The company made preparations to cross the river, by tying together ropes and stretching them over the black water. The Dwarves were relieved to be leaving the bug infested waterside, and hopefully be coming to the end of their travels in Mirkwood. However they did not wish to leave without those missing in the company.
`How is he?’ Bordon said, coming to Rulldon who tended the healing Orc.
`Better,’ Rulldon replied, `Orcs can handle their injuries, but he still can’t walk, that is unless he wants to tare the wound.’
`He will have to,’ said Bordon, looking watching all the last affairs around camp being done. `We cannot float him across while lying on his cot.’
Keiwick tied a hook to the end of an arrow, and the rope twirled off the end, he shot it across the river and into the brush on the other side; the hook snagged a branch and held firmly. The slack was tightened and another arrow was shot higher into the trees, in which they repeated the tightening of slack. Now a bridge made of two ropes was hanging over the water, swinging in the only wind that could pierce the forest. All the Dwarves were laden with packs, blankets and bundles of wood, and were impatiently waiting on Bordon. He could not afford another mistake, and wanted to make sure all was done correctly, before allowing anyone to pass. For it was rumored that the company did not have complete faith in Bordon, that the loss of is brother would compromise some of his judgments; so Bordon wanted to show his worthiness.
`Let the first dwarf pass!’ ordered Bordon.
The first in line walked up to the shore and looked at the swinging ropes, then stared back at the company before taking his first step out over the river. His legs shook on the rope, he held the top line tightly, gripping for dear life. However, the dwarf did not let the task conquer him; with all of his determination he began to swiftly move across, his boots swinging inches above the cold, black water. All the company was watching tensely; stroking their beards and rubbing the hilts of their weapons. But they were relieved, when the dwarf leapt off the ropes and fell face first, on the other side!
With mud in his beard the dwarf jumped up and shouted. `Come, any dwarf can cross this! Let them all come!’
Seeing one pass unharmed the others were more willing to follow. They crossed two at a time, each one grunting and hanging from the high rope, sometimes dangling from it with their feet kicking air as they tried to find their footing. Nevertheless each couples would make it across safe enough, with the worst being wet boots.
It was soon time for York-ie to cross; the company was silent as Bordon and Rulldon lifted the Orc from his cot. His knees knocked together, and sweat dribbled off his chin. York-ie saw the task ahead of him, and in his heart he knew what he was being brought to his feet to do, however his mind only saw it as a dream, and he could not stay awake. He fell asleep on Rulldon’s shoulder.
`Come now, York-ie, you must stay awake!’ Rulldon said while slapping his face. He took his canteen and sacrificed a little water to splash on the orc’s face. `We must cross the river, but once we have you can go back to sleep. Stay awake for this one thing, do you hear me, York-ie?’ Rulldon nodded his head at Bordon, telling him that he was ready.
York-ie was left to walk on his own; he took one step onto the rope and gripped the top line tightly; then he allowed all his weight to be in the mercy of the one thin cord. His legs swayed over the surface of the water. Slowly he moved further out, and slowly Rulldon followed. As they reached half way, York-ie became very tired; his mind was becoming hazy, and his sight was turning dim. He found his grip loosening, and a foot constantly slipping off the rope… York-ie was falling asleep.
Suddenly, his feet slipped, dunking into the water, splashing as they kicked! Only by a miracle did York-ie have enough strength to dangle on the top rope! Rulldon franticly went to his aid, helping him to find his feet again. The entire company seemed to hold their breath until York-ie was safely standing on the line again. York-ie woke up and again found his wits. He began to move, and when finally at the end, he fell from exhaustion into the mud.
`Rest, my friend,’ said Rulldon, `you will need it.’
Bordon was the last; and with one final look around the empty camp, he crossed safely.
`I have been handed the role of leadership without warning,’ said Bordon to his company. `So I have not had the time or effort put into my knowledge as Gordon once had. I do not make this decision happily or in any way willingly. Yet, I am obligated by the mission to do so. We must continue forward from this point, despite the unknown fate of Gordon, Gurwick, Dok, Khadum, and Oli. It pains me to do this.’ The dwarves grumbled and complained, but none wept, for they were too strong to do so. However Bordon, wept inside, staining his heart with tears. It was a decision that Bordon did not want to make, one that no brother should make, yet the fate of the mission was given to him, and he was forced against his will to make it. He wanted more then anyone of the company to stay and wait, or even go in search of the missing dwarves; but he couldn’t. He had to be strong for the company, when he was the one in the most pain.
The company pressed on, marching into the gloom of the path, looking behind, hoping to see the lost running after them. Bordon left the ropes hanging, hoping, however knowing it is was not true, that Gordon would need them. The darkness surrounded them, and they again began to march deeper into their perilous journey.