The War of Light and Shadow
Prologue – The End of Days
It came quickly, the end of the world.
Even the wisest could not have hoped to have foreseen how quickly and horribly the end would come.
First came the increased attacks on all the flourishing kingdoms comprised of the beings of light and goodness. The creatures of evil simultaneously and mercilessly attacked the mighty kingdoms of Men, Elves and Dwarves with malice never before seen even by the most ancient of those races, who had seen great wars too many times to be ignorant of the power of the rising Shadow.
It threw the kingdoms, even those with the mightiest armies with which to defend themselves, out of balance. The Shadow’s relentless attacks lowered their defences, which for the most part had grown slack and complacent in the years of relative Enemy inactivity; it had crept through those cracks, seeped into their lands and hearts until it saturated everything good and pure once in the world.
The ultimate aim of the Shadow in these initial assaults though was purely distraction; taking the eyes of the powerful and wise away from the bigger picture, drawing their gazes away from what restlessly stirred in the East.
So wholly engaged were the kingdoms of good with the stepping up of Orc activity within and about their realms that it went almost entirely unnoticed that the Darkness, which for centuries had been left to fester deep inside the cursed Black Lands of Mordor, was creeping steadily across the fair and free lands of Middle Earth.
By the time the Free Peoples noticed the Shadow's true intentions, it was too late. The might of Mordor had grown impossibly strong.
Against all expectation, it was the kingdoms of the long-lived Elves that first weakened under the raging armies Shadow. The Orcs and other foul creatures of the Earth allied to Sauron, Lord of Mordor, held a particular, ceaseless rage against the pure Firstborn, the antithesis of everything they stood for; the light to their darkness. And their newly dominant master poured considerable resource into the destruction of the Elves, enjoying watching their downfall even as he remained frustratingly trapped in the Black Lands where he had been bound long ago by the very people he now sought to control.
Without the ancient magic of the Elves to guard against it, the lands themselves became rapidly tainted with Evil, slowly transforming into an empire more akin to the Dark Realm in the East, until eventually the two became almost indistinguishable with Shadow swallowing the light of Middle Earth as it crept across the green lands and turned them to black ash.
The Orcs, Trolls and already allied Men – primarily Easterlings and Haradhrim, both born of the East anyway so close to the awesome power of the Dark Lord - continued to advance outwards from their homes in the eastern lands, commanded by the Nazgul, taking all they could in wealth, power and blood. Equally, the Uruk-hai, creatures created from the earth, bastardised versions of Goblins crossed with tortured, mutilated Elves-turned-Orcs, poured forth from the place of their conception in the mystic tower of Orthanc in the stronghold of Isengard. Combined, this vast army was unstoppable.
However, the world truly fell to the forces of Evil when the Mountain of Doom at last exploded as the land's master gained more and more power. A resounding, earth-shattering boom shook the world to its very core. The rain of ash and dust that followed destroyed any crops that might have survived the attacks from the creatures of Shadow, poisoned the waters and turned the land black. The sky clouded, blocking out the light of the sun and moon and the sight of the stars in the heavens. What few kingdoms had survived the initial bombardments didn't survive long without food.
The majority of realms eventually disbanded, crumbled entirely or alternatively fell enslaved to the Shadow after the eruption of Mount Doom, their remaining people scattering.
Only the last of the Firstborn saw all this happening over the years. Immortality – or at least immunity from the passing of time – was not in these days of change a blessing but rather a curse. Those who could, fled to the Blessed Lands while they still had the chance but the Harbours could not sustain forever and it wasn't long before there was no escape left for those who lasted. Bound to the dying land, the Elves fast became solitary, nomadic creatures, tied to no land and set forever in their misery over their ruined homes. Most of them who had lived through the attacks on their lands either ended up enslaved in Mordor, faded away from their grief of simply disappeared from all sight.
The Dwarves fared little better – perhaps even worse. Rather than scattering and wandering alone as the other defeated forces of good, the stout-hearted Dwarves had at first and until the last remained united, coming together at their final stronghold in the caverns of Moria to defend their culture, to quite literally stand their ground. Even beneath the earth the evil of Mordor lurked, however. The dragon that for millennia had remained dormant woke, waging war on the Dwarven realm. Standing unsupported by the other, previously powerful races though, they were fighting a losing war but nevertheless they stood as one. And they paid the price for their loyalty, for within a decade of the War starting the Dwarves were an all but extinct culture with only very few remaining alive and captive within Mordor for the use and amusement of the Dark Lord.
Men, for the first couple of decades after the victory of Mordor, were as the Elves: divided and uncoordinated. But unlike the Elves they soon became reunited, once again retaking and beginning to populate their momentarily abandoned cities. They diligently drove out the hordes of Mordor, regaining their lost territories.
Victory was impossible against the all-powerful might of Sauron though and the armies of the East descended mercilessly on the lands of Men and yet, painstakingly slowly, the Second Born retook the Gondorian city of Minas Tirith and, with the Stewardship successfully reinstated, the race of Men rallied once more.
The armies of humanity were no match for the sheer strength of Mordor and yet they gradually regained some of their lands - even as the realms of the Elves were abandoned by the fair ones - retaking parts of Gondor, including their base at the White City and parts of the land of Rohan.
For the first time in millennia, the world of Men was marginally more powerful than that of the Elves. Not that it meant much, for they were still horribly inferior to the strength of Sauron's armies and that was all that really counted in the dark times they now lived in.
Not all Men were united to the cause though. Those whose kingdoms were beyond saving, those who had nowhere to go, became much like the Elves: nomadic and lonesome. Many were driven mad by the changed world they were now forced to live in and became almost as bad as the creatures that had taken away their freedom in the first place.
Wandering across the lands, these nomads became dangerous and wretched, scrabbling around for enough food and water just to stay alive. Some, over time and through sheer desperation, once more came together, taking ever more drastic measures to survive.
Cannibalism became common-place, as groups of Men turned against one another in a desperate bid to survive the ravages of War. They became wild, untamed and as much as a threat as anything hailing from the bad lands of Mordor.
Despite the hopelessness that had blanketed all, the Free Peoples of Middle Earth fought hard to endure; hoping beyond hope that one day something would give and would deliver them from their dreadful fate.
To Be Continued…
The War Of Light And Shadow by Freddie23