Daughter of Kings
Chapter Twenty Six: Simbelmyne At The Fords
The bloodied blade of Grimbold's sword glinted dull red in the
moonlight as he swung it high in the air. With sickening force, the
sword crashed down, and there was a flash like flame as it clove
through the helm of the uruk who assailed him. Fiercely, the captain
raised the smoking blade, swinging about in his quest for new foes. All
about him, the field was in ruin, slain bodies choked the river, so
that it's swollen flood spread out over it's banks, drowning defender
and foe alike. Black shells of twisted armour lay strewn about, and the
river ran red with blood. Widly, Grimbold twisted in his saddle,
seeking his own folk, but all about him, the great black wave writhed
and surged, the ghastly hand of death blazoned every helm. with a
shout, a great orc chieftan was before him, and their baldes met with a
clash of steel. Before he could bring his sword to bear again, the
black scimitar was beneath his guard, and caught him a glancing blow to
the leg. Grimbold cried out in anger as he felt the metal tear into
him. Swiftly, he swung his sword arm up, piercing the orc through it's
gut. The soldier gave a convulsive cry, and fell, back, it's black
vitals spilling from the gaping wound.
Suddenly, Grimbold felt Ashwind buckle beneath him. The horse screamed,
standing high upon his hind legs, his body twisted in an agony of
death, overbalanced, and crashed heavily to earth. A great wave of
bloodied water fountained up about him as he landed, and Grimbold was
thrown from the saddle. He felt the water close over him, felt the
swift current of the river beneath him, dragging him under, threatening
to claim him.
Gasping for breath, Grimbold broke the surface, sword in hand. A great
black figure loomed before him, obscuring his vision. With a yell, he
ran it through with his sword, his eyes darted wildly. Where were his
riders. Despairing, Grimbold looked Northwards, and saw only the enemy,
one great roiling mass, coming ever on. Where was Elfhelm? With a
shock, Grimbold realised that he was surrounded, his few remaining
riders swiftly falling beneath the faceless soldiers of the white hand.
He glanced eastwards to the stony eyot in the midst of the river where
Theodred waited. Surely his prince would come to his aid.
A single scream shattered the dark night. From the eyot, Grimbold now
heard too late the clash of weapons. Theodred! The cries of the dying
came thick and fast. Then in the midst of the tumult Grimbold heard a
great voice crying out.
"To me! To me Eorlingas!"
Theodred's voice, and then, ringing loud over the melee of battle, came the clear silver summons of the Prince's horn.
With a cry, Grimbold plunged into the river. Some few of his men who
had also heard the call followed swiftly after. The river was not deep,
but choked as it was with bodies and discarded weapons, the footing was
treacherous. Heedless, Grimbold rushed forward, pushing aside any who
withstood him in his anxiety to reach the Prince. With a sickening
feeling in the pit of hir stomach, Grimbold remembered that Theodred
had but a few men with him. The orcs must have come down both sides of
the river at once, engaging Theodred even as Grimbold fought on the
West bank. Where was Elfhelm?
Struggling onwards, Grimbold gained the eyot. Too late. Dismayed, he
saw that most of Theodred's company were already slain. And where was
Again the silver horn rang out, and Grimbold spun about, searching for
Theodred. Where was he? Then suddenly, through the midst of the battle
came a sound more joyous than any he could name. The pounding of
galloping hooves, and the fierce cries of warriors, undaunted and
filled with the blood lust. Then suddenly, horses were everywhere,
fighting, slaying, driving the hosts of Isenguard back. Elfhelm!
Through the darkness, Grimbold caught sight of a white crest, and his
few remaining riders gave a ragged cheer. Elfhelm had come! They were
The cheer died in Grimbold's throat, as he caught sight of the Prince.
Theodred wielded his sword left handed, against two great orc
cheiftans, and in his shattered right fist was clutched the silver horn
of Eorl. All about him, his guard lay dead, but alone and surrounded
the Prince fought on, parrying two blades at once as the darkness
closed about him. Blood was all about him, drowning his senses, and the
bitter, cloying scent of it hung heavy in the night air. Blood was in
his eyes, blinding him, and he tasted it upon his lips. Through the red
mist of destruction, the black figures loomed all about him, their dark
blades shimmered in the air, and the song they sang was one of death.
Even as he hastened forwards, Grimbold saw the Prince fall.
Theodred gave no sign as the blade entered him. His eyes grew wide for
a moment, frightened, beseeching, almost appologetic. His mouth opened
slightly in surprise, and pain as he felt the shinning ebony blade
slice through his chest. Then, slowly, gracefully, swan-like,
Theodred's body slid silently to the earth. Crimson blood spilled
outwards in an ever widening pool, and the silver horn slipped from
Theodred's grasp. The orc who had slain him fell instantly beneath
Grimbold's red sword.
As if the Prince's death had been a signal, from the dark eastern bank
a single harsh horn call rang out. Silently, their purpose achieved,
the hosts of Isenguard faded into the night.
Grimbold cradled Theodred's body in his arms. The dying face was almost
beautiful in a strange, bittersweet way. Wearily, Elfhelm dismounted,
and knelt in the mud beside his fallen Prince. Grimbold lifted the body
in his arms, and the two of them made shift to bear Theodred away.
Slowly Theodred raised his head for a final time. His light blue eyes
shone with a quiet final knowledge, and he lifted his bloodstained face
to the east, where the dawn's first golden shafts pierced the shroud of
night. The newborn sun kindled the river to a sparkling fire that was
reflected in the Prince's shinning eyes.
His face was calm, and he glanced regretfully at the bloodied corpse of Galmod, the old storyteller who lay beside him.
"Let me lay here." Theodred whispered gently. "To keep the Fords until
Eomer comes." His glance fell upon the slender bracelet about his
wrist, stained as it was by the blood of his war-torn home. With a
bitter sadness he remembered the broken pledge, the old forgotten love
entwined within the braided strands.
His eyelids fluttered once, and Theodred lay still, as the sun,
breaking free of the dark horizon, enshrined him with an all consuming