From the Ashes by Jessie Syring

Disclaimer: All characters belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. I hope I insult no one by playing with his characters.

Author's Note: Glorfindel's death and resurrection.

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Darkness against light.

Flame against steel.

Fury against determination.

Smoke and a blood-red glow stained the night sky from the burning city of Gondolin as the foes faced each other on the craggy peak of Cristhorn. The Elf's fine chain mail and slightly curved sword seemed a poor second against the might of the demon. But the warrior's position on the narrow trail hampered the Balrog, preventing it from turning its full wrath on him.

Glorfindel felt a mixture of fear and rage as he faced the huge, winged monster. His best friend, Ecthelion, had slain the mightiest of the Balrogs, drowning it in the city's great fountain before being pulled down by the weight of his armor. They could be slain. Water was their foe. There was precious little water here on this rocky precipice, though. And he was but one warrior, already exhausted from battling orcs and goblins, then fleeing the city.

The demon roared, sending a blast of superheated air over him as he ducked beneath its fiery breath. Glorfindel recoiled, closing his eyes and feeling his skin become dry, his sweat evaporating before it formed. He heard the screams of fear from the survivors of the ruined city. The sound firmed his resolve: if this demon wanted them, it would have to get past him first.

He heard a whistling sound and dodged left as the Balrog's many-thonged whip struck the cliff above him. Burning embers and fragments of rock rained down on him. Glorfindel was watching for the second attack. It came quickly, the flaming sword cutting across in what would have been a killing blow had he not anticipated it. The golden-haired Elf went low and inside the attack, slicing downward with his own blade.

The Balrog screamed in fury as the Elf's sword sliced deeply into its whip arm. The weapon fell from its grasp, tumbling down the mountain into the deep chasm below. Black blood dripped from the beast's wound, bursting into short-lived flames as it struck the stone.

Glorfindel's sword felt warm in his grip and its fine blade glowed with more than the reflected flames. He ignored it and pressed his attack, trying to stay inside the Balrog's greater reach. He managed to inflict several minor wounds before the Balrog struck out, kicking him with a huge cloven hoof. Glorfindel flew a dozen feet and landed hard, gasping for breath. His lungs burned from the heated air and stabbing pain told him of broken ribs. He could taste blood and smelled the acrid stench of scorched hair---his own.

Bellowing in victory, the Balrog advanced on him. Flames swirled around its massive body and trickled from its nostrils. The Elf warrior tried to get up. His left arm wouldn't work---broken bones ground together. His right leg throbbed in time to his pounding heart. The heat was unbearable, searing his skin and robbing him of his strength. As the Balrog swooped in for a kill, Glorfindel thrust his sword savagely upward. The demon's triumphant roar turned to an anguished screech as the blade sank deep into its abdomen. Glorfindel twisted the sword and jerked it free with all his might.

He fell to his knees weakly as the Balrog fell backwards, black wings frantically beating in an effort to stay aloft. He heard a scream and looked up dizzily to see a huge hand lunge toward him. Black claws ripped through armor and flesh to pierce his body. He could not breathe. Flames licked at his clothing. The enraged Balrog opened its mouth.

With the last of his strength, Glorfindel shoved his sword into the gaping maw.

The Balrog's talons released him and Glorfindel dropped heavily to the stone, his sword gone. His hands clawed desperately at the mountain, trying to stay on the narrow path. The Balrog lashed out one last time as it fell in its death throes. Its claws tangled in the Elf's long hair, yanking his head back.

Breaking his hold.

Breaking his neck.

They both fell.

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