The Orphans of Cathorna
19 year old Edain youth. About 6’, about 80kg, still growing. A degree of youthful gangliness about him. Classically handsome Dunedain with dark hair and grey eyes. Usually dressed for hunting; green and brown soft leather.
General OCV 5
OCV (HTH2) 5
OCV (unarmed) 5
Found in a boat on the river by the foresters when a young child of about 6-7. All bar one of the other 8 people were dead, slain by arrows or died of wounds inflicted in some combat. The only other survivor, an old woman who was on deaths door, appeared to have starved herself to death to keep the child alive. She was heard to say something along the lines of, Yhave tell Erendoor while pointing to the child before passing away. The young boy was close to death, lapsing in and out of consciousness. After quickly feeding him some broth that had been warming for the morning meal he was bundled into one of the boats and rushed back to Cathorna where he was ministered by Devon, Elesse & Dellaran. The boat and items from the deceased crew were brought down later that week with the Foresters, the dead from the boat having been tended and buried where the boat was found. The members of the boat had been dressed well with good equipment, several items were put aside for the young orphan to be returned to him when he became of age. A fine sword, a broach that had been on a lady who it was assumed had been his mother and a ring that had been on a chain around his mothers’ neck.(no it doesn’t have writing on it when it is dropped into a fire!) They were obviously people of some importance. The boat seemed to be of Elvish craft but there were no elves present on board. It was believed these travellers may have set out from Lorien, somehow crossing the Misty Mountains.
It was touch and go for several days as his young body fought off the ravages of starvation and exposure. It was several weeks of care and attention before the young boy was close to being back to a healthy youngster and almost a month before he spoke to anyone. After questioning by Dellaran and Elesse it was found he had no recollection of his past. Dellaran put the young child through an intense questioning and testing regime, it turned up some unexpected surprises. The young lad could not only read but he could also write, not only in Westron but to Dellaran and Elesse’s great surprise Elvish.
He was Christened Erfiren (One from the Firen) Errandoor (from what the old woman had said just before passing away) and it was decided that Dellaran would continue to school what was obviously a child from a wealthy or noble family in the Elvish language since he already had a good start. He learned much of the Lore of Middle Earth from Dellaran, who would also tell stories of the Elves and Valar, the Gods and how they interact with Middle Earth and its peoples.
Balayia and her husband Doreon Tannerman offered to adopt the young boy as Balayia was barren and both were well off enough to support the young orphan. Furthermore Balayia was one of the few who could read and write in Westron in town with the time to devote to her new found child. During his early years the young Erfiren read and studied ravenously, soaking up information as fast as it could be supplied to him. He excelled in the written and spoken languages and was very good with numbers. From the age of about 10 (no one was truly sure of how old he was when he arrived) he became interested in the world about him, often spending entire days chasing and watching a particular animal or insect, noting what it ate and how it lives. He had started following Kotlas out on his many hunting trips early on was and was sent home many a time with a sound kick in the pants. The young Erfiren was noisy and clumsy and Kotlas could not afford to allow him to scare game away.
Balayia doted on her young adopted son and taught him reading and writing and much about the history of Cardolan and Arthedain and the Kingdoms of Gondor. Erfiren loved these stories and read everything and anything regarding the old histories. He also loved his adopted Mother greatly and was always bringing back little gifts from his travels for her. Beautiful pressed flowers or hard to get herbs and the occasional polished stone or unusual item. Balayia would always reward these gifts with little stories of the past, of great Kings or heroes; needless to say she received many gifts.
Doreon endeavoured to pass on his knowledge of tanning and hides on to his young adopted son but soon realized the boy was destined for better things than working in the stench of the tannery. He taught him the finer points of working the finished products and preserving a fresh pelt for proper processing. Rather than forcing his trade on his young son he allowed Erfiren to spend greater time studying those things that interested him. He was well rewarded later with many fine pelts and hides coming in, well prepared for tanning due to his young wards care and skill. Balayia is now the envy of most of the Women in town due to a very fine Fox Stoll that Erfiren made for her. Painstakingly hunting and collecting the required Pelts for his father to treat. Erfiren then worked them into a large and beautiful Stoll. It is his mothers pride and joy and will be seen on many a cold day warmly wrapped around Balayia’s shoulders. For Doreon he made a large and handsome Doe skin cloak that keeps Doreon dry on those wet days getting to and from his place of work.
