Part 52 – Theomin’s Choice
“How could you do something as senseless as that?” Athegdir yelled at Theomin. They had made it back to Esteldin late in the evening. Only Athegdir, Theomin, and his two brothers were present in the library of Esteldin. All others were either asleep or left out of the family meeting. It was dark in the room as there were only a few candles lit to elluminate the place. A table was in the middle surrounded by five pillars with a sixth lying on the floor, fallen by some force. Book shelves surrounded the entirty of the room with a mount, like a stage, with stairs leading up the left and right side of it. Athegdir paced back and forth as he shook his head, looking as though he had so many words to say to Theomin yet could not figure out how to say them. Finally, he spoke again, “Has nobody told you it is treacherous to leave this place at night? You could have been mauled or killed or, as we saw with that horrible man who threatened you, you could have been taken prisoner. Have you acquired no sense on your long journey?”
Theomin looked down in shame. He was too embarrassed to say he was frightened about the impending war and the oath he made, while still in Rohan, not to kill anyone unless absolutely necessary. “I am not proud of what I did father, but if you can just hear me you might understand why I left.” Athegdir stood still, waiting for Theomin’s explanation. “While I was leaving Rohan I felt I was becoming something I was not. I continued to kill things like boars and wargs and orcs and men. I made a promise to myself to not kill unless absolutely necessary.”
“You killed men on your journey here?” Teryndir said.
“Yes,” he paused, “well I believe I killed him. He was a brigand if ever I saw one.”
“And you killed no other men on your journey here?” Sergee asked. To that Theomin shook his head
“This is different than that,” Athegdir added. “You cannot object to what we are doing. It is in your blood. It is in his blood,” he pointed to Sergee, “and his blood,” he pointed to Teryndir and then placed his palm on his chest, “and in my blood. You must understand that we are not doing this for some false crusade to claim glory.” He walked to the very same book Sergee used earlier in the day to aid him in understanding his heritage. “Isildur, himself, founded Annuminus for the kingdom of Arnor. He then appointed three Marshalls to watch over the city. Each one was sworn to a single purpose, to defend Annuminus and preserve her for the people of Eriador and continue great flame of hope this once forsaken land for the people of Eriador.”
Theomin looked down, shaking his head as if he could not understand something. “Why now?” he asked as he continued to shake his head. “Why do you need to retake the city now? Why was it not done sooner or why not later?”
“After the chieften of the Dunedain Rangers departed for Bree and then moved on to Rivendell on an important errand, he set in motion a movement, of sorts,” Athegdir said. “After that, a call for his kin was given. The Dunedian Rangers moved south to aid our great Chieften, Aragorn son of Arathorn. Neleghil knows this best.” He turned to Sergee. “You met Enedion in the Lone Lands, did you not?”
“I have,” Sergee answered with reluctance as he knew what his father was wanting to tell Theomin.
“And does he know your story?” his father asked.
Sergee looked at Theomin and for a brief moment he did not want to say anything. He finally said, “No, he does not.”
Theomin looked at Sergee confused. “I thought you were found in the Forsaken Inn after your home was burned by orcs and brigands, or something like that.”
