Part 80 – A Town of Ruin
The Warriors of Eriador gathered in the main room of Nellie Boskin’s house. It was a meek house, absence of anything that would distinguish it from any other. Wooden floors and a small rug occupied the floor and a dining table sat next to a pantry of sorts. Her bedroom was to the left; small with a small bed inside. Perhaps to the rest of the villagers of Trestlebridge it was quite large, but very modest it seemed, with a piece of the wall gone next to the kitchen. It seemed the crack in the wall was attempted to remain hidden by a small wooden bench that sat just next to it. If it was to remain hidden, a terrible job it was to concele it.
Nellie Boskin’s, on the other hand, was coveted by the men and women of Trestlebridge. Her wisdom in times of need brought aid to the town of Trestlebridge from the rangers of Esteldin when the Tarkrip orcs invaded and also lead them out of the town when they the town was going to be laid siege by a large horde of orcs only a few months back. Her knowledge of matters concerning all of the North Downs was why the company of seven visited her.
“We assumed them lost to the orc hoard that envaded Trestlebridge,” Nellie Boskins said as she served the company cups of tea. They all sat in the common area with chairs pulled out from the dining table. Only Magla and Estonethiel stood, Magla by the door and Estonethiel just outside of Nellie Boskin’s room. “Nora spent many days with her father in the lumber camp just to the north. The only child they had, Nora, was Clive’s pride as her upbringing was not much like the upbringing of a girl of Trestlebridge. She spent her days with her father and exploring. My concern for her was when we learned she would go too far north while exploring. ‘Dark things are up in the fields’ we would say to her. She paid mind to us for a while but then continued to delve deeper into the fields. The night the town was laid siege, she and her father were still out in the darkness of the lands past the bridge. Cut off they were from the town. With no rangers to aid us, we were forced to flee through the west gate. I fear that Nora brought her father to the fields for safety. She knew not what evils still stur there.”
“Her father was with her?” Theomin asked. “It was only her we found.”
“Yes it was,” Nellie agreed. “I fear we know not what became of Clive. With Nora still mute from her experiences up in the north, I fear we may not know for a long while what had happened to him.”
“How do you know Nora and her father fled to the fields?” Eleswith asked.
“Colbert the Mad, an odd fellow, has a camp not far from the North Greenway Road. His camp boarders on the southern end of the fields. Not one day past our return to the town, we met up with the Colbert fellow nearby the lumber camp. He explained to the few of us there that Nora was seen fleeing with her father in tow up north to the fields. He told me that it was peculiar how frightnend they seemed; as if being chased down by a wild bear or some such nonsense, which of course there are none here near Trestlebridge. The only bears that inhabit this side of the North Downs are in the north. They were heading toward wild bear country, not from it. But that was more than a month ago and little Nora has not been seen until this afternoon.”
“I wish she could say more but horrors must have been too much for her to take and the mute state whish she is in is a result of the horrors. We know not where she went. Who she was taken by, and why she eventually released, but we are certainly glad she is back.”
“Can we see the little girl again?” asked Eleswith.
“You may, but her wounds go deep. Not the wounds of flesh, you see, but of the mind. Emmedietly upon her return, we took her to our healer. She is resting there for now. I do not think all should go. Only a few should see her so as not to crowd her,” Nellie Boskins said.
They all stood up, placed their cups of tea on the table and all left the Boskins home and headed toward the healer when a guard called. “More orcs are coming. Please, we need aid!” a girl yelled out to the warriors.
Theomin and Eleswith looked at Sergee as he looked back. Sergee then said to the others, “Okay, Magla and Helesdir come with me. Teryndir, you will need to be guarded. Estonethiel, can you do that?”
“I can fight,” Teryndir yelled back.
“They are ocs, Teryndir,” Helesdir said. “You have maintained your love for them.” Teryndir stayed quiet.
Teryndir had nothing to say to that as Sergee finished, “Estonethiel, watch after Teryndir,” and with that, Sergee, Helesdir and Magla ran off to aid the guards at the north gate while Estonethiel stayed back to watch Teryndir, as he grunted and grumbled and crossed his arms in anger.
As the three warriors along with the female guard approached the bridge they could already hear the clanging of swords and the screams from the men on the other side of the Trestlespan. Horrible cries they were and the growels that came from the other side were just as horrid as the screams. As they started to cross the bridge, the guard slowed her running as if fear suddenly poured through her.
“What are you doing?” asked Helesdir. “You aren’t leaving this battle, are you? This is for your town. Your home.”
“I…I…” the guard could not shed a word from her mouth. She had fear but did not want to express it to the men she was in the company with. “I have a son. I care not to leave him without a mother. I have never seen so many orcs before.”
