Part 92 – Into the Deep Valley
The morning filled foul stenches and high cliffs in the valley of Nan Wathren. The high cliffs could only be traversed with the aid of long makeshift bridges that hung low and were terribly unstable as the crossing looked almost treacherous without good balance.
At both ends of the bridges stood strong thick wooden supports dug deep into the Nan Wathren ground strung on each end with thick rope. Tide to the rope hung buckets, long ivry tusks with origins of who knew where, and all sorts of other odds and ends the orcs could muster for their bridges. Some hung very high from the Nan Wathren floor. Some hung upon low cliff faces that needed to be traversed in a hurry for reasons only the orcs would understand.
Upon the southeastern side where a massive and long orc bridge connected, a darkness hung in the sky. Clouds hung in the air, dark ones of an ominous feel sat stagnantly in the sky as if some evil magic was brewing there. The sounds that boomed from the thunder there were no less ominous. As if strikes of lightning were purposefully being manifested inorganically out of the sky for some evil purpose.
With strikes of swords and dodging arrows and slashing through of the orcs of the valley, Theomin charged through with little thought. Anger was in his blood. Anger that seathed through his veins, making him wreckless, not caring for anything but fulfilling his feeling of vengeance toward his brother.
So he stormed on through sometimes relentless numbers of orcs. He ducked behind battle devises when there were too many arrows. He charged into the thick of orcs. He slammed into goblins and surprised unsuspecting orcs with swipes of his blade to their neck. His furvour just excited him more and upon seeing his brother, he knew he would do the same. Countless numbers of orcs stood in the hills of Nan Wathren and countless numbers were being slaughtered by Theomin’s rage.
Through the morning, he continued down the valley, not seeing his brother at all. He saw only orcs and goblins, large and small vile creatures. In his mind, he was envisoning his brother sending more numbers of orcs to try and kill off Theomin but he continued to defeat them until there were no more. He was confident in his mind that Teryndir was behind the number of orcs coming to engage in combat with him. With each death, Theomin grew happier and ready to slaughter his own brother.
Finally, he sliced through the last orc. No more stood around him. No orcs stood on the ground around him and none were standing on the tops of the cliffs. Down in a valley, he could see an oddly colored pond of water. A strange sense of uneasiness filled him as he looked down at the water. Something in the back of his mind told him not to approach the water.
He passed the descent into the water and went up a small rise over platforms and back down a bend in the path. The path wound around toward another descent down into the same pond but there was something different. There at the bottom in the mirky pond was a man tied up to wooden fencing. It was Teryndir. The sight was not as he expected, though. He was tied with his hand wrapped around a pole and with cloth was gagged by the mouth.
“At last,” Theomin said as he looked at his brother. He cared not what state his brother was in. He was not thinking about what his brother was doing there. He descended down the declining path toward the mirky brown sludge of water. As he approached his brother, Teryndir just shook his head. As he approached Teryndir, he shook his head faster and faster, almost warning him.
At last, Theomin caught on to what his brother was doing. He haulted and paused a moment, realizing what his brother might be signaling. Then four orcs, who had been hiding in the water, splashed up and ran up to Theomin. He could bearely get his sword up when they slammed it out of the way and kicked him down to his back. Another from behind grabbed on to his hair and another held a dirty rusty sword to Theomin’s neck.
“Hault,” a grunt came from behind. It did not sound like an orc or a goblin. It sounded larger and more menacing. It stomped its way toward Theomin and with each stomp Theomin could feel the earth shaking beneath. He then came into view. It looked much like an orc but carried itself like a man. Its muscles were larger and its look was much more ominous, much like an orc but not. Its skin was pale; its cheek bones were much more protruded than a normal man’s. The man’s eyes were darkened from around the eye sockets to the eyeball itself. It almost seemed unnatural the way it looked. Like a half-orc man, “Well well,” it said. “Our little plan worked.” The creature walked up to Teryndir. Theomin could feel the hate for his brother exploding in him but he could not do anything about it. He was held down with such a force that movement was made impossible. All he could do was struggle a little. “Hold this man here as bait and wait for the one whom the man-town is rewarding for a ransom.” The odd looking man or orc stepped around Theomin as he was held captive, “Impressive,” he looked at Theomin, “is it not? Here I hold you captive. The same man Kronog has longed to have. Such a price is high in my thinking.”
“Can we kill him here?” one of the orcs asked sniveling and smiling with drool dripping out of his mouth.
“No!” the man-orc commanded with a shout. “As much as I would love to end his miserable life, I will not. He has ended so many of my precious orcs’ lives that I would feel fit to end his. But I know of a better end to his life. He will be returned to that man-town of Kronog’s and we will be showered with great weapons of strong steel we can use for the war. Not these blasted clunky orc blades,” he picked up a weapon from one of the orcs and slammed it down on the ground.
“We can happily bring them to that man-town.” another orc said.
“One step toward that town and those guards will have our heads. Those in that town still fear us, even with Kronog in command of it,” the orc-man said. “But that will all change soon. We will have free reign on the lands of that Bree place. We will drive the men and the elf and the dwarf out with the very weapons crafted by them and then we will become the masters of the lands of Eriador.”