Sergee looked down, “Aye, they did find me at the Forsaken Inn but I was not in Archet when it was burned down.” He sighed as he did want to tell his story again. “I told this only to Helesdir. Eleswith knew about it because she listened in on my telling of this story while we were in private.” He looked away at some paintings on the wall as he told his tale. “It has been a while since I wanted to revisit my time with the Grey Company. It is painful for me to remember my abandonment of my kin. At first we set out from Esteldin to Rivendell for a charge I did not know. They called it an urgent matter, but only Halbarad and a few others knew the true purpose for our travel to Rivendell. After that, we were given the name The Grey Company and the charge to aid our Chieften in the fight against Sauron. So we marched. We marched for days, sometimes staying in ruins, sometimes sleeping on the ground against great boulders. We made it to Enedwaith and to Harndirion. It was so beautiful seeing such architecture amongst such a beautiful land.” He looked down in shame, sniffled a little as a tear formed. “The rangers knew our numbers were too few and we could not break the lines of Mordor alone. We needed aid from a former ally, cursed for all time. The Rangers thought that enlisting the aid of the oathbreakers that we would have the upper hand.” He looked down and in an almost incomprehensible sound, he said, “we were wrong. I was one of many men who entered into the tomb of the oathbreakers. Fear, I felt such fear come from that place. After a while, they turned on us. They killed many of our men, including one I had the pleasure of knowing, Candaith. There were so may and they were rutheless, so ruthless. They relentlessly killed each of the rangers in the tomb. I could not bare to witess this slaughter of my kin that I fled. I fled north. I fled from my charge, my duty, my family. I was a coward. So I hid. I gave up my name and I gave up my title of a Marchell of the Dunadain Rangers. I fell into a deep depression and found ale was the only relief I had. That was when Helesdir and Magla found me. In the Forsaken Inn, drunk and almost passed out. They took me in, gave me a meal and a place to stay, and finally they gave me a reason to go on living.” He looked up at Theomin, “I owe them my life. So in turn I gave them my services and I also gave Helesdir the cloth I bore before I joined the Grey Company. The cloth I bore for the Grey Company I stored in a secret place. A secret place I never hope to return to.”
“You told that story wrong again, brother,” Teryndir said. “There were no orcs in the taking of Archet.”
“Teryndir!” Athegdir scolded Teryndir loudly.
“I am just telling him if he is going to tell that story, he should omit orcs from it,” said Teryndir with a slight smirk on his face. He enjoyed goading his brother.
“Listen Teryndir,” Athegdir started, “You know of what happened to my last nephew. Amdir was a good man and my brother was, of all his own sons, the most proud of him.
“What happened to Amdir?” asked Theomin.
Athegdir looked at Theomin, haunted by what he knew happened. Teryndir spoke up, “I can tell him.”
“No!” he told Teryndir. “I will tell him. Long ago, the son of my oldest brother, who has now long been dead, was aiding in the escape of hobbits from their imprisonment in a camp of evil men. As they escaped, our chieften and Amdir were confronted by a creature in black. The creature all rangers know as the Nazgul, the ring wraith. With no fear on his own part, Amdir confronted the Nazgul until, at last, the creature stuck him with a foul blade. A Morgul Blade which forces its victim into the shadow world. Though they would not become a Nazgul like the nine, they become Cargul, lesser wraiths they are, but still deadly servants of the dark lord.” He gave a long sigh and the show of many long sorrows surfaced, “Many good rangers died in Amdir’s wake.” Sergee and Teryndir looked on with knowing pain. They were deeply effected by the death of Amdir. “It was not until a group of rangers came and finally dispatched him from this world that we did see the full extent of the power of the morgul blade. He was a fully formed Cargul and my nephew, their cousin…our kin, was destroyed.” After a long pause, he finally continued, “You see, Amdir touched the lives of all of us. He was a good ranger and an even better friend. Much like that, we all have stories and we all have reasons why we do what we do. We have all suffered pain of which you could not imagine. We have all done things we are not proud of for the sake of doing what we felt was right. We have all killed or left someone behind or suffered in some way or another.” He looked at his other two sons, Teryndir stood proud but haunted in the dark next to a standing bookshelf. Sergee sat slumped on his chair, sad and defeated. “If you wish to leave, I cannot hold you back. You have your own path to tread and it is not up to me or any member of our family to go to war with us. If you choose to leave, your horse will be waiting for you at the stables in the morning, well packed, and well fed. You have the night to come to your decision. With that, Athedgir departed their company, followed closely by Teryndir. Sergee still sat in his stool as Theomin looked at him with sorrow.
“I am sorry about Amdir and,” he still thought about what Sergee told about the paths of the dead, “I am sorry you had to tell your tale. Why had you not told me while I was in the Lone Lands?” Theomin asked Sergee.
