Part 111 – A Daring Plan
The hour was late, past midnight it was. The streets of the village of Bree were empty, save a few watchmen who roamed the cobblestone streets. They carried with them torches and brought with them their dogs. They bore red shirts over silver mail that stretched midway down their arms. The symbols on the front of which was a shield with wings above and odd shapes in the upper left and lower right quadrants. In their hand was only a single-handed club and a shield on the other hand. Most seemed sleepy as they walked through the streets of Bree, clearly unhappy with their jobs.
The moon reached the height of the sky when a figure came up to some local ruins above the Inn of the Prancing Pony. Dark it was, a shadow that seemed to linger there for a long while. It stared down at the town, assessing the state of it. Soon, multiple shapes came next to the dark figure and soon disappeared in the ruins themselves.
A few of the watchmen looked with suspicion. “What could that be?” one asked a passing guard.
“I don’t know,” answered the other. “Could it be one of those creatures that passed through not but a few seasons past?”
The watchmen continued to look up at the strange figure. Soon, more watchmen and guards came to the side of the first two. They looked up and then looked at each other. “Should we alert the main guard?” A bright flash then emanated above the figure and then burst and disappeared into sprinkling rain.
“We have to investigate it,” one the watchmen said and they all ran up to the ruins to investigate the strange light that shone in the hill.
The cave was just as Theomin remembered it. Down a ladder he and the others descended, one by one to not splinter the old wooden ladder. The cave was pitch black but with the help of Theomin, he conjured up a light that followed behind and gave them the much needed illumination they needed. As soon as the last person descended down the ladder, they continued down the pathway of the cave further and further they went, deeper and deeper they delved down into the cave.
“I am done with caves,” Eotheron said half jesting.
“Only a little further,” Theomin said.
“How do you know of this path?” asked Magla. “I have visited Bree many times and never once have I known of this.”
“It was to remain secret,” Theomin said. “Not even the Mayor of Bree knows of its existence.”
“I only hope your distraction worked,” Teryndir said.
“You and me both,” Theomin said. “Millie said the watchmen are not the brightest in the bunch of guards. I only hope that shining that bright light would attract them as it would a moth to a flame.”
“How do we know how to find the mayor?” Eleswith asked. “Is Sergee sure he knows where he’s going?”
“I am very sure,” Magla said. “Many visits to the mayor over the years has made him somewhat of an expert of Bree. If anyone is to talk some sense into that man, it’s Sergee.”
Eleswith suddenly stopped and bent over; she blew a few breaths out as she looked not well. “Are you okay?” Theomin asked.
Eleswith stood up after a few more breaths. “I’m fine. I want to know what we plan to do with Annuminus,” Eleswith asked. “We spent so much time and effort to keep that place alive only to allow it to fall back into the enemy’s hands again.”
Theomin was silently thinking as he walked. He could not answer the question because he did not know the answer to the question. He only said, “I cannot tell right now. It is hard to believe the enemy has the city again. Too much of our effort went into that city. Too many lives have been lost if the city has truly fallen. I cannot answer that right now.” Theomin shushed the others. “We are here.” Theomin placed his ear on the end of the tunnel and knocked exactly four times. After a little while, the wall began to move and a door had been opened. It was Sergee on the other side, dressed as a guard of Bree.
“This daring plan you have is progressing quite well,” Sergee said.
“Let us not jinx it now,” Theomin said as they all filtered out of the cave and into the small hobbit sized room. “This was that Toby Took’s room,” Theomin said. “It would seem it has not been lived in for ages.” He looked about the room. Dust had settled on books and shelves and the table. Cobwebs had built up around the corners of the walls as they hung down with aged time. “I wonder if he was one of the people the mayor had removed from the town.”
“We have not much time to ponder that,” Sergee said. “Those watchmen will be on their way back by now.”
