No such luck I'm afraid. Yes, this is Kiwi Tolkien, but I'm postponing the Arwen Problem for a while.
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And yet all efforts were vain. Gimli and Aragorn had slain dozens before the gates were sealed. Legolas had hauled them to safety over the battlements, but that safety was short-lived. Uruk-hai filled the Deep, they covered the wall, and ladders and grappling hooks were thudding against the ramparts. Some overshot their mark and fell into the bailey, crashing down like the toss-stones of mountain giants, while others slammed into men and boys, striking them from the parapet with deadly force. Legolas, having gleaned damp arrows from the quiver of a slain archer, stood over the gate adding his share to the dwindling rain of bolts and spears. He managed to sever a cable that was being used to pull up one of the orc-laden siege-towers. But there were three others still coming when that one crashed full-length across the enemy host below, and in spite of the ragged cheer from the men on the ramparts, he might just have well have tried to harvest a field with a fishhook. Scant minutes later, the causeway gate had burst asunder, orcs were pouring over the battlements, and the last living defenders were racing for the doors to the inner keep. Legolas spent the dead man’s arrows covering their retreat.
So elves and men were bottled up in six-foot walls of stone. There was no way out of the inner keep and tower save through the caves, and from them only a few narrow tunnels wormed their way back into the hills. Such routes afforded scant hope, for there was little chance the orcs would not follow any who fled, once the doors of the Hornburg had given way. Théoden’s warriors set spears and swords aside and did their best to brace this final barrier. Elven archers stood behind them with bows trained between their shoulders, watching for any crack in the straining wood. Again and again, the doors that Aragorn had struggled to push open on his return now shuddered and boomed with the heavy blows of unseen enemies. The one ray of hope left was that the stairs and inner ring wall of the bailey made the use of a battering ram more difficult in its narrow confines. Yet such contrivances of men could only delay, not deny the siege’s outcome. Helm’s Deep had been built as stoutly as the mountain on which it stood, but even the land could not hold back the sea when the seas rose.
At such an hour men despaired, and even the hearts of elves were grim and cold. Aragorn and Théoden and what few of the king’s household remained stood at the back of the darkened hall taking counsel, but there was little to debate. The king’s mind was already half with his son. He had come this far on love for his people, and now he could no longer pretend that he could defend them.
“Ride out with me,” Aragorn was urging, his voice clear and certain even over the din of the assault. “Ride out to meet them! Now is the hour for the Eorlingas to come forth behind the banner of their king. What was it you told me? ‘At least we shall make such an end as may be worth a song, if any are left to sing of it.’” His gaze shifted to the gray light filtering down through high narrow window-slits over the doors. Dawn was coming on.
Legolas straightened, the fierce resistance of his bowstring suddenly nothing in his hands. It was not his friend he heard speaking, but a lord of men. No, not only a leader, but an archer, with the whole of the Hornburg suddenly become for him a bow. Would Théoden let himself be pushed by the Dúnadan this time?
“If any are left,” Théoden echoed under his breath, quietly enough that perhaps only elves could hear it.
Somewhere beneath their feet were caves of breathtaking beauty, Gimli had said, glittering with hundreds of torches that played across silver-flecked stone pillars and wide pools of water. Those pools had been mirror-still since the world began, but they must have trembled often during the long night, when even the bones of the Hornburg shook. Whether or not their king rode forth, hundreds of women and children down there would soon die, even those with swords like Éowyn, listening to every thud and groan above them with grim helplessness. Outside the bodies of their kin and loved ones, many old or far too young, were piled among the corpses of enemies. The orcs would be hacking the bodies of the elves they hated. A few riders flying in the face of a storm would be worth little to any of these victims.
Legolas kept his eyes on the doors. The men had braced and buttressed them with long wooden benches and tables from the feast-hall, but between the gaps of makeshift beams, he could see cracks getting longer and wider. Soon his arrows would have a mark. There was a scrape at his elbow and the dwarf’s hoarse breathing; Gimli had returned from sharpening his axe.
“He’s right, my lord,” the dwarf said stoutly. “Better to meet them head-on than to be trapped in our own tomb.”
“Will you join the last ride of the Eorlingas, Master Dwarf?” the king asked. His men exchanged glances, shifted their feet.
There was a comfortingly familiar clink as Gimli patted his favored weapon. “No, but leave me a few orcs for sport, if you’ve any to spare. I will follow on foot, where I have room to swing my axe.”
Théoden raised his chin, following Aragorn’s gaze towards the high window. “Nay, Gimli son of Glóin,” the king said softly. “I have a different task for you.”
