The Family Line Part 26 – I Am Theomin

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Part 26 – I Am Theomin

OrcsScreenShot00388 were patrolling the perimeter of the encampment. Two paced back and forth along the road in front of their campsite, the place where all the supplies bound for Wulf’s Cleft were being held. Three large orcs stood guard inside, watching the supplies, ready to pounce on anything that was to invade them. Nearby, two horses were strapped to a cart full of supplies; swords, daggers, bows, and all sorts of items were placed neatly in barrels. Bragga was one of the two horses tasked haul the cart south. Her head cover was that of a horned beast. It looked oddly like the scull of a strange long-beaked creature.

With as much stealth as Theomin could muster, he rounded his way around the orc encampment, trying to stay out of sight of the orcs and keeping his wits about him. Arvel stayed behind the rock, not wanting to be apart of the ambush Theomin had planned. Theomin was fine with that as his plan did not need Arvel after all.

Theomin quietly snuck up behind the encampment of orcs. Trees and large boulders hid his quiet advance ScreenShot00390on the filthy camp. Every step was purposeful and every breath was shallow. He stayed low, attempting to stay out of eye sight of the orcs. He could see them standing and talking but he could not see their faces nor could he hear what they were talking about until he was right up at the edge of the tents and large boulders that lined the camp.

For a minute or two he stood there, listening in on their conversation, trying to gather what he could about what the orcs were doing there.

“I ain’t stayin here much longer.” One orc said to another in a deep cruel voice, “Noone’s comin to fetch us. Best we go back.”

ScreenShot00402I ain’t goin to that filth hole. The master said wait, we wait.” The other proclaimed harshly. “Besides, we got nuttin but time.”

The first one took a while to speak again. “He sent no one for days. I’ll bet he’d forgotten ‘bout us.” He beat his long weapon on the dirt ground. “I’m raiden one of them villages if nuttin happens soon. I ain’t waitin ‘round ‘ere.”

“He aint forgotten. He’s probably busy with the war. We’ll send this shipment soon enough. Though it does sound nice to go pillaging again.” They all shared in a sinister laugh.

Theomin crept behind a tent. He was walking slow, low, and steady. Every movement meant they could possibly hearing him so he had to be cautious about every step he took. Between the tent and the cart bearing his staff, there was an empty space where the orcs could clearly see him. Theomin looked around for something to distract the orcs. He chose a rock that was next to his foot. He picked it up and looked for a target. There was an orc just next to the main entrance and the opposite side of Theomin. If he could toss it past that orc, they would all look in that direction, distracting them from where Theomin was. He then picked it up and tossed it slightly too hard. It impacted the orc’s head. He fell like to the ground with a loud thump.

“Aye, what was that?” One of the other orcs said, confused.

“I ain’t the foggiest.” Another said as they looked in the direction of the fallen orc.

ScreenShot00406That was Theomin’s chance. Though the distraction did not work out to his liking, it was just what he needed. He quickly stepped toward the cart, quietly climbed a wheel and retrieved his staff. He then left the same way he had entered while there was still time. He then climbed to the top of the rocks and while the orcs were distracted, he called upon the heavens and with a blinding booming flash, a lightning bolt was sent down, felling the orc.

Another looked in Theomin’s direction but by then Theomin had jumped from the tall rock and smacked ScreenShot00419the orc in the head. It fell. Another came toward him but Theomin whirled around and hit the orc. He then burnt the orc with embers. He quickly exited and found two orcs coming toward him. He pounded the staff in the ground, causing an earthquake. The ground around the two orcs broke up, making the orcs trip. He then sent a ball of fire toward them, covering them in flame until they succumbed to the fire and died. It was ended. Theomin had his vengeance.

He walked toward Bragga and gave her a hug. She gave a loving nudge to Theomin as she recognized him immediately. He threw off the odd head dress and undid the straps to the cart. He also let the other horse go. He then lifted the packs and threw them on the back of Bragga. He strapped them and then finally took his sword. He mounted Bragga and headed toward the rock outcropping Arvel was hiding behind. Instead of finding him, he was nowhere to be seen. Theomin trotted around the orc campsite, looking for Arvel. At last, Theomin decided to head back to Avardin.

