Stories > Arien's stories

Honor Redeemed

by Arien-(Valar)
October 4, 2011
Written for the 14th Anniversary of the Valar Guild

Eothan often imagined how a conversation with the Lord General  would have gone, had there been the chance or time.  Maybe he wouldn’t have come close anyway – he was just a young soldier in King Eomer’s army and far from bold when it came to asking leave from military duty.  He was always afraid it would look like cowardice or even treason.  But Eomer and the other riders knew that he wasn’t – even though he had flinched at the sight of the ashen plains and hills at the gate to the Black Land.  Eothan had been overcome by a sudden despair and new fear over his younger sister and old mother even though they had left behind enough troops to hopefully protect Rohan and its inhabitants from any assault coming out of Mordor or the Balchoth. His only shimmer of any positive aspect was that he wasn’t alone with these unworthy emotions – there were seven hundred and forty-nine others who had been sent to clear Cair Andros of any enemy left behind, and Aragorn believed the island was still held by them.

Now they were here and Eothan found himself in the role of commanding them and organising the attack, something he was used to doing when he was patrolling and scouting in the Eastmark. The ride back down the road that they had come over the last few days had been uneventful  and uninterrupted save for short rests for the the horses. At the crossroads to the Cursed City, which the Gondorians called Minas Morgul, they had come across some Rangers that had been left there earlier and managed to get a good description of what awaited them, together with the permission to leave the horses near the hidden shelter of Henneth Annun.  

This is the description they had been given:

6.2 miles  long1 and only 2 miles wide, Cair Andros was shaped like a ship’s prow and there was still some forest towards what would be the “stern” and a bit less at the “bow”.  The middle of the island had been cleared of most trees and their wood been used to build a store house and a stable, but a small fortress  with a single tower made of stone had been erected to fortify the island several hundred years before after the fall of King Ondoher II. Later this small fortress had been abandoned, but was taken back into service one generation ago by the steward Turin II, grandfather of the late Denethor II.

After they reached the grassy hillsides below Henneth Annun, the horses had been fed and unsaddled and now roamed free in on the still green hills of Ithilien. Eothan wasn’t worried about them – they could be recaptured later – provided they lived.

Back there he also had split his commando troop into five divisions of which he intended to send two to the small shipyard with the docks that provided landing for ships from and to Minas Tirith. The small army was wading the ford from the eastern bank of the Great River as silently as possible and Eothan at the front was reaching the shore of the island.

When all of his men had reached dry ground Eothan gave the signal to the two divisions who were to take care of the ship landing and carried on with the rest of his men until they could make out the outlines of buildings in the still dark world. Several fires flickered in what must count as courtyard and dark shapes around them could just be made out. Eothan waved the two other division leaders to his side and whispered to one of them: “Send some of your men to create a distraction – get them away from the fire.”

With a quick glance to one of the wooden buildings young Freawyn nodded and grinned “I think there are horses in there – I have heard low neighing. Maybe we can do something with that.”

Eothan grinned and nodded approvingly. “I leave that in your capable hands then. The others wait for the distraction to work and split the gathered enemy into manageable portions.  Engage them in these small groups and don’t let them form one great heap, otherwise we might be overwhelmed.”

Silently the gathered Rohirrim waited for whatever Freawyn had in mind but, before anything did happen on that front, an alarm shout came from the fortress. At the same time an orange light came from the southern end where Eothan had sent the two units towards the ship landing. He stared intensely towards the orange light and could gradually make out the flickering flames and smoke coming from direction. Freawyn had noticed simultaneously and reacted quickly. He sneaked with three of his soldiers into the stable and with wild shouts they chased half a dozen horses into the courtyard towards the burning fires. In the chaos that followed Eothan gave the signal to charge: “For Rohan!”

Their enemies had not noticed at first what actually happened in the courtyard in their eagerness to find out what was going on at their ship landing and sent a good two hundred men to the place. They were worried about the fire spreading to the surrounding forest and maybe eventually the wooden stables and hence reacted accordingly. By the time the enemy commander perceived what was going on with his own eyes he found himself engaged in close combat with Eothan himself.

The fight seemed to go on for an eternity and the dawn gave way to daylight. The skill and courage of the Rohirimm found the enemy forces much reduced while Eothan's had only few casualties. As both parties threatened to run out of energy time suddenly seemed to stand still. The Easterling soldiers in service of the Dark Tower almost literally froze in their movements and then slowly broke free of the ban that held them but new strength and lightness of heart filled the tiring Rohirrim. Now the fight became more balanced as the former Mordor forces found new strength in desperation and  gave back almost as good as they got.

But finally the battle was won and most of the courtyard in front of the stone building that served as main fortress was littered with bodies of both sides and the smaller building that must have been a storehouse of some sort was burned out.

Eothan was still on his feet even though he was bleeding from several cuts and  was taking stock of his troops – still about three hundred, a bit less than half that had set out from the Black Gate, Freawyn among them, although he was among the more severely wounded. In the midst of the first cleaning up and setting up shelter for the wounded, two dusty messengers splashed across the water without bothering to dismount.

“Hail, victorious soldiers of Rohan! Hear the news of what has befallen at the Dark Gates! Victory is to the Lords of the West and the Black Lord is no more! Praise to King Elessar and the Heroes of the Ring! Hail to you all and my sincere respect to those in the fight here. Know that your deed will not be forgotten and you will be rewarded accordingly. I will bring news back to the King of your victory. With their message delivered they turned around and headed back. As an afterthought one messenger came back to Eothan and told him: “The King and his army are coming towards here and plan to set up camp over on the eastern bank at the field of Cormallen. Expect them in the next few hours. I am sure that will relieve your duties and your wounds can be taken care of.” With that the messenger followed his colleague.

Slowly a grin and a smile crept over Eothan’s exhausted face and he turned to his second in command, the man who had initiated the fire at the ship landing site. “You go ahead getting the wounded to the fortress and organise something that can accommodate them. I have a bigger welcome to prepare.”

The End

1  I am using British miles. 1 British miles ~  1,6 km = 1600 m; 6.2 miles ~  10 km