Part 74 – Secrets of the Scepter
The morning was clear. Far and wide the sun shown on the blue reflection of the sky on lake of Evendim as the birds continued to chirp their melodic symphonies high up in their perched nests on the tower of Ost Elendil. It was a clear day, clouds dotted the skies above the land of Evendim and high above the waters, on the cliff standing on the southern shore of the lake was Theomin.
He sat there on the edge of the cliff with his newly reacquired saddle bag he took the night before. He had not yet opened it as he looked out at the expanse of the lake, not believing that he was back. His journey only took him to Esteldin and then right back in the length of only two days. His thought of Teryndir still haunted him. He never felt the vengeance for anyone, not even Gerald of Bree. So he sat at the edge of the cliff, trying to free his heart of such hate he had for his brother.
He remembered the night before, when he ordered Eleswith to kill his brother. He remembered how Sergee, Helesdir, and Magla showed up just in time. How lost he felt when Sergee ordered Eleswith to stand down.
“Eleswith,” Sergee said to Eleswith with a commanding voice, “Stand down. You have no business murdering this man.”
“Kill him!” Theomin yelled at Eleswith. “Do it!”
With ease and calm, Sergee came to Eleswith and stood next to her. He placed his hand on hers as she held her sword, shaking but ready to run Teryndir through. “You will not do it,” he said as he lowered her hand. “You will not murder. That is not who you are,” he said. “Let it go,” he half whispered to Eleswith. She dropped her sword and turned to Sergee and sobbed horribly into his arms.
The clang of the sword as it hit the ground startled Theomin back to the present as he sat at the edge of the cliff. It was a sore reminder of the shame he felt in wanting such terrible vengeance upon his brother. He shook his head in disgust of himself. He remembered the vow he took while still in Rohan not to kill others. He failed in doing that when he helped retake Annuminus. He did not want to fall back on his promise again.
He felt proud when they took Teryndir to the prison in the city. He was not going to be allowed to return after he plotted to kill Theomin. His treasonous behavior was far beyond anything Theomin did when he asked for aid from Ost Forod. It was a welcome turn of events and poetic justice that Teryndir was brought to justice for his own crimes. He had to wonder aloud though, “If it was not Teryndir who commanded the orcs to Evendim, then who did?”
The thought plagued him but he could not know the answer. He turned to his saddle bag and opened it. It had been a while since he had seen it and just assumed it was lost. As he opened it, the familiar smell of Rohan wafted into Theomin’s nostrils. He closed his eyes as the smell took him back to the last day he saw his family back in the Wold. The pine smell of the nearby tree. The feel of the warm wind blowing through his hair. The sound of the nearby Anduin flowing south. The countless days he and his sister lied down on the grass as they just watched the windmill spin in the gentle breeze. He pictured his mother’s face as she smiled with tears rolling down her cheeks. It was tough to picture her any other way than the last way he saw her. Sad to see her son leaving.
“Theomin,” a voice came from behind.
Theomin snapped out of his memory and back to the cliff of Tyl Annun. He did not need to turn to see who it was as he recognized the voice as Helesdir. “Yes, Helesdir?”
“What are you doing up here?” Helesdir asked.
“Only searching through my old saddle bag,” Theomin said while patting it. He looked around and continued, “besides, this place feels peaceful. I need a little peace after last night.”
“Aye, I agree. I know Eleswith needs some time too. She is not pleased with what happened last night either.”
“I know,” Theomin said sadly. “It was not my place to order her to kill Teryndir. I just hope she can forgive me for that.”
“She will,” Helesdir said, “In time she will.”
Theomin pulled out his old lore book he brought from Rohan. “I remember studying this book since I was a small boy in Langold.” He looked at Helesdir and explained, “Langhold was the local village nearby our little farm. The night it was attacked, my mother told me I was not her son but was adopted. That night set in motion this whole odyssey for me. Now this city is retaken. I secured food and good people are taking charge of this place. Now I only feel the pull to go back home.”
“I understand, Theomin,” Helesdir said as he sat next to Theomin. “When I first met you in the Lone Lands you had this fire to find your family. You have not that fire anymore. Now, in your eyes, I only see longing. Perhaps it is time for you but Magla and I came to see you three. You, Sergee, and Teryndir. You know we came from the Lone Lands for that single purpose. The elf who was traveling to deliver these items gave his life so at least I owe it to that elf to deliver the message. What do you make of what we brought?” Helesdir asked.
