Chapter Nine – Arrival at Rohur
Two weeks later, the company was nearing Rohur. It was a small village, of the likes of Tirhand, on the outskirts of Gondor. Very poor, and since it was so close to Sauron’s land, it was constantly harssed by orcs.
The day after her rescue, Liri had finally awoken from fitful sleep. Elrohir had been the first to spot her eyes open. He had stayed at her side the whole time, praying that she wouldn’t die. He told her that he and some others had rescued her from drowning and then asked how she had gotten in the river in the first place.
“I don’t know,” she answered, “I just felt somehow compelled to go deeper and deeper in. But once I reached the middle of the water, Elrohir, a strange thing happened. A very strange thing.”
“What? What happened?”
“A great light, like a star, came to me. And a voice spoke. A soft, comforting voice. It told me I would be tested. I would have to choose between two people. Who to rescue and who to leave to death. It said I would have to choose in two weeks.”
Elrohir pondered over this for quite awhile but could make no sense of it.
“I am not sure my sister. But wait. Wait two weeks and see what happens,” Elrohir advised.
As they approached the small town, the wind blew and brought the scent of smoke. Smoke as if something was burning. The company’s keen elf ears picked up cries of many people in anguish. Feeling a sense of dread, the company pushed their horses along and raced across the war-torn land toward Rohur. The wind blew back Liri’s hair and reminded her of that day, months ago when Elladan and herself had raced across the field in Rivendell and he had told her of his departure. That was when it had all started. But Liri remembered something else. She remembered the kiss. Light and on her cheek, but it had meant so much to her. If only it could happen again. She was unfortunately taken out of her dream as woe-striken cries filled her ears. They were almost there.
The company raced into Rohur, bows readied to do battle, but they found that the orcs had just fled. But they had left burning houses and death behind them. The streets were littered with pools of blood and the dead bodies of the villagers.
“We are too late,” Elladan said woefully. He scanned the terrible scene that lay before his eyes.
“I have a feeling they with be back, though,” his brother said, his jaw set tight.
That night, the elves spoke to the remaining villagers (which were few). The survivors told them that the band of orcs had attacked sometime before dawn. They attacked often, they said and were led by a tall, slimy orc. They came almost every day, picking off the few that remained in the village.
Liri froze at those words. Could this be? Could this possibly be the same band that had so mercilessly killed her family? Liri’s hate bubbled up inside her. If they came again, she would be ready. She thought again of the voice in the river. Yes, it was now two weeks later. Her test would happen soon. That frightened Liri. Who would the two be?
The next day, before dawn, Elrohir had gathered the remainder of the town; he had a plan.
“Citizens of Rohur! An idea has come to me,” he started, “Do you know of a place were you all could stay that is safe and not well known to the minions of Sauron?”
A voice in the crowd piped up: “I know of such a place. It is an old cave about a fifteen minute walk on foot from here. We could make it before dawn. That is when the orcs are most likely to attack.”
“Good!” Elrohir said excitedly, “Now, my company will split up. Elladan will lead you to the cave and the elves with him will go to supply protection incase something goes amiss. My half will stay to fight off this village’s attackers.”
Elrohir quickly split the company up. Liri was to go to the caves with the others. She pulled her brother aside.
“Elrohir, I want to stay, to help. I believe this is the same band of orc that killed my family. And what about my test that has been for told? I believe it lies here.”
“No, you must go with others. They need protection and I know you are a good fighter. But also, I am worried about you. I will not let you be slaughtered needlessly. Go with Elladan,” he stared at her sternly.
“Alright,” she agreed with a sigh, seeing it a useless quarrel “I will go.”
“Thank you. I will feel better,” he said and smiled at her. She smiled weakly back at him.
Liri and Elladan led the company on their walk to the cave. There were only about twenty who had survived the countless attacks The Dark Lord had dealt on the small town. All were peasants struggling to stay alive.
The cave was dark and smelled of mildew, and went back deep into inky blackness.
“I think we should take them back farther into the heart of this cave,” Elladan said, “It would be safer.”
The remainder of the company agreed and escorted the villagers along. The men of the village lit torches they had brought, and then joined Elladan and Liri in the front of the company to light the way. They walked for what was about half a mile until Elladan started to hear something and stopped. The other elves listened, too.
“Water,” he said, “I hear water.”
“Yes, I hear it, too,” Liri said.
They walked along until finally the cave opened up into a great cavern. Cliffs and rocks jutted out of the dank sides of the cave walls and below them ran a rushing stream. Liri felt faint as she strared at the swirling death trap of water. She gripped the side of the wall as her memories of weeks before flooded back. A young girl, standing beside her asked if she was okay. Regaining her composure, she nodded and let go of the wall as she smiled down at the little one.
Elladan led everyone down a steep path. At the bottom was a dirt floor that was the riverbank. He stopped there. The peasants, tired from their long walk rested as they looked around their new shelter. It was cold in the cave and they wanted to start a fire, but couldn’t since there was no kindling available. They huddled in small groups, wrapped in blankets, to stay warm.
Meanwhile in Rohur, the sun was rising. Elrohir had elves stationed all around the small village. They sat in silence, waiting. As the sun continued to creep into the sky, off in the distance a sound could be heard. A sound so quiet, that only the ears of the elves could have ever detected it. It was the sound of a great band of orc coming toward the town. Slowly, the marching increased. Some of the company cried out as they sat on the rooftops of the village. They could see the approaching army. It was an ugly band led by a tall, slimy orc. The band was off in the distance and nearing the entrance to the cave that the villagers were taking shelter in. What happened next surprised all. Instead of marching on to plunder once again the village, the orcs turned and marched into the cave! Elrohir’s men leapt into action; they all knew what must be done.
Elladan decided to explore the cave. He walked along the dry, dirt riverbed inspecting the walls surrounding him. They were covered with harsh paintings and writings in a tongue he did not know. It puzzled him and he wished he knew what they said. Then, something to the right hand side of him caught his eye. It was what seemed to be an opening in the wall. Yes, like another cave or entrance. He carefully walked through the doorway and looked around. It was a small, circular room that went back about ten feet. But what surprised him was that the whole room was filled with orcish armour, blades, knives, shields, bows, and arrows. There was a small pile of bones resting in front of him. There was the remainder of a fire, which he found odd since they themselves had found no kindling. It looked like the fire was just recently made, maybe a day or so ago. There also on the far wall, was a stash of what looked like provisions.
As he continued to stare at this small treasure trove, as you could call it, he was suddenly filled with dread. This was a warehouse; the orcs’ extra stash of weapons. This was were they stayed, lived. No wonder they attacked Rohur so much and so easily. They were neighbors to it!! He started to run out of the room when he was stopped in the doorway by a noise. A faint noise like the sound of many feet. But not light feet like the elves, but heavy, pounding footsteps that further filled him with fear.
They were coming.
Chapter Eight: www.tolkienonline.com/docs/14071.html