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Heart of a Warden

Chapter 5: Chapter 5

by aimless

Chapter 5



They were guarding the northern border when word came in that a band of orcs had been spotted traveling
near the trade road that skirted the forest. Elendara had just passed the trials and had been elevated to full
warden status. She had spent her first 3 months on the border, each month under the tutelage of a different
veteran. The third month had Rúmil as her tutor. The guard duty had passed uneventfully until this particular
watch rotation. He remembered how excited she looked when the word had spread that they would have some
action at last. Her hand was on her bow absently stroking the smooth wood. That bow was one of her most prized
possessions, from the three brothers the day she became a warden.

They had waited till after the ceremony and then retired to Rúmil’s talan to have a celebratory glass of wine. Once
at the dwelling the three brothers excused themselves and left the room. They returned a moment later with Haldir
holding a bow and Orophin holding a tooled leather quiver containing arrows he had crafted himself. She had looked
up in surprise, eyes widening at what Haldir had in his hands. He held the bow out to her and smiled when she reverently
lifted it from his grasp. Haldir explained that when each of his brothers had achieved warden status he had given them a
similar gift. He also stated that since he considered her to be family he could do no less than to present her with a bow of
the Galadhrim as well. The bow, made from the wood of the great mellryn trees was virtually unbreakable. The bow’s
remarkable accuracy was legendary and in the hands of a skilled archer nothing short of amazing. Each bow was a work
of art and hers was no different. Inlays of silver leaves and vines twined along the length of the bow and her name was
inscribed in flowing script.

She looked upon the bow with awe. Most of the wardens used Galadhrim bows but one custom made such as this was doubly
precious and had to have been commissioned months ago. It showed they had great faith in her abilities to pass the trials.
Reluctantly she laid the bow aside and took the quiver. It was made of the finest quality leather and deeply embossed on the
surface was the same pattern of leaves and vines that decorated the bow. She recognized Orophin’s handiwork on the arrows
and was touched, he was one of the best fletchers and his arrows always flew true. Overcome with emotion she flung herself
into Haldir’s arms and had hugged him fiercely. Surprise was evident in his face as he hugged her back, as his brothers had
laughed at his dismay. A moment later Orophin got the same treatment of an armful of excited warden. She disengaged herself
from Phin’s arms and turned to Rúmil. He held out one hand to stop her advance. She looked at him a little confused till he
removed what he had been hiding from behind his back. It was a finely wrought elven longsword. He smiled as he held out
his gift. She took it from him with slightly shaking hands. Orophin and Haldir looked at their brother a moment before Orophin
remarked.

“So this is what you have been up to. Getting a sword commissioned for our friend and now fellow Warden. You have
managed to one up us yet again.”

Haldir continued his scrutiny of his brother then added a question.
“Very nice blade, Andrinor’s work I believe?”

They all watched as Dara stepped back and drew the blade, it slid smoothly out of the scabbard that had been made to match
the quiver. She swung it experimentally to test the heft and balance of the blade. The light from the lamps glinted on the runes
carved into the polished steel.

Orophin turned again to his brother.
“ It is a fine blade indeed, I too recognize Andrinor’s craftsmanship. Why the extra gift, it must have been very costly. Is there
something you wish to tell us? Some secret you are keeping about yourself and Dara?”

His voice was tinged with amusement as he noted the flush creeping up his brother’s cheeks at his statement.

Haldir also noted his brother’s uncharacteristic reaction and raised an eyebrow at the blush staining Rúmil’s cheeks. He
hastened to reply.

“No! I just thought she would need a better blade. The sword she was using was adequate for a trainee but I wished
her to have something she could depend on in a fight. Andrinor forges some of the finest elvish steel in Caras Galadhon.
The cost was of no matter, it isn’t as if I did not have it to spare. It was a gift to a friend nothing more.”

Dara had returned the blade to the scabbard and carefully set her new sword on the table next to her bow. She turned
back to Rúmil and hugged him tightly. He saw the identical smirks on his brothers’ faces as they noted that he was standing
quite uncomfortably in her embrace. He stepped back and mentioned a bottle a wine he had saved for just this occasion and
had hastened to the kitchen to retrieve it. That had been just under three months ago, and now they stood waiting to engage
in her first battle. He vowed to keep a close eye on her.

