The Family Line Part 40 – Curiosity

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Part 40 – Curiosity

It was early morning. The sun had not yet come over the eastern rise. It was cool. Cooler than Theomin could remember. A chilly moist breeze came from the west beyond the brown dry grasses of the Lonelands. Just west of the Forsaken Inn, green grasses and lush trees started making their appearance. The Great East Road continued along between a hill rise to the south and a marsh lands to the north. Eleswith told Theomin it was called Midgewater Marshes, and in the ruins of the marsh were some pretty nasty goblins. It was not a place to venture if you wanted to stay safe.

ScreenShot00923As dawn continued on to morning, houses started appearing. One by one small paths veared off the road toward farm houses and small estates. Some were large enough to house a farmer and his family with comfort but some were small. Too small, in fact, to fit even the shortest of men. “Is that a house of one of those small creatures you spoke of?”

Eleswith looked at the small house Theomin was referring to. “Yes, it probably is. One way you can tell it is the house of a hobbit, as they are called, is the round door. I know not why they prefer them round. Maybe it’s tradition.”

“I would say that makes sense. It is a good way to keep your culture,” Theomin agreed. “We have our own tradition in Rohan. We love our horses. My people carve them into wood or make banners with their images. We even have the device of a horse on the breast plate and shields of the king and his guard. Everything is about horses but I see not the same affinity for horses in other places. Sometimes my people have cared more for their horses than their own families.” Eleswith chuckled at Theomin. “It is no jest. We pride ourselves on our great warsteeds.” After a few quiet moments, Theomin continued, “Have you any traditions in Dale?”

Eleswith thought for a moment. “We have a few. A lot of the things we were burned in the fires of Smug so there are no fancy carvings or banners to speak of. We still like to fish as if we were still in Esgoroth. We also celebrate the day of the coming of Thorin’s Company every year. We call it Thorin’s Day. That day changed our people for ever.”

“How did it change you?”

“Our home was destroyed soon after,” she half joked. But in the ashes of Esgoroth, we retook Dale and learned we were far greater than we had imagined and our allies would be beside us. Of course my people felt too confident in the alliance with elves and dwarves that we forgot what it meant to be strong and sat and became fat with gold and riches. Sometimes I feel my people are more like the dwarves. Only seeking treasure when there are more pressing matters.”

ScreenShot00925Approaching mid day, soon old ruins started appearing in the woods off in the south of the road. They were modest ruins, perhaps some old fort or outpost that was placed there for strategic purposes in ancient times. They bore similar color and markings to some of the ruins of the Lone Lands. They must have been apart of the same group of people long ago.

Eleswith stopped and looked south toward the ruins. “Theomin, hold on a moment. I have business with the people in the ruins there.”

“What manner of business?” Theomin prodded.

“Important business, nothing more.” She ended it there. “Continue along the road for a few miles. Bree is not far from here. When you get there, stable your horse at the east gate. I’ll meet you at the Inn of the Prancing Pony.”

ScreenShot00931After a few moments, Theomin reluctantly agreed. He was still weary of his new companion and would have felt fine leaving her. Something told him, though, that her leaving was not a good idea. He pushed his horse to go west. As he rode away he turned and saw Eleswith heading off toward the fort and soon disappeared behind some trees. As he reached a large tree surrounded by a stone fence he stopped for a moment. He looked west, wanting to continue on to Bree, but felt the pull of curiosity tugging at him. He new it was a bad idea to find out what she was up to but really wanted to know. He dismounted from his horse and tied her to the large tree. He then tried to sneak toward the ruins with Aches following.

In no time he reached the fort. He snuck around, hoping to stay as quiet as possible. He heard voices from the inside, none of which were Eleswith’s. He continued around the length of the ruins when a man, who ScreenShot00926was standing watch saw him. The man pulled his bow out, ready to shoot it at Theomin. Before Theomin could do anything, Aches had already rushed at the man and swiped its clawed paw at his leg. The man looked down and tried to scream but Theomin rushed at him and grabbed at his mouth as he screamed and silently held his neck. The man struggled, pushing and clawing at the grass until he finally slowed down and passed out.

Theomin fell back. He could not believe what he just did. Just for a few moments he considered running back to his horse and continuing to Bree. He would go the the inn, buy himself and tea and biscut and sit there gladly waiting for Eleswith. Unfortunatly, he just could not shake the feeling of interest though. So he gathered himself, looked around, and continued around the ruins.

At last, he got to a place where he was able to hear more people talking, including the voice of Eleswith. It was tough to hear, though. The sounds of others talking, dogs barking, and the clanging of swords from inside the ruins almost drowned out the voices of Eleswith.

“…and why did it it take so long?” a deep voice asked.ScreenShot00934

“I could not do it and that was it. I needed, first, to earn their trust,” a female voice said. It sounded like Eleswith.

“Why earn trust? Was it that tough?” another male voice asked.

“It would have been dangerous. He had friends,” the voice of Eleswith said.

“And you could not do it from afar?”