The six quickly left the room and onto an empty sideway with Sergee quietly leading them. Over a bridge they continued that spanned above an empty alley way. Around some old ruins that were apart of the town of Bree and down steps toward a back alley. They quickly moved in the shadows, avoiding the main walkway of the alleys. The houses were dark as the inhabitance were still asleep. They cast no shadows on the six roving through the streets and back alleys of Bree. Much to their luck, they reached the side of town hall with little effort. Their ploy had worked and they were finally reached the town hall. They filtered between two of the town hall buildings and finally reached the front door of the Bree-town Hall.
“Eotheron,” Theomin whispered to his friend, “you go first. If there are any people in there, you can take care of them. Sergee can follow. We need you to reason to the mayor. We have not much time before the watchmen return.”
Eotheron tried to open the door but it was stuck. He tugged on it first and then tried to pull on the handle. He then tried to use all his strength but it did not budge. “What do we do now?” he asked. “I cannot move the door.”
Magla gave it a try and he too could not move the door. It was locked up tight. Theomin then looked around the courtyard of the Town Hall. Not a soul was in sight but that could quickly change. “Stand back,” he whispered. He pushed the stick mesh of the top of his staff toward the door and whispered a few words that were incomprehensible. The staff grew in light then died down. He pulled on the handle and soon it opened.
“You are a wonder, Theomin,” Eotheron said and quickly entered the door of the Bree-town Hall, soon followed by Sergee and then Theomin. The rest finally filtered into the hall quickly and quietly. Unexpectedly, the hall was oddly empty. It was dark and quiet. Much like Toby Took’s house, it was as if it had not been used in a long time. Dust piled on top of the books, which Eleswith brushed off with her hand. Teryndir blew dust off a shelf, which then gathered all over his face. He tried to blow it away and then wafted it away with his hands, spitting as it did it.
“I don’t like the feel of this,” Estonethiel said. “It feels cold in here.”
“Let us continue,” Theomin said. “Lead on, Sergee.”
Sergee lead the group through the vestibule on toward a staircase. He then continued up to another staircase that led further up and over a hall in the upper part of the hall. Across the hall they went and into the chamber of the mayor. They all stopped, then, in shock. Among strewn books and overturned chairs was a corpse of someone long dead.
“No,” Eleswith whispered in shock. She placed her hand over her mouth as she had to leave the room.
“This doesn’t feel right,” Estonethiel said with warning. “We should not be here.”
Theomin slowly walked over to the corpse that was laying on the ground facing away from the entrance. He knelt down and pulled the corpse toward him. It was the mayor, long dead. The shock struck Theomin as he recoiled from the sight and the horror gripped him. The mayor’s face was cold blue and mouth was gaped wide open. His eyes had been sunken in and rolled back. The stench was terrible, only the smell a rotting corpse could give off.
“Is it him?” Teryndir asked.
At the same time, both Theomin and Estonethiel said, “Yes.”
Theomin quickly crawled toward the body. “What are you doing?” asked Eleswith.
“I need to find out how it happened,” Theomin said.
“There’s no time,” Eotheron warned Theomin.
“I need to find out,” Theomin replied in a hurry. He searched through the head and around body, his extremities and back. There was nothing. He searched all over the body but there was nothing. There was no blunt force trauma, no stab wound to speak of. All his limbs were intact and his face looked fine. He searched the floor for signs of vomit if he was poisoned. There was nothing on the floor. He then looked back at the mayor. He then looked at his neck. Red marks were around the circumference of his neck. His heart sank and his eyes closed. “He was choked to death.”
“Now you know it,” Eotheron said, “We need to leave.”
The group ran out of the room and down the flights of stairs. They ran toward the exit and with all haste, Magla, Eotheron, Theomin, Sergee and Teryndir exited the building but quickly shut Eleswith and Estonethiel inside the hall. “What’s the deal?” Eleswith said as she just about to pound on the door but Estonethiel pulled her hand back and she shushed Eleswith.