The signal to move out was relayed through the trees. He motioned Dara to go ahead of him as they rendezvoused with
Orophin, Deleon and Haldir. They would use the treetops to reach the ambush point. The wardens, seemingly without effort,
moved from tree to tree with the surefootedness and dexterity of long practice. They stopped at a section of the border where
the trade road curved away to the east and viewed their adversaries from the trees. Many orcs were spread out among the
rocky terrain. They were working to conceal themselves so as to catch the next caravan unaware. Sadly this had become a
somewhat frequent occurrence in recent years. The creatures knew not to venture too close to the wood but they figured the
trade roads to be easy pickings. The orcs were just within bow range. A scout had spotted the large group of orcs and had
roused the nearby border guards.

Rúmil positioned himself near Dara and Orophin near Deleon. They readied their bows and waited for Haldir’s signal to fire.
He could practically see Dara quivering with anticipation as she nocked an arrow. Haldir gave the signal to draw and as one
they all pulled their bowstrings taut. A moment later he signaled them to fire. In the same instant the sharp twang of
bowstrings could be heard releasing their deadly messengers. All five arrows buried themselves with unerring accuracy in
the startled orcs. A few seconds later another volley was fired and then a third, all having fatal results. Rúmil noted with pride
that that Dara’s aim was true.

The element of surprise was past as the orcs went to ground and found cover in the rocks. The wardens swiftly descended
from the trees and moved to their intended targets. Haldir hung back and provided cover fire as the others closed in for combat.
They fought in pairs, Rúmil with Dara and Orophin with Deleon. It did not take Rúmil long to lose sight of Dara as he cut down any
orc that crossed his path. Concerned for her safety he glanced around and spotted her a short distance away. She seemed to be
giving a good accounting of herself. Dara used her sword with great skill, parrying blows and thrusting her blade into the weak
points in the enemy’s armor. He was further distracted when he heard her cry out on pain. He looked to her again and saw her
doubled over from a blow to the stomach. He needn’t have worried though, because of the watchful eye of Haldir. The orc that
had kicked Dara now had an arrow in its throat buried up to the fletching with the force of the impact. It toppled over with a
surprised look on its ugly face.

However, Rúmil’s distraction almost proved fatal for as his attention was riveted upon his friend an orc seized the opportunity
to drive a spear at his unprotected side. With a shout, Dara, seeing his peril, flung herself at the orc knocking both of them to
the ground. The orc drove a large armored fist into her face as she tried to draw her knife; both of them had dropped their
weapons upon impact in the dirt. Her vision wavered as she struggled to hold the pinned orc. Just as Rúmil had stepped in
to help she got a hold of her knife and had quickly slit the creature’s throat. She paused a moment to study her enemy then
rose from the twitching body of the orc and bent to retrieve her sword. With a dirty sleeve she swiped at the blood that was
streaming from her nose and ran to rejoin the fight. Rúmil also returned to the battle, as he saw Orophin hard pressed to hold
off four of the creatures, vowing not to become distracted again. He knew Haldir had seen his performance and he could practically
feel his brother’s disapproval. The orcs finally broke and ran and it took several hours to track them back to their lair and deal
with the survivors.

They returned to the battle site and piled the bodies up to be burned. The pyre was lit and they retreated upwind before
tending to their injuries. Deleon had suffered a deep cut on his arm and Orophin had some bruised ribs. Dara seemed oddly
detached during the clean up and was even now wandering through their hasty camp gathering their supplies for their trek
back to the wood. He saw Haldir stop Dara and motion for her to sit. Rúmil had seen the blow she had taken to the face and
moved to sit beside her so he could see the damage. There was dried blood under nose, on her chin and staining the front of
her tunic. Her nose was extremely swollen and crooked. It was definitely broken. Haldir motioned for his brother to move
behind her and she stiffened as he placed his hands on her shoulders.

“You must sit very still, I have to set the break before I heal you or it will not mend properly. Rumil will keep you from
pulling away lest you do more damage. Brace yourself this will hurt.”

He steadied her chin with one hand and with the other he cupped her aching nose. At the first hint of pain she tried to
jerk out of his grasp, if not for the tight hold Rumil had on her she would have succeeded. He applied even pressure to
her nose till he was satisfied that it was aligned correctly. Dara squirmed in discomfort and gasped at the pain. Rúmil winced
in sympathy at her distress. Tears of pain made tracks in the dirt on her face as Haldir lifted her chin with his hand and
assessed his handiwork. Confident it would now heal properly he once more held a cupped hand over her face as he began
to chant softly. She tensed as the throbbing returned but then relaxed in Rúmil’s grip as the pain was replaced by soothing
warmth. He told her to sit and rest a few moments before they headed back to the wood. Then he rose and motioned for
Rúmil to follow him.

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Chapter name
Chapter 5
Created
24 Apr 2004
Last Edited
24 Apr 2004
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1984