22. Putting A Plan Into Operation
Haldir was deep in thought when the retainer entered with his lunch. At the sound of china and silver being set down, he turned toward the elf and watched as he completed his task.
When the retainer noted his attention he bowed his head in a slight nod and smiled. “I regret March Warden that the guard has not yet returned. However I did overhear one of his companions mention that his trip to the fences would be a short one. Perhaps that is a clue to the Healer’s destination?”
Haldir nodded and grinned. “That would be an excellent one. Meldir, I thank you.”
The retainer continued musingly. “I believe they followed the trail just to the left of the old entrance. Strange, how that is seldom guarded these days. One really should talk to the Capt of the Guard about that.”
Haldir studied the bland countenance before replying. “Yes, perhaps later this evening?”
“I believe you are right March Warden, I will do so just as soon as I complete my duties, this evening…. Very late this evening! I will also have to remind him that his warriors have been quite remiss in properly storing their packs lately as well. Why would you believe that just this very noon I found a fully prepared travel pack hanging from a tree near the bathing pool? Very careless of someone.”
They both exchanged conspiratorial grins and as he left he gestured an old traditional sign for good luck before resuming his bland expression. A feral grin spread across Haldir’s face. He had plans to make and paths to travel before the sun set this day!
With a known destination and the means now to accomplish it, Haldir was soon on his way. A swift check of his own pack provided him with his usual travel favorites and thanks to the dedicated attention of the retreat retainers his clothes were clean and ready to go. Earlier he had lavished a great deal of time and attention on the maintenance of his weapons so they were battle ready. With an ease he not used for some time, he slipped through the afore mentioned gate and located the pack with lembas as well as some fresh fruit and a skin of wine. He shook his head in amusement at the retainer’s idea of what a warden needed while traveling.
The trail was easy to read and he covered the distance in a record two days. Upon arrival at the eastern end of the fences, he used every skill at his command to infiltrate the sentries and grinned with pride when they nailed him.
“Daro ennas.” Several wardens stepped out or dropped from trees and surrounded his cloaked and hooded figure. “Pedo.”
He turned to face them and removed his hood. “Mae govannen, gwedeir nin, nuitho i ‘ruith. im na Haldir”
“Haldir, istannen le ammen.” They crowded around him. “March Warden, you were not expected.”
“I am not here officially, gwedeir nin, I am travelling through after completing a special assignment for our lady. I merely sought to test your alertness and have a bit of fun at the same time. You have done well. I congratulate you. Few have caught Haldir o Lorien when he seeks to pass unnoticed through watched barriers!” He watched as they reacted with pleasure and smiled at them.
The patrol leader accepted his compliment and responded with a formal bow his hand on his heart. “I thank you March Warden, your words of praise give us all much joy. I will let our group leader know of your arrival at once and have a talan cleared for your use.”
Haldir raised a hand to stay his action. “No, hannon le, meldir, do not disturb him. I wish no such official recognition. I will greet him at breakfast before I depart back to Caras Galadon. I would prefer to sleep in one of the patrol talans tonight if there is room for one more?”
“It would be our pleasure to share ours with you if that would suffice?”
“It will be most satisfactory. I will join you later this evening when your shift is finished. One other thing, I seek the healer Nureal. I understand she arrived somewhere here several days ago and I carry a message for her.”
One of the other wardens nodded. “She travelled on to the next patrol area. Their healer needed some assistance.”
Haldir frowned. “There have been additional attacks?”
“Yes, March Warden, but it has calmed down. I believe she was merely to give the healer some time to rest while she awaits her escort from Imladris to arrive.”
“Mmm, I will detour there tomorrow before I head south. Now where may I leave my things until later?”
“Over there just beyond the ridge. Our talan is near the stream. You may wish to refresh your self there as well.”
“Perhaps I can provide the main ingredient for dinner. How is the hunting?”
“Quite good south of here. You will find a large flock of game birds as well as rabbit taking advantage of the low ground cover.”
Haldir nodded. “I will see what I can find. I will return in a couple of hours.”
“Good hunting, March Warden.”
Later that evening when the patrol had finished their shift and returned to the talan they found that Haldir had bagged a number of pheasants and he was roasting them over the fire. Surprised to see their March Warden so relaxed the wardens took some time to feel equally at ease. It was not long though before others added a mixed supply of fruit and berries as well as a small crock of honeycomb taken from a wild bee tree hive earlier that day.
It proved a surprisingly pleasant evening for everyone. Haldir was his usual quiet self but his grins and occasional comments allowed him to keep pace with the teasing and ribald remarks offered by the rest of the patrol. Bedding down for the night brought many happy memories flooding back to him of his time on the fences as a simple warden. His rest that night was the first untroubled he had had for centuries and he made a note to himself that in future he would seek to spend more time in the company of the patrols and not buried in paperwork or trying to personally direct the many different different facets of the warden activities. He could see the common sense of his brothers’ urgings to delegate some responsibilities to others and resolved to do so upon his returned.
Morning saw him receiving warm goodbyes from the patrol members and a respectful group leader. He found himself promising to return soon to share their company much to their delight. With a light heart he set off to reach the next patrol area and his planned ambush of a very skittish healer. This was definitely going to be a battle of wills he intended to win! He grinned at the thought of her response and knew he was going to enjoy every minute of it!
daro ennas- stop there.
Mae govannen, gwedeir nin, nuitho i ‘ruith. im na Haldir o Lorien - Well met, my brothers, hold your wrath, I am Haldir of Lorien.
Haldir, istannen le ammen-you are known to us.
Haldir o Lorien-Haldir of Lorien
hannon le, meldir-thank you friend
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