It was just after noon and the cold north wind was blowing across the mountain road in a southeastern direction. The snow was now lighter than it had been earlier, but still the road could hardly be seen. A group of three men were trudging through the snow heading west toward the great Elvish city of Rivendell. Two of them were carrying large packs on their back while the third, armed with a short sword, led the group. All three wore heavy layers of thick, warm clothes made of furs and leather. The leader was Brondir, son of Kaman, and was a cunning trapsman. His two companions were Hebrar, son of Uthar, and Segil, son of Sedir. All were descendants of some of the men of Gondor who had long ago moved north to Esgaroth, which lay in the east beyond the Mirkwood. They had grown quite successful in the fur trade, traveling as far west as the eastern edge of the Shire, and they had together escaped many perilous and long journeys. They now traveled westward through the Misty Mountains.
The small party was moving as quickly as possible on the snow-covered road. They seemed very afraid, always turning their heads this way and that, looking for any sign of danger. There had always been stories of horrid creatures that roamed the Misty Mountains. Stories of orcs and trolls and other terrible creations of Melkor’s contamination that lived within the long mountain range. These dark things had before attacked many travelers, killing them and plundering their goods. This is what the three feared as they moved along the road. They had learned before not to waste time in this place.
Suddenly, a loud deep drumming could be heard, soon followed by many chilling shrieks. The group stopped dead for a moment and listened. The drumming and shrieks were heard again, this time closer than before, the three took off running as fast as they could. As they struggled through the snow the sounds grew closer and closer, and soon a small band of orcs could be seen coming up swiftly behind them.
Brondir turned round wielding his sword and swearing to hold off as many of the evil creatures as he could. He ordered the other two to flee and in obedience they dashed and stumbled down the road. The orcs soon came upon their obstacle. Brondir made a valiant effort as he hued the head off one and ran a second through, but he was soon overwhelmed by the war party. They shred his body to pieces and his sword soon lay broken in the crimson snow next to him. After finishing with him the orcs left the corpses and continued pursuing the two who had fled.
By this time Hebrar and Segil had stumbled nearly half a league away from where their companion had been slain. They were starting to head down hill, and they could now move swifter; however, they discovered that gravity took its toll in slowing them down, and often found themselves lying face first in the snow. As they ran their packs grew heavier it seemed, almost as if some unseen evil was continually loading more weight into each one. Soon, Segil fell exhausted and commanded his friend to drop his load and run. The furs now meant nothing to them and as Hebrar continued his flight he prayed for protection from the Valar over his friends.
Segil lay there in the snow alone, to wait for the orcs. He did not wait long. The orcs soon came upon him and the two packs, and they tore and slashed him apart and took the furs and any other items he carried. Then they stopped their pursuit of the now dismembered group.
* * *
‘Erenduil, Erenduil!’, came a call from outside the walls of a meek, wooden house. Inside on a bed lay a young Elf. As he awoke he stood and rubbed his cloudy, blue eyes. He was of a medium build and average height, and his dark hair fell almost touching his shoulders as he stretched. Hanging from his neck was a golden chain that carried a sapphire pendant. He quickly put on a long-sleeved, hooded shirt and black leather pants and ventured outside.
‘What is the matter? You call me as if we are under siege.’
‘Erenduil! Nothing is the matter, as far as I have heard. Your brother, Lorgelon, has returned with a man from the East.’
‘A man from the East? Why is he here?’
‘I do not know, but Lord Elrond has sent me to bring you to a council. He is summoning all of the Hunters.’
‘Very well.’ Erenduil went back inside for a moment and returned wearing a vest of mail, a thick, heavy belt studded with silver, a pair of black riding boots, and a short sword hanging from his waist. He walked toward a large building where many councils had been held. Upon reaching its heavy, oaken doors he entered and was greeted by Lorgelon with a hug. The two had not seen each other in months, for Lorgelon was often wandering in the East or North, hunting down orcs and trolls; but, at present they had no time for a drawn out reunion, so a hug would make do for now. Erenduil followed his brother down a hallway decorated with memories of the past. As they passed a large sword (the blade now broken in two) they paused and bowed, for the sword was used by their father. The sword, Elenhir, had served him well and as the two Elves saw it, memories of their father came back to them in an air of pride. They soon continued along the hall, each speaking of the past months’ experiences. Erenduil told his brother of the adventures that the Elven Hunters had been on, and Lorgelon spoke of his journeys in the North. Soon they came to a room with no tables. A bright fire burned in a great hearth with carven pillars on either side. Inside they found a small company of elders. In the midst of the quaint gathering stood Elrond, tall and slender with silver hair and bright, blue eyes. He wore magnificent robes, which both reflected and absorbed the dim firelight. A thin and finely crafted mythril crown sat lightly on his head. The council was listening to a weary man who sat near the fire in cold, wet clothes made of animal furs.
