Part 87 – A Traveler From Bree
Through the afternoon the four remaining members of the Warriors of Eriador sat in silence. Exhaustion took them as the toll the past two days took on them was horrendous. So they sat at the threshold of the valley of the worms, silent, pondering the last two days. Thinking on how it could have gone different. They felt the weight of the loss of their friends. Helesdir, with his singing bow and good friend to all of them. Eleswith, the one with the strong will and even stronger heart. She had many deamons that she worked through, but Theomin was glad to have known her for the time that he did.
“Are we ready?” Theomin asked the remaining company. Silently, they rose up and trekked the path toward Esteldin. Their path stretched past the towering rocks of Eastern Nan Amlug that seamed like it searved as a warning to all who traveled past them. Towering teeth jutting out from the ground, signaling dragon claws were near at hand. They soon trekked toward the rise in the hill that would eventually track downward toward the compound of Esteldin.
Magla carried Sergee, who was still passed out from the pain of the burn he suffered from Naglangon’s flames. Theomin led Estonethiel, who had been blinded by the steaming drool of the drake. She kept a hand on Theomin’s shoulder while traveling through the valley. Theomin himself was in pain. The blow to his chest from the drake’s strike sent sharp pains, as if the bones of his chest were broken and scattered.
All were silent on the trek back as each had the horrible memory of the drake in their minds. Theomin could not help but think what he could have done differently when talking with the drake. More than that, he wondered how they could have avoided losing Eleswith because of Teryndir’s betrayel. It was the betrayal that caused all events afterwards to go awry. He steamed at the thought of Teryndir. The thoughts exhausted Theomin. The brief respite outside the valley seemed not to help his condition. Though he felt the exhaustion, he could not give up for he needed to aid his friend as far as he could.
Magla stayed silent as well. His eyes were ablaze with anger and his breathing was struggling. He was not breathing heavy because of the weight of Sergee, it was because he was grieving on the inside. But, like usual, he kept a stoic look. He only found it difficult to hold it in.
Estonethiel also stayed silent. Though her silence was that of a peaceful calm. It was as if she was almost mystified. She moved her head around as if she was looking at everything around, but she had been blinded. She was hearing everything much clearer for the first time. She could sense things without site more potently. A whole new world had been opened up for her and the look on her face as she moved her head around told of that new world.
As they entered the threashold of the hidden valley, through his exhaustion Theomin had to ask, “Do you have pain, Estonethiel?”
“I have pain, yes, but I can see more than I had ever imagined I could,” the elf said in wonderment.
“What do you mean?” asked Theomin.
“I hear sounds I never imagined. I can see the wind, feel the rocks and the grass on my feet. I can feel the distance between me and the trees, the rocks, and I can hear the distant sounds of man and beast all from afar. In essence, I can see the world.”
“How can you with such an injury. That drake injured you gerviously. No man could sustain such an injury and be fine after.” Magla asked.
“You forget, I am no man,” she said proudly.
The three finally descended into the refuge of Esteldin. At first glance, the rangers of the compound saw the four coming down into the compound and ran to aid them. As the three reached the bottom a ranger grabbed the unconscious Sergee as Magla finally collapsed and another ranger took Estonethiel by the hand, asking her many questions.
Theomin watched all of this as time seemed to slow as he watched the many rangers trying to help. He walked a few yards in the compound and suddenly became lightheaded. He soon collapsed on the grass and passed out.
Hours later he awoke in a tent in the central courtyard. His chest was bandaged as was his head. He sat up when a woman came to his side, “Lie down, Enedion. You have taken a mighty blow to the head and you have a fractured rib. You will require time to heal.” She passed him a cup with some strange liquid in it. “This will aid you in your recovery. You were injured quite badly.”
“Who are you?” Theomin asked as he lied back down and took a sip of the strange drink. He looked inside the cup as it truly was a strange taste.
“I am Nestadam. You might not have met me because you had no need to. I am the healer of Esteldin,” the woman said. “You were quite banged up from the valley. But put up a fight you did and the whole compound is very much thankful for what you did.”
Theomin felt imbarassed. He did not know how to take the complement so he changed the subject, “How are my friends?”
“Your friends are resting,” Nestadam said. “They too were injured pretty terribly. Neleghil, or I guess you call him Sergee, is burned through his body. He needs the most care. His face and hair are all burned. It is a terrible fate he had to suffer but he still lives.”
“And how does the elf fair?”
“Her injury is not as terrible as Sergee’s, but I am unsure how elves recover. They have a healing power unlike anything of men. Though the healing power of elves is beyond anything I could imagine, I am also doubtful she will regain her sight. But as bad as her injury was, she seems to be in good spirits. Her lack of sight has infolded a whole new world for her. It has taken many who lost their sight months to gain a sense of their world through sound and smell. It seems she has gained that in just one day.”
