Part 129 – Those Who Defend
The sun had not yet risen over the horizon in the east. The land was dark as was the road westward. The early signs of light began to peak from the east, as the stars above began to fade from the dark backdrop of night and the slightest hints of indigo began phasing in the east. A thick mist hung over the lands as the surrounding ruins of rich Arnorian estates were barely seen in the thick muck of dense fog hanging in the valley past the vale of the Fields of Fornost.
Traveling west on the early morning road from the Fields of Fornost were Eotheron, Sergee and Estonethiel. They followed the trail of the elves who had already crossed much earlier that morning. The three, at last, reached the Canadiach before the break of dawn. They were greeted by a man from Trestlebridge who approached from the north.
“Good morning, travelerse,” the man said to the three travelers. “You are the rest of the company of elves that passed through here a few hours past, are you not?”
“Yes,” Sergee said. “I trust Eleswith has made it here.”
“She has,” the man from Trestlebridge said. “She was the one who recruited us to join her not but a few days ago. Quite the noble woman she is,” he gave a smile. “Her actions continue to amaze us. I am Alf Grimble. I am the healer of Trestlebridge.”
“A healer out on guard?” Eotheron said in shock.
“It is a desperate time for us, my friend,” Alf said. “Most of us have taken time to guard as senturies for our encampment.”
“We have made ourselves a camp in the fields just below the hills of Ost Forod,” Alf said. “It appears the enemy has employed the men and women of Ost Forod to bring them food. We planned to overtake their little operation in Ost Forod but we did not want the full garrison of Annuminas to overtake us. So we lay low in the shadow of the hill, hoping the enemy does not spot us. So far they have not.” They trotted their away north from the Canadiach.
“Is there anything you know about what we are up against in the city?” Eotheron asked.
“We sent a few willing elves to scout the city from the nearby hills. They have yet to report back to us,” Alf said. “We know not much else other than them using food from Ost Forod. A woman turned up on the shores of Tinnudir a few days back. She seemed delirious, silently babbling to herself and crying uncontrollably at times.”
“I she a surviver of the city?” Sergee asked.
“That is what Eleswith believes,” he said. “She has not been able to get much out of her.”
The four arrived at the camp of the host of men and elves. It was situated amongst ruins along the shore and was very inconspicuous. It was meant to be that way. The tents were much like the tents of the rangers, dark green triangular tents or leantos quickly made of available sticks and plants close by. None there where had special markings or signs. They were only meant to do one thing. To hide all who were supposed to live inside of it. Most of the men and women were busy working on weapons; sharpening them and forging the arrows with sticks and feathers for fletching gathered all about the surrounding land.
At last, Eleswith came to the three, “You made it!” she said as she gave each a hug of gratefulness. “The rangers arrived a couple of days ago. They gave us these tents and just left. I believe they said they would scout out the pass between the path from Evendim to Forochel. Why they would do that I know not.”
“I know why,” said Eotheron in a hurry. “Together, we closed the enterances from Angmar to the North Downs. Now the only path to come here is from the path from Forochel.”
“That makes sense,” Eleswith said. “They nothing of their intent with me.”
“Have you heard from Theomin?” Sergee asked.
“I have heard not from him,” Eleswith said, disappointment set in. “He said ten days and it has already been half of that. I know tis a long road to Dunland and back, but every day we give the enemy is another day they can become more intrenched.”
“Yes,” Sergee said, “but we have cut off their reenforcements and supplies.”
“But we need to do better,” Eleswith said. “The deliveries from Ost Forod is their supply but we cannot cut it off or they will send out scouts and ultimately attack us. That will end our offensive before it even starts.”
“Then our goal is to stop the supplies when we know we will begin our attack,” Eotheron said. “We cannot starve them by cutting their supplies in a blockade. So, when we attack Ost Forod, we must then know that will begin our attack on the city.”
