2. Chapter 2
Year 42 of Fourth Age, outside New Tharbad
The past week had been bad, even by their standards. Loch and Rin knew it. They'd had more than their share of hard times, and this one was up there with some of the worst.
"We should go back," Rin said again. Loch stood at the cusp of the rocky overhung they'd sheltered under when the rain became too heavy. He stared out at the forest beyond. His sister sat farther in, huddled against the cold.
"Be my guest," he murmured. If she said that one more time, he'd take her back himself. And to think he'd spent three years hoping that she'd say anything at all. Oh for such silence, such peace now.
The rain eased and then abated. The forest remained still, too silent, as if holding its breath. It had been three days since they'd last set out. As far as Loch saw, they'd had no choice. If he hadn't returned for more nails, the farmer would have ensured that his sister left missing more than her clothes. That fact seemed utterly lost on her now, though. Now she kept saying they should go back. He knew she was hungry, cold and frightened. So was he. But if he went back to that place then he'd snap something he shouldn't and then things would be a whole lot worse.
Rin stared at her brother's back and adjusted the rags she now wore. In their mad dash, she'd managed to snag a sheet drying outside. It was better than nothing, but only marginally so. Loch stood staring at the forest outside and then turned to face her.
"We can't stay here forever, Loch. We'll starve," she said. Her brother scratched at the straggly beard on his chin and crouched.
"Tharbad's another two days by foot," he replied. It was three days back to that farm and any chance to steal some food. What she'd do for a chicken!
"That's closer," she admitted. Her head had been aching for two days and she rubbed at it. She needed some Lamb's Tongue, she reminded herself.
"I don't think I can walk another two days, Loch." That's when he started to smile.
"We might not have to." Rin stared at him, because if it was a joke it was not funny. Loch kept smiling, and her temper snapped.
"Oh well, why don't you go and ride your invisible horse there instead. While you're at it, perhaps you can muster up an imaginary feast too!"
"Calm down, Rin! I'm not joking. If we can get down to the trail, we might be able to get a ride to Tharbad and perhaps food," Loch said. Rin looked at him skeptically. Ever the optimist was her brother.
"From whom," she demanded. Loch knew to give up that nugget was to ensure that they did starve under this rocky ledge. His sister's fear of soldiers was as irrational as it was strong.
"Travellers," he said with his affable, lop sided grin. It wasn't entirely a lie. "I'll hide myself away so they don't think us bandits. They won't be able to go past you, Rin. "
Rin looked uncomfortable and he knew why. The fact people found it difficult to not notice Rin had caused a number of unpleasant situations in the past. But, they had no food, no shelter, and Rin had no clothes. It was this, or die out here somewhere. At least they wouldn't need to worry about the orc sign he'd been noticing increasingly over the past three days. Orcs wouldn't trouble with such little meat they presented.
"Come on. While the rain's stopped. We need to get down to that trail," he chivvied.
Grumbling, Rin stood and followed Loch out and the pair walked down the slope to the trail at the foot of it. Loch positioned his sister in the most visible spot he could locate. Unfortunately, that meant it was out in the open and not on the side of the track that had tree cover. Loch scrambled back up the muddy embankment behind her and hid himself in the tangled vines that marched along its rim. Then, they waited.
Rin scrunched up her eyes and peered at the deluge from beneath it. She sighed heavily, already sodden to her bones. Cold water would have pooled in her boots, if they'd been whole. She peered down and wriggled toes that had turned a distinct shade of blue, visible even if she could not feel them. She twisted back to the scrub behind her and tried to make out her brother.
"This is not going to work, Loch", she again announced. Loch made no response, and Rin turned back to peer up the track she was standing by. She made a truly pitiful figure, which was exactly what her slightly elder brother was counting on. Rin kept wriggling her toes in the ragged remains of her 'boots' and sighed again for good measure. The numbness, she mused, meant that she no longer shivered quite so badly. It also hinted at exposure and a host of other unfortunate things.
Rin stared across the track at the bank of trees on the other side. Truth be told, her mind wandered. Abject hunger did not bode well for alertness or concentration. Rin's stomach twisted sharply, sending stabbing pain shooting through her. She gritted her teeth and wrapped arms too thin around her middle and waited.
