“I will walk this path alone, if need be,” he said. As though there were any chance of that! Steel sharp eyes nodded their assent all along the line, and we passed the portal together.

We who are his brothers rode at his side - Elrohir his elven brother, and I the human. Elladan too deserved this pride of place, but had taken his calm elven heart to the back of the pack to ride between the men and the dead, his presence behind us a steadying anchor in the storm of terror and doubt. Thirty grey shadows, heading a growing column of shadows and shades, growing darker as they massed and came... and outside, though we did not yet know it, the sky boiling to an ever darker grey.

Are you surprised I mention the terror? It was there, believe me! The horses could smell it, our hearts kept it’s rhythm. It is the doubt I lie to you about, for I never had any – I rode forward on a road that had no returning, and found a new strength rising in me with every step. It was his strength, and I embraced it with all my will.

When we massed at the stone, he declared himself to the shadows he had raised to fight The Shadow, and bid me turn and show them who he was.

My pride in being beside him, seeing him revealed lifted my heart to rapture. And, my terror had fallen away by then. Why should I fear the dead? I was one of them, just a little warmer… though not much, and not for long.

I held his banner high, and let it unfurl, so dark it ate the blackness around us, swallowed it and waited to spit it at our foes. The powesr that had been so carefully wrought upon it did not deign to show themselves yet. Like him, their time was approaching, but not yet here. The living could not see the banner, and the dead – they do not see as we see. But oh, they saw alright.

They could not deny him; they would come.

One by one, the banners of the dead began to be raised in his cause. Our living eyes could not accept the very things we were shown, but they were there. Perhaps only I could see them in the gathering grey. Clouds scudded across the sky, marking the companies, the tattered, spectral banners unwinding like grave sheets in the wind.

The gathering storm tore them, stretching their cirrus vapors, rending them, lofting them, snapping their phantom devices everywhere over our heads. But never a sound, not one, but the sighing of the wind and the living beats of our own hearts to create the striking of their hoofbeats over the land.

I rode to war with my brother, somewhere between the living and the dead.


This story was written for the "Banners" challenge at Henneth Annun to write standard-bearer stories, word limit: 500.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for private enjoyment, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.


July 2003    
scribbles henneth annun   write to me