As Erenduil waited to see why Elrond had sent for the Hunters, his brother filled him in on some details about the man. Lorgelon had found him collapsed on the road almost five leagues Northeast of Rivendell. He was traveling across the mountains and carried nothing but the clothes he wore, which were soaked from melted snow. Soon more Elven Hunters, including Algaros captain of the Hunters, had arrived and Elrond began to speak.
‘Today, we have received dark tidings from the East. Apparently orcs and other black creatures are again starting to congregate in the Misty Mountains. I would like for you to hear this man’s story.’
The man, known as Hebrar, began to speak slowly, shivering and afraid as he recalled the events of the previous day. He told the now larger group of Elves of the march through the snow-covered road and the drumming and shrieking. He nearly froze as he spoke of it, not because he was cold but because of the terrible memories and sounds. He had not seen his companions since he left his pack and fled the mountains. After he had gone through the story in exact detail, Elrond spoke again, issuing an order that the Hunters search out these monsters and destroy them.
* * *
Outside clouds carrying rain began to roll in over the city. The clouds were that of a dark-grey colour but they brought only a gentle, quieting rain. It had been two days since Hebrar had arrived in Rivendell, and the Hunters were preparing to leave for the mountains the following morning. They had waited possibly too long already in order to let Hebrar regain a small amount of strength and with a long ride ahead it was possible they might come up short in their search
Erenduil sat on his bed deep in thought. He had been on many missions over the past years since he became a ranger, but they were seldom as serious and dark as this. The last time he had heard of the orcs attacking travelers, his father, Danrahl, was one of those to track the creatures. That hunt ended in disaster stirring up the hidden anger of the Elves. The party of twenty-five rangers had been reduced to three; one of the dead was Danrahl. Erenduil was bitter, yet slightly afraid of the dark beasts and he sat in deep thought for the remainder of the day. He talked much with Lorgelon and Algaros. By evening the clouds had mostly cleared away and the air was clean and heavy. Erenduil ventured outdoors, where he stayed far into the night; staring at the moon and stars and occasionally singing to himself a few of the songs of old to calm his spirit. His black hair flowed in the wind and his blue eyes sparkled in the moonlight, while his heart pounded heavily inside his frame; but all emotion was hidden from anyone else, save his brother.
* * *
At dawn the next morning, with only a few hours of rest Erenduil was again awakened and called out side by his brother. Erenduil came swiftly out. As he met his brother he embraced him, but he did not openly express his thoughts and feelings about the hunts. Still, Lorgelon knew his brother well enough to tell that it was bothering him, and decided to come with the Hunters this time. Erenduil noticed that not only was his horse saddled and prepared for the journey, but so was his brother’s.
‘Are you going away again brother?’
‘Well, yes and no. I am leaving Rivendell for a while again, but I’m not yet leaving you.’
Erenduil was relieved to hear this, for his brother had brought much success to the Hunters in the past. At mid-day a call rang out for all the Hunters to gather for departure; and so they met, along with the one survivor, at the gates of Rivendell where they were bid farewell by Lord Elrond. As they rode out of the city, led by their captain Algaros, Erenduil held up his pendant, kissed it and stuffed it under his shirt. This was a custom he continued at the beginning of any hunt that had been passed down by his father. He and his brother rode tall and proud, coats of mail shining in the patches of sunlight; decorated sheathes sparkling as did the hilts of their swords. In them honour and dignity was defined as it had been in their father. Soon, the Hunters vanish into the low mists of the forest as they began to quicken their speed.
* * *
After nearly three hours of heavy riding through the woods they emerged onto a short plain nearly thirty leagues wide and ending at the foot of the mountains. They had only taken four quick stops in the woods to water their horses and verify their direction and location, for they did not take the winding road, but rather cut directly through the woods crossing over the road every now and again. Now they halted at the edge of the woods with the mountains looming ahead over the plains; the tall white-peaked towers of rock, which now made a great home for many evil things. They stopped to discuss their plans of pursuit. Hebrar had come with them to help locate the spot where his party was first attacked, and he pointed south of where they now stood toward the road he had taken. The rangers mutually agreed that it would be quickest to ride in a straight line toward the place where that road met the mountains. At that they mounted their horses and sped off.
