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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Fan Art:
LOTR Fan Fiction: The Witch of Angmar #9

SamJCharlton
Bree

Oct 11 2013, 10:24am

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LOTR Fan Fiction: The Witch of Angmar #9 Can't Post

The Witch of Angmar
Legacy of the Fellowship
Part Nine
Ethorn


A shadow moved amongst the trees – tall and threatening.

Rose’s heart leapt at the sight of it. Fumbling for Sting, she skidded to a halt, causing Peri to collide with her. He opened his mouth to protest but Rose swivelled round and placed a finger to her lips – silencing him.

Ahead, Salrean had also halted. She drew her sword, her gaze scanning the dense woodland that rose either side of the narrow forest path and formed a canopy above their heads. They were less than a day’s travel from Farnost – and their journey had been blessedly uneventful.

Until now.

Leaves rustled and branches shifted. Then, a dark shape stepped out from the dense foliage.

It was a man, shrouded in a travel-stained, dark cape. The cloak snagged on a branch and parted slightly, revealing a thick leather vest underneath. Rose recognised the clothing instantly, for it was the same as Salrean’s.

The shadow that had given her such a fright was a ranger.

“Ethorn!” Salrean re-sheathed her sword with relief. Then, her face broke into a warm smile. “Must you sneak up on folk like that? I was about to run you through.”

The man, tall and long-limbed with shaggy dark hair framing a swarthy face, grinned. He had the look of a man who passed most of his life outdoors; his teeth were white against his tanned skin.

“Is that any welcome for your future husband?” his gaze settled upon Salrean’s face, eyes twinkling. His grin widened when she blushed.

“Idiot. I’m not marrying anyone, least of all you.”

The newcomer laughed, before he shifted his attention to Salrean’s two companions. As his gaze settled upon them, his good humour faded.

“You did it then? Your father will be pleased.”

There was no mistaking the sarcasm in his voice. Like Barandur, this man appeared to hold little love for Rendur of Farnost. Rose’s trepidation at meeting Salrean’s father increased. Did anyone, besides his daughter, hold a good opinion of the Chieftain of Farnost?

Salrean shook her head. “I wasn’t entirely successful. I brought Rose Fairbairn and Pericles Took back with me – they are the descendants of Samwise Gamgee and Peregrin Took – but one of Morwyn’s servants reached the Red Book before I could make it safe. He killed Rose’s father and stole it.”

Ethorn’s penetrating gaze rested upon Rose.

“I am sorry to hear that,” he murmured. “This is ill news indeed. I am sorry for your loss Rose.”

Rose nodded back. Despite that they had only just met, she appreciated his words.

Ethorn then glanced at Salrean once more. “I’ve been looking for you for the past few days. This forest is now crawling with goblins. You must have encountered some?”

“We were attacked a few days out from the Shire,” Salrean replied, “but since Annúminas, we have seen no one.”

“Then you have been lucky,” Ethorn replied, his handsome face grim. “I killed four this morning. They grow bold. We have moved all the folk on the outskirts of Farnost within the city walls. Every evening, after sunset, goblins crawl from the woods and attack. We must hurry if we are to make it home by dusk. We cannot remain out here after dark.”

Rose felt her heart flutter against her ribs at Ethorn’s words. She was glad he had found them, for otherwise they would have continued, unwary, into danger. Yet, this news meant that the situation, here in the north, was worse than she had thought. It appeared that the Witch of Angmar’s influence had made the goblins ever bolder. They would seek to destroy what villages they could and strike fear into the hearts of men – making it easy for Morwyn to sweep south.

“Very well,” Salrean nodded, her face mirroring Ethorn’s. “Let’s move on.”

They picked up their pace, moving at slow jog along the forest path. Rose and Peri were a lot fitter now than at the beginning of their journey – but even so, they struggled to keep up with the rangers’ long strides. Salrean and Ethorn ran on a few yards ahead, hardly seeming to tire.