“It is perhaps with the caravan of supplies provided by Ost Forod that we can set an ambush in the city,” Sergee said. “Theomin said you can sneak into the city by ways of secret tunnels,” Sergee told Eotheron. “If we can sneak some of those explosives we used to shut the passes between Angmar and the North Downs, we can set a distraction. That will allow more of our troops to come in on multiple fronts.”
The others thought about that a while and nodded in agreement with Sergee’s idea. “And what of Teryndir?” Eotheron asked. “Do we have a plan to retrieve him?”
They each looked at each other and Eleswith started, “It depends on what the elves say. Upon their arrivel from their reconnaissance, we can develop a plan. This is only the beginning. We barely have the numbers to invade the city. Krovrin and his hobbit friend have not yet joined us here.”
“And if they do not join us, what then?” Sergee asked. “We cannot abandon our mission.”
“I suppose we can come to that decision when the time comes,” Eleswith said.
So, the time went on throughout the day. Sergee and Eotheron aided in the forging of the weapons and arrows for the army. Sticks were located, feathers were used to fletch the arrows, swords were forged and sharpened, bows were made for the archers, and pieces of armor shirts were pieced together using what pieces of metal they had. Estonethiel and a few of the other elves scouted out the town of Ost Forod and soon came back with their intel.
“It looks as though a few orcs and Angmarim have stayed as a garrison in the town,” Estonethiel told Eotheron, Sergee and Eleswith as they met again closer to the evening. It was also the time the other elves were to return from their reconnaissance mission. “We counted at least twenty of them strategically placed throughout the town. One weak point, though, is the small two-layer enclosure on the east side of the town. An arena of sorts, it looks to be.”
“Then that is our entry point,” Eleswith said. “We can send a small force of the elves into the enclosure, scale the walls and take out the sentries. They can then split in two and kill any orcs or Angmarim at the southern gate. They can then continue up the streets toward the top. Any idea who the leader of that garrison is?”
“We could not see the leader,” Estonethiel said. “We know there is one but the leader was out of sight.”
“Then just before we start our invasion of the city, we take control of the town of Ost Forod. We just have to know when Theomin will return with his army, if he can get here in time.” She slunk down with her head down, “I wish Magla could be here. I’d feel so much safer knowing he was part of this invasion with us.”
“We tried,” Sergee tried to put her at ease. “It will be okay. He needs to do what he feels right by the men and women of Bree. And for himself.”
It was then, the small regiment of elves returned from their mission to scout out the city of Annuminas. “We see a swarm of activity from the summit of the city. They are working hard at the top as it was becoming more and more difficult to see what they were doing. A vast cloud from the sky began to swirl overhead. Looking at the rest of the city, it is divided into sections. The lower quarter is filled with orcs. All the way from the entrance to the ramp that leads up to the center. Up to the central part of the town, it is then populated by a cross between trolls and Angmarim. But that was not the queer part of the city. Flying creatures came out as soon as the last lights of day descended upon the city. Morroveil they looked like as they emerged and came to the summit of the city. It looked as though they were directing the strange happenings at the summit of the city and summoning high priests of the Angmarim to perform incantations the likes of which I have never seen.”
“What do you suppose they are doing?” Eleswith asked.
“Did you not say they were summoning Morgoth?” the elf asked. “Because if they were not, I know not what else they would be doing.”
“Did you see Teryndir?” asked Sergee. “Is he safe?”
“We could not see him,” the elf said. “It could be he was just out of sight, but we could not see him from our vantage point.”
“Can you go back up there again?” Eleswith asked. “We need to know all you can find out throughout the night. Then return tomorrow night and we will make our timeline for the attack.”
“We shall do that,” the elf said. The elves, then, quickly trotted off back the way they came without complaint. They seemed as though they were more than happy to do the bidding of Eleswith as they showed no outword rejection to her orders.
