Part 76 –Mesmerizing Musings
“Come hither, son of Athegdir,” the old man in the glade beckoned Theomin. He was very old, wrinkles told of an ancient being in front of Theomin. His beard stretched down to this belt, covered by a brown cap with markings on it and straps that dangled down to the mid of his chest. Brown with a chest cloth of purple where his robes with a leather satchel that ran was strapped across his chest and hung to his side. His brows extended past his cap and the eyes under those brows told of ages upon ages of time. “Let me look on you once again.”
Theomin approached the old man at the edge of the glade, wearily keeping his wits about him. He was not sure what the old man was capable of, if anything. “Are you Radagast the Brown?” Theomin called out as he approached.
“I am, son on of Athegdir, Enedion the Well-Traveled,” the man said. Theomin was not sure if it was a title or only a jest of his. “I hear you have trekked many leagues; more than many others will do in a lifetime. And for what? To find a family you did not know.”
“How do you know who I am?” Theomin asked, surprised the old man knew so much about him.
“I have good friends who have tracked your whereabouts. Birds above, four legged friends below. I am he who is friends with trees. I know the birds and love the bees. I smell the air, and love the ground. I am called, Radagast the Brown. Many misadventures you to have had it not been for my friends.”
“What adventures are you speaking of?” Theomin asked, intrigued.
“Aw, but you should know those adventures. I spoke with a friendly little lynx, which you met on your way to the northern lands, here where the green hill give way to the Even-Rills..”
“Aches?” Theomin asked. “You knew Aches?”
“Such a good name that,” he said with a smile. “He missed you so dearly. A good elf-friend took him up and gave him a new home. Good are the elves who care for the likes of animals and trees,” the old man said. “Oaks, pines, birch trees all. We both care for them when they fall. And fall they do in the forest. But if no one is there, do they make noise? But yes they do. Scream and cry do they, sad are their sorrowful falls. Have you heard of the sad cry of the fallen tree?”
“Cannot say I ever have,” Theomin answered, forgetting why he was there.
“But of course you haven’t. My heart cries for them. I feel them when they fall. Beneath my feet I feel the earth echo their voices. They cry out their moaning cry and I come to them, saddened by the fall of good friends all.” He looked at Theomin with a more serious look. “But that is not why you have come.”
With a sudden awareness, Theomin realized he was standing there, gazing in the old man’s eyes, losing track of time as he heard the mesmerizing musings of the old one before of him. “True,” he said, forgetting himself, “I have come about a riddle I cannot solve.”
“Oh, riddles,” he said with glee, “I have given a riddle here and there. I gave a riddle far over there, and that is how you ended up here.”
“Yes, in Ost Guruth you left a riddle,” Theomin said. “It was that riddle that helped me find you here.”
“A new riddle maker I need then. Friend of nature I am. Not fond of men though. Too sudden. Too snippy. I prefer the soft gentle voices of the wind; the tickly voices of the squirrels; the low soothing mumble of the trees; the babble of the little rivers. All are friends to me and in kind I am theirs.”
“Why then leave a message where you are?” Theomin questioned, again forgetting why he was there. There was a slight delight Theomin had in the reveries of the old wizard. So much so that it was comforting to hear him speak.
“Even wizards are in need sometimes. Some are more in need than others. Some are lost in their own realms. Not a realm of place, mind you, but a realm of thought. They are too caught up in the scheming of mortals that they miss the subtle nuances of our world. They look not at what is around them but the battles they must win, sometimes in their own minds. I say stop, eat a mushroom or two. Sit and listen to the voices of the wind and the laughter of the rain drops. Appreciate what you have, not what you want to have.” The wizard looked down, in slight disappointment, “Some would say I have failed my task; that I have forsaken the ones who brought me here to stay away from the fights far away and to commune with nature. I would say to them, ‘Pish posh.’ Have I not warded away all corruption from this land? Have I not held all manner of bird and beast from the temptation of the dark lord? Yes, even beast have decisions of their own to make. A great many crabain were lost to the head of my order. Yes, a great many. Born and bred in Dunland they were, then twisted to do as Saruman’s bidding by the Dunland puppets. I have very little sway when it comes to the bidding of Saruman, the White. Very little sway. He used to walk in the woods, communed with the ents, and even in his day hugged a tree or two. But now only uses them as fuel for his fires of industry. He turned his back on all that was good and pure on this earth.”
“I met some of those Dunlandings as I traveled north from Rohan. Good people they were. They aided me from the edge of death.”
“Not all are bad. Certainly those Dunlandings who followed in the foot stepts of Saruman have met their fate, for good or ill. A little birdy told me the fortress of Helm’s Deep is where the men of Rohan made their stand. My little birdy friend told me that many men met their deaths. Rohirrim, Dunlanding, orcs, Uruk-hai,” he paused a long pause as he looked down in sadness, “even a few friendly horses met their deaths within the confines of battle. All manner of lives lost to the ambitions of a wizard who wanted more than anything to take a power greater than any in this Middle Earth.” He looked at Theomin dead in the eyes as if he could see through him, “And that is what brings you here. You want something. Something that is great and powerful. And therefore you want to know something from me.”