“Na, she’s right,” the deep voice said. “Besides, she got the job…”

“Who are you?” a voice came from behind Theomin. Theomin turned to see one of the men staring him down. His sword was unsheathed and his stance told Theomin he was ready to fight. “Drop the staff,” he commanded Theomin, pointing his sword at him. Aches rushed at the man but he just kicked the poor lynx away, during which Theomin rushed at the man, knocking him down to the ground while Theomin was on top of him. Before he could cover the man’s mouth, though, he yelled, “Help!”

Theomin and the man struggled. He tried to push the man to the ground as hard as he could but the man was clearly overpowering him. The man shoved Theomin to the ground and climbed on top of Theomin, punching him in the face. He then got off to try get his sword to finish off Theomin. Theomin then got up and ran to the man, kicking him as he retrieved his sword, forcing him to fall over onto the ground. Theomin ran to his staff, picked it up and swiped at the man, causing him to take a few steps back. He then sent down a Light of the Rising Dawn at the man, knocking him down and out cold.

Theomin stumbled for a bit, out of breath and wiped his nose. He looked down at his hand which had blood from his nose, clearly from the scuffle. He then looked up. A group of six stood there with their swords and bows drawn. Out of breath, not thinking clearly Theomin announced, “Who is next.”

One of them approached Theomin. He was wielding a club in one hand and a scowl on his face. He then smacked Theomin in the head with it as he fell to the ground, knocked out.

The next thing Theomin saw was the inside of the ruins. A few men and some women were standing about, staring at Theomin with inquizative or maddened eyes. Standing behind a few of them, was Eleswith. She did not take a prominent position with them. To Theomin, that meant she did not want to be associated with him.

“What were you doing out there?” The man with the deep voice asked.

ScreenShot00982 (2)He looked at the man asking the question. He was a tall, burley man. His clothes looked as ragged and dirty as his face. Grim was his look and an intense red were his eyes, of which Theomin had to divert his gaze from. Yet, behind him hung a horn, one that looked of bored out ivary from some exotic animal and encrusted with adornments of bonze. Decpite the make of the horn, he looked like the leader of outcasts, thrown aside when civilized society did not want to deal with them. He stood upon an altar above everybody else save those he was flanked; his two companions by his side. “I come from Rohan,” he said, not wanting to conceal his origins anylonger. “I have come here to search for my family.”

The crowd looked around, chatting amongst themselves about the stranger from Rohan. The man with the deep voice finally commanded his people, “Silence,” and stared into the eyes of Theomin, who felt most uncomfortable with the man’s eyes, “And you have come here in search of them?”

“Well,” he began with a shrug, “it was a start,” he said, trying to lie his way out of the mess he was in and not wanting to involve Eleswith in the mess.

The man with the deep voice nodded. “Okay,” he said, “you may go.”ScreenShot00936

“Thank you,” Theomin gratefully said as he quickly stole a glance at Eleswith and turned.

“One more thing before you go,” the man stopped Theomin. “It’s curious that when this one here shows up,” he said pointing to Eleswith, “you turn up as well.”

“I am not following,” Theomin tried desperately to sound oblivious to what the man was talking about, trying to show no outward signs of knowing who Eleswith was.

“It is a little odd that this loner girl,” he started, “who spent the past years in the wild would have a companion. But now it makes perfect sense. She stayed with this little group in the Lone Lands for, what,” he looked at Eleswith for confirmation while she shot him a glance in disgust, “two months? Is that accurate? She misses companionship. She misses the interaction with men.” He looked at Theomin, gazing in his eyes with a piercing look. “Are you that man, man from Rohan?”

“I know not of what you speak.”

“Ah,” the deep voiced man said in a manner that showed he was going to change tactics. The man slowly and purposfully walked around behind Theomin. “What is your name, traveler from Rohan?”

“Theomin,” nerves shook his answer, keeping him from saying it without a show of anxiety.

“And how do you know Eleswith, Theomin of Rohan?” He stopped behind Theomin as he came in very close. Theomin could feel his breath on his neck, making him more nervously shake.

“I know not of who you speak,”he said almost in a whisper.

The man grabbed Theomin by the back of the hair, pulling back his head exposing his neck while he pulled a short blade to Theomin’s throat piercing his skin and letting blood escape. The deep voiced man continued, “Would you like to recount your last statement, Theomin of Rohan? Do you know who Eleswith is?” Theomin’s thoughts raced. He tried his best to conceal who she was but all the fibers of his being told him not to reveal he knew her but knowing every second he held is answer was one second closer to the man driving the knife into his throat. “One last time, do you…” a daggar shot into the man’s arm. He let go of Theomin with just a gut reaction, dropping him to the ground. He grabbed at the daggar but dared not remove it.

The man looked angrily at Theomin. He was so enraged it almost appeared to Theomin that his red eyes began glowing in anger, “You!” he groweled so furiously that drool spat from his mouth. Theomin shook his head in a dread, not knowing what to do other than crawl backward away from the enraged senseless man.

“Goblins!” a voice in the distance cried out, breaking the tension of the moment. A series of horns, then, blew off in the distance. Yelling and screaming came from the same direction as it sounded like the goblins engaged the men in the ruins while the clanging of swords echoed through the ruins and goblins spilled into the meeting area where they were.

