There were a lot of bodies. Anorast slowly looked around the battlefield, noting the occasional fallen ranger, but seeing none of his immediate companions among the dead and dying orcs. The foul creatures were still visible, pushing against each other as they clambered and crawled back to their mountain homes, scared by the ferocity of their adversaries. The Mithril Knights were very fortunate to have Brondgast and his ursine transformation. And now Erinhue seemed to have some degree of control over his inner demon. Without a champion to match, no army would stand against those two. And they left a lot of bodies in their wake.
The old elf silently turned his eyes to the mountainous bastion above them. Rivulets of disturbed stones coursed down the trembling cliffs as the unseen beast stirred. Quickly looking around at the faces of his companions confirmed Anorast's suspicion. Eyes were not filled with fear, with anger, or with thoughtful calculation of odds and strategies, but instead with mourning and loss. The Mithril Knights looked to Carn-dûm, instead of to a fallen comrade on the bloody ground. What they all felt, the strange sad void within them, originated within the far mountain. There could only be one cause for their collective sorrow.
"You have lost a brother."
Listening to the Sickle's words within his mind, Anorast looked down at his sword. The blade had turned black, confirming the loss of one who bore armor crafted by its own creator. Dirk was gone.
"The dragon comes. It is not your destiny to slay this beast, that is for others to do."
Anorast didn't need to be reminded. Ever since they had learned what they needed in order to defeat their enemy Anorast had pondered how he could contribute. Now they knew what was coming and Anorast was ready.
"Thank you for bearing me, it is now time to pass me to another. Goodbye, shadow watcher."
Though the dragon hadn't emerged the knights looked about for shelter. All knew the stories of the great fire worms and their wild rampages. If it breathed fire down it could scorch the valley they stood in within seconds. With its claws it could slash through any steel armor, snap swords, shatter shields. But it fell to their small party to defeat this dragon. Anorast had determined only one role he could play in this battle. Whistling to his horse the elf sheathed his sword and focused within, to the faint glow of power he held, and to the various pieces of knowledge he'd accrued throughout his long life.
"Anorast, come, we must find shelter before the beast is free," Elenath called urgently as she took up her bow.
Anorast opened his eyes, smiling.
"Not today, Elenath," Anorast replied as his steed nudged his shoulder.
Anorast mounted and pulled a large cloth bundle from a saddlebag. Within was a heavy helmet with bright wings and a frightening mask, one of the battle helms of the Mithril Knights. Sighing, Anorast settled it upon his head. He regretted the necessity of wearing the heavy, cumbersome piece of armor, but he'd brought it from Mirkwood in case it might prove useful, and today it was perfect. From within himself Anorast started pulling his power outward, bringing it forth with ancient knowledge both magnificent and foul.
"I don't see that there's much of a plan here, my friends." Anorast looked around at his companions who had turned to see what the strange elf was doing. "Smaug was felled by his own weakness, but we don't have any way of finding a similar advantage over this dragon. I have faith Sir Dirk did not foolishly throw his life away, I believe his sacrifice will give us the edge we need. But we don't know what that is, and there's only one thing to do now."
"Lord Anorast, what are you doing?" Vanaladiel asked, fear in her voice.
"All I can do, I'm getting it's attention." Anorast dropped the mask of his helm. Strangely, the horrifying visage seemed alive, more than just steel. Even the wings were beginning to move, flaring out widely. The elf, now suddenly appearing much larger than ever, looked to Erinhue, Djazi, and the great form of Brondgast. "Kill him fast, would you?"
Taking one last moment to look at his fellow knights, wondered if any of them would fall. He looked long at each face. Tempest and Parador, Vanaladiel and Elenath, standing ready but not knowing what to do. The fated killers, Djazi and Erinhue, thoughtfully waiting for what fate might give them. Brondgast, waiting to be unleashed, and standing quietly, staring about the battlefield with tears in her eyes, their lost knight, Nin. Anorast's hand moved uncalled to his waist and he pulled the Sickle free.
"It's yours to carry once more, if only for a little while," Anorast said, holding the weapon, still in its leather bag, down to Nin. As she took it her face reflected the white light that glowed from Anorast's chainmail.
"Let's get this done."
Sending Firewind into a slow walk Anorast finished his last preparations. While it was wizards who could do battle with fire and the elements, the high elves who had traveled west had brought their own magic with them back to Middle Earth, and Anorast knew many of their secrets. Already he had brought forth light from his armor, imbuing it with his spirit, and bringing his helm to life. Upon his shield bright silver lines traced intricate, ancient designs, which had not been seen in Middle Earth since High King Gil-Galad had strode forward to fall before Sauron. When he drew Anguirel, the blackened blade was covered in lines of another heritage, showing similar origin, but burning red, with designs inspired by malice and cruelty. Anorast spilled forth all his power, not with the aim of destroying the dragon, but to draw it to him, to bring it down to the earth, to engage it, to distract it until his companions could find a way to slay it. He could see no other path to victory.