Errand of Fate

By Arien-(Valar)
June 2, 2006


    Isildur let his eyes wander across the black hordes of Orcs that he could see coming towards him. Looking back over his own small band of selected warriors the king knew that he had no chance against them. Thoughtfully he called his young esquire, Ohtar, to his side and gave him the sheath with the shards of Narsil. “Make sure that this is taken to Imladris and is given to Valandil – at all cost.”
    Reluctantly Ohtar nodded – there was no question that he would obey the man he had sworn fealty to. “I will do as you say, sire, but know that this is one of the hardest orders you have ever given to me – even though I know that else I likely would die at your side, as should be.”
    Isildur smiled affectionately at the young man: “I know, Ohtar. But even if there is a chance that you might be regarded as a coward by the other soldiers here – I want to make sure that this sword is used to avenge the death of my father. Take Arandur with you – he shall give you company on the way and he knows the way to Imladris. He accompanied me seven years ago when we took Valandil there for fosterage.” The king called the mentioned soldier and Isildur explained to him his errand.
    “I will see that both the shards and Ohtar will reach Elrond’s dwelling safely, my king.” Arandur confirmed.
    “Then go both with my blessing and make haste on the way – warn the Elves of the danger. “ Isildur nodded to them and waved them away. Only his eldest son Elendur knew that the king over all the Dunedain struggled to keep his voice from quivering with emotion.
    Thus Ohtar and his companion Arandur were sent away from the boggy valley of the river Gladden and there were open looks of surprise and contempt from many of the soldiers who remained behind. But none of them returned to their homes.
    The two riders sped away to the north, always keeping the high mountain chain of Hithaeglir in sight. Arandur seemed to head for a certain spot and all Ohtar could do was to trust his companion that he really knew the way. After two hours sharp ride Arandur shouted: “We are not far from where we can make camp tonight. I hope we are far enough away from the battlefield to avoid pursuit.”
    “We have to take the chance, Arandur,” Ohtar shouted back. “Even though we have valiant steeds they can’t go on at this pace for much longer.” Indeed Ohtar’s horse stumbled and the squire had to rein him sharply so he would not fall.  Immediately Arandur slowed down his horse into a slow trot. He searched the slopes of the mountains and found the spot he was looking for. Without further comment the soldier led the way and when they reached the edge of the Hithaeglir, he halted and jumped down.
    “We rest here, “Arandur decided. “There is a cave a bit further up the slope though you may not see it. Unfortunately we have to leave our horses behind, as the path I intend to take will be much too dangerous for any horse to tread. I know it will slow us down once we have reached the other side of the mountains, but I am sure we will find new mounts.”
    Ohtar followed his example and unsaddled his horse. He didn’t know whether he envied the two beasts or not. The prospect of staying on the eastern side of the
Misty Mountains didn’t seem very promising in his eyes but on reflection he thought cynically, They have a chance of running into the Wood Elves – either if they make their way to Mirkwood or the Elves come back indeed to disturb the Orcs during their plundering of the dead …
    The two men gave their horses a good rub down and fed them with the remnants of corn they had taken with them for such a purpose. Then they made the climb to their shelter for the night.
    When they reached the cave, the two men split the tasks of building beds and tending to the fire. Both bed and food were frugal after the hasty start of the journey. The cloaks that both men wore would have to serve them as a cover in the night. Luckily the nights wouldn’t get too cold yet.
    “Come, boy, and sit down beside me, “Arandur offered in a friendly manner. “It won’t serve you or the remembrance of King Isildur any good if you starve or freeze.”
    “Who would care, Arandur?” the young man asked darkly, but accepted the invitation nontheless. “Who will be there? There is no chance now.”
    “Shh, where do you get such nonsense from?” his companion interrupted sharply. “We don’t know what happened to the Ring and that’s that. There is a possibility that it might have fallen in the hands of the enemy but I for one don’t believe that. ” Little did Arandur guess that the body of the king never would be seen again in Middle-earth and it would take a long time for anyone to learn what had become of the Ring.
    Ohtar bit back the tears and tried to smile. “The Bright Ones may give that you are right, Arandur – but sorrow blinds my eyes and I don’t share your hope.”
    The soldier sighed. “I don’t blame you. It was an evil day and a lot more sorrow will come of it. I don’t need to be one of the fair folk to know that, even though their blood runs through my veins.”
    Dryly Ohtar answered, ”Is that why you learned such wisdom, Arandur?”
    The soldier nodded. “I was trained as a ranger as well as a soldier and as a keeper of our lore. King Isildur himself saw to my education.”
    Ohtar was still young enough to let curiosity get the better of him and asked, “Tell me then what you know of Narsil and why it is so important that it reaches Imladris.”
    The other one thought about the question and answered slowly, “Narsil was wrought by Telchar of Nogrod, a dwarf of great renown during the Elder Days before the fall of Beleriand. There has been much discussion how it came into the hands of Elendil, but probably it was handed down to him by his ancestors when Numenor was destroyed. As you know yourself, Elendil died at the Black Gate not more than a year ago, after he cut the accursed Ring from the finger of the Dark Lord. Maybe the king had some knowledge of the future which we don’t have. Maybe it is just the idea that the sword which began the task of conquering the Evil in Middle-earth should have a chance to finish it some day.”
    The young man looked thoughtfully at his companion and sighed. “Maybe you are right, Arandur. I wish I could see as far as that. At the moment I don’t see much hope in our situation – no doubt, the king and his three elder sons have been slain with all our fellow fighters. We have no right to be here.”
    Arandur looked sternly at Ohtar: “What nonsense! We have been ordered by the king to take the shards of Narsil to Imladris,” he reminded the young man. “I just told you why the sword might become important in the history of Middle-earth and maybe I spoke truer than I know. But sleep now, Ohtar – we will need our strength tomorrow and there is some climbing involved. Still it is safer to travel the longer distance on the other side of the Hithaeglir than tarry so close to the eastern shore of the
Great River longer than we must.”
    So the night hours passed with a couple of shifts for Arandur and one for Ohtar. As soon as first light broke the two men took up their long journey again. The way through the mountains was as difficult as they expected but Arandur with his sharp senses had no trouble finding the right way.
    After two days they reached the fertile lands south of Rivendell. From there onwards, their journey was slightly more comfortable since Arandur managed to collect horses from one of the farmers.

