Aldamir's Journey

by Frodo Baggins

25  26  27

Chapter 25 -- The Battle of Helm's Deep


“Fire!”

Aldamir did not need the command; he was already absorbed in rapidly firing arrows into the massive army before them as it charged toward the wall. He was not heedless of his arrows, however; to waste them now could be fatal later. He took careful aim with each one, singling out a target and narrowing the silver arrow-point down upon it before releasing it. Beside him Lindir was involved in doing the same, drawing the string back to   his ear before letting the arrow fly. All along the wall, a lethal rain of darts flew down toward the enemy, and felled constantly the front line of the army. But as soon as one fell, two replaced it, it seemed to the Elves.

The uruk-hai responded to the Elves’ arrows, and their archers sent their own black, cruel shafts hissing in among the Elven ranks. Some met their marks, and Aldamir shivered as Elves about him fell to the ground with a cry, some falling with terrible silence as only a soft thud marked their death. For a moment he paused and looked about him, and his heart was wrenched nearly in two. Near him lay an Elf who had been in Haldir’s command with him; now he lay still and silent with a long black arrow embedded in his chest. Aldamir felt almost unable to breathe; only a few minutes ago, this Elf, an immortal being, had stood living at his side and watched the torches approach with him. Now his eyes were never to behold the light again. Aldamir almost reeled with the terrible horror of it. He did not hear the hiss of arrows about him; for a few moments he was caught in the dreadful, unreal reality of the unjust death of one of his own people, an immortal, an Elf whose destiny had been to sail into the West.

Then suddenly a streak of lightning seemed to go through him and he turned back to the battle with fire in his eyes. This death was the work of these creatures, the work of evil, the will of Sauron and Saruman. But as long as he could draw breath he would fight back with every ounce of his being! Never, never would they be able to kill his people, his kin, without being stung in return. He had never known such anger and sorrow as he felt in that moment. His face hardened, and lightning seemed fairly to leap from his eyes. Accursed evil! Now you shall receive what is coming to you...

“Pendraith!” shouted Lindir suddenly, and Aldamir wheeled. Ladders fashioned of blackish, hard wood were being raised against the wall, and uruk-hai were clambering up them without a moment’s hesitation. Setting his bow aside, but not far away, he drew his sword as Haldir commanded it, and all along the wall silver blades flashed out in a deadly, gleaming fence.
 
In a moment the uruk-hai had scaled the ladders and dropping to the floor of the wall. One leaped off the ladder directly in front of Aldamir, and the Elf lost no time in cutting him down. Another came, and another, and for several minutes he fought breathlessly, caught in a world of blades and battle.
 
When he wrenched his sword from a dead uruk paused for barely a moment to catch his breath, Lindir leaped suddenly past him, and Aldamir whirled to see him finishing off a particularly large orc who had apparently sneaked up behind him. At his grateful smile, Lindir grinned. “I’m going to keep you around a bit longer than that!” he called.
 
Then another wave of enemies was upon them, and the two were swept apart. Aldamir was cornered and challenged by a heavily armored, slit-eyed creature who snarled at him menacingly and raised his cruel, spiked blade to kill him. Aldamir parried the blow and slipped under the next, dodging behind the orc before he could react and finishing him off with a clean sweep of his sword.
 
Taking a quick look at the battle around him, he saw an orc running toward Lindir’s unprotected back, and with lightning swiftness sent one of his knives flashing through the air. It buried itself in the orc’s back, and when Lindir turned in surprise, Aldamir saluted him with a grin. “I owed you that!” he shouted.
 
At that moment an orc crashed into him and he fell to the stone, half under the heavy but dead creature. It pinned him to the ground, and though he struggled anxiously he couldn’t heave it off himself. Then an orc loomed over him, and he raised his sword hurriedly. The creature’s blow was badly aimed and went wide, and then it fell with a grey arrow in its back. Aldamir struggled wildly once more, but fell back breathless and without hope.
 
Then all of a sudden Haldir was there, and pulled the carcass off his friend with one great heave. Aldamir was on his feet in a moment, and thanked his captain. “I was helpless under that thing; I’d probably have been dead by now if you hadn’t come along.”
 