The crowd scattered within seconds, running every which way they could. There in the middle of the panic was Eleswith, slicing at what ever goblin or man dared to confront her. “Get up!” she yelled at Theomin in a hurry, trying to get out of the place as quickly as possible. He rose up and Eleswith pointed toward the opposite way everybody was running. “That way!”

He followed her but they were soon confronted by the man with the deep voice. The daggar was still imbedded in his arm as it seeped blood, staining his sleeve and dripped down his dangling arm. Behind him was Theomin’s staff laying on a table of wood along with a few other weapons. “You are not taking this, ScreenShot00954 (2)Theomin of Rohan. You and your friend will die here.” He took up his horn and blew it. “You’re out of ti…” Eleswith lunged at the man but he caught her by the neck just in time. “Ha, I am faster than y…” He could not finish his sentence because Theomin quickly kicked the daggar further into the man’s arm as he screamed and Eleswith head butted the man, knocking him back onto the wooden shelf that collapsed as he hit it. At that moment, Aches jumped at the man from on top of the ruined wall. He screamed in terror as the little lynx scratched at him and bit him mercilessly.

“This is our chance, Theomin,” Eleswith hastily told Theomin, but no sooner did she said that, a band of goblins came running round the corner. She stopped and looked back at Theomin, “Fight through ‘em!” she screamed and swiped at the goblins, beheading them and chopping off arms and legs with the swipe of her sword. She made quick work of the goblins in the front ranks of the hoard as some came around her toward Theomin.

Theomin swung at the goblins with his staff, finding them too numerous to for any other skills. He kicked and swung at them, quickly tiring from the growing numbers. “Eleswith, give me some time!” he yelled at ScreenShot00975 (2)her. She looked back in achnowledgement as she came back and killed the group that Theomin was trying to fend off, kicking their little bodies and slicing at them while Theomin held his staff up high for a moment as blue electric sparks emerged from the staff. He then pounded the ground with the end of the staff. An enormous flash of lightning flooded the small area where they were, knocking Eleswith back onto Theomin and sending the entire length of the exit into a flaming death trap for the goblins, who were engulfed in fire and finally succumbed to the flames.

As they regained their sight from the blinding flash, the path was cleared. Dead goblins filled the empty ScreenShot00980 (2)space of their only exit. Eleswith gazed at Theomin, wide eyed, open mouthed, and stunned. “You should’ve started with that,” she quickly jested. Soon, a large band of goblins came from behind them. Theomin whirled a gust of wind in their directions, slowing them.

Eleswith lead, slashing at the few goblins left as they came closer to the exit. Theomin looked behind while a strong number of goblins followed them. He hoped to at least slow them with cracked earth. He stood for a moment, gathering the energy to crack the ground with his staff. “Theomin, hurry!” Eleswith yelled back. Theomin just focused on his skill and then slammed his staff to the ground, cracking the earth from his staff toward the gaining goblins. No sooner than they were hit by the shaking earth, they stumbled on themselves in a mess of piled up goblins. Unfortunatly the ruins could not support the shaking ground and collapsed from above. Theomin rushed away as the ruins continued to collapse just behind him until they finally emerged from the ruins, exhausted, sweating, and covered in old ruin dust and black goblin blood. They placed their hands on their knees and breathed in and out from fatigue.

It was then that Theomin looked behind but did not see Aches. He took a step toward the ruins, “Aches!” heScreenShot00981 yelled toward the ruins, which caught the attention of more goblins surrounding the yard around the ruins. They had to fight them as the goblins were between them and Bragga. Eleswith made quick work of some of them while Theomin set some on fire with his skills, now that he was given some time.

“Which way?” Eleswith asked just after finishing off the last of the goblins.

Theomin ran in the direction of the large tree of which Bragga was still tied to. Five goblins were surrounding Bragga, all dead on the ground. They were not kicked by the horse but rather shot by arrows, which were still imbedded in their heads. “Who would kill the goblins but leave my horse?” Theomin wondered aloud.

“It matters not, Theomin,” Eleswith said with all haste. “We must leave this place before goblins or those briggands return.

“Not without Aches.”

“I’m sorry, Theomin,” she said in a panic, “he’s gone.”

“No,” he moaned, “we have to go back.”

“Forget it, he’s gone!” she pushed at him to go. Soon, another group of goblins came running after them.

“Aches!” Theomin tried yelling with all his breath. No sign of the lynx came from the ruins.

“We have to go, Theomin.” Eleswith yelled. “Theomin!”

“Alright!” he dejectedly yelled as tears welled up in his eyes. He had not wanted to yell at Eleswith but with the loss of his lynx at the time he could not express his frustrated sadness any other way. He shook his head in disagreement and upon seeing how close the goblins were, he kicked Bragga and rode west toward the soft pale light glow on the nighttime horizon toward Bree.

One comment

  1. Great Chapter. Tell Theomin there is always another Aches. I have been through hundreds of them… 🙂

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