*Serialized and to be published as time allows, occasionally out of order*
The Analects and Collected Journals of Benjimir
History of Deeds and Contributions
During the Late War of the Ring.
As compiled by To begin, I wish to establish my voice in its place among the chorus within this volume. I was named Tenifalas by my mother, the eldest and to my knowledge sole male heir of the late Benjimir of Belfalas. This work contains my fathers assorted journals and notes, spanning from his period of service to the Prince, through the late War of the Ring. In addition, it compiles stories from those with whom my father served in fellowship and arms during those times. Where multiple accounts of given events exist, a narrative is presented to convey the details.
Early in my distant kins time among the Numenorean colonists in Middle-Earth, the sire name of Thursby was taken, to honor the first family with whom our blood mixed. The Thursby line, being a family of craft and trade since before the fall of Numenor, never held deed or title. Rather, its reputation was built on the renown of vessels built by our kin and the wealth earned in commerce with Middle-Earth. The time of the Lost Isle and forefathers of the Thursby family line are not subject of this volume. Yet, both bear direct influence in its rise in Middle-Earth and thus to the command which sent my father to Eriador and war.
--Benjimir of BelfalasFoul Humors
“Eriador was in every way a provincial land. The people simple. Their ways predictable. And this you could surmise traveling at a gallop from the Brandywine to the Isen without dismounting. Yet behind every tree, in every pub, hints of shadow and danger leapt out to confront you.” - Benjimir of Belfalas
Staddle was an unassuming village tucked in a nook between Combe and Bree. Home to Bree-Hobbit and man alike, it was also on the edge of the far Chetwood. Some manner of supply could be had for hunting and fishing. It was here that Benjimir was seeking a bit of local wisdom in the catching of fish from a women known for her keep of tackle and bait.
“I do not have any of the bait you are asking for, though I also haven't heard of many of these fish you are asking about. You truly are not from Breeland then.” Joy Bloomer told Benjimir as he browsed the racks of drying fish and boxes of bait.
He smiled, not looking away from the goods and gear. “No, I have been traveling for some time. My family has interests in many places, this is one of them. And the fish I grew-up catching, I don't suppose are common to local waters.” She smiled warmly, pleased to have one with a keen interest in her trade.
The sound of raised voices quickly erased the good humor. A pair of men, clad in rough leather gear, mounted on unkept steeds were laughing as they rode away from a Hobbit merchant. The Hobbit was shaking a fist at the men, cackling as they clutched bags of goods. The riders continued through the village square and up the northern hill leading to the town of Combe. The other merchants avoided matching eyes with them, or drawing attention to themselves. Joy read the stern expression on Benjimir's face.
“They too are also new to Breeland. They have been coming in growing numbers for some time now.” she said.
“Where away?” Benjimir asked, gathering a few items and drew coins from his satchel.
“Up the Greenway. Since here on a year or so. They camp out in the Chetwood, amongst the ruins along the eastern road. Pretty much anyplace they choose. Its been only this past spring they've ventured into town. They paid at first, now they simply say to put it on their boss' account.” She nodded in thanks for the coin Benjimir offered.
“And does their boss pay?” he asked her, understanding the wry look the woman gave in response.
“I see.” He patted the side of his leg, and the grey horse, watering itself at the nearby walked to his side. Benjimir nodded towards the northern road out of the square. “Combe, up the road a bit?” Benjimir asked, mounting the horse.
Joy nodded, “Aye.” Benjimir spurred his mount, and rode north along the road towards the village of Combe.
A Plate of Manners, a Pint Wisdom.
“Laying coins on a table entitles one to food and ale, not sovereignty over those providing the service. Treat those whom serve you with respect and the smiles are free.” - Benjimir of Belfalas
The Combe and Wattle Inn rivaled Bree’s own Prancing Pony in size. The structure scaled up the side of a hill in steps. The actual entrance to the public room and inn was on a second level. The rooms formed a shelter that hung over this unmarked entrance and simple pavillion of tables. Housed in the eastern wing was the village sherif which was at once on level with the ground yet even with windows on the third level of the inn. Along the bottom was a stable looking out on the village square.