The thought brought Theomin back to the night before after Teryndir was taken by two wardens to the brig. He remembered seeing Eleswith tearing up and leaving while Sergee, Magla, and Helesdir remained.
Helesdir looked at Theomin with concern, “Are you okay?”
Visibly shaken and still upset, Theomin replied, “I shall be fine.” He shook his head as he tried to remove the vengeance from his mind. He looked at Helesdir and ask, “And what brings you back to Annuminus?” as he wanted to remove the thought of his brother from his head.
“Magla,” Helesdir called over to his companion. “The note please.” Magla pulled out a long ornate stick that held elven writing and runes on it along with a note that read, “Sons of Athegdir.” He gave the note to Theomin, “Sergee already read this. You should read it too.”
Theomin took the letter and read it.
“Sons of Athegdir,” it read on the outside. He opened the parchment and it continued:”
“I have recently heard the news of Athegdir’s passing. Tragic news this was. He was a strong man and an equally strong leader. Middle Earth is a lesser place because of this loss. Before your time and the time of your fathers, the land of Eriador was formally the kingdom of Arnor. When Earundur, the tenth king of Arnor, died that marked the end of Arnor as one whole kingdom. Instead the kingdom was split into three, Arthadain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur. All were to meet at a single point, Aman Sul, what you know as Weathertop. When Athegdir, your father, was still alive, he pondered whether the same would happen with the three brothers, separating the city and the lands surrounding into three. His hope was that all three marshals would unite, one not holding any position higher than the other. Though it is that hope of your father’s, that may not be the case. It has come to my attention, in ancient runes I found on the Scepter of Annuminus, that it is a type of key to a doorway that leads to an ancient weapon forged from the ancient elven kingdom of Gondolin. This weapon is the sign that tells whomever wields it is the Marshal of the citadel, the leader of the three. Hidden inside the scepter is the map to such a weapon. To reach such a map, all three brothers must be present with the scepter. Then, and only then, can the map be attained. But be weary. Such weapons can be either used for good purpose, or for cruel intentions. Beware.” There it ended.
Theomin’s thoughts were brought back to the present as Helesdir was waiting for a response. He asked again, “So, what do you think?” Helesdir asked.
“I am not sure. Where is the key?” Theomin answered.
“We are unsure. It does not open and none of us have the skill to read the ancient runes,” said Helesdir.
“If I remember the letter correctly, it said it will be opened when all three brothers are present.” Theomin looked at Helesdir with disappointment. “Does this mean we must approach Teryndir with this?”
Helesdir looked at Magla and then at Theomin, “If that is what it meant, then I fear that is so,” he said in a low tone. “But you will not do so alone. Magla and I will be there with you and Sergee.”
“I would appreciate if Eleswith was there too,” Theomin said.
“I fear she is still too shaken from last night. Would you not be too?” Helesdir prompted.
“I still am,” he admitted. He looked down with confusion on how to fight the struggle inside of him. Brushing it off, he told Helesdir, “Find Sergee. We will meet in the dungeons,” Theomin said.
An hour passed. Theomin was waiting outside the door that lead to the dungeons when Sergee, Helesdir, and Magla finally made it. They all three had an air of reluctance as they approached Theomin at the door to the dungeons.
“I hear Eleswith and your friends were imprisoned here a little while back,” Helesdir said. “Sergee told me of such an event. What was their crime?”
“They were aiding and abetting an enemy of the state,” Theomin said.
“I that true?” Helesdir said as he looked at Magla, Sergee and then back at Theomin. “Who was this enemy?”
Theomin gave a slight chuckle inside as he said before opening the door to the dungeons, “Me.”
They walked into the dungeons and approached the door Teryndir was in. Sergee placed the key into the keyhole and slide it. The metal clanging of the door echoed in the stone halls of the dungeon as all three walked into the cell where Teryndir was being held. As they entered, there he sat, in the corner of the cell, silent and just staring up at the four as they walked up to him.
