Pierced in his torso by three - three! - heavy black arrows, and still the Man drew breath. No ordinary warrior, this one, no, this one had been driven by more than the will to survive. He'd seen the Man's eyes as the little ones were carried away, had seen the horror in them, and now, too wounded to even dream of effecting a rescue, the light drained from him, and he knelt unmoving for the final blow. The massive Uruk-hai stood in front of him, towering over his stricken form, and waited for the Man to meet his gaze, as he knew he would. No such warrior as this would go to his death with his head lowered, nor would the Uruk-hai allow him to. He wanted to see what was in this Man at the moment of his last breath. Acceptance? Pride? Anger? Despair? All were to be relished for their subtle flavor, their spice and sweetness to the victor.
Slowly, the Man's grey eyes rose and met his own, and the warrior saw then that neither acceptance nor despair was in them, neither pride nor anger, but simply an awareness, this was his end. His breathing was still strong, but growing more labored, more painful to hear. The Uruk-hai warrior raised the bow, an arrow already notched to the string, and slowly, so slowly, drew back, the bowstring cutting into his fingers like the Man's gaze cut through the air. The wooden bow creaked in the still of the forest - no sound reached them but that, and the man's pained breathing, the two of them locked in this one moment, timeless and alone. Looking into those eyes, he tried to read them, tried to see what was in the Man's heart before it would be stopped forever by his own hand. He expected defeat, or defiance, expected pleading or fear, but none of these did he see. Simple awareness, his own fate decided, his own struggle over, the Man waited for the blow, neither calling to it nor shying from it, patiently, somehow seeming undefeated, even in failure and death.
And if the Man had pleaded? wondered the Uruk-hai warrior, sighting down the thick shaft of the arrow past its blackened tip. Ah, then it would be simple and swift - put the miserable creature down like the cur he was. Defied him? Again - simple, though not so swift, perhaps, not so easy. Defiance was a goad to cruelty. But this simple awareness, he found unsettling. How to finish the slaughter he'd begun, when his quarry waited with such eternal patience? Indeed, he felt that if he did not strike, they two would remain there until the ending of the world, grey gaze meeting yellow one, arrow forever drawn on his still-beating heart.
The creak of the bow, the rasp of arrow against string, were the voice of eternity, as the Man waited, and the Uruk-hai held time in the fingers of his ever-patient hand.
The Son Of Gondor
This, then, was the end. The third arrow struck like a bolt of fire, knocking the Man backwards, and he fell, staggering, to his knees. Behind him, stung from disbelief to final, desperate action, the Hobbits screamed their rage and rushed at the attackers, were swept up in cruel arms and carried away, to what fate he knew not. On the ground before him, the fallen leaves of Amon Hen shone golden in the light that filtered through the treetops, flecked with his own blood and that of the slain. Not nearly enough, he thought. Not nearly enough. Breath came hard into his lungs, burning, and all else seemed numb but the pain in his shoulder, his chest, his gut. The landscape swam before him, a vision of those leaves crushed and trampled by the boots of the enemy as they dog-trotted past, ignoring him, knowing he could do no more. He had risen for the final time.
And then into that vision came the black-booted feet of the victor. The Man tried to move, tried to will himself to rise again despite the wounds which already killed him, but his muscles were past responding, and finally he raised only his eyes to his enemy, refusing at least to go to his death never seeing the face of the one who sent him there. The Uruk-hai warrior slowly raised the bow, a heavy black arrow notched to the string, and slowly, as though he had all eternity, he drew back, the massive bow groaning its eagerness.
Behind it, yellow eyes locked on his. What was in them? the son of Gondor wondered. What was behind that fierce, fiery gaze? The Uruk-hai warrior looked... perplexed. Expectant. But expecting what? His own breath was loud in his ears, painfully labored, his heartbeat heavy and hard, and he wanted to question this warrior, this soldier of Saruman, to ask him, why such hatred? why such cruelty? For his master only, or was there joy in it beyond duty?
And why did he hesitate? There was no mercy in those eyes, no promise of anything but death - what stayed his hand? The Man gazed at his enemy in perplexity of his own, the world shrinking 'till it contained nothing but the enemy, the leaves, the golden sunlight, and the burning pain that even now faded to silvery cold. The heavy shaft was trained on his heart, the warrior who held it searching his eyes, but for what? The White City lay like a fever dream, just beyond his reach.
And then his heart leapt. Behind the warrior, as a bolt of lightning breaks the blackness of the night, with blade drawn and crowned in fire, sudden and in fury came the King.