|Directions of the Dunedain
Author: Hamfast Gamgee PM
The Rangers didn't find it easy getting there message to Aragorn!Rated: Fiction K - English - Fantasy/Drama - Halbarad - Words: 4,774 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 1 - Published: 07-29-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6188873
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This is an entry for a challenge from me. Usual disclaimers, this is Tolkien's world, apart from the OCs I don't own or didn't invent it. The challenge was to put in a self-insert into a story. So, fine I have done that. But I'm not saying as the challenge didn't specify this, precisely who the self-insert is. There is a little catch as I am not the narrator!
So, Elessar, you asked me to write about the strange events of Spring 3019? Fine, I will do my best, though I am not certain of how much of a chronicler I am. It was a misty, cool spring evening in our little village of Straddle. Life for us was at peace, and I have to admit that at the time, my knowledge of events outside of our local few villages was a little hazy.
Anyhow at the time I was at the beginnings of a romance with the delightful Eoddrou. She was a charming young lady in our village a few doors down from me. But we were trying to be discreet and in especial to keep out of sight of Mrs Trixed who the idea of been discreet was a foreign term! She was Eoddrou's next door neighbour and very old-fashioned in her beliefs of how a young lady should behave. Plus a terrible gossip and a bit of an all round nightmare.
Though, to be honest, avoiding Mrs Trixed was just part of our game, really, made a dull life in Bushy a little more interesting. 'Oi you there, I'm sure I heard something!' cried she, and giggling the two of us made a dive for under some Bushes. It was evening and she looked around, frowning into the night's mist. Then she scowled, tutted and walked away.
But it was at that point, just when we thought that no-one was looking I saw a mysterious friend of mine. Mr.N a young man seemingly in his twenties, but I found out later was a lot older one of those Rangers. I had met him before, but he was often of on some long journey. I was a little bit curious about the Rangers, most of my contemporaries found them very uncouth, but there was just something about them I found endearing, perhaps it was their knowledge of strange birds and beasts and the outside world which I like everyone else in Bree knew precious little about.
He used his fieldcraft skills to spot me in a manner Mrs Trixed lacked. 'There you are, Ted, Ted Burrows and the delightful Eoddrou!' Eoddrous curtsied prettily, in her dress and dark hair, which her been active that day did show a little of her cleavage. 'Ted, you were saying that you were curious about our journeys. I can take you on one of ours if you like. We could do with another person and you would fit in well!'
On a journey with the Rangers! That was a rare offer and one I quickly accepted. I said goodnight to Eoddrous and was eagerly off. Mr.N was wearing comfortable dark green and brown, clothes that fitted him well, if a little careworn. I was in a simple tunic, leather trousers, jumper, white shirt and a warm coat. By the end of the evening, we were on the borders of Bree and Mr.N introduced me to another Ranger, an older man by the name of Eldorain.
He had greying hair and was on a horse and holding two others. Fortunately I was a competent horse-rider, quite enjoyed the activity actually, so this was an appealing prospect. Mr.N looked in his knapsack and bought out 3 drinking jugs. 'Beer anyone?' asked he and gratefully I accepted the offer. Eldorain looked at me as though weighing me up.
'I'm not so sure this is such a good idea. Not a Ranger, will Ted here cope with the rigorous and very probable dangers of our journey?' the wind howled behind him as he spoke.
'Well, Ted here does have Numenorean blood actually, one of his ancestors on the Finch side was of the Rangers, she married into one of the Bree-villages!' Mr.N took a swig of his ale. 'Come on, Eldorain. We haven't always been totally removed from the villagers we protect you know. We can take recruits from there. And as for danger, well all lands will be in danger very soon. Ted here won't be safe by skulking in Bree will he. But if he wants to return home he can and say no more. What about it?' he looked at me.
But my curiosity was now fired up. Without quite knowing why I replied, 'No, I now fancy seeing what it is you Rangers actually do. I have bought you beers know and again, so I'd like to know why!' I half-joked. They both accepted me and so I started on my journey. I have to admit, that many times later I was going to regret my decision!
Well, we galloped though many lands. Fortunately, the Rangers don't require much stocked food as they can forage in the wild. Quite effectively and interestingly. Though my job at the time was mostly to make the Tea! Mr.N proved quite a reasonable if rather unorthodox cook and did manage to rustle up some healthy and tasty meals. Though the idea of dangers was beginning to trouble me. Danger was never an issue in my, I do admit now, sheltered upbringing.
