Part 124 – Failure Too Far Afield
Early it was in the ruins of Ost Guruth. Not a soul was awake save one farmer in the western part of the ruins who was tending his farm before the light of day came. The stars were still shining down on Lone Lands, full and beautiful they were as was the moon as it began to sink down toward the horizon. The rays of the sun had not yet pierced the darkness of the eastern horizon as the hour was still too early for it to shine through the darkness.
Theomin rose from his cot in the main hall in the center of Ost Guruth. He wanted to make an early start to the day as he knew he still had a very long ride down to Dunland. “If the past was any indicator to the length of time it would take to reach Dunland,” he thought, “then it would still be another four days before me reached Avardin. Too long that was for the war in Annuminas was going to take place before that time.”
So, he rose up and grabbed his staff. He woke Aches and the two quickly trotted off toward the stables down at the base of the ruins. There, Bragga was, as though she was prepared for another long journey. She was eating hay that the dwarf had placed down for her the night before; getting her fill of the hay before the journey began and eating it as fast as she could. Theomin patted her on the side and then hopped onto her back and Aches jumped up to join him in the saddle.
Quickly, they were off again as they sped toward the road and turned eastward. The moon, for a long time, was the only light bright enough to keep the path lit enough for Theomin to push Bragga fast along the road but as soon as they reached the Last Bridge, the first rays of the sun began to pierce the darkness in the East and the land was lit enough by it that the moon was but a memory of light. Perfect timing it was as he knew the forest of the Trollshaws would be too dark in the night to navigate. He wanted to reach the other end of it before the fall of night came upon them.
He trotted over the Last Bridge and on the other side, the canopy of the trees blocked off the fading stars. It was not as dark as other forests. The trees did not close off the sky from view too much. There was still enough of the sky visible from below as the path too was quite easy to follow. It curved and winded around mountains and great trees, up and down hills and past ancient ruins that stood far up in the hills of the lands.
It was about midday when Theomin reached the fords of Buinen. The trickling of the water was gentle enough for Theomin to bring Bragga to so she could get a nice refreshing drink of the cool river water. Theomin too jumped off his horse and filled up a water skin that he had brought from Bree. He looked at the nice ford of the land and wondered at its beauty. Under any other time, he would have loved to stay at the ford and take in all the beauty that was the gentle river. But his task kept him in check and soon, mounted Bragga and the three of them were off again.
South they rode over the hills that continued along the eastern side of the river. Over the hill they went and back down toward another crossing over a small brook that was somewhat of a tributary of the main river of the Bruinen. It fed the Bruinen just next to the little fishing cottage that Theomin stayed at during his journey north. As much as he wanted to end the day and stay there, he pushed himself to continued past the cottage and across another ford up to the path that lead up toward the plains of Eregion.
Up he went, across an ever-rising path that finally reached its peak as he continued across a fallen tree and then up again until they, at last, reached the lands of Eregion. By then, the sun was already on its way down to the western horizon. The orange and red rays of the sun began to fill the western horizon when the three travelers reached the outer edge of the holly trees that lined the northern border of Eregion.
All the land was painted in an orange and red hue as Theomin continued across the plains and by the time the sun had finally reached the horizon. He found the small ruined encampment he had stay in during his journey north. He dismounted from Bragga and gave her an apple for her hard work. Theomin too was exhausted but proud. His two-day journey was cut down only one, thanks to nothing eventful happening.
He sat inside the ruins and leaned against the edge of it to relax just a little. Aches ran off to go romping around while Bragga settled for eating the few grasses that were available around the ruins of Eregion. He harkened back on the last time he was there. He remembered the elf that aided him. “The Twilight Company” they called themselves. They saved him not once but twice on his whole journey.
He also recalled his first meeting with Aches in the rocky dry riverbed not far from the ruins he was in. It was those half-orcs that were after him and his family. Such vile creatures those half-orcs were. He saw no evidence of them at all in the lands of Eregion. Whatever they were there for, they must have moved on or all died. He hoped they had all died off, as vile as they all were.
