Part 107 – Skills That Where Lost
“Your skills as a staff wielding lore-master are already present,” the man said to Theomin as they traveled north in the planes of Fasach-Larran. “As a young man, you became adept in lore while your brethren became adept at swordplay. Not bad were you at swordplay because of the master swordsman your instructor was, but your true passion sat with your unyielding need to learn lore. And your father in Rohan, acknowledging your passion for lore, purchased your staff because of this. A very wise man he was, though most of the family money went to the purchase of the staff. That was something your parents chose not to tell you. Such a powerful weapon it was, now lost to the men of Bree.”
“As great as a weapon as that staff was, the one you currently possess yields a great and ancient power rarely seen in middle earth,” he continued as they continued down a decline. “It was cut from the bark of an ancient tree that possesses ancient powers. Where that tree is and whether it still stands, no one knows. But your ancestors bore this staff through ages. We knew not why it washed up on the shores of the Havens of Belfalas, or why only the lineage of our bloodline could stand to bear it, but we can, and we can now use it against the enemies of darkness.”
They paused at a pool of dark and dirty water. At the center of it was an island just as large as the dark pool. In the center was a single large tree, dead, devoid of all leaves. Its trunk held no brown life to it but dead gray rottenness decay.
“What are we doing here?” Theomin asked.
“There are creatures here, brutal in nature, with the strength of ten men. These creatures can hurl great boulders forth at great speed. Where its right origin is I know not, but once you meet them, it will not matter. When you meet one, be on your guard. They are killers.”
“What do you mean “when” I meet one?” Theomin asked, fearful of the answer.
“Your next task is to meet one of these creatures. They are tough, thick skinned, and very nasty,” he said. Theomin looked around when the man said, “Good luck.”
“Good luck?” Theomin asked but the man was nowhere to be seen. “Hey, where are you?” Theomin yelled out to his companion. “Where did you go?” Theomin yelled until he realized he should not yell. But not a moment after that, he heard the growl of a beast behind him. One of the beasts seemed to creep up behind and eyed Theomin. Its legs, short and clawed, carried his long harry torso. Its arms ran the length of its body as they almost touched the ground. Its hands, much like a man’s, were bear of any hair but possessed claws just as long as its clawed toes. It had a small head, with pointed ears and a wrinkled snout. Its mouth was immense, capable of consuming Theomin’s entire head with ease. The fangs, long, red stained with blood, protruded out of its mouth. Its eyes had no pupils, just a glowing stare as it stared down Theomin, ready to strike.
As the creature charged, Theomin readied burning embers and flung it at the creature, which did nothing to stop it. He then swung his staff around, which pushed the creature back but it only slowed it slightly. He then had a thought. He waved his staff around and thought only of fire as he pushed the staff over the way of the creature. As if out of nowhere, the creature caught aflame. He did the same thing again and again, each time increasing the intensity of the flame of the creature. Not being able to stand it any longer, the creature slowed and fell as it succumbed to the flames that had at last engulfed it.
“Well done, Theomin,” the man returned to as if out of nowhere. “I applaud your skills.”
“What happened to you? Where did you go off to?” Theomin asked.
“It matters not. That creature had been one of the nescience for the villagers of Augheire and you, with the flip of your staff, had ended it,” the man said.
“So you are saying I can end the creature with just a few waves of this staff?” Theomin asked the man but he was no longer there. He then felt a rumble as he turned and line of the creatures, ten strong, barreling down on him. With no thought, just reaction, he raised his staff to the sky and summoned a blast of lightning from the heavens which struck each of the creatures. The blasts knocked the creatures down and they all perished in flames.
“Such skills,” the man said as he came back, “can be used for great deeds, of for terrible malice. Choose right what you do with your powers. You said you would not want to end lives. You must preserve all life.”
“I know,” Theomin said. He felt down as he could remember so much harm he has done to so many. “It has not been easy. Many times I have needed to defend myself or my companions. Many times I have had to kill in order to save their lives. I cannot count how many orcs I have slain or how many servants of Angmar, dark men with dark purposes, I have slain.”