Benjimir rode up to the woman standing in the shade of the stable and offered a smile. Already in the few stalls were the mounts of the ruffians he followed from Staddle. The lady nodded nervously, eyes glancing to the mounts before she approached to take the reigns.
“Good day sir” she said as Benjimir dismounted and drew his cloaks hood back.
“Well met, would you see to a stall and some feed for my horse please.” Benjimir said. The woman turned with a distant look in her face and began to walk the horse to an empty stall when Benjimir spoke again.
“M’lady,” he said, extending his hand with a pair of silver coins, “my thanks.” The woman’s face brightened as she took the coins and curtsied.
Approaching the door to the public room Benjimir pulled his hood back over his head. Entering the common room beyond the door he availed the cover of his hood to survey the company within. In a distant corner he noted a dark clad man smoking a pipe from beneath his own cloak and hood. Nearest to the kitchen and bar were seated the two ruffians from Staddle ensconced with consuming their plates of meat and bread. They paid Benjimir no mind as he seated himself at a table along the north wall. Soon after he was served by a young woman, seeming kin to the barkeep watching over the room. The meal of the day was local foul and bread of a grain Benjimir could not place. The ale was clearly a fresh brew of the inn’s making. All plainly presented but hearty and filling, reflecting the people of the land.
The ruffians took their share and more of food, sending the women to the kitchen again to fill plates and bowls. They shouted after the women curtly. The largest of the two grumbled loudly for ale which he obviously had consumed much of already. He rose and brusquely walked to the keg behind the bar to fill his mug again.
Emerging from the kitchen eldar barmaid scowled and barked a rebuke that belied her otherwise graceful demeanor. The ruffian’s partner rose and joined him behind the bar as the first uttered a curse in a tongue only they believed could recognize. The barkeep backed away followed by the escalating rant of the ruffian. The advance stopped only as their shadows were joined by another which they turned in response too.
“Be ya about your own business,” the large ruffian gruffly snorted.
“I might be doing just that. If you are seeing fit to take liberties with this good woman’s ale and service, she might see need to raise the cost of my room.” Benjimir said.
“If she can't bring ale when we call for it, we’ll ‘be take'n it themselves.” the ruffian growled.
Smiling Benjimir locked eyes with the man. “Why not save the good woman the loss and take mine in its stead.” raising his mug while placing his left hand onto his cloak, resting atop the hilt of the sword beneath. Not showing the weapon directly. His stern gaze make the brigand leader unsure, if no less gruff. He casts down his own stein and utter a curse in a tongue Benjimir had not heard for some years. Spitting to the floor he turned and walked out, his fellows behind him. The barmaid thanks him, filling his mug again.
Sitting down at his table once more, the hooded man at the corner table leans forward at last. “Be mindful traveler. Lizbeth Honeymeade’s praise today might be scorn tomorrow if you are not here when they return.” Benjimir considered the man. The meaning of his words was plain and struck him directly.
“Aye,” he said softly, glancing across the room at the women as they tidied the ruffians table and mess.
The man continued. “These ruffians do not travel in numbers. Such would make plain how many have taken to camping in the ruins and woods here about.” He leaned back as Benjimir turned his full attention to him.
“You speak as one with knowledge of them.” Benjimir offered the man.
“I do, and of men of the south such as yourself.” The hooded man said, his smile illuminated by the adjacent fire.
Fog of Leaves
“I knew there were men of high blood in Eriador, this was common knowledge though little considered among those in Gondor. They were like a distant branch of a family one would treat as kin but never encounters to do so. The poise and bearing these men presented was seen to Middle-men as being strange, even dangerous. To me, it was like a signal fire in the night. I knew on sight that I dealt with one of noble origin. I could not have guessed how high, nor that I had encountered him long years past.” - Benjimir of Belfalas.
Some days had passed and at the suggestion of the stranger Benjimir had refrained from challenging the brigands. They had not returned to the Combe and Wattle but they were easy to be seen about the village and woods. On this night along a ridge shrouded in shrubs and trees Benjimir stood watch with the grim man from the pub. His talks with the stranger revealed more than Benjimir anticipated learning. The man was among the Rangers of the north, kindred to those of high blood and a leader among those that dwelled within Eriador in surprising numbers. One of those had taken station with them.
