The three forms of a vampire: Vampires have basically three forms. One is their most human form. They look like they did when they died, their senses are only slightly sharper than those of the average human (Harry is still somewhat short-sighted, but simply learned to live with it, because it's better than it used to be.) and they are only slightly stronger and faster than before, because they do not feel any strain when they reach their limits. The second one is the form they change into when there is little to no light. In this form they are stronger, faster and can see and hear better. This is also the form in which their eyes change to red and they have fangs. Then there is the form they take on if they have a very low level of blood and are in a lot of pain (Having little blood in their bodies is painful itself though). Taking this form can be fought to a certain degree if the vampire is strong willed, as this form actually has a mind that is somewhat distinct. They are even stronger and faster than in their nightly form. Their pupils almost disappear in their widened red irises and their fangs are longer than in their second form. They lose their mind and cannot tell friend and foe apart, only other vampires that are rather close to them stand a chance of not being attacked at least as long as the crazed vampire still has some semblance of control left.

AN.: Deathly Hallows was awesome, but turned this into an AU. Maybe I'll edit the early chapters later on to make this story fit DH a little better, but I'm not sure, yet, because I obviously can't make it fit 100 any more.

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or Middle Earth.

The Dark Wizard and the Curse of Immortality

Chapter 15 – The Puppets of War

Ducking the vampire was narrowly missed by yet another volley of arrows that came flying over the wall. A clash of thunder drowned out the pattering sound of them meeting hard stone and thick armour.

As he huddled behind the wall for a moment longer, he swallowed deeply, trying to get rid of the lump in his throat. He certainly didn't succeed when a volley of their own side resulted not only in inhuman shrieks, but also in human cries of pain. It was one thing to kill the Wildmen in battles one on one, but a whole different one to passively watch them fall in bloody heaps from afar. He almost wished the squirming, black carpet that was covering the valley would move faster, so they'd reach the point faster when his pity would make way to survival instinct and adrenaline.

He wished Boromir would say something in order to distract him from the eerie absence of all human sounds in the Keep, but the soldier stared determinedly ahead. The young undead was still angry with him, which didn't surprise the older vampire in the slightest, since he knew the tall man to be resentful. Feeling even more depressed Harry thought of all his missing friends and how he wished they were standing next to him now, ready to watch his back like his friends in his old world had done all the time. The wizard knew that fighting in this battle was a death sentence for everyone who had a life to give though and was rather glad that they weren't there. Especially whenever he dared to look at the writhing mass below and saw how very fast the mortal men were falling, while the vampires simply continued moving onward even if they had already been hit by an arrow or two that had been successfully put out. Noone seemed to care about whether they trampled their wounded.

As he saw the cruelty of those creatures, his belief that what he had done had been necessary to prevent a massacre on their side of the war was strengthened. He doubted many people apart from those who had readily helped would agree with him though. Haldir had taught him how important honour was to the people of Middle Earth. It almost seemed to distinguish between good and bad. Feeling very frustrated, he realised that they wouldn't view his actions as highly honourable.

An arrow was crushed by its own force on the stone just to his left and he winced slightly.

He couldn't really blame the mortals for disapproving of his actions either. If he had been in their shoes, he'd have readily agreed. He had after all drugged them and robbed them of the chance to fight for their own lives.

It had been laughably easy. He had rallied the children and told them to find the ingredients for a potion (a rather enthusiastic little boy had even found and gutted a newt for him) that would make the men fall fast asleep. Meanwhile he had talked to a few hysterically crying women who had been forced to let their young sons be taken away and given armour and weapons. They were easily convinced to follow his cause and were soon found supposedly playing with the children, while the potion, which Harry made in the kitchen, simmered. Just as he had asked them to, they set together big great, stone forms that somewhat resembled great human bodies lying on the floor. Some soldiers had watched this with somewhat bemused expressions, but most shrugged it off as a means to keep the little ones busy and keep them believing that they were helping.

