3. Chapter 2
My grandfather was brought down to Northford, and for a little while it looked as if he might not live, but Carandir was a strong man and eventually recovered. He was never the same afterwards though, his shoulder had been smashed and he was left halt by an arrow wound to the thigh. Galdir remained behind in the vale to bury the dead and salvage what he could from the ruins. It was a heavy task for someone of his age, but he bore it bravely. He also ordered the landsmen gather in the flocks, telling them to keep some for themselves and drive the rest down to market as soon as could be managed. He also told them they were free to stay or go as they chose and released them from service and obligation until such time as order could be restored. Most chose to stay and take their chances at first, as it had been a fine growing summer and the harvest was likely to be a good one. It was the last one there would ever be in Rushwater Vale though, by the following spring they were all gone, driven out by the constant raiding.
The house in Northford was a large enough by the standards of the time, but still rather crowded as it had never been intended as a permanent habitation for the whole family. It stood on the ridge below the keep, in a neighbourhood of narrow cobbled lanes and courtyards that had generally seen better times, many houses having fallen empty. Like most of the buildings in Rhudaur they were built out of the dark grey granite that formed the bones of the land seen everywhere in cliffs and crags,whilst it made excellent building stone it tended to give a rather sombre aspect to our towns and a grim one to our castles and keeps. Our house was brightly enough furnished inside though, and was a cosy and comfortable place. Shortly after Galdir had returned he had signed up for his army duty so was not there that often, and my father continued the studies and pursuits befitting of a youth of good family. I think though that he must have missed the hills and forest badly at first, but that hurt was softened a little by all the new friends his own age that he was able to make.
As autumn approached the force of soldiers that had been requested finally arrived from the south, led by a Captain Beldir, and made a fine sight marching into the town. The Keep had been built to house a much larger force than that which presently occupied it, so they had no difficulty installing themselves there. Their numbers were further swelled by a mobilisation of any trained men who could be spared from their livings in the region. Patrols were organised, some went upriver, some onto the moors, and some into the northern vales and the empty lands to the west. Several intercepted orc raiding parties and scattered them, they had come lightly armed to kill people unawares in the night, not face fighting men.
Although Galdir had not been in service for more than a few weeks he had caught the eye of the captain, and he was allowed to join the patrol of Angon, who had been commander of the small force at the Keep before the reinforcements arrived. They crossed the river and headed due north up onto the vast northern moors with a force of about fifty. On the third day a small band of orcs were spotted a good distance away, and when they saw they were pursued turned and fled at speed. Much to Angon's surprise they did not go east towards the misty mountains, but north and west towards the mountain spur which ran away from the main range and stood not far ahead. Known in the north as the Trollfangs, they were also nominally the northern boundary of Rhudaur, though it meant little in that bleak and windswept wilderness where none lived save a few reputed trolls. Although the orcs outran them and were soon lost their trail remained clear enough. Much to the surprise of his men Angon halted the pursuit early that day and set them to fortifying a likely defensible postion for a camp. He was no fool, and suspected correctly that if the large number of orcs who had been raiding the north had not come down the Hoarwell from the Misty Mountains then there must be another nest nearby and he wasn't going to stumble blindly into it with only a small force. Instead he picked four of his best men, to work in pairs, one following the trail cautiously, and one following them at a suitable distance to try and bring word if things went ill. They stripped off their red surcoats so as to blend better into their surroundings and avoid any watching eyes and left before sunset the same day. They had orders to follow the trail for no more than two days should they not succeed in finding anything, and then return, as that was the limit of the company's rations. The remainder of the men were set to sentry duty, and foraging, though there was little to be found in the empty land.
The men returned not long after noon on the fourth day, safe and sound, and they had found what Angon had suspected was there. They had lost the trail when they got in amongst the screes and boulder fields of the steep land just below the mountain peaks but had continued towards a high ridge that would give them a good view of the land beyond. And there down below them, in the shelter of the ridge they had topped where the Trollfangs swung round to the north was an encampment. It was large, apparently well ordered but did not appear to be strongly fortified or defended. A beaten road ran northward from it out into the vast plain, straight as an arrow for as far as the eye could see. Angon struck camp immediately and marched his men as fast as he could back to Northford.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.