Part 130 – Sacrifice
Sergee, Estonethiel and the elves of Lin Giliath ran eastward on the Evendim road and then north toward the gap between the hills and Ost Forod. They were silent, stealthy, and quick. Very quick, in fact, as it was quickly becoming difficult for Sergee to keep up with the host of elves. But even as they moved quickly, they were very good at holding back with their comrad. They surrounded Sergee in a circle to protect their friend from any attack as they entered the den where families of bears lived. Quickly, they continued through the den land and out on the other side. It was there, the other regement of rangers met up with the elves.
“Are we joining you soon?” one of the rangers from Esteldin asked. “We are getting anxious as there has not been a sign of the enemy and we have been waiting here for days.”
“We will soon need your aid,” Sergee said. “We are tasked to take the town of Ost Forod from the orcs that have occupied it.”
“Then we will continue to stand guard as it looks as though you have good numbers to take that town,” a ranger said. “But be weary. We sent a scout to that town not long ago. He says that on a stair far above the the rest of the town sits the leader. Our scout has not seen him sleep or keep his gaze from anything else but the town. A large Uruk-hai it seems to be. Fierce looking but not only that, a type of weapon is sitting above the market place. It cannot be a weapon of war as there is curiously the one. The rangers here think it is to warn Annuminas if an invasion is to take place. Our scout heard one of the orcs refer to it as a ‘Fire Call.’ With a brazier beside it, the bolt of the weapon is most likely set ablaze and shot into the air. Such a signal would surely warn Annuminas of your invasion.”
“Then we must take it out before it can be used,” Sergee said.
“If it requires someone to fire it off, we can station an archer to kill the one pulling the trigger,” Aglardir suggested. “That way we can ensure it will not be used before we dismantle it.”
“Dismantle it or use it for ourselves,” Sergee said. “Such a weapon could be a boon to our efforts.”
“I feel such a weapon could quickly be used against us, if it was retaken by the enemy,” Aglardir warned.
“We can discuss the merits of keeping such a weapon later,” Estonethiel said. “We have a town to retake.”
“Yes, we do,” Sergee said and turned to the lead ranger, “And afterward, we will see you in the town,” Kill any orcs that try to escape.”
“Will do,” the ranger said.
The small squad of elves and Sergee ran up the hill up toward the small town of Ost Forod. They continued without being seen and ran up, stealthfully toward the small two story enclosure. One ran around and up the small hill that lead up the second story of the enclosure. He hid out of sight from the sentries that stood watch over the dell in front of him. It was an orc who seemed sleepy in the dark of the night. The elf then made it to the second story of the building and, with his rope he carried with him, threw it over and secured it to the building, allowing the great numbers of elves to scale the enclosure in great numbers. Twenty elves in all came climbing up the rope to the second story.
It was then that they came close to the entrance of the town of Ost Forod. They passed the sentry that was standing watch from the outside. One shot an arrow into the head of the sentry, silently killing it. They passed quietly toward the entrance and finally stopped at the entrance. Only a few orcs were seen guarding the small town. The elves formed up, five archers facing the southern entrance and five facing inside the town. As they faced their respective directions, five other elves began combating any orcs that stood at or nearby the entrance of the town. Six orcs in all were slain by the elves as the five archers joined their brethren at the entrance. The southern entrance and the eastern entrance of the town were secure.
The ten remaining elves continued into the town with one securing a spot that allowed her have view of the “Fire Call.” She then waited with an arrow drawn toward the fire call as the rest of her brethren continued into the town.
As the last nine continued, the passed the market place and stopped. They took up defensive positions at the ends of the walls as five others, including Sergee and Estonethiel, climed the steps toward the market. They silently killed the five orcs that occupied the market. There, the town’s people of Ost Forod were held.
“Thank you,” one of the towns people called out. It was loud enough for an orc to jump up and look the invading elves. The orc quickly blew its horn before it was shot in the neck. But the horn was blown and the number of orcs came from sleep. They too tried to blow their horns but were quickly silenced. One arrow after the other were heard whistling through the air up above as the elf sentry sent shot after shot at the orcs who were in charge of the fire call. The market place was cleared but the battle for the town just began.