When the potion was finished he handed a tiny bit to all of his helpers and they didn't only put it into all the ale and water they handed out but also poisoned the very water supply of the citadel. Not an hour later everyone that had had a drink since then was fast asleep. For some time the fortress had looked like a picture of the castle from the fairytale "Sleeping Beauty". Soldiers had fallen asleep leaning on their lances, stable hands were halfway lying over unconscious horses, Gimli had looked as though he had enjoyed his ale a little too much, Aragorn, the King and all his advisers were snoring around the table in the hall and the elves had been narrowly rescued from burning their hands, as they had been about to show a young blacksmith some secrets of the art.

It had been a downright pain to take everyone's armour off and then transport them into the depths of the Glittering Caves, but with a lot of work and some magic on Harry's part they had managed to evacuate everyone on time. The mortals were being protected by most of the stone guardians and the wizard hoped it would be enough to hold the enemy off should any vampires slip past them or in the worst case the whole army overpower them.

Smiling despite the situation, the wizard couldn't help but feel proud of himself, as he admired his spell-work. Flitwick would have been pleased to see that although Harry had had problems making his pineapple dance in his first year, he now controlled many, many hundreds of suits of armour. They weren't nearly as intelligent as Hogwarts', but certainly understood the concept of killing everything that purposefully attacked them.

All of this had cost an unholy amount of blood, but the vampire hoped the people would be too occupied with the fact that they had slept through the entire battle to notice those little bandages around their arms which hid almost unnoticeable twin marks.

The wall shook under Harry's feet and he looked down the side of wall. His mouth hung open as he witnessed how lines of vampires were pressing their bodies into the wall. Some ran into it repetitively, sending light tremors through the ground. With the combined power of so many vampires could they just break down walls of this size? It seemed impossible, but a wave that caused Harry to lose his footing convinced the vampire of it.

Unsheathing his wand he sent a chain of lights flying along the wall which quickly turned the masses directly below into their weaker day-forms. Smiling he mentally thanked Remus for teaching him this charm, while they were decorating the house for Christmas.

A little confused some orcs tried to find the source of the sudden additional light, but they were unable to find him among the many empty helmets. It was then that the vampire spied something in the distance. It looked as though the orcs were carrying something. Tilting his head, the vampire narrowed his eyes and realising it looked rather long – rather like a ladder? Indeed they were carrying a ladder and although the child of modern days had never heard of such methods before, it didn't take a genius to figure out what it was used for.

Only a moment later more ladders and other machines of war which could help them overcome the impossible heights of the Hornburg's walls came into focus before his eyes and with a few choice-words Harry quickly changed the command of those armours nearest to him, which instantly stopped aiming at those orcs that were shooting arrows at them and instead aimed at those carrying ladders and moving the machines. They were not doing a very good job though and they couldn't possibly reach the orcs making their way towards the lower walls with their arrows.

The ones making their way in his direction though were so quickly taken down that some ladders and machines had almost stopped their forward movement. One ladder, which had come dangerously close had actually buried many of its carriers after half of them had been shot down. It hardly seemed to matter though, because the defenders only managed to slow a minuscule part of the whole. There were so many orcs that those that were set on fire could be most easily replaced.

A loud crash drew his attention. His mouth hung open, as he saw that a thick full body armour of shimmering steel had drawn its long sword and thrown itself down the wall to meet the enemy. Although the fall only gave it a few dents, it was almost immediately swallowed by the sea of enemies, but whenever Harry thought it had disappeared for good, it performed a sweeping movement with its sword and got a little bit of space. It seemed that after all those fights the armour and weapons had been used in, some of their users' skills and maybe even personality remained behind in them. The muggles of this world sure were unusual.

As more metal and leather crashed into the enemies below, the wizard swore, although he knew very well that it was his fault for giving such liberal instructions. Feeling a little like he was being paid back for being just as brash as these mindless suits of armour he sent flames down at the orcs with a lethal glint in his eyes.

A terrible slamming and the screech of metal against stone drew his attention further down the wall where orcs were already pouring into their sanctuary. He was about to run over there to help his puppets, but Boromir was faster. Running past him, the younger vampire yelled, "I'll take those! Take care of the ones up there before they manage to secure the ladder."