“It’s me who’s thankful,” Haldir replied, smiling and clapping him on the shoulder. “Elbereth forbid that we should lose you!”
 

Three orcs sprang upon them suddenly, and the two fought back to back, never pausing for s split second in their dodging, parrying and striking. Within a few minutes of breathless fighting the three orcs were laid dead on the ground. “Good work, Aldamir!” Haldir said, breathing hard. “Keep on like this and we can’t lose.”
 
“You didn’t do too bad either, my friend,” grinned Aldamir.
 
Then a fresh band of orcs came between them and they were separated.
 
Aldamir was warily skirmishing a strong, sly orc when suddenly the world seemed to explode beneath him. Not five meters from where he stood, the wall burst into a fiery explosion which threw him against the wall’s parapet with an incredibly forceful blast, and he curled up, shielding his head as the wall blew into fragments. His heart was in his throat, and he was fairly deafened by the blast. When the explosion ended, fragments of rock began falling like rain, several striking Aldamir. Most only stung as they hit, but one cut his ankle, and one large enough to break his leg glanced off the stone not two meters from where he lay.
 
When he finally raised his head, his heart hammering with shock, he gasped and his heart lurched. A gaping hole had been blasted in the wall, through which now water from behind the wall gushed. All about lay shreds of the wall, stone bits of every possible size. The shattered edge of the broken wall was not five meters from where he stood. Gasping for breath, he backed away. Had he been only a couple of meters closer...
 
Gathering himself together, he caught up his sword from where it lay near the edge and glanced about. Uruk-hai were pouring through the gap in the wall in masses, and even now Aragorn was leading the company of Elves stationed there into battle against the army. Aldamir winced. So many uruk-hai, so few Elves...
 
The orcs were climbing the stairs behind the wall as well, streaming in great numbers onto the ledge and cutting their way through the thinning ranks of Elves. Haldir! thought Aldamir immediately. And Lindir...where are you?
 
Darting down the wall, fiercely cutting down any orc in his way, he looked wildly about for either of his friends. But he could only see orcs, and dead Elves, and a terrible fear clutched at his heart.
 
At that moment a blow to his head from behind caused him to stumble, and he wheeled about. A snarling uruk faced him, sword raised to kill him. He barely had time to parry the blow, and lost his footing. The orc loomed over him, but he rolled under the blow and back to his feet as the creature stumbled and his blow missed its mark. With a savage growl he lunged at Aldamir, and the Elf met his blade with his own. For a moment he gazed deep into the yellow, slit eyes, and then he was circling, exchanging rapid blows with his opponent. His sword rang, and his eyes flashed. But the orc was not intimidated, for he had already killed two Elves in the last hour, and the taste of battle was hot within him. He drove Aldamir against the wall, and the Elf ducked quickly as he swung.
 
The next few moments were a wild blur for Aldamir, and then suddenly he slipped, falling back against the parapet, and a fiery pain burned its way into his side. He cried out, and put his hand to his side. It came away stained with blood, and he looked down to see the haft of the orc’s sharp knife buried in his right side. Gasping for breath, he fought to keep his head clear and drew his own knife, the twin to the other he had thrown. Putting his hand against the wall behind him, he looked up at the orc, who had paused to let this small victory sink and leer at his victim.
 
The pause was fatal. With a sudden movement, Aldamir lunged upwards, and with an agonizing effort, stabbed his knife deep into the uruk’s heart. As it fell, he collapsed against the wall again, gasping with pain.
 
Recovering for a moment, he tried to drag himself to his feet, and leaned heavily on the parapet for support. Retrieving his sword, he paused for a moment, pressing his hand to his side.
 
“Nan barad!” sounded a call suddenly; it was Aragorn calling to Elves and Men alike to fall back to the keep. Aldamir shook his head slightly, dizzy with pain. I can’t make it...
 