“Our venture into the valley was much worse than I could possibly imagined,” Theomin sadly said. “We gained so little for such a high price. We lost Eleswith and Helesdir as he searched for her, were betrayed by Teryndir, Sergee and Estonethiel were gravely injured and Magla,” he sighed and shook his head, “I saw Magla for the first time absoutly terrified.”
“Then you must use what knowledge you gained to the best of your ability,” Nestadam said. “Make it all count for something.”
“I would,” Theomin said, “but I would not know where to begin. My friends are all injured one way or another. There is no hope for us to even find what we are looking for. We are scattered, devistated. There is no hope.” His head started to feel heavy. He felt the effects of drousyness come down on him as he spoke. “It would maybe be best if I just returned home.”
“There is always hope,” Nestadam said. “It always seems darkest when you’re in the pit of dispare. Sleep on it and the light may seem clearer.”
“I care not to sleep,” Theomin said. “I need to see my friends.”
“I knew you would say that,” the woman said. “That is why I placed something in your drink to aid you to sleep.” Theomin sat up quickly as she placed a hand on his chest to soothe him, “Now, now. Keep calm. I did not do it out of spite. Magla knew you would not heed my counsil and he suggested I drug you with an aid to sleep.”
His last thought was of Teryndir but he had trouble articulating that he wanted to ask about him, “And Teryndir is out in again…have…please tell him…”
Nestadam shooshed him as his head fell down to the pillow on the floor of the tent. She rubbed his head as he tried desperately to talk but no words could be formed. He finally closed his eyes and had no more recollection of that night.
He woke but not in Esteldin. He was in the Lone Lands. He looked around at the surrounding lands. He saw Helesdir in the distance fighting orcs as was Eleswith. Theomin then saw the large dark shade of a dragon on the ground. He tried to yell to his friends but he could not say anything. He tried yelling again but nothing came out. He ran toward them but the closer he got the further away they were. The dragon flew toward the great hill of Weathertop. It landed at the base of the hill behind the hill.
“The serpent,” he said as he saw the dragon land. He looked for his friends but could not see them. He ran over to the base of Weathertop to search for the dragon but could not find it there. Instead he walked to a large piece of the base of the hill. It seemed different than other parts of Weathertop. He looked closer at it but heard something behind him. He turned to see Teryndir just as he thrust a dagger up into Theomin’s belly.
Theomin woke with a sudden jerk. It was morning in Esteldin. The horrible dream shook Theomin so violently that it took him a while before he remembered his friends were either gone or injured. He stood from his sleeping mat on the ground and felt the sudden pain in his chest and then the horrible pain in his head. The sleep did him good though, much like that healer said. He took a couple of steps and stumbled slightly. He was groggy and felt heavier as if the weight of all the sky above him weighed down on him. A few steps took him to Ferrif, the task master of the compound.
“I see you are well rested, Theomin,” he said.
“Thank you,” Theomin said. “Have you seen Magla?”
Ferrif sighed and cocked his head to the side, “So distraught was he that so many of his friends were gone that he set out to find Teryndir. So terrible what he did. It pains me that I ever called him friend.”
“We should not have brought him with us,” Theomin said regretfully. “So much grief he has caused us and then he did this. Injured were two good members of our group. I know not what happened to Helesdir but I am all too sure he has parished in that valley. Eleswith,” he paused as he held back a momentary sob, “Eleswith was the closest person I had to a friend here. It is difficult to hold on to hope that she and even Helesdir are anything but dead now.”
Ferrif shook his head in disgust at his former friend. “A few of the rangers saw Teryndir leave but only one saw him leave with a man all in black,” Ferrif told Theomin. “Magla spoke to a few of the rangers who saw him leave from the western gate, but I do not believe Magla spoke to the one whom saw him with that companion.”
“Where is Estonethiel?” Theomin asked.
“She is trying to tend to Sergee. A fistey one she is, not wanting aid, trying to cure him of his wounds. She has gone out to Nan Amlug East and coming back with weeds and herbs. I thought she couldn’t see.”
For only a second, Theomin gave a slight chuckle. “She cannot. A parculiar one she is. Being blinded would have ended me. She seems renewed by this turn of events.”
“That she is,” Ferrif said.
“Who is the one who saw Teryndir leave with that man in black?” Theomin then asked.