“Who are you?” was all Theomin could ask to the man-orc that paraided around Theomin like a glad captor.
“I am Logburz, emissary to the white hand. I was to deliver a message to Lobas but he was slain by some idiot adventurers from that disgusting elven place.” His face became contorted with anger by the mere mention of the elven refuge. “Now my emissary to Isengard has gone missing too.” He gave an aggravated growl. “Men are only puppets to those high and mighty elves. They are so dumb that they do their bidding for them. Egh, it disgusts me how shallow men are.” He looked at Theomin, “You most of all. I suppose you came here to kill this man and to kill as many orcs as you could in the process. And it was all told to you by those disgusting elves down there in the swamp? ‘Turn and run to the orcs,’ they would have said. ‘Kill the orcs and that man,’ they would have instructed you. And of course you did. You followed their instructions and killed many of my good orcs. You disgust me.” He walked off and told his orcs, “Take them away to the dungeons. Take them and feed them nothing. Let their stomachs run low and their energy deplete. I care not.”
They dragged Theomin away as he went with no will of his own. Behind he could hear the voice of Teryndir, “Why me? Where are you taking me? Stop it, stop it, end it! Please!”
Another orc answered, “To the dungeon like the master wants.”
“Why not now?” Teryndir cried out with despair.
“Shut your mouth or we’ll shut it for you,” another orc yelled at Teryndir.
The orcs were not so polite as they dragged and sometimes kicked Theomin and Teryndir, guiding them to a sort of prison dug into the side of one of the hills. Just before the mouth of the cave, Teryndir tried to fight back at the orcs around him. It took all of Teryndir’s captors and one of Theomin’s too to subdue Teryndir. After what felt like little effort, they subdued Teryndir and then forced them into the prison cave.
Inside they went as they were led down a tunnel of which was carved very crudely. Not too far into the cave they came to lit two torches. Theomin’s and Teryndir’s captors picked them up and pushed the two captured men down the path of the tunnel up to a fork in the path. Teryndir was led down the tunnel to the right and Theomin was led down the left. It stretched not too much further until it reached a strange brightly reflecting door; a strong looking shining steel door it was. With only a small rectangular viewing hole near the top of it, the door looked not like any orcs would construct. Not even the jails in Bree looked as secure and ominous as those. Where such a door came from and why it was there Theomin could not fathom.
An orc slid a key into the door and the clang on the door echoed down the stone hall of the tunnels. Not long after, another similar sound was made in the other tunnel; obviously Teryndir’s door had been opened. Theomin’s door swung open and as it did the metallic creaking of the pins in the hinges rang through the tunnel. Loud and obvious they were as they finally slowed to a stop as it was opened wide.
“In ya go,” Theomin’s orc captor yelled at him as he shoved Theomin into the darkenss of the prison cell. There was a strong stench that sent Theomin’s stomach to churn just a little bit. “And don’t think about escapin,” the orc said. “These doors are of dwarf make. Strong and sturdy, unlike that poor dwarf there in the corner,” he laughed and moved the torch light on toward the dwarf in which he spoke. In the back corner of the room was the remains of a dwarf, rotten flesh coupled with protruding bone and decaying clothes were all that remained of the poor dwarf left alone in the corner of the cell. Maggots slithered around the dead flesh as flies buzzed around and landed all around the long dead dwarf. “Sealed in by the very door of his own design. If that’s not hysterical I don’t know what is.” Again, the orc laughed along with the others in his company as another slammed the door, leaving Theomin in absolute darkness. All Theomin could hear was an orc saying, “Let’s go boys,” as he finally left the presence of Theomin in the darkness of the prison cell.
He stayed still for a while, not making much of a sound. He was hoping to hear anything from the outside but heard nothing. Only his own breathing he could hear as any echo bounced off the metal door and back to Theomin. He breathed faster and faster and ran and banged on the door. The loud gong sound of the metallic door echoed down the chamber and hurt Theomin’s ears. He cowered by the horrible sound of the loud door. He grunted by the pain the sound made in his ears as he fell to his knees.
