A short vignette from the perspective of an unknown Rohirrim soldier, at the battle of Helm's Deep. Methinks he should stop staring and start fighting. Don't own anyone, JRR is God, blah blah blah...

Complicated Allies

They frighten me.

The night is dark, the rain hammers hard, turning the battle to chaos, wet and cold, miserable and bloody. If I survive this night, my nightmares will take a single face until the end of my days: The ancient fortress of Helm's Deep, and the battle we fought there.

Were it only the Orcs by my side, engulfing me, I would not fear. Orcs, I have fought, as have my father, and his father before him. But my liege has brought strangers to fight for our land...

They say the tall Man is the Exile, the King of Gondor, and rightly I believe it. As he fights, his ancient blade seems to fly, and the rage and power of his gaze breaks the spirits of his enemies before Anduril begins its brutal harvest. Such a man I would be proud to serve, and I know that his presence is what keeps our battle from becoming hopeless.

Strider, Wingfoot, Aragorn, Son of Arathorn; would that we had a legion of men like you at our backs. Instead, we have your strange allies, and I fear them.

I can see the Elf now. I glimpsed him in Edoras, before the nightmare swept us into its unrelenting tide. He was beautiful, nay, ethereal; tall and fey, eyes that missed nothing, ancient as the dawn, the plains, as the spirit of the world itself. I imagined his people, in a sunny land far from cares and woes, singing their mysterious songs to the ancient trees.

They said his name was Legolas, that he was a Prince among his people.

Now, I see him in battle, a silhouette in the rain, fey and terrible. Black orcish blood has soaked and clotted his golden hair, fairer than that of the Rohirrim. Matted tangles whip his face as he whirls and rams the tip of his bow into the eye of an Orc who charges him. Another one down; the creature screams and reels away, clutching his wounded eye. The Elf is out of arrows, I realize, as he beats off another attack with his sturdy bow. He will soon be defenceless, overcome by slavering Orcs, golden body pounded into the mud as the feral fires that light his eyes die away.

Then his hand flies to his back; a gleaming knife, white and sharp as a crescent moon, appears in his hands. He swings it like Death's scythe, mowing down a ring of Orcs who are closing in on him.

Gore flies, and the Elf's lips snap back in a snarl as he wades away to find another fight, his blade weaving a dance of death before him. I see his eyes, and I am chilled to the core as I realize that some buried part of the Elf's nature, some bestial, primal instinct enjoys this slaughter, glorifies in the smell of blood and the screams of the dying Orcs.

As if the Elf-prince isn't terrifying enough, he has a companion. A Dwarf.

They said his name was Gimli, son of Lord Gloin of the Lonely Mountain. He spoke little when he entered the city, but I heard rumours that he had faced down the Third Marshall over a perceived insult to the Witch-Queen of the Golden Wood.

Perhaps she has enchanted him. I have never met a Dwarf, but I cannot imagine they all share such a single-minded commitment to battle. He doesn't slow, he doesn't pause even when ripping his axe from the back of another dead Orc. He is relentless, unstoppable as the tide in the Sundering Sea. Under his shaggy brows, his eyes glow with ferocity and bloodlust that can never be sated.

I had always believed Dwarves were a simple mining folk, tunnelling in the mountains and producing breathtaking jewellery and deadly weapons. It never really occurred to me that they were quite capable of putting those weapons to use. The Dwarf wields an axe, and he hits low. He roars as an Orc charges, and swings his battleaxe so hard, he cleaves the creature in two. As hot blood splashes to the ground, he turns and slams another with his helmeted head. Hard as the bones of the earth; no Orc stands a chance.

Fell and fey and terrible, the Elf and the Dwarf rule the battlefield as though nothing exists but here and now and eternity. I wonder if they care what befalls us this day. Would they care, the one who would outlive the stars, and the one carved in stone, would they care if the day is lost, if darkness sweeps the land in a sickening tide? Is it only a game to them, a mere contest of wills?

Such complicated allies.

Will the dawn ever come?