Wasting a minute to surprise Harry turned around and saw that the enemy was raising another ladder. Rushing to meet his oncoming target, he tried to blast it away before it could reach the wall, but he missed his target and immediately had an ugly grimace of hate in his face. The Uruk's face was so scarred and deformed that it looked like someone had taken his whole face off, ripped it to bits and glued the pieces back on without too much care of what belonged where.

Having been struck by the awful picture Harry only barely managed to avoid the blow aimed for his head and lost his footing, as he stumbled out of reach. Before he had regained his balance the beast had fully climbed over the wall and attempted to strike him again, which the wizard only managed to avoid by letting himself fall gracelessly to ground.

From his position on the floor something which had previously gone unnoticed caught his eye. Now that it did, his eyes were glued to the sickening necklace the orc wore around his neck. It consisted of many bones and at the bottom hung a rotting skull. It wasn't just the mere fact that it was a skull in the first place that made Harry forget everything around him - the sheer danger he was in. It was the skull's size. Far too tiny for even a hobbit's, it had to be an infant's.

His heart suddenly didn't feel the same, it felt hard and cold and didn't object in the slightest when he decided that death was a far too lenient punishment for this creature. With steady fingers he unpocketed his wand and calmly pointed it at the rather confused-looking orc chieftain, who paused in mid-strike. Smiling chillingly Harry said, "Crucio."

Screams of the most horrible kind suddenly drowned even those of the dyeing, those that were set on fire and those fighting. Like a wave the pleading and screeching slowly made everyone first in the near vicinity and then in the whole area pause. Even the soulless orcs were caught by the bone-chilling sounds, but for once Harry soft heart was completely unmoved by pleas for mercy. It had suddenly cast off all mercy, as though the sight of the infant's head had ultimately killed it.

The spectators meanwhile could not help but stare at the tortured orc and its foe, their battle for a moment forgotten in the face of something so horrible and although it was due to the mere fact that their command was no longer in effect, the way the lifeless dolls ceased to move, made it look like they too were struck with horror.

Suddenly all was silent, but the chieftain was not dead. It was just staring vacantly into the sky. Its murky brown eyes were showing nothing of its former, dark intent now. Everything seemed to wait with baited breath for the creature's darker nature to take over, but nothing happened. Harry had not only driven his foe insane, but also every will to live out of him. Not even it's very most basic instincts of survival – the true vampire – was left of him. Smiling rather insanely the older dark creature felt very pleased with his work.

As the mighty wizard turned his head to the opponent nearest him, he was darkly amused by the way the creature's eyes widened and it backed away hastily. This orc proved not to be the only one who suddenly understood that there were fates worse than death. It didn't take long before the young-looking man had a wide birth. When they looked into those burning green eyes, the new breed of orcs learned true fear.

"I hope you left some for us, you little rat!" A voice called down from the upper level and Harry slowly looked up as though waking from a trance, only to see three silhouettes that really shouldn't - couldn't - be there.

He had put some of the potion into the dwarf's ale himself and the girl he had ordered to make sure the elves drank a healthy amount of water before the battle had assured him they did.

How come they woke up? It wasn't possible…

Then it hit him and he felt like an idiot, as the three jumped over a balustrade and came running towards him, killing invading orcs as they went. The potion had been invented to knock out humans, not dwarfs, which hardly mingled with the wizards of his world and definitely not elves, who didn't even exist in it. The three were obviously immune to its more lasting components… Or they had simply faked drinking and falling asleep.

Whatever it was, finding out why they were there in the first place had to wait. At least he came to that decision, when an orc almost managed to run him through from behind and was only stopped by an arrow notched and shot so fast the vampire had been almost unable to follow. Grumbling softly Harry turned his attention back to the fighting, since it seemed the orcs were slowly overcoming their temporary fear of him. Probably because the reminder of his actions had become lost among the bodies and had more than likely already been trampled.

