Mainly Concerning a Hobbit – Part Four

Mainly Concerning a Hobbit – Part 4

Brassica tightened her grip on the knife hilt, and lifted it to strike at the hand that scrabbled at the riverbank, when a voice called softly from the darkness outside the halo of light and safety cast by her fire.

Hold, halfling,” came the command, quiet but firm, and Brassica whirled around to the sight of the second elf she’d ever seen in her life. This one had approached from the north, the same direction Dill had left in, but Brassica hadn’t seen or heard her coming until she reached the small circle of firelight. In her slender hands was a bow, an arrow notched on the string, but undrawn.

This second elf’s features were thrown into sharp relief by the firelight, and the shadows clung to the underside of the cloak she wore about her shoulders, the hood of which was pushed back to make a cowl about her face. Her hair was cropped short and gleamed golden, and her face was grave and proud. Brassica was well aware that she was staring and that her mouth hung open, but she couldn’t help it. She’d once heard it said that the elves had many faces, at times gay, at times sorrowful, and in the oldest stories, fell and terrible as death. This elf was neither gay nor sorrowful, and while Brassica would not quite have said “terrible”, she was certainly frightening.

You have naught to fear from goblins. The blade would glow blue, were it any of the orc-kind,” the elf explained, indicating the sword in Brassica’s hand, and then looked past her to the riverbank. “The halfling heard you, thief,” she called, returning the arrow to its quiver and slinging the bow across her back.

There was a muffled grunt from the behind her, and Brassica spun around again, to see a dripping wet, bedraggled woman in dark clothing, hauling herself onto the top of the bank. “Well, the small folk are notorious hard to creep up on,” she said, wringing the water from her long, pale hair. “Forgive us the sneaking, little mistress, we weren’t sure ‘til we neared that you were not a goblin yourself.”

After tonight, there will be precious few goblins to be found in these parts,” the female elf said grimly to her sodden companion, as she strode past Brassica and crouched on the ground by her kinsman, murmuring to herself in Elvish as she gently examined his injuries.

Dumbly, Brassica looked back and forth between the elf and the woman, trying to think of what to say. “Who are you?” she settled on finally, and then remembered her manners. “You should come sit by the fire, you’re soaking wet.”

My name’s Llythne, lately of Ost Forod,” the woman answered, settling herself on the grass with a thump and extending her hands towards the fire. “And much obliged to you for your kindness. As my elvish friend is busy, I’ll take the liberty of making her introduction; she calls herself Beldrieth, and she hails from the golden wood of Lothlorien.”

As do we both,” Beldrieth added, not looking up from her ministrations. Brassica found herself watching as Beldrieth swept the cloak from her shoulders, folded it deftly, and placed it beneath her kinsman’s head. “He’s called Celebarad, and I thank you for what attention you’ve given him. Do you know how he came to be wounded?”

Brassica found her voice and cleared her throat awkwardly. “N-not really, ma’am,” she answered shyly. “I think he tried to tell me…but I only know a few words of elvish, I didn’t understand.” Spying the spearhead she had dropped, she picked it up and held it out to Beldrieth. “There was this…it was hurting him when he moved so I pulled it out. I think it was probably from goblins.”

Beldrieth glanced at the spear point, eyes narrowing slightly. She hissed something under her breath in Elvish, and then sighed. “Goblin work, for a certainty. They have tainted it with one of their foul poisons. Wicked creatures.”

Poison!” Brassica exclaimed, fearfully. “Oh, he won’t die, will he? I couldn’t tell, I should have taken it out sooner…”

For the first time, Beldrieth looked up and smiled slightly. “We are made of sterner stuff than we seem,” she said reassuringly. “It has made him rather weak and it hurts him, but it would take a far more potent poison than this to kill an elf.”

As though in response, Celebarad stirred slightly and opened his eyes. After a few moments of blinking, he fixed his gaze on Beldrieth and exclaimed joyfully, pushing himself up onto an elbow and he maneuvered himself back into a sitting position against the tree. He clasped Beldrieth hand tightly in one of his, and with the other pointed at the campfire and then at Brassica, who blushed obligingly, and then he waved vaguely towards the top of the bluffs, all the while explaining in rapid elvish.

