Part 116 – To Stem the Black Tide
“I know I have asked much of you as of late, but I must ask you one more time, ‘Who is with me?” Theomin said as he stood and looked out from his fellow Warriors of Eriador for a rise to arms. “Please,” he pleaded, “we must stem the tide of black that will be flooding over our lands.”
They sat, each looked at each other but none moving. It was quiet in the room of the mayor’s office, almost too quiet as not was said or even breathed in the office. At that moment, Theomin felt a bitter reality. Even the threat of Morgoth was not enough to stir his companions into action, then what could? Would he have to recruit all by himself? And if so, would they even listen to him heed his warning across all Eriador? Or would all citizens of the realm cast him down as just another man who has lost his mind? Such a terrible fate would soon come to pass if he could not get even his most trusted friends, friends who he fought and suffered with, dismiss him and his vital cause.
Eotheron then, from the back of the room, stepped forward and took in a deep breath as if to release a deep fear or burden that he held deep and said, “I will aid you in this. Travel with you I have and battled your battles have I, even if you knew not that I was there. Yes, I will aid you in your quest to stop Morgoth from coming to Middle Earth again. I will travel to Esteldin and recruit as many rangers as can the small ranger outpost can spare. I do all of this for love of my friend.”
Theomin’s heart grew proud and glad at his friend’s voluntary actions. He smiled and with a tear he almost spoke when another stood up, “I will offer my aid as well,” Sergee said. “I will also travel with Eotheron to ask for aid from Esteldin. Also, I know of the secret places rangers hide. I will call for their support too.” He looked proudly at his fellow warriors and then again at Theomin, “You are not alone.”
“I too will aid you,” stood Eleswith and said. “My heart goes out to the people of Treslebridge and I feel a pull to go there and recruit as many as they can spare. We have traveled much together, Theomin. You helped me become who I am today. My anger is nearly gone, slipped away as you pulled me from the brink of murderous rage back in the Lone Lands. I will aid you because not only is it the right thing to do, but also because you are my friend.”
“And friend you have in me,” Estonethiel said as she stood, “and in the elves. I will travel to Lin Giliath in the marshes of the Meluinen and recruit any elves who are privy to our cause. Many elves had not been yet here in Middle Earth when the full strength of Morgoth was wrought on this land and its people. But they know the strength and danger of Sauron. They know the history of Morgoth’s terrible lieutenant and that as terrible as Sauron was, Morgoth’s might is far greater. Many elves will come to our aid but know that there are few who will not.”
“Thank you all,” Theomin said with tears pooling up in his eyes. He was moved by the gesture by his friends as they all then looked upon Magla, who had been silent.
Magla, sat in his chair as the look of deep thought was upon his face. He looked at the rest of the group and suddenly realized they were all staring at him. He looked at each one as they patiently waited for something from him. He then looked down as if he knew they would not like what he was about to say, “I know not what to say to you,” he said softly. “I am newly committed to Bree and her people. I cannot abandon my duty.”
“Then rally her people,” Theomin said. “They know of the tyrant Gerald was. They suffered through the terrible time that was his leadership.”
“Yes,” Magla said, “That is exactly why I cannot commit them to another battle. They had suffered under the leadership of Gerald, the war, the endless searches for you, the fear that he installed on the people of Bree. The fear for you. I cannot be that mayor. I cannot be that person who brings all of that back to them.”
“Then will you aid us in another way?” Sergee asked. “Can you help us on our recruiting efforts elsewhere. Or come with us to retake Annuminus?”
Magla thought upon this. He sat for a long while pondering the request and had not answered. He continued to shake his head and then looked at his companions. “I cannot…” he paused for a bit but continued, “I cannot say whether or not I can. I do not want to feel the pressure you are placing on me right now.” He stopped for a bit as he saw his companions bow their heads in disappointment. “I am sorry,” he said as he stood and left the room.
Theomin watched as Magla left and then looked at the friends he had left there. “Despite that setback, I thank you for your kindliness.”
“What will you do?” Eleswith asked. “Where will you go? Will you recruit anyone?”
He had not thought of that. He was staunchly set upon stopping Morgoth and receiving aid from his friends that he had completely forgot about what he would do. “I…I do not,” he trailed off until he remembered his dream and the visions he had when he was in the cave. The village he was in at the beginning of his dream pushed itself into his consciousness. A sudden realization came to him and he knew exactly where he had to go. “Yes,” he said to himself more than to anyone else. He then looked at his friends, “Yes, I do have a place. But it is far.”