“What is it?” Teryndir asked, anger pouring through his words. “Here to execute me? You can’t throw me further into prison so that must be it. And over what? Accusations from a dying woman? Or is it because of my feelings toward orcs? Or are you here to find out who my friend is. You treat me like this and there will be no telling.”
“Shut your mouth,” Theomin said as he grabbed the hilt of his sword.
Teryndir stood up but before anything could happen, Sergee interrupted, “Okay, you two. Theomin, you have anger for Teryndir and I understand that. I would too if he tried to do to me what he did to you. Teryndir, I know not why you hold such anger toward Theomin but it is misplaced.” He held Theomin’s hand down as it grasped the hilt of his sword, keeping him from removing it. “We are here because there is something that needs uncovering, nothing more. A key, of sorts, needs to be found and we cannot do it without your aid.”
Theomin brought Sergee over privately, “Are you sure this is wise. Revealing what this is really about?”
“We need his aid in opening the scepter. If it requires his further aid, what we other options have we?” Sergee insisted.
“I am only asking that we hold back what we need his aid for, that is all,” Theomin whispered to Sergee as Helesdir and Magla joined in the conversation. “We had only just locked him away for his crime one night past. It would not be wise to tell him there is some weapon out there that is a means to his end.”
“I agree with Theomin,” Helesdir said. “He is not to be trusted. Not yet. I know not what other actions he has taken, but what I observed last night, I must agree with Theomin.”
Sergee looked at Helesdir for a beat then at Theomin. “Alright, I shall but understand this, he will come to learn the truth, whether we tell him now or not.”
“Conspiring against me?” Teryndir mocked the four engaged in their secret conversation.
Sergee looked at Teryndir and continued what he was saying before. “We need your aid in order to open this scepter to locate a map.”
“A map to what?” Teryndir asked.
“That is only our concern,” answered Sergee.
“If you require my aid you will tell me what this map holds,” insisted Teryndir.
“It is where a lost city of elves lives,” Theomin lied. “Master Elrond of Rivendell would like us to find it but we cannot do so without your aid.
“I will not aid you in finding elves. They disgust me,” Teryndir shook his head in revulsion.
“This set of elves have weapon making skills. Skills we are in desperate need of,” Helesdir continued the lie.
Teryndir looked intrigued at the offer, “And what if I aid you in finding this lost city? What have I to gain from that?”
“We shall not kill you,” Theomin angrily said but Sergee pushed him aside.
“You will receive a full pardon. Any grievances you had with our company here will be forgiven,” Sergee said as Theomin looked shockingly at Sergee.
He pulled Sergee to the side again, “You cannot be serious. That was not a part of our deal. You should have talked to me first.”
“I need complete calm. There are four of us and one of him. If he was to try anything he would find himself locked in this dungeon once again,” Sergee assured Theomin. Angrily, Theomin let him continue as Sergee turned to Teryndir, “As I was discussing with Theomin, or Enedion if you would like to call him that, any move or problem you give to us will be met with swift justice by any one of us three. I will not go back on my promise nor will Theomin, Helesdir, or Magla. We only need your approval.”
Teryndir looked at the four men for a few moments. His eyes told of a constant stream of thinking going through his head, as if he was weighing his options. His head shook and nodded, he had a look of concern then a look of resolve before he finally spoke up, “Tis a deal,” he finally said. “Now, what is it you need me to do?”
“Well,” Sergee looked confused, “I’m not sure. It was said we all three need to be present to reveal the map. I was hoping Theomin could help us with it.”
“Me?” Theomin asked with sudden surprise. “Why would you possibly think I could solve this riddle?”
“Well,” Sergee started, “I believe you are the master of lore, are you not?”
“I could not tell you the first thing about finding this map,” Theomin said.
“He’s right,” Teryndir announced, “I could not agree with him more.”
Enraged at his brother’s lack of confidence in him, Theomin grabbed the scepter from Sergee’s hand, “Give me that,” he said with frustration of Teryndir. He looked at it up and down. He looked all around it and even at the runes placed strategically around the scepter. “I wonder what these runes are saying,” Theomin said aloud. “It is as if they are telling us something, but what?” He looked at Helesdir, “Helesdir, bring me my lore book. I believe I have seen these runes before.”
