Thanks for reviewing and I’m hoping that the reason there aren’t more stories popping up in the LOTR’s category is because you’re all at home taking your time to edit them, like I should. Write faster. Joss Whedon owns Buffy and Tolkien owns the LOTR.
The days after arriving at Osgiliath were spent following the queen around the city meeting all the people she thought Buffy should know. Dulinnor and Barhador spent more time with the king talking as old men do, about the good old days and friends they lost in the war. The men were supposed to be talking about the possibility of river trade with the settlements around Greenwood and possibly with the elves, but not a lot was accomplished those first days. Buffy would join them in the evening and catch up, but she was supposed to want to be with the ladies and she liked being with the wealthy women of Osgiliath. These women were cultured and more like women of Buffy’s time than the women in the villages next to Greenwood though still very different. Buffy’s business was more about befriending the queen and the noble families of Osgiliath. It wasn’t something that was planned or discussed really, but Tinwe assumed Buffy to be like any other visiting royalty and treated her as such and that meant wining and dining with the other ladies of the realm.
At night she put on her normal clothes, snuck out of her room, explored the city when no one was around to watch her, and climbed over the wall into the open spring grass of the valley to roam. Mordor made the slayer in her antsy. She could feel Sauron there in the mountains, in the deepest holes where no man would dare go to look for him, sucking the energy from the earth and the volcano to preserve what was left of his essence. She could feel the evil churning and multiplying and it was no use trying to sleep, though Aewendes and the others seemed perfectly capable. Often Dulinnor found her lying on her cloak gazing at the stars and trying to sleep in the grassland. Never before had she seen so many stars. There was no forest to obscure the whole picture or light pollution from a modern city. Only open night sky, billions of stars and darkness. She had an easier time nodding off outside anyway, and Dulinnor always woke her before dawn and she snuck back into the castle.
The queen was gentle and kind, but very formal. Every introduction, every tour was arranged and executed with precision. It felt choreographed, like Buffy was supposed to be dancing with the other ladies, but she didn’t know the dance. Whether she knew it or not, most of the women were very welcoming and kind, at least in front of the queen. She appreciated the attention and the obvious effort that was put into her comfort, but the constant formality and forced smiles was grating. When Thranduil first made her general and all throughout the training sessions it was weird being around so many men after all the slayers she spent time with, but now she was forced back with women, and powerful women in Osgiliath were a force to be reckoned with but in a very different and limited scope and she was having trouble getting used to constant women and humans.
In some ways these humans were like people of any time and place. They had families and hierarchies, farms and shops, houses for healing and education, and art and lore like any society. The main difference between these people and the elves Buffy lived with was the obvious difference between the rich and poor and thus crime. The crime was not necessarily higher or lower than normal but Buffy wasn’t used to it anymore. The elves had no reason to steal from each other. If someone was hungry they were fed. They didn’t have many possessions and only a few were irreplaceable and nobody dared or even wanted to steal from each other. In Osgiliath, like every other city Buffy lived in, these humans hurt each other. On the surface they were perhaps better behaved than some, but there was still murder, theft and rape, and after living with the elves for so long, it surprised her.
There was something else about them that she noticed. There was wariness about them and they often stood and looked to the east with trepidation, as if they could feel what Buffy could. They knew Sauron would rise again, or if not him, some other being would take up the task. Mordor would always be a beacon for evil, and they seemed to grasp that even in times of peace they must be always watchful of the east. Officially Isildur killed Sauron or so the royal family said, but few really believed it and Buffy thought it odd to place so many guards near the black gate, at Minas Ithil, and all along the Mountains of Shadow if they truly believed Sauron was gone.
After three weeks of getting to know the city Buffy suggested, out of necessity on her part, that they ride to Minas Anor and explore the city. She could see its outline at night, and wanted to visit in the sunlight. Tinwe was thrilled. Around the year four hundred the city would be finished and rebuilt in some places and used as a summer home for the royal family, but even now Tinwe and Meneldil loved to visit the city in the summertime. The cold mountain stones kept it much cooler than Osgiliath in the hottest months, and unlike Minas Ithil, it was never breached or spoiled by evil. Buffy had plans to visit Minas Ithil too, but not during the day. It was called the Tower of the Moon, and Buffy figured the next full moon she would sneak out with Dulinnor and explore the city without the prying eyes of Tinwe.
