Chaos reigned supreme in Annùminas. While the Dùnedain, accompanied by the occasional Elf or human ally, fought bravely, they also fell bravely. And often, Callodhir mused, too easily. He was stood on a crumbling wall, surveying the battle below in order to pass messages back to the camp. His head was pounding, threatening to cave in on itself and the din of battle made any rational thinking extremely challenging.
Here, in what was once considered a proud City of Kings and formerly home to one of the treasured Palantíri, a pointless war was being fought. At least that was how the Elf saw it. The Free Peoples battled to keep the forces of Angmar from setting up an extension of their kingdom. If Angmar were victorious it would be momentus for the Enemy. Their own stronghold, in the South of Evendim, bordering The Shire.
If that was the case, this battle would have meaning, Callodhir thought bitterly.
But it was pointless, in his view, because no one was winning. Any time the Dùnedain took ground, more enemy forces simply came and took it back. Lost in his thoughts, he narrowly evaded a stray arrow shot wildly in his direction. He was finally understanding why Caethir had departed Evendim to head East.
Why he didn’t head West, the Valar only know!
But then, he realised, he knew what Caethir remained in Middle-Earth for. Or, more accurately, who he remained for. Again the depression struck his heart but he forced himself to maintain composure against the threatening tears. A look-out with blurred vision was useless to himself and his forces.
The Frustration of InactionThe Elf shook his head and attempted to refocus but the furor of weapons, shouting, clashing of metal against metal and the cries of those falling rendered his hearing nigh-on useless. He glanced back to catch the eye of one of the scouts who nodded and began clambering up the wall to join him.
“My swords and shield are useless up here!” the Elf shouted over the all-consuming cacophony.
“You know we shouldn’t commit allies until we’re needed,” the scout reminded him.
“But everyone is needed, have you been watching this hideous war?” Callodhir yelled incredulously.
“I’ve been trying not to.” the scout admitted.
The Elf could hardly blame the Dùnadan.
More arrows began flying in their direction. This time they had clearly been aimed at their position. Most went astray and the Elf deflected the more threatening ones with his shield. The shield she had helped him make.
“We have to move!” the scout shouted, suddenly aware they could not hold out here without being struck or falling from their rather unstable wall.
The Towering Champion
And then it started. The ground shook beneath them and deathly growls could be heard approaching the battle. It was all the two of them could do to prevent themselves being dislodged from their vantage point. The first thing the two look-outs saw were brave men and women being hurled en-masse into the air, landing with sickening thuds on the stone floor or against buildings.
“What about you?” his worried friend asked.
“Don’t worry about me, just go!”
The scout looked into the Elf’s eyes for a few seconds and understood. He sighed and nodded sadly, before working his way back down the wall. The arrows had stopped flying their way as the Enemy rallied to their turn of fortune.
Callodhir took a breath and leapt nimbly down towards the battle, using protruding stones as footholds. Securing his helm, he charged into battle. The stench was nauseating; the fallen of both friend and foe lay bleeding and dying all around him. Horrific, contorted visages belonging to those lost forever to a war neither side would win.
The Fight of the Desperate
The first Angmarim were taken by surprise by the unexpected appearance of the steel-clad Elf. Those foes at the edges of battle were cursing Free Peoples and healing those of the Enemy. Until, that is, they were cut down from behind by his blade, glinting in the midday sun. His eyes darted wildy for the right direction to run – one wrong move and he could inadvertently take out key allies. He began to pick his way through the living and the dead towards the towering figure of the vicious Gorthorog, defending himself as best as he could. On multiple occasions he was saved purely by his armour or shield.
Gathering what inner strength remained to him he shouted up to the giant
“Face me, you coward of Darkness!”
The creature turned and bared menacing teeth at the Elf. The battle seemed to die down as both Angmarim and Dùnedain withdrew to catch breath. A circle of warriors and sorcerers formed around them, an impenetrable wall of flesh and metal armour from which there was no escape.
“Let us all curse the foolish Elf!” one Angmarim cried.
“This will be too easy,” the deep, gravelly voice of the Gorthorog responded. “If one of the the idiots of the West thinks he can challenge me, then let him meet his doom!”
Callodhir’s heart beat wildly as he strained under the sheer sight of the terrible creature. There was the briefest of moments as the two stared each other down. Then the Gorthorog brought his enormous club down with a sickening thud on where the Elf was stood. Or rather, where the Elf had been stood, as he slipped quickly around the position. Stone was crushed and crumbled with each strike, which made Callodhir’s movement all the more challenging. With one sweep of the club, which seemed to have harnessed the wind such was its swiftness, the Elf’s shield was broken and torn from his hand.
Crying out in pain as something in his left wrist snapped, he briefly dropped to one knee before rolling to his right to avoid the overpowering shadow of the Gorthorog’s foot. A hideous shout arose from the Enemy, chanting in support of their champion. Reaching behind his back, he pulled out his other sword, the one that had seen him through countless battles in the past. It being made by Elven smiths in Imladris, it was much lighter than the one he had forged in Evendim. Holding that in his damaged left hand, he gritted his teeth and ran between the Gorthorog’s feet.
“Lacho calad! Drego morn!”, he cried as he ran.
The Crush of Defeat
Unable to use his club, the Gorthorog began stamping and punching towards Callodhir whose minute stature in comparison to the foe was his only advantage. As he ran he slashed at the giant’s ankles with both swords, his left hand gripping his sword less and less securely with each passing moment. It took several passes before blood gushed forth and the creature roared with anger and pain. Its enormous legs began to shake before it was forced to its knees. Callodhir was just about to leap for the creature’s throat when he was caught up with crushing force in one of its clawed hands. Feeling his armour break, along with several ribs, the Elf gasped for air as he was lifted to eye level with his foe.
“Foolish Elf, you sacrificed yourself for nothing. And for what? A brief glimpse of hope?” the Gorthorog taunted. “There is no hope!”
Callodhir could not reply, but with his right sword-arm still free of the creature’s grip he thrust the blade into the Gorthorog’s left eye, the splattering, putrid liquid drenching his face. With the pangs of death upon on the creature he crushed the Elf in his hand before casting him down with enormous force onto the ground before it too fell, twitching, onto the hallowed stones of the City of Kings.
With their champion fallen, the Angmarim fled back to one of their own secure positions.
A terrible silence descended and healers tried to help some of the fallen back to safety. As darkness took Callodhir he knew he would soon be welcomed back into the Uttermost West.
I’m sorry I wasn’t good enough for you, he mourned, just make sure he treats you right.
Above his broken body, on a ruined tower, a Raven bowed her head before taking to the skies to return to her master.