“I was not about to tell a stranger of my most shameful act. Besides, I did the best I could in honor of Candaith. I tried to hold the orcs at bay in the Lone Lands. But I knew father wanted me to follow him to war. I knew I was needed and that was why I came back.” He stood up and made for the door. “You need to make your own choice, brother. Nobody will make it for you.”
Theomin was left inside the library. He knew he was disappointing his family by not wanting to go off to war. He knew he did not want to kill anyone or anything. He made that promise to himself and he did not want to break that promise, much to the disappointment of his family. But what was more important? Staying true to his word or to be there for his family in their time of need.
He left the library of Esteldin. It was cool out and dark. The breeze whisped through the compound from the western side of the compound and drifted past up to the eastern side as it exited. Only a few were awake, sentries marching up and down the length of the compound with bows on their sides. Theomin took the short walk up to the tents where he and Eleswith were staying. She was laying down facing away from him. Theomin could not tell if she was awake or asleep but it mattered not to him. He layed on the mat he was in the night before next to Eleswith as he looked up at the stars. His thoughts drifted to all he learned in the day of the stones and the family and the war. His mind was a tangled mess not knowing which way to go. Should he stay true to his family or stay true to himself and return home. Slowly he drifted off to sleep as he thought of finally returning home again.
Theomin was back in Rohan. He felt the warm plains breeze that swept over the land as he sat on a rock looking at a pinnacle in the distance. A tall spire it was with white stone and golden spokes that reached up into the heavens. “Follow your dream or you will always ponder, ‘what could have been?” a voice said to Theomin as he turned to see that old man from Garsfeld whome was the thane. He looked at the spire and then looked back at the thane but it was not him anymore. It was his father back in the Wold. “Father?” Theomin said, astonished. He looked around him and there he was, back at his old house, surrounded by the dry Wold grass next to the stables by the windmill. It was the day he left as his father approached him. “Am I selfish, papa?” was all Theomin could muster to say.
Eölf looked down and breathed in and let out a long exhale. “Not in all the years I have known you. When it comes to this, you are not being self-serving. You are self-discovering and that is not selfish in any way.”
“It is up to you,” he said, “but you left us for a purpose. Your journey is not over yet. Not until you learn your true meaning of leaving us may you come back home.” He placed a hand on Theomin’s face. “It is not a self serving journey. It is a journey of self-discovering.”
Theomin looked down and repeated, “Self-discovering. Self-discovering.” He looked up, “How am I to discover myself?” but his father was not there anymore. Nor was his house or the rest of the farm.
He was in an empty land with nothing around but the dry brown Wold grass and the distant hills surrounding the Wold, but he did not feel alone. A powerful presence surrounded him. It grew stronger with every passing second while a soft white radiant light grew from behind him. With slight trepidation he turned. Standing before him, in the dry grass emenating light all around was a beautiful lady clad in a long white dress with golden hems and stretched down past her feet. Upon her head was long flowing golden blonde hair which continued far down her back and was groomed, arrayed in golden circlets. Her eyes had a look of long years behind them, though she did not look much older than he. She spoke slowly and with power and purpose, “The ring travels south and with every league it travels, the danger will only grow. If the ring is captured, the white city will fall and with it all Middle Earth will plunge into darkness. If that happens, the only bastion of hope will be in the north but the north is now very vulnerable. A great power is festering in dark places of the north and it will only be a matter of time before it shows itself to those who are most defenseless. There is one hope for the northern realm, a great shining city will rise and with the light, those in the dark will be revealed. Be not afraid,” she placed her hand on his cheek. Her delicate warm and soft hand felt like the warmth of the sun radiating on his skin on a cold day, “your courage will grow with time. Your part in the tale of the great city will be revealed and your day will come. You are on a path of self-discovery, do not abandon it.”
“Who are you?” Theomin had to ask.
“I am Galadriel,” she said so beautifully but that was all. Light flooded all around him, radiating from her, consuming him and everything around him and then there was nothing.
