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Enter the Ranger  by Larner


            Geldir son of Marmidion stood outside the kitchen door, waiting for Peredhrion to call him into the room to stitch the injuries he’d received to his wrist.  Túrin had pressed a quick dressing over the cuts, one of which had been rather deep, and wrapped it roughly about with a wide ribbon of cloth bandage, and told him he should be next seen by the young Man who’d been trained in healing by Lord Elrond.

            Geldir had been quiet much of the time during this training patrol, feeling somehow that he had little enough to add to what others said or did.  He was only eighteen, and most likely was not through growing taller.  Certainly he knew he had nowhere the muscles exhibited by Finwë, Orominion, Bregorn, or Peredhrion.  He was nowhere as tall as they were, either—he wasn’t even as tall as Halbarad or Damrod, although he was taller than Varadorn and was much of the same stature as Dirigil.  His beard was little more than a down upon his cheek and chin, although that was dark enough to show it would be the same ebon shade as his hair.  Perhaps the older young Dúnedain had looked at Peredhrion’s smooth cheeks without a trace even of the fuzz Geldir sported and dismissed him as a boy; but Geldir saw that of them all Peredhrion was the tallest, with a grown Man’s muscles, not those of a youth, and a jaw that was also that of a grown Man in spite of its beardless state.  He and three others of the younger recruits listened and did as they were told, and had learned to defend themselves and one another, but were all convinced that only one another understood or respected them.

            Will Lord Halbaleg ever honor me as I am told Lord Arathorn did my father? he wondered.  Marmidion had been promoted to a captaincy early in his career as a Ranger, and had served well until he lost much of the use of his left leg some seven years after the death of Lord Arathorn.  He was still well respected as one who truly understood the type of warfare the Dúnedain Rangers waged, and now he spent much time devising tools and weapons and protections to be used against their most common enemies, orcs and Mannish invaders from the remnants of Angmar to the north and from Rhudaur and Dunland to the south.  All of his life Geldir had patterned himself on what he knew of his father’s abilities and achievements, and it was one of his deepest wishes to become a Captain while yet in but his twenties.

            Peredhrion will do so, he thought.  No one will question it, not even Finwë or Orominion.  Of course, as Lord Halbaleg’s sons Halbarad and his brothers will be given positions of command early, while Damrod and Varadorn, being of the region about Lhûn, will have few to challenge their right to lead the Rangers there.  And in spite of their loud mouths, Orominion and Finwë are good warriors already.

            He had almost resolved that he would have to wait many long years for the recognition he knew he deserved when he realized that the daughter of this house was standing beside him, smiling.  “How very serious you look,” she commented.  “Do you ever smile?”

            He was so surprised that he found himself releasing the grasp he’d been maintaining upon the bandages wrapped around his wrist.  “What?” he asked, and flushed as he realized how vapid that exclamation must make him appear.

            “Oh!  But you were wounded, too!” she said.  “Are you waiting for the young healer to see to it?  But that bandage is all crusted through with blood, and your arm filthy.    I just came out, and he is busy over the one whose shoulder is so bad.  Let me clean this as I can and put a clean dressing upon it.  It does not do to allow dirt to remain near a serious wound.”

            “Would you?” he asked without even thinking about it, and he noticed the dimple in her cheek that showed as she nodded at him, smiling.

            She went inside and came out with a basin of clean water and several clean cloths.  She gently but deftly removed the bandage that was there already, exposing the wounds.  He saw the flinch she still sought to hide from him before she commented, “I see at least three wounds, this one the worst.  Let me clean off the dried blood and the dirt that is sticking to it.  It will make it easier for the healer when he can get to you.  Does it hurt?”  At his shake of his head she smiled again, looking up at him under her pretty eyelashes, commenting, “But, of course you would not admit that it hurts, any more than my brother Londo did when he cut himself upon the newly sharpened scythe last fall.  You young Men are all much alike, I suppose.  How brave you were, to see ruffians coming to our farm and to face them, not knowing how good or bad they might be with their own weapons.  I hope you realize how grateful we are to you for your courage and willingness to fight for people you don’t even know.”