Sheathing his wand and unclasping his hammer from his back, he sent a quick prayer to the heavens. His fingers clenched reflexively around the handle of his weapon.

Facing the nearest foe Harry looked it straight in the eye and rushed towards it with great force. In the last moment though fear flashed in the creature's empty eyes and it jumped out of the way less than gracefully, causing the wizard to stumble a little, until he regained his footing. Blinking confusedly, he whirled around just in time to divert the course of a blood-encrusted sword to the side with the handle of his own weapon. Without thinking he rammed it forward with as much strength as he could muster and he both heard and felt a rib or two give to the force of his blow. His triumph was short-lived as the beast used the advantages of its much lighter weapon and gave Harry a light slash up his arm, that the old hero hardly felt, but heeded as a warning.

Narrowing his eyes he balanced the hammer with one hand and quickly took out his wand, hissing two words he thought he'd never say again, "Avada Kedavra!" Sickly, green light illuminated the area for a moment and then the thud of a body was somehow heard over those of all others'. He was mildly surprised that the killing curse actually worked on undead, but then again it had always been an often asked question just how this curse killed.

Before he had time to think about this a lot more his peripheral vision made him duck as he was assaulted by two orcs on either side of him. Their weapons clashed and before they could back up Harry used the handle of his hammer to knock one of them off its feet. From out of nowhere came an axe that split the orc's head in two, making Harry quite sick, but he did send his helper, Gimli, a quick look of thanks. His head turned to the remaining orc.

Whipping his wand in the direction of his foe, he stupidly sent the cutting curse "Sectumsempra" in its direction. It only took him a moment to realise his mistake, but it was a moment too late and the other vampire lay on the ground, his blood already creating a small, black pool.

Not only he backed away as the creature rose again, red eyes flashing, despite the torch burning brightly right over its head.

Gulping nervously his eyes flitted to and fro, trying to catch sight of his friends. Taking mental notes he could immediately tell that Gimli was standing close to his back, obviously not having realise what was happening behind his comrade, yet. A short moment later he found Legolas standing on the stairs to an upper level together with some light armour-puppets that were still shooting burning arrows at the masses below with astonishing accuracy.

Then an animalistic growl was emitted by the beast in front of him and his eyes met those of the young, crazed undead.

The growl turned into something resembling a banshee's screech and without thinking Harry grabbed the dwarf by his axe-wielding arm running past a few orcs that seemed equally frightened of what was chasing them, hissing viciously and therefore making way for the retreating pair. It wasn't until he was thrown to the ground by a large, heavy body that their flight was cut short halfway to the elf who was defending the stairs to the upper levels.

Whipping his head around his eyes caught a glimpse of blackened, sharp fangs and a wide yaw, but just as those came down on him something flew right where the other vampire's head had been only moments ago. As it clattered noisily to the ground, Harry saw that it was a small throwing-axe. The ugly, snarling face of the blood-thirsty orc turned to Gimli who was kneeling on the floor where he must have fallen when Harry had been tackled.

Using its distraction to his advantage, the older vampire broke free of the hold pinning him down and Harry threw himself at it hoping to be able to nail it down, trying desperately to switch their position. Struggling with the beast seemingly out of nowhere a clawed hand gave him a nasty blow to his head that sent him flying backward on the slippery-wet stone with his head spinning.

The orc now towered over him and Harry couldn't help but be a little scared. Especially as its undead brethren had seemingly lost their fear and crowded around the two of them, probably hoping their strengthened comrade would take care of this particular menace. Even if he managed to subdue this crazed vampire, he would in a second be met by twenty or so of its comrades.

Struggling to his feet despite the way the floor still seemed to move underneath his feet, he dimly wondered when he had lost his hammer, as he slipped his wand into his hand. For but a moment the two vampires sized each other up, when quite suddenly the younger one's insanity made him rash and with unmatched speed and power he flew at the other one, interrupting the other in mid-spell when they collided.

For the second time Harry found his vision full of snapping fangs and grabbing clawed hands and his nostrils assaulted by the uniquely orcish smell of blood and rotting flesh.

