Citizen of Imladris : 25 posts
Raven first returned to the old Forsaken Inn in the spring of the year 2995. It was deserted and rundown and after spending the first night there after taking shelter during a storm to stay and make the place her home. She set to work and after many months of work the old Inn was looking considerably better. Raven was almost ready to reopen the place as an Inn. That was the beginning of this story which included more characters introduced and many events too numerous and intertwined to try and summarize without telling the whole story so I really encourage any readers to take the time and look up the beginnings of this tale.
As autumn began to fade into winter, Raven of the Eldar was killed by an unknown assailant and after her burial, Morghan returned to her hut on the edge of the Chetwood near the Midgewater Marsh.
Early winter in the Chetwood
It had been some weeks since Morghan had watched Malassuil ride away after he had returned with her horse. Winter was closing in, the days growing colder as daylight grew shorter.
Morghan quickly adjusted to life alone in the forest and kept herself busy building her strength in the long unused skills her father had taught her so long ago. She practiced following tracks through the woods, managing once to creep close to a pair of does browsing in a small clearing. There she had lain so still that one of them had almost come close enough for her to reach out and touch it before it caught her scent and bolted.
And she began to throw the knives for father had left her until she was quick enough to pin a squirrel climbing a tree near her hut. It had made a tasty change for her supper that night along with a rabbit caught in one of the snares she set along the many small trails found in the forest. She would have practiced with a bow and a sword, but neither was in her possession. She planned to change that once she made a trip to Bree but for now the knives were useful. More than once as she walked through the forest she felt as if someone was watching her and a few times tried to double back and try and catch sight of anyone, but no one was ever seen.
One night as she was sitting and writing in her journal by candlelight she heard a sound outside followed by a quiet rap. Rising from her chair she went to the door and opened it. It was dark, no moon or stars shone in the night sky as the clouds had been rolling in from the northeast most of the day. But she could see a shadow in the darkness beyond the door and somehow knew who it was. “Come in Halasían.” She spoke to the shadow, waiting for it to move. When there was no answer she turned, leaving the door open and went and sat down. “There is leftover stew from my supper if you are hungry,” she said to the open door as she picked up her quill and started writing again.
“Rabbit or squirrel?” Halasían asked as he stepped into the hut, closing the door and latching it behind him. He was dirty, with tangles and twigs in his hair and beard as if he had been sleeping rough in the forest for a long time.
“Sit by the fire,” she told him. “You must be cold if you’ve been sleeping in the forest. And it’s rabbit in the stew. With some leeks and the last of the potatoes I brought from the Inn.”
“You have become better with the knife than when we first met long ago.” Halasían told her as he took the pot from where it sat on a stool near the fire and began eating hungrily from it.
“So it was your presence I sensed watching me, I wasn’t sure. Thought it may have been Malassuil.”
“He is well on his way to Fornost.” Halasían replied in-between bites. “Empty handed,” he added. “I followed him to Anna’s, staying there watching, until he returned here with your horse. Then I followed him to the road leading to Fornost.”
“He told me that Anna wouldn’t give him any of the scrolls, though why is beyond my ken,” she replied putting aside the quill and journal. She walked over to the shelf by the window and looked out. The night was dark and the wind had picked up and she thought there were a few white flakes of snow carried along with the wind. She drew the shawl around her shoulders tighter and went over to the small hearth to more wood to the fire. Somewhere in the distance there came a faint sound of a wolf hollowing; she shivered.
“That is a sound heard more often than I like in these days,” Halasían spoke quietly, he was standing behind her and as she turned he handed her the empty pot. “I thank thee for the stew; it will be keeping me warm tonight.” And he turned toward the door.
“Wait!” Morghan blurted. “Stay the night. It is late and grows colder. And there are things I wish to ask of you.” Her voice trailed off and though she shrugged, her eyes held his even as he scowled. He scanned the room. It would be nice to spend a night inside out of the cold.
The hut was small, just the one room with a curtain drawn around what must be the bed where Morghan slept, a small table with one chair and the stool he had sat on while he ate. He decided to sit on the floor next to the hearth; it would feel good to soak in heat after sleeping rough for so long. “I will answer what I may, but it may not be what you want to hear.”
Morghan pulled the stool closer to the hearth. “Tell me of the Blood Crows.”
“What is to tell? The ancient stories say the first Blood Crows were men from a nomadic tribe in Rhovanion while others say they were from Umbar or Harad and yet others speak of the first ones being from lands further to the east, but they all agree the first Blood Crows had at one time served in the armies of Sauron. Discontent and disillusionment grew in the hearts of a few and having nothing more to lose except their lives, they deserted.” Halasían paused before adding softly, “There are even some stories that hint they are a secret off-shoot of The Dúnedain…Dark Rangers.”
“NO!” Morghan gasped. “That cannot be true!”
“Can it not?” Halasían asked noticing the look of disgust on Morghan’s face. “Did you not say you thought your brother was with them?”
She said not another word just bent her head. He continued.
“They were good men for the most part; men who had served in battle and had felt both the exhilaration of victory and the agonizing despair of defeat. But they were tired and weary of fighting and many had the feeling of having lost control of their own destinies and the destinies of their people through the constant battles and wars waged by between the Elven-kind and the forces of first Melkor and then his followers.”
“When they returned home after the War of the Elves and Sauron, many found that they had lost nearly everything they held dear-families, friends and homes. They felt as if there was nothing left, for now they were labeled deserters.”
“Very few accounts were recorded, but it was during this time that the first whispered rumors were heard of groups being organized. Nameless at first, they were only a handful of loosely organized, like-minded people; descendants of the widows, orphans and soldiers of the defeated armies who long ago had returned after the war. The common thread of disillusionment was strong. And so they formed a pact. They vowed that like the crows who gathered on the fields after a battle to feast on the remains, so too would they. They would ally themselves to neither side, yet if the chance arose to use one side or the other to further their cause they would. They seek to see all powers in the world cast down and from the ashes assume dominion.”
“So they are not allied with Sauron?”
“No, but he knows of them, as does Saruman. Little is known of any leaders; each band seems to act in accordance with their chosen leaders influence. Some have been known to be very cruel, and immoral; others not so much. But there does seem to be a loosely knit network of communication between the different bands.”
“How did you learn so much of them and their working?”
Halasían looked away and just stared at the flickering flames of the fire for countless minutes. He finally turned to look at Morghan. <i style=”font-style: italic;”>“Why do you wish to learn of them?” His eyes were dark beneath his furrowed brow with the red flickering flames reflected in them gave a hint of madness.
Morghan didn’t look away, though she wanted to, she seemed held by his gaze, but she lifted her chin. “I plan to find Michrel.”
“Foolish girl!” Halasían rasped as he stood, looking down at her. <i style=”font-style: italic;”>“Courageous men have tried to find the Blood Crows, each failing and paying with their lives or worse…the lives of those they cared for. You couldn’t even save yourself when they captured you!” Halasían strode to the door and slammed it as he left, out into the stormy night.
Morghan stayed at her seat near the fire feeling as if she had been punched in the stomach. The words he had spoken…
Yes they were true but she felt that she had conquered her fear and she was determined to at least try and find her brother. Leaning her chin on her clasped hands, she sat staring at the flames.Apr 6, 2021 at 6:19 pm