Part 79 – Victims of the Fields
A fog was all about Theomin. He could see not much about him but he knew he was not where he was supposed to be. His thoughts raced about where he was supposed to be. He could not remember. He knew he was not at home; he knew he was nowhere near Rohan but he could not think of where he was nor where he was supposed to be. He felt lost, alone, almost abandoned by all around him.
He was on a mound. A mound among mounds, he was, with caskets made of stone, sitting upon the summet of each. A spire of similar stone adorned another hill as the fog lifted and Theomin could see beyond his one lonely hill. About the hills, odd twisted trees, each with leafless limbs and boughs fashioned the almost bald hills. Wild grasses also were seen here and there, only some of which grew in clumps and did not fully populate the hills.
Faint sounds far away caught his attention as they made him look around. They almost sounded like his name but they were not saying his name. The sounds were distant, almost like echoes in a long cave under miles of earth. With each passing moment, the sounds grew louder from a faint whisper of a sound.
The fog lifted more and the sight of a large gate loomed in the distance. A great arch stood at the top of almost ruined walls, each with a turret, broken and weathered with age. At the peak of the arch sat, incased in a square shaped structure, a single seven sided star. Of significance that was for Theomin but he could not remember why.
It was then, the voices became louder, more close as they seemed less like an echo and more of a shout. Soon, the sounds were followed with clashing and clangs of metal. Very familiar the sounds were to Theomin but for a few moments, he could not remember why. The sounds continued for a while as he started to feel his body. It did not dawn on Theomin that he could not feel anything but he was soon conscious of his body. His hands started to have feeling and his legs. He had been standing for a while as they began to ache.
Soon, the fog lifted and he realized he was standing in the middle of a field. The Fields of Fornost were all about him. The echoes of those yelling were of his friends. “Theomin!” one said. Theomin turned and it was Eleswith. She was standing at the bottom of the mound he was standing. She had on old unwashed long coat, buckled twice in the front and poorly stiched. His memories suddenly came to him that his friend, Eleswith, had been seen like that in his dreams but now it was real. He looked around, taking in the past dream he had and then looked back on Eleswith who was now not wearing the wrap she had on but was now wearing what he last saw her in. The long white coat buckled down the front with chainmale beneath. “Theomin!” she yelled again and his stuper was broken.
He was amidst a scene of devastated land. The mound he was on was the barrows outside the fortress of Fornost and he was out in the field. Not only was he there but his friends were engaged with forces he had never dreamed of seeing before. Misty specters, horrifying, with old broken and tattered armor. No flesh did these specters possess with their sculls clean of flesh, their mandibles missing, their swords cleaved, and their helms broken. They were the dead risen in the Fields of Fornost and a terrible host they were.
All of the world came back to Theomin. The sounds of the clanging of swords; the windswept desolate land of the Fields of Fornost; the dimly lit sky, clouded and menacing. Helesdir shot his arrows at the specters as Magla swiped at them with his club. Though they would fade away, more would come from the barrows. Eleswith too tried to make quick work of each of the specters as did Sergee. But where were Estonethiel and Teryndir? More importantly, though, where was Bragga and the horses?
“We must leave,” Helesdir yelled to everyone. “They are too great a force!”
“Magla!” Eleswith yelled, “Grab Theomin.”
Magla haulted his attacks and ran like a bull toward Theomin. Before the big brutish man could come close, Theomin just yelled out, “I am alright. I am alright! I can make it myself.”
Eleswith, after starting her self running, yelled out, “Let us retreat toward the Greenway!”
“What about the horses?” Theomin yelled out.
“Estonethiel and Teryndir rode them to the Greenway. We must meet them there,” Eleswith said, panting and almost out of breath as Theomin caught up with her.
They ran through the fields as quickly as possible. It started to become tiring as the ghosts that occupied the fields floated effortlessly after them. Every once in a while, Helesdir would stop and shoot one down, but being ghosts, they were not easily defeated and they soon continued the chase after the five. “They are still in persuit,” Helesdir said.
Eleswith took her crossbow. She insurted a bolt and made it ready to fire. Soon, she stopped and fired her bolt at the specter. It fell and she ran again with the rest of the five. “See, Helesdir, I can do that too,” she mocked, perhaps not at the most opportune moment.
“I hate to bother you two,” Sergee started while still running toward the Greenway, “Perhaps this is not the best time to have a conversation with an entire mob of the undead behind us.”
With that, the two shut up and the company ran closer to the Greenway. Not long after, a shoosh went past Theomin. It hit one of the specters as Helesdir and Eleswith also made it to the horses, turned and Helesdir shot his arrow and Eleswith shot her bolt at the specters, each felling their targets with ease.
“We must mount up and leave,” Sergee instructed the others. They all did as they were told and soon bolted from the scene, leaving the specters and the fields behind them. They road for several minutes before they reached the crossroads of the Greenway and the path toward the Kingsfell.