From one moment to the other the two stilled somewhat and it took Harry a second to comprehend what had happened. The events had been too quick to follow. The younger vampire had finally used his advantages of speed and strength and nailed him down by his shoulders. It was only now that the splitting pain in Harry's shoulder-blades registered to him, but this didn't stop him from futilely trying to break the vice-like grip the other vampire had on his shoulders. Hissing angrily at the snarling beast above him, he even tried the dirty trick of kicking the other between its legs, which he wasn't surprised didn't work, since that part of its anatomy was protected by its armour.

Fangs finally descended slowly and while the wizard knew this couldn't kill him he did not fancy being brought to the same state this creature was in, so he doubled his struggles.

Suddenly the orc threw its head back and screamed in pain whirling around again and again in a futile attempt to reach the two burning arrows that were stuck deep within its back. Out of the corner of his eyes he saw two tall proud figures standing side-by-side on top of a nearby building, their bows already notched with the next arrows.

Not wasting another moment Harry quickly stole a curved sword from the hands of a particularly dumb-looking orc that hadn't been expecting to be involved and ran towards the inflamed, panicked vampire, drawing the sword back and performing the wide arc he had seen his puppets use to despatch of quite a few orcs.

It took a moment for the body to crumble like a building, but when it did all hell broke lose around the wizard and he was attacked from all sides at once.

The sword in his hand helped him very little, as he didn't know how to use it nearly as well as the orcs around him and he almost found himself overtaken when he felt something roll underneath his boots, nearly causing him to stumble. Glancing down for but a second he noticed that it was his wand. He must have lost it sometime during his struggle with the orc.

Trying to find an opportunity to pick up his wand, think of a spell that could get him out of this mess and not to get mauled in the process, the black-haired man was hardly surprised, when he was hit by a shield in his back and jostled right into the sword of one of the other orcs. He screamed. The blade was pulled out and in that moment he hurt so much that he was almost glad when he saw that the orc was about to end it.

They say that before ones life ends they see their life flashes before their eyes and this seemed to apply for the unlife of a vampire as well. Things he had forgotten long ago came back to the surface, good and bad and he made his peace with everything, even Hermione who may or may not be already waiting for him together with everyone else.

This peaceful moment in time was cut short, when the orc's expression turned to shock and then froze. Instead of beheading the older one, its head rolled off its shoulders and its sword swayed off course and got stuck in Harry's arm for a moment, before being pulled out by the creature's heavy arm.

Not being able to hold back a scream for the second time today Harry tried to keep his senses together and the blackness at bay. As the darkness faded Boromir appeared where the orcs had been seconds ago, coming to the side of his swaying friend and keeping the enemy at a distance.

When the vampire felt secure that he wouldn't lose control, he risked looking his friend over and made sure he had everything under control before crouching down and picking up his wand which was lying nearby. Slipping one hand into a pouch that was attached to his armour he fished out a miniscule bottle with some red liquid.

With a flick of his wand the bottle grew back to its original size and while his eyes remained attentive, he downed the blood as fast as he possibly could.

Shaking his head as it finally cleared again, he grabbed the other vampire's arm and when their eyes met, he nodded discretely in the direction of the upper level, where he hoped their mortal friends had already fallen back to. There was hardly anything left of the armours on this level, although the bits and pieces of them continued fighting bravely.

On the count of ten the two sprinted towards and up the stairs shooting spells to one side and swinging a sword like a scythe on the other. To his dread the armour that had been defending the stairs had been turned into nothing more than trash and beyond the pile of mangled, twitching metal he saw that his three mortal friends were standing in a tight circle. He could see the blood drip out from underneath the helmets and out of gashes in their armour. The grip on their weapons was somewhat slack, their wheezing breathing could be heard over the wind and rain and their shoulders were slumped with fatigue. All in all Harry could tell that his mortal friends were fast approaching the limits of their endurance.

