Author's Note: Happy New Year to you all. I'm sorry this took so long - far too long in my opinion - but everything's been hectic. I've got more hours at my job, so I'm working four days a week, plus... THE HOBBIT. Wasn't that just the best film you have ever seen in your entire being? God, I loved it so much. Finally made me get off my lazy arse and get this chapter out.
It's a little short but I'm nearing the end. All my plans for this story have changed, basically. The epilogue - which is about two chapters away - is literally going to make you guys hate me but c'est la vie. And Rae is getting on my wick. She's not in this chapter, but I re-read the whole thing and I finally understand what everyone is saying about her. She's literally cringe-worthy, but I'm not going to go back and rewrite the whole thing when I'm very nearly finished.
Anyhoo. I'm terribly sorry for it's length and please excuse any mistakes. Again, I'm sorry for how long it took me, haha. I hope you enjoy :).
Also, I got so many reviews on the last chapter, so I'm not going to go through them all. Maybe next time.
MysticLight - You are literally the most amazing person ever. It honestly depresses me that I don't know you in real life :') I honestly didn't think this would ever get by 100 reviews, so 400 hundred is an achievement for me xD. Thank you very, very much! (And it did cheer me up. A lot x) )
I do not own Lord of the Rings.
Forty-Two: The Mouth of Sauron
The sky grew increasingly dark as they approached the Black Gate and Amelia couldn't help the dread settling in the pit of her stomach. She didn't want to look at anyone else, continually wondering if she was the only one even slightly nervous, and thinking the whole time about Rae. Her sister was safe in the White City, but she was still recovering and if – IF – they failed here – what would happen to her? Could she look after herself?
She glanced up, startled, and looked over to Merry, who was looking at her with a worried expression on his face. She smiled at him, hoping it was somewhat believable, before turning away. She wasn't really in the mood to talk to anyone – at least not until they'd reached the Black Gate.
"I'm fine," she murmured quietly. "Just dandy."
She wasn't sure whether anyone had heard her, but it seemed to be forgotten as soon as they stopped. The army came to a halt behind them, and the small group stared ahead at the large, rather horrible (in Amelia's opinion) structure before them. Amelia had thought that they'd be met by Orcs on the field, that the battle would begin as soon as they arrived, but they were alone.
"Where are they?" asked Pippin, as if reading her thoughts.
Amelia glanced at Aragorn and shrugged, silently wondering what they were supposed to do now. She glanced at Éomer wondering if maybe he was as confused as she was, but his gaze was ahead, unwavering. When Aragorn spurred his horse forward, the rest followed without a word, but Amelia hoped Aragorn had a plan at least.
They stopped a few feet from the gate and glanced up; the sheer size unnerved Amelia. It hadn't looked so bad from further away. She glanced around her, wondering if everyone was else was acting the same. It seemed they were, Merry and Pippin especially.
"Let the lord of the black land come forth," called Aragorn. "Let justice be done upon him."
For a long time, it seemed as if nothing was going to happen. Then the gate began to groan and scrape and open and a figure was visible between the gap. Behind him, Amelia could just see the dark plains and a tower with a strange glow at the top. Behind that, a mountain; Mount Doom. She shuddered.
The rider himself was swathed in black, atop a black horse, completely covered in armour. He took his time coming to them, his horse setting a leisurely stride. He seemed to think he had all the time in the world. It wasn't until he got closer that Amelia saw his face; the top half was covered by a helmet, his eyes completely hidden from them. Much of his mouth was taken up by large, sharp, yellow teeth. His blood dripped out of his mouth and was smeared all over his lips and chin.
Amelia turned away from him, disgusted.
"My master, Sauron the Great, bids thee welcome," said the rider. It became clear to Amelia that this would be their negotiation. He grinned at them, a wide toothy smile that made Amelia want to throw up. Aragorn gave him a mocking look.
The rider continued, "Is there any in this rout with authority to treat with me?"
