Part 47 – A Bitter Escape
“It is unbievable how long it has taken to build that house of theirs,” one of the guards of Bree said to the other as he looked at a house off the road to the south. “Hey Tom,” the guard said, “How long have they been working on that farm house?”
“I know not. A very long time, that is all I know. But we have had brigands and orcs and strange travelers come and go. Don’t forget that night a while ago when those fell creatures came into Bree, and that is probably why they have taken as long as they have.” the other answered. “What were they? Why were those fell things in Bree?”
“I heard they were looking for someone. A Baggins,” Will said as his head shook in disbelief.
The guard chuckled, “Idiots, they were then. I know of no Baggins in these parts. I’d bet they’d have better luck looking in that Shire place over yonder, wouldn’t you say?”
“I agree, Will,” Tom said. “But they were none-the-less as creepy as the Barrow Downs.”
“Oh, yep yep,” the other guard, who’s name was Will, agreed. They sat there on their horses for a bit. “I’d hate to cross them in the Barrow Downs.”
“Oh, yeah,” the other guard said. A little while passed. “I’d hate to come across those fell creatures in the Barrow Downs next to my wife.”
Tom shivered, “Don’t do that. That’s a horrible thought.” He thought for a moment, “How about those fell creatuers in the Barrow Downs with both of our wives and our kids.”
“Ohh,” Will shivered, “You win.”
Thanncen kicked out the door and with the captain in his arm and dagger up to his throat, he left the cottage. Behind him were Saeradan who quickly drew his bow on the pair of guards, then Eleswith, and finally Theomin. Immidiatly, before Thanncen could say anything, the two other guards jumped off their horses and readied their bows. They had to stop when they saw Thanncen holding the knife to their captain’s throat.
“Put down your weapons or he’s dead,” the elf warned the two others. Saeradan came out with his bow on one of the two guards.
Will drew back his bow further, “You will not, elf. You will let go of our captain and turn yourself in along with the two you helped escape.”
“You are mistaken, Will,” Thanncen said. “Theomin is innocent of the charges.”
“I don’t care who is innocent or guilty. My job is to bring you and the two forigners back to Bree. If that is at the cost of our captain, then so be it. But if they leave then know this. Gerald will hunt you down from Forochel to Mordor. And when he does find you, you will surely die. But he will not kill you right away. He will let you watch as he killed the girl and then he will look for your family and he will do the same to them. He will not rest until you payed for killing his brother.” Will explained coldly. “And Saeradan. You are throwing away your lot with them? Tis a sad day for the rangers indeed. What would the rest of your kin say when they found you are betraying the very people you swore to protect?”
“Enough, Tom!” the captain said as loud as he could, his voice stifled by the elf’s strong grip on his throat, “He cares not for you or any others in Bree. As soon as he started helping the fugitives he resigned to throw down his standing with Bree. He is now an enemy of the state along with the girl from Dale, the man from Rohan, and the elf,” the captain tried to free up Thanncen’s grip from his throat as much as he could while he tried to say more, “I care not for my death. What matters is this filth is brought to a just end.”
Theomin and Eleswith stood there for a moment as they watched the exchange between the guards of Bree and Thanncen. The elf backed up and looked over at Eleswith and Theomin, “Go!”
“Wait!” Saeradan halted the two fleeing. “In the North Downs, search for the farms,” he said to them while keeping his gaze on the two guards. “Now go with the blessings of all rangers.” The two did not waste any more time. They ran up the rear of Saeradan’s house as Thanncen continued to back up to follow them.
“I have to summon Gerald, Thanncen,” Will told Saeradan and Thanncen as he lowered his bow and took up his horn. He blew it loudly for only a moment when Saeradan shot an arrow at the horn. It went clean through, shattering it to pieces as the arrow hit Will. Will grabbed his cheek spun around landing in the grass. Tom then shot his arrow which sunk its way into Thanncen’s shoulder. In a momentary reaction, Thanncen slid his arm out as the daggar sliced the captain’s neck. Like a fountain, blood erupted out of his neck. He screamed but was quickly silented with a gurgling sound. Thanncen let the captain go as he dropped onto the ground. The elf collapsed to his knees over the captain who layed there bleeding to death trying to gasp for air, doing nothing but holding his throat and writhed, kicking and digging into the dirt with his boots, drowning to death in his own blood.