The queen already planned a spring visit but delayed after Buffy arrived. Dulinnor and the king were on a hunting trip, so Tinwe, her attendants, ten soldiers, several noble families, and Buffy, Aewendes and Barhador set out early for the city built into the mountain. It was only about fifteen miles from the outer walls of Osigiliath but with so many people and horses carrying their things, it took a couple hours to get everyone and their things moved.
The top levels of the city were not finished, but even then it was a magical place. A white city built into the mountain surrounded by a formidable outer wall and huge, purportedly impenetrable gate made it an impressive site. To occupy their time, the queen began telling Buffy about her life and some of the history of Minas Anor and Numenor.
Tinwe was born shortly after her people fled Numenor and was about the same age as Buffy, but her aging was slowed, not stopped and she looked twenty years older. She was also an elder in her community and used to being queen, but Buffy was also used to leading and despite her immortality she was human and still thought like one and the two got along very well. Both were mothers, leaders and strong women, and even though Buffy despised the long restrictive gowns, she would always have a love of fashion, and the two always had at least that to talk about. In fact, when Buffy talked about the fashions of her day, Tinwe was so shocked, she could only explain one thing at a time or it became too much for the queen. Buffy still hadn’t mentioned miniskirts fearing the queen would think her some kind of courtesan, or that she’d have a heart attack.
Aewendes always went where Buffy went both for her protection and because she wanted to see everything and meet the people. She was a curious but respectful elf, and in that way her and Buffy got along very well. The queen didn’t understand why she was brought to formal meetings. She would never take her personal servant to dinner, but she followed Buffy’s lead, and after a quick re-introduction Buffy cleared up the misunderstanding. Aewendes was not her servant, but came along as another representative of Greenwood and the two helped each other. Yes, Buffy was the princess, but Aewendes came from one of the oldest families in Greenwood, and was respected in her own right. This re-introduction sparked a lot more conversation and delicate discussions about the cultural differences of elves and men.
Buffy took to Minas Anor immediately. The soldier in her liked its defenses and after she discovered the secret back door tunnel through the mountain she liked it even more. You have to have an escape plan if things go bad, no matter what. Every level had its own defensive wall and solid gate. Though not as impressive as the outer wall, they were protective barriers for the people and would buy time if the outer wall was breached. The walls had war machines that were like giant sling shots, or so Buffy thought, and looked very like a trebuchet, and the couillard attached to the old castle in France that the council acquired.
The people were friendly, the rooms comfortable, and the views from the fifth level were spectacular. The city would have seven levels total, but to carve into the mountain with picks and axes would take years. These men did not have dynamite and train cars, but hammered and carried their debris in wagons and wheel barrels. Buffy thought it was amazing that they had gotten as far as they did. The only thing missing from Minas Anor were trees and greenery. The people had window boxes and small courtyard gardens for herbs and flowers, but they were kept very small. All soil must be carted up to their level so most of the food was grown in the Pelennor fields.
The queen and her guests spent most of their time on the fifth level. There were temporary quarters for the king and queen, houses of healing and some of the wealthier residents had homes there. Just as in Osgiliath, Buffy explored at night though Dulinnor was not around to follow her, and the men guarded the outer wall well enough to make Buffy work harder to sneak in and out. She was almost caught a few times but her superior hearing always saved the day and only one time did she need to run.
Buffy and the elves liked the city, but they were missing the few trees that Osgiliath had. The white tree was sort of a novelty, but it wasn’t enough. Still, they were sad to leave the city after only a week. The king and Dulinnor were due back from their hunting trip and the queen was anxious to be there when they returned. They left early in the morning and almost immediately Buffy was on alert. She was uneasy when she woke up, and it got worse as they finished packing their things and prepared to leave. About a mile out of the city she heard them. Wargs were running from the eastern wall in the crease of the city and the mountain. They waited for the party to get far enough away from the wall before they attacked. The others noticed them a few seconds later, and the ten soldiers poorly equip tried to form a line in front of the others.
“Aewendes! Get the people back to the wall!” Buffy shouted over the panicking families, and jumped off her horse. She tucked the bottoms of her skirt into her belt, reached for her scythe and stood with the soldiers. The queen was trying to get her to come back to the wall with them, but she ignored her, and started yelling orders at the soldiers, and just as Angon had all those years before, these scared men listened to her now.