A sudden shaft of light pierced through the jagged mountain-tops, illuminating the battlefield, and Aldamir heard a great cry which echoed through the valley. Raising his head with an effort, he gazed up into the light, and saw a great wave of horsemen plunging down into the valley from the hilltops. Leading them down the steep slope was a white figure, robes streaming out behind him in a blaze of light and sword uplifted like a flame. “Mithrandir...” breathed Aldamir. “Thank Elbereth...there is a chance for them now...”
 
His sight dimmed, and he looked once more up into the light, wanting to see it one last time. But even as he raised his head, something whistled toward him and he felt it hit his shoulder with a great blow. He reeled, and his sword fell from his hand, falling with a echoing ring to the stone beneath his feet. With his failing senses, he saw a long black shaft sticking in his left shoulder, and closed his eyes. Elbereth...
 
Then he felt himself falling, and darkness took him.


25  26  27

Chapter 26 -- A Bitter Farewell
   
 
Aldamir regained consciousness slowly. Very gradually, like fire creeping along dry grass, feeling returned to his limbs, but all he could feel was pain. His side burned like fire, and his shoulder ached intensely. Carefully he stirred and tried to rise, but gasped and lay back as pain streamed through him. Slowly he opened his eyes.

It was daylight now, though heavy clouds still lay over the sky. The sunlight flashing out through the clouds as Mithrandir rode down the hill had once again slipped away, and only grey clouds remained, left over from the rainstorm of the night. All around him, he could hear voices and footsteps, men and women scouring the battle-field for those who were still alive, and taking away those who had died.

Shaking his head slightly, Aldamir closed his eyes again. It all came back to him now; the battle, the horror of Elves falling about him, the deafening pounding of the enemy army’s spears against the rain-soaked ground, the snarls and roars of the Uruk-hai as they scaled the walls and poured like a stream of deadly poison into the ranks of the Elves. He recalled battling an orc, and feeling the knife bury itself in his side; dimly he remembered feeling something pierce his shoulder. Carefully he moved his right hand to his left shoulder; yes, an arrow was sticking there, and his cloak was stiff with dried blood. His hand dropped to the ground again.

Suddenly a shadow cast itself over his face, and he opened his eyes. Kneeling over him with an expression of deep anxiety in his brown eyes was Lindir. He relaxed slightly when he saw that Aldamir was alive.

“Aldamir! Thank Elbereth; I was sure you were dead,” he said, putting his hand on the Elf’s shoulder. “You’re terribly wounded, though; I’m surprised that you did live.”

Aldamir managed a weak smile. “Takes a bit more than that to kill me,” he murmured. “I’m glad you made it.”

Lindir smiled back, but he became grave as he examined Aldamir’s wounds. “You’ve hung on by a thin thread, and barely that, my friend,” he said. “I’ve got to get you back to the keep; do you think you can walk?”

“I can try,” answered Aldamir.

“All right, but wait just a moment. I need to get this arrow out of your shoulder.”

Aldamir closed his eyes and gritted his teeth, but he could not keep back a cry of pain as Lindir pulled the shaft from his shoulder and the pain seemed to double itself. Quickly Lindir pressed his cloak to the wound to stop the renewed bleeding, and slipped his arm under Aldamir’s shoulders. Leaning on him, Aldamir slowly stood up, biting his lip to keep back a moan of pain as the knife-wound in his side burned agonizingly.

Carefully and slowly Lindir walked back into the keep, supporting Aldamir as he leaned heavily against him, weak and exhausted. All about them as they walked lay dead Elves, Rohirrim, and uruk-hai. Aldamir's heart grew heavy with sorrow as he looked about at the death and ruin wreaked by Saruman's army. The people were taking away their dead; Rohirrim tending first to those of their own folk, and likewise with the Elves. But Aldamir knew there were many more Elves dead than living. His head drooped wearily.

In the keep, Lindir lowered him to the floor and he half-leaned, half-lay against the wall as Lindir bound up his wounds with some clean linen and a bit of herbs he had brought with him from Lórien. His senses were hazy and he felt half-dead, half-asleep as Lindir tended to him, but when he smelt the fragrance of the Elven herbs, his head cleared slightly and he lifted it and opened his eyes.
 
