The Family Line Part 143 – The In Town Meeting

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Part 143 – The In Town Meeting

Daylight waned as the three travelers continued through the eastern pass of Evendim through the road that led into eastern Parth Aduial. The thoughts of the Colossus and the Canadiach were still fresh in Theomin’s mind. That was the last time he would set eyes on those places. A bitter sweet feeling it was as he remembered the struggle they had and the death of Taidir in Ost Forod. The bitter feeling of that gave way to the sweet feeling of coming through there one last time. His heart was glad that he would be leaving that place behind and that it was not of much import any longer.

They camped that night at the border of Parth Aduial and the fields of Fornost. The small bit of ruins that were there at the border provided camp for many an excursion Theomin has had. It was there for him as they traveled from Esteldin to retake Annuminas for the first time. It was there when he tried to leave the first time with the woman he thought was in love with him, Amathwyn. The camp was there when he traveled with the rest of the company to Esteldin on their quest. That would be his last night he would spend in that small camp sight. Not quite convenient as there were no beds or soft places to lay, but it was off the path far enough for some not to notice.

The next day was much like the first with them traveling through the Fields of Fornost. But instead of Theomin having memories of the fields, it was Eleswith. Her thoughts drifted to the evil presence that manipulated her heart into thinking that Helesdir had survived the caves under Aman Sul. It was a terrible and twisted entity that occupied her mind and forced her to believe her love was alive. But with all that terror that she encountered in the fields and later in the fortress of Fornost, it was nowhere near the horrors of what the men and women of Trestlebridge felt as they believed their loved ones were lost to the fields.

By the end of the they day, they arrived in Trestlebridge. Unlike the night before, they were treated to a feast and a festival in honor of Eleswith and Theomin. Eleswith danced with the townsmen and drank the night away as Theomin and Sylderan sat and enjoyed the evening watching the people from the once ruined town again enjoying life and no longer frightened by invasions of orcs or the fear of a malevolent beings occupying their minds to drag them into Fornost. They were free to rebuild and feel safe from all dangers and it was mostly because of Eleswith and Theomin with some help from Sylderan too.

The night ended with Millie Cartwright and Aggy Digweed presenting Eleswith the coin of Trestlebridge. It was only as big as a gold coin, an inch in diameter and one sixteenth of an inch thick. It bore the symbol of the bridge on one side with the symbol of a boar’s head on the other. The coin was originally designed to commemorate the joint and ancient effort of Bree and Trestlebridge to watch the Green Way Road in Eriador. Tears were shed, wine was served and the towns people at last went to sleep.

The three travelers were given a modest but nicely decorated cabin. It was the best the people of Trestlebridge could do for the three who helped the town so much. But it was only a cabin to sleep in during the night. In the morning, the three rose early and got to their horses. It was not going to be a long day of journeying, but they, never-the-less, wanted to start it early.

In only a half hour when they awoke, before the sun rose over the hills, the three were off again and already traveled past the southern gate of Trestlebridge. They made their way down the hill, which took them until midmorning when they were finally in the flat lands of Breeland. To the left they could see the road heading up the hill to Hangstacer farm and the Bree festival grounds. At the base of the hill was the old Greenway Fort.

The day was bright. There was no shade from the sun up above. Only off the road toward the hills was there any shade. Theomin’s skin was turning a reddish color as they were out in the sun on the road for a long while.

“You’re turning red,” Eleswith mused. “Would you like a nice red apple to match? Or how about a radish?”

“Ha ha, make your jokes,” Theomin said.

The mood was light. The lightest it had been for them in a very long time. He could not remember the last time he was in such a good mood. Even Eleswith’s comments, Theomin could tell, were light hearted. That meant she was in a good playful mood again. He remembered back when Helesdir was alive. That was the last time he saw her in such a playful mood. It was almost as if she was finally able to live with his passing.

“I do not have shade like you have on your head,” Theomin said, hoping to not provoke a memory of Helesdir.

“If you seek shade,” a voice came from the east, “There’s a nice town not far from here.” It was Saeredan who had come out of his cabin. “You might have heard of a nice place to stay. They call it “The Inn of the Prancing Pony.”

“Of course we’ve heard of it,” Eleswith said. “Are we to head there when we’ve made it to Bree?”

“Perhaps,” Saeredan said. “You’ll find some nice accommodations there if you’re looking to sit back, have a nice brew and a good chat.”

“Will you be there?” Theomin asked.

“I may stop by for a moment,” Saeredan cryptically said. “But I suggest it for a good meal and a nice air of hospitality.”

“So, it’s the Prancing Pony, then,” Theomin said.

The three continued on and by the afternoon, they reached Bree. The town, which seemed a depressing, mournful and a fearful place the last time he was there, seemed to have completely changed. It was more lively, more cheerful and a different overall mood hung in the air. It was as if they stepped into a new town.