It was easy riding, and quick, for within an hour they had reached the foot of the mountains. They needed to move quickly, but it was also necessary to go cautiously. The orcs were not afraid of them, and there were many bands of those creatures. The road led up smoothly for the first few miles, but they were soon enclosed on either side by sloping rock walls. Dusk began to roll in over them, and the cold air of the mountains made the sun ineffective. They decided to stop as soon as they found some place to stay for the night. Soon they found a place in the rock wall much like a small cave. Travelers going to and fro through these mountains often used this cave, but it was empty at this time. There the Hunters camped the night in the cold and harsh air. Erenduil stayed up to look at the stars, but no song came from his lips this night.
They awoke the next morning to the brisk air. They hastily cleaned up their site and again took to the mountain road. By midmorning they had nearly reached the place where the three had been waylaid, and they came upon it a half hour later. They found one body shredded lying face down with his sword broken next to him. Only a few feet away lay the two orcs he had slain. As they stood, they spoke words over the dead man in their Elven tongue, and Hebrar made an oath to Brondir, his fallen comrade.
‘You sacrificed your life for mine. I swear by Esgaroth, I will find and destroy those who did this to you!’
The rangers then proceeded to the putrid bodies of the orcs. They found dark symbols on their broken shields of a well-known orcish band; a band Erenduil and Lorgelon had met before. They knew an area surrounding a cave in which this band lived further north along the mountains, but not so far. So after talking amongst each other, the Hunters, led now by Erenduil and Lorgelon, started again in pursuit of the orcs.
They rode swiftly over the mountainside, stopping every now and then to look for signs of the enemy. They now were traveling north and east and soon they arrived, over a smaller peak, on the eastern side of the Misty Mountains. After riding about twelve leagues over the rocky terrain Lorgelon noticed some footprints, in a softer area on the mountains, matching those of orcs; the Hunters followed the tracks until they saw a grove of trees with smoke billowing out of it. It was only a few leagues out and it was clearly smoke from several campfires. The rangers dismounted, and moved in quietly. Many were armed with bows and swords. Erenduil drew his huge double-handed broadsword. With their keen sight the Elves were now able to see the camps, as well as some shields that bore the same orcish marks that they had seen earlier. They were ready to attack.
* * *
In the midst of the fiery trees that had been sparked by the campfires, Erenduil and the other Elves fought against the dark monsters. It was thought that they would be fighting only a small party of eleven, but it proved to be more like thirty. However, the elves were not set back as they crashed into the enemy. Hebrar, who had in Rivendell equipped himself with a shield and a fine Elvish blade, fought with a full fury fueled by the deaths of his friends.
Lorgelon was now fighting a very dark orcish warrior. He swung at Erenduil with a heavy stone hammer and at his side dangled a small axe. Lorgelon fought hard and furiously against this enemy, but he could not break him. He thought of his father who had been killed by an orc, and this renewed the passion against the monster.
They fought for nearly half an hour, neither gaining the upper hand. Finally, in one dark moment the world became a blur fading quickly to black for Lorgelon. The orc had quickly drawn his axe and threw it into Lorgelon’s stomach. He was short of breath as his world faded. With a final blow of the warriors hammer, he was dead. His sword lie shattered next to him and his brother rushed to his aid too late. Erenduil, now thoroughly enraged, ended the disgusting creature’s life with a single blow to its neck from his glistening, red sword. Many of the orcs were dead or had been driven away from the area and many Elves had died as well. Erenduil’s heart burned within him and he Quickly summoned many of the remaining Elves to his side; Hebrar also was with them and his fury would not be quenched.
Erenduil, still angry, led the Hunters after the fleeing. They moved swiftly down the mountain, killing many of the remaining orcs along the way. However, they soon came to a cliff where several orcs stood facing them. The Elves fell upon them and battle was renewed. Erenduil killed a few of the orcs and soon looked around him to find most of them dead and again the rest running. Before thinking he pursued the cowardly beasts and slew a few more until he came upon a troll who had sided with the orcs. The large troll, turning to face Erenduil, weilded a mace and in one swing he knocked Erenduil back. Erenduil lost his sword as he was hit to the ground and as the troll advance he groped for its hilt, but to no aid was it now. In a matter of seconds Erenduil’s soul departed.
Just as his brother and father before him, Erenduil too was slain by one of Morgoth’s terrible creations. His black hair no longer waved in the wind, nor did his blue eyes glisten ever again. Although the Elves had won the battle, the loss of these two brothers was great.
Algaros came and picking up Erenduil’s sword led the Hunters in a mournful song, and then they carried away the body back to Rivendell. And the orcs began to multiply and inhabit the Misty Mountains. And Morgoth’s darkness grew through the death of these brothers.