Fantasy & Sci-Fi
Albinor Chronicles Chapter 21
"Coming of an
By Marcus Pan
July 18, 004
The horse slowed to a trot as it's rider gave a quick,
upward tug on the reigns. The rider was a halfling, slightly over 3' in height,
clad in full plate armor with a good build and dark-lined eyes that seem to
prove he has seen much. A riding cloak hung loosely around and draped over the
broad horse's back. No livery decorated the man's breastplate although there
was a shield-shaped spot on the front anticipating such a decor. Looming a
half-mile dead south rose a large city, the capitol of the Five Shires, named
Shirville. In this city resides the clearland warden and most prominent
individual in the shirelands. The iron-clad stranger rode slowly on, passing
between herds of cattle and sheep that scattered before him. He soon reached
the city, his mount still at a trot, and ambled up to the city gates. Two
knights met him before the gate and looked up at the mounted halfling, his face
hidden behind a shining steel helm and visor. After a moment of silence a young
halfling came out dressed in the garb of a teamster. The stranger dismounted
roughly and handed the reigns of his beast to the teamster and the horse was
slowly led away to the city's stable compounds. The man took a few delicate
steps forward. Mystery seemed to form out of the very air as he moved to stop a
few feet from the knights. His helmet he did not touch and his face remained
hidden behind the steel mask. "'Tis five pieces of gold to enter Shirville,
stranger. And the armor upon you as well as the blades you brandish must be
kept here to be returned upon your leave. Do you enter and obey?" The stranger
did not speak for a few long moments. Then he spoke in a loud, resonating tone
that came from his chest and echoed within the confines of his helmet.
"Nay. I wish to speak with the warden within. Fangorn
Plains. Bid him to come hither." A look of cautious concern flashed across the
speaking knight's face. The second knight who stood be sped his hand to the
hilt of his sword on his right side. Both the chain mail suits they wore
flashed defiantly in the noon-high sun. But before either of them could throw a
harsh comment or say another word, the stranger continued. "I know the times in
which I ask for your lord are harsh with bitter war against the traitor,
Treebeard of Forestia. But I will lay my weapons before you so you know I bid
no harm. Again I bid thee to return Fangorn Plains, Clearland Warden, to the
city gates so that I may speak with him." The two clearland knights looked at
eachother indecisively and then the first one spoke.
"I will do so, but I can not guarantee he will return with
me for audience. Shall I give a name, stranger?"
"Just tell him one comes to help thee in your crusade
against Forestia. That is all. I will wait here." The knight entered the city
and was soon out of sight around a bend in the road within the gates. The
second knight stood cautiously by.
It took nearly an hour of time to track down the warden,
busying himself with battle plans and war treaties. He returned to the city
gates with the knight that had come to fetch him and they found the stranger
lounging in his riding cloak with a pipe clasped between his lips. His armor,
weapons and helm he had removed and these were locked away in the gatehouse of
the city. His back was to the knight and warden and wisps of smoke rose above
his head blowing lazily in the breeze to and fro. The small halfling relaxed on
a small, grassy hill just outside the gates. The warden approached the stranger
from behind. "You asked for me, my friend? What is it I can do? I dearly hope
it is urgent as I postponed some important objectives to meet with you under
these strange circumstances." The warden snorted, almost as if uncertain as to
whether his time will be utilized or wasted on this strange encounter. The
stranger turned, pipe still clenched between his teeth. His face was young, but
his eyes and forehead bore deep lines of power or longing. It seemed, by the
dark glimmer in his eyes, that he has seen much of the world. He glanced at the
warden and nodded his head in a snobbish sort of satisfaction then glanced
warily at the knight beside him. The knight bowed low then backed away stopping
beside the second knight. The two warriors then began talking softly amongst
themselves. Finally, the stranger spoke.
"Please, warden. Be seated. Can I offer you some tobacco? It
cometh from the city of Darokin. Fine leaves, 'tis." He offered a second pipe
to the warden and a small block of packed, brown leaves. The warden accepted
this graciously and packed the pipe with the tobacco, lit it and puffed it
"Been such a while since I have had pleasures of life such
as this. They are fine leaves and still fresh. I assume you left the city
"Aye," said the stranger as a wisp of smoke escaped his
lips. "From there I came straight to your fair shires and onward to the city we
are seated before. I heard of the treasonous act of the Warden of the Forests.
I come to help. I also heard of the fall of the hill warden, Hillman. I am
grieved to hear of such heinous actions taken against the shirelands. I forward
my sympathy unto you, your comrades and your people." They sat a few moments in
silent memory of Merry Hillman together.
"Mind if I ask your identity, stranger?" asked the
"Not at all, warden. I have only one name and it is simply
Warrior. That is all I ever was called and all I ever will be called. I hail
from Threshold of Karameikos. But my parents hail from here, the shirelands.
Farmers they were, in the shire that you now rule. And I've come to offer my
services to my heritage."
"I see. In what way do you wish to do so, Warrior?"
"I wish to take the place of the late Merry Hillman. I wish
to control the army and lands of the hills, as the hill shire warden." Warrior
spoke in a very matter-of-fact tone of voice. He seemed almost sure of his
"That is hard to do in such an untrustable state of war, my
"You will turn me away without a chance? A fleeting glimpse
of my abilities and actions you will not accept?" Warrior snorted, seeming
almost insulted by the accusations laid upon him by Fangorn Plains. He glowered
at the warden beneath his brown, bushy eyebrows.
"Nay, that I did not say. You will prove yourself, slowly at
first, but the chance you will have. Please, do not accuse us of hipocricy, for
if you were in such a position as I and the other remaining wardens you would
be cautious as well. I do not see where I could be overly cautious, however,
the chance you will have. I bid this."
"I thank you, warden."
"I name you, Warrior, ur-warden of the hills. You are the
commander of the army of the hills. You will reside here in Shirville with me
and my knights and I am not afraid to tell you that you will be observed. You
are on trial for wardenship. You are ur-warden. Be on your highest degree of
behavior, Warrior. Shall you enter my fair city and let my show you to a home
"Aye. I accept this trial of worthiness graciously and am in
anticipation of representing my shire in open battle against the traitors. I
thank you again and can not thank you enough. Thanks will be given by my utmost
service to you and the other wardens. And in appreciation and memoriam, I will
from this day forward take on a final name coupled with my current name of
Warrior. I shall heretofore be known as Warrior Hillman, in memoriam of the
late, great warden of the hills, Warden Merry Hillman." The two halfling
gentlemen entered the gates and turned onto a side road. The place of
wardenship for the people of the hills may soon be filled. But that remains to
be seen in the future events and actions of ur-warden Warrior Hillman.
The above item may have been edited by the author
since its first appearance in Legends No. 52.