Part 117 – Hope Goes Forth
The sky, which was clear, blue, and beautiful, began to cloud in the north while Theomin watched. Around him thatched rooftops covered large stone walls of huts that were placed in a gaggle along thin dirt roads that stretched this way and that from hut to hut up the and down the hills which were laden with green grasses. Everywhere, the hills bore single trees as the hills ran up to the distant mountains in the east and along the hills were tall structures that bore flying wings that shot straight up to the sky.
Theomin was in Dunland and felt as though he had gone through a long tough journey. He tried to remember what had happened but it was difficult. The long road from Bree to Dunland was fraught with many happenings, but he could not remember any of them. He walked the dirt road of the village of Avardin and realized it was absolutely empty. Empty, save one person who was looking north at the clouds. Theomin approached her and she turned to him. Her eyes were gray and her look was as if she was dead.
“A storm is coming,” she said and she grabbed him.
The shock of the force of the grab startled Theomin as he found himself at the foot of a coffin. He was in Bree behind the Bree prison. It was where Gerald had walked him to beat him nightly for days on end. It was where he was broken and had lost all hope. How he was able to find hope again amongst all the trouble and turmoil he had not a clue. He did so and found himself at the coffin. He rose up and looked upon the figure on the lid of the coffin. It was his ancestor who bore the staff of Gildingul for the first time and brought it back to Eriador from the Brandlith in Gondor. He looked closely at the figure upon the lid and felt sad that he had never known his ancestry until just recently. He reached over and placed a hand on the cheek of the figure but the cheek felt cold. Very cold in fact, for it was colder than the stone should have been. It was almost like a freezing feeling.
Suddenly, as if out of the face and rock itself a bluish apparition emerged from the coffin. The fright of the sudden appearance terrified Theomin as he jumped back in fear as the apparition came forth from the coffin and came to Thoemin. Its cloth was dark and bore a hood and cape, but not much else as it came forth and floated toward Theomin. It then spoke to Theomin in a soft whisper, “Seek your ancestor to find the cloth.” The apparition then floated right inside of him and the feel of the presence passing straight through him felt cold and unsettling as it jolted Theomin and knocked him right out of a sleep.
He was in his bed in Bree. The Inn of the Prancing Pony was where he was sleeping and it was daylight. He sat at the edge of his bed and breathed in both a sigh of relief and of worry. He was relieved it was only a dream that he had, but he had also a worry of what he felt he had to do. He needed to recover the cloth from his ancestor, but feared of what he might find as he did it. He feared also the task that was laid before him as the road to Dunland was not easy and would take many days. The need to hasten was also needed as his friends were going to war, and they needed an army to aid them if any of them were to survive.
He gave a sigh and rose from his bed and looked out the window of his room. It was a clear fresh day with the sun brightly shining on Bree. A far cry from the shadow that seemed to befall the town not but a couple of days past. Now, the men and women of the town looked as though they were busying themselves like usual but in a more vigorous manner as their hearts were glad. And if their hearts were glad their demeanor was not sluggish like he had seen before. It was more of a gleeful tone, a more vigorous one.
He left the room and the soonest as he walked into the dining hall, he saw Eleswith eating pancakes and waffles doused with syrup with juice on the side. He came to Eleswith as she looked up at her friend coming next to her. Pieces of pancake stuck on the side of her cheek, glued there with the stickiness of the syrup. She looked glad to see Theomin coming to see her and she motioned for him to sit across from her.
“How are you?” he asked.
She had to finish the pile of food that she had shoved in her mouth before she spoke. It took about fifteen seconds before she could swallow and talk to Theomin, trying not to seem like a pig. “Quite wonderful. These pancakes are excellent. Dale had not the softness and fluffyness of these pancakes. Same for the waffles and how huge they are. I could not believe how terrific they are. This food has filled me up and then more. I would offer you some bacon, but in my haste to eat as much as I could, I already had it.”
She answered a question, but not the question he was asking. “No, Eleswith,” he said, “How are you?”
