Disclaimer: I only own Danielle. Middle Earth and everything else in it belongs to J.R.R. Tolkien.
Danielle dove through the wall of orcs with a slash of her sword. With it, their blades parted and allowed her to force her way into the depths of their numbers. The orcs instantly crowded around the soldiers of Gondor and Rohan, but Danielle used the momentum of her charge to press through as far as she could, decapitating one orc and slicing off another's arm in the process. Once their army could reach no further, however, they lost their advantage to the sheer number of orcs.
Danielle kept close to other men in her armies, but even so she could not keep up with the numbers coming at her. She drove her sword through the gut of one orc, but before she could retrieve her sword another arced his blade toward her head. Danielle barely had time to duck out of the way and swing her sword directly from the stomach of the first orc into the legs of the second. And still, more orcs pressed in, each one hungry for battle.
An orc with an axe charged Danielle, forcing her into a defensive stance. She blocked him once, twice, three times before he pulled his weapon too far back, allowing Danielle to sink the tip of her blade into his face. He fell as she wrenched her sword out from the orc. She immediately turned to spot her next attacker, but faltered and stumbled when she felt a sharp jab in her side. She nearly dropped her weapon as she looked for the cause, and found a sword - one with a thinner, needle-like point - caught in her mail rings. The orc yanked at his blade in an attempt free it, which sent a second searing spasm through her ribs, but allowed Danielle the time to spin and slice her sword into the orc's neck.
She only just had time to free the sword from her mail before she was immediately thrown into battle with another orc. They sparred, their weapons clashing in rapid succession when she caught a glimpse of motion coming at her from her periphery. Panicked, Danielle kicked her opponent in the chest, forcing him back and allowing her to spin and slice her sword in the air at an incoming orc. Just as his head began to teeter off his shoulders, she turned back to the first orc, who had returned sooner than she had anticipated. He slashed his blade through the air, and Danielle stumbled to the side to dodge it, but his sword caught her arm. The tip grazed down the length of her forearm, leaving a shallow tear behind and cutting through the straps of her vambrace, exposing much of her right arm. Danielle wrenched her arm away and stabbed her blade through the orc's sword arm.
Panic began to pump through Danielle's veins. As frenzied as the constant attacks kept her, Danielle couldn't even be sure she was remembering to breathe. She had no time to think, only to react on a primal level. The orcs came too fast and blurred her sense of time, but she knew she could not keep up with them for long. Already, Danielle had been extraordinarily lucky, and the one thought that kept her going was the knowledge that her first mistake - whether a hesitation or a poorly aimed strike - would be her last. And yet, with the swarm of orcs constantly closing in, she simply couldn't always do the right thing. Sometime, soon, she would have the wrong reaction, and it would come to an end. Although she had no time to linger on this thought, she was aware of it, just as she was aware that she was starting to slip. Little by little, the orcs tore away at her - at her physical body and her energy. She could not keep this up.
Danielle heard a shrill cry soaring over her head. A ringwraith. She could tell simply from the dread and ice that spread through her as it passed over, but it was accompanied by another unfamiliar screeching call. Danielle looked up in time to see a bird, far larger than any she had ever seen. Although she did not know what it was, her heart lifted as she saw it collide with a wraith's beast in midair. Others just like it swarmed in, and the combat continued in the sky as it did on the ground.
Danielle's eyes darted through the field as she returned her focus to the battle around her. A few feet away, Gimli swung his axe into the chest of an orc twice his size. Next to him was Aragorn, who slashed his sword at one orc and then directly into a second one behind him.
Though she had only diverted her attention for a second, it was enough for an orc with broad shoulders to catch her off-guard. His sword flew down at an angle with impressive speed, and though she tried to dodge out of his way the it struck her left shoulder. Despite the protection her mail and leather armor provided, she could feel the force of its impact, and it made her knees buckle. Still, she was able to maintain her balance, and so was prepared when his next blow came. Danielle blocked his next strike, and the one after that, but she recognized a cunning that she often faced when she fought with Aragorn. This orc changed his strategy, and so Danielle was never sure where his blade would fall until well into each arc. Danielle could not predict his movements, and so could not find any opportunities to introduce her own attacks.
The orc's speed increased, and Danielle struggled to keep up. She shuffled backward, trying to put more space between her and her attacker and allow herself more time to react. Her blocks became more erratic as she became less certain what to do and increasingly desperate to get back into an offensive stance. She pulled her sword arm far back - too far. Further than her shoulder injury permitted, and the motion sent pain radiating down her right arm. She tried to compensate by taking another step back, but her feet caught on the corpse of a Gondor soldier. Her heel slipped off his leg and could not then find purchase on the dusty ground, making her tumble backward over the fallen soldier.
She reached her arms out to brace herself, but she gained no control over her fall. First her back and then her head smacked against the ground. For a moment she lay confused and stunned, unable to move or process what had happened. As the orc came back into view, peering at her from above, Danielle was struck by a feeling of déjà vu. With it came the memory of the Palantir and the certainty that this would be the last thing she would ever see. The orc raised his blade, and Danielle was surprised that rather than fear she felt pride for making it this far. She had fought with everything she had, and now just wanted to get the inevitable over with.