“Worry not,” Sergee said as he placed a hand on her shoulder, “We will protect you. We have slayed many orcs in our day and we can hold our own. Come with us and you will find your courage.” As they ran off Helesdir asked her one last question, “Wait, what is your name?”
“Aggy,” she said, “Aggy Digweed.”
They continued on and upon approaching the other end of the bridge, there they saw the full extent of the orc horde. It was a mass of orcs, not very organized but nonetheless dangerous. Aggy just looked at the whole mass of orcs and paused as her heart dropped. Her gaze into the whole lot of orcs just sent horror through her whole body.
Helesdir was focused on what to do as he asked, “Where did they all come from?”
“They came from Nan Wathren, just to the east here, up in the hills. They have been attacking for days with small forces at a time but this,” Aggy shook her head in disbelief, “this is unbearable.”
“We’ll continue,” Helesdir said. “Magla, Sergee, head into the fray. My arrows shall protect you,” he looked at Aggy. “Have you archers?”
“I do,” Aggy said with a shakey voice.
“Pull them back to me. They will cover the line of guards. None shall pass into the bridge as long as we hold it,” Helesdir ordered.
Magla and Sergee rushed into the lot of orcs while Aggy blew her horn twice, signaling the archers to pull back. Soon, they did while Magla and Sergee aided their retreat and Helesdir downed any orcs attempting to slash at his friends. The other archers, as they saw Helesdir firing his arrows, joined him and aided his friends who were in the mix of orcs as Aggy drew up her courage and joined in. With a howl and a scream, she punched into orcs, and with all her might she slew many along with Magla and Sergee. The guards of Trestlebridge soon made quick work of the line of orcs as the archers too slayed many, with Helesdir yelling when to send vollies into the back crowd of the onslaught of orcs.
Nellie led Eleswith and Theomin to the town’s healer, close to the stables, near the southern gate of the town. Even from that distance, they heard the cries of battle further to the north, making the villagers nervous as Eleswith came to them, offering them comfort. “Worry not,” she said, “Our friends are aiding the guards. They are quite experience.”
“What faith do you have in the experience of your friends?” an older woman asked. She looked cold and defeated, as if time and despair weighed heavily on her bones.
“We call oursevlves ‘The Warriors of Eriador,” Eleswith said with pride flying high from her voice. “We killed many orcs in the Lone Lands. We retook the great city of Annuminus.” She looked at the old woman with confidence as she walked proudly toward her. “I have faith in our people.”
The old woman’s eyes cleared, as if faith had finally been restored in her heart. “Thank you, child. If you believe so, then you have imparted that faith to me.”
Eleswith gave a slight bow with her head as she continued along with Theomin. He said, impressed at his friend and in a low tone, “I could not have said that better myself.”
Nellie brought the two to the healer. Teryndir and Estonethiel were standing not far from the healer and the little girl’s mother. It looed as if Estonethiel was half listening and half on guard of Teryndir. Teryndir stood there with a scowel as Theomin and Eleswith passed by to the healer.
With some nerves, the healer stood outside, constantly staring north to make sure there were no orcs coming as he stood outside and spoke with Anne, the mother of Nora. “She will continue to stay mute for quite a while, I’m afraid. If she had such a tramatic experience, it may be months before she can regain her speech and even then it may be only one word here and there.”
“What ever can I do?” Anne asked, half teared. “I must know if she is okay.” She lowered her head in sadness, “and where my husband is.”
“We may not learn of that for a good long while.” He looked at Nora. A distance was in her eyes. She looked at the close wall but far away, as if seeing through the walls of the buildings of the town. “She may refuse to eat; feed her anyway. She may be lethargic; keep up her strength. Sing to her. Talk to her. Do not show anger or frustration in her, even though your heart may truly feel it. Only show your love.”
“We are waisting time there,” Teryndir said spitefully. “Every moment we waist here brings this lost city of elves further away.”
“Quiet,” Eleswith said angrily to Teryndir. “This is no way to respect a mother’s grief.”
“You quiet, girl from Dale,” Teryndir mocked her. “We would be in Esteldin by this time. Instead we are caught up in this town’s drama. This is a waste of our resources and out time. I’d need to…okay, okay,” Teryndir finally had a change in voice as Estonethiel held a dagger to his throat.
“Quite done yet?” the lady-elf asked.
