Part 123 – Eastward Bound
The rising sun in the village of Bree was bright and warm. All around, the patrons of the village bustled about on their work going this way and that as others sat and watched, chatting about the day and days gone by. The scholar’s way was no exception. Through the entirety of the way, men were selling meats to hungry patrons near the north-western gate of Bree. The patrons lined up many men deep to collect what the butcher was slicing up for the patrons, which was a thick slice of boar ribs for the customers.
Further down the alley way were mothers and daughters of Bree helping cleaning the baskets and baskets of laundry. The girls would remove the laundry to give to their mothers. The mothers would splash them in the buckets of water and run them along the washboard complete suds as the bubbles drifted up into the air. Young children would run around and pop the bubbles, happily blissful and innocently entertained by the suds. Other daughters would rinse the clean clothes and hang them out to dry.
As they did so, they talked about life in Bree and the problems they had before Magla took over. They discussed their ideas on how to improve the city but mainly in a positive way as their outlook on the state of Bree and Bree-land had changed with the changing of the mayor. They discussed about family affairs and their husbands, the guards, duty and the fear they had for their husbands while Gerald was mayor of Bree.
They had their own ideas of what happened with the incident that night when Gerald was chased out of the town. Some believed that Gerald up and quit his leadership role in the city while others believed Bree had been bought by a rich family who took over and that Gerald was living a life of peace somewhere far away.
Mainly, they were hoping for a return of the dwarves and the hobbits of Bree. They were sorely missed as many of them were friends to the people of Bree. Even the elves, as smug as the inhabitance of Bree believed they were, were also missed. The wisdom they possessed was a jewel of their presence only enhanced by their calm demeanor.
But as they spoke, a man dressed all in black came up through the Scholar’s Stair. A stern man he seemed, bearded, had a grim look upon his face and showed no emotion. He was cloaked in black with the seven yellow stars that occupied the main part of the back of the cloak. He bore a staff with him, which looked as though it had been taken from a tree as it branched out on the top end of it.
The women murmured to each other as the man passed, “That’s one of the men who saved our city.” As he headed past them as they continued, “It must be Theomin,” “Yes, the man who brought the ones who saved our city.”
As he passed, he looked focused, as if he had many things on his mind. He gave not a hint of acknowledgment that the women were speaking of him. He only continued on until he came to a door close to the nearby bridge that linked the upper portions of the Scholar’s Stair. He knocked on the door and soon an older lady answered. Her silver hair was a mess and she looked as though she was overwhelmed.
“Hello, ma’am,” Theomin said to the lady. “How is my Aches?”
“Take him,” the lady exhaustedly said. “He is terrorizing my cats.” She opened the door and there was Aches, as he chased and tried to pounce on the old cat-lady’s cats. “How you could have convinced me to take such a brutal animal, I cannot fathom. He tried to rip apart Mr. Jingles twice. He pounced on the Lady Flocksom. Heart attacks, they will receive, Mr. Theomin. My poor Mr. Jingles, Lady Flocksom, Socks, poor Freddy, Flakes and Harry. My poor Shredsy, Buster, Clive, Cuddles, Bouncy, Fluffy, Ms. Flakeslow and Muffin.” She picked another cat and rubbed her nose with the cat’s, “My poor Furry, Maxy, Blossom, Shreeky, Lady Meowser, Cottonbottom, Clubsniffer and Footsy. I’m sorry Ms. Kittysworth, Wiskers, Katy Purry, Lords, Ringsy and Just Kittsen. The mean cat’s gone, Fluffy the Fluffster, Scratches, Patches, Matches, and Cocoa Butter. And I’m sorry he chased you Pumpkin, Hooper, and most of all, Mr. Puddles,” she picked up a little cat that had wet the floor. She then looked back up to Theomin. He sheds like a tree in autumn and you wont even believe what he’s done to my furniture.” Theomin looked at the state of the furnature. Any piece of cloth furniture was scratched deeply. All the walls were clawed, the wooden tables had deep scratches in them and the sheets of the bed were completely destroyed. The woman’s dress had claw marks and were shredded by Aches and so was her skin. “He – was – a – nightmare,” she shrieked.
“I am so sorry for that, ma’am” Theomin said very apologetically. “Is there anything I can help you with?”
“No,” she said, “Taking that beast away from my precious little babies is quite enough.” She pushed him toward the door along with Aches, “Now be gone with you!” she said as she just about chased him out of the room. She slammed the door behind Theomin and that was it. Aches looked at his master as if he had not a clue what was happening.
“Come on Aches,” he said. “We have quite the journey ahead of us.”