The golden-haired elf listened gravely for a few moments, then answered back sternly in the same tongue, punctuating her lecture with sharp inflections and gestures that seemed to indicate her extreme displeasure.

He got lost,” Llythne piped up from the fireside, for Brassica’s benefit. “They were traveling together, up from Ered Luin, to meet with some of their kin on the far shore of Lake Evendim. She sent him ahead to scout two days ago, and she only just caught up to him now.”

Were you traveling with them too?” Brassica asked, sitting back down by the fire and pulling her rucksack over again. She rummaged through it, hunting for some food to offer Llythne. She wondered briefly if she should offer the still-arguing elves anything–she didn’t know what elves ate, and she’d already given away her Brandy Wine, which had been the finest thing she’d had. For Llythne though, she retrieved a hunk of oaten bread, shyly holding it out to the still-damp woman.

Thank you, little mistress,” Llythne responded graciously, taking the loaf and pulling it into halves, one of which she offered back to Brassica. “I wasn’t, but I suppose I will be, now. I was in Dwaling, stocking up on some supplies when I met Beldrieth, and I told her I could fix her up with a boat trip across the lake. I’m on good terms with the rangers in these parts.”

Brassica’s eyes widened and she looked the woman up and down, as covertly as she could while munching on her half of the loaf. She was plainly dressed–Brassica had assumed that her clothing was merely dark with water, but as it dried by the fire she could see that Llythne dressed all in soft layers of black and gray. She wore a dagger at each hip and a small leather pouch on her belt. In the golden light, Brassica could see that she had a rather plain face, and that her nose had been broken at some point, but it was a friendly face, and Brassica found she warmed to the woman more quickly than she had to Beldrieth. “Are you a ranger?”

Llythne laughed. “Far from it. Well, perhaps not so far. I’m a thief by trade, though I make my living these days by stealing back what dishonorable thieves have stolen, so I suppose it evens out.”

If you do not know it yourself, friend Burglar, I must tell you that I can read it in your face. You are of the kindred of Numeanor, you have more of the Rangers’ blood in you than you claim,” Beldrieth spoke up, having finished her argument with Celebarad. She had produced a delicate glass vial from a pouch somewhere on her person and was gently applying some of the greenish substance within to the wound in Celebarad’s side. When she had finished and stoppered the vial, she turned her gaze to Brassica. “He wants very badly to know your name, and to thank you for aiding him.”

O-oh. It’s Brassica, ma’am. Brassica Colewort. I live down in Oatbarton with my brother and my ma and pa–my brother Dill, he was with me, he went away to my uncle’s place, to get help.” Looking away north again, she chewed her lower lip anxiously. “I hope he’s all right…I never knew there were goblins about, or we wouldn’t have been traveling at night.”

A wary hobbit in the dark is nigh on invisible. If the little folk don’t want to be found, generally they won’t be,” Llythne said reassuringly, dusting the crumbs from her hands and getting to her feet. She rested the palm of her hand on the hilt of one of her daggers speculatively. “As to the goblins, they have a camp over the ridge here. We’ll carry word of them to the rangers at the High King’s Crossing when we press northward, and I expect they’ll send a party to deal with the threat.”

No,” Beldrieth disagreed, rising gracefully to her feet. “We will see to them tonight.” Sitting as she was by the fire, between the silver-haired woman and the tall elf huntress, Brassica felt very small indeed.

Celebarad spoke up quizzically in Elvish, apparently puzzled as to why his companions had gotten up, and when Beldrieth answered, his eyes widened and he held out a hand. The huntress grasped it and helped him to his feet. He winced slightly, but waved a hand dismissively in response when Beldrieth began to question him. He grasped the hilt of his sword and made a firm announcement in Elvish, gesturing to Beldrieth and then to Brassica.

He says to tell you that he does not mean to see you or your kin harmed by these goblins,” Beldrieth translated. Brassica felt a chill run down her spine as she recognized the fell gleam in the huntress’ eyes again. “And nor do I. We will empty their camp before the dawn.”

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1 Comment

  1. DarkJackal

     /  March 24, 2012

    Look out goblins! I suddenly feel sort of sorry for them. They won’t even know what hit them.


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