“But you could not have prevented that no more than you could have prevented their actions to attack you. There are times when a use of force is needed to preserve the life that is most precious to you. You need to decide when the use of your own force is too great or whether your use of force is too little. If you are confronted by highway robbers, should you kill them just to protect yourself? Just enough of force to scare them off could be enough. To kill a meager burglar on the grounds of keeping some trinket is excessive and unjustified. With such a weapon to wield, beware of such excessiveness.”
“But how would I know of such excessiveness?” Theomin asked. But the man was not there any longer. He looked around for the man and then for anything else that might be coming toward him. There was not but empty land all around. Not a soul occupied it. Only himself. “Why am I still left here?” he asked aloud to himself. He searched around and still saw nothing. He ran up to the top of the small hill but still found not one person.
He turned around the other way but instead of finding the planes of Fasash-Larran, he was atop a bridge over a pit that stretched many fathoms down. He lost his balance and almost fell over and would have had it not been for him finding a rope to gripping onto for balance. The bridge stretched over a pit with oddly green glowing muck running over the edge as a waterfall would toward some pit. Below the old rickety bridge was some village, old, ashen and grey, much like the other odd structures that were strewn about on the hillsides. One street made its way beneath the bridge as men, strange men clothed in red robes wandered about. They were very similar to those he witnessed when he aided in the retaking of Annuminus so long ago.
The mountains, which stretched all around him, were as black as the rock face of the cliff that the rope bridge stretched over. About the mountain face were structures of grey rock and black trim. Many were already in ruins, many were not. Some held great spikes of spires at the peak of them that stretched for many yards, bent and distorted on their way up to the point high in the sickly sky. The sky, a greenish color as if it was marred by the death and decay of the land, held few clouds and a large, red tinted moon. Fewer trees grew in that place but all were just as ashen and dead as Fasash-Larran, choked of all good and fertile soil.
“Where am I?” Theomin finally said to himself. Not an answer came. It was loud in that place. Distant screams and howls could be heard echoing in the chasm. Far off they were but were still enough to send fear into Theomin’s heart. A strange whistling wind blew through the mountains and odd structures. It was almost like a haunting moan of some strange giant that created the sound.
Theomin thought of calling out for anyone but then knew better of it. If he was in the place of enemies, he would be wise to stave off any attention onto himself. So, he stayed quiet and continued along the bridge to the other side.
On to the other side he strode, carefully, fearfully. He held up his staff in his hands, ready for whatever was to approach. As he held it, fear began to wane and his confidence grew. He continued with more confidence, even though such a place would drive more fear in him had he not had the staff. He came to a steep slope and began to scale it. The slope ran up through a part of the dark rock wall of the nearby mountain. It wound around to and fro higher and higher until a sudden flapping of wings up high in the sky seemed to come to his attention. He did not see it but he heard it. The flapping dissipated and the strange hum of the wind returned.
Theomin knew all too well what that flapping was. He heard it once before in the flapping leathery wings of Naglangon. But he remembered that Naglangon was nothing more than a drake, not a dragon of great power. “Is this a test?” Theomin thought to himself as fear began to creep back into his being. “Am I being tested by how well I can take the fear and continue on without retreat? Or am I to kill the beast that I hear far up in the sky?”
He continued on and gripped his staff a little tighter as the unmistakable flapping of the leathery wings continued overhead. Theomin looked up but not a sight of a dragon or a drake was there. Not one beast was flying in the air. Only the sickly green clouds hovered in the sky only highlighted by the red moon, which was now behind one of the clouds.
At last, Theomin made it to the top of the pathway. A cave was bore out of the face of the wall. Dark and old it looked, a place where some force, sinister in nature, could hiding. He knew that there was no going back. He began to make his way into the sinister looking cave when a voice came out to him.
“There are ways you can make light a dark place,” the voice said. “Give yourself light to stay safe on the path.”
Theomin wanted to heed the voice’s instruction but he wondered how. With a sudden thought or image that popped in his head, he raised his staff, closed his eyes and thought nothing but light as he slammed his staff down on the ground. A sudden light emitted from the mess of twigs at the very top of the staff and illuminated the immediate area and the threshold of the cave with its soft white light.
