Part 88 – The Man in Black
A single boot remained of Amathwyn just outside the layer of the spiders. It was her cheery brown leather boot stitched down the front with a single brass buckle near the top with the straps of the buckle covered by the over folded down top portion of the boot. It lied down there, footless, dirty, abandoned. The sad reminder that it once had an owner but had since lost its owner and sat there all that time.
The morning sun was warm on Theomin’s face as he stood amongst the slight hills and trees at the place Amathwyn’s ambush of Theomin went so awry weeks ago. It looked not like she was buried where she finally passed. It was as if her body was dragged from her final place of rest by the nearby spiders. Marks in the dirt told of such a fate. Leaves were dragged or pushed out of the way along a narrow path into the spider layer. Sadly, such an ending gave Theomin sorrow in his heart for it was not her wish to end Theomin’s life. It was the wish of Teryndir’s.
Teryndir, the same man who tried to imprison his friends. The same man who threatened Theomin so many times. The same man who wanted to imprison Theomin for treason, even though his selfless actions saved the city of Annuminus. The same man who, just one day earlier, left his company to die. Such actions of evil disearved to be the one caught in the webs of the spiders, not Amathwyn. But still, it was her body ravaged by those spiders, not Teryndir’s. Such is the way of the world.
Theomin left the single boot of Amathwyn’s behind and traveled west to Bragga. She was just at the clearing of the trees among the hills. There, she was safe from any spiders and had a handy supply of grass upon which to graze. He mounted his steed and headed toward the lonely path that headed north to Othrikar and south to Meluinen; connecting the two small villages of the elves and the dwarves. He stopped and looked about at his surroundings. He was not sure which way to head as Teryndir could have traveled anywhere in the North Downs. He had hoped to see some tracks of Teryndir’s at the sight where Amathwyn last layed. He did not. So it was only a guess where he was to go.
He looked south toward the watery swamp of Meluinen. Teryndir could not have traveled there. He hated any hint of elves. He thought they were too righteous, always thinking themselves as pious beings. Such repugnant ways made Teryndir sick. His thoughtful gaze then turned north toward the hills nearby that old dwarven town of Othrikar. As much as Teryndir hated the elves, he equily hated the dwarves. Taking from the hills and carving tunnels into them, not leaving any stone unused. Such disgusting creatures Teryndir thought they were that Middle Earth would be much better without them. He cared not for the spleandid wonderments of the dwarven towns. He just thought them disgusting. All other races in Middle Earth were beneath men in Teryndir twisted opinion. He hated all including some men not of Breeland, people of Dale and Rohan as examples of his hate. Thoughts spawned by the orcs, no doubt. All outsiders were shunned by Teryndir and Gerald.
His thoughts then turned to Gerald. Just the thought of Gerald made Theomin start to tear up with fear. This land was the last land where he set eyes upon that mad man. So terrible was he that he hijacked his own guards to hunt down Theomin. He made Theomin the patsy for killing his own brother. So aweful was that time in prison and the beatings he endured. But so far he has come sinse then. He had become a much greater man than he had ever imagined. Such self realization forced him to abandon those thoughts of Gerald and concentrate on the task at hand.
Theomin quickly looked about at the hill to the east of the road. The rise, where hoar-mantle grazed on the grasses of the hill, was not very steep but rose up quite hight with a long peak where an old stoney circular ruin stood. There was something off with the ruin, though. A figure, all in black, stood watching Theomin. At once, without a single thought, Theomin pushed Bragga up toward the ruin. The figure turned and ran away toward the other side of the hill and out of site.
Quickly, Bragga summited the hill but not before Theomin could see that the black figure had his own horse. It was large, much like Theomin’s. The coat of the horse was covered in a dark violet coat with buckles of black and such running along the sides. His horse was fast too. Not long after Theomin saw him, the man in black was already across the Gatson farm fields.
Theomin kicked Bragga to chase after the man in black atop his steed. He pushed her hard across the fields as the man turned north. He continued across north, crossing over farmland, past the farm houses and past the road toward the distant hills of the north. The man’s horse was amazingly fast. He pushed it into the hills and disappeared in behind a small rise.
With as much speed as he could push Bragga, he headed her into the same hills the man in black rode his horse. Just at the verge of the hills, Theomin saw the man’s horse. Riderless it was but the man could not be far. He dismounted from Bragga and ran into the thick hilly stretch of the north. He ran toward where he thought he would have hidden and looked around trees, boulders and small hills. There was not a trace of the man.
Theomin stood still and closed his eyes. He tried to hear a sound of him in the surroundings. No sound he could hear but the gentle sound of the wind and the birds singing in the morning sun. He listened carefully as he stood motionless until, crack. The sound came from behind him. He turned quickly and there was the man just behind a tree, staring at Theomin. He turned and gave chase.
Up the hill the man ran, fast and purposeful. His stride was long and his stamina was great. It was as if the man did not tire at all. Theomin, on the other hand, felt exhausted. His chest ached with pain as his wounds had not yet healed. He tried with all desperation to keep up with the man in black but it was too tough and the man was increasing his lead on Theomin. He panted and panted in pain as he slowed down. Far ahead was the man in black, too fast and too far. Theomin coughed with the pain in his chest and sweat dripping from his nose as he bent over with the serious pain in his chest. He found that he was even weezing. He stood up and looked around. No sooner than he looked around that a great bear charged at him. All Theomin could do was stand there as he was frozen in shock that the bear was already upon him.
Instead of an attack from the bear, though, an arrow pierced the head of the bear. It flopped down just at Theomin’s feet. The shock and disbelief flooded through his body as he could not fathom what had happened. He looked up to see Magla standing there amongst the brambles. “Did you kill the bear?” asked Theomin.