Below the ridge was a junction of several paths, used mostly by bears and such creatures dwelled between between the village and the stream feeding the marshes to the east. Three of the brigands from the Pub were standing, attentively watching the eastern path, one smoking a pipe of something foul enough for the aroma to have carried to the party watching them.
“They are awaiting something, and not simply a random traveler.” Benjimir assessed from the bearing of the men below.
“Aye,” the man beside the stranger agreed. His master nodded. There will be more of them, but how many and from what errand we cannot say.” he added.
“We have no certain knowledge of how many there are precisely Benjimir, which again is why I counseled patience in acting against them.” he continued.
Benjimir nodded gravely. The previous nights had been spent in the strangers company stalking the woods beyond Combe and adjoining lumber camp. “These woods are like a thick fog over the sea in morning. There could be three or three score near the camp fires, who knows how many more in the far ruins.”
“And accosting a few might draw out more than the sheriffs of Combe or Archet could protect against. These are not a fighting people in these lands and we are too few to fight in their stead.” The stranger said firmly.
“Such was not my mandate in these lands either.” Benjimir admitted. “Yet towards the end I have come all this way for, I might server that purpose in checking these brigands in some fashion. Testing their quality, possibly flushing their purpose in opposing them.” He said, both pondering aloud how to do so and offering it as a question to the stranger.
“Verily. That you were sent forth as you were was ill news to me. But I believe your task to be important, you should not do anything to reveal its uttermost root. To that end I would counsel you to seek out one who works to a common end. One in the village of Archet has sought to martial a guard of watch of late. He is a retired sellsword, “captain” Brackenbrook. A good man, skilled if not young as when he last knew combat. You might offer your skills to him in aiding his effort.” The stranger told Benjimir.
“Brackenbrook is no dotard m’lord. Benjimir’s no farm hand. He would know why one trained and from as far afield was offering his sword in service to a village.” The more youthful Ranger spoke at last. His master nodded in agreement, still looking down the ridge to the Brigands below.
“As I have made it know in traveling from the north, I am simply here inspecting and securing my families holdings and interests. Which is true enough, if not directly so with this village you mention. Such might also afford me more means to openly provision myself and others should the need arise.” Benjimir said. His eyes caught dim movement far up the path, which was shortly joined with the sound of men walking towards the brigands.
Little could be made of the faces, but four more brigands walked along the path, a fifth person shoved forward amidst them. They reached the first three. Nothing could be made of the words exchanged, but gestures two the person in the middle of the four were obvious. The voices became more curt in tone and the individual brought with the new arrivals was struck across the head and fell to the ground. Benjimir exchanged glances with the others but all remained still. The brigand smoking the foul smelling pipe finally spoke and at that the others picked-up the unconscious person and began to carry him away toward the east.
Benjimir put his hand to the hilt of his sword and stirred, looking to his companions. The stranger put his hand on his shoulder and shook his head. “No Benjimir. I bid you to go to Brackenbrook as I counseled. Amduir and I will see to this wayfarer. Our paths will cross again and soon. Be well.” And with that the Rangers silently withdrew from their cover and made their way down the back side of the ridge.
The Quick Postman Cometh.
“The Common Rooms of the Inns in Eriador were of great use to the Enemy, ale loosened lips and limbered tongues. However I found they could be turned to my own ends. Yet central to making this so was ensuring no sign of that intent was discernible. In time I could effect change from afar without so much as stepping foot within any of them.” - Benjimir of Belfalas
Benjimir waited an hour before leaving the cover of the ridge overlooking the paths below. Returning on foot to the Combe and Wattle. In the privacy of his room he sort a small assortment of items he kept there after arriving the week before. He would take the council of the Dunedain and seek Captain Brackenbrook in the town of Archet.
His mind reflected on the curse the ruffian cast at him before leaving the pub days before. The Dunedain never spoke of it, but Benjimir knew without doubt he was as aware of is significance as he was. None in Eriador would speak with such words lest they were scholar or keeper of obscure lore. None who could fluently assail another with words could know the inflection or casual use he heard. These were things Benjimir knew because he came from Gondor and they were little heard outside of eastern shores of the Anduin or less hospitable ports along the southern coasts. Thus Benjimir had mandate to learn business of these men.
