Part 89 – The Warrior of Great Renown
“You know this man?” Magla asked, surprised as he had never before seen a person who looked much like him.
“I know him,” said Theomin. He placed down his little furry friend as he aided Eotheron up to his feet.
“And I know Theomin,” said Eotheron. “He and I have been childhood friends.
Magla scratched his head and squinted his eyes in confusion, “You hail from Rohan, did you not?”
Theomin nodded his head, “Indeed I did. And Eotheron here was to look after my family while I was away.” He approached Eotheron with slight agression. “So where are they? Why have you abandoned my family, Eotheron?”
“I did not abandon your family, Theomin. They charged me to find you,” Eotheron said. “After two days without seeing you they worried. On in the early morning hours of the third day, your father insisted I look for you but I told them that you charged me to look after them. I said I could not abandon my word and my promise.”
“So why did you leave my family?” Theomin asked. “If I charged you to watch them, that was your duty.”
“I was, but when the wilds of the Wold became too dangerous, my family and your family decided to leave the farms. They headed to Harwick where they all reside in the home of my uncle behind safe walls.” Eotheron showed the confidence that his way was the right way.
“How…” Theomin tried to find questions to ask but they were too numerous. He wanted to know how he found him, how he passed through Dunland and Bree after such horrible times he had. He wanted to know if that black figure he saw was Eotheron. But he could not, for the life of him, form all those questions into one all encompassing question. After a long pause, Theomin could just ask, “How?”
“I will tell you,” Eotheron said. “But first let us return to your compound. Out here amongst the bear and the lynx,” he looked at Aches with a fond eye, “it might not be too safe.”
“Absolutly not, I need to search for Teryndir,” Theomin said and Magla nodded in agreement.
“Worry not about that man you call ‘brother,’” Eotheron said as they began walking back to their horses. “I am the only true brother you have out here,” Eotheron said with a smile. Theomin returned the smile but felt a sudden longing for home. “I placed that man, for a time, in the charge of the elves in that marsh land to the south. He will be safe there until such time when we are ready to retrieve him and allow him to pay for the crimes he committed on you and that great city you.” Theomin gave a surprised look, “Yes, I know all that went on in that city. That man deserves to be run through for his crimes. Why you decided to travel with him I know not.”
“Far be it to disagree with what you just said,” Theomin said. “That decision to bring him along was not made lightly. We were in need of him. But as soon as we let our guard down just slightly, he took advantage of it and tricked all of us. We lost our good friends in the whole mess that followed.” Theomin bowed his head in disgust as he clenched his fists, “A whole mess it was.” He gritted his teeth in anger as he said it.
By the time the sun reached a few hours before gloaming, Theomin and Eotheron had already reached their horses. Aches rode with Theomin and Magla with Eotheron. Together they made their way to Esteldin and reached the gate before nightfall. The guard welcomed all who came through, including Eotheron.
“Good evening, Theomin, Magla, and Eotheron,” Ferrif greeted them as they passed through the forecourt of Esteldin.
“He knows you?” Theomin asked.
“I passed through the gate for the first time much after you reached this place with that girl from Dale,” Eotheron said. “I must admit; it is well hidden. I almost missed it had it not been for the faint whisper of a wall through the trees. Even the path that leads here from the road is hidden from site.”
“Yes,” Theomin said, “Eleswith and I had no clue of any path leading this way. Only south and north were the paths.” They stabled their horses and continued on toward the central courtyard, “How did you know where I was headed?”
“Your family knew you headed south from the farm, so that was where I was headed. My first task, of course, was to change that cloth I wore. Even your family said I looked like some kind of mercenary all wrapped up in that outfit. My outfit was that which you remembered me in. The green tunic with golden trims about the sleeves and leather chest I wore from there Harwick. And those in Harwick knew you headed to some tower left over from when Gondor was the ruling kingdom of Rohan. It only took a swift trip to the Elthengles to learn of where this tower lied.”
“Did you encounter orcs there?” Theomin asked.
“Oh, yes. Many slayen orcs were strewn about the tower. Inside the tower they also layed dead. It was a mystery, though, why they were struck by a single wound on their heads but their exit wounds were in strange parts of their bodies. Many others were also charred but smouldering of their bodies that had cooled days before. A few I needed to kill as they seemed to swarm around the tower. An encampment was not far from the tower.”