"They're not coming, Loch. Maybe they turned off or found somewhere dry...or"
Rin scowled at the trees at her brother's imperious tone. They were both tired, frozen, starved and soaked. He needn't get so uppity with her. If they didn't show up soon, she was going to go back and get her damn clothes whether he liked it or not, right after she found some Lamb's Tongue and dealt with the fever that was lapping at her bones.
"Is she dead?" A stranger's voice startled Rin from her brooding and she struggled to pull her blurry eyes into focus.
A soldier, a hard bitten one, stared at her. He was a giant, dark skinned man. Sudden fear made her feel sick to her stomach. It was just as well nothing was in it.
Rin collected her wits and put on her best damsel voice, "Please sir... some bread?" Another soldier joined the one standing before her. He was smaller and no less coolly professional than the giant. Both had their hands on their sword belts, restless eyes.
"Not quite," the first soldier mused, studying her hard for a long moment. Rin thought her heart would rip out of her chest it was thudding so loudly. A shout behind her ensured she was spared their further scrutiny. Swords snapped out and she was forgotten as suddenly as they had seemed to appear to her. Rin had no idea why she did it. Her fingers seemed to move of their own accord. They moved past her to investigate the commotion on the embankment without their purses. Rin blinked at what she now held in her hands in astonishment. She had stolen from soldiers. She stumbled in disbelief across the track to the other tree-lined side.
Above on the embankment, another two soldiers grappled with Loch. Properly fed, her brother was a match for three. In his current state, it was the fact that he was largely covered in slippery mud that made it difficult for the men to pin him down. The two soldiers she had robbed clambered up the muddy slope. Rin drifted backwards into the trees she's spent the large part of the afternoon staring at. She tucked the purses into her rags. Loch and the four soldiers grunted and cursed at each other.
"Rin," he gasped, throwing the Easterling off him. "RUN!" Three soldiers leapt on her brother in tandem as the fourth one picked himself up. "RUN," Loch bellowed again and went down hard. A bolt of fear propelled her deeper into the trees and she ran, careening on unsteady legs.
She ran erratically, darting this way and that, her chest burning. Her mind was racing too. How was she supposed to stop the soldiers from killing her brother? That's what they did, soldiers. They killed people. Distracted and hurtling headlong through the forest, Rin ran straight into a man that seemed to materialize out of nowhere. She bounced off him with a surprised squeak and lost her footing. She managed, somehow to twist about and landed on her hands and knees into the rain soft forest floor. The man she had collided with picked her up easily. She dangled from his grip on the rags that covered her back.
"Ho there, I think that's far enough," he said from beneath a deep cowl.
Sharp eyes, bright grey pierced her as she hung from his hand. His stare was returned by a pair of wide, fever glazed wintry blue eyes. Rin knew how fragile the rags wrapping her were. She had but to twist hard enough and she'd be on the ground again and free to dart away, even if did mean doing so naked. She flailed, but her energy had largely been exhausted in her desperate flight to this juncture. It was more a display of wilful determination than an actual escape. The Ranger studied her a moment. She whimpered through rain darkened pale hair, arms and legs dangling. He gave her a light shake. Two pouches tumbled out and thumped onto the wet earth in front of where the Ranger stood.
"You should have gone for their rations, woman," the Ranger chided. She weighed no more than a child, even if she clearly was no such thing any longer. The Ranger set her down and scooped up the pouches. He gestured at the trees behind him. More soldiers, a whole company, Rin realised with a sinking stomach. The mad rush through the trees had gotten blood flowing enough to let her shiver in fear and cold.
"On your feet," Hanasian said. She crouched, resembling a started rabbit. He pulled her up firmly by an arm that seemed so slight as to be breakable. He was swift to let her go before such a thing occurred. The Ranger turned towards the track she had fled from.
"Come on then," said one of the soldiers. His expression was cold, relentless, and he pushed her forward to follow the Ranger. When the Company and Rin stepped through the trees, Loch stared at her and then sagged.
"Hope it was worth it," said the soldier that had ensured she marched with them. Rin fixed a gaze of such bleakness he recoiled in surprise. With Loch subdued, the four muddied soldiers had stepped back. Three looked irritated but the black giant seemed to be enjoying himself. Loch slowly picked himself up from the ground. Rin managed to teeter over to her brother. Her entire body was shaking with exhaustion. Her vision spun and her lips had started to turn a startling shade of blue.
