Don't sing to me of war or warriors. I have lived war. I have tasted its blood - and it has tasted mine. I remember well the sharpness of the blade that slices you apart, the salt-sharp smell of blood that drowns you and the bitter fire that destroys all who fight.
I saw my father killed - and two-thirds of our people massacred. I saw them cut down, dying without a hope, without a point. Their death changed nothing, saved no-one - bought no more than a temporary and false peace. After we buried our dead I led what was left of our people back to a home still threatened by shadow, back to a life spent fighting an encroaching darkness that we could not defeat.

At Dagorlad I saw the deaths of thousands - saw, felt, heard, lived them. I saw Elves and Men torn apart, heard the screams of horses as they were impaled on sharp-tipped spears, felt the sundering of countless Elves from this world and saw the tears of Men left bereft. I fought too - stabbed and cut and wiped flesh from my sword, slipped and fell on blood-soaked grass and staggered to my feet, bent bow until my fingers bled, threw myself into that maelstrom of fear and pain and killed those that took the other side. Flames consumed me and I hungered for their lives as though their deaths would restore those I had lost.

When darkness fell on us outside the Black Gate, with my father and all our champions dead, I tried to rally what was left of Mirkwood's proud army. In the madness of the hour I did not fear death but only loss. With brave words of honour and pride did I call them to me then I led them forward, led them to death and pain and horror. They followed me and I gave them only a handful of fine words - and a grievous end. It was a pitifully small army that gathered around me in the coldest hour of dawn. Endlessly did I look for the comrades that had followed my father's flag from Mirkwood - but they did not come. Silently did I call their names - but they did not come. I am still stained by their blood.

When they said the war was over I took what remained of Mirkwood and led them home and, though we rode through bright day, darkness accompanied us and lapped around us. The very trees of Mirkwood reproached us. Where are the rest? the trees asked - and There are no rest, we replied. We rode through a forest of mourning to a people that already wept for husbands, sons, lovers or brothers who had gone beyond these shores. We brought with us only sorrow and tales of bravery that would keep no-one warm.

That was the glorious war of the Last Alliance. I'll sing no songs of battle, raise no warriors, honour no flags of war.

I have lived war.