Part 63 – From the Glade
Night came upon the community on the hill. Stars shone brightly with clouds creeping in from the west. The breeze of warmth blew through the small town of Ost Forod as the members of the town gathered on the small market on the side. From there, moans could be heard. Wailing moans sailed through the town as if an angry specter had haunted it. The moans came from Taidir, who was writhing in pain on the floor of near the town’s only healer.
He was screaming in pain, writhing on the floor while others, including Theomin, tried to hold him down on the ground. The healer was doing everything she could, giving him concoction after draught after potion. Nothing could cure Taidir who was yelling so loudly on the floor. A cold sweat was pouring through his skin. The whites of his eyes were turning red.
“My blood is burning!” Taidir yelled out so loud that those on the other side of the town had to peer over to see what was happening.
“Why is nothing working!” the healer yelled out. Frustration was setting in as she was confused as to what to do. “I have given him everything I know and still nothing has worked. This is beyond my skill.” She threw up her hands.
Theomin, holding down Taidir, yelled out to her, “Nothing? Surely there is something that be done? He is suffering!”
“Why does nobody shut him up,” one of the men who eyed Theomin said to the others. “He will attract fell things.”
The healer looked at him for a long while. Meanwhile, as he was writhing in pain he started pushing Theomin and the others off of him and scratching. Though Theomin was scratched, he continued to hold on to Taidir with all of his strength. Finally, she ran to her potions. She grabbed one and ran back to Taidir. “Open his mouth,” she ordered the others. They did so and she poured the fluid into his mouth. “Shut it!” They did so and not long after, the warden started to calm down and lose his strength. His pushing became more erratic and less powerful. Finally, it all stopped and the man who was pushing everyone off and scratching suddenly stopped. A look of peace came upon Taidir’s face.
“Drought of sleep. He will be down for maybe a good hour or two. It does nothing to remove whatever he has. He will wake up much the same as he was. This is beyond my skill. I have not the ability to heal this man. He is also not able to be moved. He must stay here. The only ones who may know what to do are the elves, but they are so far away that might not even be possible.”
“Where are they? He needs to be helped,” Theomin said, ready to do anything.
“Across the shore,” she started, “amongst the evespires, a few elves are there tending to the trees. They keep to themselves, more involved in nature than the problems of men.”
“Can they be trusted?” asked Theomin.
“The can be trusted. But it is far. Across the lake.” The healer placed a cloth on the floor for Taidir to place his head down. “It will take a while for you to reach that place. You should go now. You will find boats we took from Tinnudir docked along the shore at the base of the hill. Good luck.”
Theomin started but Taidir called for him, “Theomin.” Theomin came to Taidir who was so weak he could hardly speak. Just a whisper came from him as he motioned Theomin over with a weak hand. “Theomin, thank you for all you have done. When I sparred with you back in Esteldin I thought you were nothing more than a false hope.” Theomin smiled. “Thank you for being the leader we needed, not the leader we could have had.”
“Have some rest, Taidir. I will return soon.” He stood and watched as the potion took its full effect on Taidir. He fell to a peaceful sleep as he breathed in deeply.
“Hurry,” the healer said. “It will take only hours for him to wake.”
Theomin ran to the exit. Without Bragga, he found it much more difficult to run down the hill toward the lake. It was dark and ominous. The trees were silhouetted against the night sky and the land was tough to see. Only the moon shown its light on the surrounding grass. It glowed bluish in the light of the moon, but the bushes and everything else were difficult to make out.
Within a half hour he made it to the base of the hill and made his way across the grass toward the boats. Like a thief in the night he snuck through the grasses and trees until he reached the boat. It was there, like the healer promised. Anchored on the land and waiting to be used. He grabbed the anchor and placed it into the boat when he heard a sound from behind, some kind of rustling in the bushes. He drew his sword and stepped back, waiting for whatever it was to come out. Finally, it pounced out. It was a rabbit. His fright dropped as he turned to shove off the boat when a sudden growl frightened him. He fell against the boat, unintentionally shoving it off into the lake. He got up and clung on to the boat. He lifted himself out of the water and into the boat. He sighed with relief that he was safe. A sudden pain in the back of his leg started to pulse painfully. He looked moved his leg to the side and only saw part of his leg. There was a six inch gash in his leg that was bleeding profusely. “Ahh,” he groaned as the pain pulsed harder. He looked back but saw nothing at the shore but two distinct red eyes peering that were given light from the moon. It gave out a deep throated howl. It was long and menacing and when it was done, it peered back at Theomin, intently watching him as he drifted further in the lake.
He sat back in the boat and felt the pain of the gash in his leg. He tried to place pressure on the wound but it did not help stem the flow and it hurt more with the pressure he placed on it. He sat back in the boat. With every little movement it swayed left and right. He tried to keep it steady but could not. He sat up in the boat and looked down. He could see a pool of his blood staining the white interior bottom of the boat. He grabbed the oars and paddled hard toward the other side of the lake.