Danielle heard a forceful yell as the blade slashed toward her neck, and before it could make its mark Aragorn soared over her and crashed into the orc. The two fell to the ground, and Aragorn drove his sword through the orc's throat.
Danielle scrambled up, but the world felt unsteady beneath her. She sat up in time to see her attacker's head roll to the side - in time to see a troll slam his fist into Aragorn's unprotected back, flinging him feet away and into the ground. Danielle tried to run, but the world in front of her lurched to the side as her whole body careened. An orc ran at her, and she swung her sword wildly, trying to get through, trying to get to Aragorn. Desperation rose up in Danielle's throat - tasting much like blood and bile - as the troll anchored Aragorn down with his large foot. Danielle sliced her sword across, hitting her orc at the neck, but she was still feet away when the troll raised his sword. She couldn't reach him.
But the sword didn't strike down. Something changed. Orcs and humans, alike, turned toward Barad-dur, and it took a moment for Danielle to realize that the rumble she felt in the ground came from Mordor rather than her own dizziness. In the distance, Sauron's Eye flared stronger than ever, and its light seemed to fluctuate. The orcs and the troll all turned and set off at a sprint, weaving through the soldiers of Gondor and Rohan as they made their escape.
Danielle couldn't understand what was happening, the only thing she could see for certain was that Aragorn, who was slowly picking himself up, was alive. Danielle ran to him, tripping and staggering until she collapsed, tackling Aragorn back to the ground. He caught her with arms around her ribs and steadied her, while Danielle's arms tightened around his neck. She was torn between the urges to kiss him and make sure he wasn't hurt, but instead found that she could not loosen her grip. The impossibility of that moment left her dumbfounded. Somehow, against all logic, they were still alive.
The rumbling grew louder, and together they helped each other up and turned to look through the Black Gates, where they could see dark clouds swirling around Barad-dur. The tower began to teeter, and then the black rocks crumbled. Danielle stood in awe and disbelief, holding her breath as the top of the tower tilted over and fell. Halfway down, the Eye condensed into a tight ball of fire and then exploded, launching the crumbling remains of Barad-dur into the air and sending shock waves through the ground. They radiated out, and the earth began to collapse into itself, forming a chasm where the Gate once stood. The orcs who had been positioned closest to the Gate or who were too slow to run away fell into its depths, obliterating much of what was left of Sauron's army but leaving the people of Gondor and Rohan untouched.
"Frodo!" The army erupted into wild celebration. Danielle joined in, jumping and cheering. The ecstatic relief was too strong to contain. She almost couldn't comprehend that the very thing that had caused so much death and pain was gone. Frodo destroyed the Ring! It was over, and they had won!
A second shock wave cut their celebrations short. The summit of Mount Doom burst open, sending rock flying through the air. With it, torrents of lava shot up and began to cascade down the mountainside. From within the cloud of black smoke and ash, molten boulders continued to fire, showering the volcano and the land surrounding it with fire.
Danielle reached out and grabbed Aragorn's arm. She felt simultaneously sick and numb. And helpless. There was no way the hobbits could survive an eruption like that. Even if they had lived, there would be no way down. After all they had been through, they would not live to see the benefits of their deeds.
"You don't think ... ?" Danielle asked, unable to say the words, but Aragorn said nothing. His features had frozen into an expression of disbelief.
It was the sacrifice they had all been willing to make. Danielle tried to remind herself of this, but it brought her no comfort. Only Frodo and Sam, the ones with the most challenging task of all, would have to follow through on their sacrifice.
One of the great birds - it looked much like an eagle now that she could see it up close - swept down onto the field, directly in front of Gandalf. Danielle could not hear the words that he spoke, only could hear his deep voice rise in urgency. Then, the eagle bowed down low, allowing Gandalf to climb onto his back. Within seconds, the eagle launched back in the air flying toward Mount Doom with two others in tow behind him. It was a rescue mission, but would there be anything left to save?
Danielle touched her cheek and found that it was wet. She wiped the moisture away, but her gaze remained trained on the lava that still flowed out of the volcano. "If they died -"
"Then their suffering is over, all the same." Aragorn's voice had a hard edge. His words didn't seem to bring himself any comfort, either.
A/N: Well, that was fun :) I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I could do with this battle, so I hope you enjoyed it!
I just want to let you know that the story doesn't end just yet, but yes, it will have to come to a close sometime soon. I don't know how far it will go. It will end when I feel like everything is settled and all ends are neatly tied. I want to show some of what happens post-war, both in terms of Gondor/Middle Earth and Aragorn and Danielle, and I want you to be able to get a feeling for how things will continue when order has restored. Basically I have a few more ideas up my sleeves that I've had planned for a while. I won't, however, let my story linger until it fizzles out. Besides, I want to do my Aragorn POV chapters, still :)