Part 71 – South
Grumbles and terrible sounds rang out through the darkness. Orcs were coming from all directions while Theomin tried desperately to fight them off as he ran. He ran past orc blades swiping and swinging at him, tried to block them away while he sliced through the orcs while running fast past walls of them. He was desperate and scared. At last, he had no place to run to. It was as if he was trapped when he shook awake.
He was in the safe confines of his room in Annuminus. Around him wardens were lying the floor on mats strewn all about the room in no particular order. Amathwyn was close by on her own bunk. He had been dreaming but had not an idea of why he continued to dream such horrible dreams of orcs. He rose up and sat at the edge of his cot. He wiped the sleep out of his eyes, rose up and continued outside.
As he stepped outside, he first noticed the crisp chill in the air. Crickets were chirping nearby and the sound of the northern wind was blowing past the tall towers of the city. Though it was cool, he soon pushed the chill out of his mind as he walked down the streets of the city, looking at all the sights of the city from the buildings to the crumbled remains of ruined walls here and there. He soon found Herion sitting on a ruined wall smoking a pipe and just looking out at nothing in particular. Theomin joined him and the two talked a while about the past few days.
“How have the past few days fared for you, Herion?” Theomin asked.
“It is quite nice to lay in my own cot and not in a prison.” Herion replied.
“Have no doubt that I can relate to you,” said Theomin with complete understanding.
“But you cannot, can you.” Herion said. “Your unspeakable time in that prison cannot be compared to. I have been to Bree. I have seen its beauty and it festivities. It is quite possibly one of the brightest places of wonder here in all of Eriador. What you witnessed in Bree was not the wonder of it. You witnessed a corrupted underbelly of the city that has no bond to what it truly is. My brethren have always spoke highly of Bree. Not condemning it or giving it any suspicion of despair. T’was a place of joy, of music, of light and all who spoke otherwise was daft. Yes, it had its faults but it also it had its joy a merriment, more than sorrow to bear. To speak otherwise was absurd.”
Theomin thought for a while until he thought of Eleswith. “Could it be that I was too harsh to Eleswith? I miss her dearly but she did unspeakable acts. Saeredan said it was no fault of hers and I agree with him, but she agreed to kill. She agreed, when the time came, to murder people. The lives of good people were ended because of her. No one deserves such a fate.”
“I believe Saeredan was right. If she did kill it was not out of the love of killing. That monster took her in and, in turn, changed her. He gave her an ill job that she had to do.” Herion paused for only a few beats, “I believe she deserves a second chance. She cares very much for you. She cares for all of us. She changed, Theomin. I hope you can see that.”
The two sat in silence for a while longer as the sun came up. They faced east as it rose up through the hills when Theomin finally spoke up, “Yesterday, Searedan told me where I could find my saddle bag. I have, in my mind, to go retrieve it today.”
“Where is this saddle bag of yours?” Herion asked.
“He said he left it in Esteldin.” Theomin answered. “That is the secretive place in the North Downs, is it not?”
“It is. But why leave now? Your brother has broken down and I fear will not be capable of leading his men. You also sent Eleswith away. We may need you in the coming days and by the time you return I fear the city may not be well.”
“I did not come to this decision lightly. It took some time to finally convince myself that it was the right decision. In fact,” he paused, “it may be difficult to hear this, especially after what you fear.” He paused again but for a longer time. “I feel I may continue on south.”
“South?” Herion said with much surprise. “What is south?”
“Home.” Theomin quickly answered. “South is where my home is. My task here is done. You need me no more. I have provided food and have fought for this place. I have done more for this place than I ever desired.”
“You cannot leave. Your brother has gone mad. We need you to help secure this place so we can finally bring the people of Eriador here.” Herion looked down, as if grasping for something he could not hold on to. “Besides, you are one of the three marshals of this place. Does that mean nothing to you?”
“I know what it means but that title is not but a title. It can be passed to someone else if need be. If that jewel I possess should be passed to that person, then so be it. In the meantime, perhaps I can give it to my other brother for safe keeping. Sergee is a good man, a much better man than I. He is strong in might and heart. I trust him more than any here.”
Herion looked down sadly. “I already miss you. You have felt like my brother since all the way in Esteldin.”
“Where are you going?” a female voice came from behind. They turned to see Amathwyn standing there, surprised.
“Theomin is leaving. He is heading to Esteldin and then home to Rohan.” Herion said.
“No,” Amathwyn said with as much surprise as grief. “You cannot go. You can’t leave me here alone.”
Theomin stood and came to Amathwyn. He embraced her as he told her, “My time has come. I am not needed here. My life is in Rohan. My future is in Rohan. Not in Eriador.” He looked into her eyes, “You must understand that.”
She looked at him with a strange new resolve, “If you must go, then I shall go with you.”
“No, Amathwyn. Your home is here,” Theomin quickly said back to her.