Helesdir ran out of the cell. Within minutes, he was back with the lore book. Theomin flipped through the pages of the thick book until he came upon a few pages of ancient runes. He flipped slowly through the pages, hoping to find a clue to the words. He looked back and forth at the scepter then the book but nothing was helping until he came to two words that matched. “The one at the top is green…” he said slowly, then a minute later, “…then red and then…”
“…then blue,” Sergee said, interrupting Theomin.
“How did you know?” Theomin asked, astounded Sergee would know.
He pulled out his Amar Calad, “Because I have the blue one.”
Theomin pulled out his as did Teryndir. “These must be the key,” Theomin said. “Each of you, grab the end that corresponds to your color,” he said. Each one grabbed on to the scepter that held the color of their Amar Calad. Moments later, they felt the scepter as it warmed up. It heated up to the point it was too hot and they all three dropped it. It clanged on the floor and opened half way, revealing a small slip of rolled up parchment hidden inside. Theomin reached down and lightly tapped the scepter, “It is ice cold,” he said with amazement. He removed the parchment from it and open it to reveal an unmarked map of Eriador at the top, an elven script in the middle, and a multi-headed and multi-tailed serpent.
“What is it?” Teryndir asked as the others looked on in amazement.
Theomin looked at Sergee, “Can you read this?”
Sergee took the scrolled up map and said, “It reads as so,” he said as he paused many times throughout the riddle,
“In the ancient earth
A great serpent is found
Many heads, and many tails
In the ground.
One tail of seeing eye
opens from outside
leading to the gaping mouth
that is open wide.
With the three
It will open
With the last from this found
Once word has been spoken.
The tooth of the serpent
There will be found
The head of the three
There will be crowned.”
“There it ends,” Sergee said as he flipped the parchment around to look for more.
“That all means what, exactly?” Teryndir asked.
“I do not know,” answered Sergee.
They then all looked at Theomin for an answer. “Do not look at me. I have not a clue.”
“What did it mean by ‘The head of the three will be crowned?’” asked Teryndir. “It sounds a lot like there will be something that crowns one of us,” he said suspiciously.
“We know not what it means,” Sergee tried to reassure Teryndir. “We know not what this serpent is either. Is it dangerous? Is it poisonous? Will we need to fight some ancient creature from the First Age? A foul servant of Morgoth, perhaps.”
“Or a horde of serpents,” Helesdir said. “I feel weary about this whole map. It sounds too dangerous for us.”
“It sounds as though all three of us must first go to this place to open the door to find the serpent,” Sergee said.
“I am not liking this quest already,” said Theomin with reluctance. “If I must travel with him,” he said motioning to Teryndir, “you can count me out.”
“Again, Theomin,” Helesdir said, “we will all be with you. No harm will come to you if you have the three of us with you.”
“The five of us,” a voice came from the doorway. Eleswith came from the door and approached them. “If you are all going on this quest, you can count me in as well.” She nodded a friendly nod to Theomin and smiled at Helesdir.
“Okay, but we still know not where this doorway is,” Sergee said. “This serpent, it has to do with the serpent.” He looked at Helesdir, “Was there that wizard in the Lone Lands? The one who spoke to the trees and communed with nature?”
“Yes,” Helesdir said, “Radagast the…” he paused, “oh, what color was he again?”
All the others said at the same time, “The Brown.”
“Right, the Brown,” Helesdir agreed, “but we know not where he went.”
“Right,” Theomin said. He remembered back in the Lone Lands and the parchment he wrote of the riddle of his whereabouts, “the only clue to his whereabouts is…” he trailed off with a sudden realization.
“What is it?” Sergee asked, “Why are you acting strangely?”
Theomin ran out of Teryndir’s cell and out the dungeons toward his saddle bag. The rest of the five followed as he ran toward the cliff where the saddle bag was left. He searched through it until he came to the parchment he used to write down the clues to the wayward wizard’s whereabouts. He looked up at the lake as he read:
“Upon the daylight if flows blue
Upon twilight it burns red
It is fed by the ices of the north
And under the great man in the south.”
He pointed to the blue sky and its reflection in the lake. “The lake reflects the sky above. It is fed by the rivers from Forochel and then under,” he pointed to the colossus to the east of them, “and under the great man in the south.” His mouth dropped as he came to that realization, “It was in front of me this whole time and I did not even know it.” He looked at his friends, “He is here.”