When a particularly great and mean-looking orc with a morning star was about to take out Legolas, Harry once more sent the darkest of all curses and whatever the sickly green light passed seemed to shudder with dread. A torch flickered and went, as the green touch of death passed by too closely. The orc it was intended for felt the coming of death just in time to be met by the curse right in its deformed face.

They say that the killing curse did not only take the victim with them, but also cost the caster a part of their good heart and in that moment Harry would have agreed, as he no longer cared how dark the curses were which he cast or how much precious human blood it cost him. He killed vampiric orcs left and right or made them kill each other.

When he finally reached the group he must have been splattered with blood and gore and made a rather horrifying picture, because they unconsciously backed a little away and looked a little wary, but he merely took a place in their group and turned around facing their foes.

Whenever he looked a beast in the eye it backed away which was slightly disconcerting on one level, but extremely gratifying on another. Finally two orc-chieftain had the guts to attack him together, but he calmly cast, "Imperio," on one of them making it fall behind the other and when its comrade turned to look back at it in confusion made the one under his control kill the other and despatch of a number of others before it was finally taken down by one of its own.

All these little victories on his side meant nothing though and Harry knew it very well. For every orc he killed two made their way past his puppets and came running up the stairs. There seemed to be no end of them. How many of them were left? Hundreds? Thousands? Downing another bottle of the red life-giving liquid, the oldest vampire felt hopelessness creep into him. No matter how many of them they had managed to take down one thing was for sure: There were far less of their own left to fight.

An almost inaudible voice to his left whispered, "Make them obey you, Harry. You can. I am sure of it. It may be our very last chance."

Glancing sideways at the speaker - who turned out to be Legolas - the former Chosen One hissed, "I would if I could make all of them obey me at once, but I can only take over one at a time." Grudgingly he admitted to himself that some Death Eaters had been able to control many more, but he had never been the type to practice such spells.

Giving Harry a look, the elf still spoke uncharacteristically cut off, as he tried to regain his breath, "They do not know that. They do not know the extent of your power, which is the exact reason why you might be able to gain control."

Sending a Crucio at another orc that dared to come closer, Harry sent his elven friend, who shuddered as he watched how nonchalant his companion tortured another, a confused look.

Visibly refraining from groaning at his friend's incomprehension the elf explained, "Orcs only listen to anyone, because they fear their master more than death. I think at this point in time they fear you as much if not more than Saruman. You just have to push them a little further."

"Are you joking?!" the vampire snarled at the elf softly, sending a orc crashing into a wall.

"He might be right, Harry. And even if you do not manage to get them under your control, what have we got to lose? Not to mention after making that pompous advisor do as you wished, convincing a few orcs of your superiority should be an easily-accomplished," Boromir cut himself off with a grunt as he barely parried a blow with his big shield and after a short battle cut off his attacker's head. "…task."

Not really convinced of it, but not seeing how it could do any harm, apart from focusing all attention on him, he straightened himself, took off his helmet and took a few steps forward, away from the protective circle his friends had formed. The move seemed to stun the orcs a bit, making the fighting in the immediate area come to a sort of stand-still, as they waited for his next move. Looking around with a derogative gaze, he yelled so as many as possible would hear, "I'm giving you a last chance. Follow me and I will not drown you all in a sea of pain." Harry had expected the orcs to laugh, but if it weren't for the still persistent rain and the somewhat distant-sounding fighting, you could have heard a pin drop.

Then finally a single orc chieftain wearing a necklace of different bones cracked, chuckling breathlessly like a chain smoker. A few rather nervously followed his example. And to further prove that there was nothing to fear from the little creature he met Harry's eyes directly. If it weren't for this grave mistake the wizard might have given up this ridiculous endeavour, but in those sunken eyes he could see quite clearly the lingering fear. The beast wheezily proclaimed, "We serve Saruman!" But Harry was no longer fooled. There was little to do. Legolas was right they only needed a small push further in the right direction.