ScreenShot00422It took not but a half hour on horseback to reach the Dunland village but when he arrived there they were less than happy to see Theomin. All of the villagers, men, women, and children all walked away from Theomin. All except for the Brenin, who, along with another, were walking toward Theomin. Anger was in their strides and a scowl was on their faces. Theomin dismounted from Bragga as they came close and Theomin approached them, not sure what was happening.

“Arvel tells me you killed the orcs down by the entrance to Wulf’s Cleft,” the Brenin angrily growled.

Theomin nodded, “Yes, I did.”

The Brenin looked to the other villager of Avardin and nodded. Before Theomin could think twice what was happening, the other hit Theomin on the head with some type of object, sending him to the ground. The last thing he heard was the sound of a woman yelling, “Father!” before he blacked out.

ScreenShot00424Fuzziness followed what felt like a massive headache. As Theomin awoke, he looked around. He was laying on the floor back in the room he was in at the beginning of the day. This time, though, there was a group of men standing about the room, deliberating. One noticed Theomin had awoken. They all stopped and looked in his direction. Theomin sat up and looked up at the crowd of Dunlanding men who were, before, chatting amongst themselves.

The Brenin spoke first, “Do you know why you are here, Fornost?”

Theomin rubbed his head, as it hurt more than any headache he ever had. “I killed those orcs, I assume.”

“That is correct. Those are the orcs of Saruman. They deliver the goods from Dunland to Wulf’s Cleft. We were warned that if death was to come to those orcs, Saruman would turn to our village and it would be razed.” The Brenin stepped up to Theomin. “You have sent us to our death, Fornost. You have killed every one of us.”

Theomin spoke up in protest, “They were planning a…”

ScreenShot00427Before Theomin could finish, the Brenin yelled with a roar, “You have no right to speak!” He started pacing back and forth as the others watched him. “We took you in, we fed you, we brought you back from death, and you repay us by sentencing us all to death,” his eyes were visibly moist with tears. “You have betrayed us all, Fornost.”

One of the two men who were with the Brenin spoke up, “If we were to show our displeasure with the stranger by killing him, would that not show we were not a part of his scheme to kill the orcs?”

The Brenin fell silent, contemplating the suggestion. “The villagers are scared. They would not think we were safe, even if we killed our guest.”

After some thought, the second assistant’s face lit up as he spoke, “What if they were all present?” The Brenin and the other looked at the man. “What if they were to watch his execution? Would that not bring some piece of mind to the villagers?”

The Brenin took a few moments to consider the suggestion. “It has worked in the past, quelling uncertainty.”

“It has. And we can use our pit yet again.”

Just then, Eva burst through the door. “You have no right to keep Fornost here.”

“Not now, Eva,” the Brenin barked. “We are in the middle of deciding the stranger’s fate.”

“And what have you chosen? Death? Is that not always the choice you and your men come up with in every offense?” she said in disagreement. “I am tired of all the killing and death penalties you choose.”

“It is right, Eva” the Brenin said.

“By who?” She protested.

“By the huntsman,” he yelled, blurting out without thought. He then turned to Eva. “By the very people, your friends, your family he put the sentences on when he murdered the orcs.”

“And when have we ever been on the side of the orcs? When have we ever want to protect the orcs? Were they not always our enemy, even more so than Rohan? What of Carod’s brothers? Does it mean nothing that they were slain by orcs, the very same orcs, even before the people of Avardin? Our people?”

The three deliberators stayed quiet. They looked at each other, knowing Eva was right. The Brenin shook his head, cocking it to the side as if considering then not considering the girl’s reason. He was visibly in much internal conflict. Finally, he could not bear deliberating any longer. He started storming out of the room but before he left he turned and told the other two, “Call the villagers, we meet in the Culling Pit at dusk.” He then stormed out. The two other villagers followed behind him.

Eva looked at Theomin, a tear rolled down her cheek. “I am sorry. I tried.”

Theomin looked at the lady, not sure why she was so upset. She was not losing her life, it was him. His fate was decided. After all that time they spent keeping him from death, they were to kill him anyway. Eva left. He was alone in the room, left to his own thoughts and fear. Not long after Eva left, outside Theomin could hear people pass by, heading up the hill, most likely to that Culling Pit.

ScreenShot00435 (2)It took not very long for the two men to return and forcefully pick up Theomin. They dragged him by the arms out the door and up the hill to the entrance to the structure. The bone of some type of animal was hung at the entrance as they dragged him through the threshold of the pit. Blood soaked the ground as axes, swords, and bones were strewn about the grounds of it. Around the perimeter, the people of the village yelled and cheered, some yelling “Death, death, death!”

