The Family Line Part 144 – The Road East

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Part 144 – The Road East

Early in the morning on the next day, Theomin, Eleswith and Sylderan left the village of Bree to head eastward. With them, one more wanted to join. Magla had to wanted to join the journey east with the three travelers. His destination was Ost Guruth, by no means a short journey. It was to take the entire day to reach those ruins, hence the very early start.

The sun had not yet risen over the eastern horizon, but its light had just barely pierced the sky. It was the dawn of the fourth day of travel for the three travelers. Many more days Theomin and Eleswith knew they would take. But they mapped out exactly their route down to Dunland and where they were to stay. If they could make it unhindered through the Trollshaws, Sylderan knew of Echad Candalleth’s outpost in the Trollshaws. After that, the next morning would start early again and end at Sylderan’s destination of Echad Dunan, just outside the path to Moria.

But at present, they were only at the beginning of the journey from Bree. By the time they reached the outskirts of Staddle, it was already morning as the sun had at last risen over the horizon. It was cool with a nice warm breeze ahead of them. The four traveled along, periodically passing a few hobbits with fishing poles on the way to small fishing holes.

It was not until they reached the tall tree in the center of an enclosed small stone wall that Eleswith started talking, “I can’t believe you did it,” she said with a disappointing tone.

“What can you not believe?” Theomin asked, yet he knew what Eleswith spoke of. The night before, Aragorn requested for an oath of allegiance from Theomin. With slight hesitation, Theomin eventually said yes but asked for time between service. Aragorn suggested that he would not ask for any sort of service for a good long while until things were taken care of in Mordor. That gave Theomin peace of mind that evening but gave him a worry in the pit of his stomach. “What if…” was all he was thinking that night in bed. He had not thought of it much the next day until Eleswith brought it up.

“I can’t believe you agreed for servitude for the king,” Eleswith said. “You are basically giving your life away in service.”

“I see it not like that,” Theomin said.

“Nor do I,” Sylderan said. “To give an oath of allegiance does not always mean to serve in battle.”

“But it also means you could,” Magla said. “You could have signed a life of long servitude for war campaigns in any deadly war.”

“Or it could mean that you offer guidance or are a body guard for the king,” Sylderan said. “You are not bound to a combat role, Theomin. You should be honored that the King of Gondor solicited such a request. He an honorable and noble man. Of all of you, I knew him the best. Members of my own kin know him well. Legolas is a good elf, high in the esteem of many elves. He traveled with Aragorn for a time. As did Gandalf the White. He is not like the lesser man that were the stewards of the throne of Gondor. He is the king and as King he is a more kingly than any we have ever before met. Do not look too harshly on Theomin’s decision to serve King Aragorn. I see it as an honor.”

“I see it as a way to tie you down, Theomin,” Eleswith said.

“As do I,” Magla agreed with Eleswith.

“What ever you two think of my decision,” Theomin said, “I made the decision and I need to live with it. You two will not live with the consequences. Only I will need to. And I believe it was the right choice even before Sylderan uttered a word.”

“I said it because I care,” Eleswith said.

“I know you care and I appreciate it,” Theomin replied as he gave her an appreciative smile.

By the time they finished their conversation, way off in the distance, the outline of Aman Sul came into view. The tall and ominous sight of it yanked at Eleswith’s heart and she pulled the reigns of her horse, Dale. The others stopped along with her.

“Are you alright?” Theomin asked. “You need not continue along just yet if you are feeling pain.”

She glared at the watch tower in fear and sadness. She could not help but just keep her stare on the tower. She then blinked and let go of her stare of it. “No, I’m okay.”

“I understand why you would not like to continue,” Magla came close and placed a hand on her shoulder. “I feel it too. We will both go together side by side until we pass that tower. You will then not need to look back at that tower again.”

Eleswith breathed hard and Magla could feel it on his hand. She began to sweat but broke through her anxiety, “Do you promise?”

Immediately, he said to her, “I promise.”

They then continued on, all four of them as Theomin and Sylderan led the group, Eleswith and Magla followed along behind, both looked down away from the tower, diverting their eyes so as not to see the place where Helesdir cast his last breath. Both felt their hearts hurt as they drew closer and closer to the watch tower, looming up to the left of them, casting shadow on their path, attempting to show its presence even to those who are unwilling to look upon it.

For a very long time, the two travelers looked away and down at the tower, all the way through to the afternoon sun were they looking down at the ground as they rode past the it. At last, they could look up and ahead of them. The tower was out of view, behind them as its power of intimidating Eleswith and Magla had waned, powerless and only a distant memory of fear and loss.

Through the rest of the afternoon, the four traveled at a quicker pace to Ost Guruth. By late afternoon, the finally made it to their destination. It was a very long days ride as exhaustion both emotionally and bodily set in to them. Though they were exhausted, they still needed a place to stay.

