Aragorn, what aren't you telling me?'
'Nothing.' He said again, and walked away. As he moved, Legolas detected a slight limp to his steps as he favored his left leg.
'I think he broke something when he fell.' Gimli muttered, coming quietly up behind his companion. Legolas nodded. 'And you?'
'I have been lucky thus far.' The dwarf replied solemnly, eyeing the blood-covered men as they fought to board up the door.
'Let us hope you stay that way.' Legolas whispered, his voice so low that Gimli only just caught the words. 'Come.' He said, staring after Aragorn. 'There is much left to do.'
Orcs had begun to break through the main doors to the inner keep, and all Theoden could do was curse their names, which he did. Freely.
Aragorn, his mind oddly perceptive, noted the dilemma. 'How long do you need?' he asked, interrupting the king's continuous stream of words and thoughts.
A sudden hope rose up in his heart as he replied, 'As long as you can give me.' And set off to gather together wood to prepare a barricade. Aragorn looked around him, seeing the bright orange hair of the only dwarf present in the battle.
'Gimli!' He called, grabbing the man by the shoulder and hauling him towards a side entrance, opening it slowly, being careful not to alert the Uruks to its secret presence.
Like water on rocks.
He thought as he saw the beasts trying to force their way through the door, much as water does when it hits a dam.
The only question was; how were they to get over there? For a moment, he regretted bringing Gimli, of all people, who would not be able to jump the distance necessary to reach the thin stone bridge. But it was only for a moment. They'd find away, they always did.
The words were so low that Aragorn could not be sure he'd heard right. It must have been his imagination.
He'd been reaching for the only possible way he would be able to get the dwarf across. 'What?' He asked, just to be sure.
Gimli sighed, irritated that he would have to repeat the words. 'I cannot jump the distance! You'll have to toss me!'
Aragorn nodded and, eager to get the king the time he needed, reached down and took hold of the dwarf by the waist, gathering up the strength he'd need to lift his burly body and propel it over the gap.
'Oh, er,' Gimli interrupted. The man was exasperated. 'Don't tell the elf.' He said pleadingly.
Aragorn sighed. 'Not a word.' He promised, though he doubted they would be able to keep it from Legolas for long. Once again, he prepared himself to take the weight of the dwarf into his aching arms. They'd been fighting for so long…
Gimli was across, and Aragorn took only a moment to unsheathe his sword before following his companion over the space. He landed and almost collapsed, taking more weight than was wise onto his injured leg. Ignoring the pain, he threw himself into the battle, praying that Theoden would bar up the door quickly. They wouldn't last long.
An armor-platted fist rammed into his side and he only just managed not to double over in agony. Taking his sword in a firmer grip, he swung it around and chopped of yet another orc head, but it was too late, the punch had broken a rib or two.
'Get out of there.' Came the voice of Theoden, King from the now re-enforced door.
How on earth did he expect him to do that?
Legolas watched in horror from the wall of the inner-keep as catapults bearing large ladders laden with Uruks shot into the air, pulling the orcs up.
The first two made sickening clicks as they impacted with the top of the wall.
The third was slightly behind the others. Ignoring the pain that shot through his arm every time he drew his bow, he took aim and fired.
Even as the arrow sliced through the supporting rope and began to tumble back to the earth, the elf caught sight of his two friends trapped on the outside of the keep, standing before the boarded-doors of the fortress. Putting his elven reflexes to use, Legolas hurried over and grabbed the rope that he had just held the ladder.
'Aragorn!' He called over to them, tying one end of the thread to a large stone and tossing it out to his friend. He couldn't help but notice the hunched way in which the ranger was moving, as if he was unable to stand up straight. It wasn't until Estel had entrusted both his weight and that of the dwarf to the rope that Legolas realized with panic that he couldn't pull them up. His shoulder burned with a thousand little needles that shot back and forth through his arm.
'What the hell do you think you're doing?' Rumil asked.
The new comer took hold of the tail end of the rope and helped his friend to pull the two soldiers to safety. Moments later, Orophin joined them as well and the three elves managed to get the castaways up and over the wall.
Where all five of them tumbled in an ungraceful heap, Legolas and Aragorn wincing in pain as their various injuries were put under the strain of cushioning Gimli's landing.
'Get off of me you foolish dwarf!' Legolas shot playfully at his friend, trying to conceal the true amount of pain the fall had put him in.
'What he said!' Aragorn added, turning a pain-filled grimace into a teasing smile.
'That's it.' Gimli said once they'd all clamored to their feet. 'Both of you are going to get those 'minor' injuries taken care of, and I mean now!' the dwarf bent down to pick up his axe, but only lifted it a centimeter off the ground before his face went paler than Legolas' and he dropped it.
'Seems you will be joining us, Master Dwarf.' Legolas said, but he didn't sound pleased. He'd hopped that at least one of them would have gone through the battle unsacred.
'Why I- no I- oh, all right.' Gimli stuttered. 'But I won't enjoy it.'
'We don't expect you to.' Aragorn said solemnly. Orophin and Rumil looked at each other, then at Gimli. 'We trust you can handle them for here?' They asked.
'Oh, have either of you seen Haldir?'
'Yes, he's been severely injured.' Legolas informed them, suddenly awkward. 'But I believe he'll make it.' He offered consolation.
'He'd better.' Rumil commented, but he looked worried. Turning to Orophin; 'Come, we are needed.' Getting back into the inner keep turned out to be far more difficult than one would expect.
By the time the three actually did manage, they were in far worse shape than before. 'I think we may have been better off staying out there.' Aragorn commented as they neared the rooms that had been set up as a makeshift hospital.
'I'll say.' Gimli added. What had at first been a mere broken wrist was now a broken arm, a bruised shoulder, a dislocated elbow and a fractured knee cap. Not that he knew any of this, he just knew that he hurt. 'It's for reasons like this that I don't like fighting with my left hand alone.'
Legolas was silent, all his energy focused on holding back the pain. The same shoulder that had only hours ago been pierced by an arrow now hung useless at his side, blood trickling down from where an Orcken spear had sliced across the upper half of his arm, leaving a gash two-centimeters deep. His only consolation was that he knew he would live.
And he would be forced back out into the slaughter were men and children alike fought and died, washed away like stones in the current of orcs.
Theoden watched the carnage grow, utterly helpless to stop it.
Helm's deep had fallen. Only a miracle would be able to save them now. He had thought that the coming of the elves would be enough to save them, but that had been a foolish dream. Aragorn had been right. This army did not come to destroy Rohan, it had come to annihilate those that called it home, and that was something that no amount of hard work could undo.
They had lost.
Eothain's eyes had gone wide as he fought against, not only the orcs, but also the exhaustion and the tears that threatened to take over his body.
He'd never seen a dead body until that day, and now he was surrounded by the dead and dying.
His gaze wandered. He caught sight of another boy, no older than himself take an arrow to the chest and fall down into the sea of the enemy. With a sickening horror, he realised that he had known him. Haleth, son of Hama, lost in battle.
'Valar, do you care not?' He muttered into the air. His sword was hanging limply at his side, and he raised it only just in time to block the blow of an imposing orc blade.
He wouldn't be able to keep this up for long. He was no soldier.
Turning around to face the enemy, he heard his weapon clatter to the stone. 'Father…' his breath caught in his throat, and the man was gone. 'No!' With a sudden spurt of hate, Eothain took up his weapon again and fought his way towards the fallen man.
He knelt beside him, knowing in his heart that there was nothing to be done. 'Father,' he said again.
The soldier took his son's hand into his own and held it tightly. 'Promise me you'll live through this, please.'
The Tip Jar