Saeradan let loose another arrow at Tom. The arrow struck his eye. The impact drove him back to the ground but did not kill him. Instead, Tom yelled in pain and horror. He quickly stood and tried to yank it out but every attempt to move it proved more painful than the last. It just stayed in there as he yelled out hard and loud. Blood oozed out the length of the shaft of the arrow and dripped from the fletch. He kneeled in pain and screamed and screamed loudly and horribly. When he could not scream anymore he just moaned and moaned for the longest time. Will gathered himself and shot an arrow at Saeradan. It hit him in the left thigh and exited partly out the other end. He fell to the ground. Will then walked over to Thanncen and kicked him in the face, knocking him out cold. He then walked over to Searadan and unsheathed his sword. He wanted to strike at him but from behind heard a yell, “Stop!”
Theomin and Eleswith went as fast as they could. They ran up the grassy hill toward a farm in the distance. They soon heard a horn blow from Saeradan’s house and moments later someone screaming loudly in the most horrible bone chilling scream they had ever heard. Theomin wanted to return but Eleswith grabbed Theomin by the jacket sleeve, “Are you daft? You go back and you will die!”
“I have to help them,” Theomin yelled at Eleswith.
“They are dead already,” she yelled to Theomin. “The farm is just up ahead. If we run there now, we will get your horse and leave this place and make it to the North Downs before the end of day.”
“As far away from Bree as possible. Find your family, then we’ll have some allys to help us defend ourselves,” Eleswith said.
“I will not risk the family I do not even know to a cruel death they did not deserve.”
“Then that’s it? You will just resort to giving up? Throw yourself at the mercy of Gerlad? Go back to being beaten nightly for a crime you didn’t even commit? What did Thanncen and Saeradan throw away their lives for if not to keep you safe? They knew the risk and they took it. If you went back and turned yourself in, you’d be nothing but a…” she paused as she did not want to say it, but she knew she had to, “you’d be nothing but a coward and they would have died for nothing!” She pointed her finger at Theomin angrily, “I will not do the same. I will stay a free woman.” She turned and ran toward the farm, leaving Theomin to think for a moment.
After a few moments, he agreed and ran after Eleswith. It took them a while to finally reach the farm. The sun was skinking into the west and they only had to climb the fense. There, in the distance, was Bragga. She was in a stable with a feed bag hung to her snout. Theomin and Eleswith continued toward the farm when, talking with one of the farm hands, was Gerald. The shock at seeing him was so profound, they fell where they were and low crawled toward the nearest stone fence.
“He must have known we would come here first,” Theomin shook his head in fear and anxiety. “What do we do now?”
“We will have to wait and hope he does not find us here,” Eleswith said. She looked around the side of the rock but still saw Gerald talking with another farm hand while looking about the farm. For a moment it looked like he looked in her direction. She ducked away quickly behind the stone fence.
“What is it?” Theomin fearfully asked.
“He might have seen me,” she answered.
Theomin’s breathing quickend as he climbed to his knees. He picked up a rock and held it in his hand, ready to throw it at Gerald when he came around the side of the fense. He waited for a while but Gerald never came. He placed the rock down and shook his head. “This was a mistake. We should not have come here first.”
“He will leave, he cannot stay here all night,” Eleswith said, trying to calm Theomin. And that he did. They heard a horse neigh and clopping away from the farm. Eleswith looked around the boulder and did not see Gerald. “It looks like he left. Let’s get your horse.”
“We cannot just get Bragga, you know,” Theomin said. “There is no doubt that Gerald already poisoned them against us.”
“Then what do you propose we do?” Eleswith asked, only waiting a moment for an answer when she told Theomin the situation. “Gerald is still out there. We have to assume his guards are still out there too, looking for us. With luck, we can just take your horse and ride off north. Place our luck on the farm people. Or you can wait until the guards of Bree find us. You know what will happen when they find us. At least if we get your horse and leave Breeland, we may find somewhere to hide in the North Downs.”
