As with the other chapters, I maintain my disclaimer and affirm my lack of language abilities with Sindarin. It is my intention that the human speaks Westron and only Findoron and the brothers know this language with fluency. The town of Dimarrow is a total figment of my imagination and lies on the outer boundaries of the lands of Rohan. I dedicate this story to those that have supported me and helped me grow. My thanks and appreciation to the reviews thus far.
Chapter 3: Dimarrow's Treasure
Tobin sat at the base of the tree and looked at the sleeping child. He hoped that the elves would return soon, as he had no need for such an attachment in his life. He didn't exactly dislike the child, but couldn't understand what his brother had seen in this elf-woman, Gailweth. She was an elf, and everyone knew that the races shouldn't mix.
Keeping the child would be difficult, there would be far too many questions for a man of his standing in Rohan; he knew that people would think less of him and he might lose business if they found out. Granted, the little sprite was kind of cute if you could get past the pointy ears – but in no way would he devote the reminder of his life to get the child to adulthood. As the youngest and only son remaining in his family, he was already 48 years old. From what the magistrate had told him, the little critter was nearly thirty, but nary more in size than a ten or twelve year old kid. There wouldn't be much of a chance that he would see the sprite grown up before he was an older man, himself. Shaking his head, he was resolute in seeing this task through. 'Yes,' he convinced himself, 'it would be better to give the child to the elf folk and get on with life.'
Findoron watched the man as he sat against the tree. He had been compliant for a human, staying out of the elves' way and not causing problems or asking for anything. The child had stirred once in the night, and Tobin had tended to it, speaking softly and giving it a drink out of a water bag that he kept at his waist. Soon thereafter, the little one settled down and slept again. As he watched, Findoron began to worry that the little one was wounded or ill. It just wasn't natural for one so small to sleep for so long.
He watched as the human looked around, then stood and stretched. Findoron's eyes followed the man as he moved to his horse and tended it, talked to it, and brushed its mane firmly while handing it an apple from his bag. While the human was working, the messenger approached the warden and shared that the brothers would arrive later that morning. Findoron related this to the man, and Tobin nodded gruffly. The human returned to the tree to sit by the child and wait. After a while, he grew impatient and picked up a small dead branch on the ground. Looking around for censure, and finding none, he began to coax a small horse shape out of it with his knife. By the time late morning wore on, he had a herd of rough carved horses that he began to smooth with the flat edge of his blade.
The three brothers neared the clearing to the outer edge to the forest, and Haldir gave his signal to the sentry. As they approached, he saw Findoron waiting for him at the head of the path. The elf seemed agitated and eager for the Marchwarden's approach. When they were within paces paces, Findoron approached the horses. "Marchwarden, I am glad that you and your brothers made haste," he greeted. Haldir nodded and encouraged him to continue. "The human arrived on the borders last night with a message for all of you."
Haldir was surprised at the tone on Findoron's voice. He had never seen him so unnerved about being around humans, and never had he known him to be so tolerant of humans who were difficult. "What are you not saying, Findoron?"
"He is not alone, Marchwarden." Haldir stared long and hard at this warden and shook his head. Clearly this situation unsettled him greatly and he was striving to be tactful and polite.
The three brothers crossed the clearing quickly and stood over the human and his bedroll. Orophin and Rumil both crossed their arms and looked down their noses at this man, while Haldir stepped forward and coolly appraised scruffy human before him. He noted with some surprise that the human didn't flinch or show fear. Instead he stood quietly and stared back at the tall elf in front of him, meeting his eyes, by looking up a half of head to the fair one.
Haldir and his brothers stood patiently, waiting for the human to speak his business. They were rewarded when he cleared his throat and began by introducing himself. "I am Tobin, son of Adric, the horse-breeder, and brother to Jonas, who was married to Gailweth. Are you the brothers Haldir, Rumil, and Orophin?"
"Indeed, Tobin, the son of Adric. We are they. What business do you have in the Golden Wood and why could you not conclude it with my Wardens?" Haldir asked coolly. This human irritated him, and he developed a greater understanding of Findoron's agitation.
The man reached into his pocket and withdrew a folded letter. He gruffly thrust it toward the tall elf and waited for the elf to accept it. Haldir's face darkened as he accepted the letter. "Is this why you have waited, to give me a letter?" he asked in a clipped tone.
"The letter says it all, elf. I have done my duty," Tobin responded. When the elf nodded, he turned away and picked up his sack and cloak for the ride back. Rumil watched the human and gasped when the cloak was lifted off the bedroll. He saw a pair of bony little legs peeking out from under another cloak. Orophin followed his brother's gaze and a low growl escaped from his throat. Haldir looked at both brothers and then followed their gaze to the sleeping area.
"What. Is. That?" he hissed, as he saw the legs poking out.
Tobin looked at the elves and felt a prickle of fear crawl up his spine. He began to regret waiting and decided that he wouldn't be intimidated by a group of tree-climbers. "That is no longer my concern, elves. I have done my job. If you have any questions, the letter will explain everything. I have a business to return to, and time is money."