“You three with arrows, start shooting as soon as they are in range and do not stop until you have spent all your arrows. If more come later, hopefully we will have backup by then, but we want to take out as many as we can before they get here even if you only weaken them it will help us. There are fifteen of them, and eleven of us, so try to even the numbers. They do not have orcs on their backs, so you don’t need to worry about arrows or weapon beyond their teeth and claws. You three with spears are the second defense. Take them out as soon as you can, and after the numbers are down, we will attack. Stay on your horses if you feel better there and stay together. Aim for the head, throat, and eyes and remember they cannot chase you without all four legs but they can still bite. We need to stay in between the people and the wargs, so we keep riding toward the city with them.”
The archers began to shoot and by the time the wargs reached them, there were only eight left still running and at least two were seriously wounded but alive. For a minute it was chaos. The wargs crashed into them, knocking men off horses and breaking apart the line. Buffy stepped out of the way just before a warg crashed into her and she crashed her scythe down on the beast as it passed. She ran to the next making sure none got behind her and started cutting them down. The men that were not already injured or dead were fighting together. It was over fast and in the end Buffy killed three on her own, and helped with the others.
As soon as they were all dead Buffy began tending to the wounded. Almost all the men would be sore and bruised the next day from the initial fall off their horses, but two men were injured critically and a few had some nasty bite marks and broken bones. Buffy began applying pressure to a young looking soldier with a nasty cut on his thigh bleeding fast. She ripped off part of her dress and tied off another man’s arm that had been bitten. He was very pale and going into shock. Just as she was checking the third badly wounded man, riders came from the city.
“My lady, are you injured?” He was eyeballing her shredded dress and bloody scythe and Buffy shook her head.
“No, I’m fine, but these men are injured and we need to get them to the city. Do you have carts on the way or should we put them on your horses?”
“We will carry them. Come, take my horse, this is no place for you.”
“I don’t have time for your nonsense. These men are injured and we need to help them to the houses of healing. If you are willing to give up your horse, give it to this man, he has little time left unless we act fast.”
Buffy lifted the injured soldier and the others helped her steady him on the horse. She got on behind him and rode into the city trying not to bounce him too much. The others followed her lead and began making their way back. Bypassing the people waiting for her at the gate she rushed up to the houses of the healing. She was the first to arrive and scared the women half to death when she banged the doors open covered in blood and warg guts and carried the man awkwardly to the nearest bed. The healers were so stunned by her they didn’t move for a minute.
“Come on! Snap to it, this man is bleeding out!” It seemed to be enough get them moving, and soon the other men arrived and Aewendes rushed in to check Buffy. One of the older healers approached Buffy and tried to examine her, but Buffy brushed her off.
“I’m fine, focus on the soldiers.”
“But you are bleeding lady. Please let me clean the wound.” She pointed at Buffy’s leg that was now dripping blood on the ground and Buffy shook her head, but agreed and sat down. The other men were being taken care of and there wasn’t anything else she could do for them.
“Ouch! It didn’t hurt until you pointed it out.”
Aewendes sat with Buffy while the healer cleaned and dressed Buffy’s leg. “Did everyone make it back to the wall?”
“Yes, the last of us made it in just after you killed them all. It all happened so fast, but the humans can run when they need to. The queen is very upset. She fears that you were hurt very badly and she hasn’t said it, but I think she fears Thranduils reaction.”
“But she knows I’m a general and I couldn’t leave them there. They would have been slaughtered. As it is, I think we’ve only lost one man and most of the horses. Uanel took off like I told her too, but the others weren’t so lucky.”
“I believe she thinks your military title is ceremonial in nature. I will tell her you are well, but sooner I think than later you should go to her.”
“I’ll stay with them for a little while.” Aewendes nodded and left to find Barhador and the queen. Buffy looked down at her leg, now bandaged, and took the offered rag and began cleaning her face and hands. The men that were not injured very badly were staring at her and she walked to sit next to the others that were huddled around the dying man. Buffy clasped his hand. He was hardly more than a boy and shaking badly. His breathing was labored and wet.
“Where is his family?”
“They live in Osgiliath.” It would take too long and she knew it. The boy turned his head and looked at Buffy. She put her hand on his forehead. “You fought bravely and saved many lives today.” He did not speak, just gazed at her until he could not keep his eyes open any longer.
The men went back to their beds and Buffy sat with the most injured until they were cleaned and bandaged. She stayed in the houses of the healing until they were all resting and after asking one of the nurses for a dress to borrow, she walked to where she knew Aewendes would be waiting with Tinwe.
The queen was pacing the length of her chambers when Buffy was shown in. She stopped and watched as Buffy walked into the room seemingly unharmed. In a move uncharacteristic of the queen she pulled Buffy into a hug and checked her over trying to see through the dress and sniff out any injuries.
