The Family Line Part 28 – Sorrowful Stones

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Part 28 – Sorrowful Stones

ScreenShot00428 (2)The sun had already reached the peak in the sky and started its descending arch into the west. It was midday, a usually warm enjoyable feeling with the sound of animals, great and small, and the wind flipping the leaves of trees. The wind in Rohan would be giving waves to the grasses as if the fields themselves were a giant lake. Laying by the well at his ranch in the Wold, Theomin and his sister would be watching the windmill gently spin in the breeze. It was the feeling Theomin had in Avardin during the last two days he spent there. The feeling of joy, calm, and air of warmth and friendship.

ScreenShot00465Not here, not now. At the threshold of the Bonevales, Theomin sat on his horse, listening to the environment as the sound of anything alive had faded away long ago. A cold dead mist hung in the air while only a vicious ripping wind blew at him, as if pushing him away; warding off any potential visitors to this place of death.

“There is an ill air of evil in that place,” Theomin whispered to himself, remembering what Arvel told him. He pictured Arvel as if he was before him as he told Theomin about the two paths out of Dunland. “North of the Stag Clan there is another path. That path is not without its own peril. A forest of odd lights and twisted trees will await you if you cross that path. The path winds around the Bonevales. It is a longer path but may be wrought with danger as well. The choice is yours.”

Theomin remembered the horrible wood he took into Dunland from the Gap of Rohan. He did not want a repeat of what happened in that forest, which was why he chose this path in the first place. Since he was there though, he wanted to turn back. It was cold. Bone chilling cold and the dampness of the air made the garb he was wearing itch, as if the cloth itself was afraid to venture any further into the place of death.

Never-the-less, Theomin gathered up all of his courage and kicked Bragga to continue into the Bonevales. ScreenShot00466The horse clearly did not want to head into the place. She showed it by wincing a few times and shaking. Perhaps she felt the same unease that Theomin felt. Or she felt something much more sinister.

Past the threshold of the Bonevales, through the mist, stone pillars carved with the like of figures stood at the edges of the path. The figures carved in stone had an ominous look, sad, like they were full of sorrow. The tall gray cliffs that stood past the pillars of stone were high, towering above and menacing. Cairns were dug into the cliffs, bodies of ancient of men of Gondor or Numenor. The Bonevales were a graveyard. That was what the people of Avardin did not tell Theomin. At that moment, Theomin started to feel at peace that the Bonevales was not a place of evil but a place of rest.

But no sooner that he felt that did he hear something in the wind. It came from all around like the air ScreenShot00469carried it in a whirlwind around him. A faint whispering echo of “Help.” Theomin stopped as Bragga started to buck a little. He did not want a repeat of the Gravenwood. Theomin held on to the reins tightly. He kept himself firmly on the saddle as Bragga nervously shook and moved around. Her voice seemed panicked as Theomin tried to sooth her by stroking her neck and shooshing her. He then heard the whisper again. It sounded like a little girl’s whisper, but from where?

Theomin looked around the tall cliffs off the path. They were empty save a few trees. There were no girls, no people, no life in this dead cemetery. From the north, a dense front of fog was coming in, slowly and almost purposefully. Bragga continued to struggle as the fog drew in closer and closer until it enveloped Theomin, Bragga, and the cliffs and cairns about them.

The fog was so thick it was tough for Theomin to see the just ahead of Bragga. There was no chance he ScreenShot00473 (2)could see walls around them nor could he ride in such a state. Theomin had no choice. He had to dismount from Bragga and hold her by the reins until they made their way out. He pulled Bragga forward, trying to stay on the path. All Theomin could do was look down at his feet to make sure the stony path they were on was still under him. He continually had to get back onto the path as it either continued to swerve or he was constantly losing his bearings.

“Help,” the voice said again, louder but still swirling around him. Bragga felt even more nervous as she kept pulling at her reins. He heard it again, even louder this time. Theomin’s heart raced, his hands becoming sweaty, making it tough to hold on to Bragga. He had to hold on to her. He heard the “Help,” again and again and again, continually swirling in a vortex of confusion until it stopped and was left over by a cry. It was not the cry of an animal, or an adult, it was the cry of a baby. Though the cries for help were coming from all around him, the baby’s cry was certainly coming from just north of Theomin, a little off the road to the right.

Theomin’s next thought was, “Is that really a child or a trick?” If he wanted to continue north, he had to pass the screams of the child. With his teeth gritted and his nerves buried as best he could, he continued on, coming closer and closer to the cries. He did not want to know what the sound was coming from. There could be no child in such a place. It was impossible. He soon passed the sound, holding on tight to the reins. His breathing was fast and shallow, his heart was pounding harder as the sound was behind. But it stopped. The crying baby stopped. Theomin paused, wondering what happened to the baby. A second later, it started crying again. But this time it was ahead and to the right again. Dread poured through Theomin’s veins. Someone was playing a trick on him. Or something was playing a trick on him. He just wanted to be out of the Bonevales. He was tired of haunted places.

Again, he stole his nerves as he continued on north. Again he came closer and closer to the sound of the baby and passed it. He was determined to continue walking as fast as he could. The baby stopped, much like before. What replaced it felt even more disturbing. A moan, a sad sorrowful yet haunting moan plagued his fears.

“Why did I chose this path?” Theomin whispered to himself.

Just out of site, a mass grew. A dark sinister mass with no real shape was forming and then sped off to the right. Theomin did not know what he saw. Was it his imagination? Was it an animal? A person? It was not there anymore so Thoemin continued on quickly, walking with as much speed as he could muster. It seemed Bragga wanted out too. She kept the pace and even passed up Theomin. Faster they went, almost to a panicked run until they were halted. The black mass was back. From the mass the moaning erupted, louder than before. Bragga bucked and almost threw up Theomin, who was still holding on tightly to the reins. He held her down as tightly as possible.

ScreenShot00482 (2)He suddenly remembered his staff. As he reached for it what happened next, he did not expect. There was no black mass but moaning came from behind, above to the right, above to the left, to his left all at the same time. Then with terror, a sudden moan just to his right as if it was right at his ear. With no thought or explanation, he let go of Bragga. She bolted forward. Theomin followed. He ran, trying to keep up with his horse as she disappeared in the dense fog. He could hear himself just utter the words, “No, no, no,” over and over until he was alone. The dense fog covered everything around him as he stopped and finally cowered. He dropped his staff and covered his eyes, full of fear. To his right he could hear the moaning, almost of pain, but it was not human. He could hear movement around him in the dirt and pattering of feet on the stone path. Nothing came of it, though. He heard a sudden whoosh sound and then nothing. He feared what he would hear as he opened his eyes and looked out. The fog lifted and there he saw Bragga looking his way. She was standing between two pillars and a very large arching rock that seemed to loom in on the road. There were no signs of the steep rock faces nor the stones carved in with sorrowful figures. Behind Bragga was in a large field flanked by hills almost too far beyond sight. Just beyond, a tower stood beside a figure silhouetted amongst the gray sky in the far distance.

With a dropped mouth and almost out of breath, Theomin looked back. The path he had just escaped from was clear; empty just like any other path. He did not see any sign of black masses or children but his fear remained. Was it all in his head? Theomin cared not for he and Bragga made it to the other side of the Bonevales.

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