The five elves, Estonetheil and Sergee joined the line of elves who had already engaged in combat with orcs. A whole line of orcs poured forth from the upper levels of the small town. The five elves below fought as many of the orcs as they could as the other five came to relieve them. The relief was short lived as the majority of the orcs of the town were up above in the upper half. At least three dozen came forth toward the ten elves.
Sergee sliced through the orcs as best he could as the other elves tried to do the same. Two elves were taken down by the orcs as Estonethiel tried her best to deal with the orcs she was combating. At last, and most unexpectedly, there was a brief respite in the number of orcs that poured forth from the upper levels. The remaining elves ran up the steps toward the upper level and slayed the the remaining orcs.
There above in the mix of fighting orcs, rangers had somehow made their way up into the small section through a crack in the eastern wall. Four rangers in all were fighting the orcs there in the small court. Three were fighting close combat while the last was an archer aiding his fellow rangers. The four struggled with the many orcs but still that small number made all the difference to the group of elves already struggling to combat the many orcs that were there.
“Claim the fire call!” Sergee yelled to an elf.
Two elves ran up the steps toward the firecall but were met by a large uruk-hai. It aggressively yelled down to the elves who paused, then ran back down the steps back toward the rest the elves in a sudden panic. The uruk then ran back toward the firecall. As Sergee saw the uruk running toward the firecall, he ran desperately up the steps toward the uruk as fast as his legs could take him.
As the uruk approached the firecall, it was shot in the shoulder by the sentry elf. It stepped back and then ran forward but stumbled over an already dead orc he didn’t see just when Sergee ran to the uruk. Sergee swung his sword but the uruk kicked back with its large log-like leg into Sergee’s chest. He flew back to the nearby wall. The uruk jumped up, turned and grabbed Sergee by the neck. Another arrow slammed into the uruk’s back and he let go his grip of Sergee.
Sergee ran toward the firecall but knew not what to do to disable it. As the uruk recovered, it ran toward the trigger lever. Sergee, with no other option jumped and grabbed on to the long bolt of the firecall just as the orc shot it. The bolt flew out but as Sergee held desperately held on to it, the bolt was forced down. As the bolt sailed through the air, Sergee lost his grip and the bolt plunged down onto the sentry elf inside the walls of Ost Forod. Sergee slammed down hard into the market place.
“Sergee!” Estonethiel yelled as she sensed her beloved flung to the market ground. As the fighting ended and the elves and rangers defeated the last of the orcs, she ran to Sergee’s side. He was knocked unconscious and she could not sense breathing. She sat next to him, took him in her arms and patted his head slowly as she rocked him back and forth. The surviving elves came to the side of Estonethiel. They knelt next to Estonethiel and looked at her with a longing sadness. It was as if they were not mourning his loss but for her. She closed her eyes and almost ceased her breathing. It was then, as it seemed she began to collapse he then awoke in a startle.
“It’s okay,” Estonethiel said as she recovered. “You’re fine.”
“Worry not, it flew not into the sky,” Estonethiel said as she stroked her hand through his hair. “You kept it from breaching the walls and calling for aid.”
Sergee’s tense body calmed down. “What a relief. That thing was about to shoot it. I had not an option.”
“You were very brave to do that,” Aglardir said. “Take some time to rest.” He looked at the rest of the elves, “Soon, we will need to create our distraction.”
“Yes,” Sergee said, “When I recover my strength, I will find the one who will aid us in that distraction. But first, I need this time to rest.”
Through the rest of the night, the elves busied themselves with burying their dead and burning the rest of the orc bodies, including the uruk that posed such a great threat to Sergee. Estonethiel gave it a final stab in the head for vengeance. She gave a smile, though the gesture overall meant nothing. Sergee, after resting for only a short while, recruited the aid of the man from Bree who concocted the mixture that bombed the passes from Angmar to the North Downs.
In the kitchen of the small town as he received aid from the people of Ost Forod, Holger Tanner collected the powder and pots to create the firepots. In all, he created thirty of the firepots and placed them gently into three carts provided for him, ten pots per cart. The carts were then filled with a few food items that the occupiers of Annuminas were expecting. A cloth was then placed on the carts, three in all and redied at the entrance of the town.
