(Author's note: This is what happens when I read sections of 'Beowulf' and then listen to 'The Two Towers' soundtrack … My apologies to my readers!)
We come, we come to meet war in great glory, our horns rousing the Sun from her slumber. We answer the call of Gondor's need, fearless as thunder we ride. Thus, I follow brave Éomer, greathearted captain, and Théoden, most beloved king.
The foe teems before us; a flood black and foul, rising against Mundburg's walls. But we are the torrent, the white freshet of spring, bursting upon the Pelannor Fields. Singing we ride, we ride never ceasing and the dew falls scarlet on the grass. On we rage, onward, the foe scattering far, and victory pounds in our veins. Théoden in fury hews their fierce captain down, and his sword rends their banner asunder.
All this I have seen, my shield brothers beside me, my spear shivered and my sword arm weary. A sword-day, a red day - ride now together, my brothers, heroes of the Mark!
Ai, but the Sun seems reversed in its sky, the Shadow of Death given wingéd form. Darkness falls upon me, a great, stinking wind and its breath is horror and dismay. Nameless terrors from the black depths of time burst howling upon my head; I am blinded and screaming, and my frantic horse throws me headlong to the trampled mire. There in battle's debris I writhe and crawl, a craven, near-mindless thing. We are lost, we are lost, and my last sight may be brave Théoden beneath Shadow's claw. Blessed earth, I beg you take me, sweet sod cover my head, and I weep in the lunacy of fear.
Yet from this rank darkness, a cry rings clear like the strike of a silver bell: "Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!"
Oh, I cannot bear the evil lord's voice, slow claws on my naked soul. Each hissing word is more terrible than the last, promising horrors beyond the ken of man.
"Hinder me? Thou fool," the dire voice mocks. "No living man may hinder me!"
I hear the clean ring of steel springing free and the unknown hero replies: "But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund's daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin!"
I see her now, wretched man that I am, and she shines like the first beam of morning. Cold eyed and beautiful, her helm fallen away from the golden glory of her hair. Éowyn! Éowyn! Fairest of us all! What grief, what madness brings you here?
She waits there alone with sword and shield, as terrible as a legend, a song. The great beast leaps in a thunder of leathern wings, with a hell-hawk's scream of fury. Swift flashes her sword and the monster falls, vast wings collapsing in ruin. Up its master rises in black, towering wrath, and I can bear to watch no more. His rage is a shriek tearing the firmament of my soul, and doom is the brittle splintering of her shield. I hear the wind of his great mace and the thud of a blow, and he cries out once again. But this, oh this is a howl of pain, and I dare to see what few living ever saw.
Éowyn rises anew, her bright blade in hand, and beside her crouches a wonder; that least but bravest warrior, the holbytlan, Meriadoc, beloved of our king. The shield maiden sways as if caught in a bitter gale, but she drives one last, true thrust. I watch him die, the deathless one, and her sword shatters in a shower of stars. He is a fallen crown, an empty hauberk, a mantle that spills one last, keening cry.
Then she falls, too, our maiden of the sword, Éowyn - I weep but they are tears of sanity. Horses thunder upon us in grief and alarm, my kinsmen, my new-made king. Strong hands lift me upon my feet, set my sword once more in my hand. I will beg if I must - let me fight, let me die, let my shame be washed in blood.
Yet as I clamber into a dead man's saddle, from the Sea there comes the rain. Death, death, death! - is our battle cry. If here I must die, let it be a brave end that will not shame my fathers. If I die, it shall be upon fertile earth that is blessed by heaven's tears.
Special thanks to Sevilodorf and Celebsul for beta-reading and encouragement.