“Thank the Valar you are unharmed! What were you thinking? You could have been killed!”
Buffy stepped back from the queen and remained calm, but firm in her response. “Those men were outnumbered and scared to death. Fifteen wargs against ten men would have been a massacre. They had no chance, and you might not have made it to the gates if I hadn’t stayed with them.”
“Are you out of your mind?”
“Tinwe, I am the General of the Warriors of the Woodland Realm for a very good reason. It is not a title I was given lightly. I have killed hundreds of wargs and thousands or orcs and other evil creatures. I have experience in these matters that those children do not. They are boys, barely out of their childhood and they put their lives on the line to save yours. They are guards only and have never seen real action before today. I could no sooner leave those men to their fate than you could abandon your people. I know you are scared, but right now we have more important things to think about. One of your soldiers was killed. Maedor was his name, and his family must be notified. I do not know if you wish to return to Osgiliath, but that must be arranged with many more soldiers now that we know there is a threat and perhaps even hunting parties should be dispatched to secure the area. Whatever your decision, messengers must be dispatched so that others are not killed until we establish that there no more wargs or orcs lurking near your people in this city or Osgiliath.”
The queen exhaled and sat down. “Where did they come from? We have had peace these many years.”
“They did not have orc riders. It could have been a random attack. Leftover from the war, they might have wandered back toward Mordor and saw an opportunity to eat and kill. Surely you have had orcs in Gondor since the war? Even Greenwood was attacked a few times.”
“Yes, but there are so many soldiers here that they concentrate their attacks on the outer reaches of our territories. We thought more would come from Mordor, but it has been quiet. Too quiet really, and people are anxious, afraid to trust the peace will last.”
“What would you like to do? Should we send riders or go with more soldiers?”
“We cannot think of leaving today. I will send messengers and I’m sure the captain is sending out hunting parties.”
“I would like to speak with him, but I need to get out of this dress and return it as I promised the healers. Aewendes, are our things returned to our rooms?”
“Stay with the queen, unless they decide to leave. Do not leave Minas Anor unless I am with you. I’m going to find the captain.” Buffy changed into her military uniform, found her horse, and sought out the captain. He was arranging hunting parties in the armory of the first level and sending out scouts to make sure they were not about to be invaded. Dringol was his name. The son of a blacksmith in Minas Anor he was strong and used to hard work, but he had a charisma and natural leadership skills that were meant for more than a dingy old smithy shed.
“Princess, my men tell me you were very helpful today in dispatching the wargs, though there seems to be some difference of opinion about just how helpful you were.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well the soldiers on the field say you saved their lives, and fought with unnatural strength and skill, but the men that came after, specifically my lieutenant said you were ordering him and others around and refusing their help. They were offended that a lady would refuse their help after such a distressing encounter.”
“Maedor was dying, and they were worried about the wrong thing, so I straightened them out.”
“I understand you are general in your land but here the straightening is for me to do, but I thank you for showing concern for my men.”
“Understood, so what do you have planned? I believe the queen is too frightened and doesn’t want to leave yet, but the king will want to come, and this area needs to be secured.”
He considered her for a very long time. Never would a woman dare to ask him about his plans. His men and even his wife knew better than to question his decisions, but here she was, talking to him like an equal, and expecting him to respond. Following his gut he finally said, “I have sent parties of twenty in the three directions and have dispatched messengers to Osgiliath and have plans to send scouts.”
“Good, I am going to check out the area they came from and see if there is evidence of orc or anything else, unless you have already done so.”
“No, I was going to do that myself with a few others, but I do not think it is a good idea that you come with us. The healers tell me you were injured, and even if you weren’t I could not take you with us.”
“I am not hurt, and I will come with you whether you like it or not. I killed three wargs on my own, and helped the others kill the rest. I am a soldier and I cannot sit in the castle while men that are weaker and less experienced go to their death.” And with that, she leapt onto Uanel and rode out of the stables.
“Men that are weaker?” It was a puzzle. At first he thought his men were under some kind of spell when they told him she pretty much killed all the wargs that were not killed with arrows and spears, but what if they spoke the truth? He watched her ride toward the area the wargs came from, and decided that whatever this women was, he could not let her go alone, and didn’t have time to try and stop her. There might be an army invading.
Dulinnor and Meneldil returned to a panicking city. The queen’s party had been attacked by wargs and the princess had fought them off. The stories were wild and outrageous, and drove the two to get back on their horses and rush to Minas Anor. To the kings astonishment Buffy and Dringol met them on their way.
