Stab them, hack them, put them in the grave



11 - Stab them, hack them, put them in the grave

 

Kor breathed out and the exhaled air finally didn’t create small white cloud. The mission was not a failure, but neither a big success. All in all they could say, that they can put their effort elsewhere with light heart.

Nevertheless, those few weeks wandering in the ice desert were amazingly adventurous, though deadly dangerous at the same time. The worst thing in the end were the dire forochel beasts, compared to hypothermic Angmarim invaders.

Kor looked aside, where a fellow ranger was about to ignite his pipe.

“Last weed,” muttered Lothrandir, carelessly holding the pipe between his lips. “At least we are returning already.”

“Where can you buy it in these lands?” asked Kor.

“A bit to the south. One day travel.”

The trio soon arrived to a meeting point in a ruined fortress near the road from Esteldín to Annuminas. Another Ranger, Torogethir, was patrolling there.

As the western sky started to show hues of orange, they decided to camp here. The place was the safest of all around.

It was the last night on the way together. Kor and his henchgirl were supposed to return to Esteldín and Lothrandir followed his duty and needed to go south. They both were enjoying heat of a proper campfire from proper wood.

Torogethir turned out to be a good narrator.

“Ages ago it was part of the kingdom of Arnor. You can see the crumbling ruins around us, this was some small guarding fortress. In the vicinity of the lake had grown up the biggest and most famous cities – Annuminas. In the fading days of the kingdom it became more of a graveyard, because numerous tombs for the famous kings were built.

The landscape around the lake is generally fertile and pleasant, but lately it is rather hostile. These are wild lands, full of toothy beasts and evil creatures. There are very few inhabitants, but quite a lot of treasure hunters. Only the grave robbers are becoming more and more brazen and dangerous.”

“Yet the landscape is beautiful,” stated Kor.

“Only during the day,” said Torogethir.

“Why not in the night?”

Lothrandir took a breath before speaking, but then he gestured to Torogethir and let him speak.

“At some places, restless spirits appear. They are not just emanations, they really can do harm. A lot of people died or were driven utterly mad by them.”

Kor raised eyebrows, but said nothing. He knew of such things.

In the middle of their talk, just before the sun has set, Torogethir noticed a small dusty cloud on the road east.  That could only mean that someone is approaching on a horse. He warned the others and they all waited, until the riders approached.

It was only one person travelling and was spurring his horse a lot. As he was nearing the ruins and noticed the fire, he slowed to canter to see, who could he encounter.

Kor had the impression, that the figure is familiar. He kept watching the traveller as he was approaching.

“Tarnon…?”

He waved to the rider.

“You know him?” asked Torogethir doubtfully. Kor nodded and smiled. Tarn’s appearance wasn’t usually making a good impression. And just you wait until he’ll say something…

“Hey, man,” greeted Tarnon with his raucous voice.

“What a coincidence,” patted Kor the boy on the shoulder. “What do you do here?”

“Reinforcement for the Tinnudir troop.”

Torogethir smiled. “Well, this is awesome to hear. Our people there are terribly undermanned. I was just getting to this, to persuade Kor to join us.”

“I thought you had gone to Angmar?“ asked Kor.

„I had. But it needs a lot more than one scout with shit in his pants,“ said Tarnon with a wry grin. Then he shrugged and continued:

„Would you believe, that there are actually people who live there?“

He turned to Kor with wrinkled forehead. „They hunt, they herd some slender cattle and also grow a bunch of bitter herbs on teeny-weeny fields that could not know meaning of ‚acre’.“

„Blast it...“

„Absolutely. There are a few tribes and most important is, that some of them don’t bow to the sorceror yet. I contacted them.“

„And did you find someone of us?“ asked Torogethir.

Tarnon looked at him and then at the other ranger. He realized it is no secret to tell them, they were probably there when Golodir and his squad entered the evil realm on their own.

„Yes. Corunir lives. And some other from the group probably too, but they are in deep shi… They are deep in Angmar, safely dug in, as I understood. Halbarad already have my report and is organizing a rescue mission.“

„Good.“ Torogethir seemed relieved, Lothrandir just shook head.