“The encampment upon the hill very near that town?” Theomin recalled. “I remembered seeing that. But I headed southward over the hills to a town called Garsfeld.” The three sat down at bench near some tents atop a small hill in the central court of Esteldin. There they sat and continued to converse. Theomin’s lynx friend seemed to find a peaceful spot at his feet as he purred and slept while Theomin massaged his back.
“Ahh,” Eotheron said. “That was why I did not find you. I believe I went north toward that town called Eaworth. But when I reached that place, the lower quarter was burned beyond recognition. A terrible mess that town was but amongst the rubble and the gloomy people who occupied that forsaken town was a man who knew much more than even he would let on. A man by the name of Eomir. Yes, the legendary third martial of the Riddamark.”
“Yes,” Theomin remembered with a quick smile and a nod, “I recall him and his men saving me.”
“He recalled much the same,” Eotheron said. “He also informed me that you were near Stoke and you were on your way to Woodhurst. So that way I went to find you.”
“What did you find when you went there?” Theomin asked, interested in Woodhurst.
“Chaos. That town had undergone a coup of some kind. Of who and why I know not. I knew not where to go so I headed south toward a town called Brockbridge. On the way I met a family heading to Brockbridge who was given a warning of the town of Woodhurst.”
“That was me. I warned them that there were signs of a coup. I told them to leave because of that,” Theomin said. “So there was a coup there afterall.”
“Yes there was. How did you know?”
“I stayed there the night. During that night two men had been talking about taking the town. It proved to be true but the place I sent that family was a terrible mistake that I regretted.”
“Why was that?” Eotheron asked. “You saved that family.”
“While fleeing that town I sent them to, they were ambushed and the poor mother of the little child was taken prisoner by orcs along with some others. I know not who died on the way but the mother and a friend’s brother still stayed as prisoners in that orc encampment.”
“How do you know this?”
“As I reached the fortress of Helm’s Deep, her husband confronted me. A bitter arrival that was. But I vowed I would find his wife and the little child’s mother.”
“Then how did you end up on that cliff just above Marton?” Eotheron asked.
“Cliff?” Theomin asked shocked. “How do you know about the cliff?”
“Upon leaving Brockbridge I headed toward the Misty Mountains. I had a feeling you would cover that path. So my guess was right. I followed that path past the small town of Gapholt. But, Theomin,” Eotheron said shocked, “when you fell asleep on that steep cliff, you left your horse untied. She could have wondered off somewhere. I tied her to the tree nearby but soon saw a group of survivers fleeing from Marton. I felt the need to aid them but when I came back to you in the morning, you had already left. Undoubtedly you went to the fortress of Helm’s Deep. On my way back from there I met four good men from Rohan. In the charge of Eomir they were but on their own. All good strong men they were.” Eotheron looked down with a sudden sadness. “Good men they were indeed.”
“What happened?” Magla asked.
“It seemed you left just before the forces of Saruman attacked the fortress. I had arrived at Helm’s Deep too late. Too late to find you and too late for me to leave that night. The four men, a small contingent of the Rohirrim, a few outsiders and I were all that were there to defend the fortress.” Eotheron’s demeanor suddenly changed. Darkness descended upon him. A darkness Theomin had never seen in him before. His demeanor remained constant as he continued. “The first stage of defending the fortress went well. Though Helm’s Dike was taken, we defended the Deeping Wall with honor. We fought bravely through the night. But something happened which took us all off guard. An explosion like one I had never seen before blew a large hole into the deeping wall of the fortress. The men of the fortress who fought bravely, died upon that blast. Many who remained inside the Deeping Coomb faught to their deaths.”