“Captain, what news?”
“The wargs are taken care of, and the area secured. We have searched and have found no evidence of orcs or other enemies, and have come to the conclusion that they were a pack from the mountains that saw and opportunities and took it, but we cannot be sure.”
“Thank you Captain, and princess, I didn’t recognize you in your armor. I didn’t realize they made it that small.” He chuckled nervously and Buffy smiled at him.
“They do now, so how was the hunting?”
Dulinnor looked at her curiously, and said, “It seems it was not as successful as yours. The story we’ve heard from these soldiers escorting us is growing with every minute. When we started, you killed ten wargs with a great red axe, and now the number is up to fifteen with your bare hands.”
Buffy laughed and told them the story which did not lesson the kings astonishment, but put an end to their speculation. Meneldil did not bother scolding her, but it was clear that he would want to know how such a tiny girl could behead such a creature running at a fast pace. For now, concern for his wife pushed him on, and they road quickly to the city.
Buffy spent the next few weeks circling around the city and following the White Mountains West into Lossarnach and south, though not as far south as Lebennin. She knew it wasn’t necessary to be this thorough, but she needed to be hunting and exploring, and outside. Dresses and dinners would be there when she returned and wasn’t the purpose of this trip to explore?
She killed a few orcs, but they found no evidence of a larger army. She did get to know a few of the other scouts that came with them, but mostly Buffy just enjoyed the time to explore. The spring wildflowers were ending but the summer blooms were beginning and everything was in transition. The grasses were still green but before long the summer heat would dry out the plains and turn everything yellow and brown. The many rivers in southern Gondor would always provide long paths of green cutting through the dry prairie to the ocean, but without much rain there were not many large forests but smaller groves huddled together where springs ran underground or pooled long enough to support life.
The people of Lossarnach were happy to take them in for the night and restock their food supplies and Buffy met Tinwe and Meneldil’s youngest daughter and her children. Lothien was married to the lord of Lossarnach both because of her love for him, and flowers. Lossarnach was known particularly for the wildflowers that grew pretty much everywhere. She showed buffy the great fields of roses and though they were somewhat different than the hybrid roses of Buffy’s time they were still very pretty. Wild and beautiful they grew huge and bushy, and a field of thousands of roses smelled wonderful. Lothien knew all the wildflowers by name, and which plants could be used for healing and consuming. She was an interesting girl, and Buffy hoped to return again when she continued her trip through Gondor, but after two nights, she knew they should probably head back for Osgiliath. Glad to be out in the wild or not, Buffy did enjoy the huge bath tub that awaited her at the palace.
When she returned with the scouts the king and queen gave a collective sigh of relief and began to pack Buffy’s schedule again in the hopes of keeping her out of danger while she was in their care. Buffy let it happen for another month, but soon she was eager to move on. She wanted to show Aewendes and Dulinnor the roses and the ocean and sandy beaches were calling in the south. They were all happy with their time spent in Osgiliath but even Barhador was ready to go.
Dulinnor and Buffy made one last trip to Minas Ithil the night before they left. It was not abandoned, but few were brave enough to live that close to Mordor. There was a presiding lord, and his family, but most of the people living there were the families of the soldiers that guarded the city and the borders of Mordor. Tinwe did not like being there, and so had refused to take Buffy, but after seeing it light up in the moonlight all the way from Osgiliath, Buffy had to check it out. Plus, she wanted an excuse to get that close to Mordor without being turned away by guards.
It was a beautiful place, but Buffy understood why the queen would avoid it. The mountains themselves gave off a creepy vibe and the city, in any other place might have glowed with life, but in the shadows of Mordor its moon glow was chilling. She wondered if it was always a little creepy, or if it retained some imprint from the time it was under Saurons control. Dulinnor didn’t know, but he suspected that just like the Berennyn it may lose some of the creepiness if Sauron was destroyed completely. They didn’t stay long and after about an hour made their way back to the city hoping to get a few hours of sleep before they set out.
“I have a good feeling about tomorrow Duli.”
“What do you feel?”
“Nothing specific, but something is going to happen before the summer ends, and I think it’s good, and has something to do with you.”
“Have you had a vision, or a dream?”
“No, this is just a Buffy gut feeling, but that doesn’t mean it’s not legit.”
“I am well aware of how effective your hunches are, but so rarely are they about me. What do you think it pertains to?”
Thanks again for reading.
Minas Anor-The Tower of the Sun
Minas Ithil-The Tower of the Moon
Osgiliath-Citidel of the Stars