He continued along the Scholar’s Stair across the bridge and over to southern side of Bree. He continued along the back alleyway until he came to the main thoroughfare of the town. He then made it to the stables just inside the south-eastern entrance to Bree and walked up to Bragga. She was ready for the journey. She had her saddle bags and saddle already fitted onto her. She was given plenty of water and given plenty of carrots along with a whole batch of apples in her saddlebag.
Theomin climbed on top of Bragga and Aches jumped just before him. Bragga trotted toward the south-eastern gate of Bree. He gave a slight sigh as he knew he would have a long and tough road. Regardless, the kicked Bragga and off they road east along the Great East West Road. Fast he had to push Bragga. Fast because he knew that time was short and his friends were already on their way. The dwarf Krovrin and his Hobbit friend Toby were already headed North. Eleswith, Estonethiel, Eotheron, and Sergee were also on their way north. They were most likely already finding aid. Theomin knew that he had to hurry. The dark power there were going to spring forth from Annuminas was too great and terrible to discount. He knew that the aid he required was far and difficult to reach, but regardless he knew he needed to reach them. So, he pushed. He pushed Bragga hard and he pushed Bragga fast and at last, within half a day, they had already passed Staddle, the Midgewater Marsh, and had finally reached the Forsaken Inn on the western border of the Lonelands.
The sun was midway up in the sky the hills were shining with the sun’s rays reflecting brightly off of them. A nice day it was. Theomin decided to not push Bragga as had as she had from Bree. A difficult day it had started for her as she was panting heavily after Theomin pushed her as hard as he did. He dismounted her and reached into the saddle bag. He removed an apple and fed it to her and patted her on the neck.
“Good girl,” he said to Bragga as he placed his head on hers with loving gentleness. She happily took the apple in her mouth. Just as quickly as Theomin placed it in her mouth, the apple was gone. She ate the apple so fast Theomin did not even see it chewed. “You are a fast eater, today, are you not?”
He mounted Bragga again as Aches jumped up onto the saddle and they headed off again. As they approached the hill of Aman Sul, Theomin looked at it and remembered the terrible experience they had in the caves. A horrible time they had there and so unfortunate. The loss of Helesdir weighed heavily on all members of their group, but no as heavy as Eleswith. Theomin wondered how she would do recruiting the members of Trestlebridge. They were a strong group of men and women there and he knew that they would be a good addition to the army they were gathering. But he wondered how Eleswith was working through her loss. He remembered them so happy together and the playfulness he saw from Eleswith.
But soon he passed Weathertop and approached the hideout they had in the Lone Lands. He was reminded of the horrible experience with the group kicking her out of their fellowship. He remembered how devastated Eleswith was when she parted from the group. They meant a lot to Eleswith but then again, she changed greatly while she was with Theomin. So much they had both been through as they retook Annuminas, hunted for food for the city and fought for the city. He also remembered their terrible time in the Valley of the Worms and the betrayal of Teryndir.
“Teryndir,” he said to himself. If ever there was a more dramatic change in a person, it was of Teryndir’s. Such a crafty, sneaky one he was. He then turned out to be quite the ally. It was also for Teryndir that they were needing to take back the city. He meant a lot to Theomin, as he was, for so long, a source of sorrow and difficulty. He became a good friend and brother, eventually. His journey was also for Teryndir.
Of course Helesdir was not much of a fan of Teryndir. He gave a laugh as he remembered Eleswith and Helesdir romping around the trees in the northern forest of Chetwood as they traveled toward Weathertop. He then frowned when he remembered the fate of Helesdir inside the tunnels of Weathertop. Such a terrible memory he had of that he wanted to push that away and look at the forthcoming need of his. The need to find a place to rest.
He soon was going to pass Ost Guruth. He looked at it as he stopped. The sun was getting lower in the sky and he wondered how much further he should go during that day. He looked around and saw the long shadows of the trees as they splayed across the dry grassy lands of the plains, much like the trees in the Wold of Rohan. That was always a sign to begin to finish up his task and head in for dinner. Perhaps that was the sign that he needed to head toward the ruins of Ost Guruth.
As he began to move toward the ruins, a couple of orcs came up from the south. “Aye, you,” one said in his growling voice. “I know you’re goin to that ruin of men and I want to take your things first. Don’t be alarmed, you ain’t the only one we’ve bothered on the road. We’ll just make your life real bad if you don’t obey,” the voice scowled as it showed its ugly teeth.
“Are you serious?” Theomin said with a voice as if the orcs were only a bother. “I would really like to make it to the ruins without any incidents.”
“You what?” the orc said. “Are you sayin that we ain’t nothin but distractions to you and that you would rather you had not bothered with us?”