He almost heard a sound from outside the cell. He heard it again and once the ringing in his ears began to subside, he heard, “Theomin?” from the other cell. “Was that you?” Theomin did not want to answer the call. It was his brother, whom he went to the valley to kill in the first place. He stayed silent and cared not to answer. “Theomin, believe me when I tell you this was not my intent. I cared not to involve you in my capture.” It was silent again. He had so much to say to his brother and it was torture not to yell out any vulgarity he could think of at his brother. It took all his strength not to say anything. “I wanted to end my life at the hands of the orcs. After I left you and the group behind I met up with a man who claimed to be a friend of yours. He took me and kept me prisoner in the elf camp and told them to hold me until your arrival. I could not face you again. I could not face the group because I knew how terrible of a state I left the group in.” Theomin wanted desperately to yell something out but did not. Instead he sat near the door and thought about all his brother was saying. He had not the proper time to digest what had happened in the worm valley. “Theomin, say something.” Theomin’s heart began to cave in as he could not think of anything else but his brother’s betrayal, Eleswith’s and Helesdir’s possible death and the terrible state his brother’s betrayal left Estonethiel, Magla, and Sergee. The emotional toll it left on Theomin pulled him down in a way he could not remember feeling before. Not even the death of Athegdir, his father, brought his heart down so low. He began to weap but he tried to make it silent. He covered his mouth and just moaned out a burst of crying as tears fell and dripped off the end of his nose. He did this for some minutes until he heard his brother again. “Theomin…” it seamed his brother was waiting for a response. “I had been blinded by what I thought was right. I saw Gerald’s path and at the time I thought of it as the right one but once I left you and the group behind my eyes were cleared. I could see the wrong I was doing. I sort of looked outside myself and all the terror I caused the group and the men of Annuminus.” He paused for a while and then continued, “I guess I blamed you for father’s death. Instead of grieving, like I should have, I blamed you. I felt your presence in our family was an ill omen.” He paused for a while. “I was wrong. I know I will not receive your forgiveness now but I nope to some day.” And with that, the talking from Teryndir’s end stopped.
The day wound down to a close or at least Theomin thought it had. His eyes were not adjusting to the darkness of the cave as they were too far inside of it to see anything. Though his eyes did not adjust, his ears adjusted. Along with the lack of sight, Theomin’s ears could not adjust to the sounds of the buzzing flies and the oozing sounds of the maggots in the flesh of the dead corpse which plagued Theomin’s ears. He could not take the sound of the continuous sounds of the flesh eating critters in the cell with him and the sounds did not stop either. He could not keep his thoughts from it as the sounds. They were a constant and terrible reminder that the only companion he had in the cell was a dead dwarf, some flies and maggots.
It felt like hours had passed since he last heard his brother and he felt the need to hear something other than the sounds coming from his poor cellmate. He could not stand the sound of the flesh eating any longer. He finally yelled out to his brother, “Teryndir!”
Almost emediatly he heard his brother call out, “Yes, Theomin?”
Theomin could not think of anything else to say but, “I need to talk.”
“What about, brother?” Teryndir yelled out to his brother.
“I know not. I just need to talk and hear a voice and not this sick sound of this dwarf’s flesh being eaten. I just…” he paused for a few moments, “I just need to talk,” Theomin sadly said. It was silent. Theomin did not know if Teryndir was waiting for a response from Theomin or not so he decided to continue, “Why did the orcs take you?” he finally asked. “I thought you were allied with the orcs.”
It was silent for a while. He did not hear from the other side for a long time. Finally, Teryndir yelled out, “I was. Once I had that moment of clarity after I left you, I needed to come here and needed to end my time with them. I needed to tell them so they could string me up and kill me.” He was silent for a long while before continuing. “I wanted to take my own life for what I did to you but I could not do it myself. I could not drive a sword through my heart nor could I take a leap off a tall cliff. I came here to end my life… but Lobas had another idea. I am so sorry for what had happened. Tell me, what came of the others. Are they safe too?”
Theomin’s heart was still hurting but he tried to continue, “No, Teryndir,” Theomin said as his voice softened and his composure started to crack. He paused for a few moments before he said again in a broken voice, “they are not.”
With heartfelt emotion, Teryndir said, “I’m sorry.” He then asked, “What happened?”
Theomin recounted the events that took place just after Teryndir abandoned them. He told of losing Eleswith and Helesdir’s attempt to look for her. He told of Estonethiel’s blinding, Sergee’s burning body, and Magla’s fear at the prospect of being killed by the dragon. If Teryndir was listening to the whole thing, Theomin knew not. But he was quiet the whole time. Theomin spared no details, even at the fate of the dragon and their bitter escape. He told of who the man in black was. That he was a friend and how he told of Eotheron’s sacrifice to follow Theomin to Eriador and his promice to search for Eleswith and Helesdir in the valley in the Ram Duath.
“Do you know if he had found them?” Teryndir asked.
“I do not know. After he departed Esteldin from the eastern pass I came out. I came out of the western entrance looking for you,” Theomin said. “I came out looking for you to kill you.”
Teryndir was silent for a while. Whether he was contemplating what Theomin said or not, Theomin did not know. Finally, Teryndir said, “If we have a chance to do so, do not hesitate. End my life. For all I have done to you, our family and our friends, please end my life.” That was all that was said that night. Theomin fell silent thinking about the thought of killing his brother and how much he wanted to do so. He went to Nan Wathren to end the life of Teryndir but felt a new feeling. Could he be changing his sheer hatred around to the point of pity? That was what Theomin was feeling for his brother. For once he felt pity for him.
After all the things that Teryndir did to all around him, Theomin felt it was finally time Teryndir felt the full weight of all he did to everyone around him. It could have been one of his many schemes but at that time it felt different. The words he said were sincerer, more full of regret, not scheming. He had never been asked from a person take his own life. It was horrifying to think that; but at the same time he felt differently toward his brother. For once, Theomin felt a tinge of peace. Peace toward Teryndir.