Before he left his room, Benjimir drafted five letters. The first was to his father. It spoke in general terms of the merchant relationships the Thursby family long had in the lands north along Benjimir’s travel to Bree. It suggested a trusted lieutenant might be of use in collecting accounts. Finally Benjimir inquired about each of his five younger brothers at each of their last posts of service. The second letter was to Barliman Butterbur, explaining that Benjimir would like to extend his stay at the Prancing Pony for some time to come and that he keep it ready for his return at any time. The final letters were dispatched to vault keepers and merchants in Bree and Michael Delving calling for chests of possessions to be sent by wain to the Prancing Pony as well as the Combe and Wattle. He affixed the letters with a seal he kept with him. An old keel coin he kept for luck since his youth. It carried no known family mark, but those whom he directed the letters would know or not challenge that point.
Dressed in his formal hauberk Benjimir tucked the letters into the folds of cloth and walked down the stairs to the Common Room. Lizbeth Honeymeade was still awake, gazing at the dwindling fire. The hour was late but the last of the nights company had only retired an hour before. Benjimir sat across from her and she greeted him with a smile.
“Good morning.” Benjimir said with a friendly if knowing smirk.
Honeymeade smirked in return. “Aye, I would rather not consider that.” She looked over his hauberk and asked, “You yourself are about again this night? If you were hoping for a late dinner I have none left to offer. The Company squarely picked the bones clean.”
“Not at all though that is no reflections on the esteem I hold the offering of your table here. I wanted to settle some matters of my account here in the Inn.” Benjimir said politely, but eliciting a look of concern from Honeymeade.
“You are leaving us then?” She said, instinctively looking at the door but Benjimir was quick to intervene in her thoughts.
“Not at all, it will be an ill day that I ever have to leave such hospitality.” he said with a smile. “No, indeed I would like to secure my room and keep for some time to come. I will be seeing to a goodly number of matters. Business matters. Those of my kin here and abouts. I am certain I will be in and out of here so often you will not know for sure which it is. So I would happily pay well in advance if I may trouble you to do me the service.” Benjimir concluded his offer and placed a modest bag of coins on the table.
Honeymeade looked relieved and turned her attention to bag of coins and Benjimir “Aye, it will be good to have you a patron’anizing the Inn. And not others.” She said.
“Then it is settled.” Benjimir said, standing and bowing to the inn keeper. “I’m off to Archet to tend to some business. However, I am sending for some items. When they arrive, please see that they are taken to my room.” he continued as he walked to the door. “And m’lday Honeymeade?” Benjimir asked, turning from the door.
“Aye m’lord?” Honeymeade replied.
“Lock the room’s door.” Benjimir said, and departed.
*First of the Out of order posts. Chronologically this would actually be the first chapter.
"When the seas become rough, gulls will fly inland seeking shelter, often many miles beyond the sight of water. It was a telling omen to my crew that the gulls were fleeing to high seas on an easterly wind as we put into port." - Benjimir of Belfalas
Couriers and Recalls.
The approach to the quay was quite. Little in the way of command was required as the crew was well versed in hoisting and taking in sail. Harlond was located south of Minas Tirith along the shore of the Anduin river. The approach required sailing into both wind and the flow of the river. Oars were manned to allow the vessel to turn back downriver, as to port with her bow facing downstream. The work was eased by the addition of the crew from her sister vessels which were lost during the current sortie. The commander of the three vessels that set out months before joined Captain Benjimir on deck, looking out over the ruined city of Osgiliath to the north. Osgiliath was the last and chief defense against the ever festering Enemies to the east.
"To Port mister Bondermir and raise oars." Benjimir called out from the forecastle. The vessel began to make her turn to port, at last letting the wind and river work to her advantage.
Fishing and merchant vessels felt the first press of the enemy abroad before the first Orc had assailed Osgiliath. In years of escalating boldness, pirate fleets from Umbar, haven of the Faithless and their disciples, assailed ship and port alike. As with the guard of watch which the southern Kingdom of Gondor had maintained across the land, the boundaries of safe waters had rolled back to the shores of the coastal fiefdoms. The battle at sea was now some ten years in duration. What proper navy Gondor had once kept seaworthy was long since committed to the depths. The crews of the lost ships were scattered to what now passed for a navy. Intense devotion and pride kept the fighting traditions alive among the mariners. They fought very differently as well as very different enemies than their countrymen ashore.
