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The Fortunate Few

Chapter 1: The Fortunate Few

by elea24

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Thick, acrid smoke filled the air about him, shrouding the captain in deathly silence. An eerie quiet seemed to descend over the carnage all around, until slowly, the sound of screams, moans, curses and other cries of pain pierced the air.

He needed to take charge, to lead his men, he knew. But that would have to wait.

Slowly, methodically, he scanned the horizon. To the passing observer his stance was calm, his gaze coolly assessing – but inside, his heart was branding a mark on his chest, his pulse throbbing in his ears.

There! – to the right, he saw his middle son, dispatching some vile creature that yet breathed life. Hatred, he could see, was etched on the young man’s features, a look of disgust as he moved along the devastation ahead, seeking out the now prone vermin that could still work their evil.

A long sigh escaped the captain’s lungs.

One.

He scanned the horizon still, the thud of his heartbeat increasing rapidly to match his growing sense of unease.
Then, at last, he caught sight of him – his first-born son and heir. Taking charge, efficiently and methodically, he was organising those around him and giving aid to those who needed it.

As if sensing his presence, the young man looked around, locking gaze with his father. For a moment both men just stood across from each other, the intense look that passed between them speaking more than any words. The younger man nodded in acknowledgement and turned back to continue with the task before him.

Two.

Though a great feeling of relief was beginning to move upon the captain, he could not acknowledge it – not yet. He scanned the scene before him once again....Nothing.

Forcing his legs to move, he strode forward across the hellish ground to better aid his search. His breathing grew shallower as he walked among the wreckage. He was loath to look upon the faces of those fallen for fear of what –of whom – he might see. Yet he must.

He came upon a large group of men, hauling some foul beast off the poor souls who had been unfortunate enough to cross its fallen path. In amongst them, right at the heart of the activity, his youngest son, bent, straining to take the colossal weight alongside his comrades.

Three.

Valar be praised! Thank you! Eru, thank you!

Relief flooded through him then, in a great wave, his heart pounding as the full sense of panic that had been ruthlessly suppressed now came to the fore, wracking through his body. He looked down at his hands to see their tremor – the only outward signs of his recent turmoil. They were alive, they were unharmed and he was so greatly blessed. So many had fallen today. So many fathers were now grieving for their sons, so many men desperately searching amongst the carnage for brothers, fathers, uncles and cousins.

It was just as he was turning back that he heard a wretched cry pierce through the chaos. The sound was unmistakable, the cry of a man whose heart had been torn from his body by grief.

In the distance, a young man – one of the Rohirrim it seemed – was crouching low on the ground, tenderly cradling the inert form of a fallen warrior in his arms. The captain was too far away to hear his words, but as the younger man bellowed to the skies, his pain and heartbreak could not be denied.

He felt keenly for this young Rohir’s grief and for whomever it was that he had lost. The pain etched across the younger man’s face served as a cruel reminder of what the captain had just been spared.

Yes, the captain was greatly blessed this day, though it would be others who would pay that awful price.



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A/N: I decided to write this in Movie verse because, the way the scene is placed between Eomer and Eowyn (at the end of the battle, rather than in the middle), just made more sense to my befuddled brain.

Many thanks to SilverMoonLady for the excellent beta.