One cold evening with the cold wind blowing. I did enquire about the danger.
'Danger is all about in these wild lands, thats why we are here!' Mr.N replied. 'But these days there is a rather special danger. Have you heard of Sauron the dark lord from the evil land of Mordor.
I had vaguely heard of the name. But not in a very accurate way. 'Wasn't he slain by a Wizard and 13 Dwarves in ancient times!' I suggested as I tucked into a rather delicious Rabbit stew that Mr.N had made. We were sitting on a slightly barren knowl and overlooking a path that lead southwoods to the borders of the land of Eraidor according to Eldorian, though even Mr.N had said that he had never been so far south.
It takes a lot to make one of the Dunedain laugh normally, but both Eldorian and Mr.N laughed uproariously at my comments. I did think it odd at the time, but now I do understand why. Really, as a young man I should have gotten out a little more! Oh, well I was to find out plenty soon enough. I did know a lot about the politics of my own village, if one wanted knowledge of all of the doings of Straddle in Bree, I was your man, but foreign affairs, no!
'Even the Hobbits of the Shire seem to know a bit more than you do!' smiled Mr.N and I was told a little lore. Uncomfortable lore as it happens about how powerful Sauron the deciver was, how he desired all the world, how all free peoples were been put to a difficult test which many wouldn't survive and possibly all wouldn't. I was also told how dangerous creatures often invaded Eariador and it was often the work of the Rangers to keep villages such as mine safe.
As he spoke I heard a howl in the evening. Wolves! Followed by another howl. Howls all around that chilled the blood. 'Hmmm, the Wargs have travelled West. It's a long way from the mountains for them,' said Eldorian. I was told to stand up and I drew the sword that I had been given. The Howls increased and I could see eyes and large hairy animals creep towards our little fire.
It was more unnerving when one leaped towards me and I had to use my Sword to defend myself against the sharp-teethed creature or to die. But with one swipe the Wolf was dismayed and departed. With the vigorous nature of the defence that Mr.N and Eldorian put up the creatures were soon put to flight with a few slain. I would have left it there, but Eldorian was insistent. 'Come!' said he, 'We need to follow these wolves. Can't have them so close to civiliziation.'
So, rather than a nice night's sleep, I was hunting Wargs in the darkness. It wasn't until daylight that Eldorian was satisfied that the Wargs were out of harms way. And then rather than rest, 'We'll just have to catch up with sleep later,' explained Mr.N although with no Wargs or dangerous creatures immediately about we were able to relatively relax.
Then Eldorian gave a cry. 'One of us at last!' and pointed to a single rider on the horizon. He galloped towards us another Ranger. 'Aethlread, hail!' greeted Eldorian and the two glasped hands.
Aethlread was clad in similar garment to Eldorian. He seemed in a hurry. 'Hail, Eldorian, N, well met indeed! Listen, haste is needed, Halbarad is gathering as many of us as we can in a hurry. We are needed. The Lord Aragorn has summoned for us to help him in Rohan, I believe. Also we have an important message from Elrond and his bethroded the Lady Arwen to deliver for him. His two sons are marching with us also. He is nearby!'
It looked like I was to travel further afield. We met up with Halbarad a dour-handed, dark man and around 20 other grim looking tall Rangers similair in look to Eldorian. All were weather beaten with comfortable warm garments of dark green and brown on horseback with tall stirrups. Halbarad greeted us, 'Pleased to meet you again, Eldorian, Mr.N this could be your longest journey yet, and you are?' he looked at me, Mr.N introduced me to him.
'Nice for you to join us,' said Halbarad. 'Now, we have to go to Rohan then if Eru wills onto Gondor to it's wars. But we have a problem. The wereabouts of the Lord Aragorn are a little vague and we need to deliver a message to him quickly From the Lady Arwen as we say. Well, from her father as well, but the two did take long counsel with each other over this matter. The problem is that none of us are precisely sure as to the location of Rohan. If we can't find Rohan, and it is far away, then we can't find Aragorn.'
With the Dunedain were two Elves, quite old and powerful Elves, though I didn't realize it. The sons of Elrond.
I said rather cheekily, 'I thought that Rangers were never lost!'
