5. Chapter 4: Postponement of his quest
The next morning, they quickly left the outpost, heading for the high pass up the mountainside. Yet again, countless thoughts wandered through his head. He thought of his home in Minas Tirith, his wife, and child. How long had been now since he last seen them. Many months, no doubt. He thought about the families of his comrades who had set out with him. The orcs in the west were far more fierce they, who come from Mordor, and how odd that they attacked in the blaring light of day. Idrial was right, something strange is happening in Westron. Idrial. The elf was truly mesmerizing. Her tall, slender body seemed to project a radiant glow, fixing Berethor's eyes to her even when his mind as elsewhere. What was he doing, heading into the mountains when he was so close to his destination. But he could not turn back on his word now, she had saved his life, he could not abandon her in the wake of this treacherous task.
The walk up the pass was long and tiresome, the air grew colder as they steadily climbed the foot of the mountain. "Why would the Elves come this way?" questioned Berethor as he was carefully watching his footing on the lose rock.
"They were attacked at the outpost, they may have had no other choice." Idrial walked up the slope with ease and no discomfort much to the envy of Berethor who new the hard part had yet to come. One rarely comes across a path that leads high into the Misty Mountains let alone survives it.
Slowly but surely, the slope grew steeper and after a few hours, Berethor now had to clamber up the rocks. He stumbled and fell on the cold, brittle stone. Looking back at the pebbles and small stones tumbling down the mountainside, he saw the outpost, which now was very small to his eyes. He got up and using his hands, rushed up the steep slope, slipping as he went. "Come my friend, the journey is long and we must not tarry." Idrial held out her hand to the tired and frustrated Gondorian. He nearly lost himself as he met her grey eyes. After a brief second or two, he blinked back to reality and grabbed the hand, hauling himself up alongside her. She still hiked effortlessly with the superb balance. Her steps were light, not even disturbing rock and stones that would roll with a slight blow from the wind. <Extraordinary> Berethor thought. The elves were more skilled than even folklore told. They had travelled some distance now and began to make there way through gaps between large boulders, climbing as they went, deeper and deeper into the mountain, until the sky eventually disappeared behind the enormous heights of the rocks.
A day had passed as they ventured in the deep chasms. Sunlight struggled to find a way through the maze of jagged rock and in this labyrinth, they eventually came to a dead end. Berethor groaned, "What now, my lady?" Idrial ignored him. She was taking a length of rope from her sack whilst staring high up the rocks. Berethor looked up, <hopeless> he thought. Idrial began to tie a noose, still staring up atop the rock. Berethor now intrigued, silently watched her as a student would a teacher. Then she launched her rope high up into the air and to Berethor's amazement, the noose caught hold at the top of the wall. With two strong tugs of the rope, Idrial started to climb up and Berethor, dumbfounded, followed.
Finally reaching the top of the wall, he threw himself over and got to his feet. The ground was quite level up here. He scanned the area and spotted Idrial knelt behind a rock. She looked at him and signalled to come over. Berethor scurried to her position, keeping quite low to the ground and peered over rock to see a man lay on the floor. Dead or unconscious, Berethor could not tell. He went to get up but Idrial placed her hand on his shoulder, looking over at the wild wargs approaching the man from the left. Wargs were dangerous creatures, much like wolves but bigger and much stronger. Berethor looked over, he gripped the hilt of his sword. "Wait", Idrial whispered. The 2 wargs continued their advance slowly towards the helpless man, growling eagerly as if lucky, to find such a prize lying on their doorstep. "I cannot just watch this!"
"Wait!" Berethor jumped over the rock and drew his sword. The wargs saw him and instinctively charged, Idrial jumped out sword in hand. Suddenly the man who appeared dead jumped to his feet and quickly drew his sword, which he plunged into the head of the nearest warg. Idrial dived out of the way the second charging warg as Berethor, with a powerful low swing, struck the creatures front legs. The warg fell, toppling over and crashed into a rock and Idrial rushed over, quickly putting an end to its life.
"We thought you were in danger," claimed Berethor, puzzled as he turned to the man. The man was wearing the clothes of a ranger, from the north. Berethor was beginning to learn that these rangers were deadly skilled. And they were. Skilled, versatile warriors, wielding both blade and bow equally as deadly. They were also wise in the lore of nature and could survive in the wild for years on end if need be.
"I was hunting", he said putting away his sword.
"A ranger," Berethor stated.
The man nodded. "And what are you doing here in the mountains?"
Idrial stepped in. "We are searching for a band of Elves that may have fled this way."
"I can assure you there are no elves around here, I have been in the mountains for days. I was separated from a friend but 3 weeks ago when we were attacked by orcs."
"Orcs", snarled Berethor.
"My name is Elogast, thank you for… saving me." A subtle smile appeared upon his face but quickly turned to frown. "You cannot linger here, many wargs sleep during the day but they hunt in packs at night."
"Our search is over here now." Idrial then turned to Berethor. "We must make for lower ground." Then back to Elogast who was already leaving. "I must go now to the west gate of Moria, my friend will be waiting for me."
"We shall come with you, my kindred may have gone that way back down the mountain." Elogast looked uncertain, Berethor broke in, "No… that is too far adrift Rivendell. What of Boromir?"
"To go back the way we came would surely take as long. Do not worry, my friend. Once we're off the mountain, we will head that way", Idrial assured him.
"I don't know", Elogast said turning away.
"We must", Idrial replied.
"You are fine but how can I trust this man?" Berethor was shocked. "Trust me!?"
"Who speaks for him?"
"I speak f…"
"The Lady of Light, Galadriel", Idrial proclaimed. Elogast paused, Berethor was not impressed though silent."Well that's good enough for me," the ranger looked to the sky. "Let us go now, we have wasted enough time."
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