The Family Line Part 149 – Home

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Part 149 – Home

The day grew bright and the two travelers, after the many days ride from Eriador, were finally on their last leg of their journey to Theomin’s home. After a brief morning meal and a quick walk to the stables, the two were off on the road heading north from Floodwend on toward Theomin’s farm.

A while it took before reaching the Undeep, about a half a morning ride. But something caught Theomin’s eyes as they approached it that he did not expect. The Undeep was unmanned, damaged and burned almost to the point where it could very well soon collapse. Such damage was not what Theomin had thought to see on his journey home.

“What happened here?” Eleswith asked.

“I do not know,” Theomin whispered in shock. “Maybe fifteen men manned this outpost. Not but one mans it now. I fear what might of happened here.”

As they traveled on, Feldberg too had fallen. The palisades had all been burned and inside, the tents of the Rohirrim who occupied it were also burned or they were ripped to shreds. No Rohirrim had remained in the small outpost of Feldberg either. Theomin remembered that Feldberg was the place he stopped to look for Eotheron before he took his journey. Upon seeing the mighty Wold outpost destroyed had placed fear in Theomin’s heart knowing that perhaps not all was as he left it in the Wold.

Further north they traveled and with each passing settlement, they saw even more destruction. Burned buildings, fallen fences and unoccupied outposts. It was as if something horrible happened in the Wold. “What was it, though?” Theomin thought to himself. “What horrors befell my beloved land?”

In the distance, the city of Harwick stood, damaged and burned. Its flags, which waved proudly in the wind atop the meadhall of the town were ripped and some had fallen. It was no longer the great and proud city it once was. It looked as though it had fallen to some enemy. “But where was that enemy? And where were the citizens of the Wold?” he wondered to himself.

They began to pass the city of Harwick when they soon looked toward a farm that Theomin remembered from his youth, that caught his eye. It was the small farm just south down the slope of Langhold. Still intact and still okay, Theomin hoped it was okay to approach the farm. They took the small path toward the farm and saw one farmhand working in the nearby field.

Soon, a farmhand was seen tending to his crops. He did not see the two travelers coming and was startled when Theomin yelled out, “Ho there!”

The farmhand turned to see the two travelers coming to his field as he placed his hoe down and leaned his weight on it as he wiped his brow which was full of sweat that had accumulated on it with his sleeve. “Hello there travelers,” he said with a welcoming tone. “What brings you here to…” he leaned in to look at Theomin as he squinted his eyes just to make sure he was seeing who he thought he was seeing. “Theomin?” he said close to shock. “Son of Eolf?”

Theomin smiled as he knew of who he was talking with. He was the farmer who always supplied his family with the freshest of strawberries just at the beginnings of the summer seasons. In turn, his family would supply the man’s family with good meats from the stalk on the farm. “Good morning, Aglund,” he said as he knew he recognized the man.

“It has been too long,” Aglund said with a longing tone. “Such a long time since you have returned. I heard you went out to find something. Has it really taken this long to find what you were looking for?” Theomin smiled and quietly nodded. “So you found what you were looking for?”

“Yes,” Theomin chuckled a little under his breath. “More than what I was looking for, in truth.” His tone then became serious as he wanted to know about the Wold in his absence. “What happened here in the Wold? It would seem as though it was overtaken.”

“Those accursed Easterlings and orcs. That is what happened here,” Aglund said. “The middle of March came and with it, a host of the enemy stormed the Wold from the north. Those who were left over from the summoning of the king could not keep them at bay. The son of Aldor Harding, Leofwig tried to keep the city of Harwick safe from those filthy animals but they were too many.”

“The men of Wildermore then came and routed the enemy, but their victory was a short lived one. Leofwig was injured in the melee that followed after his push to take the enemy on horseback. Soon, all they had left was a last stand on the hill of Langhold. They tried to hold there to keep from being destroyed. Many of us retreated to the city of Langhold.” His head fell, “Many did not make it.”

“And what of my family?” Theomin asked. “What of them? Did they make it to Langhold?”

“I had fear that you would ask me that,” Aglund said. “I saw not a member of them in Langhold that night nor have I seen them at all since then. But while escaping up to Langhold, I injured my leg rushing up to the gates. Thrymm Redbeard saved me from being slaughtered by the many orcs and Easterlings that came to slaughter us all.”

“What happened with the enemy?” Eleswith asked. “Where are they?”

“The strangest thing happened that night,” the man said. “It was like a great moaning came from below. We could not see as there was a thick fog that came in. From where that fog came from, I know not. The light of the moon only reflected on the dense fog that had came in. That morning, all was silent. Not a hide nor hair was seen of those Easterlings. It was as if they had vanished. Thrymm said he saw something like what we saw that night in Wildermore. Trees that uproot themselves and take to the battle field. Led by,” he paused because he did not rightly know how to describe them, “treeish people they were. Just as fast as they came, they left.”

