A Small Village to the South-West of Dale, Summer 3017, Third Age. by Sauronsbeagle The Town Clerk gave the nail one last bang with his hammer and reached for the handle of the door he’d just been abusing. “Whassatsay?” inquired a voice behind him, just as he was almost safely back into the sanctuary of his tiny office.
“I beg your pardon?” sighed the Clerk, resigned to dealing with yet another of these small town yokels he’d been living amongst for more years than he cared to remember.
“Yer poster, beggin’ yer pardon Mister, whassitsay?” replied a grubby looking youth with what appeared to be a sizeable morsel of pie on his lower lip, filling unknown.
“It says: Village Idiot Wanted, Experience in Idiotry Essential, Those Who Don’t Need This Notice Explaining to Them Need Not Apply, See Clerk Olafson Within, No Appointment Necessary”, Olafson replied, his voice betraying more than a little satisfaction with his own handiwork. “You see, our last idiot has taken a sabbatical and has gone off to seek fame, fortune and bacon. I’ve taken the liberty of advertising his job as a permanent post, as there’s absolutely no chance whatsoever that he’ll be coming back – he’s an idiot, you see, he wont make it as far as the next village without killing himself in some freak accident.”
“Dunno what half them words mean, Mister, but he sounds like a brave lad. Whassisname anyway?” asked the boy, clearly aware of his role in pushing this tale along.
“The hero to whom you refer is, or was, named Beolaf Beolafson, the latest and probably last in a long line of Beolafs from these parts. Idioting runs in his blood – the post of Village Idiot hereabouts has been handed down in his family for generations. Frankly I’ve never been able to understand how each Beolaf managed to muster the wit to sire an heir, but there you have it” said Olafson, clearly warming to his theme, so rarely did he find an audience, however unsavoury.
“The current Beolaf’s great-grandfather, Beolaf the Younger, was famous as far as the eaves of Mirkwood for his Idiotry. He capped a fine career by finally dying from injuries sustained in an altercation with a squirrel. An example to us all.”
“Beolaf the Younger’s son, Beolaf the Elder, was if anything an even greater Idiot, but alas never got the credit he deserved. Even further back in history there was Beolaf the Slightly Yellow…...I say, are you going to eat that piece of pie on your face? It’s quite off-putting.”
“S’not pie” replied the youth “S’my old Ma’s lucky crusty severed toe. I’m keeping it moist for her”.
“D’you want this job or not?” asked Olafson.
The Betrayal by BerewineHelewig looked up the trees. Thick branches completely blocked the sun, making Mirkwood appear dark in gloomy even during daylight. The area ahead seemed impassable, but Helewig knew where to search to find a path through undergrowth. ‘Nothing but blasted trees for three days now. Is it ever going to end?’ asked Berewine.Helewig smiled briefly. ‘Tired already? You were supposed to be the muscle here, and I the brain, remember?’ Spreading the branches aside with his staff, Helewig made an opening between thick bushes. ‘Ah, there we go… trees will become much sparser from here on. I can feel the land starting to climb up here. We’re very near now.‘Why do you need me anyway?’ asked Berewine. ‘You seem to be doing just fine by yourself.’Berewine found Helewig to be staring blankly at him. He could swear the old man’s eyes were trying to pierce his soul, but then his look softened and his mouth turned into broad smile.‘I cannot do this without you. I need you.’ replied Helewig, and darted on, before Berewine could ask more questions. Berewine silently followed him, confused by Helewig’s words. From the start until now, the old man hasn’t needed him once. Not for finding a path, not for calming down and repelling the local wildlife, and certainly not for company. Rarely did Helewig speak, unless he was spoken to first. So what was that Helewig needed him for?Much to Berewine’s surprise, forest has indeed become less dense. Soon, he could see the mountains between the branches, clouds surrounding the high peaks. Helewig was already a good distance away. While Berewine was by no measure a weak man – and a skilled fighter at that – he could barely follow Helewig. The skill by which the old man moved through forest was amazing – not once he made an unnecessary step and not once he had to stop to find the way. Now that path became clearer, Berewine quickened his pace to catch Helewig. Helewig stopped on the edge on large clearing. They’ve been going upwards for several hours now, but there was still no sign of this journey being near end. ‘There lays our destination.’ said Helewig, pointing to a small waterfall in the distance. ‘It’s getting dark, and this looks like a safe place to spend the night. Wolves and bears won’t be coming this high up the mountain I think, and there’s little else we need to fear in these parts if you ask me.’ said Berewine.‘Well I’m not asking for your opinion. Wildlife is the least of our concerns here, and with your lack of knowledge we would get killed really fast around here. Have you not been paying attention to signs?’ replied Helewig. ‘There has hardly been an animal around since we started climbing – and yet the ravens keep circling above us. Broken leaves and branches, footprints in mud that weren’t properly hidden, does that tell you nothing?’‘Footprints or not, we need rest.’ said Berewine.‘We will rest later. Meantime, take this.’ Helewig opened a small vial and gave it to Berewine. ‘Go ahead, it will invigorate you.’The potion had a strong smell, but not unpleasant. Berewine took a sip, and immediately felt the warmness engulfing his whole body. Helewig knew the plants well, he thought to himself.