Over time Dellaran was so impressed with Erfiren’s ability to learn he started to teach him the basics of essence magic and to his delight his young charge took to it like duck to water. He was even more impressed when his young charge began to experiment with the reagents in his spells. His knowledge of the animal and plant world led him to find several improvements for spells by substituting reagents for more effective ones. As his magic abilities grew he was able to start following Kotlas out on his hunting trips with his newly acquired invisibility spell. Having already developed some basic stealth and tracking abilities due to his time spent following and observing the wildlife around Cathorna he was able to follow Kotlas without being driven off with the usual well placed boot or thrown stone. Kotlas was aware of Erfiren’s presence but had found that the young lad had become adept at staying silent and now he was invisible, would barely interfere with his hunting. The Young Erfiren followed, watched and learned from Koltas and became an adept tracker and hunter and a very good shot with a bow. After many months of sneaking around after Kotlas he was given the great honour of being asked out to help hunt several Wolves that had been wreaking havoc on the flock in the High Paddock. Under the guidance of the experienced hunter the two tracked and ambushed the marauding family pack. An adult male and female were killed but a juvenile male escaped after several days of tracking, succeeded in eluding them both by retreating beyond Keep Mountain. The hunters, unwilling to break the taboo of Keep Mountain were forced to return home, hoping the loss of its parents and it’s close brush with death would be sufficient to deter the young Wolf from returning. Two very fine pelts were presented to Doreon for tanning but Kotlas could not help but be annoyed that the young Wolf had escaped. Erfiren is now is a hunter in his own right and will still occasionally go off with his old instructor to hunt a particular problem animal or to help go into the more dangerous areas as the need arises.
Erfiren developed a reasonable relationship with Amik Chaudra once his spell casting abilities began to develop. Erfiren often questions the wizard on the best way to prepare or preserve the required ingredients of his spells. Erfiren returns this knowledge with many an exotic or rare plant or certain animal part brought back from his foraging trips. Quite often before departing on one of his regular trips he will be “asked” to keep an eye out for a certain item. Many a trick has been learnt from the old hedge wizard and many a hard to get ingredient found and supplied to the canny Amik.
His parents are now aging and he does what he can to help them. Doreon now has 2 trainees, one who is nearly ready to take charge of the tannery, allowing him to concentrate on the finer points of the leather finishing, leaving the harder bulkier work to his young charges. Balayia is now in charge of the schooling of the younger children, trying to teach those she can, to read and one or two of the brighter ones to write. They gather regularly for a family meal, as often as possible and Erfiren ensures that of any of his kills a good cut of meat goes their way. Balayia is still the recipient of the occasional little treasure but this is now usually an item of rarity or unusual beauty from Erfiren’s far off travels. Doreon is always on the receiving end of any good Pelts found and Erfiren plans on presenting him with a good Bearskin in the not too distant future as Doreon has started to suffer from arthritis in the colder months.
As much as Erfiren loves his parents he is feeling the hole of his past opening in front of him. He has questions he needs to ask and feels the need to start to seek the answers, which cannot be done here. The answers to these questions lie in distant lands. Strange dreams and confused glimpses of a past life have begun to be regular parts of his sleep. He has started travelling far upstream with the Foresters often camping by the area where the members of the boat were buried. Who is Erfiren? Where is he from? He doubts he will find those answers within the confines of Cathorna and its surrounds.