"Amidships, take-in sail." Benjimir called out. The fields of the Pelennor at harvestmath, white walls and gated levels of the fortress city of Gondor now rose above Benjimir.
The vessel putting into port this day had been among the first to put to sea and battle. Not war. No such declaration had been made against Umbar, nor even the pirates awash in Gondorian cargo and blood. Certainly no effort to provision Gondor with a navy were made. Such was the will of the Steward of Gondor. The strength of Gondor at sea came from Belfalas, Anafalas, and the fiefdoms to the south of Minas Tirith. That support had made it possible to hold a line in the water that kept the Enemy away from most of Gondor. Thus far, the distance from their home ports kept the threat from venturing further north than the Bay of Belfalas.
Past voyages had ended like this one. Others with with a measure of satisfaction. There were no longer cries to return to sea seeking to avenge losses nor any sense of shock at them. What held now was the most any at sea knew could be achieved. The Enemy had itself paid for what it took many fold. Yet no expectation of victory raised voices in song nor lifted spirits aboard ships such as Benjimir's. Only the desire to never permit defeat while any alive could put to sea.
"Drop anchor, linesmen stand too fore and aft. Mister Bondermir, prepare to hail our arrival." Benjimir ordered.
The quay had only a few small boats docked, none of size or lines of the approaching vessel. She was neither a ship of war nor a merchant vessel. Her hull was laid down within site of the castle of Dol Amoroth in Belfalas, built in a yard owned by Benjimir's own family. A main mast and smaller masts fore and aft could allow her to hoist more sail than merchant vessels or fishing boats. Her lines nearly suggested a ship of Umbar with sharp edges along the bow and castles fore and aft. Yet she road higher in the water than they did her decks sloped inward from the water line. She was fast any most any sea, hard to board in combat, and her crews came to feel it's name was both title and promise.
"Entulesse arriving!" Bondermir, the ship’s first officer cried out, ringing a bell mounted to the aft mast twice.
The linesmen threw ropes to the men waiting on the quay, one, dressed in a hauberk emblazoned with the White Tree crested with seven stars of Gondor was looking intently at the forecastle and the men there. He shouted up to Benjimir, “Ahoy aboard, is the ships master with you?”
“Aye,” Benjimir hailed back, “but master Gatewood of the Andustar is here too, he commands this ships mission.” Benjimir gestured to his commander.
“Verily, I come from the Citadel seeking the Entulesse and bearings dispatches. You are ordered henceforth to the Citadel with all possible haste Captain Thursby.” The courier called back.
“Have you no dispatches intended for commander?” Benjimir asked, the Entulesse now squarely against the quay and being tied-off by the men ashore.
“Nay sir, but I should venture that the Lord will wish a report from commander Gatewood as well. I have mounts here at the stable waiting.” The courier answered, gesturing to the stable some ways from the ship. Benjimir nodded in acknowledgement and turned to commander Gatewood.
“Three months at sea, the loss of two ships, and we return to a courier asking for me and no obvious interest in speaking to you sir?” Benjimir posed to Gatewood who was still pondering the curious welcome himself.
“You have me at a loss mister Thursby.” with which Gatewood and Benjimir turn to walk to the quarters. Such a summons demanded immediate response and despite having to leave as soon as the gangway had been laid down, the Citadel demanded proper uniforms for whatever the purpose. “Mister Bondermir, see to the docking, we will be below.” Benjimir instructed and ducked through the passage entrance in the forecastle.
Some minutes later the gangplank was hoisted over the side of Entulesse and the master and commander strode down to the quay. Each now dressed in the black hauberk, crested with swan wings at the chest and white down the center. The mariners hauberk was little worn at sea and even less frequently seen ashore in these days. The wings recalled the ships that carried the faithful of Numenor to Middle-earth in a past age and were often associated with Befalas and the Prince Imrahill’s standard. The courier stiffened to attention as they approached, he lead them to the stables where they mounted and began a swift ride to Minas Tirith.
As they rode commander Gatewood queried the courier as to the purpose of the summons. “Is the commodore not aware of the dispatch we sent when we entered the mouth of the Anduin? I cannot recall one of my captains being summoned in my stead.”
