Halbarad Dunadan: Part Two - The pursuit

Halbarad walked east. Why east? He knew not the answer to that. He followed the trail of the orcs, as he walked he looked back on his life. The happy years of his youth, spent in Rivendell with Aragorn, seemed so distant now. Even his departure from that fair place seemed long ago, despite the fact that it had happened less than four years ago. He recalled his journey to Bree. He thought back to the battle between orcs and rangers in the midgewater marshes. Now that was something crystal clear in his memory. The horror of that day would be forever burned into his memory. It was the day that more than half of the remaining Dunedain were killed in battle. The day he first learned of the horrors of war. The day Estel had turned into Aragorn.

So lost in his memories was Halbarad that he was almost in a dreamlike state. When he finally turned his thought back to his task he noticed that he was drawing near to Bree. He would have to go round the city, he wished not to see the ungrateful Breelanders. If it had not been for the valor of the Dunedain in the midgewater marshes Bree would be nothing more than a memory. Halbarad made camp not long after passing the town.

His sleep was a restless one. In his mind the orc ambush of the camp replayed again and again. Several times he was awakened in the night, sweating, grasping for his sword in fear. Shortly before dawn he left. A sense of urgency was now on him. The orcs would have had a long headstart, and Halbarad had already lingered too long. He travelled all that day, much the same as he had the day before.

The next day he observed that the orc tracks had indeed become much more fresh. He was gaining on them. He now heeded no hunger or weariness. He pursued at a run now. It seemed that the orcs, confident that they had made their escape, had lingered long while he pursued. It was only a few hours after nightfall that he found them. He approached the edge of their camp silently. He counted them. Eight orcs and four savage northmen. The rest must have continued on. He remembered that their had been at least forty orcs that escaped the battle.

Halbarad notched an arrow. He took careful aim at the lead orc. "Steady now" he thought to himself. "I only have one chance at this"

His heart pounded. He knew he was outmatched. The enemy was too many. Still, he had to try. He loosed his arrow. It hit its mark. Throwing the orc off his feet, the orc barely managed to scream in pain before he was dead. The other orcs and men drew their weapons. Halbarad sttod up and drew his sword. And the enemy cowered in fear. For though Halbarad knew that he was outmatched the orcs thought otherwise. They saw him stride out into the clearing of their camp. Tall and proud he was. The blood of Númenor flowed pure in his veins.

But the enemies fear did not last long. They threw themselves at him. With one great sweep of his sword he felled two orcs. He barely managed to parry the barage of attacks coming at him. He stabbed an orc in the chest. It screamed and fell to the ground, bleeding and moaning as it clung to life. One wicked orc scimatar managed to hit Halbarad. Halbarad's chainmail absorbed the blow. Barely. Though it did not cut him the force of the blow almost knocked him from his feet. Turning now to the orc that hit him Halbarad swung. The orcs head fell from its shoulders. The three remaining orcs fled into the woods leaving the savage men to fend for themselves.

The savages attacked. Halbarad cut down one of them with ease, for their arms and equipment were poorely made, and they were unskilled warriors. The three remaining men threw down their weapons and fell to their knees, pleading for mercy. Halbarad laughed at them. "Tell me what happened to the prisoners you took. Then I may show mercy!"

The prisoners had all been killed, or devoured by orcs. "Tell me then, was a young women among the prisoners? A woman with red hair and an air of nobility about her? Surely you savages would remember seeing such a prisoner?" but the wild men knew not. They told him they did not recall such a women, but if she was captured then she was indeed dead. The orcs had spared none.

At this Halbarad's heart sank. She was dead then. Halbarad looked grimly at the men. Difference or not, someone would pay.

After Halbarad slew the savages he continued east towards Rivendell. Those of his folk who did escape would surely be there. He travelled for what seemed like an eternity, though it was in fact only a few days. As he stumbled into Rivendell some of his grief melted away. The mere sight of the place gladened his heart. Long forgotten memories of childhood came flooding back to him.

Soon he was even more glad, for he saw Aragorn with some of the folk who escaped. And then his heart leapt. She was there, alive. He ran to her. All his grief was gone and he was happier then he had ever been as he held her in his arms.

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