Captain Farelle

It was her 30th birthday. She wished secretly she could be somewhere else. Anywhere but here. The patrol was on the east side of river Anduin, much farther than they had planned. It had been more difficult to turn back from the scouting mission. Orcs were everywhere.

She was staring at the fire. Embers were red hot, just perfect for a slice of veal. Just perfect for some meat. There was not any. Farelle tosses the stick she had been using to poke the fire away. Thirty years old. Nobody remembered.

She stands up and dusts herself off. "Attention!"

"Make Ready. Night Is On Us. We Have A Way To Go." The company moves to her orders immediately. Her hand moves to a long sword at her side. "Sergeants. To Me."

The captain has no other way of speech. Neither has she other sword. It was tested on orcs when it was made, by her father. Thirty years ago.

The company was in pursuit. Five orcs were running in front of them. Farelle licked her lips. "Rope Them!", she cries to her company.

It does not take long before five twisting bodies are dragged to her by five riders. It is almost morning. Early mist is rising and touching the leaves. Farelle draws breath through her nose, smelling the clean air. The riders tie the orcs together. Only one is still standing.

"Now, Setup Camp. And Leave Them To Me."

"Leave them?" A rider squints his eyes at the captain.

"Yes. Leave Us."

The rider ties the rope to a tree and rides his horse away, giving a direct look to the captain as he passes, which she ignores.

She walks up to the one orc still on his feet. The orc spits in her face in defiance. Farelle's knife cuts his throat.

Pulling her sword, she walks down the line. The next one is barely moving. Her sword moves clean across his neck. Calmly she walks over to the next one, working her sword, and then the next one. And then the next one, until they are all dead.

She wipes away the blood from her sword, hands trembling. "Happy Birthday."

Her company is back over the river and resting at the outpost, which was not much more than pikes stuck in the mud and a few tents. She had just finished her report to the Gondor commander in charge of south-east reconnaissance. "I Am Taking a Leave of Absence Sir. I-i Have Not Seen My Family For Some Time."

He looks back at the tall woman standing in front of her and clasps his hands behind his back. "Your request is long overdue captain. You have six years on the front. Five in long-range recon. It is customary for officers to visit relatives even more often. Just, can I ask, why now?"

Rain was hitting the tent canvas. It was worn from constant packing and unpacking and a drop of moisture fell on her cheek. "No Sir." She replies, face without emotion.

"Very well then. We expect you back in two weeks."

Farelle snaps a salute and brushes the wet tent flap aside she walks out. Truth was, she had no relatives alive. Her work was getting unbearable. She was nauseous. Something was about to crack. She had to go, and the only way was north.

Crossing the northern Gondor border she grabs the reins of her horse more tightly urging it onwards. She knows what is behind her, Gondor, war and death. The road ahead looks plain. Easy to see around, and she feels safer. She checks the saddlebags, feels inside of one to touch her banner, tucked away. There was no need for it anymore, but she could not leave it behind either.

"So, here is a fugitive for you. Let's see." Farelle slows down her horse to a trot and tries to relax herself. She has not much of a plan, except heading north. She looks down on the green grass slowly swaying as the tender breeze moves it. Sun is beaming down on her helmet and she lifts it off her head. Keeping the gleaming helmet on her hands, she smiles to it. "I just polished you this morning."

Turning around the helmet in his hands her thoughts move back to her duty. Her other hand moves quickly to the sword, but then she releases it and gives a light laugh. "Rest easy now, we are done."

It had began to rain. Farelle stretched back with her hand to try to catch her cloak, which was flapping about in the wind.

"I say, this is not that far north to be this cold. Curses!" She wraps her cloak more tightly to herself. Secretly, she is smiling. The farther away she is from Gondor, the better. Horse was moving at a comfortable trot. It had been four weeks since she left, two weeks more than nobody expected. Nobody knew she was leaving.

However, it was here, where she had had time to think. It was not that she was getting weary of the war. What worried her was that she had took a liking to it. She had gotten to enjoy killing and she kept wanting more. She had gotten very good at it too, but at night there was nightmares. Her right hand touched the sword. It felt warm.

Ahead of her were lights. Looking on towards a small village she pauses. She takes on the details of the palisade, not much taller than a man, and behind it a couple of taller buildings, seemingly made of wood. It was no fortress, not a castle by any means. Just a fenced city. How quickly would it fall.

A quick jerk of her horse makes her lift her gaze to her right. Squeezing hard with her thighs to keep the horse under control she meets a dozen of men emerging from the shadows. One leaps down from a treebranch knives out.

In panic she kicks her horse which moves suddenly and she loses her balance, falling down. She lands on her back, and gives out a whoomph as all air explodes out of her lungs.