            “Thank you,” he breathed as she bound the new dressing into place.  “You were very gentle.”

            She appeared surprised, then gave a truer smile than she’d given him before.  “And you are very kind,” she responded.  “I think he will be done soon.  Such a tall young Man he is.  Have you known one another all of your lives?”

            He shook his head, his mood growing more solemn.  “No, I’ve known him but six or seven weeks.  He grew up among the Elves, so he learned the skills of a healer and surgeon while yet young.  It is said that Lord Elrond, ruler of Rivendell, is the greatest healer and teacher of healers of both Elves and Men in all of Middle Earth.”

            “And this one is a good healer?”

            He nodded.  And she would be drawn to one such as he rather than to one such as I am, he thought.

            “He is very good looking, I suppose.  But I do not understand the braids in his hair.  I’ve not seen such things on Men before.  I bet that Mariessë, who is my Uncle Hob’s daughter, would think him quite the most handsome thing she has ever seen, all unusual as he is, but I like your looks better.”

            He did not realize it, but his eyes had grown round with surprise, and his mouth opened in wonder.  She smiled again as she poured out the water in her basin.  “I will help the others as I can,” she said.  Then she did something unexpected, leaning forward to peck a kiss upon his cheek.  She was flushing as she straightened.  “Thank you again,” she whispered before she disappeared again into the house.

            He was still standing, his wounded hand pressed to the place where she’d kissed him, when Halbarad held open the door to allow to the girl’s brothers to carry the one Peredhrion had been working on out to the tent set aside for those who’d been seriously injured.  “Are you next, Geldir?” Halbarad asked.  “Peredhrion will be washing his hands, and then will see to your wounds.”

            The girl was refilling her shallow basin with warm water from a kettle, and grabbing up another small store of cloths and bandages she went out again, flashing him a smile as she backed out of the door.

            Halbarad swiftly wiped off the surface of the table where Peredhrion had been working with clean water in which the King’s herb had been steeped, and set a sheet of toweling over it before indicating that Geldir should sit upon it.

            As Peredhrion returned to the table with clean instruments, he examined the bandage on Geldir’s wrist with some surprise.  “It is clean, except for that bit of blood there,” he noted.

            Geldir nodded.  “You see,” he began, then remembered he had no idea as to the girl’s name, “well, she cleaned it for me, saying it would be better if there were no dirt on the wounds.”

            “Her name is Adiella, I’ve learned, Geldir, and she is most right,” the taller young Man agreed, carefully undoing the fresh bandage.  “Although this means that it will have been dressed three times by the time I am through with it.  But I often was charged with helping cleanse wounds before the proper healers came to see to appropriate treatment back when I was doing my training, so I appreciate her aid.  It is perhaps a sign that I am now indeed the master healer m-Master Elrond named me.”

            Once he had the wounded wrist laid bare, he examined it carefully, cleansing it again with a clean cloth he’d dipped into the basin in which athelas had been steeped.  Geldir felt his body calm, and he seemed to smell the patch of peas that grew outside his family’s cottage and the larch trees that grew beyond the vegetable garden. 

            Peredhrion was also smiling as he more closely examined the wounds.  “This one needs only to be bound to close properly,” he said, “although these other two will each need to be stitched.  The edges are straight and the wounds clean of any debris.  There may be some additional minor seepage of blood, but nothing more.  I will redress the wounds tonight and tomorrow, and as long as you keep a fresh bandage about them to keep them clean, they ought to be ready to have the stitches removed in a week’s time.”  He looked up to meet Geldir’s eyes.  “You are fortunate—had this cut occurred here rather than there, you might well have lost the use of your thumb.  Do you wish to bite upon something?”

