On The Eve Of Battle

March 24, 3019

Aragorn's company made their final camp on the plain that lay before the Morannon and waited sleeplessly for dawn. Flames flickered fitfully in the darkness and guard fires ringed them like watchful fireflies.

Restless, Elrohir took a kettle from the embers of their fire and poured the steaming water into two mugs before passing one to Elladan.

Elladan took it silently, staring into the darkening water as the tea brewed. "Do you think our tactic will work?" he asked at last.

Elrohir gave a slow nod. "It is working already. Have you not felt the oppression of the past days? The sense of dread? The Nazgûl follow us, and Sauron's Eye is watching us. And while he does, he is not watching … elsewhere." He spoke cautiously, even here in the heart of their camp. Out there in the darkness unseen creatures whispered, and crept and prowled all about them – and those who crept and whispered might also have ears to hear.

"And tomorrow?" Elladan's tone was sombre.

"Tomorrow we face battle. The greatest battle this age has seen, I fear." Elrohir sighed. He shared Elladan's dark mood. "And perhaps the final battle of all. For if we fail, Sauron will be victorious, and there will be none left to withstand him again."

He fell silent again, his eyes on Aragorn as he prowled the camp, sharing a flagon of ale here, a jest there, an encouraging word elsewhere. Where he passed the sombre mood of the men lightened, and Elrohir heard snatches of song drifting on the heavy air.

He lay back on the hard, barren ground, gazing upward. Moon and stars were veiled by the smoke and fumes that arose from the plain around them. But somewhere up there was Eärendil, looking down on them – probably for the last time.

"We are unlikely to see another night," Elladan said, echoing his thoughts.

"I know. I have no hope that we will survive the battle ahead. Sauron cannot afford to ignore our challenge – and his lieutenants are not fools. There are some in our company who will make a very tempting prize."

Elladan gave a mirthless smile. "Us among them."

Elrohir nodded. "Yes. They will know us, and they will send all their might against us. We have harried his minions for too long. He will take the bait and crush us. And yet … if It is destroyed, and Aragorn lives to claim the crown, I will die content."

Elladan nodded but did not speak.

"I would not wish to outlive you," Elrohir continued, finally voicing the fear he had harboured in his thoughts for as long as he could remember. "But if you die, I will avenge you. I will rid Arda of as many enemies as I can before I too fall. This I vow."

Elladan stirred at last. "No. If this is to be our last night before we meet Námo, let us make a different vow, brother. We will face the foe together, and – if it comes to it – we will face the end together and we will fall together." He reached out a hand to touch Elrohir's shoulder.

Elrohir raised his hand, clasping Elladan's briefly. "Together," he vowed. "Always."

The End