Lindir sat back on his heels and looked at him. “You’ve still got a sliver of that knife in your wound, I’m afraid,” he said. “Will you be able to stand it if I take it out, or would you rather wait?”

Aldamir shook his head. “I’d rather have it out of there as quickly as possible. Go ahead; I’ll be all right.”

Very gently, Lindir probed the wound for the sliver of metal, but it was a few painful moments for Aldamir before he found it. As he drew it out, Aldamir relaxed slightly and let out his breath. “Thank you, Lindir.”
 
“It’s nothing. There, now you’re fairly well patched up.” He stood up and smiled at his friend. “Won’t you rest now? I think you need it.”

Aldamir nodded, but then a sudden shock of realization hit him, and he got to his feet, regardless of his wounds. “Haldir! Lindir, where is he? Have you seen him?”

Lindir bowed his head, and when he raised it there were tears in his eyes. Aldamir’s heart tightened apprehensively. Lindir spoke sorrowfully in a low voice.

“He will not return to Lórien...”

Aldamir’s heart wrenched painfully. “No...it cannot be...” he choked. “Lindir, where is he? Where have they taken him?”

Lindir pointed wordlessly in the direction of the Deeping Wall. Gazing into Aldamir’s grief-stricken eyes, he could find no words and turned away.

Heedless of the pain from his side and shoulder, Aldamir ran out of the keep. Half-blinded with tears and grief, he stumbled through the shattered remnants of the Wall and climbed the stairs. Clearing his eyes with his hand enough to see, he looked about, and saw a still figure, shrouded in red, lying close to the wall. Two Elves with heads bowed stood near him, but they drew away when they saw Aldamir.

Slowly he made his way toward his dead companion, hardly aware of where his feet stepped.

Haldir’s body, wrapped in the crimson cloak he had worn into battle, rested limply on the chilly stones. The cloak was torn, the bright Elven armor was dimmed with blood and earth, and his sword, stained with the dark blood of orcs, lay by his side. His face was pale, with a strange sort of calmness, and his lashes lay with striking darkness against his white cheeks. Aldamir knelt beside him, to choked up with emotion to speak or hardly even breathe. He touched his friend’s cold cheek, and closed his eyes in anguish at the touch. Reaching for Haldir’s white, bloodstained hand, he pressed it between his for a long moment.

Aldamir had never thought such agonizing grief was possible, but now he felt as if his heart had been taken and wrenched in two, and cast upon the cold stones beside his dead comrade. Tears filled his eyes as he gazed upon Haldir’s pale face, never again to look upon the fair woods of Lórien. Haldir had loved the mallorns deeply; now he was never to see them again...never to feel the smooth bark beneath his fingers...never to hear the soft sigh of the wind among the dancing leaves...

Aldamir’s hand slid inside his tunic; he drew out the mallorn-leaf which he had borne with him through so many miles. He looked at it for a moment, and pressed it to his lips. Then he gently slipped it under Haldir’s cloak and laid it against his heart; the brave heart which was never to beat again. Pressing it there, he bent down.

“Haldir, brave spirit, noblest of friends, may your spirit find everlasting rest in the halls beyond the stars...”

He kissed Haldir’s brow softly, and took his hand from the Elf’s still heart. Burying his face in his hands, he fell back against the stone wall and wept bitterly.    


25  26  27

Chapter 27 -- Dreams


The Battle of Helm’s Deep was over. Of the four hundred Elves who had departed from Lórien, less than a hundred now remained. Rúmil, Haldir’s brother, was among the surviving, and he was now chosen as captain for the company of Elves. He in turn chose Aldamir as his second-in-command, an honor which the Elf was unwilling to accept, but gave in in the end.

He lay now in a quiet corner of the keep, on a pallet softened by a thick blanket. Lindir had found him lying nearly insensible close to Haldir after his heedless run to the wall which had cost him more blood than he could afford to lose. With the help of another he had carried him back to the Keep, and kept watch over him until he awoke.

“You must be a little more careful,” he told Aldamir when he opened his eyes. “If you lose more blood you won’t survive this.”

