Northdowns: Wayward Ranger Pt. 4 Voices from the Shadow

((edited RP log))

They sat together in silence as they ate, the low fire crackling and sending embers fluttering towards the low roof of the cave. Once Rowan was done, he leaned back against the thick fur cloak and closed his eyes though he did not sleep. “How is your family?” he asked companionably.

Torchanar paused at the polite question, it was but small talk yet he took some time considering his answer. "My daughter is well, though I wish she had stayed home in the Angle. She is a healer like her mother. My wife, has gone, passed away."

He furrowed his brow, unable or unwilling to say more. "My brothers and my nephew fight as I do, one went South."

Torchanar looked over a Rowan. "And you, what of your blood kin?"

"My condolences." Rowan said lowly as he heard about the man's wife, quietly listening on till the question was returned to him "They have long... Passed away."

Torchanar took a deep breath, his gaze remaining steady. "And you have mine, truly. That is a harsh blow...if you don't mind me asking, did you have any children, a wife?"

Rhaug took a moment to think on the question or rather how to answer it. "A child, no wife." He answered honestly, drawing in a deep breath after and adjusting himself to sit more comfortably against the wall. "A long time ago."

The ranger breathed sharply through his nose at the admission he had not married the mother of his child but he held his tongue. "I can't imagine the pain to lose your child. I try to protect mine... especially after her mother's death but she ..."

"It is a pain that... I would not even wish on... My worst enemies." He said as his hand reached up to wipe some sweat off his brow.

Changing the painful subject, the ranger asked, "Where do you hail from?"

"Hrm..." Again he seemed to ponder whether to answer or not "My home was the same as yours."

Torchanar rubbed a hand over the stubble on his chin, nodding his acknowledgement.  "The Angle, of course. Rowan, what brought you this way if not Esteldin? "

"It is a road to Angmar." He frowned at the mention "Something is awakening there again... I have no doubt. I seek to end it... Before it gathers too much.. Strength."

Torchanar raised an eyebrow, shifting his position. "We're well aware something has awoke, where do you think all the blasted orcs are coming from. The tribes are uniting, fell men control them and they're stirring the local tribes to want to invade. But that's not it, is it?"

He narrowed his gaze, his iron colored eyes keen on Rowan's face. "This something, what is it? And why do you know about it?"

"I am aware... I believe this is a power... That is helping them unite." He muttered opening his eyes to stare up at the cave ceiling above him "You would not.. Believe me, if I told you."

Torchanar shifted his gaze to the flames, "I've seen much in my travels around Eriador. Walked frozen wastes and felt the shadow of evil in Angmar. You have little to lose telling me."

"Have you heard of any evil... That stretches into the mind of people.. Through the shadows?"

He stayed quiet, his eyes fixed on the fire for a few moments. Finally he spoke up, "I've heard rumors of black magic, of shadow weavers in Angmar. Blood singers, some call them. We kill them on sight, for they are handmaidens of the Enemy. I don't know how much magic they can really do but I would not take the risk. I've slain my share."

"Blood singers..." Rowan repeated after him, his brows knotting and his head slowly lifting and eyes opening to look at his company "The one I hear... Names me cousin. Is that... Some name of theirs... Given to those they torment?"

Torchanar met the other man's eyes, noting the gleam of fever. "There are tales...long ago our kin came in service of a dark lord. The Faithless ones, Black Númenorians the men were once called. Tall men with dark hair and grey eyes, much like us. Long ago they came to Angmar to aid the Witch King in his war on Arnor, if I recall the stories correct, I am no scholar. But as far as I know, they've all been gone. Perhaps their blood mingles still in the veins of hillmen but the stories say they were even more selective of their spouses than our kind, many marrying cousins or other kin for purity. Either way, they're no longer around, not as they once were."

He seemed sure of himself yet doubt crept into his mind and finally he said, "Perhaps this... voice, this witch. Maybe she's got the blood of our kin, for as hated as they are, they are blood relation.  Have you seen her?"

"Hrm..." he shifted with sudden unease at the thought. "No. Only heard." he glanced towards the shadows on the wall, appearing thoughtful "Though perhaps it's only... A voice created.. By the illness." With sudden doubt finding the man he turned to his company "You say you have... Killed a fair share? What... More do you... Know of these witches?"

"It could very well be the fever, perhaps most likely," Torchanar quickly agreed, the darkness seemed to grow as they spoke of the evil to the north. He fed a few sticks into the fire and glanced up at Rowan's question. He cleared his throat and said, "I've been a scout in Angmar, fought the hill men and women. They are primitive and sworn to the dark power that corrupts that land. A power most thought dead for so long."

His eyes were now steady on the other man, "But as we found out, the power was dormant and it wakens now. Blood singers, from what I've observed, are servants of the Enemy. They practice a black magic, if you believe such things. Curses and visions but what we fear most is their poison. They brew poison and taint the blades and arrow points of the warriors. I've seen brothers die a lingering, painful death from this evil."

"I have tasted such an arrow." Rhaug muttered, rolling his shoulder at the reminder "Was not dipped in... Poison but simple... Filth of goblin and orcs." With a grimace he shook the thought aside. "You have given me... Much to think on, Torchanar... With luck this... Is only the creation of... The fever. If not... At least I have a small idea.. What I may be facing."

Torchanar rolled his jaw, as if chewing over the subject. His silence stretched out before finally he said, "Perhaps it is the fever, likely it is. But if it is something else, dark you say. You think to face it alone? "

By the glance Rhaug gave to Torchanar and how the man looked away again it was clear that he thought on the same question more than once or twice. "Truthfully, I am unsure what my plan is." His hand shot up to cover his mouth by a fist as the cough made itself known once again, tearing at his throat violently. When his breath was found again Rhaug collapsed back against the cave wall, shutting his eyes "Though... I will not go far either way... While struck with Lung Fever."

"Try to sleep," Torchanar said, wincing at the sound of the painful racking cough. "You need your rest."

He pulled his cloak over his chest but remained watchful over the sick ranger.