The Family Line Part 146 – Once More to Avardin

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Part 146 – Once More to Avardin

The next day, the couple of travelers had a late start. Theomin hoped to see Sylderan one last time before they departed for Enedwaith. After waiting until midmorning, and the warm heat of the sun beat down on the travelers from above the nearby mountain range, the two decided to depart from Echad Dunann.

Through the rest of the morning until noon, the two traveled south toward the river that separated the land of Eregion from the land of Enedwaith. Quickly, they forded the river, passing it from the shallowest point, passing over the small island in the center and then fording it from there until they passed on the other side. At last, they were in Enedwaith.

The two travelers then followed the windy valley between the two large impassable ridges on either side. It took a few hours for them to travel the valley of the Windfells and by late afternoon they reached the larger plains of Nan Laeglin. On the eastern side of the valley was the same tall Gondorian structure of Harndirion that he remembered on his two visits to the valley. On the western side was the northern Dunland village of Lhanuch, the
currently occupied village of the northern Dunlandings. The two traveled through the windswept plane to Lhanuch.

Only taking them less than an hour to reach, the two made it to the village. The guard at the front immediately recognized Theomin, as he had traveled there twice before. After a brief conversation with the guard, who was much more welcoming to Theomin than before, they were permitted to enter the village. As soon at they reached the top of the small hill of Lhanuch, they were approached by Suvulch, as he came to Theomin grabbed his hand in a welcoming handshake.

“Ah, davodiad,” Suvulch said happily, “welcome back to Lhanuch.”

“I am happy to be welcomed back by your guard,” Theomin said. “He seemed much more welcoming than the two other times I came through here.”

“He’s a softy,” Suvulch said. “Once you get to know him, he’s a real stand up man. Except when he drinks too much mead. Then he can’t stand very well at all, aye,” Suvulch said with a laugh.

“What happened with you and the guard?” Eleswith asked. “He seemed quite nice to me.”

“Oh, you don’t know the trouble that guard gave this guy,” Suvulch said. “Come on, I’ll treat you to a good meat supper and we’ll tell you all about it.”

“Great,” Theomin said with relief. “All we have had was salads for the past two days. Not to mention we skipped food in Ost Guruth.”

“Well, we have some greens if you like,” Suvulch changed his mind. “We can certainly skip the meat and just give ya some greens.”

“No!” both Theomin and Eleswith said.

“Meat is perfect,” Eleswith said.

“Great,” Suvulch threw his arm around Theomin and patted him on the back. “Come now, we’ve got some ox meat I’m sure you’ll enjoy.”

Over the next few hours until nighttime, Theomin and Suvulch talked about the last times Theomin came to Lhanuch and the terrible time he had with the guard. They laughed and they drank and ate their meat in a very spirited manner. They even enjoyed a few dancers entertain the them. The village was much livelier than it had been since Theomin last came through.

The last thing Theomin could remember from that night was Suvulch being much more serious as he patted Theomin on the back. “It looks like you did it davodiad,” Suvulch said.

“I did what?” Theomin asked confused.

“It looks like you united the Dunlanding tribes in a way Saruman could not do,” Suvulch smiled. “It was all going to work out in the end anyway. Saruman tried to unite the tribes through hate. You united them through a sense of urgency to stave off the coming evil. For that,” he held up his mug of mead, “I solute you.”

The rest of the evening was quick and they soon fell to a fast and restful sleep. With full stomachs and a hearty conversation, they all sank deep into sleep until the light shined through the next morning. They woke at he crack of dawn and left before much of the village was awake. Suvulch came to them before they left and gave Theomin one last handshake.

“If you ever come this way again, devodiad,” Suvulch said, “please visit our village. We owe you and all the devodiad a debt of gratitude.”

“I shall,” Theomin said.

