Orc Gone Good - Piece twenty-one

The company woke to a cold morning, gray with dew. The clouds hung low on the horizon and hid most of the cracks of blue in the cloudy sky. A few more sacks of food laid mingled with the drying clothes and stripped armor; more then what was left from the night before. Pony tracks in the mud, lead into camp jumbled amongst the strewn out rags and turned around the campfire, leading back into the fields. Beorn had sent breakfast for the large host.

The Dwarves rooted through the bags, pulling out breads, creams, honey and bottles of mead. They filled their bellies and fell asleep, slumbering until the afternoon hours. York-ie ate honey for the first time, finding it much too sweet for his bitter tongue, yet mixing his bites with bread made it a satisfactory meal. Though his mind weighed heavier on other matters than his breakfast: a fear of the Dwarves attempting to kill him again, and this time without failure. Without the protection of Gordon, would Gonli attempt it again, could he be so foolish?

As the shivering company ate their meal, the six others dwelling in the house of Beorn were much warmer and well rested. When awoke awakened by the clopping of goats feet preparing breakfast, the Dwarves slithered from under their sheets and found a seat at the low table. Beorn was not to be found, and even many of the cattle were missing; though a Saint Bernard and black ram were with the guests. They ate and talked, sometimes even singing tunes they had learned in their great stone halls, in joyful days when red meat was on the tables, and ale was golden. The merry six stood and sat with deep mugs and cream dripped in their beards; they let down their hair so it may lay over their shoulders and lit pipes given by the beasts. By afternoon, a thick cloud of smoke smelling of weed lingered around the table, and each Dwarf sat to yet another meal.

Dusk at last had begun to sneak over Middle Earth, and all the company laid back with full bellies. York-ie laid under the shade of an oak just down the hill from camp; he sat against the great trunk with his eyes veiled with their lids, and his claws around behind his head while his ankles were crossed. He smoked his pipe, groping his lips on the mouthpiece, and piping smoke from the deep cup at the end of the long tube. York-ie attempted to blow a smoke ring, yet his gnarly teeth interfered and the ring floated away as a torn broken circle that vanished in the wind.

As a warm light, the last of the day, broke through the tree limbs in rays, York-ie woke from disturbing dreams, with his pipe still smoldering in the grass next to him. He was disturbed to see a black mound blurred by his sleepy eyes creeping slowly down the northern hill. He rubbed his eyes and blinked; at last his vision was cleared and the black object was seen clearly.

A great bear, with fur as black as the night that was slowly falling over it, and a size to match any Troll when standing, walked down the hill. As York-ie watched the beast he became frightened. York-ie dashed into a thick of oaks where shadows shrouded over him. As he hid himself in the head of a tall tree he saw the moon rise over the hills and cast a blue light on the darkening land, and long pointed fingers of night crept and crawled away from the moonlight. It seemed as the pale gleam illuminated the hilltops, that the patch of wood where he hid became infested with shadows, and a sudden gloom fell around him. Perhaps his own mind bringing these feelings upon him, his fear clouding his wits and making the illusion of dread fall not only on his heart but his mind and eyes as well. This seemed to be a curse set on the Orcs of the lands; that evil was drawn to them, in spirit and reality, never truly being able escape its clutches.

The bear's eyes gleamed and flashed as they pierced sharply at the Orc, and the thud of its paws could be heard where York-ie hid as the beast barreled down the hill in pursuit! The mournful howl of the bear now loomed just outside the bushes and trees; the beast slowly stepped on the shrubs, crunching branches and snapping twigs. In the night it was masked, blended with the hours of darkness, though it could be clearly heard, and the glint of its eyes were seen when they looked toward the moon. The bear rooted its nose in the dirt, trying to pick up York-i''e's scent or track, however York-ie had become quite light footed, almost like an Elf, and his prints were not to be found in the mud or grass.
The beast snuffled about the brush, groaning and howling, its large body crushing the plants under it and sometimes struggling to make its way between two trees. The bear came slowly to the base of York-ie's' perch; it searched about the roots, its rapid sniffle heard by York-ie only the length of the bear away. He dared not to move to a higher branch for fear of the bear climbing up after him; so York-ie stayed quiet and still, watching the bear scratch and sometimes gnaw on the oak's trunk. The beast stood on its massive back paws; it quickly rose into the thick of the tree limbs, its wet nose sniffling on the underside of York-ie's' perch. Its moist breath felt on York-ie's' face, and the warm air of the bear's howl ruffled the leaves around him. The bear gnawed on the branch where York-ie's limb sat and then dropped back to the ground, checking the trunk again before slothfully walking back into the fields.