"You should have run, Rin," Loch said to his younger sister. She hadn't the strength to argue with him. Rin nodded automatically and sat suddenly on the muddy track, unable to trust her legs anymore. It didn't matter what happened anymore. She felt like she was melting under the rains onslaught. Her eyelids fell, heavy. They could not conceal the dangerous brightness of fever. It would be the death of her in her current state. Rin sagged against Loch's leg and closed her eyes proper in defeat. She had nothing left to give.
"If you're to make your lives as bandits, they'll assuredly be short careers," Hanasian said. He tossed the stolen purses back to their owners.
Khule caught his with an oath. Molguv merely smiled all the wider. The girl was good, he had to admit. Loch stared a moment, clearly astonished, and then looked down at his sister.
"Why'd you do it, Rin? Rin?" he asked.
Rin made no answer, for fever had stolen her awareness.
"What have you say for yourself before the King's justice is served," asked one of the nearest soldiers. Loch made no reply at first, bending to stretch Rin out on the ground and tucking what passed as her clothing against her body. Her skin was simultaneously icy and yet burnt with fever's ferocity. Her paleness made her resemble some sort of icy statue, remote. It frightened Loch.
"All we wanted was food," Loch replied, "I don't think she knew what she was doing." He smoothed back hair far paler than his own. She shivered beneath his touch.
"This wasn't the plan," he murmured. "It wasn't supposed to be like this."
Khule objected, "She knew her business. I never even felt her take the damn purse!" Beside him, Molguv had to agree. "Real professional. Give the street toughs in Umbar a run for their money," he said with open admiration.
Hanasian stared at the pair in front of him. From their dealings, they seemed obviously to have a sibling bond, even though they looked nothing alike. Perhaps thirty years on the man, a few less on his sister, they were clearly starving. Even at full speed, she'd weighed scarcely more than a child when she'd collided with him. A dozen well armed men is not a mark one would take lightly unless they're desperate. Hanasian looked at his men.
"What say you men," the Ranger asked. "What shall the King's Justice mete to these two vagabonds. "
Mulgov said something about keeping them as pets, which got a chuckle from some of the others. Khule said nothing at all. He just fingered the sword that should take their thieving hands off. Hanasian waved his hand for silence.
"We will break here, for these trees offer a little break from the chill wind, though the rain has worked its way through them. Still they look as though a bit of a meal they could use. We'll rest cold so everyone give up a bit of saddle fare for the kids to eat. And Khule, toss the girl that old cloak of yours. It will give her some protection from the elements along with some warmth, not to mention allowing her some decency from the eyes of you lot."
Those still ahorse dismounted and they moved to the treelined side of the road. Loch managed to rouse his sister. It was that or have Mulgov carry her. The way their luck was turning, she'd wake, discover a soldier had a hold of her and then things would really go downhill. Mulgov along with Khule the Easterling kept a close watch on the two. Nothing was going to go missing while they rested and ate. The girl blankly accepted the cloak, even though it stunk and could use a wash, and the bits of bread and dried meat were gladly accepted. Loch placed an arm around his sister, who seemed to lapse in and out of consciousness against him. She was awake, barely, when the Ranger quizzed them. After they hungrily took part on what was offered, Hanasian asked them...
"So, since we had the opportunity to meet, I can guess your names from your words to each other. Now tell me where is it you came from, and where is it you go?"
He stared at Loch, seeing a possible future prospect in him. That will have to wait though, for much will be determined by their words and deeds this day. Where from and where to were mighty questions indeed for the unfortunate pair. Loch felt her stiffen, despite her relentless shivering, with the irrational suspicion that she had harboured for soldiers since they'd been forced from their home.
"Don't tell them," Rin tried to say. Her shivering made it hard to get the words out.
"Less talk from you and more eating would be a fine idea, girl," growled the big Haradian with a wide smile. Loch sensed there was no malice in it, but Rin had no such faith.
She all but crawled across her brother to the other side, and perched there to peer back at the large man from across Loch's shoulders. For his part, the man laughed and took another powerful bite at some hardened meat. Half dead, half conscious, half terrified, the girl had spit and he liked that. He demonstrated by waving the jerkey at her. Rin only clutched at her brother closer, cloak slipping from around her shoulders. The others grinned, mostly, though some saw the entire affair as all too familiar and all too sad. They ate and watched in silence.
