In An Age Before – Part 51

Thereafter Helluin made her way 'cross Gorgoroth, and after yet another secretive journey, came again to the ascending road upon the flank of Orodruin. Up that climbing way she went by night, shrouded in the shadow of her cloak, and moving with the stealth of the Laiquendi. With her long-standing barrier enclosing her fëa, not even the piercing eyes of Sauron could mark her progress. Thus she came at last, upon 30 Norui, to the threshold of the Sammath Naur, and thither, just 'nigh the door, she hid the palantír 'neath a cairn of fallen tuff. Wherefore in all that land woulds't Sauron last suspect his stolen prize to be set, she thought, save at the very doorway to his forge and temple? Thereafter she slipped away into the night and returned not for several years.

Now in truth Helluin was't somewhat perplexed, for she had expected the Dark Lord to give chase and seek after her immediately, yet he had come not forth from his tower. She could not decide whyfore this should be. He had indeed been in a rage when she had fled his presence and his anger had followed her down into the dungeons. She had wounded him, stolen his plunder, slain his Mouth, and freed his captives. If he had burst forth from his gate in pursuit of her, she would hath expected it and led him thence on a chase to Mt. Doom. She now deemed the Sammath Naur a place fitting to coax her enemy's clumsy and lumbering form; a place wherein to renew their combat and to force him again off-balance, and thence to fall, she hoped, down into the fiery heart of the lava that boiled within Orodruin. She could not believe that during all the following years he had not found a way down the tower stairs.

But the siege of the Barad-dúr continued with great violence for the next six years. During all that time increasingly desperate elements of Sauron's forces made sorties against the Host of the Alliance. These ill-fated attempts to break the leaguer about the Dark Tower cost many lives upon both sides and invariably ended in failure. Also during that time, the bombardment of the Barad-dúr never ceased, for what had the Plain of Gorgoroth to offer save an unlimited supply of stones? Day and night, missiles flew against the walls and the gate, while from within those walls came a limited return fire. From the nature of the enemy shot, the host deemed that the Glam had pulled down some structures within the fortress to supply their catapults with ammunition.

Another factor weighed upon the continuation of the artillery battle. The Hosts of Lindon and Arnor had spent much effort in collaboration with the Naugrim, and they had dug many trenches and many hidden rooms in the earth. Thereby these armies showed few targets to those directing the enemy fire from upon the walls. The Naugrim, who had encamped beyond the range of the catapults of the Barad-dúr, had entrenched themselves as well, for this was't standard operating procedure for their army. But the Nandor of Greenwood, still distrustful of the Gonnhirrim and unwilling to 'cower in warrens and holes, refused. The Nandor of Lórinand, though on better terms with their allies from Khazad-dûm, also clove to the wisdom of their much more numerous cousins. Thus they became far more attractive targets in their tents and camps upon the surface.

The Glam pounded them unmercifully, raining their diminishing supply of missiles most upon the Moriquendi who held the northernmost flank. Thither many died, needlessly and horribly, and oft from the clinging fire with which the Yrch painted their bombs.

Year after year it continued thus, and the Nandor stood in grudging and stubborn defiance of their peril, enduring their losses with an increasing bitterness. Also, the freed Avari had indeed been delivered amongst them by Elendil's warriors, and by their sad appearance and their tales of woe, the morale of the troops was't diminished yet further. For their part, the Avari looked on in horror at the seemingly endless carnage, and finally, in early 3437 as spring hesitantly opened, they followed Halatir north 'cross Gorgoroth and through Udûn, and finally out of the Morannon and into Rhovanion. Yet again they had seen more than enough of war. The Nandor were just as happy to see them go, for rations had begun to grow scarce and their appearance had been depressing.

Now in the late-spring of 3438, having secured the city of Minas Ithil and set the defense of Gondor in order at last, King Anárion entered Mordor with a force of 15,000. With him came his son and heir, Prince Meneldil. Then his father, the High King Elendil, and his brother, King Isildur, rejoiced in their presence and their victory, while'st the King Anárion rejoiced to add his strength to the fall of their enemy.

