Aramel stared into the crackling fire drowsily. The fire warmed her, and the golden glow seemed like the glow of the rising sun. Her eyelids grew heavy, and her head drooped.
Suddenly she heard a hoarse shout, and a harsh word. She leaped up hastily and looked around. Melting out of the shadows, lit by the glow of the fire, fifty Orcs surrounded her. She did the only thing she could have done under such circumstances. She drew her sword.
Harsh laughter sounded. The Orcs were laughing at her. She brandished the sword, and they laughed even harder. One, taller than the rest, spoke.
The Orcs lunged in, and Aramel, remembering how the men she had seen at home used their swords, hacked and slashed with all her might. However, due to her never having learnt how to properly use a sword from a teacher, she did not manage to do any serious harm to the Orcs. Still, It managed to hold them at bay. She shrieked, hoping that someone would hear.
Feawen had gone deep into the woods. She could feel danger coming. Warily she stepped around a tree, when she heard a blood-curdling shriek. She turned and went as fast as she could back to the clearing.
Back at the clearing, the Orc-leader guffawed. “She thinks to stop us with that puny little thing!”
In truth, Aramel’s sword was puny compared to the Orc-blades. Long and slender, it looked as though it would break on impact with another sword. The Orc-leader stepped in and brandished his scimitar.
CLANG! As the scimitar slashed down, the slender, frail-looking blade rushed up to meet it–and did not break, or even notch. Both blades leapt back from the force of impact. The sword now glowed a pale blue-white.
In Aramel’s mind, it was as if a voice was whispering in her ear, telling her what to do. She didn’t have to think about anything, just concentrate on holding on to the sword. By the way the Orc-leader moved, she could tell instinctively from the many patterns she had done before what was going to happen, and instinctively she made the move that was supposed to counter that move.
All might have gone well, had not an Orc grabbed her from behind, overbalancing her. She wavered and fell. Before she could get up again, the Orc-leader had placed his blade against her throat.
Aramel closed her eyes, preparing for the worst.
“Tiro val-en-elen!” A cry sounded from behind her, and bright light filled the clearing. It was evident that the Orcs, had something new to deal with. She could think of only one explanation: Feawen had come back.
Feawen had crept up behind the Orcs, and stealthily managed to get quite close to one. Quickly she swept out her sword and the bottle of star-silver, at the meantime shouting Behold the power of the stars!
The Orcs yelled and covered their eyes against the blinding light of the star-silver. Taking advantage of their momentary blindness, Feawen charged through them, scattering breaking the Orc-leaders hold on Aramel. Incidentally, Feawen had never learned to use a sword, and so was dragged off her feet by the momentum of the sword. She quickly got up and they both turned to find the Orcs.
The Orcs were gone. The clearing was empty as if there had never been a single Orc there. Bewildered, Feawen paced around the clearing, but nothing whatsoever was to be found.
“Where in Arda did they go?” she wondered aloud. “Surely they cannot have vanished?”
“It seems that they have vanished,” said Aramel. “We were very lucky to have gotten out of that mess without getting hurt.”
Feawen laughed. “From now on, I will use a bow. At least I know how to use one, and will not be dragged of my feet.”
“You have to keep moving, otherwise it will overbalance you.”
“I still think I’ll use a bow,” muttered Feawen.
There was a silence for several seconds, when the only sounds were the night-birds calling and the wind rustling through the branches of the trees. “I wonder who sent them,” Feawen mused. “Can it be the same one that sent the Cold Serpent?”
“Very probable.” There was silence for several more seconds, then far away they heard a great clamour and people shouting. They looked at each other.
“It’s the Orc-band!” hissed Aramel, “They’ve gone for someone else!” And she stood up and rushed towards the noise. Feawen followed tiredly.
The din was indeed made by the Orcs. They had come upon a cottage in the woods, and they were burning it and yelling at the same time. Then, still laughing and yelling, they rushed away.
Aramel ran to the still-burning cottage, and stared up at the flames, apparently petrified by the sight. Feawen, however, heard something. It was a weak cry of help from the other side of the cottage.
She tugged Aramel along, and they ran over to the place where the call came from. It was a mortal woman, apparently dying, with two children crying beside her, looking around three and five.
“We are here to help,” said Feawen, “What can we do?”
“Orcs killed my husband,” she whispered. “The children are so young, they cannot survive by themselves. “
“We will look after your children,” said Aramel.
The woman tried to say something, then smiled and closed her eyes. She was dead.
Feawen scooped up a child. “There now, don’t cry,” she crooned. “It will be all right. It–Oh!” she exclaimed.
“What?” asked Aramel. “What’s the matter?”
“Aye, they are.” said a voice behind them.
They spun around to face an elf who had just dropped from the trees.