            Anxiety stung at the youth as he looked down at the wrist again, but he shook his head.  “No,” he said.  “I don’t think that I need that.”

            Peredhrion smiled with approval as he met the younger youth’s eyes once more.  “Then look at my face rather than at your wrist, and all will be well.  It may hurt a bit, but far less than it did when the cuts were first made.”  He looked down and lifted a curved needle already threaded with dark silk, and taking the young Man’s arm below the wounds in his other hand, he began setting the stitches.  “I saw you fighting as we approached,” he commented, “you, Hedron, Mardos, and Huor.  The four of you have always worked well together, I’ve noticed, and without demanding the acclamation of your deeds that some others have insisted upon.”

            Geldir was surprised, and felt a warmth growing within him.  He’d not thought anyone other than Malvegern noticed how well or badly the four of them did, and to know that they’d been noticed favorably by Peredhrion of all people pleased him beyond his imagining.  “You mean, like Orominion?” he asked, greatly daring.

            Peredhrion gave a small, almost soundless laugh.  “Indeed, although do not mention this conversation to him if you do not wish to experience the sharp side of his tongue.  He does not bear well with what he sees as criticism of his skill with his weapons.”

            “I know,” Geldir said.

            “Do the four of you all come from the same settlement or village?”

            And so it was that as Peredhrion stitched and dressed the three cuts one last time Geldir was able to know a true conversation with the taller young Man for the first time during the patrol, and when at last Peredhrion indicated he should go and call in the next waiting beyond the door Geldir felt with elation as if they were fast friends already.  There was something about the tall Dúnadan that let one know that he was truly interested in the one with whom he spoke, and that he did indeed care about that person as well.


            Geldir found himself helping as best he could to unload a light farm wagon that had been sent with Túrin to retrieve the young Ranger’s gear from their camp, and then to see the horses cared for and released into the paddock near where their new camp had been set up.  Then he and the others who’d been wounded were told to bed down for an hour, after which they were brought into the farmhouse to receive the thanks of the mistress of the farm. 

            On his way out afterwards he paused in the doorway to speak with the daughter of the house.  “I wish to thank you, young mistress Adiella, for your aid to me earlier in the day, and for your kindness.”

            “You learned my name?” she asked, apparently pleased.

            “I did.  And mine is Geldir.”

            She smiled.  “It is a pleasure to know you, Master Geldir.”

            He clasped her fingertips for a moment, and thought that never had he felt such smooth hands in spite of the evidence she did much of the work ordinarily done about farms by the womenfolk.  He then bowed his head respectfully and went on, glancing back to find her watching after him.  There was quite the bounce in his step as he made his way back to the camp by the paddock.  He’d fought well and had suffered wounds that were serious, but not too serious; he’d been spoken with by Peredhrion, who had praised him for the protection he’d offered these people last night; he’d not cried out while his wrist was stitched; and a lovely girl had looked at him with admiration and had kissed his cheek.  So many blessings in but one day!

            But someone behind him spoke his name.  “Geldir!”  He turned to find Peredhrion behind him, his face beyond being chalky—it was grey with fatigue and pain, and his right leg trembled visibly.  “Geldir, can you help me?  Now that the need is over, I fear my own injury has caught up with me.”

            Geldir found himself ducking beneath the taller young Man’s shoulder, and Peredhrion was balancing himself with difficulty by putting his arm around the smaller youth.  Others coming out of the door stopped in surprise, until Malvegern came out and saw the situation. 

            “What is this?” the Man demanded, then was calling, “Halbarad—Orominion!  Come—immediately!  Here—make a seat by crossing your arms and taking one another’s wrists.  We will have to carry Peredhrion back to the healer’s tent.  When did this happen?  Did you step wrongly coming out of the door?  Yes, Geldir—guide him to sit down upon their crossed arms—yes, like that!”

