Ondoher finally awoke from a sleep of many nightmares. His evenings reset had not given him much the next day. He kept having recurring dreams of watching poor Mablung fall, and variations on him being taken hostage. It had been a week since the attack of the Easterlings and Goblins upon the camp with the Dwarves, and only 5 days since the host of Orcs and Haradrim assaulted the crumbling fortress. Ondoher stood up and walked about the camp, thinking hard on the next move.
Much had occurred as a result of that fortress assault. The assault had come suddenly, and even the many Rangers of the North that were holed up in the fortress had not expected such sudden attack. They decided it would be best to leave as soon as possible with the Relics that had been stowed there.
Ondoher lead a charge of Knights of Minas Tirith that had been brought by his cousin, Ostoher, many times into the fray. He charged many of the large orcs down and trampled them beneath the hoof of his horse, Alagos. In the bustle of the battle, Ondoher also managed to find himself a lance of old make, but still well kept. He took it for his own and would use it from this day forward.
Turgon made an attempt with some of the rangers to take a relic off into the woods, but he was waylaid and he was forced to fight with sword in hand, and he slew many. When the battle finally subsided, Turgon examined the relic they had been given. It was none other than a Numenorean Steel bow. The ancient Numenoreans carried bows of great power. This one was no exception. The same distance as a normal bow, but pack a punch as hard as a dwarves crossbow. He would put it to great use.
Turin single handedly charged with his horse and new lance, both acquired at the fortress, many times, and in the process learned much of the need for swiftness in battle, and being able to aid his brothers when they needed help.
Arveleg showed much valor on the battle field, and has been a loyal follower from even before this grand venture. It was because of this that Ondoher promoted him to the position of a Citadel Guard. Arveleg immediately pledged his loyalty to Ondoher, and now took on the role of his Body Guard, a surprising choice to all, knowing Arveleg’s nature as a trickster.
Hirgon also slew many at his feet, as did the new comers Malbeth and Thorondir. It was because of this great valor that he witnessed that a Minas Tirith Warrior named Bareth pledged his sword to the cause of Ondoher. He was not able to fight by their side, as he had been injured, but he was able to witness the great things that had been done by The Brigade of the White Tower as they fought their way out of that fortress. “I do not come from a noble family, sir,” said the young man, of age 17 at best guess. “I have not honors or titles, but I do have a sword. I pledged it once to fight for the Kingdom of Gondor. Now, I pledge it to you, Ondoher, much as my ancestors pledged their swords to King Eldacar to fight against The Usurper. I will follow you and assist this Company as best I can, until my life be ended.” Ondoher gladly took this man’s pledge. He was honorable enough, and Ostoher spoke highly of him. He apparently volunteered only a year ago, at 16, the youngest one could join the White City’s ranks. He was clearly not of Numenorean blood, you could see in his eye the passion and fervor that would be needed greatly in any battles to come.
Ondoher looked back at the last few weeks’ events, and thought to himself, “But what should I learn from all this?” we wandered slowly, a bit further out from the camp. He examined the terrain carefully. Ondoher and his comrades had been searching tirelessly through the lands south of the Ettenmoors, near the Govadmilui Sarnianu. They started near it, and then started searching wider and wider. Who knows where those accursed evil-worshipers had left poor Mablung. They could have left him anywhere.
“Two ambushes have we dealt with,” he pondered. “One quite successful,” he thought, rubbing his recent arrow wound. “One failing, but only just.” He looked off in the distance into the trees. “We must learn from our mistakes” he said allowed, to Turgon, who now stood silently beside him. “You men must continue the search. I am going to remain for the time being and study what I can among my strategy tomes. I will not stop until you have returned, and maybe this will give us a leg up in the future!”
“We will continue looking, Ondoher. I will send someone back with word if we find him. Fear not, Lieutenant. We will find him before long!”
So Ondoher left Turgon’s presence, leaving Turgon at the lead for the search.
“All right, men, pair up. Thorondir and Hirgon. Turin and Bareth. Malbeth and Hurin. Arveleg, you’re with me. We will search in a fan from here, facing east. If you find anything, give a whistle like a song bird, and meet back here. One of the pair should head straight back to Ondoher. If you find anything, return back here at sunset. No need to get another one of you luck heads getting lost in the Wilderness!”
With that, the pairs each methodically searched in an arch, gradually getting further from one another. Hurin and Malbeth tramped forth searching the clearings, and even the rough patches. Hurin could tell that Malbeth was seething, frustrated that they still had not found Mablung. “I know you are concerned, Malbeth,” he said, calmly. “We all are. However, I think that you would be able to think more clearly if you would just take a second to calm yourself. We don’t know what has become of him yet. They may have left him long ago. Or they may have kept him for leverage. But in any case, we will find him and we will bring him home, I know it.” His words did not appear to change anything about Malbeth’s demeanor. Hurin knew of their close friendship, so he understood to an extent, but this was bordering on something terrifying to behold. May the Valar protect any who might stand in his way…
The search went on for the remainder of the day, but still nothing had been found. The respective parties all returned, and came back to the campsite.
There they found Ondoher straining to read his tomes by the firelight. You could tell he had been studying all day. He had removed his armor for utmost ease just sitting on the ground, but as he looked up, the firelight also revealed bloodshot eyes and hair that had not been touched all day. When he saw them, he grimaced, seeing that they had not returned with Mablung. The men all came and sat around the fire. Ondoher passed out rations and they had a rest as they ate.
They first observed the nightly moment of silence, looking towards Númenor that was, and beyond to Elvenhome that is, and to that which is beyond Elvenhome and will ever be. They began eating, and as they did so, Ondoher spoke. “We have searched every inch of this area for a mile in every direction. I think we should move on to the next area of the surrounding lands. I think it would be best to move quickly tonight about 3 miles north of here, and continue the search in a new sector.”
Everyone agreed this was the best way forward. They finished eating, and immediately gathered the supplies and tents, and headed north. There was little to see as they traveled, but before long, Ondoher said, “Here is where we shall camp.” They stopped in a pretty decent sized clearing, and began to setup camp. They were quite exhausted, so they all quickly fell asleep.
It was Bareth that first awakened to the sound of song birds in the trees. He stood to his feet and went to relieve himself out a ways from the camp. As he finished his business, a glint of sunlight of something metal caught his eye as he trend to rejoin the company. He turned back and approached where he saw the shining reflection, carefully. He did not need to search long for the source. There, lying unconscious before him was a warrior of Minas Tirith, laying face down. He turned the face to look at him. A younger man, but with thick arms and legs. He was a behemoth compared to most men, with hands that were not much smaller than Bareth’s own young head. “Mablung indeed,” he thought.
Bareth attempted to lift the man, but he was too scrawny, and Mablung was too heavy to lift on his own, heavy armor all included. Mablung could not be wakened, even after trying to lift him. “Time to fetch the others, I suppose,” he said, breathing heavily as he stood. It was then that he heard noise in the distance. Surely the enemy was near. He ran as hard as he could, but as silent as his armor would let him. He quickly roused the others. “To arms, friends,” he whispered, finger to his lips. “I have found our Mablung, but I believe there is an enemy afoot.”
“Quickly men,” Ondoher muttered low. “The fate of Mablung in our hands, men. Death to anyone who would harm him! Now go!”
With that, the company moved quickly and quietly towards Mablung’s resting place.