This week’s lost text was sent in by Vraeden of Elendilmir.
Mae govannen! This is my submission to your “Lost Texts” page at CSTM. It’s titled The Long Road Home, and if you’ll indulge me, it’s the first of probably six short stories in a series.
Hooray! I can’t wait for more Vraeden! Now on with Part 1.
Sally had always hated her name.
Even as a young hobbit growing up in the Shire she found her name to be more of a burden than boon. Born Salvatina Hobarth Bunce, she was constantly being teased by her friends. They would call her “Sally Ho” or “Sally Forth” and so on. It was a family name, and a respectable one at that. But still, she grew tired of the mockery. So she learned to mostly stay unnoticed and out of the way, surely an odd skill among the gregarious halflings.
When she was old enough, the wanderlust took hold of her, much to the chagrin of Mother and Father. They were good hobbits who operated a grist mill just east of Hobbiton. Her brothers and sister carried on the good family name, but she decided to seek her fortune outside of the Shire. Among the Big Folk.
At first, she traveled the familiar roads, from the Shire to Bree and Celondim. Along the way, Sally encountered all manner of folk, from the haughty elves of Ered Luin to the stalwart men of Trestlebridge to the gruff dwarves of Gondamon. She learned not only to survive, but to thrive in the world that was so far beyond the borders of the Shire, where many a hobbit lived and died quite happily, never having traveled more than three or four leagues from the spot of their birth. It was through these travels that she met her current companions.
Their nominal leader was Garald, a handsome man who hailed from Bree. He wore the heavy plate armour of his grandfather’s grandfather, and his sword carried many notches from the beasts and bandits who had fallen to its blade.
Dwarves have long been known for being gruff and feisty, and Braggar was no exception. His penchance for ale was almost matched by his habit for spinning exaggerated, wild tales that were often as funny as they were terrifying. He was a fiercesome foe to those who crossed him, and the mightiest of friends to his allies.
Cayleigh was a quiet, slender woman, who seemed oddly out of place in the fellowship. Unlike the immaculately-garbed Garald, her armour was mismatched and dented, although nothing was ever broken or dirty. Her shield was almost as tall as she was. Yet her skill with the blade was undeniable, and many enemies who underestimated her found their end at her feet.
The four of them had shared many adventures together when they met the elf twins, a brother and sister. Voontak and Vraeden Xur were young for their race, yet they had seen more summers than the rest of the fellowship put together. Voontak was a master of runic magic and his sister a musician of no small repute. They moved with an ethereal grace that belied their deadly powers.
“How much beer are you going to drink, master dwarf?” Garald tossed another log on the small fire.
“How much do ye have?” the other poured out the remainder of the skin into a road-worn mug.
“I can’t afford a high maintenance traveling companion such as yourself,” the captain said with a wry grin. “Perhaps I should see if there is another sword for hire in Ost Guruth who drinks less.”
“Bah!” the dwarf snorted. “The men of the Lone-lands drink twice as much brew as any dwarf.”
“That’s true enough,” Garald winked at Sally. “But their ale costs only a fraction what yours does.”
The elves smiled as the two traded friendly insults in the warm glow of the camp. It was risky to build a fire out in the wilderness, but unseasonably cold winds had blown in, and none of the companions were prepared for autumn. Besides, they were still close enough to Bree that cavalry patrols regularly crossed these woods.
“Why are we in such a rush?” Braggar whined as he downed the rest of the mug in one pull.
“Someone in Imladris awaits us,” Voontak replied. “And our message cannot be delayed.”
The dwarf scoffed again. Although he held no great love for the elves, he didn’t share his race’s usual disdain for them either. Like Sally, Braggar had spent many years on the road, where one’s actions spoke more of their character than their parentage.
“Tomorrow, we’ll make Ost Guruth, and then be in the Trollshaws the day after,” Voontak said.
“Aye,” Braggar tipped his mug up one more time, trying to coax the last drops into his mouth. “Have ye ever been to Rivendell, young Miss Sally? I reckon it’s as far from the Shire as most halflings go.”
“I have never been there,” there was a trace of excitement in her voice. All of the Free People had stories of the fabled cities of the elves, but few were ever privileged enough to step foot in them. “And don’t call me ‘Sally’.”
“What would ye prefer, young hobbit?” he chuckled. “I could—”
“Quiet!” Cayleigh whispered. The other five immediately fell silent. When the young woman chose to speak, everyone else listened. Even the forest seemed deathly still. Something wasn’t right.
“I can smell them,” Garald warned and everyone sprang into motion, their actions perfectly complementing the others.