Sergee dismounted and walked angrily toward Theomin. “What where you thinking, wandering off such as you did? You could have been killed or had one of us killed. And who was supposed to be on watch at that time?”
“I was on watch,” Theomin said. “I know not what happened but I only remember coming to while in those fields.”
“I was also on watch,” Estonethiel said. “When last I looked, he was there, watching the western road while I watched east. I looked back on Theomin and he had gone. I know not what took him but it was silent. I can hear the rustling of men when they rise up but Theomin made no sound, no noise of any kind. He was silent as a drifting of a leaf on an autumn morn.”
“Regardless, something put us in danger,” Helesdir said. “I know not why it chose Theomin but I fear it could have chosen any one of us.”
Estonethiel spoke up, “I am not sure of the case for why it chose Theomin, but he has traveled though the fields now a few times. They might have possessed his very being, making him do things he would not, in good conscience, do.” She looked at Theomin, “You said you traveled through here with your father and brothers. You then traveled back through here with another companion and then back again. The spirits of the fields either had some reason to bring him to that place or they had something malevolent planned for him.”
“You know not which?” Eleswith asked.
“I know not. I was not present when you found him. Teryndir and I had to bring the horses to the Greenway. A worthwhile charge, I must say, but had I been there, I might have solved the mystery of the fields.”
“We are not going back, are we?” Theomin asked.
“Of course we are not,” Estonethiel said. “Trecherous that place has now become. I fear we may not know what entity possessed Theomin and I feel we shall not persue it. We must continue to safer places.”
“I agree,” Helesdir said. “This place is,” he stopped as Estonethiel had looked past him. He looked behind him, saw nothing and the looked back at Estonethiel, “What is it?”
“Someone is further south on the Greenway,” she said. “They are hidden, hoping not be found.”
The seven dismounted and searched the area for the person who was stalking them. The area around the crossroads was sparce. Not much grew there but small grasses. Hills occupied the surrounding areas and some ruins sat atop those hills. Distant trees, tall and thin, stood on small hills and down lower behind some of the closer hills. “It is possible,” Theomin said, “someone could be behind one of these hills here.”
Theomin and Eleswith walked slowly toward one of the hills while the others fanned out in different directions as they kept their eyes on the two heading off toward the hill. Theomin removed his sword as did Eleswith. Theomin slowly approached the hill and tried to peer over the summit of it. Nothing was there. He then slowly stepped closer to the summit of the hill and there, sitting scared on the bottom was a little girl, afraid and crying.
She had on her a dress, dirty with stains of mud. Her hair was strung and oily hair was matted. Her face, that looked innocent and scared, was filthy. She had on her feet nice shoes, black and once shiney. Her socks on her feet looked as though they were once white but were now muddied beyond cleaning. She had not with her but the clothes on her, no books, no stuffed animal, nothing.
Theomin sheathed his sword and motioned Eleswith to do the same. He looked back at the frightenend little child, “Little girl,” he said as he extended his hand, “little girl, come here.”
Eleswith looked over the summit of the hill and motioned the rest to stay where they were, not to frighten her away.
The child stayed where she was. She could not move being cold and petrified as she was. Theomin tried to approach her but with her eyes keenly on him she started to back away. She looked like she tried to say something as Theomin approached but could not say anything. “What is your name, little girl?”
Eleswith pushed down Theomin’s arms and motioned for him to stay. She then looked at the girl, frightened and with a dirty face she looked as though she had been away from her family for a very long time. “Don’t worry. No harm will come to you.” She knelt down and in a very kind voice, more kind than Theomin had ever heard, she said, “My name is Eleswith and my friend over here is Theomin. What is your name, little one?”
The look of suspicion the girl had in her eyes started to fade as soon as Eleswith started to talk with her, “Nora,” the frightened girl said.
“Nora,” Eleswith said, “That is a pretty name.” She looked around. “And where are you from, Nora?” The little girl just looked at Eleswith. She looked as though she did not know where she was from. Eleswith came closer to the little girl, Nora. She started to back away but stayed. “Do you have a mother? A father?” She sat next to the little frightened girl and continued, “A house?” All the little girl did was nod in achnowledgement, her wide eyes becoming more accepting of Eleswith’s presence. “My home,” Eleswith said, “is far away from here. Over the mountains and past the dark forests of Mirkwood. My home is in Dale.” She looked at the little girl, “Ever heard of Dale?” The little girl slowly shook her head. “It is a beautiful place, filled with wonderful people. Men, dwarves, elves. The lonely mountain of Erebor stands tall and proud next to it. It is a beautiful place.” The little girl, through her doubting face, so serious, scared, and sad, began to smile. Heart warming smile gave light to her face that seemed like a long time coming. “Can you tell me, Nora. How did you end up here? Where did you come from?” The little girl pointed north. She knew exactly where she had been, but not where she came from. Eleswith looked north and asked, “You came from that dark place?” The little girl nodded.