That was a different matter. She sat back and wiped her face from the syrup and all the food she was eating. Her face changed from gleefully eating to a sadness that seemed to have lingered there for days. “I am getting by,” she said. “Every day I am reminded of Helesdir. Little things here and there remind me of him. Smells of the scents of the trees of the North Downs; the dew of the water as it ascends into the air; the certain laughs of men who are with the one they love. I cannot pass by an archer or a bow without the thought of him. Every day he haunts me. I want it to stop but at the same time I don’t want it to stop. I don’t want the memory of him to fade and yet every time I think of him or feel warmth on my skin, it sends me into deep agony.” She looked around the dining hall as if trying to stave off tears that were growing in her eyes, “I could not bear to part from him and I cannot live on; but I have this thing inside me. I have a life that is forming within me and every time I think of him, I think of my child. Into what kind of world will he brought? What kind of life will he have if we cannot keep this evil from entering this world?”
“If we cannot defeat this evil,” Theomin said gravely, “I fear you will not have the luxury of worrying about what kind of world he is to be born into. It will already be wrought with Morgoth’s evil beings.”
“Thank you,” Eleswith said as if surprised he would be so cold, “that makes me feel so much better.”
“I am sorry,” Theomin said. “But that just makes our job that much more important.”
“I fear my contribution will not matter much,” Eleswith admitted. “I feel that my sense of worrying about my child will impede my ability to fight.”
“I have a feeling that it will not be tough for you to find your strength again,” Theomin said.
“How do you know this?” Eleswith asked.
“I lived in Rohan all my life,” Theomin said. “I grew up on a farm. Many animals do not attack unless provoked. They live eating and roaming amongst the grasses of the plains of the Wold. But it is the mothers of the animals that attack more aggressively if their young is threatened. It is instinct, I think, that push mothers to act on behalf of their young. I think your skills will come out even stronger than before.”
Eleswith and Theomin sat for a while quietly as the activity of the busting inn continued. Each of them thought in quiet contemplation. Theomin thought of the impending journey he had to take back to Dunland and then back again for war. Eleswith was only thinking of the future after the war. “Even after battle, if our side does win, what then?” she asked quietly. “What will I do? Where will I go?”
Theomin thought for a while. He thought of her journey to Eriador in the first place and then the impending war that was to be coming in Annuminas. “I think it is quite fitting,” he finally said. “The irony of who will be aiding you. You came to Eriador to leave because you were afraid that your people of Dale relied too heavily on the elves and the dwarves. Now look to whom we are looking for aid in Annuminas. The dwarves of Othrikar and the elves of Meluinen. And I believe we cannot succeed without them. They will each play an essential role in the retaking of Annuminas and stopping Morgoth from coming.”
“You believe I may have been too harsh on my people in Dale?” Eleswith asked, not offended but as if she was shown the truth by Theomin. “Perhaps you’re right. The men of Dale, I thought, relied too heavily on the dwarves and elves. But I now know that, much like Eriador, there is still valor in the men of Middle Earth and that they will still show that valor in the face of danger. I suppose I was only a naive girl from Dale who though she knew better for the sake of her people.” She smiled and came to a conclusion on her own, “I suppose I can still return to Dale. I miss her sights, her smells, the weather and the view of the mountain. I miss the lake and…” she trailed off after a while but came back, “and I miss my family. I want to go back to them and I believed I would go back to them with Helesdir. That won’t happen anymore but that should not stop me. That will not stop me. I will return to Dale when my time is over here in Eriador.”
“I too will return to the Wold,” Theomin said. “Perhaps when our time is over here in Eriador, you, Eotheron and I may return to our lands.”
“Let that be our goal, then,” Eleswith said as she gave a grin. “Let us return to our homes as soon as our task here is done. Annuminas is retaken, Morgoth is not risen and all is safe here in Eriador.”
Theomin nodded, thinking it was only a longshot that what they were saying was possible. “Then let that be our goal,” he said just to make her heart glad. “We will return to our lands.” A dark cloud descended on his heart as he almost believed that they could not win the war to keep Morgoth at bay. But he could not let her know that. “Excuse me, I need to see about matter of importance at the prison.” He rose up and left the dining hall.
He exited and leaned up against the outer door, fearful of what his negative thoughts were imposing on his mind. He was fearful that all of the planning and joining together of all the groups together into an army was not going to be enough to win the day. Panic began to set in as he could not breath with fear of what might happen if they did not succeed. He began to sweat and breathing began to be more of a laboring task.