“I know word of your return was received m’lord, the couriers from the delta remain swift. All about Harlond know of the loss of Andustar and Rommena. There is a council underway at the Citadel. They likely as not will want you hear your report of your ships’ sortie. However I was only given orders to summon the captain as soon as he could debark his ship.” The courier explained.
“I have served my own stay in the Guard friend, I am sure you have some word as to the reason for my being urgently called on.” Benjimir asked. He had indeed begun his time in the service of Gondor as a guard in the Citadel. Several of his brothers had likewise served. The Guard was at once a common soldiers duty but considered high honor in Gondor. There was accordingly a pride among those who share such service and this was what Benjimir sought to cull information from the younger lad.
The courier glanced toward Benjimir as they rode. “A messenger from Belfalas arrived shortly before your vessel. What word he carried I do not know, but the Steward issued his summons for your shortly after. I would say it was that, not some notion of the Lord Denethor that brings you to the Citadel. More than that I do not know Captain.”
“Thank you.” Benjimir said sincerely.
The men continued their ride at a renewed pace, in silence save for giving passwords to challenges as they passed through each gate of the city. At the upper most level, their mounts were taken to the stables and the courier lead them to an anteroom adjacent to the hall of the King. A council of the cities commanding guards and actuaries was taking place. The Lord Denethor, Steward of Gondor could be heard questioning several men. After nearly an hour of waiting a page took commander Gatewood to speak to the council. The gathering ended with the commanders report and he reappeared at the door to the anteroom seemingly relieved yet purplexed. Benjimir rose and moved to speak with him in the Hall. He had been in the Hall before, but the statues of the late Kings, throne set on high drew his eyes even as he spoke to Gatewood.
“Where away?” His eyes now seeing the Steward shielded by a variable wall of knights and attendants.
“They appear as uninterested in my report as their attention to my return suggested.” Gatewood said. “The only question of note was if you had survived and were in my company.” He continued.
Denethor’s eyes caught sight of Benjimir from across the hall. Then he gestured to him and asked dryly “Is this the one?” A knight at Denethor’s side nodded. The knight had a crest akin to Benjimir’s own, he was from Belfalas and in the service of the Prince. “Very well then, take and be gone with him. If his father thinks it wiser to secure commerce hither and yon over the shores of Gondor so be it.” Denethor said with crass disdain.
The council dispersed as the Steward turned and left by a passage to the rear of the Hall. The knight approached Benjimir and nodded respectfully. “Captain, you have been recalled to Belfalas at the request of your Father Tinafalas, by the grace of my lord and with leave of the Steward. You are to travel to Dol Amoroth and await the pleasure of Prince Imrahil.” The knight handed a scroll to Benjimir, affixed with the seal of his father.
“I am at the Prince’s service. I will depart at once.” And with that Benjimir bowed, turned and with commander Gatewood departed for the stables.
*Jumping ahead some to vent some out of order chapters while the newer ones come together.
“Any sufficiently skilled craft, may seem to another to be magic.”
A Telling Engagement.
The Orc swung hard and without discipline. Benjimir evaded the blow with a curt bow. Thrusting his Halberd through his right hand by the shaft, letting the heft of the blade drop, he placed the weapon flush along his back in anticipation the next blow. The Orc was not a captain of his troop, but his size and fury in battle gave him stature among his kind. They were alerted to Benjimir’s assault after the camp watcher was felled with a shrill cry. It was out of habit that two lesser Orcs followed behind him as he roared towards Benjimir. And it was out of fear that the lesser Orcs fell back from their leader as his first errant blow carried the driven scimitar in an arch too near to their own necks. The second blow fell as an epilogue to the first, as the Orc carried his blades momentum through, landing the weapon with a high pitched clash against Benjimir’s Halberd shaft.