It both amused and angered Amelia that they wanted to treat. What gave him the right to treat with them, after all Sauron had done?
"We do not come to treat with Sauron," said Gandalf angrily, "faithless and accursed. Tell your master this: The armies of Mordor must disband. He is to depart these lands, never to return."
The rider turned to the wizard, sneering, "Old Greybeard. I have a token I was bidden to show thee."
Even before he had pulled out the silvery material from within his robes, Amelia's stomach began to churn. As soon as the material was identified as mithril, the same that belonged to Frodo, she felt sick.
She heard Pippin whisper Frodo's name but everything seemed muffled now. It wasn't possible. After everything they'd been through, Frodo could not be dead. She couldn't find it in herself to believe it. When she finally began to listen again to the conversation, the Rider was addressing Gandalf, almost mocking. Any sadness she had fell away, replaced immediately by rage.
"- Who would've thought one so small could endure so much pain? And he did, Gandalf. He did."
Aragorn seemed to have had enough. He moved forward, eying the Rider up and reaching for his sword. He was so casual and sly about it; no one else seemed to have even noticed. The Rider was completely oblivious to the danger he was in.
"And who is this?" he asked. "Isildur's heir? It takes more to make a king than a broken Elvish blade –"
It happened so quickly that no one really understood what had happened until the Rider's head was on the ground, severed from his body. Aragorn roar of anger had distracted them all from his actions, and he'd swung his blade so fast that their negotiator hadn't seen it coming.
Gimli muttered, "I guess that concludes negotiations," and Aragorn swung around to face them.
"I do not believe it," he hissed at them. "I will not."
The gates began to open again, and the sound of heavy feet hitting the ground filled the air. This time the gate opened wider and wider and the army of Mordor was visible. Hasufel began to shift beneath her, backing up from them.
"Pull back!" ordered Aragorn and she wasted no time in urging her steed to turn and race back. It was only when they reached their army that she wondered if maybe getting back so fast was a bad idea. The soldiers before her looked anxious now, ready to bolt at the first say so.
She stayed by her friends as Aragorn began to ride up and down the line, giving a speech that was so encouraging that even Amelia had to admit that she would follow him into battle without question. She listened, hanging on to his every word, before dismounting. She followed the lead of her friends and sent Hasufel away. This battle was no place for any of their horses, not when their chances of survival were so little anyway.
"I bid you stand, men of the West!"
Amelia drew her swords in time with the rest of the men, and Aragorn rode over to them. He dismounted quickly and effortlessly and sent Brego away just in time for the small army to be surrounded by Sauron's forces. Out of all the battles Amelia had taken part in, she'd never been as terrified as she was now. Her hands shook as they gripped her sword. She took a deep breath, trying to calm down, before glancing at Aragorn.
"We can do this, right?" she murmured, meeting his eyes. Her old mentor said nothing but he reached out and covered her hands with his own. She took comfort in the small gesture, a small smile on her lips as he turned away.
When she turned away, she caught Merry and Pippin's eyes. Amelia wondered if they felt as scared as she did, but they'd each grown so much in the last few months that she found it impossible to think of them as the inexperienced Hobbits they were when she first met them.
"We're going to be fine," she told them. "I promise." She smiled but didn't linger. She took her place beside Éomer and prepared for what was ahead.
She hated that they were completely surrounded, the odds stacked against them, with nothing to do but wait for the inevitable. Her stomach continued to churn, getting worse and worse by the second, but she refused to run. She would not abandon her friends. Never in a million years.
Amelia waited for Aragorn to charge in to battle, the rest of his army behind him. Wasn't that what he was supposed to do? The King always charged first, right? It was all so confusing to her; the rules behind battle. Were there even any rules to abide by? Or could she just charge now and get it over with?
Aragorn was still, staring ahead. She watched him, worried, wondering what on Earth was going on. Should she ask him if he was alright, even though she dreaded any answer she might receive? He stepped forward and Amelia almost followed him, reaching out a hand to touch his arm –