Escape from the Haven of Umbar is the second instalment in the series of short campaigns Unfinished Tales of Middle-earth. Here the events are retold from the point of view of Turamarth son of Ohtar, a nobleman and warrior from Minas Anor on a journey to meet his foretold doom face-to-face.
After fleeing from Kas Shafra, the company sought refuge a mile from the city, in a cave concealed in the shade of night from searching eyes. There they found brief respite in the warmth of a fire and a bottle of aged wine that Cirion had taken from the cellars. As the bottle was passed to and fro between the men, Cirion told a merry tale of a time during the campaign against the Corsairs when his company had to seek shelter in a cave not unlike this one.
At this Turamarth said, “How can you keep your calm after hearing the treacherous news we received? Gondor is in peril. We must fly out of here as quickly as we can in order to warn them in time.”
“Gondor has ever been harassed by her enemies to the south. Our guards are watchful and they will see the enemy for what they are,” answered Cirion.
“Not with this trick they have devised. The enemy will slip through the gates like a thief in the night and slit Gondor’s throat whilst she sleeps,” Turamarth warned.
The night deepened and the men retired, but Turamarth found his body restless. Instead he surveyed the land under the light of the moon and crafted plans for the journey ahead before the toll of exhaustion forced him into a fitful slumber. In the morning he drew lines in the sand to signify the settlements they have passed and discussed how they would travel. He suggested giving Kas Shafra a wide berth and stopping at An Pharaz at the southern side of the mountain range to resupply and seek for a guide before wading into the great desert.
Gerold proposed, “We can retrace our steps and find the nomads whom we helped on the road. Perhaps they are inclined to give us aid in return.” To this the company agreed. Gerold was thus chosen to guide the journey.
Not long after they had started marching, dark clouds from the sea rolled over the sky and poured rain and thunder upon their heads. The water logged in Turamarth’s armour made it heavier and soon he grew tired. In the afternoon, the company was met with a hill of fallen rocks blocking the path ahead. Neither Gerold nor Kolbeinn could find a way around and so they toiled to remove some of these heavy rocks in order to climb over the hill. Without horses to carry them or quicken their pace, the fellowship grew disheartened with every laborious step.
Even in sleep, Turamarth had little respite. Dark visions of Minas Anor being set alight and pillaged by blood-thirsty Corsairs haunted his dreams, and more than once in the night did he awake with gasping breath and cold sweat upon his brow.
On the second day, the company had come to a familiar road in the mountains. Gerold was certain that the nomads were close and they climbed the steep rock. The former slave was the first to ascend, and at the top he recognised the nomad Haradrim they had helped. Their bodies were mounted on pikes as crebains fed on their eyes and flesh. Then, the Orcs who had set the cruel trap revealed themselves to the men with bent swords drawn and hungry sneers.
Cover art by Patryk Olk