Theomin took only a few moments to decide. “Then we will do it my way. Back in Rohan, my family practiced a whistle for the horses. Each horse had a specific whistle they would come to. I believe I can still remember Bragga’s whistle.”
“That does not sound too tough. What are you waiting for?”
“I am a terrible whistler. I can whistle, but only very softly. I am the only one in my family who cannot whistle well. My sister teased me about that.” His thoughts drifted away but were suddenly snapped back. “So therefore I must be very close to Bragga for her to hear me.”
Eleswith smacked her hand on her head, “There’s always something with you, isn’t there?”
“Now hear me out,” Theomin started to strategize. “I need you to head over to the road. I will go on the opposite end of the farm and get as close as I can to Bragga. When I give you the signal, you need to yell out for them to keep their attention on you. As soon as I get close enough, I will whistle to Bragga, she will come trotting to me. After I mount her, I will quickly come to you and pick you up. I believe they cannot react quick enough to capture you. And that is our escape plan. What do you say?”
“I say you’re mad,” she started, “but it is a sound plan. I assume your signal shall be a wave to me but if I can’t see you, then what will be your signal?”
Theomin thought for a second, “A clap, I suppose. They should think nothing of it, I hope.”
“Good, now let’s start as soon as possible.”
Theomin breathed in a sigh. All his hope was that his plan would work. If it did not, he would have inadvertently invited death to Eleswith and himself. “Okay, I am ready.”
Eleswith snuck westward toward the road. She kept herself low as to not attract attention from those at the farm to her whereabouts until the signal was given. She kept her gaze on the farm, making sure nobody could see her, which nobody did. It only took a few minutes before she reached the road leading down the hill to a road heading north and south.
Theomin too, left the safety of the fence and snuck the opposite way. He made his way toward the stabbles where Bragga was being held. The construction of the stables made it difficult to see his horse. The rear was hidden behind the stonework of the stables and her snout was covered in her feed bag. Never-the-less, he snuck as close to her as he could without being seen. He looked for Eleswith, but could not see her. She was on the other side of the stables, out of his line of sight. He kept low when he then gave a simple clap. He heard nothing. He clapped again, this time twice. Still, nothing. Something must have gone wrong. He started back to the boulder when he heard, “Hey, you! Hey, you! Come here.” It was tough to hear as it was some distance that she was yelling. It was her, though. He could recognize her voice and that was her distraction.
Theomin then tried to whistle. It sounded like nothing but air. He shook it off and then tried again. Air still came pouring from his mouth along with beads of spit. Not even the slight sound of a whistle could be heard. He tried to remember what his father told him if he could not whistle. Right, there was a rhyme. “If you have no whistle, do not quit, lick your lips with some spit!” He licked his lips to get them as moist as he could and tried again. The slightest whistle came from his lips. Meager but it was better than nothing. He then played the melody of Bragga’s whistle. But Bragga did not come. He tried again, sweat started pouring from his brow. She still did not come. He tried again but from behind he felt a tap on his back. He sunk in fear that he was found. He clenched his fist and was ready to punch whomever was behind him. He spun around but it was no person. It was Bragga! Theomin hugged the snout of his horse tightly. He could tell she was happy to see her owner as well. Suddenly, he heard a yell from the other side of the stables, “Hello!” It was Eleswith calling out for Thoemin.
Theomin then leaped on Bragga and rode as fast as possible toward Eleswith. There she was, as two farm hands were ready with bows on her. Theomin rode Bragga fast and stopped next to Eleswith. He took her hand and hoised her up in back of him onto Bragga. “Thank you,” she said as she held tightly onto Theomin. He rode fast down the hill, away from the farm. They heard whisps of arrows flying past, but no arrows even came close to them.
The excitement of the moment gave Theomin the feeling of yelling out, “Woo hoo!” as he rode down the hill. His plan actually worked and they were on their way away from the horrors of Breeland. They finally came to an intersection to which they turned right, leading up the hill and away from Breeland.