The battle for the bridge was going very well. Magla, Aggy, and Sergee were making very quick work of the orcs while the arrows of the archers flew, all hitting their marks and felling their targets. That was until they saw a large approaching black mass. It had to be more than ten feet tall and in its large hands was a giant club. Around its neck was the hide of a bear or something similar to it with sharp teeth or claws protruding from the fur. Its bald head, large hands and feet told them only one sure thing.
“Stone-troll!” Helesdir yelled out. “Call your men back!” Helesdir yelled to Aggy. Soon a horn blew once, signaling the retreat of all the guards.
The troll stamped and hammered anywhere, even among the orc forces as it trudged along on a rampage toward the bridge. Orcs flew left and right, littering the floor of the valley as Helesdir yelled out to the archers, “Aim at the Troll!”
Soon a barrage of arrows flew toward the troll; many of the arrows met their mark but only angered the troll even more. As the guards ran back toward the bridge, Magla and Sergee ran toward the troll, deep into the mix of orcs. “Protect them!” Helesdir yelled and almost immediately a number of arrows of the guards flew into the fray of orcs and met their marks. The two warriors ran toward the troll without needing to meet their weapons with any of the orcs. Aggy stood, waiting with her arrows ready to fly again. She had gained her courage and then some. She could not wait to get back into the battle.
They finally reached the troll as Helesdir ordered the guards to again, engage the orcs while Magla and Sergee faught the troll. A horn blasted and the guards again ran into the mix of orcs, slicing them and cutting them down swiftly.
As the troll began his swing for Sergee, the club bearing warrior swung at the rear of the troll’s leg, knocking the troll down to it’s knee. Helesdir then shot, with a very precise shot, into the troll’s eye, blinding it. The club of the troll dropped to the ground with a loud thud, smashing a nearby orc as the troll screamed in pain. Magla then mightally smashed his club into the side of the other knee. The troll fell as Sergee almost immediatly plunged his elven sword, Magol, into the head of the troll as Magla slammed his club into the hilt of the sword, sending it deeper into the thick skull of the troll, effectively killing it.
Sergee then pulled the sword from the head of the troll and joined in on finishing off the rest of the orcs and soon, the men of Trestlebridge and the Warriors of Eriador were victorious upon the field of battle.
With satisfaction, Helesdir looked the field. Orcs lay there while only one guard fell in the battle. At last, he and called for Aggy, “Guard,” He yelled out, “you may call back your men.” A beat passed but no horn was sounded. “Aggy, call them back.” He waited another few beats but were left with only silence. “Aggy?”
“I have not seen such pain in a childs eyes before,” Nellie said to Theomin and Eleswith. “Tis as if she is an empty shell where a little girl used to be. I remember that little girl as such a playful one. Always running up the mainway and down. Alive with such energy she was. In the afternoon, she and her father would return and before dinner she would run so hard and so fast that even the boys of this town couldn’t keep up with her.” She looked sadly at the little girl, “Now, she has no life in her.”
The healer and Anne looked over at Nellie, Theomin and Eleswith. “Thank you again for saving my baby,” Anne said. “My heart was broken everyday without my little girl in my arms.” Anne looked at her child as her distant stair persisted without even a blink. “The healer said it may be a while before she can talk. I wish I knew where my husband was. Only Nora knows that now.”
“Is there anything we can do to help your little girl?” Theomin asked.
Anne looked at Nora, “There’s nothing that can be done now but wait, I’m afraid.”
“Finding her was the best aid you could give,” Nellie said. “You and your company have done more than enough for us. Giving our guards aid, finding Nora for us. It is us who should repay you…” Nellie paused, “I’m sorry, I know not your names.”
“I am Theomin and this is my friend, Eleswith.”
Nora soon turned away from everything. The move caught everyone by surprise as her mother came over to her with concern, “Nora,” she said with deep concern in her voice, “What is it honey?” The little girl only gritted her teeth as a tear rolled down her cheek. “Nora!” her mother yelled again.
From up the road the group of men came, Sergee and Helesdir came with Aggy in Magla’s arms. Such a ruckuss it sturred that the whole scene soon erupted in chaos. The healer suddenly ran and gave orders to Sergee and Helsdir as they rushed to grab alcohol, swabs, wraps, anything. Magla placed Aggy onto a bed as Helesdir placed a soft pillow under her head. Though Eleswith knew not who Aggy was, she kneeled next to the girl and grabbed her hand. Theomin knew not what to do as he watched the disarray that suddenly came from all around them. He wondered how it would affect the little girl.
He walked around, watching her mother yelling out to Nora and all the little girl was doing was sitting in the bed, her eyes wide open filling up with tears as they rolled down her cheeks. Through it all, the little girl’s face was calm and her breathing was slow and steady. It was if as she sat there, she was in a trance.