Halbarad looked at me darkly and rather thoughtfully. 'Not as lost as some. It is true that we know our way around the lands between the mountains and the sea, but none of us have recently been this far south. Yes, we can follow paths, even those that are unclear to most folk and in time we would find it. But time is the issue. If we arrive too late we might never meet up with Aragorn, you see.'
So, we galloped forward all that day and for several days to follow. We were travelling far to the south - for me at least - and we galloped along many dusty and empty lands. We forded streams and past woodland. The weather past all the seasons of the year while we travelled, now clear and sunny, now cold, now rainy and windy. It was fortunate that I was with folk that were well stored.
We came one day to a large river with a patchy road leading to it. 'This is the Greenflow!' said Halbarad. 'This is as far as the lands I know and there is no-one here that has travelled further. Aragorn probably has done, but he is the greatest of us and he isn't here.' It was drizzling. The land was flat and dry, but I could make out the peaks of hills to the west.
'We must have some idea were it is, Rohan is a major country!' said Eldorian.
'You people do seem quite tough,' said I as another band of Wolves hastily fled from us, 'I do admire you and I sometimes wish that we could all be as strong as you people, the world would be a better place!' Halbarad seemed pleased by my compliments but his smile seemed like a sad one to me. The evening stars shone behind him.
'Well, maybe we are to some. But killing Wargs, Goblins or chasing strange men is one things. Getting to their source is quite another. It is sometimes like washing up Queen Elanor's palace dishes. Every time you clean one, two more plates appear! For around 20 years I have been doing this, on and off, and the Enemy has only grown stronger. About 5 years before I was aware of the affairs of the world there was a major victory against those that serve the Lord of Despair, but since then he has only grown stronger. One wonders sometimes!' Mr.N sighed.
Halbarad put his head to his hands and agreed sadly. 'You think that is bad? For about 50 years I have been an active Ranger. Mostly unthanked work, but also increasing work. Despite all of my efforts, I have seen the evil creatures that invade the civilizied world increase a bit by bit every year. So much so that nowadays we can scarcely keep them out and we probably won't for much longer. Sometimes I wish I had taken up the enemy's offer for me to serve him. Oh, it's no secret,' he smiled at my surprised face.
'Sometimes the Enemy does make tempting offers for us. A few accept. But I rejected him. Partly because I knew it would hurt my good lady wife too much for me to make such a move. It's too late for me to join him now in any case, there is too much bad blood between us, I don't trust him and neither does he me now! But in any case!'
'But what of the Prophecy that Man will triumph over the Enemy?' asked someone.
'What Prophecy?' answered Halbarad shaking his head. 'I'm not aware of any Prophecy fortelling the outcomes of these wars. We only have our own choices, and all can lead to evil. We are on our own in this one as far as Porphecies are concerned. Indeed it is most likely that this age will end in darkness, though strange are the chances of the world. But if I ever live to see a victory, I don't know.' Halbarad sighed. ' However, we have recently returned from Rivendell. Wonderful people the Eldar. However, sadly, their knowledge of up-to-date events isn't always what it should be. We were given a nice, helpful map of this area. If we lived 1500 years ago! Not much use to us now. Here are our options.'
I was handed a map which the others had been looking at. It showed Minas Tirith around a thousand miles away, some paths to the west, a road to the south a town in the south-west called Oesthil, and a fortress called Orthanc in the south-east. If it wasn't the rain hitting my eyes making my face wet, the thought of all those strange lands were stretching my mind.
'Perhaps we should look at Gondor, see if we can find the Rohan border?' suggested someone.
'That could take time. If we could only find were Isengard was it would be a help!'
'Isengard is quite a major fortress next to Rohan. Someone there should tell us.' Just then Halbarad gave a shout. A man was travelling along the road. Not one of the Dunedain. Much shorter, stockier with yellow, though dirtiest hair. Halbarad hailed the man, 'Excuse me Sir, we are a little lost. We are trying to find the land of Rohan, would you know were it is?
Actually the man was a bit dirty. Scruffy, and a bit smelly and kept on shifting. Strangely, despite all of their travelling, the Dunedain have always kept themselves fairly well washed but this fellow had a distinct odour about him. I tried to keep my distance, but Halbarad endured it. 'Oo wants to know?' said the man. Then he looked at us a little strangely. 'Friends of the king's are you?'