It took a very long time just to reach the middle of the lake. Lightheadedness set in the further he went. The pushing with his legs as he rowed absolutely sent shockwaves of pain through his leg. He was sweating and the salts from his sweat were oozing into his wound, making it burn like fire. He needed desperately to reach the other shore. If not for Taidir’s sake, it was now for the sake of his own life. After only a couple of hours the blood had pooled up to a small puddle.
Close to morning, when the sun had barely pushed its rays over the eastern hills, he reached the other side of the lake. Lightheaded and short of breath he was when he finally pushed that last few inches up onto the shore. He inched his way to the other side of the boat, using his arms as leverage as he crawled off the edge and fell into the rocky shore of the western side of the lake. He pushed himself up and took to his knees. He slowly rose up but could only rise up halfway, the toes on his injured leg started to feel numb with the loss of blood. With all his might, he limped northward, hoping that was the direction he was supposed to be going. Some rock outcroppings jutted out from the shore not far from where he was. Theomin tried hard to make it over to them but finally collapsed. The world began to spin. Blackness started to take him when he heard a voice speak softly and slowly “Hmm, what is this?”
Light filtering in through the trees above started to pour into Theomin’s consciousness. It was daylight and Theomin suddenly sat up where he was. He looked around on one side. Nothing but a few trees and a lake was in view. He looked to the other side and saw a huge towering monstrous tree looking down at him. A sudden fright flooded Theomin’s body as he almost screamed and tried to retreat from the monster but was hindered by the horrible ache in his leg. He fell onto his knees and looked back. The tree was still where it was but he saw two others standing there as they looked at Theomin with inquisitive eyes.
“Mae Govannen, Traveler,” one of them said. It was an elf. He suddenly started to finger the injury on his leg. It was completely healed, save a scar that welted up for the length of his gash. “Worry not, stranger. Your wound has healed and your health has improved much since you first arrived here.”
“Where am I?” Theomin asked, amazed he was still alive.
“You are amongst the sacred trees of the Eveaspires. Our friend of nature, Longbough found you among the shores of the lake close to a boat. It looked as though you had a rough journey. We took you in and cared for you the best we could. Few of your kind have passed through here but many have not had the same care we gave you.”
“Who are you? How long have I been here?”
“Rest up and I shall tell you who I am,” the elf said. “I am Lithuifin, caretaker of the wood here on the western shores of Nenuial. It has only been a few hours since we found you but our time here has been many long years, tending to the trees, helping them grow. But there was a dark and malevolent force tainting the trees south of us. Dark things started to grow in the hearts of them, wood-trolls have started to sprout. Luckily, some adventures had come by to remove some of the evils. But they had not been vanquished. Lately, a wizard…”
“I mean not to stop you, kind elf,” Theomin said with all apologies he could muster, “but we have a problem back in the town of Ost Forod.”
“What manner of problem, stranger?” the elf asked kindly.
“One of my own, not of Ost Forod, was terribly injured in an orc attack. The healer of Ost Forod has tried to many remedies aid him but none have worked and his ailments continue to worsen.” Theomin paused, visibly in saddened distress. “Please, any aid you could lend we would double as a favor of your kindness.”
The elf looked at his fellows. One sat on a stool, looking for his decision. Another by a river that fed into the lake. Another stood up on a high wall, watching the entire time. Theomin saw the other elves as clear as day, but he had not seen her before. “I am bound to this glade, kind traveler, and my people too, are bound to it. I would extend our aid in your time of need but our numbers are too few to tend this glade.”
“My offer stands with double,” Theomin said quickly, hoping bartering aid would help. “If we need, I would repay it with triple aid. My men and I would aid you in anything you need done. We are a strong group. A number of orcs we cleared out of the ruins of Parth Aduial. That was when our man was wounded. Not by any blade of an orc, but of an arrow, black as coal, struck him.”
The elf thought for a moment. “Black as coal, you say.” He furrowed his brow as if in deep thought. “And no remedy of man can help him.” He went away, toward the mysterious tree that stood at the other end of the glade, as if pacing and thinking. He turned, “A black arrow means to me it is no make of orcs, but an arrow of evil. Many have now been vanquished or fled south. Some have stayed in the north in the realm of Angmar. The fell creatures known as the Cargul, evil creatures whose only masters are the Nazgul themselves, bound to the spirit of the dark lord Sauron. Your friend is not afflicted by any arrow shaft of mortal beings, but one of pure evil. A weapon of the enemy that is now turning him to the shadow world. A Morgul tipped arrow.” He approached Theomin, serious with fierce resolve, “Your healer is right. This is beyond any skill any mortal man possesses. I have healed such wounds but not for a terribly long count of years.” He smiled and a brightness came upon his face, “But there is another who would be able to aid you in your quest. I would appear that fate is on your side. The one who taught me in the arts of healing black magic. Istonethiel is her name and she has come from afar to aid us in our time of need in the glade before she moves on and leaves us to go west to the gray havens.”