Bonds Without Hope

A Story of the Second Age
By Arien-(Valar)
April  11, 2008


“Come, Eandur, see what we have found!” one of the soldiers shouted to the leader of the Numenorean patrol that roamed the thinning forest around the port of Lond Daer. Quickly he came over and looked at the motionless figure that lay on the ground before him.

“What about him?” Eandur asked. “He is one of the savages that raided the woodcutters’ camp upriver. Just a shame for him that he will never return home to tell of his glorious deeds.” The grim sarcasm in his voice could not be overheard – three of the woodworkers had died during that attack.

“He is not quite dead, Sir,” the soldier who had called him answered. “Maybe he will be soon but as long as he is alive he is a potential prisoner – yet he is also an enemy and maybe a murderer. So what are we to do with him?”

Eandur knelt beside the man and quickly examined him. As he did so a low moan escaped the wounded man’s lips. There was an ugly looking gash on his side that must have come from an axe blade which had stopped bleeding a while ago, but the dark ground underneath the man betrayed the amount of blood that had been lost.

The patrol leader looked thoughtfully at the man, pondered the situation and decided. “We will take the man back to the fortress and if he survives the journey the commander shall decide what his fate will be.”

The patrol members built a rough bier for their prisoner and brought him back to their base as quickly as they dared. Eandur immediately sent for the healer who rushed out to check upon the injured man’s wounds. After finishing his examination, Randir instructed the soldiers to get him quickly inside and turned briefly to Eandur. “I will do my best to ensure his survival. The wound has become infected and already a high fever is wasting his body. However, with skill and care I should be able to save the man for whatever fate you will devise for him.” With these words the healer followed his new charge and was quickly out of sight.

Eandur thanked and dismissed his soldiers to their well-deserved rest, after which he himself informed his superiors about the prisoner. They concluded that a final decision did not lie in his field of duties.

“It may be chance or not, Captain," the commanding officer of the Fortress said, “but we have had word that the High Captain is expected here tomorrow. So it is up to him to decide what is to happen with this man – after all, he is the King of these lands, even if he has not claimed them officially yet.”
Eandur looked surprised. “So Tar Ciryatan is back again? I thought he would be gone longer this time.”

“So did I,” the officer admitted. “ But as it seems, the land of his Fathers and the throne he inherited did not hold him for long. As ever, he will be after more wood for ships, not that there isn’t enough already.”

Eandur nodded. “It is not for me to criticize the King for his absence from his realm which he has to lead, but it is to our advantage, Commander. Who knows how long we would have had to wait for a decision in this matter otherwise?”

So it was decided that the forest man’s life was put in the hands of Tar Ciryatan himself, and he – seeing the chance of gaining a profitable relationship with the native population – decided that the man should be treated as an honoured guest, at least for the time being. Then be was to be sent back to his own either as negotiator for a lasting business arrangement or as one to take back reports of Numenor’s grandeur and strength, which was useless to resist. The man who was put in charge of playing host to the woodman was Eandur. “You have brought him in, Captain," the King said late in the afternoon of the next day. “This alone is reason enough that you are to take over responsibility for the man and the task that is connected with this post. Be his instructor and teach him what you can of our language, history and customs. Get help for this if you need it; I know that some of you have contact with these woodland people.”

Eandur nodded and saluted the King as sign of obedience to this order. “As you command, Sire, and I have a person as helper in mind already: Randir, our healer. He is trading herbs with one of the local woman, so he knows some of their language.”

“Excellent," the King said. “Now go and look after your new charge and let the healer know that his aid is needed even after the recovery of his patient.”

The young Captain bowed and saluted again respectfully and went to see Randir at the Houses of Healing who was already expecting him.

“How is our guest?” Eandur asked.

“It was a hard fight for his life during the night, Captain “ the healer answered. “I needed all my skill to save him, but now there is nothing that should prevent a full recovery of his strength if you haven’t decided otherwise?” Questioningly Randir looked at his opposite.

Eandur smiled. “I am glad to hear it, Randir. The High Captain has decided that the woodman will stay as honoured guest as long as he takes to recover and shall be educated in the traditions and language of our people. In return he is to give us information concerning his own kinsfolk. Thus the king hopes to establish a mutual relationship that will prove enriching to both sides.”

Randir shook his head in doubt. “A hope, for sure, but no more. Alas. If I may utter my personal opinion in such a matter, there is little chance for such a thing to happen. Since the founding of the port, high tributes of wood and supplies have been demanded of the forest people in order to get the ship building going. Especially of late the demands have been increasing and I hear that our woodworkers are not very tactful in their approach or in picking a place to work. They usually don’t ask for permission nor are very civilized in doing so when they do remember it.”

Eandur looked sharply at his friend. “Who has told you this?”

“Ruaga, my herb supplier, who is one of the natives – and I do trust her with all my heart.”

The young Captain slowly nodded. “We will see, Randir. We will see. I will pass your information to the High Commander though and I am sure appropriate measures will be taken.”

Randir smiled. “I should hope so, Eandur. But in the end only time itself will reveal us what is to happen.” The healer nodded at his friend and went back to his work.