Eleswith approached the other six who had been talking together as Theomin was telling of the little girl on the other side of the hill. Eleswith looked back at the hill at the little girl who had just popped her head over the rise. “Come on, Nora. Meet my friends.” Nora came slowly over the hill toward the group of seven. “Meet my friends. You met Theomin. This is Estonethiel, she’s an elf. This is Sergee, Teryndir, Magla, and Helesdir. They are all my friends and will see you home.” Eleswith looked at the group. “She knows not where she came from but she knows well where she’s been. I know not the reason, but she has been in that aweful place just north of here. I feel she was taken there by the same forces that took Theomin last night.”
“What can we do about that?” Teryndir said. “We are on our way to Esteldin.”
“We cannot just abandon her here. We need to find the proper place where she belongs,” Eleswith said.
“She is right,” Theomin said. “I am wondering if her home is that town just south of here. I cannot think of a place that would make more sense than that one.”
“Then we shall try that one,” Sergee said.
“Despite what you might think, Teryndir,” Helesdir said, “This may not be our task, but it is a far more noble task than our own. If you wish to continue on to Esteldin, go on. We are not stopping you.”
With that, Theomin, Estonethiel, Sergee, Helesdir, Magla, and Eleswith along with Nora, continued south. Teryndir looked east toward the Kingsfell and grunted in disappointment. He then pushed his horse to continue south along with his party.
Through the rest of the morning, the seven continued on south on the Greenway. The path was clear and green; a bright turn from their dreary march the day before and the morning after. Within an hour they were able to see the long bridge that separated the northern part of the North Downs with the town of Trestlebridge. The sight reminded Theomin of his ride up from Trestlebridge with his old elf friend Feredir. Long ago that the town was abandoned but it looked like the townspeople of Trestlebridge reoccupied their town again. Guards were posted on the left and right of the bridge spanning the entirety of the gorge there.
As they approached, one of the guards haulted the coming company. “What is your business here in Trestlebridge?”
Theomin spoke first, “We are hoping to find the home of this little girl we found up on the crossroads.”
“The missing girl,” the guard said with awe in his voice. “Please come. This girl was feared dead. We had orcs…”
The guard was cut off by Estonethiel, “A band of orcs approach. Their pace is quick. They approach from the east.”
Estonethiel, Eleswith, and Helesdir dismounted and readied their weapons. Estonethiel fired first. Noone know if she hit her mark but a whole host of orcs spilled in from the north. Eleswith shot her bolt and Helesdir fired his arrow, both hit their marks. Magla and Sergee soon dismounted and tore through the orcs as if they were only training dummies. No harm came to them; no sweat came to the travelers as they just as quickly mounted their horses.
The guard, flabbergasted at the sight, said to the travelers, “Come, please come. You will find welcome here.” As the Warriors of Eriador started to cross the Trestlespan, the guard gave a quick request, “You may not happen to want to live here, do you?” As they traveled further he shouted, “Because if you do, we can use the aid!”
The group of seven passed the Trestlespan and entered into a sad and depressing town. So much death was wraught on the place, so much loss, so much burned to the ground. What was left for the people of Trestlebridge to come back to except a smouldering dead town.
As they continued along, the little girl started sobbing while she was walking. The little stream of tears formed clean lines down her little cheeks as she sniffled once, twice, three times before Eleswith noticed. “What is the matter, little one?” she asked with concern. The little girl said nothing but Eleswith could see in her eyes the girl could recognize her town, what was left of it. All the little girl could do was nod her little head as she could not say any words.
One after the other, they all dismounted from their horses as a crowd of villagers gathered around the seven who had just come from the Trestlespan. They were inquizative as they had not seen such a company come through such as they were. Soon, an older woman approached the crowd from one of the houses. She was just as inquizative as the others, but did not show it on her stoic face. “What is the meaning of all of this?” she asked. It did not take long before she saw the little girl in the caring hands of Eleswith. Her eyes soon widened as her chest beat with excitement. “Call for Abbey!” she yelled as she turned to the south of town. The lady bowed before the little girl and then looked up at Eleswith. “How is this possible?”
Eleswith reluctantly spoke for the whole company, “We found her on the Greenway road, just south of the crossroads to the Kingsfell. She was alone and scared when we found her.”
A lady broke through the croud of people, not caring who she shoved out of the way to get to her daughter. “Nora!” she yelled both in shock and half a cry. Tears poured down her cheek, much like her daughter did. “Nora!” she yelled again as she embraced her daughter as her daughter did the same only saying, “Mama!” The lady took her up in her arms. Her tight squeeze for her daughter told only of her love for her.
The lady who called out for Abbey said to Eleswith, “It would seem those fields took another.”