“My home was never with the wardens or the rangers. It was for a time with Athegdir as he took me in as one of his own but I was never truly part of the family. I am not even of the lineage of the Dunedain. I was just a lost little girl of Bree when Athegdir took pity upon me and took me in. I was lost amongst the folk of Beggars Alley in Bree. Not a coin to my name. So poor I had not a name. Athegdir gave me the name “Alley” after the place he found me but soon changed it as they taught me in the ways of the shield and sword. He said Amath is elven for ‘Shield.’ You see, without Athegdir, the next closest person I have is you. No one else.”
Theomin looked at Herion and then at Amathwyn. He gave a slight nod and told her, “I will then take you back with me to Rohan but I will be leaving this day so you must prepare for the journey. Gather your things. As soon as I have my things ready and I give the Amar Calad to Sergee, we shall leave.”
Amathwyn parted, running up the way while Theomin stayed with Herion. “I suppose you will not take me,” Herion jested.
Theomin gave a much needed and a slight chuckle and placed his hand on Herion’s shoulder. “I shall miss you and I agree. You have felt like a brother too.” He looked up at the sky already turning blue. “Time to give my jewel to Sergee.”
“Good luck with him. I feel he will not be ready for you to part and hence not give you his blessing,” Herion said.
“I suspect the same. Please have Bragga ready for my departing,” Theomin said. “That is my final order.”
“I shall,” Herion said.
Theomin parted from Herion and climbed the way up to the old rallying point of Echad Garthadir. There, Sergee was busy working at the table on ways to improve the streets of the city since he and his men were busy with the cleanup and rebuilding of the city. He looked intently at the drawings he had as he just crumpled it up and threw it on the floor in frustration. “That shall not work either,” he said aloud.
“What is it?” Theomin asked.
“It’s the streets. I cannot find the proper rock to place on the roads. The rock used to build the roads are all but spent. That would mean I need to remove all the stone and build them anew but that would take far too long and would waste far too much of the resources and man power.” He looked at Theomin and gave a half smile, “But that is no concern of yours. How can I help you, brother?”
Theomin sighed as he did not want to tell his brother. He paused for a bit while his brother gave a look of concern. “I will be leaving.”
“To where, brother?” Sergee said with no inkling of what Theomin was talking about.
“To home. I feel it is my time to part Eriador.”
Sergee gave a slight sigh but his look did not betray any emotions, “I knew this day would come. I knew not it would be so soon but I knew you would have the need to return to your home.” He gave a slight look of sadness but understanding, “Tis a sad for the city. Today, we are losing a good man and a strong leader.”
“I would not say I am strong,” Theomin chuckled.
“But you are. Every event, everything that happened that benefited the city has been because of you. You aided in freeing your friends. You brought back trade with Ost Forod. You even fought to reclaim the city. You did far more than you needed to do, brother.” He patted Theomin’s arm, “I am proud to call you my brother.”
“Thank you,” Theomin said, tears started to well up in his eyes. “Oh, I need to give you my Amar Calad. It should stay here.”
“Keep it, Theomin,” Sergee said holding out his palm to deny it. “It is not mine to hold. The Amar Calad is many things, but not a trinket to be given. The owner does not choose who to give it to. The jewel itself chooses its owner. Perhaps as an heirloom it may be passed, but even that may be treacherous. Tis a powerful jewel, Theomin. Treat it respectfully.”
Theomin nodded. “I shall.” He embraced Sergee as he told him, “Thank you for all you have done. I shall not soon forget you.”
“Nor will I, Theomin of the Wold. Perhaps, some day when the city is finally working, I can travel to Rohan and meet again the man who is my brother.”
“I cannot think of a better person to come. Thank you,” Theomin said, again, tears started to well up. “Goodbye Sergee.”
Theomin left and headed down to the stables where his horse was being fed and saddled. Amathwyn had not yet come yet but Herion was there. Also there, and much to Theomin’s surprise, was Eleswith. He looked at her and then at Herion, “Why is she here?” Theomin asked with disappointment in his voice.
“Here me out,” Eleswith said. “Herion says you are leaving with Amathwyn.”
“That is true. What of it?” Theomin said, half listening as he gathered his belongings.
“Please, do not part with her. Please. I feel fell things may happen,” Eleswith said with concern.
“Fell things like what? Will I be beaten again? Will she lie to me the same as did you?” Theomin gave a sneer as he mounted Bragga. “Do not try to act concerned for me. I know now who you are. You would not concern yourself with things unless they benefit you. Now this will benefit you. In my absence, you may return to this city. Be a mercenary if that is what you are good at.”
Herion looked at Eleswith, saddened to hear Theomin saying such words to her. “Theomin,” he said, “you need not be so harsh. It sounds as though she has concern for you.”
“Save it,” Eleswith said. “He is too deaf in his anger to hear you.” She looked at Theomin angrily and said, “Yes, your anger has made you deaf. So much so that in your deafness you have lost all wisdom. And so because of that, I shall not aid you.” She looked him dead in the eyes as she told him, “You deserve what is coming to you.”
“Theomin,” Herion continued, “This is not who you are. Do not do this to Eleswith.”
Amathwyn soon came baring a cloak, ready for riding. “Are we prepared?”
“Aye,” Theomin said. “We are prepared. Let us take our leave.” He gave a sneer toward Eleswith. Eleswith returned the same sneer as Theomin and Amathwyn departed Annuminus.