"Don't trust them, Loch! Don't!" Loch reached and pulled the cloak back up her shoulders. As far Rin was concerned, there wasn't a single soldier to be trusted. After what they had seen he could hardly fault her for that. But it didn't have to be that way, Loch knew, if you were on the other end of the sword. What had happened to their parents didn't if you were on the right end of the sword.
"Eat, Rin, slowly or you'll get sick remember?" he gently chided her.
Rin never took her eyes off the Haradian, who had given up with his peace offering and resumed eating it. She set her teeth at the corner of the bread and tore a piece off, slowly chewing and calculating how best to extricate them from their current mess. Just thinking about it made her head spin sickeningly. She resolutely took another bite, trying to keep her eyes on as many soldiers at one time as she possibly could. Meanwhile, Loch picked up on an old habit and ignored her counsel.
"The Borderlands," he answered Hanasian, trusting to his instincts. Rin fought to keep consciousness beside him and dug a sharp elbow into his ribs. Loch stifled a wince and continued, "And we're going anywhere that's safe." Rin elbowed him again, harder.
"They'll have a hard time finding that with their habits," Khule announced. Men grunted their agreement around them. Hanasian waved silence again and probed closer, watching the young woman with mounting concern.
"Which border," he quizzed and noted Loch hesitate for the first time. Years of bitter racial prejudice had taught him caution. Still, in for a penny was what their Da used to sat each morning long ago.
"Dunland," Khule said, "That's what I'd wager." Beside him, Rin hissed a warning at Loch and then toppled face first into the grass, half eaten bread rolling from one out stretched and limp hand. "Aye, Dunland, and what of it," Loch snapped, unsure if he now need to defend himself from the usual prejudice and somehow tend his sister.
"Now you've done it, Khule," Mulgov said, waving at the newly unconscious Rin. Loch knelt to lift his sister up. "Ah! She's burning!"
"And she wasted perfectly edible stale bread," Mulgov said, shaking his head. He liked the girl, but she sure was hard to keep awake. The boy, though, a good feed and he had promise.
"Don't get too close," Khule warned. "I made that mistake and it nearly cost me a month's pay!" Loch chafed Rin's cheeks in a bid to rouse her. Her shivering started to become violent, and her eyes moved beneath pale lids, but she did not wake.
Mulgov stood, retrieved the bread and studied the scene below. "If it's an act, it's a damn good one," he rumbled.
Hanasian sighed heavily and reached under his tightly drawn cloak to fetch out a pouch that did not contain money. He pushed Loch aside, pulled open Rin's mouth and crumbled a dark powder between her lips that he washed down with a quick swig from his water bag. A long moment passed and the shivering abated to more normal levels.
"How long have you been out here," the Ranger asked, studying the young woman sprawled on the ground before them both. "Forever," Loch groaned. One way or another, it had been.
"And you were heading for Tharbad," Hanasian stated, the conclusion foregone. Loch nodded, staring hard at his sister.
"I still think we should keep them," Mulgov said, "Even if they are trouble." Khule grunted, clearly unimpressed with the idea. Hanasian scooped up the girl and handed her across to Mulgov.
"Mount up men," he ordered. Grumbling, the men did as bidden. Loch was assigned to ride behind Khule. Hanasian took the girl himself, hoping the added warmth of the horse would be enough to get her through to Tharbad, a roof and four weatherproof walls.
Rin, perhaps fortunately, was entirely insensate for all of this. Oblivious to being handed about soldiers, she wandered fever fueled dreams of a place long ago and a woman whose voice still haunted her memories. Loch, though desperately worried for his sister still marveled at the day's turn. He was in a waking dream long clutched to his heart across the years of his childhood: a soldier at last.
"Worry not missy," Hanasian said as the company started to ride,
"None here will harm or take advantage of you. They are rather foul in appearance, but they all mean well and serve King Elessar." Rin showed no response, and Hanasian hoped she wouldn't add insult to injury and fall off the horse. A hand went up and fingers moved, and they set out at a fair gallop. They hoped to make Tharbad by nightfall.