            Peredhrion sat down just before he collapsed completely, and was carried between the two other youths to the tent where the two injured captives lay deeply asleep with Dirigil keeping guard over them, placing him upon a pallet originally intended for Finwë, whose injury, while yet more serious than what Geldir had endured, had proved to be less than it had first appeared.  Finwë had rested but a short time before rising and going out to assist as best he could until he was shooed off to sit upon a chopping block in the sun.  Geldir knelt to remove Peredhrion’s left boot while Halbarad did the same for the other.  “I am glad this is of this Elvish design rather than ours,” Halbaleg’s son commented as he removed the lacing completely, “or I suspect it would have had to have been cut off of him.  See how much the ankle has swollen?”

            Túrin took over from the others, carefully feeling the ankle and foot, which Geldir was impressed to see sported several dark shades of bruising.  “Can you wriggle your toes?” he asked.  Peredhrion could do so, although it plainly caused him near agony, as did any touch to the injured limb.  “It all feels to be in the proper alignment,” the quartermaster continued.  “If there is a break, I suspect it is merely of a toe, and most likely the break was not due to it having hit something but rather from the pulling of the muscles to cause such a sprain.  When did this happen?  It obviously was pulled some hours since, considering the colors of the bruises and the amount of swelling.”

            “It happened in the last hours of the night,” Peredhrion admitted, his face tight with pain.  “When I leapt down into the gully to face the orcs, I didn’t leap out far enough, and landed on the angled side rather than the bottom, and just rolled back onto my feet again.  I put down the pain as best I could, for I knew I must fight them for my life, and shortly thereafter Dirigil and Halbarad arrived and began loosing arrows on them from behind.  Then Halbarad leapt down as I had done, but did it properly, while Dirigil kept firing upon those between the front and back of the line while Halbarad and I used our swords, and soon enough all twenty-two were dead.  Then we had to run to see what aid we might offer to those who fought against the Mannish raiders here on the farm.  Again, I pushed down the pain, for we knew not what we might find here, only it was all but finished when we arrived.  I was last in line by that time, and I think that only Halbarad did any good, for he was able to take out those two who were seeking to take you from behind, Malvegern, using his bow.

            “And then there were the wounded to care for, and again I managed to push down the pain as was needed, but now that all needful is finished it refuses to stay pushed down further.”

            Malvegern gave a deep sigh of exasperation.  “You right fool!” he sputtered.  “Such a sprain and you not only stood and fought upon it, but ran all the way here, and then stood how many hours since, working upon the wounded?  You could possibly have lamed yourself for life!  And we cannot have that!”

            Peredhrion’s face went stony.  “I did what I must.”

            “Túrin could have dealt with the wounded!  He’s had training.”

            “You yourself first recognized that as I have been trained by Elrond himself it is I who ought to take the brunt of the work as healer and surgeon.”  The young Man’s voice was colder than Geldir could imagine being used by a mere trainee responding to a dressing-down by their patrol captain.  “And how would Túrin have done with either of these?”  He indicated the two seriously wounded captives.  “I am not certain that I have done the one who fell upon the fencing for the garden much good, for one of the pales impaled him, and there was a tear to the gut I had to mend.  I have flushed it all as well as I can, but such gut wounds all too often cause the whole of the body cavity to become inflamed and infected.  As for the other—there were several layers of stitches I had to use to close up his wound, and it, too, had to be flushed several times, with both salted water and water in which athelas has been infused.  I also needed to leave a drain in each of them that I will need to examine frequently.  I am uncertain that either will survive.”

            “Perhaps,” Orominion commented dryly, “it would have been best to let them both go rather than to waste your time upon them.  After all, it is likely that both will need to be executed eventually.”

            It was difficult for Geldir to decide which looked at Orominion more coldly, Malvegern or Peredhrion.  Halbarad looked from one to the other before turning to Orominion and directing him, “Go and get Peredhrion’s saddle.  He will need to keep his foot raised no matter what.”  Nods from the two full Rangers confirmed this order, and Orominion disappeared swiftly from the tent. 