York-ie sighed, feeling as if an anvil was lifted off his heart with that breath. He climbed down and plunged from the height, falling on his feet and quickly darting toward camp. He peered out of the brush, looking at the hills; a strip of light still lingered on the horizon, yet the moon still claimed its domain over this night. All looked safe, so York-ie stepped out into the fields, yet at his first step a sharp ring like that of a bell tore through his ears! He swiftly turned to the flash of a silver axe firmly stuck in the tree just above where his head sat on his crouching body. A massive sized man stood holding the other end of the weapon; he was tall with black hair thick on his face and curling hairs on his arms. He had bulging arms and legs, with a knotted chest that was concealed with only a vest over the man's shoulders.

He ripped the head of the axe from the oak and swung again! York-ie dove under the man's legs, and the weapon rushed over his hair. York-ie crawled through the brush and then stood to his long legs, dashing away with such a speed that the man could not catch. The angry pursuer chucked his huge axe through the air at the Orc; it ripped through a tree that York-ie brushed against just as the axe split the trunk, and the silver weapon became fixed in the wood. York-ie ran away into the fields and hid in the grass until his nerves settled and he could find his way back to camp.

The six Dwarves at the house of Beorn sat around the table with coals smoldering in the pit, and the smell of smoke bouncing off the rafters. Each Dwarf had a mug of mead, and Gurwick was the only one with a lit pipe. The matter of supplies for the journey had come up, and each Dwarf hinted in the manner of moving on to Mirkwood so they may reach the Lonely Mountain before war started.

`War has already started,' said Dok. `We are too late already.'

`No, war has been brewing,' said Gordon. `But war has not come yet.'

`I've heard that war has been afoot in the Grey Mountains, with our kin for quite some time.' said Bordon. `They have been fighting for their mountains, but have lost many. That is why the Dwarves of Middle Earth are going to Lonely Mountain, so we may march together and take back the Grey Mountains.'

`Yes, we all know why we are on this adventure, which at times seems hopeless,' said Gordon. `I often wonder what difference forty-seven Dwarves will make in an army of thirty thousand. Yet hope still remainds while our good York-ie is with us, and he is still willing to do what I have asked of him.'
The Dwarves all paused, wondering who would speak against York-ie; some let loose their jaws to speak, but closed them again and said nothing.

`And what about Beorn?' said Gurwick breaking the short silence. `Do you think he will give us supplies?'

`I am not sure,' said Gordon. `He does not seem to be harsh against us, and has already fed the entire company well. Perhaps we have to ask him straightforward.'

`But when?' asked Dok. `He hasn't been around for two days, and surely these animals can't help us.'

`We must be patient,' said Bordon. `Perhaps he has not been around because we have never asked for him.' Bordon stood to his feet and approached a Saint Bernard that lay down against the wall with his front paws crossed. `Come here, beast.,' said Bordon to the dog. It raised up and walked to the Dwarf, its eyes level with his neck. `Go fetch Beorn for us, we wish to speak with him, and do be quick.' The dog stared at Bordon for a moment and then dashed away, out the door.

`It is getting late,' said Gordon. `And it has been many days since we have talked with the company, so perhaps one of us should go to camp.'

`I will go,' said Dok. `I feel trapped in this building, and I must get out into the fresh air. Give my regards to Beorn.' Dok stood, shaking some crumbs from his beard as he then slipped his boots on.

`Dok,' said Gordon sharply so to ketch him before leaving. `Have a look at York-ie, and see that he is well. Who knows what the company had planned for him when we left?'

`Very well,' said Dok. `Though he should be fine, for I have heard naught of any planes to hurt him.' Dok shifted a glance at Keiwick who was lighting his pipe, and then walked away.

Dok walked out of the courtyard and began strolling down the lane with short buildings on either side. The buzzing of the beehives had seized ceased and was quiet, though the clopping of hooves was heard around him as he made his way toward the gate. The sound of hissing trees was also present, as the wind ruffled the leaves and swayed the branches. The stars were bright, and the moon shone a pale blue light on the rooftops of the buildings. The night air was cold, now that the sun had fallen, and when Dok looked at the face of the moon he shivered.

As he came to the end of the lane and the buildings fell away behind him, he came to the gate; he pushed upon it and it creaked as it opened. Dok walked through, yet his attention was caught by a sound not yet heard; a groaning sound coming from under the shadow of a log shack smelling of hay and manure. Dok meant to simply ignore the sound, yet his curiosity over took him., so He walked over to the barn and slipped under the shadows with the mysterious sound. He heard groaning and a sound of rooting about the grass and old leaves piled against the backside of the barn. As Dok began to pear peer one eye around the corner, a sudden, harsh howl came from the gloom, and Dok's skin crawled over his bones. He drew a knife from his belt and looked around the corner, and he saw nothing but a pile of crumbled leaves cloaked by darkness. Dok stood puzzled, when a strong hand clenched his shoulder tightly! Dok swung around in fear to see a tall gloomy figure standing with his great arm groping about Dok's neck. Yet before Dok trusted his knife through the figures arm, Beorn stepped out of the shadows, revealing himself and letting loose of Dok's shoulder.

