The Eagle

by Val Evenstar

Disclaimer: I do not own Alfred Lord Tennyson's amazing Eagle. But I doubt anyone would dare lay claim to a spirit so bold and wildly free.

Author's Note: This was inspired by Tennyson's poem. I'd thought about doing it with Farsight in Narnia, but somehow this worked out better. If the canon seems a little stretched, please see the notes on my blog. But the purpose of this story is to put a picture in you mind and maybe stir a little something in your hearts.

He clasps the crag with crooked hands,
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.

High above the earth I wait, muscles tensed, wings half unfurled in preparation. Here where no mortal or immortal has ever gone, the world is calm. The air is thin and cold; nature is harsh up here, and we who dwell in the heights must endure constant adversity.

Far better to live here than in that tattered, blackened world below. There are no shadows near the sun.

Yet even our high eyries are not untouched by the darkness that has consumed the lands we watch. It seems not long ago that we nested in these shadowed peaks, but even as the Firstborn count it has been generations. Now the cliffs are blackened with the stench of Sauron and the land is dry and dead, a rotting corpse where the scum of the earth take refuge in filth. Like busy ants they team around the ash-covered peaks and cower under the red Eye, desiring and devouring what lies beyond their putrid borders.

The land is empty now and barren. The creatures have left it to seek new prey, brave Men who risk their lives for a fool's hope.

They fight to cleanse this earth and my people will stand by them. It has been far too long since the world was untainted.

But why should we, denizens of the air, concern ourselves with matters of the land? they ask.

Though the Valar gave us wings, we are bound to the earth, as every eaglet knows - and never have we forgotten our ties to it. It is that place which gives us life; our high rocky crags are naught but a refuge, a shelter for our young. The air lifts us but it is the ground that sustains us.

This land is not the one I hunted in in the days of my youth. A blight has fallen across Arda, the Shadow has grown and possessed to much, too fast. The Dark Lord would turn all Middle-earth into the scorched black plain that is Mordor, and neither I nor my kin will let that happen.

My eyes pierce the cloud of smoke and magma pouring from Orodruin, through the haze of battle and blood of brothers. I search for hope - yet I cannot help but wonder if there remains any to be found.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls,
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt, he falls.

Fire flows down the mountain in a hideous spectacle of writhing torment; my heart delights to see it, because it is the death of the Dark One.

Let it not also be the death of the Dear One, I pray.

With a new urgency, my sharp eyes scan the quaking land. Black rocks tumble and crack in the ferocious heat of the flames; they are swept along like mere pebbles on the seashore. Barad-dШr has fallen, its foundations crumbled and already washing away in the consuming flood.

Beneath my feet, the earth trembles. These walls will not tumble, but I fear that soon Ororduin will let loose its final fury in one last attempt to ravage the earth.

My eyes can see into the depths but perhaps these dark hours have blinded my sight to hope, for I can see no sign of life amid the desolation. All I see death as the world ends in flame.

Steaming streams of lava and jets of fire impede my vision; it will not be long now until all is lost, though all has already been won. Down near the door in the mountain they should be; the Ringbearer triumphant, and his faithful friend. They are small of stature but will live long in lore; but I would not have their tale end like so many tales of old. For death, no matter how heroic or noble, is not what these small warriors deserve.

A haze of ash and sparks mingles over the mountain, speaking of more violence to come. It is as if even in dying Sauron works against us!

Do your worst, then! I defy him, screaming to the winds. Do your worst - for if you could not keep your Ring from the fire, you shall by no means keep me from its Bearer!

I level my fierce gaze on the Dark Lord's land, willing my eyes to see the two small forms clinging helpless to the collapsing versant, demanding that they be more than two meaningless deformities in the stone...

There. There! On a black boulder in the molten river, I see them!

My exultant screech is lost behind me immediately, swallowed up in the rushing air as I streak towards the ground, calling to my brother as speed flattens the feathers about my face.

I am thunder, I am lightning, I am of the sky, and like a hand from above we will rescue the one who delivered us.