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The doors broke and fell. Guttural cries of pent-up rage muffled the death-rattle of tortured wood and stone. The orcs burst into the king’s hall. At the far end waited Théoden, Aragorn, Legolas, Gamling and the chiefs of Edoras, all of them mounted on horses that fretted and stamped.
Straight through the mass of astonished orcs they galloped, out into the bailey where the black banners of Saruman flapped over walls that no other foe had passed, down the wide stairs to the splintered gate and out, and into the column of orcs streaming up the causeway. The riders swept aside those in their path, slew and slew, although their swords made barely a dent in the much-thinned but still vast sea of orcs. Down the causeway they rode, seeking nothing save deaths well-earned. As Théoden led the charge, high above in the top of the tower, the ancient horn of Helm Hammerhand boomed out in a growing swell of thunder. Gimli was making the mountains sing a somber dirge for the last ride of the Rohirrim. Some of the orc-companies actually gave ground, not just before the ire of cornered prey suddenly turning upon its attacker, but fearing the horn itself. Helm! Helm is arisen! called the Rohirrim inside and outside of the keep. High overhead, the peaks of the mountains were cutting through the last wisps of cloud from the previous night’s storm.
Yet the banner of the king did not founder, and few deaths came to those who followed it. The causeway and the Deeping Coomb lay in gray shadow, but high above on the mountain’s limb a white rider was silhouetted against the pale golden dawn. Gandalf had returned. With him were Éomer and Erkenbrand and all the mounted warriors of the Third Mark and the Westfold. With an answering shout they poured down like a river unleashed, sweeping upon the black host. Orcs cowered in the blinding light of the Grey Pilgrim, grey no longer. Caught between the vice of Théoden and Gandalf, Éomer and Aragorn, those orcs who were not slain by sword and spear were trampled flat.
Helm’s Deep had held.
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In the light of a day few hoped to see, the survivors searched for those who had not. Éomer’s men were relieving the sentries. The night’s garrison had retired to the keep to sleep, bind wounds, or die in the arms of loved ones in the caves below. The old king slept in the Hornburg, his dreams less troubled than they had been in years, despite the blood of his people on the stones outside. Aragorn and even Gimli had gone down to well-earned rest.
Legolas was walking on the ruined battlements, gathering arrows and looking for elves. Most of the work of clearing away the wreckage was being done by the women of Rohan. He saw few who wept openly as they bore the dead away one by one. He crossed the garth slowly, picking his way around rubble, discarded weapons and missiles, and hideous twisted forms of orcs. Few but fair among them were strewn his own folk, foresters who but for last night might have lived all the ages of the world. Many had been mangled, hacked, half-eaten in the brief time that orcs had gained this ground. The grievous sight of them lodged itself somewhere in Legolas’ heart and spread out within him, cool sorrow becoming a part of his bones.
The living Galadhrim were here also, somberly gathering up their comrades. Some of the women were helping, although they gave their guests silent and fearful glances. The women bore away weapons, armor, what orcs they could move, and any men that had fallen from the keep’s walls high above. They labored to make room for the elves but were careful not to touch them. Legolas favored those he passed with a kind glance.
He began to sing quietly when he reached the small company of elves searching the ruins of the Deeping Wall. Humans in the garth below halted where they were, dazed, and cast about for the source. Legolas’ folk nodded to him as he came among them, some taking up the lament. Song born in starlight before the rising of the sun now rose from the Deep, and the Hornburg shivered with a music very different from that of horns.
One by one Lórien’s fallen were found and borne away on the cloaks of their comrades. Haldir was discovered last of all, and only when a great orc-banner and a few shields had been flung down from the wall. He lay full-length along the groove behind the parapet, with eyes closed and hands folded over his sword; a cloak from one of his fallen neighbors had been cast over him. Nothing marred him but the wounds that had killed him. Timdaur, the grim elf who now led them in Haldir’s place, questioned everyone closely, but no one knew who had done this. Aragorn had barely fled in time, as Legolas well knew, and he and his two friends had been the last to reach the keep alive.
It was a grievous moment, for Rúmil Haldir’s younger brother had come with them, and knelt a long time beside his sibling. The whisper of Haldir’s name and then a hush spread out across the Deep, when the Galadhrim raised their leader and began to descend the stairs. Rúmil led them. Legolas and Timdaur walked behind. But as they stepped around an orc with one of his own arrows buried in the shoulder-joint, Legolas remembered something. Number thirty-five, his last Lórien-arrow.
“Timdaur,” he whispered. “Aphadathon— nad nu hen.”
The other elf paused and glanced down at the massive Uruk sprawled face-first in the act of coming over the parapet. He nodded to Legolas silently and left him there.
(I’ll follow— something’s under this.)