Erfiren had settled into life at the new outpost……. the hunting on the Swath was good. A day or two would nearly always see a good sized Deer brought in, rabbits were also plentiful and he had found a sizable warren that he could always rely on for a couple of snared bunnies. Pheasants and other game birds were also in plentiful supply. The Orc scouts were slowly being knocked back. As soon as any trail was found a pair or 3 hunters would run it down ruthlessly. Over ten Orc scouts had been rooted out now. The best of them had gone, the ones that were still around or newly arriving had little trail craft and were quickly run down. It had been harder in the first couple of weeks and the fact they were using poisoned arrows had forced the hunters to team up. Being struck by and arrow and paralysed while on your own had forced this measure on them but with the hunting being so good it hadn’t made that big a big dent in the amount of food coming in. His thoughts turned to his new project……. his bow. He had perfected his new Analyse Magic spell and had come onto the idea when checking over Seleena’s bow…….. he was certain he know how he could replicate it….. he just had to find the right piece of wood. His head was looking up today more than down at tracks. He was well in front on his requirements for foraging and had decided today was the day for finding his bow. He had spotted some likely trees over near the old cabin where he had met Leah during the fort’s construction. He had a rope and an axe with him as he was going up into the trees today. Spotting one of the trees he set his rope up and clambered clumsily into the tree……….. his axe dangling from his belt. Once up he could see the branches more clearly, he was nearly certain he would know the bit he needed when he saw it. There were several good branches in the first tree, one of which he removed……. it wasn’t what he was looking for but it would still make a good longbow…… his old one was getting tired and this would be good practice before trying to construct his “magical” bow. Two more days and nine more trees were tried before he found what he wanted. He could see the future bow clearly in the branch, The grain of the wood, its shape, he could almost feel the bow in his hand when handling the branch. Carefully, almost reverently he removed the branch and clambered back down with his prize.
The next several evenings were spent slowly shaping the bow, the slightest misstep and the bow would be ruined. After nearly a week of late evenings spent shaping and sanding, the basic bow body was ready. The important bit was about to start. Erfiren took himself up onto the top of the tower and asked that he not be disturbed for the evening……. after answering a multitude of questions, “No it would not involve fire, no he was not going to summon some uncontrollable demon, no the magic wouldn’t turn anyone into a toad”……. well he hoped not. People agreed not to disturb him, well not too much according to V’Flyn. As dusk settled over the Swath he began, slowly wrapping the grip with the finest Doe skin leather he could make, chanting in Elfish as he tied the intricate pattern of the grip……. the bow was perfect, the grip also had to be perfect……. or it would just be another very nice bow………… He continued to chant and wind the grip, oblivious to the world about him, nothing existed but the bow, the grip, the minute detail of the pattern of the grip, the way the leather bound the wood………….. Six hours later it was finished and Erfiren was mentally exhausted and his fingers sore and cramping from the hours of winding and tying the grip……. He stood up stretching sore and cramped legs. Carefully he strung the bow, had it worked, all this time and effort, had it been for naught? Almost fearfully he nocked an arrow and drew back, his heart beating loudly in his ears……… Elation coursed through his body, his pains and cramps forgotten for he could hear his bow, quietly talking to him, no quietly singing to him, guiding him to aim higher, lower, to the left a little and then that perfect pitched note, almost a sigh when it felt right.
Grinning like a fool he clambered down from the tower roof to find a couple of people still gathered in the common area. Grabbing some broth heating over the fire Erfiren sits down and quickly consumes the food, feeding the loud demands emanating from his stomach, V’Flyn looks up from her whittling and quiet singing, “Oh, your back……..” looking at his new toy then up at his grinning face " Nice bow Firren, want to give it to me?" looking playfully at him with that impish grin of hers. “Not bloody likely!” he grins back at her " ……… “But if you ask me nicely I might make you one.” She giggles " Ahh that’s our Firren, always the selfish one," Looking down at the bow she laughs " nah don’t make me one, I prefer my knives." as her whittling knife danced around in her hand……… Slowly that distant look comes over her face as her mind wanders off….. Erfiren can feel that slight tingling of her looking into his mind…… Her eyes, refocus another glance at the bow……. “Yeah Firen nice bow” slowly smiling at him “Might just have to take you up on that offer one day” She walks past him after patting him on the shoulder. “Get some rest Firren, your beat.” She says as she wanders out for a walk along the palisade. Erfirren wanders over to his bedroll quickly kicking off his clothes and clambering into the warm folds of his furs. His new bow loosely gripped in one hand and a satisfied smile on his face he drifts quickly off to sleep with V’Flys voice quietly singing in his head a final thought enters his mind as he slipped into peaceful slumber a voice he has heard before but does not know, a deep voice but a kind voice " A very nice bow Efiiren, Alas I fear you will need to use it often soon enough."
He sleeps he dreams………..