Theomin almost fell asleep for a nap when Aches came and began to purr next to him. He reached his hand up but kept his eyes closed and felt fur from a pelt that was not Aches’. Instead of his little lynx friend, a rabbit the little fur ball had caught. Aches looked at Theomin with pride for catching food for Theomin.
“Thank you, little boy,” Theomin said to his lynx friend as he petted him. Theomin quickly put together some small sticks and made a little makeshift fire. He skinned the rabbit and placed the rabbit on a stick and barbequed it. He only wished he had some seasoning to go along with it. Regardless, he enjoyed eating his barbequed cony for dinner and relaxed the rest of the night with Aches nuzzling up to him for warmth.
Again, Theomin woke early and wanted to make his two day journey only a one day one. He quickly woke Aches and headed toward Bragga, who, it seemed was ready yet again. She ate all the grasses around the old elven ruins and was ready for another full day ride.
Before the breaking of the day, they were already off southbound again. They rode swiftly past all the elven ruins that inhabited the lands of Eregion and by the breaking of the day, had rode all the way to the dried-up riverbeds. He passed it up and soon rode quickly across the many hills and valleys that were part of the southern region of Eregion.
At last, they reached the river that separated Eregion from Enedwaith. The sun had already reached its peak in the sky and as it began its descent into the west, Theomin forded the river. Soon, he reached the other side and knew he was in the last land before the lands of Dunland. Again, he allowed Bragga to take a drink of the waters of the river as he also filled up his water skin. They then made south again.
Past the few hills that occupied the northern end of Eregion, they felt a slight wind sweeping across the plains of the valley before they reached the main part of the land. Different ruins were strewn across the land. Ruins of different men, the men of Gondor. The same types of ruins that Theomin remembered back in Rohan. The ruins of men who used to live in those lands thousands of years ago.
It brought him back to that day in Rohan when he found the map in the Gondorian tower, back to the beginning of his quest. A sudden realization hit him that he was different. He felt changed and he looked different. He was not the same boy who ventured out months ago, but instead he was a more warn and hardened man. He could not remember the feeling he had when he was at home. The could not remember the sounds of the nearby river nor the feel of the sun beating down on the dry Wold grass. It was difficult to remember the smells of the trees nearby. All those warm memories were overwritten by all of the more recent events in his life. The sounds of the many streams he forded, the feel of the warm sun after a cold morning in Annuminas, the smell of the pine trees of Evendim. It was troubling to him that those things that made him who he was had begun to fade.
But even that feeling faded as he remembered Morgoth and the task he had to do. As difficult as it was, he needed to push those feelings to the side and continue south. He trotted Bragga across the bridge of the Araniant and into Nan Laeglin. To his right, the small town of Lhanuch sat on a hill almost adjacent from the tall Gondorian tower on top of the tall hill just to the east. He had to stay there for the night as it was already becoming dusk. The light of the day was failing and he needed to find a safe place to rest before and continued across the haunted pass of the Bonevales to reach Dunland.
He trotted up the hill toward the guards out front of the small town.
“I would like to stay the night,” Theomin said.
“Why would we allow a Davodiad such as you into our town?” the guard said.
“I am unsure if you remembered,” Theomin tried to convince the guard, “I killed some of the halforcs on my journey north. That was a few months back. I believe I gave tidings of the Sulvulk’s daughter during the same time. Am I to believe your people have forgotten me?”
“I am not forgetting such a traveler came through these lands,” the guard said. “Many travelers have. Recently a band of strange elves came through here. They avoided capture by our people but one was wounded by our arrow. I doubt he will survive long.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Theomin asked, confused.
“You cross us here in Lhanuch, and you will pay with your life,” the guard told Theomin.
“I wish only to stay the night,” Theomin said.
The guard looked up and down Theomin with suspicion. “Dregfrud,” the guard called upon another. “Fetch Suvulch. Tell him of this Davodiad at the front gate.” The other ran up the hill and for a few minutes, the two stood in silence. The air of suspicion the guard had was terrible as Theomin felt the discomfort. It seemed like the guard was ready to rip Theomin in half when the runner came back. Another walked down with him.
