“Well, all of the ranger’s before becoming a real ranger have a set of tests and oaths that they have to accept and abide by. One of them being that a ranger must never acquire a personal relationship with another person. He has broken that law and he’ll be punished accordingly to fit the crime. And he was also told that if he abandoned his oaths he would no longer be a ranger and therefore an enemy to the rest of the rangers.” Pertin finished.
“And his punishment?” I pressed, fear creeping up on me.
All of the men sprouted evil grins that reminded me of Halede and his so-called smile. My gut tightened when I saw their exchanging glances with one another. Out of fear I fumbled for Nate’s hand and felt him squeeze it strongly. Looking in his eyes though I could see his fear, he was truly terrified and that made me harden up and put on a bold face.
“His punishment is to either kill the one he betrayed us by, or to turn himself into the Gondorian jail. If he chooses the jail, he’s to lie and say that he stole from a poor family that is trying to get by. Then he’ll serve his time, away from you and looked down on from the rest of the citizen.” One of the other men spoke, I couldn’t see which one it was for the light was beginning to fade quickly now.
“Some choice, either way he is going to suffer, but I forgot that is what you guys want. You’re just as bad as Halede and his ridiculous rules. Eventually, your rule will fall just like his is going to and then what will you do? Who will be willing to follow you where they’ve had a taste of what real freedom is like? They’ll leave you to fend on your own.” By the time I’d finished I was sure that he would be condemned for his acts against innocent people.
“Nate what do you chose? Kill this abomination, or go to the jail?” Pertin said as if I hadn’t spoken and I let it go.
Nate raised his head holding it high and smile on his lips, “My fellow ranger, friends, don’t condone what you have never felt. I have known most of you from when we were children, and you know that I would never disobey my oaths unless I felt that what I would gain would be better. Love, is better than a life of solitude, though some of you would laugh at me for saying so, to me it is. I’ll go to the Gondorian jail and serve my time in it, and what I know will hold me and keep me rising every morning is knowing that she’ll be there to see me and talk to me. That I’ll feel love even while in that jail, would last me longer than any oath could.”
“It’s to the jail then.” Pertin growled and motioned for a group of men to come forward. “Take them to the city and do what must be done.”
The three men mounted their horses and tied our mounts to their saddles. Our hands were bound with the horn of the saddle and we were off. Finally free of the group of men and on our way again to Gondor. Hope welled in my chest realizing that I was so close to helping out Mirkwood, but then I look at Nate, his head down looking at his hands. I whistled to him and smiled as his head turned to look at me. My smile died as his eyes cast a glance of despair at me, he was still upset? He’s not telling me something. I turned my head forward and keep my gaze ahead the whole way.
How can he say he loves me, but even after talking about the bond of love look so downtrodden? Come to think of it, he betrayed me in a way, and caused me pain though that was Pertin’s fault also. And what made me feel that I can trust him? Because I found him wounded and alone, no that wasn’t it, and then it hit me, I trusted him because he looked like he was a fighter, an ally. My mind still wondered as we approached the gates of Gondor. What was his job? Was he in Mirkwood because of Halede, or was there something else that he was sent to do?
“Who is it that seeks to come into Gondor?” A guard called from the top of the gate.
One of the men, a tall wiry man with pepper gray hair walked his horse forward, “We rangers have brought you a fugitive. He’s to be placed in the jail for as long as his crime allows.”
“And what is his name and his crime?” The guard bellowed.
“Nathan Greger, he was caught with this woman held captive, she was beaten and half dead by the time we got to her.” He looked at me as I opened my mouth to speak. The look in his eyes was enough to shut me up.
The guard moved away from the edge of the gate and the gates began to open slowly. Our captures trotted forward squeezing through the opening. I was ready to get off, my back was stiff, my legs sore, but the worst part was knowing that I couldn’t say anything to clear Nate’s name now. The ranger that had spoken had made it clear that my word couldn’t be trusted by saying that Nate had held me prisoner. Anger suddenly raged through me. He couldn’t do this! I could over power them, but now wasn’t the time. We had to get inside first then I could cause trouble.
Being led through the city was terrifying, watching as the people stared with interest and fearfully at our little group. To be honest I had no idea where they were taking us, the jail I knew was on the left side of the city near the back of the gates by the mountain side. We were headed to the heart of the city and with a sense of dread the king’s quarters. Why should we have to see the king? As we approached the winding stairs the ranger’s made their mistake, they untied my hands and taking the opportunity I went into defensive stance. The men laughed at me and one started toward me.
“Not so fast, you’ve forgotten that I’m not really normal. My apologies for this sir, but you left me no choice.” I snarled and thrusting my left hand forward smiled as he was slammed against a cart.
The other men immediately ran toward me leaving Nate alone and untied also. I swung my leg around and one man hit the ground which trapped him around the middle. The last man seeing that I had been underestimated pulled out a whistle and let a shrilling ring. I pushed both hands forward and the man was flung twenty steps up and collapsed against them.
“Nate run! Talk to the King, tell him about Mirkwood! I hold anyone off.” I yelled as guards turned the corner in full armor.
He looked at me, “No, I won’t do it. You should, you know more about it than me. You go, I’ll hold them off.”
“Now is not the time to argue! Go.” I screamed as I sent a wall of gravel tumbling at the guards.
He ran at me and grabbed my wrists, then shoved me up the stairs. I had no choice but to do as he wished and so sprinted up the stairs. Once I was out of sight of anyone below or above I went into werein form. It had been too long since I had changed, pain coursed through my body and my left leg had no hair on it because of the fire. Even with this to add to my worries I ran on. How many stairs are there to the top? Why would they put so many?
Upon reaching the top of the stairs I was confronted with the great white tree of Gondor. I had heard tales of it from my childhood, but had never thought that I would live to see it.