“Where is it?” Elewith asked.
“It is the village of Avardin, in the land of the Dunlandings,” Theomin said. “It took me about a week to reach Bree from Avardin. If I were to do this again, it would take me another week to return. But if I can cut that in half by traveling light, I will do so.”
“The Dunlandings?” Eotheron disgustedly said, “Why would you want to receive aid from those creatures?”
“They are good people, Eotheron,” Theomin said. “I was saved by them as I traveled north from Rohan. If they agree to aid me, there are by far many more Dunlandings who can aid us. There are many more villages in Dunland who can aid us. If we can raise an army of Dunlandings, their aid will prove a great benefit. It may even turn the tide of the battle.”
“It sounds like we have a plan,” Sergee said. “Where and when should we rally our army? We will be a large moving force so I assume we will be easy to see from afar.”
“That is right,” Theomin said. “That island where we rallied our forces is not an option. It is too close to the Tyl Annun and we will be vulnerable to attacks.” He thought for a while and then came to a solution. “If the hill town of Ost Forod is not taken, the army can rally there. About the southern slope of the hill would be a good rallying point. Therefore, if there are any additional armies traveling from Angmar or the road from the North Downs to Evendim, the army can quickly deal with them before they join the forces in Annuminas.”
“That is a good location,” Sergee said, “I hope the same strategy that we used before will be a good strategy to use.”
“I believe it may be but with a few exceptions,” Theomin said. “Eotheron, check for plans to Annuminas from the clerk. Eotheron ran down to the clerk while Theomin continued talking. “I believe a force can sneak into the city by ways of a secret path, which Saeredan can show you. It is called Orthrond Thurin and is a secret path that will lead directly to the second level of the city.” He looked to Eotheron as Eotheron presented him with the map of Annuminas, “I believe you can follow up this effort. The secret paths lead directly into the very heart of the city. From there, you can secretly gain a foothold on the upper level of the city.” He looked at Sergee, “Sergee, you and Estonethiel gather the rest of the strength you two were able to recruit and move on the northeastern gate of the city. That will be the distracting force that will take the majority of the attacks from the enemy. The attack will free up the western approach,” he looked at Eleswith,” much like we did when we attacked Annuminas the first time.” He kept Eleswith’s attention, “You and your forces will attack from Adannon and continue to Gaerannon. Your job is to take the court you and I took when we first invaded the city. When we first invaded, we did it together. You will now do it by yourself along with your men from Trestlebridge.” He looked down in frustration. “I just do not see any additional troop who can aid us. If Magla refuses to recruit the aid of Bree, Eleswith will be without reinforcements. You need more men.”
The company thought deeply on the matter. None could think of who else to recruit for their venture. Eleswith then though, “What of that dwarf?” she asked. “The dwarf you released from his cell. Perhaps he can aid us.”
“Yes,” Theomin thought for a few moments and as it slowly sunk in, he said with a definite, “Yes, I will find him.” He thought for a moment, “But where could he be?”
“I would say at the Prancing Pony,” Sergee said. “A dwarf loves his ale and I’ll be willing to bet he is there drinking up for all that lost drinking time he spent in prison.”
Theomin then abruptly left the mayor’s quarters and the town hall along with the rest. He traveled up the main thoroughfare of the city, past the boar fountain and toward the Inn of the Prancing Pony. “Okay, wait out here,” he said to his friends. “I will bring him out here, away from the other patrons of the inn. I want not for them to hear.”
He walked into the inn as it reeked of smoke and the smell of ale spilled onto the floor of the tavern. He searched for the dwarf, Krovrin, in the loud smoke-filled room of the main dining hall as the bustle of the busy tavern ladies brought drinks and food to the demanding patrons. Finally, there in the corner, along with the hobbit, Toby, was Krovrin. Busy was the dwarf, talking his heart out as the hobbit sat there just listening to what Krovrin had to say.
“And I’ll tell you another thing, dear hobbit,” he gave a loud belch that came from deep inside his belly, “Those flies had nothing on me,” he said as he slurred his words from his drunken state. “I’ll bat them around with my trusted batting batty bat bat axe, and they won’t know what hit them.” He took a large chug of his ale and then slammed the mug down on the table. “And that reminds me of another tale to tell. It begins with the sounds of the Hendroval up in the downs of the north.” Theomin tapped the shoulder of the dwarf but it had seemed the dwarf had not even felt the tap. “The Hendroval are a flying thing, I hate flying things, as you know. They get on your head and scratch around with their talons or they fly over me and drop their poops…they do bother me, yes they do.” Theomin then tapped the dwarf again and again and again. He then sat down next to the dwarf.