Meanwhile the night has come and only reddish line was marking west side of the sky.

“Ooh, I’m so glad I can be at a cozy fire. The Fornost plains make me shiver.“

Tarnon shook and huddled.

„It is a nasty place. We were talking about the ghosts earlier…“ reacted Torogethir.

„Yes, you mentioned that it is not safe during the night,“ followed Kor.

„Fornost plains are focking haunted all the time. That’s why I was spurring poor Horsea so much.“ grumbled Tarnon.

„I see…“ nodded Kor.

„I spoke about smaller areas around Annuminas. They are safe in the daylight. But the whole ancient city Fornost is cursed, you speak truth,“ explained Torogethir.

Tarnon looked at Kor. „I’m no coward - and you know it. I just loathe to face ‘em. I dislike ‘em same as the walking undead like I met in Garth Agarwen.“

Kor replied him with understanding look.

Tarnon continued. „If I am forced to fight ‘em, I do. I just hate it.“

“How do you fight a ghost? You blow so much on your mouth that he vanishes?”

“Of course not,” Tarnon shook head and folded up his cloak so they could see his two thirteen-inch-long daggers. “You need a sharp blade. And a bit of strong will.”

“Pull the other one,” Kortheod bursted out laughing. But Tarnon’s expression was serious.

„He is right, more or less,“ said Lothrandir who was mostly silent. „Do you know, why you should hide all knives and pointy objects for night, when you’re at home?“

The rohan-dunnish man shrugged.

“Tis because it hurts all good spirits and souls within the house. And the opposite - if you want to banish some evil spook from house, you set in the interior a lot of knives or glass shards, pointing upwards.“

Kor thought silently. Then he said:

„I met the undead. There is a hilly area in Enedwaith full of old tombs and burial caverns. The restless ghosts roam in the vicinity. We know… well, we knew the living should not approach the area. But a way to banish them…“ he turned silent.

„It’s better to be prepared. You will meet them, in this area sooner or later,” rasped Tarnon.

Plusheila shivered a bit, then she stroked the shaft of her spear.

„So, I need a new sword,“ concluded Kor.

Then they all focused to their own thoughts.

After a while, Torogethir broke the silence.

„I think you can get a proper weapon soon. Rather than travelling to Esteldín’s smith, you could use local source.”

„The grave robbers sometimes successfuly find something. And when we catch them afterwards and take their loot, we cannot track every single blade to its original place of rest. Not every sword is undersigned by his previous owner and most of them would be useful in fight again.“

„I like the idea. Buried, stolen and renewed blade…“ grinned Kor.

„We must not forget, that the edgy weapon is not self-saving against the undead. It is your attitude and soul strength, that helps you drive the spectre away,“ explained Lothrandir.

„When I did this, I shouted at ‘em and commanded to leave. I dunno if it worked, but I‘m here and alive,“ shared Tarnon a piece of experience.

Kor nodded.

“We should get some sleep for it,” yawned Lothrandir.

“I take the first watch,” said Torogethir.

*

Morning sun caught Kor, Plusheila, Tarnon and Lothrandir on the road west. Soon they reached the looming monument of High King’s Crossing.

 „You can’t be serious…“ gasped Tarnon.

Kor just stood silent, astonished.

„Good, I’m going there for the weed and rations. When you finish playing statues, join me there,“ pointed Lothrandir to the encampment at the foot of the monument. They followed him within a moment.

After buying supplies, the ranger gave them goodbye.

„In Tinnudir, you should see Calenglad. I’m needed elsewhere. And good luck with the sword, Kor.“

Just before they set on the journey to Tinnudir, they noticed a rider incoming from the south. A pony was carrying a halfling, lot of sacks and a lute. The hobbit lass jumped from the saddle. Her flaming red hair instantly drew attention of all. She overlooked the encampment with smart green eyes and spotted fellow adventurers.

Kor raised hand and waved to her, reservedly. She answered heartily and smiled. Then both sides went about their business.

“Strange, how also such short encounters fill you with… hmm… joy,” let Tarnon speak his thoughts aloud.

Kor agreed with a smile.

 

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