“Holger Tanner is his name. He’s lost his pouch a while back and some passerby found it for him. He’s origionally from Bree and wants to return but found the outside of the compound a little too unpleasant to leave. So he stays here until all is okay, if it ever will be. He usually in the forecourt asking passerbys if it is safe to go out. Their usual answer is ‘No,’ before they run off and do other things. He is no ranger so he will not look like one of us. He wears a commoner’s outfit with steel blue arms and pants.”
“Bree, aye?” Theomin said. Pain from that town still echoed through his body just hearing the name of that village. He just hoped the man from Bree did not know of Theomin. “Thank you,” Theomin said with a tinge of reluctance. “I will talk with this Holger and get the whole story. I am sorry my friend went off in such a hurry.”
“As am I. If you find Teryndir, explain to him my disappointment in him. I refuse to call myself a brother with such a coward and a liar.”
The tone which Ferrif spoke was full of anger. It was the sort of feeling that was coursing through Theomin’s veins, though he wanted to be more like Magla and not show it. Ferrif gave Theomin a nod as he turned toward the crafters courtyard and Theomin made his way to the Forecourt of Esteldin to look for Holger.
Sure enough, a man was sitting by the enterence of the compound, seemingly waiting for someone. He most certainly did not belong in the ranger compound. Not an ounce of bravery he had with almost a look of fear and anxiety. His cloth looked poor as it was just a simple shirt with dirty trousers with muddy shoes. His hair was scruffy and his goatee unkempt, accompanied by an unshaven face of wiskers.
“Are you Holger?” Theomin asked the man.
“Who’s askin?” he asked with a bit of an attitude, clearly not the tone Theomin had expected from such a man with much anxiety.
“I am Theomin. The ranger Ferrif said you saw Teryndir leave with some man in black. Is this true?”
“Aye,” he said. “It is true. I saw the man in black look around a few times. I asked him if it was safe out there in the Kingsfell. Not a word he said. I only took him as rude. He could be in a terrible mood, of course, because he came from out there,” he pointed with his thumb, “and out there is a horrible place. The North Downs is full of all manners of creature who want to kill you. Wargs, spiders, bears, lynxes, orcs, trolls, those dumn aurochs, BIRDS,” he said, “Yes birds!” he said again as if to make an exclamation. “Those birds swoop down and peck at your head, scratch your skin, peck out your eyeballs. It’s a terrible business. And if that’s not enough, what else could kill you is the icky stuff out in that bog to the south. Bog lurkers, stining sickle-flies, toads, marsh snakes. Yes, snakes. They latch themselves onto you and suck your blood, they literally suck out your blood. And then what else do they do but to put their spawn inside of you and within a day they hatch. They literally hatch from your skin. And then what else? If that wasn’t such a horrible thing? You die from it. You literally bleed out from such a disgusting wound. And if that doesn’t get you, you want to know what else could kill you? Poison, disease, fear, yes you can actually die from fear. Oh, and wanna hear some more? Just recently fire too. Yes, fire from that drake just north of here. Someone just got a flame to the face. Oh yeah and drool. Because if fire wasn’t bad enough we now have to worry about drool. Drool! Drool from that dang drake that apparently spits it everywhere now.”
“Well you do not have to worry about that drake anymore,” Theomin said.
“Oh, and you’re an expert about this huh? Well let me tell you something. That valley up north is crawling with worms, drakes, and I have even heard of a dragon up there. You wanna know what happens to people who travel there? Burning drool, burned alive, squashing to death, tail lash to the face, and if you are just lucky enough, maybe you’ll be eaten alive.”
“That will not happen,” Theomin tried to say.
“Such an expert you are. And why would that not happen?” the man mocked.
“Because I killed the drake,” Theomin said with the hopes to quiet the crazy man down.
“Oh,” the man said with mocking releif. “What a relief. I can go on and build a home there. Well you keep living in Make-Believe Land where a man can go around killing dragons but I’ll live here in the real world where dragons can eat a man.”
“Okay,” Theomin said, amused but frustrated at the same time. “How about you tell me about Teryndir and the man in black.”
“Oh, we were speaking of that earlier weren’t we?” Theomin nodded. “Yesterday afternoon I saw him leave. This odd man dressed all in black, who didn’t answer my question by the by, searched him out. He then took Teryndir and left with him through this gate.”
“Did you see which way they were headed?” asked Theomin.
“I saw them on their horses heading south. What do you want to know all this for?”
Theomin just said, “Thank you,” as he went to retrieved Bragga.
“Wait, where are you going?” the man asked. “There’s all manner of creatures out there.”
“I have faced worse. I am going to hunt down Teryndir and this man in black,” Theomin exclaimed just before he kicked Bragga to leave, “It pains me to say this, but with all that has happened, I may need to kill him