            “He is an ass,” commented Túrin in a low voice.

            “As his father was when young, as I remember it,” agreed Malvegern.  “I wish Baerdion were here.  He would teach the young wolf some manners and maybe, just maybe might turn him into a good dog eventually.”

            Peredhrion was brushing his hair back from his face when Túrin caught at his arm.  “And you have a nasty cut to the back of the hand, and bruises to your arm and shoulder,” he said, pulling back the fabric of the young Man’s sleeve and then the collar to examine him more closely.  “I know these garments need cleaning, and I must needs examine the rest of you to see what your fall left you with.  There are times when even the healer must submit to the same offices he gives others.  Let us get that shirt off of you.”

            Some moments later Geldir was sent out of the tent with Peredhrion’s now filthy garments, with orders to gather the same from the other trainees and to see if he could get the use of a wash tub or two and set those garments that were bloody to soak so that they might be cleaned the following day.

            “Geldir?  Is there something you need?” 

            He turned to find Adiella nearby, Ezra standing by her shoes.  “A washtub,” he explained.  “All of us fought hard, and our clothes need cleaning desperately.”

            She nodded, and led him into the wash house, pointing to a tub he could use.  One of her brothers came by carrying the bridles of the horses used to draw the wagon to put back where they belonged, and he nodded and called to his brother to help carry water into the wash house for their guests’ laundry.

            “It is too late today to clean them, but hopefully by morning the dirt and—and blood will be loosened enough to clean properly,” she said.  “I will have some of the salt in our store poured into the tub to help while they soak.  Shall I help you fetch in the other clothing that needs cleaning?”

            Geldir had just received Varadorn and Damrod’s clothing and was headed back once more to the wash house, glad to have the last of it, when he heard Adiella’s voice raised in some anger about the corner of the place.  There he found Orominion had the girl backed against the wall of the place, speaking in a low voice to her, a most obvious leer on his face.  Geldir saw black before his eyes, and he stepped forward as Adiella spoke.

            “I have told you, sir, that I do not wish to offer you any such thing as you demand.”

            “But you gave such a sweet kiss to that boy earlier in the day.  You could not do the same for me?”

            “She told you no, Orominion.  You had best let her go!” Geldir said, stepping forward and raising his hand to pull at the older youth’s shoulder.

            He had to admit to himself that the only reason Orominion turned was to see who it was who’d grabbed him so, not due to any real strength shown by Geldir.  Orominion’s expression darkened.  “So, she has a defender, has she?  And you think that you can do me any real harm, do you, child?  And she would rather kiss you than a true Man?  We shall see about that!”  So saying, he shook off Geldir’s hand and stepped back to face the shorter trainee more directly, and with a sneer he charged forward. 

            Only Geldir had studied wrestling with his older brother under their father’s direction for years, and he knew well how to deal with a charge by a larger opponent.  “Don’t allow someone larger to wrap you about or put both his hands upon you if you can help it.  Let his own rush work against him,” his father had said countless times, and Geldir waited to the right moment to grasp Orominion about the wrist and turn the rush into a flip through the air, with Orominion landing flat upon his back in the dirt.  Too bad!  Geldir had meant to get him upon his face!  The taller youth was on his feet in an instant, and had learned to beware the younger boy’s grasp, but he was now angry and had been shamed before a woman, and was intent on getting swift revenge.  Geldir backed away, and sidled a bit to give himself more room to maneuver by going behind the wash house.  Orominion made a few lunges, each time pulling up before Geldir could catch his arm again, seeking to put the boy’s back against the wall to the building, and at last after a feint to the left he rushed from the right, giving a swift glancing blow that left Geldir sprawling in the dirt.  Geldir was back on his feet swiftly enough, but he was now warier than ever of his opponent, and he pretended to favor his right shoulder.  Again with a sneer on his face, Orominion sought to catch him, and this time Geldir managed to flip him over the low fence to the pig pen.  The shoats, shocked by this intrusion into their meal, stampeded to the other side of their yard, grunting and squealing as they turned to watch the young Man rise from their trough, wiping potato peelings and darkened lettuce from his face.