“Thank you,” he said aloud. To whom he did not know but whomever spoke to him and gave to him the idea of what to do, he was very grateful.
Theomin continued into the dark cave and upon entering, to the right he saw a drop off that led down, perhaps far down into a lower chamber. He gave a sigh of relief that he had his light and continued down the tunnel toward the other end, which was not too far ahead. A large space filled the other end. It was a great wide area cut into the mountain. It was then that the sound of leathery wings began to beat again, louder than before.
Theomin looked but already too late. The dragon that he had already began to swoop down at him. With as quick a reflex that he could muster, he swung his staff toward the great drake which only pushed it the other way, away from him. It quickly swung around as if it had expected the wind-lore. It then spun around in the sky and back toward Theomin and darted toward him.
Again, Theomin tried the wind-lore again but the great beast’s body had already made it so the wind would just pass past him without so much as slowing it down. Theomin prepared a ball of cinders and threw it at the beast. It struck the beast but did nothing else. No damage, no hurt and still did nothing to slow it down.
Theomin ran down the other way, away from the cave entrance. With the staff in hand he turned as the drake landed, which felled him from his feet. He quickly recovered and tried lighting lore but the drake opened its mouth wide and twisted its neck and darted toward Theomin, in order to take him in its mouth. Theomin had to move out of the way again and with a quick swipe, smacked the drake’s head. A spark of lightning blasted down from above in the clouds. The dragon retracted its head as if it was hurt by the small flash of lightning.
The great beast then pushed toward Theomin again to once again devour him. Theomin hit the drake again on the snout but no lighting came from the sky. He quickly used wind-lore to try and slow the beast down. Again, it did nothing. He ran around the beast but it kept good track of Theomin. He could hardly beat the beast’s glowering stare. It then swung its tale and hit Theomin in the head which knocked him back. His staff went flying away from him toward the dragon.
He could barely recover when he saw the staff between the dragon’s legs. He tried for the staff but the drake was quicker. It tried to slash at Theomin with its long sharp claws. All Theomin could do was hit the ground and stay as low as he could. The drake spun around to try and find Theomin and found him. Theomin saw that the drake had its eyes set on him. He could not even attempt to grab his staff. He rose up and ran the other way. A sudden thought then hit his head. He wondered what would happen if the drake touched the staff.
Theomin paused and just stared at the drake. The drake just eyed Theomin as if it knew Theomin was up to something. Regardless, the mighty beast ran toward Theomin and passed right over the staff and had not touched it with its feet at all. Fear gripped Theomin as he was almost sure the beast would be hindered by the staff.
He knew he had to run back the other way but he was afraid to do it. With all his will he could muster, he ran the other way so the drake had to follow him. The drake tried to and tried to swipe at him as Theomin ducked under its massive claws and ran past the staff but did not pick it up. He just stopped at the other end with the staff between him and the drake. The drake then charged full speed at Theomin when its front foot touched the staff. An enormous spark emanated from the staff which pushed the drake away as it fell near the edge of the hill.
Theomin then ran toward his staff and with all his strength, grabbed the staff. It almost resisted him as he was at last able to pick it up. He then raised his staff while there was still time. Sparks came from the staff and his hand as he then pounded the staff onto the ground. A large bolt of light and a large thunderous boom came from the heavens and struck the already hurt drake. The drake gave out a loud but could do nothing more. Its snorting breath ceased and its eyes slowly shut. The drake was dead.
All Theomin could do was bend down to catch his breath. Exhaustion pushed him to almost collapse. Relief grew in him but a little anger that he was abandoned by that man who was helping him. He rose up but no sooner did he rise up did he find himself in a different place. It was right in the middle of a busy town. It was the middle of the day in the town as the buildings looked familiar. Cemented sides with dark wooden beams stood all around a cobble stone walkway. He was in the center of Bree as he heard a familiar voice behind him.
“Welcome to Bree.”
Theomin turned to see a familiar face.