`What are you doing out this late?' asked Beorn.

`I am merely taking a walk,' said Dok, sighing and breathing deeply after. `I am off to see our company.'

`Oh yes? Well, I should like to come along and meet those who I have been feeding.' Beorn said.

At first thought, Dok felt it was acceptable for Beorn to come along, yet as he pondered on it, he remembered York-ie and the hate Beorn had for his kind. If Beorn saw York-ie he could possibly kill him at first glance, or would demand many answers that may lead to disprovable for the company at a disadvantage.

`In fact, Beorn, Gordon and the others are waiting for you in the hall,' said Dok. `They wish to talk to you.'

`They can wait,' said Beorn with a growl. `What ever they ask won't be answered until morning; I like to think before I answer. Now let's be off, I am anxious to meet these Dwarves you speak so highly of.'

They both walked through the open gate and turned south, walking away from the rows of oaks and strolling over the hills watching the stars twinkle. The moon was pale on their faces, and blue on the hills, yet when they looked at its flat face it was white and vivid. At last they came in view of the campfire that winked on a far hill. In the light of the flame, Dok and Beorn could see many Dwarves shuffle about and stand to their feet, peering out at them as they approached.

York-ie had long since been back to camp when Beorn and Dok were coming, yet he told no one of his near death encounter with both man and beast. He was amongst a crowd that hated him, much less would they listen to him and believe his tale. So he kept to himself, which was not difficult; for he himself, was the one being he trusted the most.

As the two strangers grew nearer in sight, York-ie began to notice their features; one was short and thick with wide shoulders and parted legs. The other was tall and bulging, also with wide shoulder and great arms fit to bust at any time. Suddenly York-ie became frightened and felt vulnerable; he realized this stranger was the very man who attempted to kill him! As he eyed the man, his features were very familiar, and as he drew closer York-ie had no doubt.

As York-ie crawled away from camp, just outside the last blanket laid out as a bed, he hid in the grass.; He thought that perhaps this man had a personal hate for York-ie, perhaps seeking revenge against the Orcs and found York-ie to be an easy prey? What ever may be the case, York-ie knew he was being hunted for the gain of this man's pleasure or vengeance.

As York-ie hid in the shadows of the rustling grass he watched as the strangers came into sight; one of them was not a stranger at all, but yet a friend. Dok had come back from the house of this Beorn fellow, and with him he brought "Bounty Hunter". Dok greeted all the company and then turned to introduce the tall standing man that had come with him.
Beorn was his name, the one who owns the house that the six Dwarves had been living generously in for two days, and the one that the entire company is hoping to gain supplies from, was the very one who tried to murder York-ie.

The Dwarves greeted him with their service and bowed low; the man spoke with a grinding voice that commanded no service but only names. They then began to talk, mostly repeating what Gordon had already told Beorn, yet the man asked the questions again, surveying the Dwarves. At last Beorn asked for a Dwarf named Borhum; the company looked around the camp confused, not recognizing the name. York-ie was also confused, wondering what the scruffy-man was talking about.

Only Dok knew what he meant, and his heart was racing, pattering against the inside of his chest; Dok was relieved when York-ie was not to be seen, but now he had to explain for a Dwarf that did not exist.

Beorn began to get inpatientimpatient, and growled to see Borhum again but he got no answer. York-ie had different ideas of Beorn than Dok; York-ie thought of him to be a killer, a murderer, and a violent man who clearly had a short temper. He also thought the man had come for him, and that the Dwarves might get dragged into this man's scheme to kill a filthy Orc, so the man believed.

Beorn demanded that Borhum step forward, yet not one Dwarf flinched in his direction. At last Gonli spoke over the murmurs.

`We know nothing of a Dwarf named Borhum,' he said. `Perhaps you have mistaken the name with another?'

`No,' said the man. `Borhum was the name given by Gordon, there was no other.' Beorn looked down on Dok who was nervous and desperately thinking of an excuse. While at this same time, York-ie was debating on coming out of the shadows and making himself known to the Hunter to save any Dwarf from being injured by the hate this man had for Orcs. And third mind was debating; Beorn was deciding whether or not to aid this company in their journey, and so far as he waited for Dok to explain, his favor in them was declining rapidly.

`I believe it was not you, Beorn, who was confused, but it was Gordon,' said Dok at last. `Gordon said that the hero who saved us on the mountain was Borhum, when truly it was Bonli.' Dok walked swiftly to Bonli and laid a tight clench on his shoulder; a clench that told Bonli to follow along.

Though Dok had cleared the misunderstanding, York-ie still struggled in his mind whether to show himself or not. Because of the conflict in his mind, he did not hear or see what had happened, and that Bonli was playing the part of Borhum so fluently. And at length York-ie concluded that he would face the hunter and settle the difference whether by sword or discussion.

York-ie stepped out of the shadows and into the glow of the dancing flames...

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