            “Why, you—you—you bastard!” exclaimed Orominion, seeking to step over the wall to the pen but catching his foot and falling on his face in the muddy soil extending beyond the pen’s wall.

            There was a shout of laughter from those who’d come to see the source of the sounds of battle they heard, and Orominion’s face flushed the more as he pulled himself upright.  But as he stepped forward intent on launching still another attack, someone grabbed him again by the shoulder, this time someone he could not shake off in his blinding rage.  Baerdion spun him around most effectively.  “So, you are fighting with a younger boy a good head and more shorter than you, are you, Orominion?” Malvegern’s second said.  “What a thing to find as I just arrive here where you are encamped.  And why is it you are not where I expected you on the way back northeast but here on Lifewater Farm?”

            When Orominion responded by trying to strike away his hand, Baerdion backhanded him once more to the ground.  “I would not suggest you ever try such a thing with me again, boy,” the big bear of a Man said in a carefully controlled tone.  “Or to any other trainee in this patrol.  Do you understand?”

            Somehow this got through to Orominion’s awareness, and he sat there, wet, muddy, and covered with pig slop, and nodded slowly at Baerdion.  No one offered a hand to help him to his feet, and he limped back to the tent where the young Rangers had been changing their clothing to again divest himself of his now fouled garb, full of impotent fury.


            Baerdion joined them in their meal and gave his report to all of the party at once.  “I saw the boys from Bree back to the east gate, and watched from afar as they went in.  All were greeted civilly, so at last I came away, content that they were safe enough as of their arrival.  As I rode I found myself coming upon a wagon headed in this direction, a heavy farm wagon filled with young dogs!  A young Man on a plough horse accompanied him.  The young Man had a cudgel at his belt, and I later learned that the farmer also had an even larger one beside him on the wagon bench.  On realizing that I was overtaking them, they pulled to the side of the Road and waved me on around them.  The younger Man had allowed the largest of the dogs out of the wagon, and it sat beside his horse with the young Man holding it on a leash that did not allow it to lunge at me, although the snarl I saw on its face was threat enough.  I nodded civilly to them as I passed, and continued on, but at a slower walk, interested to see what they would do.

            “They pulled in behind me, and followed at my pace, their eyes always upon me to determine how much of a threat I might pose them.  As we approached the western bounds of Lifewater Farm I realized someone was hidden behind the trees on the northern side of the Road, so I loosened my sword.  But the hidden ones did not offer me any open threat, allowing me to pass them, perhaps unaware that I recognized they were there.  Once the wagon came even with them, however, things were different.  I do not believe they noted the cargo, or perhaps they would have allowed the wagon to pass them also.  It proved to be about six Men afoot, all torn and bloody, two missing any weapons, who were apparently intent on taking the wagon and its horses and probably the young Man’s horse as well.  The youth let the dog he held loose, and the farmer reached behind him to pull loose a rope that had kept the other dogs in their places within the wagon.  All of them dragging short leashes behind them, they rushed on the Men, and of course I, too, turned to join the fray.  The farmer realized I was fighting for them, and so turned to use his cudgel upon the strange Men, and soon two were dead, two running, and one was lying upon the ground insensible.  The last was clutching his wrist, where I’d struck away his hand.  I bound it as best I could, and we loaded the two prisoners into the wagon and came to the lane to the farm, at which I was invited to become their guest.  Imagine how surprised we all were to find you lot encamped here, also as honored guests!  As we were learning from Túrin of your encounters with these Southerners the sound of a battle occurred behind the wash house, and I found that young Geldir here had managed to pitch Orominion into the pig pen, where the inhabitants were most definitely not approving of the fool’s company.

