I have now returned to Evendim. I would have loved to stay a while in Rivendell and explore further but Elrond was keen that I return to assist the Rangers at Tinnudir. To be honest, I didn’t mind too much as I have been looking forward to exploring further, particularly Annuminas which I can see in the distance from Tinnudir. Alas, the Rangers feel that it would be too dangerous for me and instead found a different task for me.
I have been asked to travel to a place called The Eavespires, far to the North-West. Rumours have reached the Rangers of trouble there and they would like to secure the border.
Now how to get there? All I can see in that direction is water! And this little hobbit has no intention of swimming when the final destination can’t even be seen. So I set off along the shore to see if there was an alternative route and almost immediately found a solution.
Here is Arfirion who is willing to row me across. Splendid.
So, here were are at a small camp at The Eavespires. And, what is this? Oh my, it seems to be a tree that is alive and moving. And talking! Never did I hear of such a thing.
From talking to others at the camp, it seems that this wonderful creature is a Huorn called Longbough and he is fiercely protective of the forest hereabouts. One, called Lithuifin, advised me to speak to him as he had seemed troubled of late.
He had a deep, slow way of talking and it took me a little while to adjust but I soon caught his meaning:
“Above the lake…hoom…where the water pools and flows, then thunders over rocks and stones, I see Men, hoom, hom, dressed as wolves splashing in the waters. They carry foul bags, filled with poison and death, hom, and they spread it upon the waters. The Even-rills cry waterfalls into the lake. Perhaps you will help, hoom, Seolferwulf”
I relayed this to Lithuifin
“So, Longbough has sensed that the Even-rills are threatened? He has never been wrong, so even though I have not seen what he feels, I trust this threat to be real.
The enemy is likely the Gauredain, Men from the North, the cold wastes of Forochel. They dabble in dark alchemy and evil magicks, things that turn nature into abominations.
Clear out the camp they have at the Even-rills. If even a few remain, then more will come.”
I journeyed up the pass to the camp. It was a beautiful landscape with many trees and waterfalls. But I sensed a growing evil in the air the further north I went.
Well, I found the Guaredain easily enough; they infested the area! Even so, it did not take long to clear out the first camp as the creatures seemed to roam more than settle so the numbers at the camp were small. I returned to report to Longbough.
“With the big people gone and the branches cleared, I can finally see the forest floor and what is poisoning the roots of all of us. The Twisted Grove, once a place that I called home, has become foul and corrupted.
The trees there now live and move, but not as Ents or Huorns, they have been twisted into Wood-trolls, dangerous abominations of nature.
I know not what has caused this all to happen, what has driven my woods to be against me.’
‘Hoom! There was once an ancient tree in the southern forest whom I was once well acquainted with, but after the destruction wrought upon the forest during the wars long ago, it became withdrawn and would speak with me no more…even though my own despair at the acts of Men was nearly as great.
I returned to consult with the Rangers in the camp and one, Remmenylf, said
“We do not know how long the Gauredain have been encamped within the pools of the Even-rills. They might have already done great damage to the lake. We must know what they are doing there.
‘The Gauredain believe in nature and its abilities and powers, though they do not understand whence these powers derive. While we use the virtues instilled therein by the Valar for good and healing, they use it for more nefarious purposes. They should have gathered up several pouches of herbs and plants they are using within the pools.
“Seolferwulf, find and bring me these pouches. I may be able to determine what exactly they are poisoning the lake with, and if need be, may be able to concoct a cure.”
I returned to the camp I had previously cleared out and made my way further up the hill. Before long, I came upon another camp. This one was larger and had a good many more Guaredain there. Some stealth is required here, I think.
I spent a good hour watching the camp and spotted the pouches I needed. I also noted that there was rarely more than one Guaredain nearby at any one time. It seems that these creatures are not particularly sociable; indeed I saw several minor scraps taking place between them. Well, it took me a couple of hours but I managed to do some first class sneaking and only had to deal with two of the creatures before I had the pouches. Then I ran! Clearly I was a good deal quicker than them so I went for the direct approach rather than fighting. I soon outstripped then and returned to the Rangers.
A lengthy discussion took place until a solution was reached. Erchiel said “It used to be a rare sight to see Longbough weep. In the many years I have been here with him, it happened once, maybe twice, per year…usually when a sapling he knew got snapped in a storm.
Over these past few months, it has happened more frequently. The pain Evendim is feeling is slowly killing him. While these tears are created from pain and evil, they are a great force for life and good.
Take this vial, Seolferwulf, it contains a few tears which I gathered last week. Pour them into the pool at the top of the Even-rills. The waters will be purified and restored.”
You know the procedure by now – up the valley, sneak to the pool and empty the vial into it. I have to say, the pool looked evil to me, glowing with a strange colour. Anyway, after returning to the camp, we spoke with Longbough, who said
“Now it seems that the Wood-trolls – particularly this one called Heart-rot – have whispered long to the Huorn in its slumber and re-awakened it under their thrall. Its heart is now black and twisted with their malice, and it will suffer no living thing of flesh in its domain. Hom! Ta-room! Were that all that had transpired, I would pay it less heed, for the Twisted Heart’s folly is its own, but now its roots run deep and far, ever grasping and twisting the trees that they touch, and the Wood-trolls will follow in its wake. I cannot allow the Twisted Heart to warp the entire forest to its will. We must stand against it and fell both it and the vile troll that has corrupted it.
Be careful, for the Twisted Heart’s power has grown fell, and I fear it will be all we can do to face it in the place of its greatest strength, but we have no choice! Ta-rum! Hoom”
Ah, I will not bore you or boast of our fight save to say it was long and hard. Indeed, even with the mighty Longbough and the Rangers allying with me, it took all our powers to prevail. But we did prevail and Longbough was mightily pleased.
“Hoom, it seems you are more like the Men who wear green than the tall Elves or wolf-wearing ones. I like the ones who wear green. They are my friends.
Let the Rangers know that I am no longer tired. I am full of energy and will not rest until the west of their lake is filled with peaceful nature again.”
And so, I return to Tinnudir to report. And I am delighted to say that I was awarded the title Warden of Annuminas in recognition of my efforts and am now considered kindred. And, I am now ready to approach Annuminas itself!