During those years, as the fighting continued, Helluin made it her duty to move in and about the precincts of the enemy. Amongst their bivouacs she crept with a stealth their sentries and watches could not comprehend, and she slew many in their camps as she had in Eriador long aforetime, save that now she mutilated none nor committed any atrocities against the dead. Amongst the Glamhoth and the Easterlings rumors arose of a killing wraith who came with the darkness to hew off the heads of their comrades in some silent moment, invisible and untouchable, and yet another cause for their misery and despair. They half-believed 'twas some vengeful work of their own master, visited upon them for their failures aforetime. To the average soldier, one factor only gave some scant measure of comfort; the wraith preferred to take the heads of officers. The troops took the bodies and fed.

'Twas in the spring of 3439 that the Host of Elendil, reinforced now by Anárion's forces from Gondor, deemed the time proper for an offensive. Therefore, after consulting with Gil-galad and the Durin, they marshaled themselves and upon 17 Gwaeron, (March 13th), and assailed the encampments of the Glamhoth, their closest foes.

With the rising of Anor the infantry surged up out of their trenches and charged forward, crossing Sauron's Road and falling upon the sentries of the Yrch. The shrill blaring of alarms rang out in the morning air, and the Yrch, fearing for their lives and bullied into defensive lines by their commanders, met the Dúnedain with shrieks of hatred and wildly slashing weapons. The fighting soon degenerated into a melee, for amidst the strewn boulders and trenches in that precinct of Gorgoroth, ordered lines were impossible to maintain. In some places companies of Men chased down bands of Yrch, while in others, charging masses of Glam fell upon the soldiers of Arnor. 'Twas a bloody fight that dragged on through the afternoon with no clear resolution possible, for the actions were spread across no certain front, but rather see-sawed to and fro amidst that broken ground.

Then, with the westering sun of early evening, the catapults within the Barad-dúr commenced to firing. Shot rained down amongst friend and foe alike, indiscriminately slaying any in range. 'Twas as much a hazard to the Glamhoth as to the Dúnedain, and as night fell, both sides withdrew. In response, the artillery of the Host returned fire with a pitched barrage to cover the retreat of their comrades. The attack ended as an indecisive and bloody foray which achieved little save the loss of many lives.

During the succeeding months of S.A. 3439, and into 3440, that sequence of actions was't repeated with many variations and similar results. Just as oft did the Yrch or Easterlings or Black Númenóreans probe the strength of their besiegers. Then the soldiers of the Host of the Alliance were called upon to repel the attackers ere they broke the leaguer about the Barad-dúr. Such forays were tried both with and without prior bombardments from the catapults within the tower walls, yet so far, no troops had come forth from within to cross Sauron's Bridge.

Now all this changed in late 3440. Upon the darkest night of Hithui, (November), when Ithil shone not, a fierce bombardment came from the artillery of the Dark Tower. Thence, 'neath the cover of that rain of projectiles, the massive gate of the Barad-dúr opened at last and a roiling mass of black clad troops came forth, numerous as ants, Yrch and Easterling, and amongst them strode o'er a dozen Tor.

Immediately the catapults of the Alliance answered, flinging bombs both at the walls and upon the bridge. Many of Sauron's troops died crossing o'er the river of lava, their bodies smashed or flung from the iron span. Yet many, many more won across to the causeway, and there they combined with those troops encamped outside the walls, and with bloodthirsty abandon, they fell upon the Dúnedain and the Eldar 'nigh Sauron's Road. 'Twas a pitched battle indeed and the fighting was't fierce. The count of the slain quickly mounted. The enemy pressed forward from the bridgehead and spread to either side of the causeway, slaying all who stood against them in the ferocity of their onslaught.