A ring of bandits form around her, laughing at an easy catch. A woman with expensive looking armor. Farelle gathers her breath and manages to move up on her knee. She is surrounded. One of them is closer than others. Her sword was thrown away far in the attack.

"Welcome to Bree, princess." The man kicks her in the face.

"My name is Bonkadoc." Farelle raises up on her elbow. She is tied by her hands and is lying next to a cliff face. Her eyes meet a smiling face of the little creature. "Pleased to make your acquaintance. I would offer my hand but I am tied up just like you." Bonkadoc looks at the woman, letting her take in the surroundings before he continues. "We are prisoners of the bandits. I am not too worried though. It happens to me quite often. And we will soon be rescued by the Grey Guard. They should find out I have gone missing by now. I am pretty sure."

Farelle is staring at the hobbit, not very well understanding what he is talking about. She checks the rope binding her wrists together. They are tight enough. She then feels about her right boot with her another leg. Her knife is still there.

"Keep Quiet, Little One." Farelle shushes the hobbit and nods towards the campfire where there are five bandits visible in the light. Otherwise it is dark. "Reach Into My Boot. There Is a Knife. Use It To Cut The Ropes." Bonkadoc stares at the woman wide-eyed for a moment and then crawls towards her, and starts fumbling for the knife, hands behind his back. Farelle is keeping an eye on the bandits, they are discussing in loud voices. The ropes are cut in a moment.

Farelle takes the knife from the hobbit and grabs his shoulders feverisly. "Good Work, Now, Did You See Where They Took My Sword? Quickly, Where Did They Took It?"

"Y-Yes it is over there near the men. Along with all my gear too. Right there." Bonkadoc points at a pile of stuffed animals right beside the fire.

Farelle pushes the hobbit aside. In a few swift strides she is behind the nearest man who has his back turned towards her. Farelle sinks her knife down the back of his neck and leaves it there. The man slumps down gurgling. She picks up her sword.

Bonkadoc watches in morbid fascination at the events unfolding around the small fire. The woman is fighting four men and winning. Her style is not at all what he has been taught. She is fighting dirty and the result is brutally effective. One man falls down shrieking, hands on his face, his eye gouged out. The other is down with injuries to back of his knee. Two men are down and dead, with blood squirting out of their half-open necks. The bandits were incapacitated within half a minute.

Farelle finishes the last man still alive, lying wounded on his back, staring at her in horror. Her eyes check the perimeter and seeing no more threat, she loosens her grip on the sword and it hits the ground with a clang. She falls limp on her knees and puts her face in her hands.

Bonkadoc walks up nearer from where he had been hiding through the quick fight. He walks up in front of her and stares at the odd sight. He tries to find something to say but fails. He swallows hard.

Indeterminate amount of time passes, but then sound of galloping horses travels to the scene of the fight. Armed men arrive. Farelle quickly regains her composure and wipes away the tears and blood from her face. Her sword is back in her hand and held firm. Her eyes flash a challenge.

"Halt!" Bonkadoc cries and runs between the woman and the riders. "She is all right, she helped me." "Ma'm," Bonkadoc turns to the woman hurriedly, "they are the Grey Guards, my friends. Not bandits."

"You are safe now, we ran into some of them and they are now dead. Followed their tracks here." A man on horseback says.

"I Did Not Ask For Help. I Am Not One To Be Held In Debt For Rescuing Me From This Rabble." Farelle hisses as she sheathes her sword. "I Am Captain Farelle of Gondor. That Is, I Used To Be."

"You can stay with us Madam!" Bonkadoc reins in Farelle's horse by the house at the waterfall. Farelle had taken the ride along with the strangers and she was too tired to not to oblige to the little man. "Thank You.. Beoncadec. You Have Been Of Service To Me. I Am Delighted." Farelle jumps off her horse, grabs her weapons and looks around.

She is standing in front of a wooden house, beside a field, with a road leading right in. An assortment of people are gathered at the yard. They vary in size. They all carry weapons. Some are eating. Farelle grabs onto Bonkadoc's shoulder. Her fingers dig into his shoulder. "Explain."

"O-oh Of course! Here is Grey Guard, the finest fighting unit alive, in these parts!" A dwarf, later identified to her by Master Thradin, busy with a honey roasted chicken leg, gives out a burp, almost drowning the words by the hobbit.

Farelle takes a step forward and turns her head to sides. She takes in a breath, darting her gaze. Her hand moves away from the sword in scabbard.

"You." She points at the dwarf.

