Warning, some book and movie spoilers ahead, especially for Return of the King.

Okay, first I'll say what this fic isn't. It is NOT a Mary Sue, I swear. It is NOT a romance, I swear. None of my characters will fall in love with Legolas, none of them will help carry the Ring into Mordor, nor will they ever travel with the Fellowship, I promise. Hell, they won't even come into contact with them, with some small exceptions. No, this is just action, adventure, and a bit of shameless girl-power, 'cause Tolkien didn't see fit to include more than TWO women in the entire Ring Trilogy! *pant pant* Okay, I'm fine. But this fic is dedicated to those who cheered when Arwen kicked Ringwraith ass (movieverse, sadly), and when Eowyn took down the Witch-King (Go Eowyn!) I figured there had to be a few chicks running around Middle Earth, and this is the story of three of them. I'm sorry if this chapter is confusing, and I'll clear it all up as I post more.

This fic was co-written with Ivory Moon, aka my sister.

Disclaimer: Middle Earth, every member of the Fellowship, the One Ring, all belong to Mr. Tolkien aka God. I own a pen collection, and a pair of fuzzy bunny slippers, and nothing else. Since I'm writing in the book-verse, I tried to stay faithful to the canon. Please read and review, criticism appreciated, and flames will be used to light a signal fire, so you can come and tell me to my face why you think my writing sucks.

Now, on to the fun stuff.

Valkyries, by Sun Queen and Ivory Moon

We were outside the gates of Mordor, and I was fighting my very first full-scale battle.

Roiling gray clouds billow through the sky, every so often illuminating the plains with a flash of lightning. Rain is falling, blending with the blood and the mud, sometimes hiding the chaotic battle behind a silvery mist.

A cacophony of sound blows past my ears; death-screams of my fellow Men, of Orcs, and the occasional keening cry of an Elf. Anytime I pick up a trace of this sound, I pray in my heart that it isn't Selka who has fallen.

The tunic I wear is slashed and bloody; my own blood, and that of the Orcs that I've killed has stained the rust-red leather a slimy black.. Beneath it, my chain mail (a heavy coat), is unbroken, thank the Valar. My leggings are black with mud, and my ragged boots can barely grip the slippery ground. I'm desperately trying to keep my balance as I swing my sword, aiming for a throat, an arm, a heart...

Between the screaming, the laughter, the rain and the lightning, the entire battle has taken on an air of unreality, like a nightmare so vivid that you can't wake up. I swing and stab, and block and parry, fighting the urge to lose control, to start screaming like the Orcs, to tear and kill like a wild animal. 'Cause if I lose control, I know that I will die. Slash, parry, stab, the cycle continues.

A fell creature lunges at me; an Orc, one of the small, black, Mountain variety. Blood and mucus stream from his smashed nose, and his small, red eyes gleam with pain and madness. He draws back his lips and hissed, almost overwhelming me with the stench of his breath, and the sight of his rotted, broken teeth. He's lost his sword, so he grabs for my neck with his clawed, scabby hands. He's ducked inside the reach of my sword, so I punch his eyes as hard as I can with my free hand, twisting my fist so the studs on my leather wrist guards catch him in the forehead. The blow paralyses my arm, right to the shoulder, but I hear bone smashing, and the Orc drops with a screech. I frantically flex my arm, trying to restore feeling before I am attacked again. I wish Kharapel was here to watch my back, like in all our other battles. But I lost track of my Dwarvish companion almost immediately after the fighting started, and now I know not whether she lives or if she has fallen.

And many have fallen. Scattered about me are the bodies of Men and Orcs who lie wherever they fell, battered and cold, their eyes glazed in death. Against my will, my mind begins to wander, to the family and friends and wives who will wait on the walls of Gondor, and weep for the men who will never come home. And what of my family? Do they ask the Winds for tidings of me, when they see a lone woman riding to the Gate of Kings?

Hissst. I hear the hiss of an arrow an instant too late, and suddenly, a black shaft is embedded in my ribs, an inch below my heart. Sweet Valar preserve us...I bite back a screech as I fall to the ground, rolling up next to the foul, reeking corpse of a huge Orc, who performs the kindest act of his afterlife by shielding me from view. I hear a hoot of triumph from my enemy, and I grit my teeth, waiting for him to come and finish me off.

Nothing happens. He doesn't come. And I'm left with hot, embarrassing tears leaking from my eyes, mingling with the blood that's soaking my undershirt, beneath my chain mail and tunic. The arrow burns me, the worst pain I've ever felt, a fire in my chest that spreads through my arms and my legs, and behind my eyes. The rain and the mud are icy cold, but the blood is warm, and the Orc-corpse is still steaming. A stone digs in between my shoulder blades, but it can't distract me from the ugly wound below my left breast, obscured by my armour and clothing. I resist the urge to rip the arrow out, 'cause I know that it'll only bleed worse; my only hope is to leave it where it is, and hope someone finds me.

"Jaidru, you know no one's going to find you." A cold, nasty voice, the one that's always there to remind you of the worst possible outcome. "You'll lie here, and you'll bleed, and you'll die, and no one will ever dig you a grave, or shed a tear for your worm-ridden carcass."

Shut up.

"Don't scream, 'Dru. You'll attract the orcs, and you know what they do to little lost girls..."

And so here I lie, blood, rain, and tears mingling, and I wonder what the hell I was fighting for.

"Midway along the journey of our life

I woke to find myself in a dark wood,

for I had wandered from the straight path.

How hard it was to tell what it was like,

this wood of wilderness, savage and stubborn

(the thought of it brings back all my old fears),

a bitter place! Death could scarce be bitterer.

But if I must show the good that came of it

I must talk of things other than the good."*

So, since I'm going to die, won't you stay with me a while? My name is Jaidru, by the way, and I'm a mercenary. I was travelling with an Elf, Selka, and a Dwarf named Kharapel. We hooked up with this mass of Gondorians who were headed off to fight, but we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. I wish I hadn't talked my friends into this, I hope they're still alive...

Are you a soldier too? Stay, please!

I could tell you, if you'd stay but a minute. I could tell you exactly when and where I wandered from the straight path, for now I'm in a dark woods indeed. Please, stay with me, and I'll tell you the tale of Jaidru, the Lost, the Fallen, and how I found myself here.

Don't leave me...

To be Continued...Review, please!

*Dante, "The Divine Comedy: Inferno", Canto I, lines 1-9