Talkin’ with a Ghost (for them what’s never experienced it) en’t somethin’ I be entirely sure I’d recommend.
It be a bit like holdin’ dialogue with a person on the other side of a waterfall, whilst both ripping drunk an’ sufferin’ from tinnitus simultaneously, in a particularly echoey gulch.
A Ghost en’t exactly got lungs or larynx; not as though they can produce audible vocalization like the rest of us. So what they “say” is less enunciated, an’ more ... projected straight into yer head. You yerself en’t “hearing” sentences so much as absorbing the full impact o’ their thought in the moment ... complete with all attendant emotion an’ sensory acuities that pass through your mind when you speaks upon a subject.
It be enough to leave a body reelin’ from sheer impact, for the unpracticed.
* * *
Mister Lothrandir an’ I weren’t long in sightin’ the wreck o’ the wood-ship Thoroval (as it be called). The sinkin’ o’ Thoroval be the subject of absolute scads of balladry: Even at distance, me epic imagination were captured by the fantasy an’ tragedy of it all. Mister Lothrandir had visited to pay respects on more’n one occasion, though he’d never clapped eyes on its alleged tenant.
The Beardie Dorfs’ rumors were true enuff: We dodged attention of both Wolfie Gauredain an’ red-garbed Iron Crownies about the highlands. We waited to cover o’ darkness to approach the wreck.
Thoroval were snapped in twain-and-a-half, with the remains o’ the jagged bowsprit pointed skyward like a defiant spear. The body from near amidships an’ aft appeared to’ve keeled near 80 degrees or more to port, with jagged openings created over the years by pack ice shifting about.
Perfect place for haunting, if nothin’ else.
We’d nae exactly turned up lookin’ for aught in particular, as we weren’t sure what it were we be lookin’ FOR. So we ‘ad ourselves a cautious survey ‘o the place.
Smudges in the snow told us someone else’d also come, not long before us. In retrospect, assuming ‘Someone Else’ had come, and already gone again, were an oversight on our part.
That the ‘Someone Else’ may not have yet departed became apparent when the growling started. Then eerie woofing noises, as made by human-like throats tryn' to imitate canine ones ...
Three feral, colossal ... things suddenly had us boxed in, from the opening into the ship’s hold. An’ aaalllll that Beardie Dorf, Mister Leithólf’s cautionary remarks about “small bite-sized Apples” in the Wolf’s jaws came home to roost in the half moment before bedlam erupted.
The middle-most Gauradan were dead center in the jagged opening, fully exposed in the risin’ moonlight. Mister Lothrandir’s javelin landed square in ‘is sternum before I could say “What the NELLIE!?”
The other two were on top of us almost afore the Man could draw his sword.
The Dúney-lad flung a certain bite-sized Apple behind ‘im, an’ took the full brunt o’ the assault. Skiddin’ on the icy glaze, I ended up wedged behind the damaged capstan.
Mister Lothrandir be a strapping lad – a forehead taller even than Mister Halros, with just that much more meat on ‘is limbs. I s’ppose it be a boon in this raw tundra. But these half-bestial Gauredain gots a head-an’-change more on him.
The feral noises o’ the wolfish giants mingled with the equally feral war-cries o’ the Dúney Warden. When I un-wedged meself from the capstan, the sight were terrifyin’: One Wolf-man, with a gaping wound in ‘is side, had Mister Lothrandir flat on ‘is back amongst the timbers with the Man's right arm pinned under ‘is own weight. His left were attemptin’ to hold the Gauradan at bay, as the Wolf-man attempted to get a purchase on Mister Lothrandir’s throat with ‘is teeth. The second Wolf-man were crawlin’ on ‘is elbows howlin' in the eerie hull, both of his hammies seemingly slashed.
Fair nauseated with horror, I took B-Sharp Major and rushed at the big one, what had me companion pinioned. I didn’t make it, though, as the second one grabbed me by a leg. The hammie Gauradan learned then that bite-sized Apples can taste very sharp indeed.
Without even thinkin’, I put B-Sharp Major straight through his blood-frenzied face.
Then came more howlin’. Before I could write us off for lost, I were bowled over by foot an’ feather:
Arvo an’ Elea, the lead runners, came tearin’ in, with broken sled traces trailing behind them, leaping on the Gauradan like twin cannons. Maddie harangued from overhead (I have to say) to rather little effect, but with worthy zeal.
As me sword were now lodged elsewhere, me next best weapon were the skillet on me pack. I yanked it out just as Arvo an’ Ellie brought the great Gauradan rearin’ up, then topplin’ backward, freein’ up Mister Lothrandir’s sword arm.
Belly-up, the Wolf-man were soundly finished.
If things ended on a botched note – an’ I fear this one’s on me – it be because I were winding up for a mighty swing o’ the skillet JUST as Mister Lothrandir dropped to one knee on the Gauradan's chest with every ounce of his weight behind his sword point.
His sword did its job as intended ... An’ he took an iron Hobbit skillet to the back o’ the head an’ fell limp as a feed-sack.
* * *
Me first reaction were to throw up.
I’ve whopped more screechy Gobbos than every Bounder in Budgeford. But thar be somethin’ different about puttin’ a sword through a face for the first time, even if I still en’t sure these Wolf-people be truly Men.
Me second reaction were to stare at the scene around me, wonderin’ what I were supposed to do now.
I ‘ad Maddie. Two sled dogs, very much still ridin’ the adrenaline of the Fray. I ‘ad three dead Wolf-men, three weapons in need of extraction, and one unconscious Dúney-lad in an unknown state of injury, save for most assuredly having taken a skillet to the head. All in the hold of a shipwreck in a field of pack-ice.
If’en I thought the night couldn’t get any weirder though, then I’ve been letting me bardic imagination go severely underfed lately.
Remember all those sensations I alluded to above? Without warnin’, every one of 'em rung in me ears. An' me head were awash in a deluge of imagery.
Visions of fear, an’ frigid wind an’ screechy wig-its in black bathrobes, an’ grief an’ dead Men an’ Elfs, an’ distant lands o’ red skies an’ iron castles, an’ self-loathing, an’ the rage of pure helplessness all slammed me head so hard I’d’ve thrown up anew ... if me heart hadn’t leaped halfway out me throat when I looked up:
A spectral face gazed down at me.
A pale form in the likeness of an armored warrior.
I were lookin’ straight through it; I could see the nails in the bulkhead behind ‘im.
Starin’ at one another thusly, me head FLOODED with a thousand questions, none of which seemed to be me own.
Wherefore comest thou unto this place of griefs? For what cause doth Angmar send the Wolf Clan to desecrate the tomb of my men and brethren, to be felled so by thee, even as thou strikest one who bears upon his throat the Star of Elendil? Who art thou?
T’were a tall enough order to process that many questions at once, even without the ambient scene OR experiencin’ for the first time incorporeal communication methods.
I thought me head might truly burst.
* * *