The night came and went and the next morning, the whole task force continued doing its job. A few rangers joined in on the slow growing army. No more men or elves joined. No dwarves came to their aid at all. It was a question in the minds of the army of men and elves whether or not the dwarves would even join their army at all. A darkness began to grow on the hearts of the army as so very few came to their aid. Less than a hundred were there at the camp. That was a hundred up against over a thousand troops of the enemy; orcs, trolls and Angmarim all were in Annuminas. Not to mention there was a drake upon the ranks of the enemy. Hopeless numbers they were and everybody knew it.
Eleswith saw the despair growing on the people in her camp but knew not what to do to stifle it. It was that same hoplessness she was beginning to feel as well. Not many from Eriador cared to aid the alliance. Though the men and elves of the North Downs came to their aid, none from Breeland came and none from Evendim were there. Neither were any of the Lone Lands or Ered Luin. She wanted to stave off the feelings of fear in the camp, but if she also harbored those same feelings, how could she create a sense of peace in their hearts where there was none of her own?
She walked out to the edges of the lake and piered at the shores of the beautiful sight. She wanted not to think of the terrible state they were in with their army being horribly outnumbered ten to one. She needed to clear her head and look at the peace of the surrounding lands all about her. The soft gleen of the calm lake reflected the beauty of the surrounding hills. The clouds continued to drift on in the sky far above as the sun began to set in the evening of the land of twilight. Birds chirped and butterflies fluttered their wings softly, soundlessly in the quiet wind. The green hills gave way to blue skies far off in the distance and the more Eleswith looked at the land, the more she needed to preserve its beauty.
It came to her realization that the task of theirs was not to retake the city of Annuminas. Their task, as grim as it was, had to be to prevent the calamity of the coming of Morgoth. If that evil entity was to come back to the lands of Middle Earth, it would be the end of all that was good in the world. The end to all the beauty of the lands, the green of the fields, the blue of the sky, the life of the earth. That was what they needed to stop and that was all. All other tasks they needed to do were not as important. To Eleswith, it was a sad truth that that was the important task that needed to be done and that she had to do until the release of her very last breath.
Tears began to form in her eyes that she might not see the result of their actions. But somehow, such a feeling brought peace to her heart. She looked over the lands and for the longest time she wanted to live in such a beautiful land. She fought to preserve the beauty of the land and that was what she was going to do. Theomin taught her that it was not what she did to further the cause of one man, but finding the cause that was right and just; that was worth the fight. All other things did not matter.
She found her peace and came back to the camp but by then reconnicience elves had returned to the camp. They came right to Sergee and Eotheron. All around the camp, the people joined to listen to what the elves had to say. Even Ariel, who had yet to recover, joined in as one of the elves spoke up.
“It appears as though their drake is also flying over the city,” the elf said. “If we were to use stealth, it would only be a matter of time before the drake sees us. Each part of the city has barracades and a number of troops stationed at each. We believe they know we are coming but it looks as though they know not from where. So, at each entry point they have concentrated their troops. A number in the west and eastern entrances. Also, a number at the docks are preparing for a battle.”
“And Teryndir?” Sergee asked.
“We saw a man wearing dark cloth being brought up to the summit of the city,” the elf said. “It looks as though they are keeping him far from any close entry point. They don’t want him to escape easily, we are guessing.”
“What of the troop numbers?” a man from Trestlebridge asked. “Have they changed?”
“It appears they are still rather high,” the elf said. “We counted more than a thousand of the enemy.”
The crowd came to a distressing mutter as Eleswith heard the men fearfully confess their distress, “How can we defeat such a force?” and others saying, “What good will our forces be to stop an army that large? We cannot fight and win.”
“We don’t have to win,” Eleswith finally said. “Our only task is to stop the coming of Morgoth.” She looked at the elves, at Estonethiel and at Ariel. “You mentioned some kind of high priest who is doing the spells to summon Morgoth, is that correct?”
“That should be correct,” an elf said. “That high priest should be at the summit of the city. But they are surrounded by a great force. Many hundreds of Angmarim are placed at key entry points.”