“Are you alright?” said a voice from the roadway. It was Krovrin with his hobbit friend, Toby Took.
Theomin straightened up himself and tried to look as if he was okay but knew in his mind that he was not okay. “Yes, I am fine. What are you two doing?”
“We are off to the North Downs,” Krovrin said. “Me and my pal here are starting our journey.”
“It is still early,” Theomin said. “You would not want to leave a little later?”
“Later?” Krovrin said, “Why in the name of Durin’s beard would we leave later? We leave early so we have a full day of riding. I suspect our journey will take a while to the town of Othrikar. But let me ask you, Theomin. Do you feel our chances are great to succeed? I saw in your face some fear. Is that fear of what is to happen?” Theomin, surprised, was too nervous to answer him before the dwarf could continue, “because you cannot be nervous. We will have a grand army. Far more than you can possibly imagine. Not since the Battle of the Five Armies has such an alliance been formed. Men, Dwarves, Elves, all battling a single foe. If you had any doubt, keep it from your heart. One will not be defeated by swords and arrows and spears if he still has hope. But one that loses hope can be defeated before any weapon of war can pierce him. Keep no doubt in your heart, for the resistance is all counting on you.”
A warmth came into Theomin’s heart. At that moment, that was exactly what he needed to hear. He felt a renewed strength inside of him as he saw off the dwarf and the hobbit. “Thank you, Krovrin. Not a speech did I expect from you.”
“T’was not my words,” Krovrin said, “but the words of my father. He fought with Thror in the battle to retake Moria. The disheartened dwarves, after Thror was slain, were almost driven away by the orcs of Moria. But one dwarf among them rose up and lead the dwarves on through the battle. Thorin Oakenshield he was and he lead the rest of us to reclaim the door to Moria. As tough as my father and the other dwarves fought, they could not reclaim Moria. But Thorin showed what courage could bring to a dwarf’s heart. I believe that same thing could be shown to men’s hearts. But such a thing is not in men nor is it in dwarves. It has to be shown to us. Courage beyond the odds. Only ten men with a strong heart and will, can drive off thousands.” The dwarf then took to his pony as did the little hobbit. “We ride north,” the dwarf said as he and his hobbit friend galloped away from the western gate. Theomin watched as his heart began to beat with a gladder feeling while he watched the dwarf and the hobbit quickly head north.
He stood for a moment and thought of the burden that was laid before him. The army that he had to raise had to be vast. And for a fleeting moment, he wondered how he could raise such an army. But soon, the words of the dwarf sunk in his head and hope sparked once more in his heart. The dwarf was right. He was so focused on gaining the acceptance from his mates that he never thought once what peril might come of it. But it mattered not. He had to keep that hope alive inside of him and kindle it in his friend’s hearts.
His then knew where he had to go. He traveled to the southeastern side of Bree. It took only but a few minutes to reach it as it was a nice brisk pace of walking. He took the main thoroughfare through the streets of Bree, passing the Prancing Pony and the Boar fountain. He traveled toward the Bree Prison and then past it, behind the prison where the grave site was. The place where he was beaten time and again by Gerald. He looked at the ground and saw the many stains of blood that were lost by him so many months ago. Dried and brownish they ended up being, but they were still there. The scuff marks on the ground where Gerald sent Theomin to the ground still marked up the loose soil all about the grave site. He felt the marks and remembered the many times he was sent to the ground by the one man he tried to escape from. Now, he had to confront his captor. Now he had to defeat him and his chances at bearing an even worse enemy.
He looked upon the lid of the grave that held what he was there for. He looked at the face, the face of Angol II, the one who first held the staff of Gildingol. He tried to remember the face of the man he once was, proud and honorable. He only wished to be just as honorable as that man who was so brave as to courageously hold up that staff. He began to push the cover which did not budge. He tried again and then grabbed his staff. He placed it on the lid of the stone coffin. He spoke the spell that opened the lid of the coffin and then pushed the lid of it. Finally, it budged and slid rather tightly across the plane of the top of the coffin. As he slid the lid, slowly the robe of Angol II came into view.