Before any of the other chieftains could be swayed by their comrades courage, the oldest vampire had snarled a single curse and the foul creature was lying on the ground. With morbid fascination, the caster, his friends and the vampires surrounding them watched as the creature first screamed, then howled, then only had the breath to emit a strange sort of whimpers, which turned into odd gurgling sounds and finally there was silence. During all this the only articulate thoughts Harry's mind could process were of wonder at the orc's suddenly no longer wheezing voice and that not a single orc tried to end his own existence while he was occupied with that single creature. Even if these monsters understood something like the concept that one didn't kill another during negotiations, they wouldn't have been bound by it, as the black-haired man had attacked one of their leaders first.

Lifting the curse, since there would be no further effect, the oldest vampire noticed out of the corner of his eyes that a different orc-leader was about to speak up. Quickly and inconspicuously Harry pointed his wand in that creature's direction and instead of saying whatever it had been about to, it yelled, "We serve the Dark Wizard." It fell to its knees and bowed its head in submission. Murky, dark eyes widened in disbelief and some seemed to consider following the example, but not quite ready to face the wrath of those who still looked unshaken, whose majority was undeniable. This would have to change. The wizard's face turned into a mask of anger, when not a single orc dared to change their alliance.

When an orc near the one he controlled was about to either jerk the other up to its feet or what was more likely behead the other, Harry quickly cast another Imperius and finally a second orc was on its knees. It was then that inspiration struck the vampire and keeping his wand almost still and his lips almost closed, he threw every orc chieftain he could pick out among the sea of enemies to its knees. Slowly but surely creatures all around followed the example of the strongest among them, showing subservience to this little runt of a vampire that held powers which suddenly seemed greater and more fearsome than those of the mightiest of all Maiar.

When Gandalf the White arrived with Rohan's finest and most loyal men, hoping against all odds that he was still on time, he was rather surprised to find the picture that expected him. Saruman's great army was camping in the bowl-shaped area underneath the Hornburg. If it were a different enemy they were up against he'd have assumed that they were trying to starve the people of Rohan out, but orcs didn't have the patience for that. As his sharp gaze surveyed the area his eyes found what could be the reason for the orcs' strange strategy. A standard not too far away to be made out showed not the expected white hand, but was simply composed of varying shades of red and black. It looked like they had done no more than dye their old flags with none too great care. What they had used for dye, he didn't wish to delve into.

The Rohirrim looked at him questioningly and he nodded a little unsure of himself. They raced towards the orc encampment intent on starting their attack. The air rang with their valourous cries.

Strangely the orcs looked up in suspicion and hate and had a hard grip on their weapons, but didn't raise them in the slightest. Before his companions could cleave off a single orc-head he gave them the signal to stop. It was awkward how they stood in the middle of an orc encampment and both sides looked like they would like nothing more than to start a massacre, but it was obvious that the evil side was held back. It was as though they were leashed and despite wishing otherwise Gandalf was too intrigued to start the fight. His instincts told him to halt as well and he knew that it was wise to listen to them.

It was then that he noticed the figure covered in dark grey robes that was approaching them. He could be seen from afar very well as he was given a wide birth of respect and fear. Carrying himself with confidence and a certain aura of power, the figure demanded attention. It wasn't until the robes fluttered open for a moment revealing a small, very thin frame, that the mighty wizard connected this powerful, evil-looking person whose bearing reminded him a little of the Nazgul with the sickly, unsure, boyish immortal he had met in the mines and then again in Fangorn.

For but a moment he doubted the other wizard, but then their eyes met and Gandalf saw a great deal of helplessness, as though the other was neither sure how he had gotten himself into this position nor how he was supposed to deal with it. Now more than ever before the younger wizard seemed to be nothing but a lost child.

If it weren't for the graveness of the situation the older wizard would have laughed, but the other had obviously gotten himself into a great deal of trouble.

With a stern, almost foreboding expression the mighty Istari gave another sweeping glance around and took note that the flags all around indeed used to be those bearing the white hand, which still shimmered through here and there. Hardly one moved in the wind, as most were still heavy and dripping with the blood that had been used to dye them red and black.

AN.: This took me way longer than I thought it would and I don't even like it a lot, but at least it got the story where it was supposed to go. Please tell me whether you like it or not.