“Then that is the focus of our main forces,” Eleswith said. “We need not to retake the city, but we need to prevent those priests from summoning Morgoth. There is no other task that is greater or of more importance than that. The city matters not. Teryndir matters not. If we risk our lives for anything, it will be to prevent the coming of Morgoth. All we have lived for; all that Middle Earth has provided for us is what is at stake. We have taken so much from these lands; food, shelter, a home for our families. A home for ourselves. This land has sacrificed so much for us to live. It is time for us give back to it; to sacrifice ourselves to preserve the beauty of our lands. It is not enough that we fight for our people. We must fight for the land itself. Because if we do nothing, this land, this beautiful place that we call Middle Earth, will surley die. I can think of no greater cause to risk my life over.”
The crowd continued to talk as if they were still fearful as they murmered to themselves.
“Eleswith is right,” Sergee said. “I love my brother. I love the men and the elves of this land. But more importantly, I love this land and everything in it. If we do nothing, it will surely die. Morgoth will return everything to ash and all will be a waste just as it was in the first age. We need not to take the city. But if can break through their lines and prevent this evil being from coming to this land, our sacrafice would have meaning.”
“Yes,” Eotheron agreed. “I stand proudly as a member of the company that will preserve the sanctity of this land. I stand proudly with you all. Not just as a member of Middle Earth but as her defender.”
“The elves and I stand with you, Eleswith,” Estonethiel said with great pride.
“As do the rangers,” one of the rangers said.
“And the men of Trestlebridge stand with you as well,” Aggy Digweed proclaimed.
“I will join you,” Ariel said with a fire in her eyes. “They need to know the rage I have and I need to take my vengeance upon them.”
“And so do we,” a voice came from behind. It was Saeredan and about thirty men in his regiment. “We will stand with the Defenders of Middle Earth.”
“Saeredan!” Sergee said with a longing tone as he hugged his friend. “It is a most timely arrival you and your men have made.
“I have come at the right time, have I?” Saeredan said. “But I feel my coming is with some short time. The gathering of men and orcs in Annuminas has grown and the coming doom is upon us. I fear we have not much time so we must gather what forces we have and move against them soon.”
Eleswith gave a sigh. She felt not prepared but needed to be. She gave the signal, “Then Saeredan, show Eotheron to the secret path. Take as many of your regiment as you can. The men of Trestlebridge, the rest of the rangers and I will take boats to the western gate of the city and make our encursion as soon as we hear from the explosion from the supplies. Estonethiel and the elves must take Ost Forod. Instead of food and supplies for Annuminas, we will deliver them explosives. Eotheron will light an arrow aflame and fire it at those explosives. Hopefully, that will cause such a distraction that will force the enemy into disorder. Then, we can go in and take them. But the fight up on the citadel where the high priest is; that is the most important point. No other one matters. If we are lucky, Theomin will return with his army. Only then can we win the city. If he does not join us, all our hope lies on Eotheron to stop that high priest from summoning Morgoth.”
“Estonethiel, the elves and I will take the eastern gate,” Sergee said. “If we can fight our way through the first level of the city and take out the enemy at the docks, we can join you in the battle at the second level and, hopefully, at the summit of the city.”
“That is all,” Eleswith said. “May the light of the Valar shine brightly upon us.” She looked at the elves. “Move out!”
With that, the final push to war began. The army gathered what arrows, mail shirts and swords they could. Eleswith, the men from Trestlebridge, a contingent of rangers and Ariel ran for the nearby boats that were lined at the shore. Ten boats in all sat at the shore ready for them to make their way across the lake and to the far side, far from the sight of the enemy. Five men and women in Eleswith’s forces occupied each boat, making the forces fifty in all.
Eotheron, Saeradan and the contingent of rangers ran up past the Canadiach and up the hills toward the secred path of Orthrond Thurin. About thirty rangers in all came running with Eotheron and Saeradan. They moved with stealth and surety as the night came close upon them. None were seen as none used torchlight to move or needed the use of light to see in the dark. All knew the land very well as they were the caretakers of that land. They were silent, sure, and ready to give their lives for their land.