“What of the man, Redbeard?” Eleswith asked. “Where did he and his men go?”

“They went to the war,” Aglund said. “The war that the King and his men went off to fight in the east. I know not whether they have returned but a great many of the soldiers who were still in fighting condition went off to the war. Old men went as well as young. Many were not old enough in my opinion. Before the events of that night that left this land shaken and wounded, Aldor Harding had already left for the mustering in the south. Those who were left over were the only ones to tend to the defenses of the Wold. Strong and hardy folk we our men are because we need to be. The Wold is the farthest from the king’s hall of Meduseld, so we must be ready to fight on our own. And we did so until those Easterlings broke our defenses and marched into our lands. But most of those folk who were the hardiest left with Aldor Harding. I know not how many left from the Wold, but it would seem a great many took to their horses and rode south to a muster.”

Theomin’s heart was low. Stopping to speak with farmer Aglund proved not well for his fear of his family’s fate. The enemy came from the north. If they did so, they must have passed his family’s farm. Right in the path of the enemy was his farm. Other than Stangard, the northern most frontier stronghold of Rohan, his farm was the only one that was right on the boarder of Rohan.

“We best be off,” Theomin said. “I yearn to see if my family is well. If they were to survive and flee to Harwick, it would seem they did not survive long. If they stayed at home, I fear they were no safer there than anywhere else.”

“Your friend, Eotheron,” Aglund said. “I have not seen him either. Did he journey with you?”

“He did,” Theomin said after pausing for a while and then regrettably said, “But he did not return.”

“Oh,” the farmer said as his head fell low. “It is regrettable indeed. This war has taken too many good men’s lives. It sounds as though you had your own war. It is good to see your return, Theomin.”

The two departed the farm. It took not long before they reached the main road and continued north as they passed the ruined town of Langhold, where Thrymm and his men spent the night as a last stand; the same town who’s fall sparked the beginning of his whole adventure.

Approaching his farm, he envisioned his family as they were just as he departed. His two brothers Umbred and Ulred were the youngest. Twins who Theomin remembered his mother caring for so long. They were always rambunctious adventurous twins but the soonest as one was hurt, they cried to their mother. So innocent they were, not knowing about the world ahead of them. But then that was how he saw his family at large.

Ealyn, his little sister was also in his mind. Her devotion to Theomin almost made him feel like a father to her. As their father was so busy with the fields and hunting for food in the prairie, she would always want to be nearby him. In fact, she depended more on Theomin than either one of their own family. Such a feeling of hers always broke his mother’s heart, but in the end, she understood why.

Eolf, his father and patriarch of the family was such a steadfast strong man. He was the one of the family who pushed the family to sell food in Harwick. He forced Theomin to study in Langhold, even if Theomin only wanted to learn lore as opposed to sword skills. Quite the skilled swordsman he became, much like his father. Theomin hoped to show off his skills not only of the sword, but of his skills with his staff. He knew that such skills of lore and swordplay would make his father proud.

His mother was the last and most precious one of the family. She was such a peaceful and yet playful person. Very young they were when they took Theomin into their lives. So, she had such the playful streak that not many children’s mothers had. Not even Eotheron. He remembered the nearby ruins where he playfully hid from his mother as she searched for him. He remembered swimming in the waters of the Anduin with her. He remembered riding off on “Adventures” with her as they rode their horses toward the northern bridge and eating lunch there in the afternoon sun. With regret, he remembered when he left on his adventure. He left his mother behind. The only person who meant to be his mother. He was ready to see her along with the rest of his family. He longed to see them and soon, he knew, he would

Rounding the path that took them along the edges of Langhold, he finally was able to see the top of the windmill spinning in the breeze. The windmill which sat at the northern edge of his farm was a sign he was right close to his home. His heart lifted as he was relieved, the windmill was still standing. If that was still standing, the rest of it was undoubtedly standing. He dashed off on Bragga toward his farm.

Eleswith gave out a, “Wait for me!” as she too pushed Dale as fast as she could to follow Theomin.

As Theomin approached his farm, he could see all the houses were intact. Each one was still standing and no damage was done to them. But as he closed in to his farm, he noticed something curious. As bustling as the farm was with his brothers, sister, and father all outside on their own actives, not a soul was outside. There was no work on the pigs, the horses or the crops. No children were out playing. Nobody outside slicing apples or laying in the sun. The farm, in the middle of the day, seemed abandoned. And that was when Theomin’s heart sank as fear coursed through is veins.

