A/N: Well, here we are: my first LotR story. I am actually (like most reading this) a HUGE LotR geek. I was in New Zealand sightseeing the film locations the week before Return of the King came out, for Manwë's sake. Anyway, despite the depths of my adoration of Tolkien's saga, I've never actually attempted to write fanfiction for it. So here goes…a short (two, three, or four chapters, max) view of the Battle of the Pelennor from the points of view of soldiers from each of the four armies (I excluded the Dead Men of Dunharrow because they don't come in until the end and aren't at Minas Tirith at all in the book and because I wanted it to be about the soldiers in each army. An undead, eternally tormented being would thrown everything off.
This one is dedicated to CassieReaganMoore.
Chapter One: Enter the Players
"Men of Gondor!"
Artharion stood at the forefront of his command, shouting to be heard above the sounds of the battle beyond. They were positioned by the gate separating the First Circle of Minas Tirith's mighty walls from the Second. The Orcs, they knew, had broken through the Great Gates. They were in the City. After more than three thousand years, the Enemy had finally broken through the defenses of the White City. What was there now, save death and destruction?
Artharion surveyed his men, a small contingent of soldiers ordered by Mithrandir to hold the Second Circle gates for as long as possible. They were disorganized, confused, tired. But what Artharion saw on their faces that most deeply affected him was none of these. It was fear. The Enemy's greatest weapon.
The sounds of battle were growing louder now, closer. A steady flow of wounded soldiers had been carried past the sentinels during the long hours of battle, but now no more injured or dying soldiers struggled past them through the gates. There were no more, Artharion knew. Those who were mortally injured were killed, those who lived fought on. The fight had entered the City, and the gates were shut.
Artharion turned to his men. He looked terrible, he knew. His long, dark hair was matted and tangled, blood and sweat mingled on his brow, and his face was drawn and haggard. Yet as he spoke to his men, torchlight danced along the blade of his sword and in his eyes, and the defenders of Gondor felt the spark of courage inside them ignite.
"Men of Gondor! We stand now in the First Circle of Minas Tirith. On the plains beyond marches an army of Orcs. Above us the sounds of battle ring. And even now our foes march at us! Now, for the White Tree, for the Steward, for your families and your people, stand and fight!"
With that, Artharion turned and rushed at the approaching Orcs, sword held high.
Léofric gritted his teeth and dug his stirrups into the sides of Déorwine, his steed, urging the chestnut stallion to ride harder and faster. The young Rohirrim rode at the forefront of the army of King Théoden, charging alongside the vanguard of the Lord of the Mark. To his right rode Ardhelm, his kinsman and boon companion. Ahead of them, galloping at full speed, was the Lord Théoden, who looked as though he were a young king again as he charged his enemy. A little further ahead, massed in frightening strength, waited the hosts of the Enemy.
Léofric had fought at Helm's Deep, both on the parapets of the Deeping Wall and in the defense of the Hornburg. He had proved his prowess in battle on that terrible day. He had slain two Uruks and injured a third. The first was killed by a shaft from Léofric's bow, the second he had pushed off the ramparts of the Deeping. The third, the one he had wounded, had nearly killed him. He had stabbed it, driving his knife deep into its arm. But it ignored the wound, and brought its blade down upon his head. That was the last thing he remembered. He awoke later to find a bearded old man clothed in purest white standing over him, smiling sadly. This, he had dimly remembered, was the one they called Gandalf.
Though he bore a thick scar upon his forehead from where the Orc-blade had struck him, it was not the worst of the injuries Léofric received that day. His father had died as the Rohirrim were in the arms of victory, pierced by an Orc-pike. The loss was devastating to young Léofric, leaving him the head of his small family -a family his duty called him to leave behind as he rode with the armies of Rohan to Gondor's aid.
As the distance between the armies of Rohan and Mordor rapidly lessened, Léofric unsheathed his father's sword, Isenlof. The dawn sunlight glinted off the steel of the blades of the Rohirrim as a wind blew from the West. Then the men of the Riddermark met the army of the Enemy, and chaos reigned.
Haytham's grip tightened on the hilt of his sword, an old saber that had belonged to his uncle Khalid. His uncle was now dead, having been ambushed in a raid by the Rangers of the country of Gondor. Khalid's body had not been recovered, and now the only things the young Southron owned of his uncle's were his curved saber and a small bone pendant which he now wore about his neck.
Haytham was a young Southron, barely a man, and had not yet been in a battle. Now he marched with the army of Ghâlib the Red, a great Southron conqueror. His uncle Khalid had been a great soldier. He had marched against the armies of both Gondor and several rival Haradrim tribes, and had mentored Haytham for the entirety of the young man's life. He had taught him to hunt and how best to survive in the harsh southern wastes, how to hunt, and, on this journey, how to fight.
The saber was unwieldy in Haytham's hand, heavier than what he was used to. He had never so much as raised a weapon against another, but while sparring with his uncle he was more comfortable with his hunting spear or even a bow than with the heavy, awkward sword.
Yet he would not throw this blade away. Metal was expensive in the lands of the South, and the saber was an old heirloom of Haytham's family. But neither of these was the reason he now wielded the blade.
He kept it because his uncle had been like a father to him, and a love of that depth deserved to be honored. The desert wastes of the South were a harsh land that left its people no room for moral shades of gray. Kindness was rewarded. Cruelty was punished. Good deeds were repaid. Wrongs were avenged.
Love was honored.
Haytham blinked, both from the light of the rising sun and the tears that threatened to escape his eyes. In this distance he heard the clashing of steel, the shouts of rage and pain. The battle would come to him soon.
He gazed at the morning sunlight reflected off his blade, then raised his eyes to the heavens.
Uncle, he thought, I hope you are watching, for I may join you soon. If I die here upon this field, I wish to die without shame, for I will not enter your halls as a coward. Please, o beloved uncle…guide my blade.
Gorlâk stabbed his blade deep into the dying horse-rider, then turned to find new foes. The clang of steel, the dying screams of Men and Orcs was to his ears what music was to the Elves. The stench of battle! The scent of blood filled his nostrils, filling him with a maddening urge to rip, to bite, to kill…
The rider let out his dying scream, and the Orc grinned, savage teeth filling his terrifying smile. Pain was the Orcs' life. they were born to it, raised to it, died by it. It defined their existence. Their only motivation was pain: to avoid it, to withstand it, and, most of all, to inflict it on others.
Misery loves company.
Gorlâk spotted a new opponent, and his hideous smile widened. Howling a wordless Orc battle-cry, he leapt into battle.
Well? What do you guys think? Good? Bad? Clichéd? Otherwise? R&R, people!! Reviews will be appreciated. Just no flames. If you hated it, at least be constructive about it.