Aldamir seemed not to have heard him, gazing up at him with eyes so full of grief that it pierced Lindir to the heart. “Haldir...” murmured Aldamir, and closed his eyes again.

Lindir bit his lip to keep back the tears. Bending over Aldamir, he clasped his friend’s shoulder. “Please, Aldamir, don’t despair. The battle was won; Haldir’s sacrifice was not in vain...”

Aldamir showed no sign of having heard; his face was pale and drawn, and Lindir felt a sudden fear for him. Even if his wounds were not deadly, he might yet lose the desire to live, and then nothing would be able to hold him back from death. “Aldamir, don’t do this to us...”


Aldamir wandered through strange dreams... images from the battle... orcs’ eyes leering at him as they lifted their cruel knives... Haldir’s still, pale face... Uruviel holding out her hands, reaching for him, with an expression of grief and pleading in her eyes... then he seemed to fall into swirling mists and lay there with closed eyes.

When he opened them, he seemed to be standing on a flet in Lothlórien again, but instead of golden light everywhere, there were shadows and grey mists. Haldir stood before him, his cloak stained with blood. “Haldir!” he called, trying to reach out to clasp his shoulder, but he could not. Haldir looked at him, and his eyes were both peaceful and sorrowful. “Aldamir...my friend...do not grieve overmuch for me. I will never see Lórien again, but my spirit will be at rest...”

Aldamir frowned, and his heart twisted with grief once again. “Haldir...don’t leave, please...”

The shadows were swirling slowly around Haldir, and he was fading from Aldamir’s sight. As he departed, he spoke once more. “Namarie, my friend, and do not despair...all is not lost yet. But you must not let the darkness win...trust to hope...”

Then he faded from Aldamir’s sight, as did the flet and everything around him, and he found himself lying somewhere, he knew not where. Water was tinkling over stones somewhere near him, and he found himself looking up into Uruviel’s clear eyes. “Aldamir...I feared for you so...” she whispered, and bent to kiss his cheek. “Please, don’t leave me...come back to me...”

Then she faded away and he awoke to find himself lying once again in the quiet corner of the keep.

Lying there, he could hear the sound of people moving about outside and inside, but it was quieter in where he lay. He tried to rise, but winced and lay back again as a jab of pain stabbed through his side. Turning his head, he could see that many other wounded lay in the room where he was, and women moved about among them, tending to their hurts. He sighed and closed his eyes, his heart aching more than his side or shoulder.

Soft footsteps approached, and a shadow cast itself over his face. He opened his eyes, and saw Lindir stooping over him. “Lindir! Glad to see you... you’re not hurt?”

Lindir smiled. “Not badly,” he said, and lifted his left arm. A white cloth had been tightly bound about it. “I received a nasty cut from one of those orc-swords, but otherwise I’m all right.”

“You fared better than me,” said Aldamir with a faint smile.

“You’ll come through it,” said Lindir, trying to keep the anxiety out of his voice. “Keep quiet and you’ll be up again in a few days.”

   Aldamir sighed. “Right now I feel far from that,” he said ruefully. “When does Rúmil plan to return to Lórien?”

   Relieved, Lindir smiled at his friend. “As soon as you and the others who are wounded are ready to,” he said. “Théoden is riding southwards with his riders, and Mithrandir and the others are going with him, but before he left he spoke with Rúmil. I know not what passed between them, but Théoden gave the friendship of Rohan to the Elves of Lórien in return for our aid, and has given us horses to ride back to Lórien - one for each of us.”

   “Horses of Rohan? That is indeed a great gift. And glad I will be to ride back to Lórien on such a fine creature.”
   Lindir chuckled. “I’m with you there. They are beautiful horses; you ought to come and see them. But not until you are better-!” he laughed, and put his hand on Aldamir’s chest as he pretended to rise. “Get some sleep now, and maybe you can get up tonight, or tomorrow morning.”

   Aldamir grinned. “Make that tonight.” Lindir laughed, and bidding him a good rest, went out. Aldamir smiled as he went, and very soon fell into a deep, healing sleep.