The Mirmaedhim squad had just descended the rocky path, which led to the Lost Luin Death Door where they had awaken Az-thrazil, the enigmatic dwarf somehow locked away in the vault claiming to be from the First Age. Fjorin, leader of the Draug’s Bane Squad had seen a lot of crazy unexplainable things related to magic in Middle-Earth, and yet he had a hard time believing the story told by this so-called “deathless” dwarf. The mystical tattooed writings of the Lîriphant had led him and his small band of mercenaries to the Blue Mountains in search of some “weapon” that would push back the Darkness in the North. And when the vault was opened and the dust settled, instead of some great sword or dragon-bow, there was only a dwarf with a queer shield. Fjorin was somewhat crestfallen. His expectations underwelmed. Could the Valar have been wrong?
It was at the bottom of the rough trail where the Mirmaedhim band were met by a galant man in a regal cloak atop a white mare. The man’s cloak shroud his face with a hood, yet the band knew exactly who was there to greet them. His saddle bore the crest of Cardolan and his cloak the signs of the Dunedain house of Bergilion. Mirodon, the merchant-prince and patron of the Mirmaedhim, deshrouded his hood and wore a great big smile.
“Greetings, friends! I have found you!” Mirodon threw his leg over the hind of his noble mount and demounted. He raced over to the weary band to greet them formally. Fjorin extended his hand to shake, whereas the merchant-prince embraced him as a brother. After clasping in a hearty hug, Mirodon finished by scruffing up Fjorin’s travelling helmet.
“How have you been old friend?” asked the nobleman gleefully. “I hope the Valar have kept you well?”
Fjorin knew Mirodon was not led so strictly by the way of the Valar as he strived to be, but instead respected Fjorin’s beliefs by speaking about them frequently. He was never insincere, though. It allowed Fjorin to be open about his beliefs with his friend and employer. This made Fjorin always feel welcome when in the company of the nobleman.
“The Valar have guided us to you, no doubt.” Fjorin proclaimed. “We are safe and well, sir. By the Valar, what brings you out to greet us? Is Cardolan safe?”
“Cardolan is safe for the time being, master dwarf. Yet, I bring grave news of the nobles of Arthedain. The armies of Angmar have raised a horde of barbarians and are pushing past Arthedain’s defenses toward the watchtower of Amon Sul.”
“Are they requesting the Mirmaedhim to head back to the frontlines? That will certainly cost them an arm and a leg bathed in gold to send us there.”
“No, friend. They say that there is a more important mission for our services.”
“What could be more important than pushing back the armies of Angmar, m’Lord?”
“There is talk that there is one of the forgotten palantir still being kept in Amon Sul.”
“A seeing stone?!”
“The same, Brother Fjorin, the same. This must not fall into the Witchking’s hands. We have been called to the battle, not as soldiers, but as rogues. We are to enter the tower, find the stone, leave without a trace, and carry the artifact to Fornost for better safekeeping.”
Fjorin got the distinct prickling at the back of his neck that he recognized as the changing script of the Lîriphant. He didn’t have to read the fresh writings to know what the Valar were trying to tell him. It wanted him to save the palantir at Amon Sul, and possibly use it to see where the real weapon may be hidden. He didn’t know what Az-thrazil and the palantir had to do with each other, but this prickling meant that he was on the right path.
“We ride then, m’Lord!”
“Errr…I think I should have brought more horses. I knew there was something I was forgetting. But rest assure I have a pretty mîrian worth of spies patrolling these parts, one must know where to obtain six sturdy horses. Well, off we go.”
Mirodon fitted his right foot into his stirrup and threw his left leg over the saddle of his white mare. He turned toward the Brandywine River and started at a steady marching pace. Fjorin in military fashion quickly briefed his men, then called the order for them to fall in and keep up with their patron. Hopefully that farm they had past just East of Brandywine Bridge on their way to the Blue Mountains would have a handful of horses.