The stable master took the three horses as Theomin handed him a coin, “I would like these three horses taken to the south-eastern gate by the morning.”

“Yes sir, Theomin sir,” the stable master said with glee.

They walked westward from the gate toward the inn. “He was a bit cheery,” Eleswith noticed.

“It is understandable,” Sylderan said. “You two are the star of this town. You brought it much needed peace. Look at the way they revere you.” He motioned to passerby’s who looked at the two with reverence. “To them, you are the shining stars that drove away the dark night. Such people are rare and you two exemplify that.”

The three walked to the inn. All three took the short steps up to the door and walked in. Not much was different. It was just like the normal atmosphere. Men were drinking and eating their afternoon meals. The small hobbit, Nob, was bringing meals to the patrons as Barlamin Butterbur stood keeping watch on people coming in.

“Good afternoon, folks,” he said with a cheery tone. “I know what you are here for,” he said with a knowing tone. “We have a room far to the side for you, out of the way of the common folk here.”

“Why are we sent out of the way?” Eleswith asked. “Why can we not sit amongst the rest of the patrons here?”

“Oh, such matters I do not discuss with folk who should not yet know,” Barlamin said. “I just deliver the messages that are given to me.”

“That’s peculiar,” Eleswith said.

“Is it?” Sylderan said. “Yes, I would like to spend time here with the common folk of Bree, but something special is happening here in the inn and we are invited to it. Keep your guard down.”

“Yes, Miss Jumpy Pants,” Theomin joked. “You are a little jumpy. Just relax and enjoy what is prepared for us.”

“Jumpy Pants?” Eleswith said. “Where did you come up with that?”

“Maybe someone back in Annuminas, it does not matter,” Theomin tried. “Just relax.”

The three walked down the hall and then were pointed further down the hall into a smaller room. Two men stood in the back of the room. They both had a scowl on their faces and at their hips, were armed with swords. Both wore dark cloth with a single emblem in the front of it. The three were then pushed into the room by three other men behind them. The two on the opposite side of the room stood still with permanent scowls on their faces. Theomin realized they left weapons with their horse.

Eleswith leaned over to Theomin, “This is why I was jumpy,” she whispered to Theomin.

“What is this?” Theomin demanded. “Why are we detained here?”

“I know this emblem,” Sylderan said. “A white tree in a black field. It is the emblem of Gondor.”

“Gondor?” Eleswith asked confused.

“What business does Gondor have here?” Theomin asked but the men inside the room stayed as silent as when they first met.

It was then that a commotion came through the hall. Many men marched in, two columns down the hall and stopped. They carried the same armor as the ones in the room but they also bore staves and a shield of the same design. All had the same dour look upon their faces. They then parted and stood with their backs to the hallway walls as a single man came through. He looked like a man of great import as his cloth was richer than that of the guards who he traveled with. His chest bore the same symbol but he bore a cloak on his back and held a crown on his head. His face was just as dour as the rest of his regiment as he motioned his guards to leave him. They quickly complied and left the room.

“Please, sit,” the man said and motioned for them to sit. They all took a seat in the chairs provided as he too sat in a chair. He looked at the three travelers closely before he began to speak. “I have not much time here but wanted to talk before I left south.”

“Are you the one they call Strider?” Sylderan asked.

“I am,” Strider said. “I am also named Aragorn, son of Arathorn. How do you know who I am?”

“We have met mostly in passing,” the elf said. “My travels have been through Mirkwood, Lothlorian, Moria and Rivendell. Many years it has been since I have been in Rivendell. Maybe sixty years.”

“Then you knew me as a child,” Aragorn said.

“Yes, then it is you that I met,” Sylderan said. “I also knew Thrandual, the father of Legolas. In Lothlorian, we are neighbors of those of the elves in Mirkwood.”

“Then you know I traveled in good company,” Aragorn said. “I apologize for the manner in which we are meeting. My men are tired from the continuous travel we have undertaken and must soon undertake. I am indeed Aragorn, king of Gondor. I heard of such great deeds you have accomplished here in Eriador and felt the need to speak with those who were involved.”

“How did you know we were here?” Eleswith asked.

“The king has many men in his service,” Aragorn said. “Saeredan happens to be one of them. And another you might have heard of. Gandalf the White took part in a daring journey with me. He stopped by Tinnudir and heard, first hand, of the journey you took, Theomin, or shall I call you Enedion. You told him of the journey from Rohan and the meeting with your true father for the first time. I am saddened to hear Athegdir has been taken from us. Aside from a great and passionate warrior, he was also a good friend of mine while I wandered the wild here in Eriador.” He bowed his head but then looked back at Theomin and his company. “You know not that I have spent my life here in Eriador. Aside from wandering the wilds in many parts of Middle Earth, I’ve spent a lifetime fighting the shadow here in this land. For quite some time I was content with wandering in exile here in Eriador, staving off the possibility of what I am and what I might become. I see myself in you, Enedion. I suppose once you knew of your true lineage but you wanted nothing to do with it.” Theomin only nodded at what Aragorn said. “Though you wanted nothing to do with it, you still persisted and gave much to Annuminas and retook it for all of Eriador.” Again, Theomin nodded. “But I envy you. You will go back to life as you knew it in Rohan, but life may not be as you remember it. Terrible things have happened in Rohan. The wizard, Saruman turned against the free people and allied himself with Sauron and killed so many of Rohan’s good people. He took much from Rohan. His plans and schemes were thwarted, though, by the brave men of Rohan, but it came with a price. In the fields of the Pelennor, the armies of Mordor, who had gathered strength in darkness, marched on the Minus Tirith. The battle was fought and a long time it took before the free peoples won. But your king, Theoden, had passed in that field.”