The rain intensified as they went on, and the grey skies darkened with heaviness and the onset of evening. They weren't going to make it. Hanasian had to make a decision to either push on in the cold wet darkness or stop and make a cold camp. Too many leagues yet to go, and with things uncertain in the city, he decided to take them off the road to a thicket of trees by some rock outcroppings about a half mile east of the road. He sent Wulgof the Dunlanding and Amira of Dale up to scout the high ground while the rest tried to settle for some rest as best they could. But it wasn't long before Wulgof and Amira returned.
"We found orc-sign, and it is at the most a day old. We should be wary here." Hanasian talked to the two scouts further, noting that Loch had drifted close by and lingered with open curiosity. Nothing they were saying required guard, so so Hanasian though to get a further measure of the young man.
"You... Loch, come here." Instinct made Loch start in the other direction. Every time he'd been summoned to step forward, it had been to receive a generous helping of cruel intolerance and prejudice. Loch paused, steeled himself, and returned to where the Ranger and soldiers stood.
Hanasian said to Wulgof and Amira, "We should ask this man, for I have a feeling he has been around here quite a bit of late. Loch, have you seen any orcs or sign they have been in your travels?" Loch looked like he was thinking, surprised that his opinion had been sought on the matter.
Hanasian went on, "We just want to know what you have seen since I'm sure you and the girl had your eyes out for anyone moving through these parts. Speak free man."
Hanasian had already made up his mind that they would go forth to Tharbad in the dark, taking their chances with the city watch than being waylaid in the night by orcs, but he wanted to engage this boy. Perhaps it was what he saw at their meeting or a gut feeling he had, or both, but Hanasian was thinking there may be more to this boy. Loch turned to where the aforementioned 'girl' lay. If she were awake, she'd be glaring at him hard enough to set his hair on fire. He knew why that would be, but he also knew his own mind. He turned back to where the Ranger and the two scouts stood, chewed it over some more and decided to cast the die whilst Rin was oblivious.
"Aye, sporadic and old at first," he confirmed. "But it got fresher and thicker as we closed on Tharbad. All the game vanished too." Loch gestured at his own spare frame and then scratched at his chin. Rin would have his hide for consorting with soldiers, but Rin was plain wrong headed about it and he knew that for certain.
"How long since you've found game," Amira asked the young man. Loch shrugged one shoulder laconically. "Three days, this would be the fourth I suppose."
Hanasian studied Loch carefully as he spoke. Aside from his sandy hair, Rohan at a guess, the lad had similar features to Wulgof, confirming the lad's earlier tale about his origins. His sister, however, was entirely another matter. There was neither Dunland or Rohan in her features. All it took was once glance over to where she now sat, blinking blearily at the men and horses around her. The young woman, Hanasian could not help but conclude, had the look of a people long scattered by the inexorable predations of war – his own northern kin.
But that was not all Hanasian thought of. Loch's statement confirmed several other things about the young man. He was, it would seem, a skilled tracker and reasonable hunter. There was no other way for the pair to be in such reasonably good condition. They had the look of those perpetually wandering, and clearly had been able to survive. Where their family was now there was no telling, but Loch was keen to belong. It was stamped all over him. He soaked up the company of the men around him like the desert did rain. Lastly, Loch had demonstrated a fierce loyalty to his sister. That they'd clung together and not gone their separate ways said much. The boy would find it much easier to survive if he did not have a younger sister to care for. His sister would have easily found a comfortable situation in the way that attractive women can if she did not have an older brother to consider.
Rin had her bearings once again and had begun to glare at her brother as Loch had known she would. He ignored her, which prompted the young woman to stand.
"We ride, then," Hanasian said as he noticed Rin was on her feet and conscious again, "Hard as we can". Khule, who had drifted over muttered, "Not as hard as we could."
He flicked a dark gaze at Loch and then his sister. Stung, Loch unwisely replied "I can too ride as hard as you." The men chuckled knowingly around him.
"Well and good," Hanasian said after a moment's further thought. "We'll see in five or so minutes." Dismissed, the men peeled away to tend to their saddles and themselves before they again had to mount up.
Loch strolled over to where Rin stood, fidgeting with her slipping cloak. Molguv loomed over the pair and plucked up the cloak with a grin. He produced a wickedly curved dagger, carved a head sized hole in the middle of it and then dropped it back over Rin's frozen, shocked face.
