Part 120 – The Threat from the North
Darkness filled the lands of the Kingsfell. The hour drew late but the moon had already risen in the mid sky. The stars in the sky gazed down on the lands, brilliantly beside the light of the moon as they slowly passed over the stars and along the black background of the dark night sky. The breeze was cool and rustled the leaves of the trees that dotted the lands of the Kingsfell. The grass too waved in the breeze; short blades moved this way and that in the breeze, calmly and steadily.
Nearby, the stream of the small brook that passed south through the Kingsfell could be heard as the three travelers stood nearby the small wooden bridge that passed into the eastern lands of the North Downs. They stood on the eastern side of the small gully that the brook ran through. It was as if they were waiting for something, a noise perhaps that queued them to move. At last, they heard something. They ducked down in the gully and listened.
“I ain’t liken this one bit,” one deep grunting voice said. “We ain’t got no grog to spare no more.”
“Quiet, runt,” a deeper voice said. “We don’t care what you’re cryin for. We gotta make it to the valley before the day and I ain’t heeding any noise you wanna make about no grog.”
“Can’t we plunder a home?” the first voice asked. “Maybe there’ll be some good meets there or a bottle full ‘a ale we can down before makin it to the valley. That man filth really did a number on the lot of us. I ain’t feelin too good.”
“No!” the second voice said. “The master says we gotta make it to the valley without incident and make it to the valley is just what where gonna do.” There was a pause before they heard the same voice yell out, “Let’s go boys”
A very loud sound like a moving army came rumbling over the plane of the Kingsfell. As if hundreds of feet were stamping the ground and continued past the small bridge. The noise of the passing army continued for maybe fifteen minutes as the three in the small gorge listened to the terrible sounds of the army pass. It had to be an orc army, a large one.
As they army passed, the second orc continued, “Remember, that big man city ain’t less than two days slog with this lot. So we better not get hung up on any more pink skin problems. That includes pillaging any houses for food or drink. You got that?”
The first one was heard saying, “Yes Snog,” as the army of orcs seemed to finally subside and the noise of the soft breeze was the only sound they could hear.
“Sounds like they’re bolstering their garrison,” Sergee said.
“That will make the fight that much more difficult,” Eotheron said.
“And treacherous,” Estonethiel said. “Our efforts cannot be in vain for the risk is too great not to succeed.”
“Is there no more sound of the orcs?” Sergee asked.
Estonethiel closed her eyes and listened. “I hear not a sound,” she said.
“Then we must continue,” Sergee said. “If they do not already know, inform the elves of Lin Giliath of the orc armies that have been passing through the Kingsfell. Their aid in their destruction may help us yet,” he said as they mounted their hidden horses and continued to ride eastward.
“I am very sure they know of the armies, but in case I will inform them,” Estonethiel said. “Now continue to Esteldin. It is very late.”
“We will,” Sergee said.
“Farewell, Estonethiel,” Sergee said as he looked at her longingly.
“Farewell, Sergee,” she said, “and be safe.”
“We will,” Eotheron said.
So, near the farms of Gatson, Estonethiel parted from the company of Sergee and Eotheron. Far off into the distance she rode her horse until finally Sergee could not see her any longer over the distant rise of the grassy hill.
Sergee looked down with slight sadness as he and Eotheron continued toward Esteldin using the unmarked pathway toward the western gate. It was not long before the first part of the western wall came into view and the sentry took notice of the two coming from afar.
“Halt,” the sentry yelled down as he stood atop the wall. “What is your business?”
“We are Sergee and Eotheron. We come for aid,” Sergee said.
“Sergee,” the sentry said gladly, “I am glad you’ve come baring good tidings. We are short of any good news recently.”
“I am sorry,” Sergee said, “we are in short supply of glad tidings ourselves. And that is what brought us here.”
“Come,” the sentry said. “Speak with Farrif.”
The two entered into the compound and not long after they noticed wounded rangers scattered receiving aid from healers in the forecourt of the compound. Some were having arms patched up while others were having cloths placed over them as they had clearly lost their lives.
“What happened here?” Sergee asked another ranger.
The ranger was trying to tend to another wounded ranger and seemed upset by being interrupted. As soon as he saw who was asking, though, he seemed relieved. “Serge,” he said, “I’m glad you’ve come. Out in Eastern Nan Amlug battalions of orcs are passing through, some a hundred orcs strong. We have tried to stem the tide of orcs but they just kept coming.”
“Where are they coming from?” Eotheron asked.
“They are being aided by the Hillmen,” the ranger said. “That camp of Hillmen continues to allow whole groups of orcs to stream from Angmar, unhindered. What you see here is our latest attempt to block the last group that came across the pass north of here.”
“Have they found our camp?” Sergee asked.
“Luckily they have not but every so often some are intrigued by the hill south of that pass.”
“Where is Farrif?” Sergee asked.
“He is coordinating the next party in the center court,” the ranger said. Sergee and Eotheron began to leave when the ranger said, “I am glad you’ve come.”
The two made their way toward the center of the compound as they saw the next group of very badly injured rangers laying on mats in the center. All looked glum as their moral was stolen from them. They were beaten and depression looked to have fallen on the camp. Within a small group of rangers, Farrif stood trying to convince a senior group of rangers to take a stand.
“We must make stand and fight the orcs. We cannot allow such a force into the North Downs,” Farrif said. “I know not what drives these orcs but if we let them through unchecked we might as well give up the North Downs.”
“Our forces are too badly beaten,” a ranger said. “Our only hope is to stay hidden and defend our camp. Only then can we stave off a massacre. Besides, we know not why they march nor do we know where they are headed.”