Benjimir would have known the Orcs blade was not notched, even had he not heard pitch of the clashing metal. By the sting the meeting weapons reverberated through his arm he could tell there was no mark that would be found. He noted this in a flash, then shifted his weight forward, launching a hard kick at the hilt of the Orcs scimitar. Already loosed by the sting of the blocked strike, Benjimir’s kick separated the weapon from his opponent's hand. Ben fell back, the Orc surging forward in rage, not minding to recover his lost blade. Ben drew the head of the halberd around, close to his midsection, planting the shaft into the ground behind him. His retreat concealed the planted shaft, much as the Orc obscured what came next from his companions. As the Orc lunged down, arms stretched, the pike of the halberd met the seam of the chest plate and the fell beast drove itself onto it. Ben heaved his shoulder against the already dead Orc so that it fell to the side, allowing him to pull the Halberd’s shaft free of the ground.
The second two Orcs, advancing again even as the first fell to the ground were dismayed but unable to halt their advance before Ben emerged around the falling body of the first and launched a sweeping attack against the nearest. Cutting cleanly through the first, he pressed his attack, struck a blow against the second. Their bodies landed on either side of the massive fell heap they had followed.
Benjimir listened to the sound of the Orc bodies collapsing to the ground without even turning to watch. A smirk crossed his face as he lifted the Halberd close to inspect it. No notches to the blades, nor even a scratch to the heavy shaft. The very metal seemed to repulse the black blood of the slain Orcs, as it drew into thin veins and dripped from the finely smithed edges. “Dayshimmer it is then,” he said, thinking back to the name given it by its creator. Running his thumb along the shaft, the absence of crease or notch darkened his mood as he considered the now concluded fight.
He turned towards the fallen Orcs and walked to the scimitar of the first. Shouldering his own weapon, he kneeled down and picked the blade. The shape and weight was right. Unbalanced as usual, with too much heft on the top of the blade. A crude design, sharp and angular, typical of the make. But his attention was drawn to the blades edge. It was wholly un-notched, with a bright sheen that extended a thumbs width into the flat of the blade. The blade edge looked like snow atop a dark mountain, pure, free of the impurities typical of poor quality iron and Orc craftsmanship. He inspected the weapons of the other slain Orcs and found they shared the same features. These were not of the same tribes he had fought in the northlands along the Greenway.
Benjimir was no Dwarf, much less an Elf when it came to the crafting of weapons. Yet even his own skill told him this was not the work of an Orc Smithiee. Certainly at least, it was not the work of Orcs alone, and the thought gave Ben pause. The only conclusion possible disturbed him more than all the foulness he had seen in his travels from Dol Amorth these past several years. Ben forced himself out of his dark pondering and lifted his eyes to the surrounding hills. Orcs kept to the shadows when camping or hunting, disliking the light of day. But men would keep to the high ground when doing so, and they were now a concern.
“A farmer might gather much with a sickle in one hand. But he would harvest a greater bounty wielding a scythe in two.” -Benjimir of Befalas.
An Inconvenient Heft.
“I loath Halberds.” Benjimir offered absently to his younger brother Victormir, as they pass through the door of the hall of crafting merchants. He tucked the length of Dayshimmers shaft in the crook of his mid-arm and drew back the smithies oil cloth. The hall was home to the greater part of the craftsmen of Bree. Such being the case, many were passing through the hall, and Benjimir felt at ease reviewing the new leather strapping about the gripping, and dulling wash that aided in preventing gleams of light from flashing off the weapon.
“So the tale of praise you regaled me with was in reference to another weapon?” Victormir replied, smirking as they continued to walk northward through the market square.
“It is a peasants weapon.” Benjimir said, unrepentant of the seeming contradiction to his heaping praise on the Halberd he now slung over his back. “Yet in these northern lands, that seems fitting.” he continued. “They adorn barrow and barn-shed alike. They are plentiful.”
Benjimir nodded to the hobbit merchant they neared, her tent stacked neatly with crates of fruit. He produced several copper coins from a purse under his drab green cloak, and exchanged them for a pair of apples.
“I've not needed to sling such a heft on my back since I first stood a post at the tower gate.” lamented Benjimir, flipping an apple to his brother. “And then at the least, I did not need to walk all over this Middle-earth with one.”
Ben had questioned the name of the Halberd, unsure its meaning. The smithee whose handiwork he carried was Synnova Aethewyn, whom he had met in Bree. She was among a band he had fought alongside with some months prior to making his sortie to the Weathering Hills.