Now Helluin had watched as the troops marched 'cross the bridge, and she marked the presence of the Tor, and so she took up her arms and slipped forward in the confusion, an anonymous figure concealed in her cloak. She advanced into the shadows cast by the masonry of the causeway and thither she waited, unnoticed by those about her.

Now soon the heavy footfalls of those giant creatures she felt reverberating through the stones. The Tor were marching forward, not at the very head of the advance, but close behind and in support of it. They swung great clubs studded with iron bosses, or waved pikes tall as a small ship's mast. Ere they came to the thither end of the bridge, some had already fallen to oversized crossbows or ballistae, much like the ones Helluin had once seen upon Valacirca, the warship of Queen Tar-Telperion's navy. Their great bodies fell with a tremor, or were pitched from the bridge into the river of lava below. Yet more strode forth undaunted, stupid, lumbering, and fearless. Before them the Men of the alliance shied back.

Finally their rumbling footfalls came abreast of her position, and Helluin leapt forth. She was't both difficult to see, clad in her Elven cloak, and fast moving, and no brilliance of Holy Light did she allow to project. Yet with speed and assurance too great for any mortal warrior, she slew with her black sword all of the Yrch within her reach, and then she flung the Grave Wing.

Gratefully did it take flight, and in its whine its fell voice cried out for the blood of the Tor. Across a great and leathery throat did it slice, thence the neck vessels of another it hewed so that second victim spun 'round with a howl spraying all those fighting 'nigh with its steaming black blood. Yet deadly as was't the Sarchram unto the Tor, greater still a weapon did Helluin possess against them.

Wherefore in ancient days had come the Light of Anor which, carried aloft each day by Arien, burns the skin of a Torog and returns it thence to stone? Indeed the sun but preserved the last flower of Laurelin, reserving therein unto the Ages the last light of the Golden Tree. And wherefore upon that dark and dusty field stood such a well of Light as had been harvested in the noontime of the Blessed Trees long aforetime? Helluin caught the returning mithril Ring and clasped it again to her belt. Then she concentrated as the remaining Tor charged 'nigh.

In the dark night of Gorgoroth, for one heartbeat only, Helluin blazed with the Light of Aman. 'Twas a flash as brief as that of a lightning bolt, such as was't to be missed in the blink of an eye though it burnt its image upon the lids. Indeed all nearby who saw it were for a moment blinded, so abrupt and unexpected and brilliant was't that flare. And when it faded, there stood, as colossi carven upon Sauron's bridge, nine Tor forever immobile and returned to the natal rock from which their kind was't first enchanted to life.

Now for Helluin, such an act was't equal to the cry of Manwë's Herald announcing her presence. All amongst the Host of the Alliance would hath marked it. She had no doubt that far to the north her king and her friends of old were aware of her. Within the tower too, a presence would hath discerned her. Indeed an increase in catapult shot from the tower confirmed this.

Thereafter she resumed her swordplay wielding Anguirél, slaying gleefully any foes nearby, but foregoing her battle cry. She had no interest in being summoned by the High King of the Noldor. So she fought on incognito, fell as ever, holding fast her ground against all comers, but alas, without the effect of her battle cry to rally those about her, the soldiers of the host were being forced back by the countless vicious rabble of Sauron. They were driven in a slow and grudging retreat from the head of the bridge, and thence step by step from the margins of the causeway. Lest she become isolated, Helluin retreated with them, holding the rear guard.

Now the faltering of the host was't marked. Therefore to rally his troops did the King Anárion come forth. He rode with his knights to the fore of the fighting. Thither for a brief moment he traded a glance with Helluin, and a smile of surprise and joy lit his face, and they saluted each other with their swords ere the combat forced them apart. Fearlessly did the king engage both champions of the Glamhoth and of the Easterlings. Thither too did he lay low his own fallen brethren amongst the Black Númenóreans, for in a duel, he took the head of Fuinur of Umbar. Yet upon that night fate turned against the younger son of Elendil.