    It took another five days to reach the small tributary to the river Loudwater or Bruinen where they were welcomed by some of the Elves and taken to the great hall where Elrond received them. “Please leave us,” he asked his counsellors. Compassionately they nodded and vanished into the neighbouring Hall of Fire.
    “Welcome to Rivendell, Ohtar, and to you, Arandur,” the Half-elven greeted them in a grave voice. “It has been many years since you have visited my halls last, Arandur and you I have not seen yet, young man, but news reached me that you entered the service of my kinsman.”
    Silently Arandur bowed. “I haven’t been here since we brought Valandil for fosterage seven years ago, my lord Elrond, and I wish I could have returned with better news.”
    The soldier nudged Ohtar and stepped back, so that the young man felt himself pushed into the centre of Elrond’s attention. Awkwardly Ohtar unslung the sheath with the shards of Narsil and handed them over to Elrond. “This is all I could manage to bring back from the Gladden Fields,” he said huskily. “The king and his three elder sons were called to their Fathers, as were the rest of our men.”
    Grief showed for the first time on the face of the Half-elven. “Your news does not come wholly unexpected, young Ohtar. Crows were seen in the south a few days ago. It was written in the stars.” Elrond sighed and turned to the squire: “What news of the Ring?” he asked.
    The young man just shook his head, but Arandur said calmly: “We don’t know what happened to the Ring, my lord Elrond, as we were sent away from the battlefield before the actual battle started. We were outnumbered five to one by the Orcs. There was no chance the king could have been victorious. No doubt they are all dead now – but my heart tells me that the Ring itself has not fallen into the hands of the enemy. I believe it will be a long time before it is found. My young friend here does not want to believe it and he sees no hope for our people either. But he completed his order to bring the shards of Narsil back to Imladris so they may be handed down from father to son until their destiny is fulfilled.”
    “You speak wisely, Arandur of Ithilien,” Elrond said gravely.
    Turning to Ohtar he said: “As long as there is life there is hope, Ohtar. It is not for me to tell you everything that has been decreed by the Valar a long time ago, but let me tell you this. There will be a time when this sword shall be made whole again and it will be crucial in the fate of Middle-earth. And – if it gives you any comfort, Ohtar – your name will be remembered, wherever the tale of the sword is told.”

The End