Seeking the Truth
After healing my wounds, I journeyed off into Breeland once again. I found the land not much changed, though I was surprised to see that the crops in the hobbit-fields were now fully grown and golden.
Walking through Chetwood, pondering this and many other things besides, I remembered a strange poem or rhyme I had heard in my youth, long ago:
Ash nazg thrakatuluk
Ash nazg gimpatul
Ash nazg durbatuluk
Agh bizum-ishi krimpatul
What it meant, I did not know, but the words brought to mind a memory of fire and molten metal, smoke and shadow. And then I remembered a name: Angmar. This I knew, remembered. A land far to the north of Bree, a dark region in half of the old kingdom of Arnor, the ancient kingdom of the Edain, the Dunedain known as the Faithful. I remembered well the exodus from of Arnor, when the Faithful fled the region now known as Angmar. Fleeing from…. From…..
I spoke the name aloud as I remembered it. The name of my mortal enemy, he who wears the ring that I had crafted, corrupted by power and the wicked magics of Sauron the Betrayer.
But the verse remained strange to my ears.
As I spoke the Nazgul’s name, there was a deathly stillness that rose form the north, followed by a bone-chilling wind which smelled of sulfur and coal-smoke and hot steel. I stopped as the squirrels and chipmunks rushed to their trees, and birds ceased their song. And then a great shadow covered the sun and flew over my head, making an unearthly noise like an eagle’s screech, and yet not like; a dark cry that seemed to strike fear into every living thing that heard it.
I looked up to see what at first appeared to be a wyrm like the great dragons of old, yet this creature had wings more like a bird, with a long tail and grey scaly skin. As I laid eyes upon it I felt an unnatural chill wash over me. I had never seen anything like this, but I had heard of such things. It was a fell-beast, it must be.
Gathering my cloak around me, I ducked into cover, far off as the thing was. When I felt it was safe, I called my horse, and rode as fast as Eledron oculd carry me towards Bree, barely managing to pull on a hood before entering the city gates. Taking the road north, I cut across the Fountain Square, beneath the Scholar’s Staircase, and turned north again through the farmlands. I soon came to a place where the trees had been cut; much farther north than the men at the building site would lumber. And not much farther north there were mounds of charred and crumbling wood, as if the trees had been dragged away from their stumps and simply burned. I dismounted and continued on foot, sending Eledron back to stable in Bree.
Pushing through a clump of underbrush, I came upon a small ruin in which a band of orcs had made camp. I fell back quietly, circling to the west side of their circle. There I had seen a table, of sorts, which likely contained some information of their movements. The tracks were mixed, of orc, and goblin, and boots like those of the Edain. Likely one of the corrupt northmen sent to keep the orcs on task.
There. A large orc stood by the table examining something. The others weren’t looking. I drew my bow, and nocked 2 arrows. The first found his neck, the second his heart, and I was out in the open, dragging the orc into the bushes. I took this opportunity to search his belongings while in cover. Once pouch held nothing but a large assortment of rings: some worthless baubles, some of a little more value, and one or two with some small magic.
Nothing else of interest here. Time to move on. I stashed the orc under a tree and threw a few branches over him, and re-entered the circle of broken columns and crumbling walls. I walked over to the table, and opened a small box that sat upon it. Inside was a small cloth satchel. Before I could open it, a cry came from behind me.
“Oy! It’s one of them Tarks! ‘Ere lad, ‘ere!”
The largest orc I had ever seen had spotted me. But not entirely an orc, his face retained a certain amount of humanity.
I pocketed the satchel and drew my bow once more, nocking an arrow and firing in a single motion. The orc-man fell, a barbed arrow in his shoulder. He scrambled to his feet, attempting to tear it away even as I drew a second and fire at one of the goblins that had leapt up from the bonfire.
The goblin fell dead and the half-orc was toppled with another arrow, to his opposite shoulder. I scrambled up the wall beside me with the aid of the ramshackle table, and took advantage of my momentary respite to apply a flame oil to arrows, which would light when I loosed them. A crossbow bolt whistled past me, and I leapt across to a pillar that had remained mostly intact.
Firing three arrows in rapid succession, I felled 3 more orcs in gouts of smoke and flame. This alerted even the watchers at the edges of the camp. I put away my bow and drew my swords, leaping down upon my enemies. In a matter of minutes it was done, and only the half-orc remained. I approached, sheathing one of my swords, the other flaming blue from the fight.
“Well, well, well. What have we here?”
I stared coolly into the creatures eyes, unflinching, daring him to move.
“P-p-please…. I ain’t done nothin’ but f-follow orders…. the Master said-“
I pounced, whipping a rope around the hand that had drawn the dagger, kicking the poor weapon aside into the fire, where it began to bubble and hiss, releasing a sickly smoke.
“Hmph, poison.” I said, raising and eyebrow at him “Not very sporting of you.”
I did not give him a chance to speak further, binding and gagging him, dragging him into the forest.
Almost as soon as we had entered the treeline, the orc began to whimper and shake, and by the time we had reached a clearing he was begging for mercy. I stowed my new acquaintance on the opposite side of the clearing, and bound his legs so he oculd not run. I did not remove the gag until I had quite settled and built a fire.
“Oh please, please! I’ll talk, I’ll talk, I’ll talk!”
The orc man attempted to grovel, which was difficult in his current predicament. I sat down opposite him, so the embers from the fire would rise between us.
“So. You are far south. Or is it far north?” I asked. He opened his mouth but I cut him off. “You weren’t meant to answer that. I want to know how you came to be so close to the Edain.”
“Pah! You’re not Man! Why do you-“
“No. I’m an elf. A ‘tark’ as I believe you say? Which mean I am much, much worse than any Man. So I suggest you tell me how you came to be here, or my knife may actually find a use tonight.”
His eyes widened. “You’re one of them, aren’t you?”
I shrugged “Maybe I am.”
“They talked about your kind. They said-“
“They?” It was the only real lead I had.
“Them up North what sent us here!”
“Thank you.” I stood up and stepped across the fire. I drew my knife, and cut the orc-man free. “What is your name?”
He stood confused for a moment, and then blurted
“Well then, ‘Garzbug’. Go back to your northern masters and tell them that Tarthalinor sends his regards. Say an Ellon has taken interest in them again, and the worst kind.”
I smile “Run along now.”
I shoved him into the woods and returned to my fire, twisting the ring on my hand in deep thought. The Tengwar letters that spelled my name caught the light and seemed to glow a dull green against the silver.
I drew forth the small leather satchel I had taken earlier and opened it. Inside was an iron ring carved in dark runes and a red wax seal. I threw the ring into the fire, and turned my attention to the seal. It bore several lines of Quenya runes, and a name. One I recognized.
I there my brother’s mark into the fire where it ran like blood over the glowing pool of iron.
Seeking the Truth, by Tarthalinor Elhromane
by Tarthalinor on Feb 21, 2016 at 02:06 PM}