Though he fought beyond the range of the stones cast from the Barad-dúr, Anárion stood then upon the low mound whereon he had slain the Black Númenórean. Thither he was't visible from afar and with few of his knights about him. He had scarce hewn off his foe's head when a missile was't flung from the walls of the Dark Tower. Now perhaps that stone was't enchanted, wound 'bout with spells and curses by the Dark Lord himself, for its unlikely path was't fraught with doom. It arced upwards into the dark night sky ere its trajectory brought it down, and seemingly by chance did it strike a tall stanchion supporting the superstructure o'er Sauron's Iron Bridge, from whence it rebounded again, adding greatly to the distance of its flight. Upon its further landing, it came down and struck a glancing but fatal blow upon the winged helm of the King of Gondor. He was't dead in an instant ere he even knew by what he had been struck.

From the throats of those of the host who fought 'nigh that place came a gasp of horror. Then with many an anguished battle cry, they surged forward, seeking for blood as if possessed, and they drove back the soldiery of Mordor. In those moments none of the Yrch or the Black Númenóreans could withstand the onslaught of the soldiers of the southern kingdom. Fey was't their wrath and no quarter did they yield. For the loss of their king, they would settle for no lesser redress than the slaughter of every living foe they could find. Then, while a dour company of the knights of his house stood protecting the body of their fallen lord, the remainder of the Army of Gondor surged forth to drive their attackers back upon the bridge in a rout. So ended the first foray of the soldiery of the Barad-dúr upon the field of Gorgoroth, and so ended the reign of Anárion son of Elendil, King and co-ruler of Gondor.

Now Helluin had seen the death of King Anárion from where she fought some 30 yards away. With the Dúnedain she hastened after the host of their enemies. With those soldiers of Gondor she charged forth in a murderous frenzy, Anguirél in one hand, the Sarchram in the other. Upon the very Bridge of Sauron she slew in their company. Yet ere they came to the midpoint of that span, with missiles cast from the Barad-dúr falling all 'round them, a knight of Gondor rode up amongst them on horseback and he stayed their advance, and at the heraldry upon his shield, Men ceased in their pursuit of their enemies and paid him heed as he spoke.

Verily would I revel in the slaughter of all those in league with the slayers of my father, he cried out in a great voice, yet not upon this day shalt we hath 'aught save a measure of vengeance, and this we hath already achieved. Hear me, O valiant Men of Gondor, not with such force as is marshaled hither shalt we win the gate or force the way into the Barad-dúr. Back thither hath we sent the foul servants of Sauron. To our own lines, I order thee now to retreat. Our day shalt come indeed, but 'tis not this day.

Then the warriors of the southern kingdom harkened to the words of the prince, for he was't now by rights their lord and king. And so in orderly fashion, the Men of Gondor marched back across the bridge and onto the causeway, and thence to their positions amidst Gorgoroth. At the tail of their companies came Helluin, with sorrow for the loss of the Man who had treated she and her soulmate with honor since their first meeting at Pelargir. Too, she felt proud of his son, Prince Meneldil, the last prince of the Dúnedain born in Númenor ere its fall, and she deemed him thoughtful and wise beyond his years. Oft enough had she encountered the rash and violent temperaments of warriors, mortal or immortal, who had been inflamed by loss. She herself would hath come against the gates of the Black Tower in a fell rage. Yet the prince had no lack of heart. He had not hesitated to ride amidst his enemies and the falling bombs upon the bridge, and he had preserved the lives of his soldiers in a moment when most would hath given in to their passions. In the restraint and will of the son did Helluin see the wisdom and courage of his father.

Now after the battle, Helluin made her way west 'cross the Plain of Gorgoroth, for she was't loath to remain with the host. She had advertised her presence in battle and all knew of her actions against the Tor. Perhaps too, word had spread of her liberation of the Avari and of her assault upon the Dark Tower. Sooner or later a summons might come from the High King, and the chance of some dismal assignment at her king's whim was't one which Helluin had no inclination to indulge. So she absented herself from the leaguer about the Barad-dúr and made her way back towards Orodruin.