In the courtyard of the Town Hall, there lit before the hall were torches; all in a line and all held by the town’s watchmen. And before the line of men with torches was Gerald. He slowly and methodically walked his way up toward Theomin and his men. He wore much the same outfit he did when he encountered him so long ago. The only difference was a strange horn, much like the cloven horn of a bull, that hung across his chest and settled to his side. A large smirk was on his face as if he was enjoying every minute of catching them. He looked at the five men each in the eyes, with intimidation but each member of the group looked directly into Gerald’s eyes, unflinching.
“Why were you in the town hall?” asked Gerald. The company stayed silent. He looked at each one in the eyes again and then up to Eotheron. “I’m going to ask you again, what were you doing in the town hall?” They all remained silent. He moved on to someone else when Eotheron pulled his sword out and lunged toward Gerald but a sudden lighting bolt flashed at him, which knocked him down in extreme pain. He moaned horribly as the pain was too great to bear. It came from the same girl in red who was seen in the ruins back in the Lone Lands. Gerald looked back at their fallen companion and smiled, “Let that be a lesson to you,” he said as he strolled over to the rest, “Don’t cross me.” He looked at Theomin, “Isn’t that right.” He took a look at Sergee’s face and exclaimed, “What happened to your face?” There was still no response from anyone, “You need to see a doctor.” He stopped at Theomin and stared at him for a long time. He gave a slight chuckle and shook his head, “You have been a thorn in my side for a long time.” He walked away but still talked to him, “I had to travel all the way to the North Downs to find you and then got stopped by some rangers and…” he turned and looked at Theomin, “and your father. That was your father, right?” With still a smile on his face, he asked, “How is the old man anyway?” He paused for an answer. They were all silent so Gerald continued anyway, “Oh, that’s right, he’s dead. And speaking of dead, I really hope you enjoyed our little welcoming gifts we strapped to the gates of Bree. That was my way of saying, ‘If you don’t have a home,” and he raised his arms with enjoyment, “you’re welcome to stay in ours. I have some perfect accommodations complete with a bed, meals…oh and some iron bars for doors. ”
Theomin remembered his dream. With all his heart he wanted to kill Gerald and spit on his dead body. But he didn’t. He remembered the oath he made with himself and with all his might he was going to keep it. He readied himself to pull out a distracting ball but he had to do it quick. He knew that girl in red was going to zap him as soon as he moved. With as much speed as he could, he moved but one of the watchmen was struck by an arrow.
“Who did that?” Gerald asked with loud anger. Another arrow pierced another watchman. By the angle of the arrow, it looked as though it came from above. Gerald looked and yelled, “Get those two!” The men ran toward the door when another was struck in the back by an arrow. The watchman was struck by another, a guardsman of Bree. More arrows sailed out from the shadows behind striking more watchmen.
It was then that Magla, Theomin, Sergee and Teryndir ran out to engage the watchmen. Eotheron was left behind, struggling to stand after he was shocked by the bolts of lightning the girl in red conjured up. Sergee ran for the left flank with Magla. Teryndir ran to the right flank as arrows and bolts continued to fly from the rooftop of the town hall.
With the new developments, Theomin decided against the distraction. Instead he was going to throw a ball of cinders at Gerald. He conjured up fire and then threw the ball directly at Gerald. Gerald saw the flame and pulled the girl in red in front of him. It struck the girl instead and she was set aflame by the arrow. Gerald then pulled out the horn that hung on his side and blew into it. A loud call was made, sick it sounded and twisted was it. It was then that a loud thunderous scream from a creature came from above.
Theomin ran to the girl and conjured water lore to remove the fire and heal her. He pulled her to the side and noticed she was not just a girl but an elven girl at that. She cried in pain as Theomin continued the water lore for healing. Beside her gloved hands were strange runes, much like what Estonethiel spoke of so long ago in the ruins. In her moaning, she continued to ask, “Why, why?”
The rest of warriors ran out and looked up at the rooftop. There were Estonethiel and Eleswith, ducking from the flying beast. “It’s a dragon!” one of the remaining watchmen yelled out.
“Dunce,” Gerald called to one of his watchmen, “tis a drake.” He whipped around and called out, “Take care of the guards. They too are engaging us.”