Amongst the yelling and the madness, Theomin saw Eva. She was grieving for Theomin as the two others dragged Theomin to the other end of the pit. He could barely see her over the spiked palisades of the pit but she was there, crying and shaking her head.

ScreenShot00436 (2)Finally, the two men brought Theomin to the other side of the enclosure. There, under a tarp attached to a tower was the Brenin. The two men dropped Theomin before the Brenin and then left. The shouting and chanting began to subside as the Brenin waved his hand in the air. “Fornost,” he started yelling loud enough for all to hear, “for endangering the sanctity of our village and bringing death to those who needed protecting, you are sentenced to death by execution. You will engage six of our bravest hunters in single combat where you will succumb to death in our tradition. Because we cannot kill you unarmed, we will give you your weapon back. May you fight honorably to your own death.” Another tossed Theomin’s staff next to Theomin. It landed with a thud in the soft dirt. The Brenin then clapped his hands twice and just like that, six Dunlanding hunters approached the center of the pit. They were armed with bows and clubs and mallets and hammers. They gathered to the center and were ready to strike. The crowd roared louder and louder, “Death, death, death!”

The Brenin then looked at the villagers and in a deep voice gave his final order, “Death!”

Three of the hunters drew their bows back. The rest walked up to Theomin, ready to pound on him. Theomin did nothing. He was armed with his staff but did not want to harm the people who had cared for him for two weeks. As they approached, Theomin just ran to one side of the pit. Arrows whizzed past him and hit the walls. Theomin paused, then ran away from the three men trying to kill him. One swung his mallet and Theomin rolled out of the way of it. The crowd roared loud. The man then swung his mallet again while Theomin was on the ground. Theomin blocked it with his staff and kicked him away, quickly getting up to run toward the entrance. Just then, an arrow ran through his leg, sending him down. He stood up slowly and limped away. One of the men threw his hammer, hitting Theomin in the head. It knocked him down but did not kill him. He turned and saw the one with the mallet coming to finish him. The crowd screamed louder and louder. Theomin slid backward, not wanting to be hit. Blood oozed onto Theomin’s face. The man with the mallet drew in closer but a scream distracted the man. It did not come from the pits but from below in the village.

With no hesitation, the six hunters left the pit. The crowd followed behind with the Brenin shoving his way past the others. Eva was the only one to come to Theomin’s aid. She helped him up and walked him to the exit and out of the pit. “I know not what is happening,” she started, “but you need to run. Get out of here. Hide in one of the houses at the top of this hill. You may find safety there until day break. Then get out of Dunland.”

“Why are you doing this?” Theomin had to ask.

She looked at him for a short while, “Because this is not who we are.”

ScreenShot00443 (2)Eva took him down a short path, past the area of storytelling when a disheveled Dunlanding appeared before them. He was severely starved, weak, and dirty. He collapsed before them. Eva set Theomin down to help the man before them. She looked at the starving man’s face, “I know this man,” she gasped. “He was taken prisoner.”

Theomin stood up from the seat. It was not easy to move because of the arrow in his leg but he was able to hobble to the edge to look down over the stone gate. Instead of a bloody massacre that the Brenin was predicting, there were sights of loved ones holding hands, hugging, crying. The once vengeful people from just a little while ago were overcome with joy at seeing their loved ones in their arms once again. From the view, Theomin could see ScreenShot00437 (2)the Brenin talking with one of the once enslaved men. The Brenin looked around and then saw Theomin standing at the story telling site. Instead of anger, though, the Brenin just gave a smile and gave a small nod of approval. Theomin finally felt free. He collapsed to the ground and at last felt the soft hand of peace overcome him as he fell to a peaceful sleep.

Morning came and yet again Theomin was back in that hut again. Instead of being alone, though, many of the villagers, former slaves included, came to the side of Theomin. “On behalf of all of Avardin, we all owe you our gratitude and a request for forgiveness,” the Brenin said in a low tone. “The men who came last night were members of our village taken to be slaves of Saruman. They said that Isengard fell when nature itself rose up against him. These men made it all the way to the Starkmoors but could not pass the orcs without being seen.” The Brenin’s voice shook, “It was because of what you did that allowed them to pass to Avardin unhindered. We were wrong about you,” he paused, “I was wrong about you.” He bowed his head, “Please accept my apologies.”