Upon 25 Hithui Helluin availed herself again of the hospitality of the Naugrim and indeed she found that some tales of her prior actions had been circulated amongst the troops. Although those actions had been largely unacknowledged by the lords of the Eldar, they were known amongst the soldiers. She could almost imagine Ereinion fuming in his tent o'er her unsanctioned participation in the war. So she hunkered down with a company of the rearguard of Khazad-dûm, enjoying their board and company and the shelter of their trenches.

Now these soldiers were happy to entertain her. They had seen little action and had grown bored during the years of the siege. In all this time we could hath at the least undermined the walls of Sauron's Tower, they carped, or redirected the lava river to his gates. As such they were greatly receptive to her recountings of the campaigns she had undertaken against the enemy. In a brotherhood of dissatisfaction, they told tales, sang songs, and ate their fill. Helluin stayed through the end of Hithui and the month of Girithron, only taking her leave as Narwain, (January), of 3441 opened.

During the months of winter there had been fewer actions at the front. Save for the continued bombardment of the Barad-dúr, the fighting had slackened through the coldest months. Indeed the battle in which King Anárion had fallen was't the last major engagement of 3440. Thereafter both sides awaited the warming of spring to take up again in earnest the war. In a way this suited Helluin just fine. She recouped her strength at the Naugrim's tables and rested her spirit amidst their company, and then with the new year she went forth to prosecute her plans. The war might draw on indefinitely, she realized, and n doing so, would reward the wiles of the Dark Lord. Too, Helluin felt the desire to redress the death of her friend, King Anárion, the death of King Oropher, and the long suffering of the Avari. All these she blamed herself for in some measure, and so with renewed determination, she sought again to force Sauron from his tower.

Atop all her prior grievances she now had the slaying of Anárion to add, for in no way was't she convinced that he had died of simple bad fortune. The stone cast that had felled him had come after her destruction of the Tor, and while'st she herself was't unseen, King Anárion had been an easily visible target. Rational or no, Helluin felt that Sauron had chosen the King of Minas Anor to balance her act against his troops.

Now up the slopes of Orodruin Helluin made her way upon the climbing road. Oft she looked out 'cross the miles to the topmost chamber in the Dark Tower and thither she saw that all was't wreathed in Shadow. Sauron was't surely brooding dark and stewing in his malice. She intended to give him yet more cause for consternation. So upwards past the doorway to the Sammath Naur she hiked, higher upon the cinder cone where no road led, and to the very summit of the Fiery Mount did she make her way.

The mountain brooded now in an uneasy quiet, scarcely fuming, and underfoot the boulders about the summit vent hardly trembled. Helluin looked down from the opening and beheld far below, the causeway and the forge and the altar that Sauron had made thither to Morgoth. All was't as she had left it following her combat with the Úlairi.

About the vent stood many boulders, strewn about by prior eruptions, and some of these now balanced precariously 'nigh the brink, for the ash 'neath them was't constantly eroded by the vibrations of the mountain's unquiet. In broad daylight, Helluin busied herself with unseating them, one by one, and for her amusement, watching them plummet down to crash into the lava lake. More gratifying still were those placed such that in their fall they struck Sauron's forge. Helluin practically cheered as one of her improvised bombs crashed into the tool rack 'nigh the Dark Lord's anvil, spilling his tongs and hammers into the churning magma below. She saved the best for last.

Upon the very rim of the vent stood a massive block of rock regurgitated from the mountain's innards; a volcanic bomb from some past eruption that had settled at what was't now the carter's lip. Big as a house it seemed and it surely weighed many tens of tons. Helluin would not even hath tried to budge it save that well 'nigh half its bulk o'erhung its footing. Erosion had chewed away much of its support. Using Anguirél's tip she knocked away more handfuls of compacted ash. Now, with an hour's determined work, reaching 'round its bulk to crumble that which yet held it thither, Helluin was't able to free it for gravity to take in its clutches. With a cry of glee she leapt back and watched it groan and shift, and finally plunge into the volcano's chimney taking a good measure of its footing with it as well.