“Ah, Davodiad,” the big man finally came with a large hug. “It is good you have come,” he said as he embraced Theomin and then held his shoulders. “Stand down, Slavik,” he told the guard. “You’re a pinch too eager.” He looked at Theomin, “This is the same character who knocked you out the first time you were here. A bit too anxious if you ask me. But that makes for a good guard, in my opinion. Keeps all the unnecessary rabble out of our village.” He pounded Theomin’s shoulders and pushed him inside. “Come, let us converse about your travels and why you are headed back.”
The two continued up the hill while Bragga and Aches stayed back at the gate. Aches growled at the guard, Slavik, as the guard looked back at the little lynx nervously.
“So, I seem to remember you said you were off to find a family,” the man, Suvulch said. “Whatever came of that?”
Theomin told of his family in Esteldin and of the battle of Annuminas. As they headed up the hill, sat and ate their meals inside one of the main huts, he told of the countless troubles he and his people had with keeping the city which finally fell in their absence. He told of the Valley of the Worms and of the tunnels under Aman Sul, where they lost their friend Helesdir. He told of the many places up in the north that Suvulch had never visited. He told of the many battles he had with orcs and half orcs and men of Angmar. He told of the drake that he had ultimately killed in the Valley of the Worms.
“Quite the adventure you had up there,” Suvulch said. “But why have you come back this way when it sounds like your task is not done?”
Theomin hesitated until he realized it was fatal to not tell him. “I need help,” he said. “I have come for aid in Dunland. A terrible power is about to be unleashed by the enemy in the overrun city of Annuminas. An enemy from the first age is being unleashed. A powerful being known as Morgoth.”
“Morgoth?” Sulvulch said. “Sounds not so dangerous to me.”
“Have you ever heard of Sauron?” Theomin asked.
“The lord of darkness?” Sulvuch asked. “The one who tempted Saruman to employ the Dunlandings to fight for him? Yes, I have heard of him. A lord of darkness he is. A terrible business he is.”
“Sauron was the lieutenant for this terrible being in the first age of Middle Earth,” Theomin told Suvulch. “He is not only a being, he is a maiar, one who is more powerful than even Saruman. One that has the power to call upon his allies: dragons, orcs, fell beasts called balrogs. These things have the potential to destroy all Middle Earth if nothing is done. I am traveling to Dunland to find help from those who are willing to aid me in the fight against those who dare to summon Morgoth.”
“What you ask,” Suvulch said, “may be too much for the people of Dunland. Terrible this being sounds but I do not think the men of Dunland would aid you. They have already been tempted to fight one war outside their lands. Do you think they would jump at the chance to fight another while they still lick their wounds from a former war?”
“I know that and I see the problem there,” Theomin said, “but this fight,” he shook his head and tried to convince the man, “this fight is for more than a fight for land. Tis a fight so stave off the end of the world. If this evil thing is summoned from the void, all our homes, from Eriador to Gondor will be destroyed. We still have a chance to stop this from happening if we end it before he is summoned.”
“Well,” Suvulch said, “It is not me you need to convince. “It is the men of Dunland and they may not be so eager to listen. They may even string you up by your neck if you make such a request. They are done with war. They are done with fighting.” Theomin remained silent. He had not thought of the terrible time the Dunlandings had with Saruman. But he had to try.
Suvulch stood from the seat wearing a solemn face. “I am sorry, Devodiad,” Suvulch said. “But if you are looking for allies in your war, your journey may have been for not. It may be best you return to your home and fight your own battles.” He began to leave but turned, “If you do go south to Dunland, Devodiad, wear the cloth of my people, if you still bare it,” Suvulch told Theomin. He stood and left the building.
Theomin sat there alone with his own thoughts. His quest could not be in vain. He needed those men from Dunland. He needed to find an army to fight against those in Annuminas who were to summon Morgoth. Because of the terrible state Suvulch left Theomin, he could not sleep a wink that night. A terrible night he had as his hope was crushed and fear was placed on his heart. The fear of failure.