'We are friends of all the true men of Rohan. We bring vital messages. Can you help?'
'Yeah, I believe I can. Just follow me! I can take you to Rohan. With a little reward, obviously. The names Scunny by the way, that's what everyone calls me.' He put out a very dirty hand and Halbarad took it seemingly undisturbed by this. 'A little cash for guidance would be appreciate. Otherwise I don't see as to why I should help the "true men of Rohan"'.
I wasn't sure if we should have trusted this man, but Halbarad had said, 'We've little choice in this case,' and so he was given a horse. For a day we travelled vaguely South-eastwoods. Then night fell. We were passing a strange point, on a pathway through some hills. The Rangers were on the lookouts, it seemed a good place for an ambush.
At that point some arrows thudded into our party. None were fatal though one did catch Aethlread on his arm, drawing blood. But of more concern was a group of creatures diving at us though the hills. Goblins or Orcs. Mr.N had described Goblins to me though I had vaguely heard of them if not their strength in numbers. But there were around 100 of them against our small force.
The man leading us had led us into a trap. Indeed he even had we found out later a parchment on his person saying were the Orcs were. I remembered Eldorian saying that not all men in the wild were to be trusted and Scunny was clearing in that number. Scunny drew his sword and cried, 'Here they are lads, some men for you! Happy feasting!'
The Orcs didn't let us pass and attacked in number. Outnumbered, I was not thinking we had much of a chance and I feared the worse. But it appeared that both myself and Scunny underestimated the strength of the Dunedain. The men were capable of taking on Orcs that were greater in number than they were. Drawing silver swords, they moved with great agility.
Many of the Orcs were slain before they could lay hands upon us, the ground were soaked in their blood. There was clash of sword upon armour and the screams of the slain Orcs and the cries of the men. In confidence, Scunny had joined in the attack of the Orcs but he soon regretted this as a swipe from Eldorian's blade cut him to the ground but didn't kill him in fact.
Before long, the Orcs had had enough and those that had survied were flying from our strength. Many of the Orcs had fallen, but we were not casualty less. I myself had to fight a one to one duel with an Orc, I had managed to slay the servant of Sauron, but he had cut me on my shoulder drawing blood, but I was not the worse of. A handful of men had been slain, including Aethlread. Halbarad was angry.
Scunny was still grovelling on the ground. 'Get up,' commanded Halbarad. 'So, think you could get us killed by a trap of Orcs did you? One of the Dark Lord's agents aren't you? Was it money, power or fear that they bought your soul? I suppose that little matters now!' Halbarad raised his sword high as the blood-stocked figure shivered in panic.
'What are you doing?' cried he in terror.
'What do you think?' answered Halbarad as Scunny pleaded for his life.
It was here that I decided to take a hand. I'm not sure what it was but I just didn't like the idea of a man been slaughtered in cold blood. Scunny was unarmed and seemed harmless enough now to me at least. I interjected, 'Hold Halbarad, should we be so quick as to pass death in judgement? From what you are telling me many Men are been killed at the moment. Should we add to this evil?
Halbarad paused looking at me. The anger seemed to be passing from him for the moment. He snarled, 'Looks like the men of Bree have a weak side. Hope you never turn out to be King!' then Halbarad sighed and said to Scunny, 'Very well. But we will keep you captive and at my side. I don't trust you. And while we are at it, can you think of any reason as to why we shouldn't throw you into the dungeons of Rohan for years when we get there?'
As he was tied up and hurled up on a horse, he stuttered, 'Perhaps you could listen to me. I have more information for you. I know, you don't trust me! But if you carry on in this direction, you are Orc-meat. That force you just defeated was a relatively small one. Since the invasion of Rohan by Saruman the lands are overrun with Orc armies. A major one is to the south-east of here were you are headed. But with my guide you can avoid that!'
We weren't about to trust the man too much again, so he was bound fast for fear of treason. But it turned out he was correct. We climbed above some hills and underneath in a valley below I could hear harsh singing and a force numbering over a thousand passed by. It was a major force and too much for us and we hid. Mr.N was shivering and thinking.
'Scarry sight, eh?' I muttered quietly to him.
'Not the Orcs so much, well yes they are, but I was thinking of something else!'
'Orthanc. That name is troubling me for some reason, rings a bell, but just can't place it!'