The drake swooped down at the guards, grabbed one with its massive talons and carried him off as the guard screamed in horror. The other guards shot arrows at the drake while some of the watchmen clubbed the guards down. Sergee slashed at the watchmen who were attacking the guards while they were also shot by bolts and arrows from Eleswith and Estonethiel. It then returned and swooped down again and reached down for Eleswith. As its massive claws began to clench her, Estonethiel slashed at the drake with Guddaganir, her curved blade. The drake then flew up into the sky and then back down into the fray of men fighting down below.
It landed with an earth shaking landing and then walked through the groups of men fighting as they all dove out of the way. It had Teryndir in its eyes as it chased after him. Estonethiel and Eleswith shot their arrows and bolts at the drake and Sergee tried to slash at the drake but none did any good as they just bounced off the thick armor of the drake. Theomin threw fire ball after fireball at the creature but it did nothing to stop the horrible monster. The drake could not be out run by Teryndir and soon the drake took flight and grabbed Teryndir in its massive talons. It flew just over Theomin as he ducked out of the way. It flew up into the Bree sky and did not return.
Theomin rose up and looked up into the sky. Helpless he just stared for a long while. He then looked right at Gerald as he too looked dead in Theomin’s eyes. Gerald then ran the other way and Theomin threw aside any fear that Gerald held over him. He took to his feet and pursued his former captor. Up the main thoroughfare they ran up toward the bore fountain and then west toward the Inn of the Prancing Pony. A few watchmen walked out as Gerald yelled at them, “Get him you fools!”
They marched toward Theomin as he pulled out the distraction he was set to use before. It dazed the two men as they watched the spectacular light display before them as Theomin ran right past them; they did not bat an eye in his direction. Soon, Gerald had run to the rear of the Prancing Pony and from there he acquired a horse. He ran the horse back out, narrowly avoiding Theomin. Theomin too ran to rear of the inn and he too acquired a horse.
The horse, though a nice steed, was nowhere near as fast as Bragga. He struggled with the horse trying to tell it to run faster as he kicked it and kicked it to go faster and faster. I could not keep up with the horse of Gerald. They galloped all the way down toward the western gate as Gerald yelled to the gate guards, “Grab him!”
They looked at Gerald and then looked at Theomin as he approached. The guards did nothing to him but asked, “Are you okay?”
Theomin, out of breath and upset with losing Gerald, trotted toward them. “Are you not going to arrest me?”
“We are given orders from our main guard,” one of the men said. “We were told not to arrest you.”
Theomin slunk in his saddle as if a great weight was lifted from him. “Do you know where he is headed?”
“Unfortunately we do,” one of the guards said. “He and his men from Angmar have taken the city in the north. We will aid you in whatever need you have.”
Theomin dismounted from the horse. He looked out at the west gate of Bree, hoping to see Gerald. “I need a place to rest for me and my people. Round up and place Gerald’s men in the Bree prison. I am sure you know who to trust. I hear there are a great many who lost their trust in Gerald.” He approached the guard and placed a hand on his shoulder. “I am sorry to say, but your mayor has died.”
The guard looked down and gave a slight nod. He exhaled quietly and then looked up at Theomin. “Most of the people of this town do not know. It was hidden what happened but when that ranger came and delivered that elf’s journal, we knew it was not you who killed the mayor’s son. A movement has been growing here in Bree. We knew he could not be trusted. The watchmen, I hate to say, are too daft to listen to reason. The Bree guard has slowly fallen out of favor with Gerald. You did a favor for Gerald by chasing him out of Bree. He wanted to leave, he just needed an excuse. You running him out was all the excuse he needed.”
“Then me and my men will help in any way we can,” Theomin assured the guard. “We will try to help restore the peace of this fine town. I stayed here once and it was a lovely town. My visit here afterword was less than pleasant,” Theomin said with as much sarcasm as he could muster considering the position he was in. “I know this place is a good place and I will do what I can to make sure Bree still remains that way.”