Farelle moves to the table and sits right in front of the dwarf. She grabs the chicken leg from him and starts eating, looking right into his eyes. The dwarf stops chewing and stares directly back, his mouth full of food. He snorts and gives short chuckle. And then another, and then gets into a roar of laughter. He picks up another chicken leg from the plate and nods at the woman. "You will fit right in."

Grown up among fighting men as a woman, she was familiar with the situation. Best approach was to take away their food. That is how you got respect from men. She never understood it, but it worked. She smiles crookedly at the dwarf.

Farelle pulled out her sword and pushed her heels into the beast until it whinnied, at which point she pulled the reins. She was not riding a warhorse, just something she was able to loan from that group they called 'The Grey Guard'. The horse responded with more direction and accelerated, and her sword-arm moved back.

She did not want to charge in but gauging her opponent as her horse ran faster. She had done this many times, on horseback the longsword was invincible. The sword was hers and so was the battlefield. The skill was not learnt in the courtyards of Minas Tirith. Her fighting style was born at the outskirts of Mordor. She had been sent there for sixteen years. She had enjoyed the desperate fifteen years of her life.

But the sixteenth had broken her. The shadow had grown too heavy. The brigand had lost his shield and raised his sword with both hands, knowing what the high-helmeted woman was about to do. Swords clashed and her's was victorious. Farelle dismounted and walked up to the man who was now holding his arms up in surrender. She kicked the remains of his broken sword away and pushed the man to the ground with her left hand. Her right hand held the sword tight. 'There is no mercy.'

In the distance, a dozen riders were riding towards her.

Farelle spits on the dead man and wipes the sword on her horse before sheathing it. She looks up and sees a heavily armored man approaching in front of the others. She holds still.

"That was the last one", Eiadric approached her. Glancing if she is hurt, he opens his mouth but says nothing further.

"You are welcome", Farelle mounts her horse and turns it towards Eiadric. Her armor has an arrow sticking to it.

- The heavy weight of archery -

Farelle finds a place on a rock covered by moss. Bonkadoc hops onto it too and stares at her proudly. He gestures towards the activity on the field in front of their kinhouse.

"It really is quite special", Bonkadoc says.

"I can see that very well.", she replies.

"The thing is, all that arrowplay should come from that stance, and it is quite heavy on the buttocks."

"Yes, yes." She nods, not sure whether she should comment further. Farelle decides not to.

"Take for example that hobbit over there" Bonkadoc points at Goegeurt. "She has the stance just right, and look at that weight distribution, back-heavy, just as it should be!" "There, a bullseye again!" Bonkadoc claps at Goegeurt enthusiastically.

Goegeurt waves back, smiling happily.

Farelle looks on a little bit uneasy, not sure how to respond but gives back a little wave.

"It is all in the buttocks you see, and in the weight distribution. It is pure hobbit-archery!" "You should see our best archers, there is some real mass on them!" Bonkadoc pats his behind unabashed.

[obvious disclaimers, surviving dramatic license, included!]

Farelle grabs up her sleeping fur and rolls it up. "It is time." She says to Bonkadoc, and then proceeds lifting it up on her horse and tightening the straps. She continues, while busying herself,  "I told you. Quit whining." She secures the rations up carefully, her chin close to her chest, taking extra care with a freshly made pie from Goegeurt.

Bonkadoc stares helplessly at Farelle's leaving preparations.

Farelle fastens the last strap and takes a step towards Bonkadoc. "I am sorry, I thought this was my life, but it isn't." She kneels down to his level. "I must thank you. I learned with you. Here, take it."

The hobbit turns up his palm and Farelle squeezes it hard, leaving something. It is an arrowhead.

"You will find it useful. I am sure." She picks up the short pole furled in white canvas as the last thing.

She starts to open it up and then pauses. Memories from years spent on the river shores of Anduin come back. It was ten months ago when she left, never to return. She had fought endlessly, in a desperate struggle for years there. She had turned into blood, she had became a killer. It had taken her over. But she escaped.

Now, she was amazed. She was going to go back. Her eyes wandered to the gently waving wheat heads of the fields. And to the stream, where the hobbits caught fish. They would prepare and serve it as dinner tonight. Probably with the potatoes.

Her gaze meets Bonkadoc's. He is still holding his hand up, with the arrowhead she has given to him.

"Thank you Miss." He pockets his hand, gives a short bow. Bonkadoc's eyes tries to find words as he looks at her friend. "This will find the heart of an orc, true. I know that much."

"Let it be the last one." Farelle says smiling to Bonkadoc and unfurls the banner. It sticks to the pole from misuse at first, but then the wind picks up, and the banner opens fully. It flies effortlessly in the cool morning Shire breeze, as if breathing it. Bonkadoc's sullenness spreads into a wide smile.

She had sworn never to open it, but now it flies. The banner of the white tree.


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