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Darkness Falls  by Kara's Aunty

Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line cinema, etc. I have written this for my own enjoyment.

Summary: The Witchking of Angmar meets his match(es) on the Pelennor Fields.

No Living Man  

“To me! To me! Up Eorlingas! Fear no darkness!”

The Witchking of Angmar, most feared of all Sauron’s servants, heard the cry as he circled the heaving battlefield. He cocked his head in its direction, steel crown gleaming wickedly as the motion caught the reflection of one of the many flickering fires raging across the disputed fields.

Fear no darkness!

What folly! All feared the darkness, or should. And those who did not would learn to do so before it consumed them utterly.

His black gaze scanned the plain, searching for the one that would rally his forces to battle with foolish words. Amidst the carnage of death and blood, a white horse reared, the rider upon it brandishing his golden shield high. The defiant mortal claimed his attention and held it fast.

It was Gondor’s ally, the insolent King of Rohan!

A rare thrill of pleasure raced through his unnatural form as the Nazgűl manoeuvred his terrible steed over the cacophony of screaming, roaring, bloodthirsty combatants in an almost lazy circle and flew it towards the rebellious source. Before he could arrive in time to vent his own wrath, the monarch’s rearing mount was pierced by a black dart. Whinnying its last, the snowy steed crashed to the ground, pinning its master beneath its weight.

If the Nazgűl had lips to smile with, they would have twisted with the irony of it. The King of the Horse-lords, forsaken by his mount. Flailing weakly beneath his own horse with none but the corpses of his fallen guard to look to for aid.

Ripe for the plucking...

The Witchking descended swiftly, his fell gaze fixed upon his target. Cries of terror rent the air as all who spied his approach fled, enemy and ally alike.

For all knew the malice of Mordor’s darkest knight.

Within seconds, his featherless beast settled upon the lifeless horse of Rohan and sank its claws deep into the corpse to gain balance. Then, slowly, leisurely, the Nazgűl dismounted, assured of his victory. Never once did he break his hold on the man’s face. To do so would be to deny himself the pleasure of his prey’s fear.

A plethora of emotions raced across the ashen mien of the broken lord and the foul Ringwraith drank his delight of them, reading each one as clearly as if the lesser King had spoken his thoughts aloud.

Pain was the predominant chapter on the last page of the mortal’s life, but that was of little wonder. His faithful mount had betrayed him at last, crushing his ribs beneath its weight, leaving him breathless with agony and open to a final act of hatred from his enemy.

Trepidation there was also. His laboured gasps quickened with each lazy step that bore his doom towards him.

Sorrow lingered in his eyes for those he left behind. The fool! He need not sorrow for long: his people would follow him into death’s cold embrace soon enough - and count themselves blessed for the honour of it. There were worse things in life than death, were there not?

He was an immortal testament to that.

Idly swinging the handle of the deadly, spiked mace which hung from his right hand, he stepped around the horse’s blood-drenched corpse, ready to vent the rage of Mordor upon the failing King’s form ere he succumbed to his other injuries. The man’s eyes widened briefly, transfixed by the wicked orb. His breathing quickened further with the realisation that death would visit him this day.

All at once, his breathing slowed, evening out and he sighed. The sound was lost amid the roar of battle, but its significance was not lost to the Witchking. His fallen foe had resigned himself to his fate, accepted the inevitability of it as surely as the West would accept the inevitability of its own fall.

The fate of Men was sealed.

Or was it? For suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a new challenge came to greet him.

“Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!”

The Witchking raised his head from the dying King and let his gaze rest on his new enemy: a slight figure in green and gold who had stepped deftly before the doomed man in a foolish bid to protect him. Fury flashed in the depths of his opponent’s grey eyes.

But fury stirred in him, also.

Impudent mortal! No man would deny him his prize!

“Come not between the Nazgűl and his prey!” he hissed coldly, “or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye.”

To his surprise, the challenger did not waver. Nay, instead the reckless youngling drew his sword and spoke defiantly.

“Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may.”

“Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!” he spat contemptuously.

“But no living man am I!” declared his enemy.

A scream issued from his fell mount, but the Witchking paid it no heed. Instead, he knew a moment of confusion as the youngling gripped his helm and tore it from his head.

Nay, from her head.

For his enemy was a woman!

All the many chills of fear that he had ever spread in all the years of his dark existence seemed to return to him in that very moment, consuming him, holding him fast in their merciless, icy grip. Disbelief swept him as he watched fair, silken locks tumble to rest on her shoulders. Pale cheeks glistened with the dew of her tears, yet her eyes were as hard and unforgiving as a sea-bound storm.

Silence reigned for long seconds as doubt crept into his blackened heart.

No living man was she!

How could this be? How did it come to pass that a single maiden fought amidst the menfolk of her land? That she had found him - of all the enemies she could have stumbled upon in this carnage - and now stood before him in defiance, the only one of tens of thousands present who may pose a genuine threat to his existence? Once, the sight of her fairness would have stirred his heart with delight - he may even have endeavoured to win her affections; but such tender feelings had been lost with his humanity for many years of Men. Now, the sight of her beauteous countenance chilled him to the core.

All at once, the maiden raised her shield against him and twisted her sword in challenge. It was answered by the sudden beat of his steed’s wings. The fell beast rose into the air - was it deserting him? But nay, it never would! It dove swiftly towards the warrior wench, shrieking hideously as it struck at her with beak and claw. The sight of its malice roused him from his stupor, breaking the bonds of doubt that had stilled his motion.

But not swiftly enough to stay her deadly strike.

With one fell swipe, she struck back at her aggressor, forever parting head from neck. The head fell like stone and she sprang backwards as the rest followed suit, crashing to the ground at his feet with such force that the earth shook around him.

A fury more black and wrathful than any he had ever known possessed him then. Enraged, the Witchking rose from the wreck of his mount and loomed above her; more fey and terrible a sight than was ever seen at the gates of Gondor. With a cry of hatred that stung the very ears like venom he let fall his mace until it crashed down upon her shield, splintering it asunder. The crack of bone he heard, but it did naught to still his anger.

Only her death would do that.

The maiden fell to her knees, cradling her arm as a mother cradles a babe. Filled with the certainty of his victory, he swooped forward, dark cloak billowing in his wake, and bent over her. His eyes glittered in satisfaction as he raised his mace to kill.

No living woman would smite him, either!

But then he too stumbled forward. A cry of pain issued from the wreck of his mouth and his stroke went wide as fire flared behind his knee.

An accomplice! The maiden had brought with her aid unseen by him! And now he was bent helpless on the ground, unable to move for the agony that ripped through his sinew.

And the warrior wench was rising!

Nay! Nay! This could not be his doom. The end to his reign of malice. He would live! Rise again to wreak his vengeance upon her and all her kin!

Rise! Rise and fight!

But he could not. His leg was failing him. His strength was spent fighting the pain that coursed through his ruined limb.

His doom was upon him.

Terror flooded him. He would die! Dwindle from the half-life he had despised for centuries - millennia - and, suddenly, he yearned for nothing more than to cling to the torture of his paltry sentience. Any existence was better than none at all! For what awaited such a one as he after death?

Torn between agony and horror, and fully unable to mobilise or defend himself, he watched her stumble and totter on her feet, gathering the last of her strength. She stilled enough to balance and raised her sword with two hands. Her stormy eyes pierced him with all the rage of Men - nay, all the rage of Women - and her silver blade raced towards the void of his face.

Bringing death to him this day.


Author’s Note: Some text and dialogue lifted from LoTR, The Return of the King, Book Five, Chapter 6: The Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

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