After having left behind us the brigands camp Strider led us through the night along paths that only he seemed to know, he lighted up the trail with a torch while I was carrying Amdir on my shoulders, the two Hobbits kept up despite their short legs and I could not help but notice how much they are resilient, they were not weary nor they complained about the rugged ground on which we proceeded, where I had diffuculty to go on with my thick boots they moved swiftly and silently barefoot; just Mundo blabed about the fact that a gentlehobbit as him could not be treated in that manner, but no one was paying attention to his words.
It was the dawn when we finally arrived to a village, located in a small valley was surrounded on two sides by high cliffs the uncovered part was protected by a palisade made of pointed log, I learned shortly after that that place was called Archet.
We received a very cold reception from the guards at the gatewho seeing us instantly stopped us, our prayers were useless, they were willing to let us outside regardless our wounded friend and the condition of all of us, but the arrival of an officer named Calder Cob changed the situation he let us enter with the promise to leave as soon as the wounded Ranger would have been able to walk.
We all slept except Strider who watched his friend who did not seem to perk up, all the inhabitants of Archet were watching us but none approached us to help.
Strider told me that the Rangers were not well seen in those lands, and was at that point that he explained me that that small and peaceful village was in a great danger, he and the Rangers had in fact watched the brigands and their movements reavealing their intensions: assault and seize Archet.
Strider asked me to inform the “mayor” Captain Brackenbrook, a man with long mustche and white hair, from his looking and posture one would have thought he had everything under control; I explained him what Strider told me before, I also told about the Black Rider but to no avail, Brackenbrook would not listen any reason.
Back to Strider he gave me another duty, find a medicinal herb: the Kingsfoil, the night before I had experienced its effects when the Ranger mashed some leaves in a bowl to make a cold pack on Amdir’s wound, its fragrance has the power to cheer up everyone, and in the expert hands of Strider could have given relief to Amdir.
Leaving Archet I was faced by Calder Cob, I thanked him for having let us enter but he made me an half smile saying that we were fools to think that the village would have been attacked and anyway he did not see any brigand around, he rather warned me to be careful in the woods because none could know what could have happened to me going alone in the woods, said that he turned his back on me laughing loudly.
I remembered the place where Strider collected the herb the night before but in the darkness I could not notice the impressive ruins that right now in the full light of the afternoon stood in front of me; staircases and columns, marble blocks, who knows what great men had left such works! Certanly not the people of Archet, perhaps only the Dwarfs could equal the greatness of those buldings.
I found the gras and when I collected enough I decided to give a close look to the ruins, arrived on the top of what have been once a tower I found a banner hanging from a pole, immediatly appeared clear that it was there since little time; while I was examining the banner I heard footsteps behind me, I turned and I saw a man with a wolf on a leash coming towards me, luckily I had brought my weapons with me, I barely had time to nock an arrow that immediatly the wolf lunged to me, I tensed the rope then the arrow stabbed in the neck of the beast who fell lifeless to the ground, meanwhile the man was getting close, too close to let me use the bow, so I had to pull out my daggers; the man yelled to me that it was too late, that I could not hinder their planand in the mean time he tried to kick me with a great club, just I was able to get closer I threw a to his throat, I could see the open flesh and blood comes out, I was alive.
I runned back to Archet but at the gate I had another surprise, Calder Cob looked at me with an expression somwhere between surprise and angry then he came closer and whenhe was sure that none else could her him he told me that I had been lucky to survive, and that if it was not for the guards he would have killed me in that moment, he laughed once again and concluded saying that soon he would have dealed with all of us.
I told everything to Strider who immediatly told me that a brigand was being held prisoner there in Archet and to go to question him; it was quite easy, as soon as I shown him my dagger covered in blood he instantly told everything, after that I talked with Brackenbrook once again and now he seemed to be moved from his positions therefor he decided to send me to the farm of CalSpigley, some of his laborers were in fact disappeared recently; speaking with the farmer I learned that Calder Cob was sent there before toinvestigate but was opinion of Cal that he done nothing.
After have received some guidance I moved to east, there flowed a stream over i could see other ruins; walking along the river bank i found the bodies of the labourers then I saw the smoke rising from the ruin; I crossed the creek and hid in some bushes, from there I could see many guards patrol the area, that surely had to be the enemy’s main base.
I runned back to the farm there Cal Sprigley that sent me to Combe a small town to the south in order to ask reinforcements, but another bitter surprise was waiting for me on the road, the robbers were surrounding Archet, no aids would have come; the inhabitants of the village would have to fend for themselves.
Brackenbrook had to be convinced, Calder Cob was a traitor and Archet would be attacked that night.