Old brown leather boots came first into view as the lid was pushed further. A black set of pants, silver belt and strange designs upon the tunic, the color of which was gray upon a black field. About the pants and tunic was again a black robe with still strange gray designs upon the outside lapel of it that spread down to the upper arm of the garb. A hood was revealed last, as it was laid down above the tunic and robe. The garb was exactly what he remembered in his dream. The dream where he saw himself in exactly the same outfit that was before him. He removed the outfit but felt a sudden rush of energy from it. As he removed the outfit upon the back of it was a cape. The cape which held seven golden stars on a gray field that sat between all black, the top star of which was larger than those around it. Each star held seven points, very much like the blanket he had when he was a young boy. The very same blanket that convinced him he was not of Rohan, but of another place.
He removed his garb including the small scarf he had when he was in Rohan. He then placed the outfit on and lo and behold, it fit just as if it was knitted just for a man his size. He felt the comfort of the outfit, and it felt perfect. The warm sun of the day did not heat up the outfit. It was as if the outfit kept the cool feel. “It feels,” he said aloud to himself, “it feels like home.” Indeed it did. The house he grew up in had the same feel. He almost collapsed by the memory of it but he kept his strength. He grabbed his staff and his clothes and left the gravesite once again.
He then went to the stable up to Bragga. She held the saddle bag still as he placed his old garb inside the saddle bag. He secured his staff on his bag and then looked down with nervousness. He then rubbed his hand across Bragga’s, removed his hood and placed his hands and head on hers. He closed his eyes and said to his long-time companion, “I hope you are ready for a long journey, my friend.”
“We are,” a voice came from behind. Theomin turned and it was Sergee, Estonethiel, Eleswith, and Eotheron. “We just wanted to say bye. We’re on our way north and we know you’re on your way south. The next we meet, we will be riding to war.”
“Yes,” Theomin said with fear gripping his heart. He had not expected his friends to ride so soon. It had to be done, though, and he knew he had to ride off too. But he hoped to stay at least one day more. It felt too soon to leave the comfort of Bree. “I know you must ride and so will I.”
“It must be soon,” Eotheron said, “for the forces that have massed in Annuminas know we are coming and they will make every effort to summon that foul creature.”
“I will need that garb I gave you. The one of the white stag from Dunland,” Theomin told Sergee. “I will need it travel through Dunland.”
“I have already packed it for you and placed it in your saddle bag,” Sergee said. “Have you spoken to Magla?”
“Not since yesterday when he stormed out of the meeting,” Theomin said.
“I understand him now,” Eleswith said. “And it’s not just about keeping the men and women of Bree out of the grip of war. It is for himself. He took to the task of rebuilding Bree not because he felt an obligation to do so. He did it to keep his mind clear of the death of Helesdir. I know that now for I wanted to do the same. I couldn’t. I will always have this reminder of Helesdir inside of me. And when I give birth, I will name him after his father.”
“Helesdir would be proud,” Sergee said. “This, now, is where we depart.” He held out his hand for Theomin to shake. Theomin came in and took his hand and Sergee pulled him in for a hug. They embraced for a bit and then Theomin continued on to Eleswith, then Estonethiel, and then Eotheron.
“Good bye, brother,” Eotheron said to Theomin. Theomin then whispered something into Eotheron’s ear and Eotheron gave a slight nod.
He then pulled back and said, “I know we are nervous about this,” Theomin said. “I am too. But this is our legacy. These next days will define who we are. There will be many times when we feel we are too weak and feel like giving up. That cannot happen. There will be many times when we feel like nothing is going our way and the only option is to stop and turn the other way. We cannot let that happen. Our opponents probably know we are coming. But they know not the heart we carry within us. I spoke with Krovrin, the dwarf, earlier today. He said that one man who is fighting with hope in his heart can best a hundred of his opponent. I lost heart earlier today but after his speech, I now know what he said is true. We must not lose heart. We must not quit or turn the other way. We must march on and we must fight. Even to the very last. May our bows sing loud and our swords swing true. Now is the time in which we fight for all of Middle Earth. These next few days, we will come through victorious. Let us go forth, let hope go forth, and let our enemies rue the day when they crossed paths with the Warriors of Eriador.”