"You will wait until I give you leave, human. I will read this document, first." Haldir gave an imperceptible nod to the wardens to hold the man. The wardens and guard responded quietly by moving into a subtle circle around the group.
Findoron watched this standoff and then moved to the child. He removed his cloak and covered the little one, sitting quietly beside it and praying to Valar that this mess would be over soon. Haldir noted this and nodded his thanks before he stepped off to the side with his brothers.
The three gathered quietly when Haldir unfolded the parchment. They stared in shock at the letter.
To Haldir, Orophin, and Rumil of Lorien:
I, Hennon, son of Arnon, Magistrate of Dimarrow, greet you with grave news regarding your friend, Gailweth. On the eve last, she was the victim in an Orc raid upon our valley. Her dying request was to bequeath her only possession, her daughter, to you.
The child's name is Gaelesteth and she was born 30 summers ago. She ages in the fashion of the elves and has been raised in a goodly way by her parents. Her possessions were destroyed in the fire that leveled their home, and what she wears has been donated by the clergy.
Her husband's brother, Tobin, has refused issuance or guardianship of the child, given the circumstances of the child's unique heritage; therefore, I grant the full guardianship of this child to you. Any remaining property, land, and animals will revert to the father's brother, Tobin. Should you wish to make a claim for any of these possessions on behalf of the child, you may appear within one month's time in Dimarrow to plead your case.
Signed on this 18th day of June by my hand.
Magistrate of Dinmarrow
Haldir looked across the clearing at the human and had to curb the growl that arose in his throat. Striding back across in six good steps, he stood before the man. Without looking back, he addressed Rumil, "Brother, go to the child and check her health. Tell me if she has suffered any abuse or neglect."
Rumil and Orophin walked to the child and the younger of the brothers knelt down and examined her quietly. He could see no signs of abuse, but she was slender. Much more than one would expect for an elfling. Shaking her gently, he frowned when she gave no response or reaction. He covered her gently and stood as Orophin remained with her. Findoron intercepted Rumil as he began to leave and mentioned that Tobin had kept the child drugged for journey.
Rumil nodded and thanked him for his help, then walked slowly and deliberately toward the human and his brother. Looking at his brother, he reported in Westron, "She is well, brother, but drugged. I can not rouse her nor am I able to touch her thoughts."
Haldir turned his glare upon the human. "What have you given her?" he hissed.
"I know not, elf. The healer prepared it and said to give her a mouthful every time she woke." Tobin glanced about at the elves that were watching this scene very carefully.
"Where is this drug?" Haldir demanded quietly.
Tobin struggled briefly at his belt and held up the water bag. Rumil took it and sniffed the contents, then poured a bit into his hand and tasted it. "It is a mixture of valerian and skullcap, brother. She will be asleep for the rest of the morning and partly into the afternoon. We should be back in the city before she wakes."
Haldir nodded, then looked to the human in front of him. "Do you release any and all claim to her?" He watched as Tobin bobbed his head up and down. "Then I grant your leave from this wood. Know that because you abandon your brother's daughter, neither you nor your descendents will be welcomed here again."
Tobin looked at the elf in front of him and realized that this was no mere elf. This one was a leader of soldiers. Feeling his fear in his throat, he walked to his horse and began to reach for the reigns. Orophin and Findoron watched as Haldir released an arrow at the human's feet. Tobin jumped back and narrowed his eyes at the arrogant elf. 'What more do you want elf? I have given you the child."
Pure sarcasm lit upon Haldir's face as he stared at the human. "I gave you leave to go, human – not the horse. The horse will stay as part of Gaelesteth's heritage."
Tobin started to sputter as he glared at the elf. "This horse is of the finest stock, he is worth at least 100 pieces of gold. You can't just take him. How will I get home?"
"It is of no concern to me how you travel back to Rohan. Your discomfort does not matter to me. Enjoy your walk." With this, Haldir turned and nodded to Orophin and Rumil. The three brothers looked at the elfling and pondered their future with her.
Rumil looked at Orophin and saw his brother's pain. "Remember brother, the Lady said that all would be well."
"Aye, she did…but this elfling looks very much like her mother when she was small."
Haldir watched the two and realized that history was repeating itself. They now had an elfling that was willed to them. He shook his head and muttered about the Valar having a warped sense of humor. Be careful, my Marchwarden. If you challenge the Valar, they will entertain you. We will work this out when you return; for now, make haste and bring the child to me.
Haldir nodded in silent acknowledgement and urged his brothers to mount their horses and head back. "We need to get this little one to the Lady. It will not be pleasant when she wakes."
Both of the brothers nodded, and Haldir faced Findoron before he left. "Fin, you handled this well. The watch is yours and I will relieve you in three weeks. To the Lord and Lady be true."
"Aye, to the Lord and Lady be true," he responded in turn before the Marchwarden left. Nodding in acknowledgement, the blond warrior turned his horse and followed his brothers back to the city. He could not, nay, would not, raise an elfling again. Raising his brothers was enough to convince him not to marry and children of his own. He was too old for the antics of an elfling.