On and on they ran, and by mid-afternoon, the forest had grown sparser, with stretches of meadow in-between copses of woodland. This far north, autumn had already made its presence felt, for many of the leaves were turning gold and the air had a bite to it.

Eventually, they took a short rest in the middle of a wide clearing, where they found the remnants of a campsite. Whoever had camped here, had left the area in a mess. They had hacked at nearby trees for firewood and left piles of filth and food scraps scattered around the ashes of their campsite.

“Goblins,” Ethorn’s face tightened with distaste before he knelt down and examined the ashes. “I’d say they’re the ones I met this morning while searching for you. At least those goblins won’t be bothering us.”

“I hope it was them,” Rose replied, glancing around the clearing nervously, half-expecting goblins to burst out of the trees at any moment.

“Rose has a sword that warns you when goblins approach,” Salrean straightened up after scanning the clearing. “It glows blue. Rose, show him Sting – let’s see if any goblins are around.”

Rose slowly drew Sting free of its scabbard. The elvish blade glowed silver in the afternoon light, without a trace of blue. She let out the breath she had been holding. They were safe for the moment, at least.

“‘Tis a beautiful blade,” Ethorn stepped forward, his gaze tracing the elvish inscription, “and a perfect size for a hobbit. Pay close attention to it as we approach Farnost, for a little prior warning could very well save our lives.”

Rose nodded and re-sheathed the sword.

They continued their journey north-east, at a run. The rangers had picked up the pace slightly but, even so, the light gradually began to fade – and still there was no sign of Farnost rising up above the trees. Rose pushed herself on, her weary feet beginning to stumble on the uneven ground. More than once, Peri grabbed her as she tripped over a tree root, or when her ankle gave way.

“I’m not sure how much longer I can go on,” she gasped. Beside her, Peri’s face was red and coated with sweat.

“Neither am I,” he panted. “I can’t take much more of this.”

Fortunately for the hobbits, a short while later, the trees parted. They followed the two rangers out into a wide expanse of rolling, windswept grassland dotted with low trees. There, in the distance, rose the walls of Farnost.

The city sat at the southern end of the North Downs. Rose could see the shadows of the hills rolling away into the hazy northern horizon. Like Annúminas, Farnost appeared a collection of old and new. Ruined towers sat propped up against more recent ones, and inside the new city wall, Rose caught glimpses of the original crumbling fortifications. The pale stone of the city reflected the red glow of the setting sun to the west, making Farnost appear blood-stained.

Rose felt a pang of sadness at the sight of it. This part of Middle Earth had known much war, devastation and bloodshed – and now dark times had come once more. It seemed so cruel, so unnecessary. No wonder the Dúnedain were such a strong people; they had been forced to withstand so much.

Heartened by the sight of their destination, the travellers, including the two exhausted hobbits, quickened their pace. Rose’s heart pounded in her ears; her breath now coming in ragged bursts that tore at her chest with every breath. Yet, she pushed herself on.

The light had all but faded and Rose could see the people of Farnost had lit their fires; it was a welcoming sight after a long journey. Fortunately, they were on the last stretch and the city beckoned as it drew ever closer.

Then, out of the corner of her eye, Rose glimpsed a flash of blue. She looked down and her throat constricted painfully.

Sting had begun to glow.

Rose was drawing in her breath to shout a warning to her companions, when she caught sight of figures moving towards her, from the east, across the scrubby grassland. Even at this distance, she recognised them instantly, for they did not move like men.

“Make for the gates!” Ethorn shouted. He had also seen them.

The goblins let out hooting cries and scrambled towards the travellers, covering the ground with frightening speed.

Rose struggled to pull Sting free of its scabbard and, in doing so, tripped, nearly impaling herself on the blade.

“Peri!” she screamed. “Help me!”

Peri was already a few yards ahead, not having realising that Rose had fallen. He turned, the whites of his eyes bright in the fading light and sprinted back to her.