“I heard this,” Theomin said. “Gandalf told me of the battle and the death of my king.”

“Eomir, son of Eomund, is king now in Rohan,” Aragorn said. “Once Third Marshall he was. Since the son of Theoden died in an ambush, that placed Eomir at the top of the list to take the throne if Theoden was to pass. Eomir is a good man and a true warrior.”

“I know of him,” Theomin said. “He and his riders saved me in the Broadachers while I was traveling west toward the Gap of Rohan.”

“Then you know of his nobility and his passion to save all that is good,” Aragorn said.

“Hold on,” Eleswith said. “Can we take a step back? How did you know we would be here in Bree?”

“Oh, that answer is very simple,” Aragorn said. “I told you the servants of the king are many. Saeredan, upon hearing of your journey south, swiftly traveled here to Bree. He heard, through news of Gandalf and the rangers of my arrival to Bree. He swiftly took his horse in search of me. He was the one who informed me of your arrival.”

“That was why Saeredan had that knowing look on his face,” Eleswith said finally putting the two pieces together. “It makes sense now.”

“But we haven’t gotten to the real reason we are meeting here, today,” Aragorn said. “These pleasantries are not the reason I wanted to see you. In my travels to the south, much was done and our secret errand that we volunteered to do was of the most import. Nine of us set out from Rivendell in secret. Our path took us through Moria, Lothlorian, Rohan, Gondor and finally Mordor where I am soon set to depart to. It was while in Mordor that I heard of a struggle here in Eriador that caught my attention. Annuminas had been taken by the enemy, that I knew. But I also heard of the effort to reclaim the city and the alliances you forged for such a venture. From Dunland to the village of Trestlebridge, men to dwarves, you formed a great army. In your effort, you and your people united all of Eriador, something that had not been done since the days of old in Arnor. In doing so, you rid us of the last great threat that was still posed upon us. The threat of the return of Morgoth. In our blind haste to destroy the last remaining part of Sauron, we knew not of the growing threat from factions here in Eriador that would want to summon the creature Morgoth. Your and your people’s effort has driven the ultimate evil from this land and has finally allowed the race of men to grow and thrive. It is concerning to me, though, since you are departing from here, who will be taking charge of Annuminas?”

“Along with the dwarf Krovrin as Marshall and the elf Estonethiel, Sergee will be taking the lead roll of Marshall of Annuminas,” Theomin said.

“Sergee?” Aragorn asked with confusion. “Who is this Sergee? Is this person a common man? A dwarf?”

“Oh,” Theomin remembered, “he is known by his name, Sergee, by us. I believe he was referred to by my father as Neleghil.”

“Neleghil,” Aragorn repeated in a pleased tone. “My old friend from Rivendell. In simpler days, he was a good friend to me, often adventuring in Rivendell. But times where swiftly changing and duty was more important than adventuring with friends,” he reminisced. “He was a good person and I foresee him as a good leader of men. But though I see him as a good leader of men, I see you kingly. Perhaps when you have returned to Rohan and settled in whatever life you think you want back, you will find that you left a more fulfilling life back here.”

“You are not the first to offer that idea to me,” Theomin said. “Sergee…Neleghil, suggested that to me before I left.”

“Then you know it is not only the opinion of only one man,” Aragorn said.

“It is true,” said Sylderan. “Such a life that you have lived cannot be dismissed by men. Once you have a taste such a fast-paced life, men tend to want it again. I have seen it in so many men that I deem it a trait of men. It seems as though men miss it, but always seem to miss the quiet life when they are in the thick of chaos. It is an interesting plight of men.

“Aye,” Aragorn said, “and that is what I’m counting on when you return to Rohan.”

“What do you mean?” Theomin had to ask.

Another came from his side and opened a scroll that he unfolded down and continued, “Do you offer fealty to the king when called upon? Do you offer your services to the crown of Gondor if and when the time is needed arises or duty calls for your services to be used? Do you offer your heart to Aragorn, King of Gondor, as protection for his highness or officer of his guard if there is warrant for such a cause? Do you offer yourself to his highness whenever the need should arise? What say you?”

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