|||||Bon Jovi, Livin' On a Prayer||]|
So. The battle for Helm's Deep is won. Saruman's forces are defeated, and none will return to Isengard to tell the tale. But at such a cost! Even before we won back to the fortress, many men of the Rohirrim fell to the Warg-riders sent to waylay us. And worse was yet to come.
This day has indeed brought heavy losses to the foes of Mordor. And none graver than the slaying of the Elves sent to our aid by the Lord Elrond and the Lady Galadriel - among them Haldir, Marchwarden of Lorien.
I knew Haldir of old, having encountered him several times as a boy and a young man, when he came to Rivendell bearing messages from the Lord and Lady of the Galadhrim. He was always courteous towards me, and I held him in great esteem. I would only learn later that his affection for me was as great, though he did not generally show it.
My heart was given long ago to the Lady Arwen, and it yet belongs to her and her alone. But my lady understands that, in her absence, my body may at need be given to others. On our arrival in Lorien, those who remained of the Company were all in sore need of comfort. The Hobbits drew their reassurance from one another - all four slept so closely entangled that it would have been hard even for Elven eyes to distinguish them. After the first night, Legolas left us - I do not know where he went, but I am certain that he found a warm and willing body to heal his pain at the loss of Gandalf. Gimli had already found a measure of com-fort in the White Lady, and his sleep was undisturbed. And Boromir had preoc-cupations of his own, which kept him from finding rest in the woods of Lorien. He did not seek company, save that of his own dark thoughts. Perhaps if I had sought more to ease his mind, if I had persisted... But there is no good in such wondering. Brave Boromir is gone and nothing now can change what is past.
It was on the third night that Haldir came to me. He told me that he had per-ceived that my mind was troubled - that Gandalf's death grieved me sorely, and that I was unsure of my ability to lead the Company true. He said that he wished to help. And then he led me to his flet, and he invited me to bury my sorrow and doubt in him, for a while. I was hesitant at first, fearing I know not what. But Haldir came to me, set his hands on my shoulders, and kissed me. Then he walked to the bed and laid himself down, waiting.
Haldir was among the proudest of the elves, second only to the ruling families of the three elven realms. The knowledge did not escape me that such submission must have cost him dear. If he, with all the wisdom of his long years, deemed it necessary for my benefit, who was I to oppose his judgement? I went to him, and I did as he encouraged me to do, and I forgot my troubles, for a while.
Haldir and I were never lovers, as one might usually understand the word. But he cared for me and I for him, and he selflessly gave me comfort in the dark of the night when I needed it most, and for that I will be forever grateful. He at-tended the Lady Galadriel on the banks of the Silverlode, as she presented the Company with our gifts, and I thought to look my last upon him then. Would that I had! Would that he had remained in fair Lothlorien, until his time came to jour-ney to the Havens!
But that was not to be.
As I stood with Legolas in Helm's Deep, awaiting the arrival of Saruman's army and the battle to come, we heard an Elven horn ring out in the pass, and ran to see. In honour of the old alliance in Elendil's day, Elrond and Galadriel had sent a troop of archers to aid in the defence of the fortress, with Haldir at their head.
It warmed my heart to see him, and I fear I was overly demonstrative of my af-fection as I ran to him and embraced him. However, he seemed bemused for but a moment, before returning my greeting with a smile.
Haldir and I then took his soldiers up to the ramparts to prepare for the attack, which duly came. All the Elves fought bravely and well, but the Orcs were simply present in too-great numbers. We were overwhelmed, until Theoden gave the order to pull back into the keep.
I relayed this to Haldir, and he in turn ordered a retreat. But before he could pull back himself, a large Orc surprised him and wounded him severely. He might still have escaped, if there had not been another Orc behind him with an axe. I cried his name in warning and ran to assist him, but it was too late. He took a mortal blow in the back. By the time I reached him, he was beyond my aid. I held him in my arms as he slipped away. And then I cut down the Orcs who slew him, and all the others I could see, in a blind vengeful rage.
And so it is that another of my comrades, another of my brothers, died in my arms before I could save him. The battle for Helm's Deep is won at the cost of Haldir's life and of so many other lives, human and elven. It is the loss of the elves that cuts me deepest. They came to war to save us, when they had no need. Nothing prevented them from simply going over the Sea to safety before the war came. And yet they fought and died - they sacrificed their immortal lives - for us.
The battle for Helm's Deep is won, but the battle for Middle Earth is yet to come. And I swear that if it is in my power to prevent it, I will not see any more of my friends' blood spilled. This also I swear - I will take my revenge for Boromir and Haldir. I will slay every Orc I meet, and if my doom is to face Sauron himself, I will do my utmost to strike him down. It will be for them I fight, from this day forth. For my brothers-in-arms. For the fallen.
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