"That," Khule cried, "is MY CLOAK!" Molguv winked at the Easterner and sauntered away. Khule turned back to his horse, muttering thick curses in his own tongue. Hanasian meanwhile had plucked out two apples from his own saddle bags and brought them to the siblings.
"Eat," he said sternly. "You'll need to be able to hang on to keep up." With that, he left the pair to it. Rin stared at the apple in her hand, overwhelmed by the wealth it represented. Loch took a large bite, chewing hard and ignoring the renewed glare she turned back on him.
"What do you think you're doing, Loch," she demanded, taking a bite out of her own apple and closing her eyes momentarily as the sweet rush of it permeated her.
"I'm helping, Rin. It's not so hard. Even you could do it if you wanted to," he teased around another mouthful of apple. Rin's scowl returned deeper than before and Loch threw his arms up in exasperation. This was an argument that had been brewing all day, from when Rin had discovered that Loch had deliberately set them in the path of the people she feared the most.
"What, Rin? What's the big problem?"
Rin rolled her eyes, lowered her apples and hissed a response," I've said it before, Loch. They're soldiers."
Loch pointed at the apple in her hand," Mmmm, evil soldiers who give you food." He pointed again at her makeshift poncho. "And that, whatever it is." Rin waved his arguments aside with a shake of her pale hair and an increasingly stubborn set to her chin. "
It doesn't matter which army, they're all the same, Loch and you're mad if you let all this fool you!"
Loch looked up, his own jaw bunching as he stared hard over his sister's head. Then he took a bite of his apple and chewed it carefully. "
Well, Rosmarin," he said heavily and sparking a growl from her at his tone, "We'll do it your way. Let's say that those men were soldiers. Even though I know they weren't and you weren't old enough to remember. If that is true, then I'll tell you this little sister. If Da had known his way around a sword, maybe he and mother would be alive today! Maybe if Da had been a soldier, we'd still-" Rin's slap broke the rest of what her brother had been about to say off.
It shocked the both of them. Loch straightened, fists closing at his side and then took a careful step back with narrowed eyes. Rin stared at her own hand, shaken, and then to her brother's face.
"No Loch. It's not their fault. That's not right," she said urgently. Hanasian, like the others, had watched the argument spring to life with some interest. He strode over between the pair.
"Enough, I think. Mount up, men!" He pointed Loch over to Wulgof, and took Rosmarin's upper arm through the cloak. "I'd finish that apple in a hurry, were I you," Hanasian said. Rin's apple had turned to ashes as far as she was concerned, but she lifted it to her mouth all the same, unable to take her eyes off her brother.
"If I'm wrong, Rin, then so are we both," Loch said in parting, turned his back and walked away. "Make sure Wulgof gives you a weapon of some sort," Hanasian said to hurry Loch along.
Hanasian looked down at the young woman he had in hand, sorely tempted to question her further but lacking the opportunity to do so. Yes, most definitely of the Dunedain was this one. "Ready?" he instead asked. Rin tossed the apple core away.
"Nearly," she said, tugging her arm. Hanasian let her go and she took a few steps to the side, plucked a grey green plant from a rock and chewed some leaves. Hanasian blinked his surprise and pointed to his horse. Subdued and still chewing Rin complied. He mounted and stretched down to pull her up.
"If anything happens, you get down low against the horse's neck and hang on," he instructed. Rin nodded and swallowed, shoulders slumped. "What," he started to ask as he kicked his horse into a trot and then a canter.
"Lamb's Tongue," came Rin's reply, "for fever." It wasn't what he had been going to ask. He had been going to ask what the confrontation between her and her brother had been about. Not that it was likely she'd answer him with the same freedom her brother seemed to. Still, her response did provide him with further information that confirmed there was yet more to pursue with the pair.
As night fell, Hanasian's company rode as fast as they dared towards Tharbad, scouts ranging around seeking further sign of impending attack. As he rode, Rin before him, he couldn't help but wonder about her origins. She looked of northern stock and, if he guessed aright, possessed abilities of a similar origin. As Rin rode through the night, she closed her eyes and hung on. The Lamb's Tongue broke her fever as she had known it would, but it couldn't stop what she kept seeing in her mind's eye. Her mother's blood spread in a growing pool across the floor of their cottage, a hungry and relentless tide that had stolen everything from her.
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.