The Tree Arrows

by Middle Earth Munchkin

As I seek the next foe, suddenly my chest is on fire. Can it be? I glance down. It is as I feared -- an arrow has pierced me. I fall to my knees, but as I do, I catch sight of Merry and Pippin. The halflings stare at me in horror. They are -- afraid? I cannot stop now. They need me! I must protect them.

I swing round as I hear my foes approach. My sword knocks the shield of the first orc, and I quickly stab him. How strong my sword is. Sharp. Still sharp. Like Narsil. This all began as I searched for Narsil, the sword that was broken. Gondor, my father, the council -- it seems like it has been years that I've been away. Will I ever see them again? I swore, as a warrior from Gondor, to help Frodo on his quest. And I have -- except, for that moment of weakness.

But why didn't they understand? Can they not see as I do, what good would come from taking the Ring and using for our own purposes? We would defeat Mordor! The glory of Gondor would be restored! Yes. No. I was wrong. I did not see. Aragorn was right. We cannot use it.

I gasp as a second arrow pierces my side. This can't be happening! I have so much to do. So much to undo.

I had told Aragorn that one day we will return to my city, and if I survive, I will do it. If Gondor can stem the tide of evil from Mordor, it is my hope we can give the ringbearer more time. The blood of my people will soak the earth to protect all Middle Earth from destruction. My own blood has spilled over my sin to Frodo. I swore to protect them all, yet I wavered. Can the might of Gondor finish what I could not? The two halflings look at me helplessly, as I struggle on the forest floor, with shock and pity in their eyes. Pity. Give me a moment. I will be alright. I protected them in the mines, I carried them on the mountain. I will do my duty. They are my brothers.

My body is thrown back as the third arrow flies into my chest. I fall to my knees for good this time. The pain comes in waves now, rolling like a river of lava in the Cracks of Doom. Has it really come to this? I have failed. The little ones have been taken -- I could not stop them. They tried to save me, but in vain. Mordor has won for now. We will fall. Is there any hope? I cannot see it.

Before me stands the orc archer. I can barely lift my head to meet his gaze. What an ugly creature -- it is not fair that so beautiful a place as the White City should be over run by such a fell beast. Yet I will welcome his final arrow. The pain in my chest, and in my heart, has become too much to bear.

But it is not yet over. Aragorn is here, bless him. I hope he does not pay for the wrongs I have committed today. As he wrestles with the fiend, I crawl beneath a tree. There are dead orcs all about me. Have I really killed that many? Yet I would gladly kill many more if it would undo the harm I have done to Frodo. Will the ringbearer ever forgive me? I was overcome. Something inside me, and yet not inside me, drew me toward the Ring. I was not myself, he said as much. Does that mean he understands? I pray he understands, and would forgive me, unless he has been carried off as well. What then? How can we save him, save all Middle Earth?

It is growing cold, the pain is lessening. I look up at the trees; they remind me of the White Tree of Gondor, though withered now it is. But wait -- am I seeing things? No. Aragorn kneels over me. It is good to see his face before I go. He is brave, noble. He was able to resist.

Frodo is safe. It is a relief. But that will not help me, nor my city. Despite our best efforts, the world of men will fall. All will come to darkness. And my city to ruin.

I try to smile. Aragorn is reassuring me he will not let our people fail. Our people? Yes. He will make a fine king. Yes. I fumble in the leaves for my sword. My own journey began and will end with a sword. Aragorn helps to place it upon my chest. I will die an honorable warrior. He has forgiven me.

My brother. My captain. My king.