Eandur fulfilled his duty patiently and put all his efforts into making his “guest”, whose name turned out to be Caroc, feel comfortable in the fortress by showing him all around the shipyards and docks while explaining about the traditions and trade customs of his people.  Caroc perceived everything with very mixed feelings and found the buzzing hubbub of all the building work frightening. Eandur’s tales stressed, of course, the pride and strength of Numenor, which didn’t do much for the comfort of the forest man.

“The Numenorean race was formed by three different tribes,” Eandur explained during one of their excursions. “As they fought together against the Lord of Darkness with the Elves, the island was given to them as a reward and the people intermarried to become one people. They enriched each other by sharing their culture and trade skills. I am sure your people would gain even greater advantages than they did."

Caroc laughed dryly. “No doubt we would. We would be swallowed if any of your people would descend to marry one of us. Ask Randir how he is regarded amongst the soldiers for his mere friendship with Ruaga who is sharing her wisdom and knowledge with him. 'Witchdoctor' and 'traitor'…and those are two of the more harmless titles.”

Eandur frowned. “I didn’t know that, but then, they are simple soldiers who lack the wisdom of more learned people. They only see the brutal and sad side of this conflict. They should be able to recognize though that it is with Ruaga's help that their wounds are cured. They can’t see the traditional source from which this great benefit comes from, and its origin. They could even benefit more if they only would let it happen."

Caroc grimaced and shook his head. “That might be so. But I can't see it happening, not with the way they treat Ruaga, Randir, or myself. Nor will anyone else of either of our kinsfolk come to your enlightened opinion. “

While speaking, Caroc’s voice became more and more sarcastic. Finally his facial expression changed also and contorted in anger. “Who are you Numenoreans to elect yourselves the redeemers of us savages and behave worse than the beasts of the wild!  You steal our land, our wood and our rivers, not to mention our lives!! When you see us woodland people camped, you order them to go. You don’t ask – no, you order. And if this order is not obeyed, your soldiers come and kill those who don’t respond to the “request” – mostly because they don’t speak your tongue. They can't communicate, if they ever would be listened to. So our people do the only thing they can do: pluck up their courage, grab their spears and defend their lives with all their might and skill. Spears and arrows against plate armour, shields and swords. This is what I call courage and makes me proud to be one of them, but this won’ t be remembered in YOUR annals, will it?”

Caroc’s voice had steadily grown louder during his speech, but with effort he regained control of himself. Gloomily he continued: “No it won’t work, Captain. For all your wisdom you have forgotten one thing: the war that contributed to the forming of your nation was against our ancestors. This we keep in mind and we won’t forget it, as long as we last.”

With this bitter statement, Caroc turned on his heel and headed towards his quarters, not caring whether Eandur followed or not (which the soldier did, keeping a close eye on his charge). The woodman was sure there would be guards in front of his room before long so he was quick to grab his coat and a few dry biscuits, which he always kept for emergencies beside his bed. He didn’t worry about extra clothing or food as he was pretty sure to run into a party of his people before long.

Ever since his captivity (as he saw his involuntary stay in Lond Daer) began, he had waited for the time to run and return to the ones he belonged to. The conversations with his custodian  had made sure that he didn’t forget who and what he was. Especially during these last walks it had become obvious to Caroc that he couldn’t stay much longer and that now the time had come. The woodman felt it in his heart and knew that he had to hurry if he wanted a chance to escape. Despite his bitterness and hatred towards the nation that had kept him for the last few weeks, Caroc did not want to harm Eandur or his men. They only did their job and they HAD saved his life so he owed them – a debt he would pay by not attacking or otherwise hurting them. He was no barbarian after all, whatever they saw him as. With that in mind, Caroc glanced around the room, checked the door and left the building as fast as he could without rousing suspicion.
Eandur meanwhile had not been idle and picked some soldiers whom he intended to put on door duty to watch over his “guest”. Unfortunately, this took him longer than he had anticipated since it hadn’t occurred to Eandur before that Caroc held such bitter feelings against his hosts. Thus they found an empty room, which caused the captain to curse under his breath. “Quick now! Towards the gates, men! We have to get him before he reaches the forest!” Eandur ordered.

Caroc was not far and heard them, so he knew the hunt had started. He forced himself to run even faster - dodging like a hunted hare past oncoming townspeople. As he approached the gate at full speed, the two guards on duty sprang to the alert and tried to block his way with crossed spears, but the woodman, with the desperation that gave him strength and agility beyond his usual abilities, managed to scrape through just before this was achieved.

The woodman felt elation surge through him as if he had alread drunken well from a barrel of the strong, rich tasting beer that his people were so adept at brewing. More than once he, his brother and his cousin had enjoyed this drink, not caring about the sore heads they would have inevitably the day after.

Daydreaming with pursuit hot on one's heels has never been a recommended thing to do and so the woodman had all but forgotten about Eandur. The captain saw the incredible display of Caroc’s agility and secretly he admired the spirit of his erstwhile guest. But it was his responsibility to see that Caroc would leave only at the orders of the king or not at all. So escape was no acceptable alternative, understandable though it might be.

Quickly he ordered some archers that had joined his company, “Stop him! He must not escape.” The arrows were put to the string and the bows carefully aimed; the ones who wielded them were well-skilled in the art and rarely missed.

Abruptly Caroc’s thoughts came to an end when hard and sharp things bit into various parts of his back. Darkness fast took over where once a clear mind had been and the woodman’s last thought was: “I am free!”

The End