 

With that, the two left the village and traveled south again. A half morning ride brought them through the Lich Bluffs and at the entry the Bonevales. Dark and bleak it was as that same mysterious fog had set into the valley. So again, like he did before, one last time, Theomin rose his staff and with a burst of light, he lit the way through the path of the Bonevales. With that, the two raced through the valley, bursting through the trail quickly. They looked not at any stones or high up places or cairns that occupied the sides of the trail. Their only thought was the sight in front of them as they kept their concentration on the path before them.

At last, they could see the end as the ancient Gondorian tower loomed up before them. It took only a few minutes to gallop through the entire span of the vale. As quick as it was, though, the end could not come any faster. The entire length of the span was far too long for Eleswith, who equated it to the same feeling she had in the Fields of Fornost. She breathed in a quick sigh of relief as a few Dunlandings came to them.

“Is it possible?” one of the Dunlandings said. “Is this the man named Fornost who united our clans together against our real foe?”

“Yes he is,” Eleswith said faster than Theomin could answer.

“Then let us bring you to Galtrev,” the Dunlanding said. “We must prepare a feast in your honor.”

“Nothing that grandiose,” Theomin said. “Only a meal and a bed to sleep in. Perhaps Avardin.”

“Of course,” said the Dunlanding. “But why would you not choose to have such a great feast in your honor?”

“I only choose a modest meal after such a long ride,” Theomin said as he was tired from his long ride.

“Can I at least let the leaders of the tribes know that you have arrived here in Dunland?” the other Dunlanding asked. “They would really like to know.”

“Of course,” Theomin said.

The two ran off down the hill to Galtrev as Theomin and Eleswith continued slowly down the hill.

“Why would you not want to have such a grand feast for us?” Eleswith asked. “They are more than happy to do so.”

“Did you hear him call me Fornost?” asked Theomin. Eleswith nodded but thought nothing of it. “They all believe I am from the north. They know not that I grew up in Rohan and I choose to keep it that way.”

“Why conceal were you are from?” she asked.

“The relationship between our nations has been tense for a long time,” Theomin said. “Rohan and Dunland have been at odds with each other for many centuries. When the men of the Rohirrim were given the lands of Rohan from Gondor, the Dunlandings were the tribes that lived in Rohan. They were driven out and forced to live here among the hills. The tensions were only made worse with the lies the traitor Saruman sowed in these lands. He turned the men of Dunland even further to hate with Rohan. I believe their hate came to a head in some kind of war because of a large Dunlanding army marching toward Rohan.”

“How do you know of this army?” asked Eleswith.

“On my quest to find my family, I passed through the Gap of Rohan,” Theomin recalled his journey. “On my way, I had to retreat to some cover as the army passed me by. Later that night, there the sound of some great battle and a sudden terrible explosion, far greater than any small bomb I made.”

“Then with that, how did you know to trust and befriend the Dunlandings?” Eleswith asked.

“I was injured on my way north by some orcs,” Theomin said with a smile. “Some of the Dunlandings from Avardin saved me. I owed them a large debt of gratitude. I would have died had it not been for them.”

“Then how did they come to trust you?” she asked.

They saw the village of Avardin coming up on the right side of the road. It looked as quiet as usual as its huts sprawled up the hill and the people of Avardin went about their daily routine.

“In my rage against the orcs,” Theomin said, “I inadvertently freed the path for the Dunlanding slaves of Saruman to return to their villages.”

It was then that a number of villagers of Avardin ran to the side of Theomin, welcoming him back to their village and yelled to him, “Welcome back, Fornost!” and “He has returned to us!” They walked the two travelers into the village as Eva came running to them with a delighted smile.

“You have returned!” she whispered with gleeful surprise. “Are you staying or passing through?”

Theomin remembered the pass to the Gap of Rohan and the problems he had there in the Gravenwood. The darkness of that forest fell on the heart of Theomin as he could not forget about how dark it was and the terrible specters that were seen there.

“We are stopping here for the night but need safe passage south,” Theomin said.

“What are you doing south of here?” one of the Dunlandings asked, his face was full of suspicion as if he knew they were traveling to Rohan.