Then, as morning approached and the sun began to breach the eastern horizon of the sky, Sergee, the elves, the rangers and the people of Ost Forod who volunteered to aid in the retaking of the city, gathered around as a plan was formed. Sergee was at the center as he drew the bottom level of the city of Annuminas.
“So, our objective is for you,” he pointed to a few of the people of Ost Forod, “to bring the carts to three strategic areas in the city. What I don’t know is if they usually want you to place your supplies.”
Basil Gummage spoke up, “They usually task us to bring the carts just below the bridge. But we usually have at least five carts full of food. If we have only three, they will kill some of us. It has happened before.”
“Then we will fill more up,” Sergee said. “You need to seem as authentic as ever. Make them suspect nothing. If you were to bring leave the cart at the entrance, you need to create a distraction that will force you to stop a cart there,” he pointed at the entrance of the city. “Tell them a cart wheel is stuck or broken. I don’t know, think of something. A second can be left just under the bridge. That’s fine but you will need to bring the last right at the very bottom of the path that leads up to the second level. We call that point Gwaelband.”
“What do I say to the orcs?” Basil asked.
“Make up a story,” Sergee suggested. “Tell them you were instructed to bring the cart to the second level for the priests up there.”
“What will happen when I leave it there?” Basil asked.
“We will then send a signal for our man on the inside of the city to blow the bombs inside the cart,” Sergee said. “But you must stay clear of the blast. If these are anything like Holgar Tanner made for the bombing of the passes, they are quite strong.”
“Yes, they are quite at bit stronger,” Holgar added. “I have placed more powder in them than before. That way they will give more of a punch. But you have to leave a distance of more than a hundred feet. There’s fire that will fly from it not to mention the food inside the carts that will fly out very fast and very deadly. The wood of the cart will fly out in all ways and that wood will slice through anything it comes across. All the things on the ground may also fly out such as rocks…”
“Okay, we understand,” Sergee interrupted Holgar. “It will be big, so you had better find a safe place. You will need to signal our man first as to which cart is carrying the explosive pots. Then, leave that place as fast as you can.” He looked at the other elves and men of Ost Forod, “That will then be our signal to run into the city. We will eventually face a very large number of orcs and Angmarim. We may also face trolls as they will all come to the sight of the explosions.”
“Is there any chance that those of us who bare the responsibility to bring the carts will survive?” one of the Ost Forod members asked.
The elves and Sergee looked at each other. Their worry was not unfounded as the mission to carry the explosives was already wraught with peril. “I know not,” Sergee said. “But we will do all in our power to make sure you survive. Once the bombs explode, we will rush to your aid. The elves are quick and light on their feet. They can ensure your safety.”
“Can we have a few of those bombs of yours to keep on ourselves if we are captured?” Basil asked as the rest of the elves and Sergee fell silent. He continued, “Such a possibility of capture is not completely impossible. If they do capture us, we can then take out as many of them as we can.” All around looked at Basil as they could not believe what they were hearing from him. “I can’t see myself being taken and tortured by those creatures. I can’t fight well enough nor can I fire an arrow, at least not with much skill. If I was taken by the enemy, I’d rather do something about it and take out as many of those things as I can. I feel like my fellow townspeople would do the same.”
“Aye,” one said as another agreed, “Yes I would too,” and the rest nodded in agreement with Basil.
“Are you sure?” Sergee asked.
Basil smiled and gave a slight chuckle and shrugged, “I can think of worse ways to die.”
“Then let it be,” Sergee said as he looked at Holgar. Holgar gave a sigh and ran his hand on the back of his neck. He then reluctantly left to prepare more bombs. “I can think of no other way to repay you for such an honorable sacrifice.”
“You already repayed us,” Basil said. “You recaptured our town and set us free. Your friend did the same long ago when we were invaded by orcs. Without your help, we would be lead by the enemy many times over. We volunteered to aid you. No one forced our hand. Just do what you need to do to prevent us from using our bombs.”