Theomin did not want to admit why they were there. He felt embarrassment that the purpose for him to come was to help them with the riddle. “Yes, I have come for that,” he finally said, half embarrassed. “There is a riddle my friends and I cannot decipher. A great serpent in the ground here in Eriador.”
“Great serpent you say?” Without moving his head, he looked around as if lost in thought, confused as to what Theomin was talking about. A few moments later he came back, “I know of no serpents of which you speak. I know of the birds and know all manner of forest creature. I know of the detritus that inhabit the ground below and the fishes that swim in the waters of this land. Never in my journeys have I heard of a serpent in the ground. But there are so many places they can hide. The ground is a vast realm that even the dwarves have not even begun to explore.” Theomin looked down in disappointment. Radagast saw his turn of character and continued, “I do have someone, or rather something, you can speak to. But you will not like the thought of it.”
“Who is it,” Theomin asked with sudden need, “I must know.”
“I am telling you, you will not like it,” Radagast warned Theomin.
“But I must know who it is,” Theomin asked one last time.
The old wizard sighed and finally spoke up, “He calls himself Naglangon, and he is a dragon.”
“A dragon?” Theomin repeated with surprise intermingled with fear but also a hint of wonder. “A dragon will know of such a serpent?”
“A dragon knows all manner of lizards from amphibians to wyrms. He knows all because he has lived for many a year. He has seen much and done much, mostly at the price of lives. He has no allegiances to man or orc, powerful or weak.”
“How can I go about asking him for aid? A dragon is a terrible beast, capable of singing the flesh off the bones of any man.”
“Did I not say you would not like the answer? Before they part with their knowledge, they can be swayed to talk. Whether by tricks or just the threat of a sword, they will talk. That is just what happened sixty years ago. The dragon Smaug, a terrible fire-dragon, struck a conversation with a hobbit, the smallest of creatures, just to fill his odd curiosities. If such a terrible foe can strike a conversation with one of the meekest of creatures, perhaps a dragon such as Naglangon can give you the knowledge you need.”
Theomin looked down with confusion. He felt the sudden pounding of fear settling in on him as he thought of what it will take to reach such a dreadful beast. “Is there any other way I can come to the knowledge I seek?”
“I am afraid not.” He looked at Theomin with compassion and a smile, “but you are not just the normal man who asks for such knowledge. I see that you need to do this. Only then can you return to the only family you have ever known. You know this and have known this since you and your people won the city. In you is the friendship of all manner of beasts and I feel a certain kinship with you. In your heart, you are a lore-master, a friend of all manner of beasts. No harm have you given to the creatures of nature. I know of a certain buck who wandered across your path in the great kingdom of Rohan. Any other man would kill it for food or cloth, but you,” he started to smile, “you used his knowledge of safety to guide you around danger. Do not doubt that all manner of beast know you and are fond of you. They look out for your safety and love you as their own.”
By that time, Eleswith, Helesdir, and Estonethiel came into the glade to find Theomin as he was taking longer than they thought. Theomin looked at them and then toward the old wizard. But the wizard was not there. He had gone away as if vanished into the air. A sudden sadness filled Theomin’s heart, wanting to know so much more but felt cheated from that. But there was also something else. A feeling of comfort that the wizard gave him. Radagast brought out the truth of what Theomin was feeling but could not come to realize. He did not want to find this weapon for any purposes of domination. He wanted to do so as a last task that needed to be done. Only then could he return home.
“Did you find the answer you sought?” Estonethiel asked.
“I did,” Theomin answered. “We must find Naglangon.”
“Naglongon?” Eleswith asked, “What is a Naglangon?”
“Naglangon,” Estonethiel said with a sudden surprise, “the dragon.”
“Dragon?” Helesdir almost shouted.
“Yes, a dragon.” She looked at Theomin, “I fear now for this quest, man of Rohan. If you go, you go into Angmar, into the land where shadows lie, where the weak parish and the strong have dark hearts.”
“Then it is over,” Helesdir said. “There is no going to Angmar to talk with a dragon. And if one was to do so, they have not lived to tell the tale.”
“One has,” Eleswith said. “A hobbit did just that and then more. A hobbit. Such a small creature did so and lived. If he could do such a thing, why can we not?” She looked at Theomin and then at Estonethiel, “Such tales have been sung around my land for sixty years, since before I was born. If such a creature as a hobbit can talk to a dragon, then by the sons of Durin so can we.”
“You know what you are asking, Eleswith,” Helesdir said. “You are asking us to travel to the black lands of Angmar to talk to a dragon. What faith do you have that we will return from such a journey?”
“I have none,” she said. “If we have you, Magla, and Sergee, I know we can,” she said with steadfast confidence.
“I agree,” Theomin said, suddenly finding his courage. “We must. For the sake of Annuminus we must. This is not the first time we have traveled into darkness and lived. We can do it again.”
“So amazing,” Estonethiel said, “the faith and resolve of men.” The elf looked at Theomin and Eleswith, “If you would allow it, I would like to accompany you on your journey.”
Theomin, Estonethiel, and Eleswith looked at Helesdir, the only one who still cast doubt on the expedition. He looked at his friends and at the elf who were all patiently waiting for an answer. He gave a sigh and then half a smile. “I cannot,” he paused for a beat then continued, “I cannot see how I can miss such an adventure.”