As Shadows Fall

The year is 3019, and the Elves of Lothlorien cross the River Anduin to confront the orcish fortress of Dol Guldur. The elves face wave after wave of enemy with ease, but the orcs have one last trick up their sleeve...

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3. When Arrows Soar and Voices Roar

Arrows fell from the sky like hail, striking down orcs wherever they fell. Elven battalions moved around, silver and gold glinting in the weak morning sun. The stormcallers could be seen up to a league away, followed everywhere by clouds of lightning; everywhere they went orcs were sent flying, their corpses striking down yet more of their brethren.

 

The legendary Caras Galadhon, led by Haldir's brother Rumil, could be seen at the very front of the rampageous battlefield, cutting down a wide swathe around them. Haldir looked down on it all from on high; he and his archers hidden behind a thick treeline. He normally had fifty or so archers in his company, but the addition of the Mirkwood elves had swelled their numbers to well over a hundred. Just as he fired an arrow however, a twisted horn sounded from behind the black gates of Dol Guldur.

 

Slowly, the enormous, hellish gates opened, and out poured thousands of orcs, all seated upon grotesque, repulsive mounts - giant spiders. They poured from between the black gates in an endless wave, eating up the land before them at an alarming rate, and took only seconds to reach the nearest group of elves.

 

Haldir's stomach sank and rotted into fear, for whilst elves were easily a match for orcs in a fair fight, the spiders gave the orcs an element of height and mobility - a massive advantage in the chaos of battle.

 

And though the elves’ arrows were like a scourging fire, wreaking havoc on the spiders, their numbers alone meant that by the time they reached the Caras Galadhon, they still numbered at easily a thousand. Haldi recognised his brother’s voice, bellowing orders in elvish;

“Brace along the left flank! Prepare to repel attackers! HOLD FIRM!”

 

When the horrific spiders finally reached the Caras Galadhon, they were travelling as though they were chasing the night itself, eating up the bloody, corpse-ridden land at a terrifying rate. Rumil screamed more orders to the back of the company, ones who would otherwise have done little, and told them to come alongside the others and brace for impact.

 

He ducked beneath the sword of an orc, it’s ugly blade just skimming his head. Bringing up his elbow, he first cracked the orc in the face, stunning it for a few seconds, and rammed both his blades up through it’s jaw. Then he fought his way through the Caras Galadhon to the left flank, standing ready behind the shield wall.                                                                                            

“Stand together!” He yelled, “Lock shields!” The elven shields locked together with a unified thud. This was a relatively new idea, having shields that locked together to give the shield wall support and stability.

 

It seemed like an age before the spiders hit the shield wall, but when they did they merely crashed into it, not breaking through at all.                                                                         

 “It works! Now, spearmen, attack!” The second line, behind the shield wall, hefted longhandled spears, and thrusted them over the wall, skewering both orcs and spiders with every hit.

 

“Attackers! Out!” A small group of the Caras Galahon were picked for circumstances just like these – elves who were especially swift and agile – and trained with two, smaller blades. These meant they could leap over the shield wall, do ridiculous amounts of damage, and return to safety. Or at least, that was the theory; since the last real battle the elves had participated in was the Battle of the Last Alliance, they hadn’t really had a good chance to test their theories.

 

A dozen elves hurled themselves over the wall and into the chaotic mass of spiders and orcs. Rumil himself went with them, his twin knives a blur. All around him, orcs and spiders fell dead, oozing black blood seeping from their wounds. For several minutes he fought, moving like a whirlwind, and was only cut once, a thin scratch on his cheek.

 

He returned safely, and wasn't the only one to do so, but on his return the shield wall was deteriorating, no longer a straight line, and in it there were small gaps where elves had succumbed to either spear or poisoned arrow. These gaps were quickly filled, but it was only a matter of time.

 

And time it seemed was something they did not have. Three or four elves died at once, and a small stream of spiders dived in, separating the Caras Galadhon in two. Slowly, slowly, like an enormous mechanism, the continuous stream of spiders widened the crack, until it was a seething river of black malice.

 

At that moment, Rumil knew they were doomed. Most the company was dead, the shield wall was broken, and from what he could see, the other side of the Caras Galadhon wasn’t fending well. But then, as he dodged another sword blow, he was filled with a cold, raging fury. He thrust a fallen spear into a spiders mouth, then leapt on it’s body and beheaded the rider.

 

He fought in a rage, his conscious mind slipping back and letting his instincts take over. But it was a futile fight. The spiders and their riders whittled down the elven cohort until-

 

A shockwave passed through the battlefield. A light from from the southeast exploded in the sky, and the entire battle froze. A few seconds later a sound like a thunderclap rent the air, shattering the silence into a thousand glittering fragments.

“The Great Eye is destroyed!” bellowed Rumil, holding his blade aloft,  “Barad-Dur fails! Let us not die now, brothers, but let us reap our rightful glory, as Shadows fall!”

 

A terrifying roar came from the remaining elves, and in a battle rage, they dove into the fight once more. The orcs had lost heart – with the Dark Lord gone there was no commanding force over them, and they had turned on each other - Rumil watched as orcs beheaded each other, and spiders ate their riders. He allowed the river of silver and gold to flow past him. He was happy simply standing there.

 

But then a cold pierced his back. He turned around to find an enormous orc wielding a spear behind him. He attempted to jump at the orc, but his reflexes had slowed down, he felt almost sluggish somehow. The orc cracked it’s fist into the side of Rumil’s head and he went down, sinking to his knees.

 

The orc grinned devilishly as it raised the spear for a final blow, but then it stopped. It tensed suddenly and dropped the spear. Then Rumil saw him – his brother Haldir, his curved, shimmering sword sunk into the orc’s head.  “Farewell vile beast,” he spat venomously, “with shadows you fall.”  With a gargantuan effort he wrenched the sword out, and rushed to Rumil, catching him.  Tears clouded Haldir’s vision, and as his brother died in his arms, he wept the tears of a thousand lifetimes.

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