The goblins were drawing close now. The hobbits had just moments before they reached them.

“Salrean!” Peri shouted, his voice shrill with fear. “Ethorn!”

Peri heaved Rose to her feet. Trembling, they turned to face the first goblin that bore down upon them. Peri was unarmed; it was up to Rose to defend them.

The sight of the goblin almost caused her legs to collapse under her. She almost dropped Sting at the sight of its bulbous, glistening eyes, the open mouth crowded full of sharp teeth, and the sharp blade clenched in its fist that whistled towards her. She staggered back against Peri, holding Sting out before her. It was a weapon she had no idea how to wield.

The sight of the glowing blue blade pulled the goblin up short. It stopped, just a yard away from where Rose and Peri huddled, its head inclining slightly.

“Elf blade!” it hissed. “Where does a Halfling get one of those?”

Moments later, more goblins crowded up behind their leader, eyes with pinprick pupils glowing in the gathering dusk.

Suddenly, there was a whisper of boots on dry grass, and two cloaked figures leaped over the hobbits, providing a barrier between them and the goblins.

Salrean and Ethorn had come back for them.

“Run!” Ethorn commanded. His voice was flat and hard and he did not glance back at the hobbits. “They are closing the gates. Run and don’t look back!”

Rose and Peri did not need to be told twice. They turned and fled like hares across the last stretch, towards where the shadow of the city walls fell across the grasslands. Behind them, they heard shouts, the clash of steel, and the crunch of bones breaking – but, as instructed, they did not glance back. Rose hoped that the rangers would not be foolish enough to take on all the goblins. She hoped that they would know when to turn and run.

Ahead, the great gates of Farnost loomed; two huge oaken doors, studded with iron spikes. They were slowly drawing closed. Rose gritted her teeth and forced her exhausted legs to sprint the last distance.

She and Peri slid inside, just as the heavy doors boomed shut. They skidded to a halt, and looked up into the surprised faces of the guards inside. Like most of the Dúnedain, these men had never seen a hobbit.

“Wait!” Peri shouted, turning back to the gates. “Salrean and Ethorn are out there. They’re surrounded by goblins and vastly outnumbered. Help them!”

The guard stared at Peri a moment, as if he did not speak their tongue, before they realised that the Halfling was speaking of two of their rangers.

The guard closest to them, a broad-shouldered, heavy-set man dressed in battle-scarred leather armour, exploded into action.

“Open the gates!” he shouted. “Veldur, Gonthorn, Nathil – with me!”

Rose and Peri scrambled back as three tall, well-built men strode out of the shadows. Their faces were frightening and Rose was relieved their fury was not directed at her.

Slowly, the gates drew open, the gears and chains grinding. Then, when there was a gap large enough, the four guards slipped through and disappeared into the darkness.


To be continued...


Just tuned into the story now? You can read the rest on my blog: http://epicfantasyadventures.blogspot.it/



'All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'


KasDel
Rivendell


Oct 11 2013, 3:50pm

Post #2 of 5 (362 views)
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Moving along... [In reply to] Can't Post

nicely Sam! Thanks again for your superb writing.

KasDel the Last

"Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger." Gildor


elaen32
Gondor


Oct 11 2013, 4:16pm

Post #3 of 5 (361 views)
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I'm really enjoying this Sam! [In reply to] Can't Post

Can't wait for Chapter 10- Thanks!Smile


Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!



SamJCharlton
Bree

Oct 11 2013, 7:26pm

Post #4 of 5 (353 views)
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Thanks KasDel [In reply to] Can't Post

So glad you're still following the story! Smile

'All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'


SamJCharlton
Bree

Oct 11 2013, 7:29pm

Post #5 of 5 (480 views)
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Great to hear you're enjoying the story [In reply to] Can't Post

We're really getting into the action now! Thanks for reading. Laugh

'All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'

 
 

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