            “So, there you have it.  Now, give me the details of your battle, and where is Peredhrion, for I would have him deal with the now one-handed Man?”

            It fell to Túrin to deal with the maimed prisoner, although the most he could do was to set a torch alight so as to cauterize the wound, then cleansed it as much as possible.  He had passed out prior to their arrival, so all was done with a minimum of additional pain on his part.

            Halbarad led Baerdion to the site of the defile in which he and Peredhrion had fought the orcs with Dirigil’s assistance, and Geldir and Huor went with them to see to the burial of the creatures.  A small dire wolf and a pair of foxes were busy at the bodies when the party arrived, but it was still apparent how effectively the three young Rangers had dealt with this threat.

            “I do not like it that Dunlanders were apparently in alliance with a party of twenty-two orcs,” Baerdion grumbled.  “Now, how best to deal with the carrion?  I would not wish for the local scavengers to be poisoned by eating orc flesh.”

            In the end they did much as they’d done before with those orcs who’d attacked them near the Misty Mountains, and brought down the walls of the gully to cover them deeply, laying larger rocks over the pile of earth so as to hold the bodies in place even should a heavy rain cause water to run through the gully again.  Baerdion gathered samples of the swords and knives carried by this party.  “Never have I seen the like of these in the keeping of the orcs I’ve fought in the past,” he commented.  “And the iron is itself blackened, not just smeared with filth and poisons as we usually see.  I must bring them to the attention of Lord Halbaleg and our Council.  There is apparently a new enemy at work here in Eriador.”

            They arrived in full dark, tired and dirty but filled with satisfaction they’d done a good job of it.  Baerdion went to report to Malvegern, who was sitting by the fire with the farmer.  The sky was growing cloudy, and it was obvious it was likely to rain before dawn.  Many of the young Rangers already had fetched out their cloaks, Orominion among them, although he wore his cloak more to hide the fact he was nearly naked as the rest of his clothing was all soaking in tubs in the wash house, and no one else was willing to share their garb with him.  Hedron told Geldir with a laugh that when Finwë caught Orominion trying to “borrow” a shirt, he’d slugged the brash borrower with his good hand. 

            “That’s how he ended with the black eye he’ll be sporting tomorrow,” the younger trainee said with satisfaction.

            Orominion, hearing the sound of laughter across the camp and rightly assuming it was at his expense, glared at them but dared not do more.

            All were sent to their bedrolls, and the new dogs were brought out to sniff at them and be assured these were welcome on the place.  With that all of the young Rangers fell asleep, and Baerdion took the watch for the whole camp.


            A latrine had been dug, with the permission of their hostess, beyond the barn, near the site of the tool shed that had been burned down by the raiders.  When Geldir was awakened by the need to visit that latrine, he saw that another of his fellows was already headed that way, and carefully throwing off his blanket roll, he made to follow.  As he came around the barn, however, he heard voices.  “So,” said someone he’d not heard before, “you'd insult my neighbor’s cousin, would you?  And you sought to beat the one of your fellows as sought to protect her and her virtue?  Perhaps we should set you straight on the proper way to act with young women.”

            There were three young Men facing Orominion, who stood with his cloak wrapped closely around him, Adiella’s two brothers and the young Man who’d accompanied the farmer back from Staddle.  They rushed forward and lifted Orominion among them, carrying him north, kicking and screaming, until they came to the stream that exited the lake.  The land here was swampy, and there they pitched him into the mud, standing back with their boots blackened by their own brief entrance into the swamp, and laughed at him.  “This,” announced one of the brothers, “is how we treat those who insult our sister.  We may not always be kind to her, but then we are her brothers!  That is our right and perhaps dubious duty, but not yours!”

            With that, the three young farmers lounged off, back toward the house, and Geldir laughed aloud as he returned to the latrine, fairly certain that Orominion had most likely no further need of it that night, probably having lost the contents of bowels and bladder as he flew into the swamp.

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