“Hello?” he yelled out for his family. “Mama? Papa? Ealyn?” He ran around the houses to check. Not a person was there. He ran to the stables. No one, not even the horses were there. He ran into the house but all that was there was a slight mess, an unkept bed, and some boxes strewn about. He went outside distraught and not knowing what to do.

“Where are they?” Eleswith asked.

“I know not,” Theomin said with worry. “It looks as though they must have left in a hurry. The horses are gone and the inside of the house looks like things were packed up in a hurry.”

“Where could they have gone?” Eleswith asked. “Had you a safe place to go in the even of your land being invaded?”

“The only place was,” he sighed with fear as his own voice began to shudder, “Harwick. They would have gone to Harwick. But just like Langhold, Harwick was razed.” He slammed his hand on the side of the house, “How could I be so stupid to leave?”

“Do not, for one second, blame yourself, Thoemin,” Eleswith scolded Theomin. “You know not what happened to them. Besides, we have not yet checked all around this land. They could have gone to one of those razed towns just to try and be safe, just like that Red-beards man went during the invasion. Perhaps we can check there next.”

“Don’t move!” a voice came from behind. It was not the voice of a man or the sound of a very threatening person. It came from, what sounded like, a little girl. “Do not even think about turning around. I have an arrow on you and if you turn, it will soon be in your heart. I am a good shot, especially close up. I am warning you.”

Theomin did not turn around. But he just called out, “Ealyn?”

The voice said nothing for a while but it did not sound like the person went away. “Who are you?” she said.

“This is Eleswith,” Theomin said. “And I am Theomin.”

“You are not Theomin,” the girl said. “Theomin is dead.”

“I am not dead,” he said. “I am very much alive, as you can see.”

The girl said nothing again. She kept quiet for a while and then came up with, “Prove it. Prove you really are Theomin,” the voice said, hope was starting to creep into her voice as it began to turn shakey.

Theomin thought for a moment. He then came up with, “On the night after we built the basement to the house, I stayed awake all night. You came to me in the morning after you slept. You could not find the words to describe how horrible the brigands were who sacked the town. You then said something that started me off on my entire quest. You said you wished they knew where their mothers where. Then they would know right from wrong. That was me you said that to. Do you remember?”

There was another pause and then the little girl said with a sobbing voice, “Theomin?”

He turned and as soon as he saw her, he knew it was Ealyn. “Ealyn!” he crouched down as she ran into his arms. “I have missed you so much,” Theomin said as he held her tight.

“We all missed you here,” said Ealyn. She pulled away to look at Theomin. She placed her tiny hands on Theomin’s beard as she looked into his eyes. “It is you!” she said as she embraced him a second time. Her tears dripped from her eyes onto the scarf of Theomin. “You were gone for so long we all thought you were dead. Mama cried for so long and she kept saying she wished she never told you. What did she tell you? Why did you have to leave?”

“It does not matter right now,” Theomin said. “Where is everybody? Where are mama and papa?” Ealyn looked down as if she was saddened all of the sudden. Her face turned pale and she was obviously distraught. “What happened here?”

“Papa left,” she said. “He left a long time ago and has not yet returned. He went to the stupid war the king wanted to go to. He said that, as a man of the Rohirrim, he had an obligation to the king to fight by his side. That was so long ago and I do not know why he has not come back.”

“And mother?” Theomin asked. “Where is she?”

“She was taken,” the little girl said. “There were so many nights we stayed in the basement, just keeping ourselves safe after papa left. Mama wanted us all to stay in there while papa was away, just to keep us safe. There was one night that we did not stay in the basement to sleep because mama thought it would be safe. It was terrible down there, sleeping in such a small space. So mama wanted to leave it. She thought it was okay to finally stay in the house. So we did. We stayed there for a little a few nights and then,” she paused. She seemed to not be able to complete what she was saying.

“What happened?” Theomin pressed Ealyn. “I have to know.”

“They took her!” she cried. Her eyes closed as tears began to fall from them and her opened as she finally seemed to cry out as loud as she could as if she was keeping it down for a long time.”

“How long ago did this happen?” Eleswith asked as Theomin held Ealyn close.

“It seemed like it was not too long ago,” Ealyn said. “Maybe a day? Two days? I do not remember.”

Theomin held the arms of his little sister and looked into her eyes, “Do you know which way they went?” The little girl was still sobbing as he shook her just a little bit which startled her, “Which way? I need to know.”

Ealyn looked at Theomin with shock. She then turned and pointed toward the western side of the land. “I know I saw them heading that way. I saw their torches for a long time at night before I could not see them anymore.”

Theomin rose up quickly and with anger marched over toward Bragga. “What are you doing, Theomin?”

“Stay here with Ealyn, Eleswith,” he said loudly with rage. “I am going to take back my mother.”

 

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