In the dead of the night, when the crickets began their song and the stars littered the sky, the city of Edoras lay in quiet.
There was no song coming from Meduseld, no villager walked the paths from work to home. No dogs barked in the streets, and it was hard to believe that there was any life at all to this seemingly ghost-like city.
Had it not been for the small amounts of candlelight in a few homes, it would seem that the whole of Edoras was dead.
Hushed whispers came from inside one of the smaller huts.
"We should strike, soon. While those barbarians sleep." Said one voice.
"No. It's too risky. They killed all of the Rohirrim in the initial battle." Said another, "Not to mention they hung whomever spoke against Trinian."
"That usurper doesn't deserve the throne. If the queen truly lives, we must be ready to rise up with her and kill them all."
"With what army? All of our messengers were flayed in the square after they were caught, even the children…"
The group fell silent, trying to push the images out of their minds.
"The only reason those Corsairs are here is because Trinian can get them access to Belfalas. If we kill him, and some of their leaders, they'll run with their tails tucked."
"And the wild men?"
"Cowards. The lot of them. They probably only joined because of promises of land. I guarantee the usurper will kill them all the next chance he gets."
"Doesn't he need them?"
"I heard from the one of the surviving servants that Trinian plans on using their bodies to litter the fields before Gondor arrives, he's going to ambush Lord Drekion when he arrives, this I know. What sort of man massacres his sisters' husbands?"
"The kind of man who knows they'll lead him to the throne of both Gondor and Rohan."
"Speak up, boy."
"But, sir. Wouldn't it be smarter to wait for the princess? Surly, she hasn't abandoned us…"
"If she hasn't fallen prey to the war parties or wounds, I doubt that whelp will return."
"You keep your tongue! I saw her alive and well when she left. I have hopes she went for help."
"We must remember that Trinian sent those bastards for Helm's Deep. If she went there she would be slaughtered on sight."
"If she was smart she would go to Gondor and appeal to the King before he sends Drekion on a suicide mission."
"He sent war parties that way as well."
"Then we are doomed."
"Not if she went by sea, she could have gone to Belfalas to her King Uncle."
"No. If she had any sense, she'd get as far away as possible."
"I have faith she'll return. Until then, we are not strong enough to rise against the usurper. Already our people are falling to plague, when they are not being slaughtered for treason."
"I heard something."
Someone tried the door, "It's stuck." They pulled with all their might.
Another went to a small window. When they set their hand on the sill, their hand came back, covered in a liquid substance.
"What in the name of Mandos?"
A rising light surrounded the home all at once.
"Fire!" They began shouting.
The usurper watched as the hut burned to the ground. The sounds of screaming felt like sweet music, and he was the conductor.
"Is it not magnificent?" He yelled, stretching his arms out as if to embrace the flames.
A few of his men issued grumbles in agreement.
Trinian laughed along to the screams of the burning souls from within.
One of the men inside managed to crawl out on his hands and knees. He was barely recognizable, his whole body burning and his lungs filled with black smoke.
Trinian took out his sword, and without hesitating he stabbed into his torso repeatedly. Angry strokes that killed the man long before Trinian had stopped his massacre.
"No one shall rise against me!" He screamed, pulling out his sword and held out his arms again, "Am I not your king?"
His icy blue eyes glazed over at he watched the inferno, cackling madly as the screams began to die down.
And he whispered to himself, "No one can stop me."
The young man awoke from his feverish slumber. His temperature had finally gone down sometime during the night. Now he was somewhat lucid in his thinking. He sat up in his cot, seeing that he was in a stone room lined with similar cots; but he was all alone.
Soon after he woke up, an older woman stepped into the small infirmary. She looked at him with large brown eyes, clearly happy to see that he was awake.
"You need more rest, lad," She said, going to a basin of water to get a wet cloth, "You've been sick for many days."
"Where am I?" The young man asked.
"Helm's Deep, good sir." The woman said, "And it's a miracle you're even alive. What with wild men running about the place looking for a dead man."
"A dead man?"
"Aye, they got it all up in their inbred minds that the king's son made it out of the massacre at Edoras." The woman cleaned up the man's face, "There's no possible way anyone could have lived to tell their story…" Then she looked straight at him, "I didn't catch your name when you arrive, lad."
The young man hesitated, "My name is, Alfher. I'm from Snowbourn."
"Long way from home, don't you think?" The woman asked, checking his wounds.
"I fell ill while hunting." Alfher said.
"And where did you get that wound?"
Alfher clicked his tongue, "It must've happened when I took to the fever."
The woman nodded, "I see."
