"Orcs, orcs are here."
Frodo pulled out Sting to confirm the madwoman's proclamation and the blade gave off its telltale blue shine.
"Everyone, gather round the Ringbearer, form a circle and keep a watch out into the woods!" cried Aragorn.
Anna nervously took out her bow and notched an arrow. She had never seen an orc before, and although they had been through a few battles now, she didn't know how she would hold up seeing a real monster close up.
Legolas was the first to spot one coming through the foliage and let loose an arrow. Anna heard it whistle through the air and make a sickening thunk into the orc's skull. She wanted to turn and look, but the full onslaught was now upon them.
The clanging of metal against metal began in earnest. Aragorn and Gimli stood back to back dispatching the foul creatures with ease, while Legolas was able to pick off charging orcs from a distance. Anna began to shake as she saw an orc charge forward towards a break in the circle, towards the hobbits. She loosed her arrow and hit it in the shoulder. It continued its run, so she tried again, this time hitting it in the arm. The orc snarled and turned its attention at last towards Anna.
The creature stalked over with blade in hand to the shaking girl. Anna desperately tried to grab another arrow and dropped it on the ground. Come on, come on, hurry! The beast was nearly on her and suddenly lurched forward and threw itself on top of her. Anna passed out and knew no more.
Anna opened her eyes and saw a beautiful vision of a golden haired woman hovering over her.
"D'hear that, Elf? The girl thinks you're her mother!"
As her vision cleared, Anna realized it was Legolas who was holding her head in his lap and holding something against the back of her head. She tried to get up, but her head hurt badly.
Legolas smiled at her. "You did well, Anna. I shot the orc who charged at you and he collapsed on top of you. It seems you hit your head as you both went down. Although it seems you kept our hobbits safe with your own bow."
"Am I going to be all right?"
"These herbs will help. Anna…if you will not take offence…I would like to offer you some lessons in archery as we travel onwards. You did well, but your form needs a lot of work, and I'd rather you stayed alive."
Maeve listened to her general's report and kept a calm face.
"Four Maidens were found trying to escape back to Rivendell and were executed, as an example to the others, as you commanded, my lady. Archers and swordswomen are drilling as we speak. Healers are gathering herbs and making bandages. Magic users are ensuring they still have aim and endurance. However…
"There's always a however. What?"
"However, we seem a bit weaker than normal, my lady. Spells are misfiring. Archers are missing their mark. The Maidens are afraid."
Maeve calmly walked out of her tent and faced her army of Maidens. "Afraid are you? You are Middle Earth's most deadly and terrifying adversary! Years of easy living and stuffing yourselves full of desserts have made you all soft. I've taken care of all of you while you dressed as princesses and danced the nights away. We have lost nothing. Look to me!"
With that Maeve flicked her hand and a large ball of fire appeared. "If I am still capable of conjuring this, you can all still be an army worthy of me. Keep practicing, or you'll end up like them!"
Maeve put out the flames and gestured to the four beautiful heads on pikes that decorated the outside of her hut.
Inside, she walked over to a glass ball resting on a velvet pillow. She gently touched the ball and an older man with white hair appeared.
"Well, Saruman. Tell me how you and your orcs can help me and my army."