“We know what drives them,” Sergee said.
Ferrif looked toward the sound of the voice and a glum sad man that Ferrif was turned hopeful as he dropped what he was doing and came to embrace Sergee. He looked at Eotheron and gave him a glad nod. “Have you heard of our struggles here?”
“No,” Sergee said, “We came to ask for aid from Esteldin.”
“No aid will come from this place,” Ferrif said, “I’m sorry. We’re too focused on the battles we are waging here.”
“We need all the help we can get,” Eotheron said.
“And so do we,” said Ferrif. “Every day orcs stream through the Eastern Nan Amlug from Angmar. They come through and travel west toward the hills of Nan Wathren. What they are doing there we have not a guess but such forces we have never encountered.”
Sergee gave a sigh of frustration as he did not want to bring more bad tidings. Though he had not a want, he needed to tell him. “I said before that we know why they are streaming through like this.”
“Tell me,” Ferrif said.
“Eotheron and I came from Bree. It was there that a good friend of ours, Theomin, knew where the orcs were headed. They are headed to Annuminas.”
“We heard from scouts,” Ferrif said. “The city was already taken.”
“But that is not all,” Eotheron said. “The city is where something even more terrible will come.”
“Theomin found that who they are trying to summon is the lord of darkness, Morgoth from banishment in the void,” Sergee said.
Ferrif’s eyes widened as his breathing became fearful and shallow, “Morgoth?”
“Yes,” Sergee said. “This vast army of orcs are coming to ensure Morgoth’s summoning will come with no hindrance. We are here to gather what forces we can to stop them from summoning Morgoth.”
“But why are they summoning Morgoth in Annuminas?” Ferrif asked. “Why not do so in Mordor or Angmar?”
“We hear from Theomin that Sauron has been defeated in Mordor. Other than that I know not why they chose to do it in Annuminas. That is a mystery to us but we need to stop that summoning at all cost. Such a danger cannot set foot in this realm again. That is why we need as many rangers as can be spared.”
“Terrible news that is but we are already short in force as it is,” Ferrif said. “You’ve seen how many men lay dead or dying. We cannot spare even a single man as this is an even more dire reason to stem that tide.”
“What if we can aid you in that?” Eotheron suggested.
Sergee took Eotheron by the arm and pulled him to the side to whisper to him, “We cannot afford the time to battle these orcs. We have our own mission. That is all that matters.”
“I thought of something,” Eotheron whispered back. “Can you remember how Theomin shut the doors in the cave? Why can we not use such weapons to seal the passes from Angmar. I have seen those passes. I have seen how narrow the gaps of the vale of the Ram Duath is. If we can place pots similar to Theomin’s we can block their progress south.”
Sergee thought for a while about the proposal of Eotheron’s. He then looked at him with wide eyes, “You have a brilliant idea.” He turned to Ferrif. “We have a plan but it will take many of your men and a few explosive pots.”
“Explosive pots?” Ferrif asked. “Who would know of such weapons?”
“Pots that explode?” a voice came from behind them. It was a man sitting on the porch next to the door of the library. He looked familiar. He looked like a simple type with the cloth of no one special. His hair was short and goatee groomed nicely. “I have had some luck with people heading in and out of this compound that I was lucky to score some nice trinkets with a tar substance. One was a dwarf who traveled from the Blue Mountains. He gave me something with black pitch. He thought it was unusual and never…”
“We’ve got the point,” Ferrif interrupted. “I know you, you’re that man who wants to leave to Bree.”
“Well I wanted to leave when the rangers said it was safe. So far they haven’t said a thing. And I can’t trust anything outside of this compound. With spiders and wolves and eagles that will peck out your eyes…”
“Enough!” Ferrif said with frustration. “Can you help us or not?”
The man from Bree looked at Sergee, Eotheron and Ferrif. “Yes. But that pitch is very volatile when liquefied enough. Only a small flame can set the pitch off and I would like not to be very near it when it does.”
“I know,” Sergee said remembering Helesdir. “But that is our plan.” He looked at Ferrif. “Eotheron remembered our good friend using such explosions. They can be used to destroy the passes between Nan Amlug and Angmar. If they can be shut, you have not a need to keep such a garrison here. You will be able to aid us. So, if we can do this, will you aid us?”
Ferrif thought for a while. It was evident that a great many things were spinning around his head as it looked as though he was weighing his options. Finally, he came back with, “What guarantee do I have that this plan of yours can succeed?”
Sergee and Eotheron looked at each other. “We only know what we saw our friend do. We know it can work. We just need your permission to use as many rangers as you can spare to aid us in infiltrating that Hillman camp. I know there are two other paths into the North Downs from the Ram Duath. Those will be easy to shut. It’s the path through the Hillman Camp that will prove to be difficult. That is why we need those men. We will need them to guarantee the safety of the one who will set the explosives on the face of that wall. Such an explosive should force a landslide that will shut off that access. I know the risks are high and that our plan could end in disaster, but it is a risk that must be taken. We will go in the cover of night. When no orcs are flowing through and when the Hillmen are asleep. When they least expect it, we will sneak into that encampment and place the explosives where on the walls.”
“Why would you need my rangers?” asked Farrif.
“We will need cover from any enemy that will see us. It is not an easy task and I know there are many Hillmen, especially near the exit of the Ram Duath. Believe me, I would do it any other way if I had a chance. But with this, there is no other way. We have to take this option because as I see it, there is no greater option. It is time to act defensively to stop their flow.”
Ferrif gave a deep sigh and then gave a determined look at Sergee and Eotheron. “Let’s get it done.”