"Pardon me for asking, mum, but by chance do you know how many wild men are here?" Alfher asked.
The woman shrugged, "Can't rightly say. About fifty came in during the night, killed some guards after they told us about Edoras. There have been a few in and out since then."
"Fifty…" Alfher said quietly.
The woman cleared her throat, rubbing ointment over his head wound, "Say you were to greet them," She said nonchalantly, "There's a sword under your cot. They took it off you when you arrived. Some of my girls managed to get it back here." She checked behind her, "If I were you, go for the big one. The rest will just scatter. Cowards."
"Then thank you, Tydda."
After she left, Alfher took up his sword, his blue eyes running up and down the blade. He stood up and swung it a few times to get the feeling back into his arms and hips. He moved to check the corner of the entrance. It led to an empty hallway, where he could hear the grunts of a few wildmen on the opposite side of the wall.
Quickly, he stepped into the hallway, feeling naked without his armor. He determined that there were three. He hid back behind the door of the closest room, making small bird whistle.
One of the men swore, the others yelling at him to do his job and get the bird, thinking they could eat it.
Alfher watched the man pass him, then snuck up behind him, grabbed his head and snapped his neck. The man fell to the ground with a soft thud. Alfher grabbed his dagger and whistled loudly this time.
Two other wildmen rounded the corner, seeing their friend dead on the ground, they charged for Alfher. the first took a stab to the neck with a dagger, the other had his head sliced clean off with Alfher's blade.
"Three." Alfher whispered to himself, going to the corner where the men came from.
He could see the great hall, and only a few servants remained, scrubbing the floors and cleaning the tables. Alfher could see that two other wildmen had come into the hall from the outside, and were clearly looking for the three that Alfher had just killed.
Alfher kept behind the corner, waiting for the men to come. When they eventually did, Alfher surprised them by driving the dagger into one's skull and running the second one through. He dragged the bodies back to the others and then checked the great hall again.
He quietly crept to the large wooden doors, that had been left open so that the wildmen could move in and out. One of the servants gasped when he saw Alfher's bloodied blade, but Alfher put a finger to his lips before he broke the neck of an unsuspecting guard and stabbed the other.
A few of the citizens who had been trying to keep their head down, suddenly appeared behind him with the blades they took off the dead men.
"The bigger one is out on the battlements." One of the women said.
"We can take the few in the square, cause a distraction." The old man said, "We've been planning but they took all the weapons."
"Are you sure?" Alfher asked.
The group nodded, going out into the open, hiding their weapons. When Alfher heard the sounds of swords clashing, he stealthily made his way up into one of the towers, killing a wildman who had been coming towards him.
When he reached the battlements, he saw their leader looking down to see what the commotion was. He was dressed in black furs, and his hair was matted and greasy. He grunted out slurs and turned to see that Alfher had been rushing towards him.
They engaged in a struggle. Alfher's wounds opened and the wildman stuck his fingers in them, Alfher yelled, pushing the man off of him.
He slashed at the leader, who taunted him.
"I know you." The man grunted, his speech was slow and unintelligent, "We saw you at the Golden Hall."
Alfher swung again, narrowly missing the man's head.
"How's your pretty little sister?"
Alfher screamed, rushing the leader over the side of the wall, falling with him. The man's body cushioned most of the blow as they landed before a crowd of fighting wildmen and the people of Helm's Deep. The clashing stopped as they all watched Alfher stand up. He was bruised and bare chested, but he rose his sword to point at one of the wildmen.
"Run back to your hills. You'll regret returning to Rohan after this day." He snarled.
The wildmen scampered, stepping over the broken body of their leader.
Alfher looked back to the crowd of people, who were all looking at him. He could see the Tydda come towards him, a bright smile crossing her wrinkled face.
"Hail, Eofan, King!" She yelled to the people.
Eofan smiled at her, breathing raggedly as the people chanted his name.
Tydda bowed before him, "Please, good King, I must know what your plan is."
Eofan helped her up, "Sweet, Lady," He looked to the crowd, "And those who were loyal to my great father! I appeal to you! I know my uncle, a usurper in name, has taken Edoras. He tried to take the Deep, but we are strong, and will not be easily run off like those scavengers," He pointed to the bodies of a few dead wildmen, "I say, we gather together, prepare, and rise against the man who killed your good king, and countless others who stood to defend Rohan. Fight with me, and take back our home!"
The crowd cheered, their morale rising as they looked upon their king, a ghostly image of his father, and his father's before him.
Eofan raised his sword, "For Rohan!"
The crowd chanted with him.