The Red Arrows, as they called themselves, the title coming from the token sent between several Kingdoms in the south, signifying a need in a time of war. Founded by Imraheth, kin to the Prince Imrahill of Belfalas, the fair skinned woman had ventured north for much the same purpose as Benjimir. Yet, the two had never crossed paths, the former being drawn back to Gondor and the fortress city of Dol Amoroth by some still unknown reason. The Red Arrows grew worn in body if not spirit, as pitched battle cast a shadow across the company. Ultimately the band largely parted ways, each to calling of their kin or skills.
A new mandate arrived from Tinfalas near this time. Thus, Benjimir had struck out to marshal those who would rally about him, equipped with a formidable Halberd, the strength of his families commerce, and an imperative.
“Very well then, it is a peasant's weapon. But the name you have choosen to attach to this fellowship of ours is anything but peasantry.” Victormir offered with a flared brow. He opened the door to Bree's most noted Inn, The Prancy Pony.
“Indeed, it is not.” Benjimir replied, walking through the door to the aroma of ale, pipe weed, and roasting foul.
“Bree was at the crux of a very different conflagration than what was absorbing the southlands, and by then, Rohan. No massed ranks of Orc or Easterlings assaulted the hills or people. Rather, more insidious enemies were taking root in the land, spreading from north and south concurrently. It was long before we understood two different fires were casting the Shadows we fought.” - Benjimir of Belfalas
A Pint and Mandate.
“I am dispatching Alderanir to take up a post in the Shire, most likely in Micheal Delving.” Benjimir stated between mouthfuls of spit roasted Chicken.
“I'm surprised. You are not going to send him as an emissary to the Elves in Imladris?” Victormir asked his elder brother.
“Tinafalas will go to the Elves. Alderanir has a diplomats touch, but I believe he will be best suited in keeping watch among the Halflings. Tinafalas is a historian, and the Elves will appreciate that his dwelling among them will be one of joy as much as by his brother's commission.” Victormir nodded.
The Thursby family possessed strong ties to many outposts of commerce, not the least of these had root in the Elf Haven beyond Ered Luin. It was by sea and through the ancient Grey Haven, that the five younger brothers of Benjimir had come to Eriador some months prior to their meal in The Prancy Pony. Tinfalas had sent his eldest son to gather news of the northern lands of Middle-earth. He had known much already, as news from merchants filtered through the increasingly perilous roads. That Tinfalas gave command to his eldest son to go was to shield Imrahil, Prince of Belfalas. It was not his wish that the Steward of Gondor know of, or the origin of the sortie. Little would be made of the Thursby family sending sons to guard the source of their wealth. As merchants and vessels departed for the south, letters with secret dispatches meshed within the meaning and lay of the words of accounting and bills of lading would go with them.
In this way, Benjimir had sent word of much that was transpiring from the desolate lands of the old Witch Kingdom, to the edges of the Misty Mountains. After some three years, Tinfalas called on Benjimir to undertake a new task. He was to work in what ways he might, to forestall any move of the Enemy towards the south. Open war in the name of Gondor was not possible. No mandate from the Steward existed, nor would it in the future. Were one to exist, few in Eriador would recognize its validity so far beyond the White City. Likewise, any move to gather an army might provoke the Enemy to move openly against the unprepared peoples of Eriador. Thus any open display of arms must be in the name of another, and must be subtle. To the end of serving his new mandate, Benjimir summoned to him the five younger Thursbys.
“Aldy to the Hobbits, Tini to the Elves, what of Aubrenir, or Neveriland?” Victormir asked at length.
“Aubre' will be off to treat with the Elfs in Luin and the Dwarfs beyond. I trust in his skill at sea, and have already dispatched him south with the Scimitar I showed to you all at our last meeting.” Benjimir glanced towards the doorway to the hall beyond. Their dining room as an anti chamber near the Hobbit entrance to The Prancing Pony.
“Neveriland I am placing in your charge, preferably to remain with or near Tammere Hall, to see to our interests in Bree-land. Yourself, I intend to work in my stead, between Tammere and the north.” Benjimir finished, hoisting another hardy bit of chicken to his mouth.
“By your command. Now what of Numenor?” Victormir returned to the question he had been asking for some weeks, relating to the title of the banner under which Benjimir had gathered their band.
“Westernesse and dread my brother. Westernesse and dread.” Benjimir replied.