Sounds of people bustling about filled Theomin’s ears as he awoke to the sunlight beeming down on his face. It was mid morning and the rangers were already busy on business of their own. Beside him sat an empty mat where Eleswith once layed. She was gone. As he sat up he thought of the dream he had of the old man in Garsfeld, his father, and that woman all in white. He had heard the name Galadriel but could not think of where. The thought plagued him for a while until his stomach destracted him. He needed a bight to eat and a cup of that excellent coffee.
“Sorry, we are out of egg,” the cook said as he was heating up a batch of toast. “Our crazy chicken over there cannot lay eggs worth a darn. You may take some toast with a square of butter and perhaps a potato.”
“The toast and some coffee will do,” Theomin kindly said. Like the day before, the coffee hit him with as much vigor as he had the day before. His mind felt clearer and he thought more about his dreams while he walked toward the stables. He left the central courtyard and made his way through the way to the forecourt, where Bragga was being held. The lady, Galadriel, said his tale with the great city was not over. What that meant, he had to wonder. Regardless, he looked at Bragga. She seemed glad to see him and he felt the same. Though it was only about one day, it still felt like forever ago since he saw his most trusted friend.
After a few moments, Sergee approached Theomin. He patted him on the shoulder and gave him a smile. “I trust you had a good sleep.” Theomin nodded, not wanting to say anything. “I am sorry to push it but what of your decision? Are you staying or going?”
Theomin was still torn. He felt agony over the longing for home since he arrived in Esteldin. There was no denying that. Though he had that feeling, he the need, or more like a push to tell him of the dream. “I am still not sure. A dream I had, a woman dressed all in white told me that there was a shining city that was to be a beacon for the most vulnerable.”
“A woman?” Sergee said. “Who was she?”
“She said her name was Galadriel.”
Sergee’s eyes suddenly widened and his mouth dropped in surprise. “She is The Lady of the Golden Wood, one of the three bearers of the elven rings. She does not reveal herself to just anyone unless the cause is of upmost importance.” Sergee called for another ranger to come. “Summon Athegdir. He may need to hear Enedion’s tale.”
The ranger ran eastward as Theomin remembered who Galadriel was. “Is she not one of the high elves?” To that, Sergee nodded. “And she revealed herself in my dream?”
“She must deem your, or our, cause worthy if she came to you in a dream.”
Athegdir soon came. He was again clad in his armor and beginning to put on his gauntlets. “Why have you summoned me?” he asked until he saw Theomin. “Enedion, or shall I call you ‘Theomin,’” he said in a way that sounded like he cursed the name. “Have you decided to stay or leave?” the man asked coldly.
“You must hear this first, father,” Sergee told his father with all eagerness.
“What is it boy?” again, Athegdir asked coldly as if they were not even related.
“I had a dream,” Theomin started right away, “a woman came to me dressed all in white. She said there was a shining city in the north that was to be the bastion for all who were vulnerable. She said my tale was tied to this city and my tale was not yet over.” To this Athegdir furrowed his eyebrows as intrigue set in. “She said her name was Galadriel.”
“Galadriel!” he whispered the name in great reverence. “You saw The Lady of Light in your dream?” he said in great awe. “Are you sure she said her name was Galadriel?”
“I am certain. She was all in white with flowing golden hair and a long white dress. I remembered not who she was until I spoke with Sergee.”
“Then it is certain, the city is tied to your fate and all of Eriador’s fate is tied to the city.” He looked at Theomin dead in the eyes with all passion and said, “You need to stay. If Galadriel the Golden Lady says your fate is tied to this city then you need to join us.” He grabbed Theomin’s shoulders, “We must fight together.”
Theomin knew his decision came down to that moment. He wanted desperately to make the return journey home but he then knew in his heart that his fate was woven with that of the city of Annuminus and that he cold not abandon. He felt great reluctance and a little surprise over what he just heard himself say, “Yes, I will join you.”
“Ha ha!” Athegdir shouted for all to hear. “I knew you would, my son! You will join us and together, we will all retake the city of Annuminus for Eriador!”
“Hazzah!” the rangers stopped and yelled out in the air.