It took a while for the force to pass. It was a gruesome sight as some of them were feasting the flesh of Men that they had recently slaughtered. Such was the habbits of such creatures. Eldorian was clasping his hands in anger wishing to have a chance to get to the enemy even if we were heavily outnumbered. But we were assured by Halbarad that our mission was too important.
The next day the sun rose in red fire. I asked, 'What is so important about our messages anyway, are you allowed to say?'
Halbarad replied, 'Yes, it's not a secret so much but fairly hard to follow. Something about having to travel to somewhere called Dunharrow to command deadmen. Means little enough to most of us and to me, though I have to admit I was never one to pay much attention to ancient history lessons. I prefer living matters. But how one is supposed to command Deadmen, this is a mystery to me. But the powers seemed to think it earnestly important so I am not about to go against the will of the Elven-lords!'
I scratched my brow a little and thought intensely. I couldn't see it myself either. I rode on in the cold morning sunlight. Though the direction we were headed seemed a little confused again. I asked, 'So are we any nearer to this land of Rohan. Would be nice to find it after all this travelling!' and to me it seemed we had travelled far, though it was not far in leagues to the Dunedain, save perhaps Mr.N. In fact, my bottom and legs were getting very sore.
'Sadly we still don't know were it is. You Scunny do you know?' Halbarad shook the man's head.
Scunny declined in knowledge. 'I must confess now, no I don't. I've heard of the country, but I couldn't guide you from it from here. I come from Dunland d'y'see I've never been to the place. I am speaking the truth now, you can torture me if you like, but you won't get any decent information.' This was received with disappointment to everyone.
'Might not be a bad idea!' snapped Halbarad referring to the torture, but common-sense prevailed and he did no such thing. 'So we are now in something of a quandary. The paths hear are many and it is difficult to always see, even for us in the dark what direction we are supposed to go. We have to take some choices. We can simply keep on going south. We might very well bump into the land. To the South-west there are many towns and villages we know of, we could go there and seek accurate information. We could try Orthanc I suppose...'
Mr.N started at that name, but said nothing. There was some debate, looking at maps and time passed. As Eldorian commented upon, and said, 'We have to make a decision quick. Why don't we look at all the paths and simply divide our forces?' this seemed a reasonable idea to me, to look at all the points available, but Halbarad disagreed with this.
'No, we should stay at one force. Only a few of us actually can deliver this message, it is complex, and besides the lands around here are dangerous as we have seen. We go along in fewer groups, we are in more danger of been killed or taken.' Halbarad thought for a bit more, then he finally came to a decision. 'I can't think of a better choice than to go to the towns of the South-West. It is the only way we can come to firm information. But it is 300 miles away. In this terrain. It will take a while, but I'm sorry, people, its the only choice I can think of.'
So, after a very brief rest, scarecely enough to even sooth my acing joints, we were off again. But Mr.N was acting very strange, though only I had noticed. He did seem to be standing up on his stirrups, looking around and slapping his head a little. I wondered if he was feeling well. Then after around 4 hours he cried, 'I've got it, I've thought of something!'
'You've thought of what?' growled Eldorian.
'I'm sorry I've only just thought of this friends, but we are travelling precisely in the wrong direction,' this caused our party of horsemen to pause, Mr.N continued, 'I'm sorry I've only just realized, but Orthanc is Isengard. It's the local name for it. I knew the name rang a bell for me, I just couldn't remember it. Orthanc is the place we should head for. On the borders of Rohan, someone there must be able to direct us!'
'You only thought of that now? If you'd known couldn't you have saved us 6 hours of riding?' sighed Eldorian.
'But at least he did think of it. More than any of us did. I suppose that's the advantage of having some Geographical knowledge of lands in the South. Well done, N. And besides what is 6 hours more riding?' said Halbarad and so we changed direction and galloped to the place were Orthanc was on our maps. At the least, that was clear.
Where we found that many things were different from what we knew. In fact, had we arrived there even a few days earlier, we would have been captured or worse by the traitor Saruman. But fortunately by the time we arrived we did find friends who directed us to Rohan. and after a few more hours we came upon a small number of riders. 'Halt, halt, who rides in Rohan?' cried a loud voice.
'Rohan? Rohan did you say? That is a glad word. We seek that land in haste from afar.'