Sally and the elves melted into the shadows and out of the light of the fire. Garald and Cayleigh slipped their helms on. Bragger swung his axes in wide circles, loosening up arms and trying to shake off the effects of the mead. Cayleigh’s blade and shield were instantly in her hands. The sword of Garald’s ancestors rang as he pulled it from it sheath, and it seemed to crackle with the power of magic from another age. The three formed a tight wedge, knowing that their companions could manage quite well on their own.
Brush crackled as the intruders approached. Whoever approached, they weren’t much for subtlety. In the light of the moon and stars, Sally saw the band of goblins and orcs approach. They didn’t have the fellowship surrounded, although they were moving to the flanks. Their stench broke through the cool, crisp air. The stench of corruption and death.
“Who goes there?” Garald called out into the darkness, although he already knew the answer. There was no point in the man, woman and dwarf trying to sneak away in the darkness; their heavy plate mail and chain would slow them down and make too much noise.
From her vantage point, Sally heard the guttural growl of the orc leader. “Bring me the elves. Kill the rest.”
“Why didn’t ye just ask for the elves? I’d have given them to ye,” Bragger mumbled.
Sally heard someone drawing a bow string behind her. Turning over her shoulder, she saw two goblins not five paces away. Before they could loose their arrows, she reached into a pouch on her belt and tossed some pepper dust into their eyes.
They let out a surprised yelp which was quickly silenced as her sharp daggers cut into their throats. Behind her, the campsite erupted into shouting and the clash of sword on shield.
“To me!” Cayleigh cried out. Normally, the warrior only spoke in soft tones, but in battle, she was transformed. Her shrill voice rang out above the battle, calling out to enemy and friend alike.
Garald stood at her back, his greatsword cutting down anyone who came two close. Braggar was never much for strategy and he dove into the advancing orcs, his axes slicing through flesh and bone. Sally stayed in the shadows, picking off the stragglers. The six of them had fought many battles together and this was proving to be an easy fight.
From somewhere in the darkness, she heard Voontak’s voice. His rhythmic chants called down lightning and caused enemies to burst into flame. The air hummed with the cackle of pure power and his runes glowed white-hot in his hands. Each time an enemy fell, Garald let out a victorious cry, inspiring his friends to strike that much harder.
And above the din of battle, Sally heard Vraeden’s melodic voice. Her song struck fear into the orcs and goblins, while giving strength to her allies. When an orc got too close, her blade seemed to sing with a voice all its own.
The fight was over in a matter of minutes. Conscripted goblins and inexperienced orcs were no match for the six seasoned companions. Bodies lay strewn about the ground, their lifeblood pouring out.
“Twelve!” Bragger shouted triumphantly as the last of the goblins fled into the woods.
“What do you think they wanted?” Cayleigh wiped the blood of her blade before returning it to its sheath. The companions began to pack up their campsite. There was no sense in waiting around for the goblins to bring reinforcements.
“The message we carry to Lord Elrond,” Vraeden replied simply.
“And what would that message be?” Garald asked.
“Grim news from Celondim.” The two elves exchanged a worried glance. “They will come again.”
“Not after a beating like that.” Braggar walked among the fallen orcs, finishing off those who were waiting to die.
“They will come again, friend dwarf,” Vraeden repeated softly. “So long as the messenger lives, so does the message.”
Sally started to say something, but the hair on the back of her neck stood up. Something still wasn’t right. She pulled her black cloak close and stepped back into the shadows.
The warg and its rider were good. But not good enough. She saw its muscles tense, ready to pounce. But the young hobbit was faster.
A short sword in one hand and a long dagger in the other, Sally sprang from her hiding spot. The rider was knocked from his mount, the dagger buried deep in its chest. Her sword struck right behind the warg’s left ear. The crack of its skull alerted the others. Sally rolled gracefully out of the way as the warg and rider fell to the ground.
“I was wondering where ye were, young Miss Sally,” Bragger grunted. Just for good measure, he buried his axe in the beast’s skull. “That’s a nice dagger. Where did ye get it?”
“It’s yours.” Sally smiled at her bearded friend. She drew a small pouch out of a pocket and tossed him his purse. “And so’s that.”
The other four chuckled as the dwarf’s expense when he realised that she had taken his money and his blade.
“And don’t call me ‘Sally’.”
“Aye.” Even though the others were having a laugh at his expense, he knew he was among friends. Sally smiled, too, knowing that even though her family would always live in the Shire, her place was on the road, beneath the stars and often in the shadows. After all, the darkness was her sixth ally. “Whatever ye say, young Miss Midnight.”
If you would like to submit your works for Lost Texts send a description and your story to our email.
Feel free to send along screenshots to go along with your story as well!