Surprised, that was exactly what he was thinking. He just said, “Yes, that is quite the correct answer.”
The orc and his companion just looked at each other and laughed a hardy laugh. “That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard,” he said as he continued laughing. “You’re quite the comedian.”
Theomin sighed and rolled his eyes. He dismounted from Bragga as the two orcs quickly stopped laughing and looked at Theomin seriously. “You have a chance to turn the other way,” Theomin said, “and still live.”
“Are you giving us a threat?” the orc asked as he looked at the other, “I think he’s threatening us,” surprised that the man would dare threaten him. “We ain’t givin up nothin.”
“So be it,” Theoimin said. He whirled his staff as the orcs flew back and their weapons flew even further away. Theomin then wacked the orcs in the head as they stood dazed from what just happened. He kicked the orcs on the ground and then they began to run.
“Okay, we give up, we give up everythin.” They turned tail and ran away toward the ruins.
Theomin knew they would not give up as they would send reinforcements toward the ruins of Ost Guruth. He conjured up a whirling wind and lightning. It spun all around the two fleeing orcs as they were caught up in it and sucked up and shocked by the lightning from inside the winds. Theomin could hear them as they screamed the last cries of fear as they soon succumbed to the wounds inflicted by the lightning and perished on dry grassy land.
Theomin just stared at the wind as it disappeared and then wiped off his hands as if it was no big deal. “That will do,” he said as he mounted Bragga and rode her the rest of the way toward Ost Guruth.
The stable master, who witnessed the whole thing, thanked Theomin, “Oh, thank you kind man,” he said. He was a short and pudgy dwarf and he held onto Theomin’s hand as he continued to thank Theomin, “We have wanted to get rid of those menacing orcs for such a long time. Those Warriors of Eriador, as they called themselves, went away and the whole orc population in this land has increased. We’ve tried to get rid of them but no matter what, they’re just continuing to be a bother.”
“As much as I would love to help in that matter, I cannot do anything about the orc problem here,” Theomin said. “I have important matters in the south that I must attend to.”
“I see,” the dwarf looked down in sadness.
“Oh, thank you kind sir,” the dwarf said. “Please, tell the elder that you can take any bunk up the fortress. Heck, you can even take my bunk,” the dwarf said gladly.
“Thank you, kind dwarf,” Theomin said, “but I am sure I can do well with whatever they give me.”
He handed the dwarf the reigns of Bragga’s and continued up the stairs and into the compound. There, standing not far from the base of the stairs, was Frideric the Elder. “Greetings, stranger, welcome to…” he looked on Theomin deeply, “I know you’re face,” the Elder said. “I believe I’ve seen you before. You came looking for the wizard Radagast.”
Impressed with the man’s good memory, Theomin looked surprised as he answered, “Yes, that is right.”
“Have you found the old wizard?” the Elder asked.
“I did, in fact,” Theomin remembered as he recalled meeting the wizard on the western hills of Evendim.
He was snapped back to the present when the Elder said, “Good, I’m glad to hear such tidings.” He looked at Theomin, “I suppose you need lodging for the night. Normally we do not welcome too many visitors, but I remember you were once good friends with Eleswith, in a way a daughter to these lands. Rumor has spread. Rumor of what has happened to the son of our lands here. I know you were with Eleswith and then must have been friends with Helesdir. The rumors are of the son of this land’s passing.”
“How know you this?” the elder asked.
“I bore witness to his death,” Theomin said in a broken tone.
“Then they are true,” the elder said. “Pity that is. He was always such a gentle soul. Always had a sense of duty and a willing heart to do it. I will always miss his romps around the ruins with his close friend Magla. Always playing some type of game where they chased each other with wooden sticks, thinking themselves as guards and orcs.” The elder lowered his head and Theomin saw the same sadness he saw in Magla. He then looked up and continued, “I see him, you know; wandering this way and that. Just after the setting of the sun, when the night is freshly young but the day is old, I have seen a man walking the walls. Just for a moment, I feel he is gazing upon me, smiling and wishing me good health. He then is gone and I wonder if it was only a vision; just a passing memory of him caught in my daydreaming.” He looked lost in thought but broke himself out of it. “Please, take our hospitality. Any friend of Eleswith, Helesdir and Magla’s is a friend of mine.”
“I will be happy to take a cot here and maybe some food while I am at it,” Theomin said. “A long journey I will have tomorrow. Through the forest of the Trollshaws I will be headed. I will then head south toward Dunland.”
“Dunland,” Fredrich was surprised. “What manner of business do you have there?”
Theomin looked at the Elder with a serious face as he said, “To prevent the end of the world.”