ladymarshy (ladymarshy) wrote,
ladymarshy
ladymarshy

I have promises to keep ....

.... one of which is, I will learn to use LJ properly, so I don't grind my teeth so much or use such rude words.

I said I'd start and put all my stuff on LJ, not that there's that much of it, but it might as well all be in the same place.

This was my first ever "published" piece, written for a "Random Pairing" challenge on LOM, about two years ago now, I think.

And Halbarad with the standard

Dedicated: with affectionate thanks, but some misgivings (because it’s hardly a match for “Morning in Minas Tirith”) to fawsley
Disclaimer: The characters are not mine but those of the late Professor Tolkien, in whose debt we all stand.
Warning: character death 



Was it supposed to end like this? Was it? 

Halbarad shook his head to try and clear the dizziness.  He tried to push himself upright, but his left leg folded abruptly under him, and he slid back down against the flank of a dead horse. His own mount – the second that day – lay dead some yards away, gutted in a instant by the mumak’s flailing armoured tusks. No comfort that moments later the mumak had been brought crashing down as he lay stunned and bleeding on the ground, the standard trapped and its staff splintered beneath him.

Where is Aragorn?

Halbarad’s last clear memory was of seeing the white horse banners of Rohan waving in the distance, above a sea of fighting. Of Aragorn’s horse plunging forward, the elf-prince and the dwarf on a white stallion to his left, himself on the right with the great standard snapping in his face. Of the Dunedain at his back, and Lord Elrond’s sons shouting and laughing – yes, laughing! – in his ear.

Where is the standard?

Still here, in his left hand – his fingers tangled uselessly in the bindings which had snapped and broken as he fell the second time. He wrenched his hand clear of the strips of twisted leather and gathered the standard in the crook of his arm, trying to use the loose broken half of the staff to support his injured leg. No use – he could not grip the splintered wood and he fell again, face down.

A hand touched his shoulder. Halbarad wound his hand in the silk of the standard and reached for his last weapon, a ranger’s hunting knife. But the hand which lay upon his shoulder was not armoured, nor knotted, nor clawed and scaly, nor even just chapped and battle-calloused. It was soft and gentle, and the voice which now spoke was calm and seemed to create its own space in the cacophony of battle.

“Peace, Halbarad! Let your fight be over.”

Halbarad struggled to turn over and at least sit upright. He tried to focus on the face of the figure before him, the gleaming figure scarcely more than a span away, whose hand now stroked down the side of his sweat-streaked face.

“Your lord has sent me to relieve you of your burden.”

The voice trickled into Halbarad’s ears, and the hand began to trace a warm path down the side of his neck and then across his aching shoulders.

“Why must you struggle on in such pain?”

The hand moved towards the edge of the standard, pausing where Halbarad’s armour had been ripped open, and a hooked orc blade had caught him under the last rib.

“He has left you alone, to suffer. Let me help you.”

The hand descended, touched, stroked, always coming back to edge towards the standard, which remained twisted round Halbarad’s left side and trapped underneath his body. It was less than a hand-span away now.

Halbarad stiffened and pulled back, and the figure came into clearer focus in the dust and smoke – a handsome young ranger in half-armour, one whom Halbarad did not recognise, but felt that he should know. He seemed to know the voice.

If only I could see his face more clearly …

“Do not deny yourself comfort, for your lord has commanded … “

The hand pressed his flank and the figure stooped again, his lips ghosting over Halbarad’s face from his ear.

“Let go!”

Their lips touched.

Halbarad’s eyes cleared. With a scream of “Aragorn!” he tore the burning standard from the figure’s outstretched fingers, and lashed out with his knife, and at once the figure contorted and dislimbed in the growing darkness, as if the very fabric of the air had burst apart to speed its passing.



*****


The seekers found Halbarad’s body before the sun had begun to set. His left leg had been broken and twisted, his left arm slashed and battered where he had carried the standard aloft in the charge. His life’s blood had left him through a black and poisoned wound just below his ribs. But it was only as the seekers lifted Aragorn’s standard, weeping as they unwound the silk from Halbarad’s broken body, that they noticed that the wounds on his shoulder and neck and flank and even on his lips and cheek were not cuts, but burns.





The end
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