Eva quickly responded on behalf of Theomin, “Fornost has decided to travel south to see the great cities in Gondor. He spoke of it during our last meeting in the city to the north. I just remembered his interest.”

The other Dunlandings, satisfied with her response, led Bragga and Dale to the stables as Eva remained behind with Theomin and Eleswith. “Thank you for covering for me. I knew not what to say.”

“They still revere you,” Eva said. “As do I. The foreigner who brought all the tribes together. He did not bring the tribes together for personal purposes for land or power. He did it to keep the father of evil at bay. Not even the great and powerful wizard Saruman could do that.”

Theomin blushed, “I appreciate your magnificent view of me, but I all I am is just a simple man who wanted to find his family.”

“Yes,” Eva said. “That is what you are. But here in Dunland and to the men in the north, you are far more than that.”

Through the remainder of the day, the men of Avardin made food for a modest feast for Theomin, as per his request. They served boar meat, ox meat, chicken, eggs and an assortment of greens, sauces and spices Theomin had never had never tasted before. Impressed with the amazing food, both Theomin and Eleswith asked for recipe which was happily given from the cook who was also gladdened by the interest his patrons had in his food.

As the night moved on, the leaders of each of the villages came to pay his respects to Theomin, each giving Theomin a small gift. Each was but a small trinket that they wanted to give to Theomin as a gift for his aid in their unification. Gifts from the leaders of the clans ranged from tools to idols carved of the boar clan to a necklace they adorned him with. Each asked if he would return to Dunland and each time Theomin would answer that he would if only to thank his new Dunlanding friends.

The ending of the night came as Eva came over to Theomin’s table. “Thank you, Fornost, for coming.” She looked around the area and then said, “Thank you, Theomin, for deciding to come to Avardin for your travel back home to Rohan.” Theomin only smiled and nodded. “Can I ask you a question, though, since I see the tribes have stopped coming and everyone has all but left.”

“Sure you may,” Theomin said with concern.

“Why did you choose to seek help from the people of Dunland?” she asked. “Why had you chosen us over any other people in Eriador?”

“A difficult question that is,” Theomin said. It took him a while to answer, but he finally did, “I suppose I saw a lot of strength in the Dunlandings. Above all, I knew Dunland had the numbers I really needed and for that reason, I would need Dunland’s help if we were to stave off the doom that was coming.” They sat for a while as Eva soaked in what Theomin said. She looked satisfied with the answer Theomin gave and somewhat relived as to what she heard.

“What is it?” Theomin asked. “Why did you ask such a question?”

Eva smiled and looked as though she did not want to answer. But for full clarity, she knew she needed to tell Theomin. “I was only afraid.” The look of Theomin and his companion only led to more confusion. “Being from Rohan, I was afraid you would have wanted to weaken us and then use that time to take out the men of Dunland. I know you would not do anything like that, that much is clear, but still in the back of my mind I was so afraid that was the reason.”

“I would never something so terrible,” Theomin said with astonishment. “If you knew me, my intentions have never been to harm the men of Dunland but to aid them. I am surprised you would say such a thing.”

“But it is not me who is saying it,” Eva tried to explain. “It is generations of Dunlanding hate for Rohan that is saying that. If it was not for my fathers and their fathers, I would not have ever thought of such a thing. Had you not the same fears of Dunlandings?”

Theomin looked down as he knew she was right. He nodded and continued, “Yes, you are right. Even my mother told me not to come through Dunland. But I did so anyway and found people who are extraordinary. I am glad I came this way. It is why I decided to come this way as I head south again.”

Eva’s heart was gladdened by what Theomin said. It then dawned on her what she wanted to say from the start. “Are you heading south from here?” Theomin nodded as he sipped some mead. “I would like to show you safe paths south of here to the Gap of Rohan. ‘Tis a much safer road than that of the Gravenwood, where you came from. Will you trust me enough to take you to the Gap of Rohan?”

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