“But in that whole melee, there was one on our side who proved not to be a friend of Rohan. He dressed as a Rohirrim. He looked like a Rohirrim. As far as I knew he was a Rohirrim. As the four men and I faught the Dunlandings and the orcs and the uruk-hai, one of the Rohirrim, whom I thought was a great man, turned his bow to my friend, Leofdag. He shot two arrows into the throat of my good friend Leofdag and then lept over the wall down into the frey. I had thought he had killed himself but no sign of him was seen after that. I had never seen such great men scream in horror and cry such tears for their fallen comrade. I watched in grief as they held their friend and then I too watched all the other men of Rohan fall to the onslaught of Saruman’s forces. I stayed there and witnessed all the horrors infront of me unfold and all that I thought I was, all the strength and pride I thought I had melted away.” He bowed his head in shame, “I hid. For the first time in my life, I had to hide from battle.”
“Do not feel ashame,” Magla tried to console Eotheron. “I too felt that.” He looked at Theomin, “It was Theomin, not me, who saved us from the terror of a drake we had to face. I too felt shame but soon had to come back from that terrible feeling. I turned it around and went out to look for Teryndir and would not let my shame bring me down. But I did it not do it for myself. I did it for Eleswith and Sergee and Theomin and…,” he paused thinking about his good friend from the Lone Lands, “and Helesdir.”
“That was what happened to me too. A man came from the battle to aid me at my darkest. I will never forget his name and what he said. Aragorn he was called and he told me as I sat there cowering against a wall, ‘I know you feel the pain of defeat looming above you,’ he said, ‘but we fight not for ourselves, we fight for the women and children who we are protecting. We fight on this night for those who cannot fight for themselves. Take up arms for tonight we are brothers in arms,’ he said. ‘I may not be a man from Rohan, but today I am one of you. Today I stand with Rohan. For Rohan! For your brothers!’ It was then that I took up my sword and slew all manner of attackers. The siege lasted through the night and into the morning and as soon as the sun arose in the east, a new army came. An army of horses and spears from the Gap of Rohan along with an enemy I had never set eyes on. A whole forest set itself just outside of Helm’s Dike. A forest cannot just appear over night. I wondered what sort of sorcery placed it there. The answer to that I would never find out.”
“I remembered hearing a loud blast in the middle of the night while I was at a Rohirrim camp in the Gap of Rohan. That blast must have been the explosion that took out the deeping wall.”
“Most likely,” Eotheron said. “The army that came upon us that morning was enough to break the siege of Saruman’s army. The king, upon the field of victory, sent out riders to all corners of Rohan to tell of the victory and to inform all Reeves of Rohan to come to the aid of their king. With the rider that was to be sent to the Wold, I included a letter that was to go Harwick and your family. I told that I was persuing you into the north. But why you wanted to go north I knew not. So into the gap I went and in the same encampment you were in, the men in the Gap told me you had traveled north. So north I went, through the haunted forest in Dunland which was where I met up with dark figures in black. They said the they met you and one of their men took you west. I was finally able to persue you because they told me it was not long before you left.”
“Then I guess you know what happened next,” Theomin sadly said in a low tone.
“I do,” Eotheron replied with the same tone as Theomin. “I saw as you were shot down by an orc but I was too late to do anything. But what you do not know is that I killed that orc who slew you. I cut off his head and placed it on a pike and then killed all those around his encampment. I then started to move your body but saw a group of Dunlandings come forth. I had no choice but to abandon your body and run away. I saw as they checked your body and spoke for a moment. It looked as though they knew you were still alive. I felt the pain of sadness melt away to joy at the sight of that. But I knew not how long you would stay there.”
“I was there for maybe seventeen days. What did you do during that time?” Theomin asked.
“I busied myself with the slaying for orcs. I aided in some slaves who came from Wulf’s Cleft. I aided in the preporations of the dark men who called themselves The Grey Company. But I seemed to lose you. I knew not where you were and even enquired in your whereabouts. The men of the Grey Company gave me an outfit to wear so to not look like a man of Rohan. I knew if I approached the Dunlandings, they would have my head. A woman, Eva I believe, informed me that you left northward. So there I followed where I believed you would be.”
“How did you find me again?” Theomin asked.
“There was a land just south of here. A land with a great hill that holds a ruined tower upon it,” Eotheron said.
“The great watchtower of Aman Sul,” Magla said with pride. “That is my homeland.”
“So you tracked me all the way there?” Theomin said with surprise.
