A horn cry peirced the chill night air and even from within the holt could Legolas and Aragorn and Gimli hear it.
"That is no orc horn," Legolas breathed, racing out with Aragorn on his heels and Gimli struggling after. They burst out into the night and there beheld a most astounding sight: Elves. Rank upon rank of Elves bearing the flags of both Rivendel and Lothlorien. And leading the marching Elves came to cloaked figures--Haldir of the distant golden wood and Peryn of the fire-red hair from Rivendel. And both came forth, stopping short as Theoden raced out to see--followed close by the trio from within the keep.
Theoden, stunned beyond words, looked upon the Elves in amazement--upon Haldir and his fair hair and Peryn with eyes of emeralds and hair of flame.
"What is this . . .?" Theoden breathed in amazement.
"I bare a message from my lord Elrond," Haldir spoke, glancing at Peryn at his side. He returned his gaze to Theoden before him, "long ago did an allience exist between Men and Elves. We fought and died together . . ." Peryn spotted Legolas and Aragorn racing down the steps. she smiled.
"We come to honour that." She said softly.
"Haldir . . ." Aragorn grinned and walked towards the Elf, covering his heart with a hand and bowing his head to the Elf. Haldir returned the gesture, but was thrown slightly off when the Man embraced him. He knew not what to do, but patted him gently on the back.
Legolas smiled at Haldir but his eyes fell upon Peryn, her own eyes of emerald catching his gaze. And she smiled broadly and nodded slightly, her nose wrinkling slightly in her amusement.
"You are most welcome," Aragorn breathed, taking in both Peryn and Haldir. "Most welcome."
The host of Elves joined the ranks of Men upon the battlements of Helm's Deep. There they stood, gazing out at the dark, broken only by a line of light far out in the distance. Only the Elves could see what it was--torches. Hundreds and hundreds and thousands of torches borne hence by the horde now marching upon them. And they gazed out with steely eyes, awaiting their unknown fate. And Haldir and Legolas and Peryn stood together, tall and proud, gripping slender bows and bearing slender blades, waiting. And not long did they need to, for in but moments, it seemed, had the horde collected just outside their front gates, a sea of black and red fading into the distance as far as the human eye could see--and almost beyond seeing of the Elves, as well.
"Whatever end meets us," Peryn spoke suddenly, gazing from both Haldir to Legolas, "We will stand to see it. Shall we fall, we shall fall fighting."
"We shall not fall," Legolas said. Peryn did not answer.
Below them the horde stood, chanting and howling, goading on the Men. And when an accidenlty shot arrow slammed into the neck of one of the enemy below--the battle begun.
At a cry from Haldir and Aragorn, a sheet of arrows rained down upon the horde, slaying anything it touched for these were Elven archers and did not miss. And yet they came on, brushing off both arrow and stone, seemingly endless in numbers and still they were punished by volly after volly and still they came on until great ladders of war were raised towards the walls. And swarms of orcs and Uruk-hai flooded upward.
"Ladders!" Aragorn cried. "Ladders!"
The volly of the Elven archers was turned on those seeking to mount the battlements and many fell--but more gained the top. Elves and Men fell at an alarming rate and for every one of the enemy slain, half again as many of the allies fell to their crude weapons.
The battle raged long into the night and following and then another night. And back and forth did the tides flee, winning loosing, gaining falling. ever did it happen and many died. Many Men. Many Elves.
And then the unthinkable happened. The walls--the great stone walls of Helm's Deep--were welmed by a most terrible blow and outward exploded the barrier. Elves and Men fell screaming as a hail of fire and stone rained down upon them or as some were thrown clear away, dying even as they were borne hence.
And here did Theoden King know it was a lost hope. There was no regaining the wall. There was no stemming the tide. There was no winning the battle. The end would come swiftly if they continued on.
"Sound the retreat." he gritted to the nearest Man. "Forfit the wall."
And the horn of the Mark was sounded and cries of 'reteat' were sounded and hindwards fled both Man and Elf as inward swarmed the foe.
And Theoden's eye sought out Aragorn and there found him.
"Aragorn! Fall back to the keep!" he cried above the roar of battle. And Aragorn did as the king bade him do. And all the while he searched the battlements and . . . there! Haldir atop fighting, whirling, bow lost to him. Elven blade in his hand, leathel in its speed. And not far Peryn, her red hair like a brand in the night, her own weapong deadly, felling any who came too near.
"Haldir!" Aragorn cried when there came a break in the battle. "Haldir! Fall back to the keep!"
And Haldir nodded and called for the remaining Elves to fall back. And even as he turned . . .
Peryn was closest when it happend. She saw the orc leap out of the shadows and peirce him through. And she saw the other come, weilding a war ax and bash him in the back, felling him. Killing him. Stopping him. And Haldir fell to his knees, a stunned look upon his fair features and even as the Uruk-hai raised his blade for a second blow, an arrow sprung out full in his eye and he fell to Peryn's rage.
And there she was beside him, lifting him up even as Aragorn ran up behind. And she craddled him close as his eyes sought hers. And he smiled . . . and was no more.
Aragorn knelt beside the fallen warrior even as Peryn leapt to her feet, death in her eyes. And even as Aragorn turned to stop her, Peryn gave a shriek of such pain and despair and rage that any near enough to hear were stalled in their tracks. And she fell upon them in a whirl of blades, felling them. And everywhere she stepped, death followed, carried there by her rage. But she was beyond reason now and knew not when to stop. And in the end, she, too was felled. But ere she died, she saw Legolas high atop a battlement and he saw her . . . and despair filled his eyes as he saw her fall. But he could do naught as he retreated and Peryn fell alone, all Elves slain but for the few escaping into the keep--if any but Legolas did. And she gazed upon the death and she looked and there lay Haldir, sightless eyes staring upward. And tears spilled down her cheeks even as a mass of black swarmed passed her.
And she knew no more and the warrior Elfess with the flaming hair of distant Mirkwood never rose. But others still fought.