Theomin stood up, his leg still ached but was okay. The arrow that was once imbedded in his leg had long since been removed. “It is okay. You were only doing right by your people.”

“We were ready to kill you,” one of the hunters in the pit blurted out.

“You were,” Theomin nodded, “but you did not kill me, and I am grateful for that.” He exhaled with a great breath of relief, “Very grateful.”

The others laughed including the Brenin. “Please accept an invitation to a feast in your honor.” The Brenin placed a hand on Theomin’s shoulder, this time not almost knocking him down. “What say you, Fornost?”

Theomin grinned. “I accept.”

“So be it,” the Brenin said then announced, “The feast will be held at midday. Now go, we have much preparation.” The Brenin and the others started out the door as he called out orders, “We need wood, the fire pit needs cleaning, there needs to be plenty of food so do no…” his voice trailed off as he left he hut.

Theomin saw Eva just as she was leaving too. “Eva.” Theomin called. She paused and looked back. “Was the man you were to marry amongst those who returned?”

“He was, Fornost. Thank you. No stranger has done more than you have. Even those rangers of yours. We are all indebted to you.” She smiled and then left.

As she left, there was a sudden happiness Theomin had not felt since leaving home. The gratitude the people of Avardin showed was beyond anything he expected. He left the hut and started walking aimlessly until a child came to him. “Fornost!” he said with a happiness only a child could have, “Father came back. Thank you.” The little boy grabbed Theomin’s hand and shook it with both of his, “Come on, we want you to join us!” He pulled Theomin to where he and his friends were playing, dancing around, and enjoying life. He watched the little children play, wondering why he ever felt fear about the Dunlandings. They were good people, full of life and innocent tradition.

ScreenShot00429They finally started using the area for story telling again after much time and that afternoon, amongst the food and talk and music, the villagers listened as some of the captors told their stories. All manner of villagers were listening, mothers, fathers, leaders, old, young. The children excited, following along with bright young innocent interest. They were not wallowing in the pitiful nature of being captive but each telling their own stories and the friendships they forged and valiant efforts of many of their fellow comrades. Even Theomin was interested in the stories, fascinated by their good humor jesting.

There were tables surrounding a fire pit and at the other end, a stage where the music was played by a single person with a lute. The music was calm and joyful, just as beautiful as any of those in Rohan. Along with the music, there was much cheer and laughter. The feast was more for the returning slaves than for Theomin and that was completely fine with him. Children had their fathers, wives had their husbands, Eva had the man she was to marry, and the Brenin had his son whom he was talking with and laughing through the night after the stories ended.

Theomin watched as all the people of Avardin were dancing, laughing, drinking, eating and having a marry time. To the side, away from the firelight, Theomin could see Eva and her man she was to marry staring into her eyes and brushing back her hear lovingly and smiling, either lost in conversation or just lost in the sight of each other. A different Eva was in her eyes as she carried herself as a tough steadfast girl. With her man before her, vulnerability shown. It was refreshing to see such love return to somebody so deserving.

ScreenShot00430As the celebration carried on into the night, Theomin snuck away from the festivities to the stables. There, eating grass was Bragga, completely happy to just fill her belly with hay. She saw Theomin approaching and walked toward him. She gave him a slight nudge of love as he held her close with love. “It is okay girl. We are back together.” He ran his hand on her mane and patted her while holding his head on her. Not long after, Theomin heard steps coming closer. He looked in the distance. Eva was walking to the stables. She was alone.

“You are not leaving under the cover of night, are you?” Eva wondered.

Theomin looked at Bragga and shook his head, “No, I am only saying hi to my horse.” His eyes became misty. “I have her back.”

Eva looked at the horse and slid her hand along her smooth coat. “I know Fornost is not your real name,” she said casually. “I know you are not with the rangers and I know you are not a man of the north but I know why you need to keep secret who you are. But do not think me a fool.” There was no warning in her voice. Just the same kindness she showed him since they first met.

Theomin was speechless. He did not know how to address what she said. All he could do was give a knowing nod.

“I just have one question and a promise that it stays only between us.” She said looking into his eyes, “What is your name?”

“I am Theomin.”

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