“I did not but I believe it was that man dressed all in black,” Magla said.
“Did you see him?” Theomin asked.
“I did. Just north of here,” Magla said. “Why?”
“I was told that he left Esteldin with Teryndir. He may know of Teryndir and where he is.”
“We may be able to ambush him,” Magla said. “You continue northwest and I’ll head northeast. One of us may be able to catch him.”
“Good,” Theomin said, “We will give a signal when we find him. Just yell out my name and I will yell yours if I catch him.”
“Will do.” With that, the two departed in their respective directions.
Theomin headed northwest around the hills and through the valleys. The hills were small but became increasingly steeper. It was tough especially with the wet morning dew on the grasses. Finding footing was difficult. He had to hold on to the blades of grass as he scaled the hills. He wanted to climb to the top of the hills to get a good vantage point. He reached the summit of one of the hills and found a long stretch of deep gullies and tall hills all the way up to the distant mountains. His heart sank as it seemed too difficult to continue that far into the valleys with his body already injured and aching.
“How can I find him in all that?” he defeatedly asked himself. Then it dawned on him that there was a something moving on the nearby hill. He squinted and placed his hand above his brow as if to look in the distance. It was the man in black. With a renewed purpose he ran toward the man in black on the distant hill.
Faster he ran than before. He descended the hills and ran up the slopes toward where he saw the man. He yelped out to Magla, hoping his friend would hear Theomin and come toward him. He continued up and down the hills and finally reached Othrikar. Atop the hill nearby the the town, he looked down. The dwarves of the town seemed not perturbed in any respect. He could not have run that way. Again, Theomin felt crushed. His spirit broken. He wanted to find that man in black. He needed to question him. Not only of Teryndir’s location but also if he was the same man he had seen all the way back in Evendim. He looked around again but all the hills were devoid of life except for just the occational bird or beast.
Theomin wiped off the sweat that was dripping from his brow. He was over heated and over stressed. He put too much strain on his aching body and sore chest. Each inhail of air sent sharp pains through his chest. He sat down on the hill and then layed down. He looked up at the sky. The calm of the day, as it reached noon, calmed Theomin’s body. He felt a sudden and unexpected peace.
The peace came from the realization that he may not need that man in black. If he was to find Teryndir, he could just continue the chase along with Magla. It was then that he heard Magla’s yell. He must have found the man in black. Theomin stood up with speed. He could not find where the yell came from, though. The echoes came from everywhere.
“Where are you?” Theomin yelled out as loud as he could.
He waited for an answer but there came none back. He stood, waiting, his muscles ready to go anywhere. He then heard it again but it was “Help!” It had to have come from just north of him.
Theomin ran down the hill as quickly as his legs could carry him and as swiftly as his chest pain would allow him. Then, there in the distant valley, amongst the shrubs and the foothill of the tall mountains was Magla being held against his will by the man in black. The man in black had a knife at Magla’s throat.
“Wait,” Theomin yelled out. “Wait.”
“Remove your weapon,” the man said.
He removed his sword and placed it on the ground. “We can talk about this,” Theomin said. He remembered it was exactly that scene he had been part of back in Ost Forod when that man killed his friend Taidir. He could not allow the same thing to happen to Magla. “We can reason this out.”
“No,” the man in black said. There was something familiar in the sound of his voice. Theomin could not place it but it was as if he heard it before.
“Please, let my friend go. If you do, you can go away and we will not stalk you agian. You can go free if you just free my friend,” Theomin desperately tried.
“You go,” the man said, “once you have left, I will let him go.”
“Okay,” Theomin said. He backed away slowly.
“That is it,” said the man in black. “Keep going.” The man in black backed up as well toward a gully not far from him as he was ready to escape. It was then that a small lynx came from the other side of the hill. It growled at the man in black. The man looked at the lynx and yelled, “Back!”
“Aches?” Theomin said with astonishment. The little lynx continued to growel at him and the man continued to try and escape. Finally, the little lynx lept at the man in black. It latched its jaws on the man’s arm and in the attack, the man let loose of Magla as Magla spun around and kicked the man in black. The man fell to the ground with a thud and Magla lept on him. “Aches!” Theomin yelled to the lynx. The little lynx looked to Theomin and immediately ran to Theomin as Theomin dropped to his knees to scoop up the little lynx. “I missed you, boy!” he held tight the little lynx he loved and missed so dearly. “I missed you so, Aches!” The little lynx reciprocated by licking Theomin’s face as Theomin laughed with such happiness. In all the excitement all the pain and exhaustion washed away as tears came from such joy to see his lost friend from Eregion.
Magla pinned down the man in black and tried to rip off the mask of the man. The man struggled to keep Magla from ripping off the mask. He faught Magla but the warrior from the Lone Lands was too strong a match for the man in black. Finally, keeping a leg on the man’s arm and a hand on the other, he ripped off the mask of the man. The unmasked man had a scowel on his face as Magla finally yelled out, “Here’s your man in black, Theomin.”
Theomin rose up, still with Aches in his arms and approached Magla and the man they captured. He felt the cool wetness of the little lynx’s licks in the valley breeze as he also felt the happiness of finding him. As he finally approached the man, he looked to see who it was that they finally had in their capture. Theomin took a good look at the man in black but just then Theomin’s mouth dropped and he almost released Aches from his stunned arms. Chills ran down Theomin’s back and he had to catch his breath as the man in black looked at Theomin with eyes that recognized him. Theomin virtually could not speak any words. He tried to say his name but could not for a good half a minute.
“What is it?” Magla asked with confusion. “What is wrong with you?”
Finally, with all the effort he could muster, shakey but clearly his voice came back and was finally able to say the man’s name, “Eotheron?”