The great boulder crashed down square upon the jutting end of the causeway, sundering the stone with its weight, and dumping Sauron's place of work and worship into the fiery pool below. Gone now was't the altar to Morgoth. Gone too was't the troll-shaped anvil upon which the Dark Lord had wrought his mace and his armor and his Ring. All of it was't fallen to ruin and swallowed by the lava. Helluin stood upon the summit of Orodruin, reveling in her accomplishment. Indeed she felt happy enough to caper like a Dwarf. Then 'cross all the intervening miles, a shudder grew to a rumble, and a tremor passed 'neath Gorgoroth accompanied by a howl of wrath from the Barad-dúr. The very mountain 'neath her feet shook and an answering roar of anger rose from within the volcano. With prudent haste, Helluin fled the summit as daylight began to fade.

Now Helluin made her way downslope in the gloaming and Orodruin shook to its foundations, for with the anger of the Dark Lord came the unease of the mountain. At any moment, she thought, 'twill spew forth such geysers of flame and smoke and ash as to cover all this land in a second darkness, and I should be so lucky as to stand hither amidst it. Well, Sauron shalt hath reason to curb his temper yet. With grave determination, she made her way to the doorway of the Sammath Naur.

There, 'neath a cairn beside the door, she uncovered the palantír of Minas Ithil which she had seized and borne hence from Sauron's chamber five and a half years aforetime. 'Twas evening now, and as she had when she'd challenged the Úlairi, Helluin watched the shadow of night slip 'cross the leagues of Gorgoroth, filling all that land with darkness. Upon the plain below, campfires and watch fires flickered to life amidst the host, and as the pall of night climbed the walls of the Barad-dúr, windows glowed with yellowish torchlight. The darkness rose higher and higher, until at last it touched the topmost chamber. It swallowed the abode of Sauron in the same instant it swallowed the Ered Lithui behind, and then night lay still as death upon Mordor. She took a deep breath and raised the palantír. She commanded it to show her a vision of Sauron's chamber.

Upon the slope of Orodruin, from the very doorway of the Sammath Naur, a ril of mingled silver and gold flared forth. For the second time in that decade of war, a living star blazed upon the heart of Sauron's kingdom. Again the invader's challenge was't issued and again Sauron's vision was't captured and held. But this time, focused by the Seeing Stone, Helluin's brilliance stabbed his eye like a lance tipped with acid forced into his brain. Though the Holy Light burnt him like a thousand heated daggers searing his spirit and he shrieked in pain, he could not turn away. Thither stood Helluin yet again, torturing him and taunting him with the display of his treasure. Greatly did he desire to recover the palantír, for with it he could spy upon and corrupt the counsels of the Dúnedain. Far more did he desire to squash Helluin and assuage his battered pride. In all the Ages, never had he suffered so much at the hands of one of his foes.

He had been furious aforetime at her impudence and cunning, when his enemy had first dared to show herself in his land. But that had been in 3434. Much had come to pass since that night in Gwirith. O'er and o'er, Helluin had diminished his majesty. If he had been enraged then, that rage paled before his fury now. He slavered in hate and pain.

She had lied to him and promoted the fall of his host with visions of false counsel. The host he had sent forth to savage Rhovanion in response had been worsted upon Dagorlad by the unexpected presence of the alliance. He had sent forth his Úlairi to capture her. She had sent them back in disgrace as naked shadows, save the one she had sent to the Void. She had invaded his citadel, freed his prisoners, slain his Mouth, and stolen his plunder. That she had also threatened and cut him was't almost beside the point. Their contention had begun even ere he had fled her in Eriador, for he now knew who had encompassed the defeat of his northern host upon the Lune and who had withstood him in SA 1600.