“Hello, Mr. Krovrin,” Theomin said.
“Well, the man who freed me,” the dwarf said, glad while in his stupor, “How’s life been for you up until today?”
“Life?” Theomin questioned, “from when? Birth or up until we met?” Theomin was very confused by the question but had to continue, “I have a question to ask of you.”
“Go ahead and ask,” the dwarf said in a happy tone. “I’ll do anything for my savior.”
“Can you help me and my friends with something?” he asked.
“No,” said the dwarf.
“Just a little matter.”
“Please, it will mean everything to me,” Theomin said.
The hobbit then motioned for Theomin to come over and listen to him. Toby whispered something into Theomin’s ear. He then sat back up and said to the dwarf, “There’s money involved.”
“Well why didn’t you say that in the first place,” the dwarf said. He then gave an even louder belch than before and then, “I’ve been too much liquor,” he said as he finally fell down into a drunken sleep.” Theomin slapped his face in annoyance.
A splash of cold water woke up the dwarf as he was sitting beside the back wall of the Prancing Pony. The sudden shock of the water to his skin forced him to blurt out, “I wet the pony!” He then looked at his surroundings and realized where he was. He saw Theomin standing beside Eleswith, who was standing there holding a bucket, “Oh, it’s the man who wants a favor. What do you want?”
“To find friends to help in recapturing the city of Annuminas,” Theomin said.
“Was it not already captured by you people?” Krovrin asked as he patted himself down with a dry cloth Toby had given him.
“It was,” Theomin said. “Now we need to recapture it.”
“What is with men?” Krovrin said, “You capture something and then need to capture it back. Whatever you have it goes back and forth, back and forth. Just leave it be. It’ll be okay.”
“We need to capture it because we are afraid they will summon a terribly powerful creature,” Theomin said. “The creature Morgoth.”
The dwarf waited for someone to go on, “And?” He waited. “Am I supposed to know who she is?”
“She who?” Theomin asked, confused.
“The lady Morgoth,” said the dwarf as if he was thinking they were daft.
“No, Morgoth is a man,” Theomin said.
“Really, he’s of the Ainur,” said Estonethiel.
“Okay, a Ainur. But he is still a HE, right?” Theomin said.
“Carry on,” Estonethiel said.
“A he, huh?” Krovrin said to himself. “It sounded like a she.”
Frustrated, Theomin moved on, “Regardless of whether it is a he or a she, we need aid from the dwarves. Perhaps from the dwarves of the Blue Mountains.”
“No, no, no, no,” Krovrin said as he shook his head and stood up, “They’ll not help you.”
“Why does that not surprise me?” Eotheron said.
“How do you know that?” Theomin asked as his heart sank.
“Well,” Krovrin said, “it’s more like they won’t help me,” he admitted. “Not long ago I thought I found a secret cavern. I continued to follow it and then there it was. Treasure, jewels, coins of all types from long ago. Amazed I was, so I took them and wanted to keep them. I didn’t know it was a secret passage used to hide the gold from the Mountain of Erebor. It was the stash of gold that Dwalin brought back from Erebor that he kept safe from prying eyes. In order for Dwalin to keep his stash of gold safe, he banished me from Thorin’s Hall.”
“I thought you only came to Bree because of ale,” Theomin said.
“That…” the dwarf paused and tried to think of something to say but with embarrassment he admitted, “that was a lie.”
“So there is no place you can find suitable aid for me and my men?” Theomin asked.
“I didn’t say that,” the dwarf said. “I know of a few places dwarves are hiding out. They’re here and there, scattered among the ruins amid mountains that show promising signs to mine again.”
“What of Othrikar?” Sergee asked. “There’s a dwarf colony there.”
“How do you know of Othrikar?” Krovrin asked.
“Who doesn’t know of Othrikar?” Eleswith said.
“If you can convince them to aid us,” Theomin said, “The trade route to Annuminas can reopen and that will spell prosperous times again for the dwarves of the north. In addition to that, if you can establish a trade route to Thorin’s Hall from Annuminas, you may not only be welcomed back to Thorin’s Hall, but also earn a great horde of money for your effort.”
“Hmm,” the dwarf said as he stroked his beard and then found some leftover bread that was stuck in his beard. He removed it and threw it in his mouth, “Your offer does sound compelling.” He thought for just a while longer when, suddenly, he looked at Theomin, “Othrikar, aye?” Theomin nodded and the dwarf said, “I’ll do it.”