“I did. It was on a day when that girl and another shared some words of anger. So there you were, speaking with that man as the girl sat on the road. You approached her and had some words with her. From there you two continued on west. Something happened, though at some ruins just outside of that large town of Bree. You were beset by those men in the ruins. I quickly maddened and gathered up some goblins and lead then toward the ruins. It looked as though the goblins did their work but they were also chasing after you and that girl. It looked like you handled yourself well but the girl could not fight off the large number of goblins that were in peruit of her. I aided her in her escape from them.”
“It seemed after that I lost you in that town of Bree for a time. When you emerged you seemed badly beaten. What happened in that town?”
“I was taken prisoner there in that town. Horrible it was. Broke me, it did. I have never recovered from the horrible experience. That man, the son of the mayer of Bree, took me and phramed me for the murder of his brother. It was not me but the man who actually phramed me who had his brother killed. Killed by the woman who we now lost. Eleswith was her name.” Theomin looked away holding back a tear. “Was that you so long ago watching me in Evendim?”
“Many times I was watching you in that great city. I watched you as you went out hunting. I watched you as you fought off that great army of orcs. I even aided you in that. I aided you when you were in that town up on the hill when the orcs fought their way into the town. I was there in the retaking of that shining city next to the lake. I told your friend of the conspiracy with that girl you became close with and Teryndir. I have kept my eye on you for the longest time and hoped you would not find me. It appears, though, you did.”
Theomin took a step toward his friend and gave him a tight embrace, “Thank you for watching over me, friend. Thank you for all you have done and helped me out with.”
“We are friends from Rohan. Why would I not help the man who I have known my whole life? We are Shield Brothers from Langhold. We slayed bandits as children and rode our horses all about the fields of the Wold only a few years back. We challenged those Easterlings and won, did we not. We cannot be separated,” Eotheron smiled and gested, “Even if you tried.”
“I tried not,” Theomin said, “I had to do this. We are and always will be friends.” He looked down in a sudden sadness.
“What is it?” Eotheron asked.
“My old friend from Rohan is here, but I know I also cannot forsake my friends from Eriador. I cannot forsake Eleswith and Helesdir. I know not if Eleswith still lives but even if there was that slight chance she is; I cannot leave her. Helesdir went to find her and that was the last I saw of him. Helesdir still may live. Eotheron, my friends are still out there. I cannot leave them to die.”
“You need rest, my old friend,” Eotheron said. “I will go in your sted.”
“No,” Theomin said. “You need not go. I must.”
“You have overburdened yourself,” Eotheron said as he rose up and kept Theomin on the ground. “Your body needs healing. Your mind is lost in weariness. I am going alone. Being alone has worked for me thus far and will continue to work for me. Rest easy, my friend. I will go back to that valley and find your friends.” Then, without any other words he began to leave.
“Wait,” Theomin said to stop Eotheron.
He stopped, “Yes, Theomin?”
Theomin approached his old friend. He then embrassed Eotheron as his friend then recipricted. “I missed you Eotheron. Thank you for following me here.” Their embrace was over and Eotheron gave a slight nod as turned and ran off when Theomin called again, “Oh, and Eotheron,” he said and Eotheron turned, “I am glad to see your hair again.” Eotheron half smiled and he then placed his mask on his head and ran off east and out of site.
“What an interesting man, that Eotheron,” Magla said. “But it is true, you need your rest. None have you had and you look a little worse for wear.”
Theomin thought for a few moments. “You are right. But one more task I have for myself this night. Eotheron reminded me of a robe I had sinse Avardine in Dunland. For Sergee’s sake I must retrieve it from my saddle bag for him. Come with me and you can give it to Sergee while I rest.”
The two took the short walk to the stables where Bragga was. Theomin reached inside the saddle bag and removed the robe he had sinse Avardin in Dunland. “Please, take this to Sergee. It will aid him on his road to recovery as it helped me.”
“Thank you,” Magla said as he rushed to the crafter’s courtyard to give the robe to the healer.
Theomin then mounted Bragga and headed out to the eastern entrance of Esteldin. “Where are you headed in such a hurry Theomin?” Ferrif asked as he saw Theomin riding out.
“I am going to retrieve Teryndir and end this,” he said with vengeance in his eyes.