‘Feeling better? Let’s press on then.’ said Helewig. ‘We won’t stop again until we’re there.’Berewine picked up his gear again and followed Helewig up a narrow path. The next two hours have passed quickly and the forest was soon deep below, nothing more than a green sea of trees. The path has widened somehow, and much to Berewine’s surprise started to lead inwards, huge walls of rock climbing up on both sides.‘Shhhhh!’ Helewig warned Berewine, suddenly stopping and pushing him back. A surprised look passed Helewig’s face as he leaned over huge boulder and cautiously glanced down the path.‘What is it?’ whispered Berewine. ‘Are we there yet?’‘Orcs.’ replied Helewig. ‘A small detachment. Certainly unexpected to find them here. I wonder…’A smile passed Berewine’s face, as he clutched the handle of his sword. ‘So that’s why he needed me!’ he thought to himself. It was completely irrelevant to him whether the old man knew there were going to orcs around or not. Fighting is what he had always been best at, be it with a mace, a spear, or a sword.‘Not so hasty!’ Helewig warned him, seeing Berewine’s intention in his eyes. ‘You don’t know how many more are hidden in the cave beyond.’‘Well how do you suggest we handle them?’ asked Berewine.‘I’ll keep some busy.’ replied Helewig. ‘On my signal, be prepared to join in!’Berewine watched the old man with curiosity. He knew Helewig for a lifetime, and this was the first time Helewig would be willing to demonstrate his skills to him. Whatever was that Helewig sought seemed to be of tremendous significance.Helewig raised his staff – a walking staff as Berewine thought – and started chanting. His last few words were loud, and orcs turned to him, surprised. As the staff touched the ground, there was a loud cracking noise, and ground shook for a bit. Rocks and debris started to fall off the cliffs and many surprised orcs were instantly flattened. The others, more agile or simply more lucky evaded the rocks and darted towards Helewig with disgusting growling and roaring. Helewig quickly waved his stuff in the air, creating a sign of some sort, and pointed the staff towards orcs. A flock of ravens suddenly dropped down from sky and started clawing and pecking the incoming orcs, turning their attention away from Helewig.Berewine finally got the sign he was waiting. While ravens kept the orcs busy, he ran past the boulder with his sword drawn out. Brutal was his first swing, and the orc fell down, split in half. The next one collapsed with gurgling sound, as Berewine’s sword pierced his throat.Couple of orcs turned to face the new danger, attacking Berewine simultaneously. Only one reached him though, and Berewine parried his blow with ease. The other suddenly stopped and started screaming, then he fell down and started rolling on the rocky ground. Berewine finished his last opponent with swift stab in the chest. Failing to see any more enemies, his attention turned to one orc that still seemed to be alive. By now the orc had stopped screaming. His almost lifeless body was only twitching now, drool mixed with blood dripping out of his stinking mouth. Berewine noticed that the creature had bitten his own tongue out. His eyes were wide open and seemed to be completely red, as if blood was filling them. And yet Berewine saw no physical wound on the body.‘Never mind that!’ Helewig barked it him. ‘More will come soon, maybe in bigger force this time.’ Following Helewig into the cave, Berewine found out that the cave was not only a cave; it was more of a colossal cavern, mostly filled with water. The water created an underground lake, which exited the cave as a rushing waterfall on the other side of cavern. Helewig knelt to the water and took an empty vial. Carefully collecting the water in, he stood up and inspected it.‘We came here for mere water?’ asked Berewine in anger.‘This is no mere water!’ replied Helewig. ‘This is Enchanted Spring. Even as much as touching the water can make you drowsy or even forget things. But this is not all… it can even make creatures fall into deep sleep.’Berewine stepped back in disgust. He distasted all magic, and what Helewig told him certainly sounded like one. ‘Why would you even want this?’ he asked Helewig.‘I’m sure you’ve heard of Thorin Oakenshield. One of his kin fell into this water once, not being able to wake up for a long time. And what’s even more surprising – he didn’t seem to age this time. He didn’t eat, he didn’t sleep, yet his body didn’t weaken. His hair didn’t grow and he was lifeless – yet the life still flowed in him, and he woke up eventually.’ replied Helewig. His voice started to get excited. ‘Long have I waited to make myself immortal. And I finally have it, the ingredient to make that happen. With this – mere water as you call it – I will stop aging.’‘Only elves are immortal,’ said Berewine. ‘And only by the will of Valar. Your dreams are foolish, Helewig. You don’t even know if those rumours are true.’‘Yes… I suppose there is only one way to see that.’ Helewig slowly replied. With a swift move, he splashed the vial of water into Berewine’s face. The surprised look on Berewine’s face seemed to freeze, his eyes wide open. Standing there lifelessly for few moments, he fell down on his back with a large thud.‘But it is true: surely even you know that now.’ Helewig added sarcastically. He filled couple of vials again, safely corking them and storing them in small pouch. Approaching the exit, Helewig paused and looked at Berewine’s sleeping body.‘Thank you for coming with me, my brother. You have filled your role well.’ he said into the darkness, then turned and slowly stepped out of the cave.