“Of course we’ll house you for the night,” Freidric the Elder said happily. “For our friends who came to us in need, but it turned out we needed you more. Us Eglain have been recluses for many years. It took the grace of Theomin, a stranger, to unite us under one banner. If there was ever to be a joining of people again like the times of old Arnor, the king can depend on us to join with them.”

Theomin smiled as Eleswith chimed in, “Not like agreeing to join the king’s army, aye Theomin?”

“You are relentless,” Theomin joked.

“You’ll find food in the kitchen and fresh cots in the eastern ruins,” Friedric said.

“You three go ahead,” Magla said. “I have Bree business to speak with.”

The three made the quick walk to the kitchen, back in the upper part of the ruins. They sat down and were served a fresh plate of boar meat complete with flies buzzing around it and a half-eaten apple. “Oh,” Eleswith said with disgust, “I forgot how terrible the food is here.”

“As did I,” Theomin agreed. He sat back in his chair as he looked at the food with disgust. He then looked at Eleswith who decided to drink the pond water the served as it turned his stomach. He diverted his eyes to the surroundings and remembered something from the first time he traveled to Ost Guruth. “Have I ever told you that I truly thought you were going to murder me here in these ruins?”

Eleswith, with no hesitation, spat out the water from her mouth and burst out in the loudest laugh he had ever heard from her. “I had not expected you to say that. Why did you think I would murder you?”

“I had only a thought,” Theomin said. “The first time I met you, you had your crossbow and a look of anger. You seemed like a pretty callous person. I feared that eventually you would drive a bolt through my head.”

“That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard,” Eleswith said with shock.

“It is ridiculous but when I was sitting in the morning watching the sun rising in the morning, I thought that was the perfect time to murder me,” Theomin admitted. “Nobody was watching, nobody was over there. That was the perfect place to do it. It was when you sat next to me and began to tell me about yourself that all the fear and intimidation I felt from you dropped away. Others were intimidated and feared you, but I saw you as much more than just an angry look.”

Eleswith, still laughing at Theomin’s admission said to him, “I hope you have not felt any fear of me since then. But I am glad I intimidated many others. It reduced the amount of problems we had along the road.”

“I fear it had no effect on…” Theomin paused to think, “events in Bree.”

“Well, we escaped after all,” she said, “and that is what counts.”

The three sat for a while in silence while they looked at the people of Ost Guruth go about their evening routines. “In order to reach Echad Candelleth by evening,” Sylderan said, “we will need to have an early start tomorrow. This means we will need to sleep soon as our journey through the Trollshaws will be long.

“Then that means we will have to say goodbye to Magla soon,” Eleswith said.

“We can leave anytime,” Theomin said. “I am finished with my food, anyway.”

“You had not even touched your food,” Sylderan said.

“Yes, I finished when I saw the food,” he chuckled. “Come, let us say goodbye to Magla.

The three left their plates on the table and walked over to Magla. He was in the middle of a conversation with Freidric when the three walked up to him. He could see the three were wanting to say goodbye, so he patted Freidric on the arm and said, “Excuse me.” He walked over to the three who came up to him and gave a smile. “Every day I wish I stayed with the group,” he admitted unprovoked. “I see how tight you have been. I cannot be like that.”

“I’m surprised you mentioned that,” Eleswith said astonished. “But you had your own way of dealing with Helesdir’s death. An amazing path you have chosen, I’ll admit. But it is what kept you busy.”

“And it has occupied my mind,” Magla said. “Thank your being in my kinship for so long, Eleswith.”

“And thank you, Magla, for the friendship you have given me,” Eleswith said.

“Thank you for being a strong and stoic part of our party,” Theomin thanked Magla. “It has been an honor to know such a great person.”

“As am I,” Magla said, “but the time has come for you to return home. In Bree, I already feel I am home.” He shook Theomin’s hand. He then looked at Sylderan, “You will keep them safe, won’t you?”

“I’ll try, but these two are capable of handling their own difficulties,” the elf said. “I am only around for the company.”

“I am sorry I did not know you better,” Magla said to the elf. “Perhaps, at some point, you can come back to Bree and we can have a good chat over a nice ale.”

“That is a kind offer, Mr. Mayor,” the elf said.

Each hugged Magla, ready to leave for the hall where the cots were. The each thanked Magla for his help with all they did. Eleswith was the last, as she said to him, “Your strength after Helesdir passed is what help keep me alive. Every day I thought of the strength you showed.”

“But I fed off the strength of yours,” Magla said. “You are what made it possible for me to show that strength. I would have not felt it had it not been for you. I will always remember you as the woman who showed true strength of will and heart.”

They then hugged one last time and Eleswith turned and never did they see Magla again.

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