Journey of the Mapmaker - Chapter VII
When Milrog awoke, Tom was asleep with a temporarily paralyzed shoulder. But Ultho was still wide-awake, cooking food. Milrog rolled over on his stomach.
"Do you never need sleep?" He asked quite suddenly. Ultho smiled and seemed reluctant to answer.
"I'm a bit used to it," he sputtered out at last, rather coarsely. "I never did need much sleep, especially being on duty back at home."
"It's my job to watch for orcs on Thursdays and Sundays," Ultho replied. "It's been my job for some time now."
"Why would you want to look out for orcs?" Milrog finally asked. "If you still pay a ransom to the King, then he ought to protect you. If he doesn't, why bother to send ransom at all. It isn't as if he needed it."
"It's been our way of life, sir. Ever since the King rose up, that is. We cannot forget the King's late kindness, even if it has been ill-shown lately."
Milrog lay quiet for a bit, thinking. The young Ultho reminded him of his son, little Broglir, though he surely wasn't little anymore. He was a soldier, a knight of the King. And it sickened Milrog to remember it. How the King had practically stolen his family away, and sending him on this wild quest to map the entire middle earth. He was only sent on the anticipation that he would never return, but he would, he swore that.
Now I must pass over a large span of time, for the quest of mapping out the northwestern corner of middle earth was very time consuming. But they were attacked by no orcs (the orcs were often repelled by the cold chill of the northern lands), and came across on allies, until one day.
It was long after Tom had healed up from his shoulder-wound, and they were finally come to Ered Luin, the Blue Mountains. These were nearly frozen over by time, and the decision was made to go around them. Milrog got out an old map of middle earth to discover the fastest route.
"At this northern a land," Milrog said, "the mountains just continue going on north, streaming further and further. This is a very early map, so there may be an easy pass north now, but I wouldn't want to risk it. I would say that we ought to head south, to where the mountains shouldn't continue for much longer. Then we'll meet the source of the River Lhun, that is, the Gulf of Lhun, where Mithlond is, that is, the Grey Havens."
"Your word is the best master Milrog," Tom said, confidently marching on behind him. Little Ultho, puffing and panting though he was, continued to keep up with the heavy pack on his shoulders. They had been forced to release Ultho's pony at the crossing of River Lhun, but the pack was easily divided amongst them, and Ultho was well ready to get rid of the troublesome beast anyway, always wandering off and whatnot.
That day passed like all the others, a small cove was found in the Blue Mountains (which seemed little change except for the temperature). Milrog decided that it was best not to mark the cove on the map, for he hoped that he could come back there with his family when this was all over and live happily. There were plenty of plants to sustain then, and the mountain streams, though cold, were refreshingly delicious. He always was talking of this to his two comrades, certainly he was the most hopeful of success.
"Yes, sir," he would say to them. "One day, years from now, I'll pull my son from the army, I'll save my daughter Carolina from the kitchens, and I'll release my wife, Lorinden, from the tyranny she's been under. I will," he kept repeating that, "I will."
They covered a surprisingly long distance the next day, and as the sun began setting behind the Blue Mountains, Tom and Ultho could just barely make out the silhouette of what (from Milrog's description) must've been Mithlond. Milrog's own eyes were too old and human to see such a thing.
That night they spent on flat ground, confident that no orcs or goblins or anything else was on the prowl.
But the next day, even Milrog was seeing the shape of huge, gray towers streaming up into the cold sky, and they decided they would continue through the night without halt, just to get to the Gray Havens.
Mithlond was surrounded by an aged wall, which they easily found a break in. At one edge the wall had crumbled over time, and with a bit of climbing, even Ultho got over the top. Once inside they were awe-struck at the sights of the Grey Havens.
The buildings were certainly far older than any Milrog had ever seen in Minas Tirith. Even the ancient citadel was not as ancient as this. They moved as one unit, through ever building. They found themselves fearlessly climbing steps and walking under stone ceilings that at any time might collapse upon them. They watched the tapestries and banners sailing in the cold wind, the horses in them seemed to gallop, the men in them seemed to fight. If any elvish enchantment remained on that piece of land, it was surely strong.
They prepared to enter a particularly closed up and dark building, so Milrog took out his lantern and lit it. As he continued in, deeper and deeper, Milrog continued lighting candles and torches and furnaces with his lantern fire. And as they went in, deeper and deeper, their eyes began to become wider and wider. They were greatly torn in their souls for seeing such beauty, and for it they felt that they would never laugh at a joke again. Indeed, it was as though they would never laugh at anything if it was not kindness, generosity, humility, or the like. They would never jest at anything impure or humorous, and they would never be wholly cheerful again.
I cannot describe to you exactly what they saw, for I have not seen it myself, and certainly they never told anyone exactly what they had seen. But whenever they remembered it, they fell back into those cravings for goodness, and want of nothing more than common thankfulness.
But it was as soon as they had exited out, came back into the light outside, as soon as Tom (who was in the back) lifted his final step out of the doorway, over the threshold of the sanctuary, the fires all went out, and the incredible feeling was gone. But they had little time to dwell on anything, for the first thing anyone saw (who happened to be Ultho) was smoke rising from a nearby fire. They greatly were in want of more companionship, and even a fight with orcs would be good news to them. So, without a word, they bolted towards the fire. And Tom even picked little Ultho up onto his shoulders so to be sure he didn't lose his way.