Long now 'twas the litany of transgressions she had added to her tab o'er the years. And tonight she had flaunted all before him. Surely every eye amongst his enemies had seen his dishonor at her hands. Every ear had marked his cry of pain. She had disgraced and mocked him. She had made him the lesser before his own host. He still cared 'naught for the rabble of the Alliance, but to smite his greatest living enemy, Sauron would finally come forth. From his tower window he shuddered with relief as the star dimmed and the Light winked out. So too watched every eye in Mordor, friend and foe alike.

Many eyes far from the Barad-dúr had also seen that challenge. In each of the palantíri of Gondor and Arnor, a custodian marked the vision. Thither had come a vista of Mordor, but 'twas haloed in the Light of Aman. They understood it not, yet sensed the doom it portended. But far away, beyond Belegaer and the curved airs of the round world, upon Eressëa wherein the master stone abode, Eldar of the High Kindred of the Noldor viewed the vision and held their breath. Tonight one of their own again challenged a Maia, the most fell being in all of Middle Earth. Yet even they stood not alone in their far seeing; other eyes had seen as well; eyes that needed no palantír and blazed with sapphire brighter than Helluin's own.

They meet too early, for she is doomed to live and he as well…and the time of their final combat is not be ere the Ending of Days. Thy indulgence of her aforetime 'neath the Trees hath led to this pass, I deem, Manwë remarked to the Lady of the Stars. She gave Him a grin.

All that hath come to pass was't surely in the Song, and I, as ever, am blameless.

'Tis for the sake of the Song that I must put a halt to this, the Elder King said, trying to sound grave as He gestured towards the Hither Lands.

Much as He tried He couldn't keep the hint off a grin from His lips. Both He and His Lady had found joy in the sight of Helluin standing 'neath the Trees, and never had He been able to hold any cause for displeasure with the Lady. 'Twas as hopeless as stilling the sea

Linnat en an Nároya Oron!Á túcas an i Arta Elenion!¹His great voice rang out from the Máhanaxar². ¹(Linnat en an Nároya Oron! Á túcas an i Arta Elenion! Go ye thither to Fiery Mountain! Deliver her to the Citadel of Stars! = linna-(go) + -t(2nd pers imp, you) + én(there!) + (a)n(to) + náro(fire) + -ya(adj on n suff, -y) + oron(mountain). Á(3rd pers imp) + túca-(bring) + -s(3rd pers obj pro suff, her) + (a)n(to) + i(def art, the) + arta(fortress) + elen(star) + -ion(pl gen suff, of) Quenya) ²(Máhanaxar, The Ring of Doom Quenya)

Tyáruvas!¹A faithful vassal replied ere he hastened east from the Pelori with a rush of wind. ¹(Tyáruvas!, It will be done! = tyára-(do) + -uva(fut v suff) + -s(3rd pers sing pro suff, it) Quenya)

There, see thou? 'Twas a simple problem simply solved, the Lady said, I knew thou could do it.

Her tone mocked that of a patronizing courtier and belied Her absolute faith in Him. It melted Him like a pad of butter, just as She had done ere Ea was't dreamt in the Void. He took Her hand in His and softly brushed Her knuckles with His lips, then entwined their fingers.

Come, He said, let us watch. They shared the laughter of anticipation with Their eyes.

Now Helluin waited in the shadows 'nigh the threshold of the door to the Cracks of Doom, and as she had aforetime, she surveyed the night. Below upon the Plain of Gorgoroth lay the Host of the Alliance. About the walls of the Barad-dúr encamped the enemy. She could feel the seething malice and rampant fury that radiated from the Dark Tower, wherein her foe prepared himself at last for battle. Almost, she could see Sauron donning his armor and settling o'er the black and tempered steel of his gauntlet the One Ring. She could feel too a wariness in the host of the allies, as if some visceral premonition had swept the bivouacs, setting upon edge the hearts of all who bore arms. Like animals who sense an approaching storm, Men and Elves and Dwarves readied themselves for the turmoil to come.

At last, Helluin thought, at last thou dare'st come. Let us meet then, one last time.

To Be Continued

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