A Daughter of the King - Chapter Thirty-Four

It was after a great dinner, and all had exited into the Great Hall. The fire was burning merrily, and the elves were singing and listening to tales. Mandy watched and listened for a few hours, enjoying it. Mandy glanced over at Elwen and Tethcelebel, who stood talking with some of the elves from Rivendell. Elwen met her eyes and nodded faintly. Mandy smiled. She quietly left the Hall, going up to her room. She swiftly pulled off her dress and put on her riding clothes. She jumped when someone knocked on her door, pushing her pack under the bed. She pulled on a robe but relaxed when she heard Elwen's voice.

"Aarien," Elwen called softly, "open the door."

Mandy opened the door, smiling. Elwen laughed at her quickly tied robe.

"If you are going to hide things," Elwen chuckled, "you might want to leave your boots off."

"That would be better, I think," Mandy said good-humouredly.

"Come," Elwen motioned for her to get her things, "they are all in the Hall. They will stay there for most of the night."

"Where is Celebel?" Mandy asked, throwing off her robe and shouldering her pack.

"She is still in the Hall," Elwen shrugged, "Lord Elrond convinced her to sing a song."

"Oh," Mandy followed her down the hall.

"She will get away," Elwen told her, glancing back, "she wouldn't miss this for the world."

Mandy grinned. She was worried for a minute, wondering if Tethcelebel was still coming. They stole softly down to the stables. Their horses nickered happily, seeing them.

"Ilma!" Mandy said joyfully, running up to him. Ilma reared slightly, giving a ringing neigh. Mandy stroked his nose, talking softly to him. He gently butted his head against her, his eyes looking straight into hers. He seemed to talk to her.

Elwen smiled, watching them. She saddled her horse, Roch, and led him out of his stall. Her horse appeared different types of red, sometimes dark and other times light, with a white blaze. They waited patiently for Tethcelebel to come. Mandy cinched up the saddle on Ilma and bridled him as well. She led him out of his stall and sat down on a bench. The horses munched on some hay while they waited.

"What did he say to you?" Elwen asked, tossing Mandy a piece of lembas.

Mandy looked startled. Then she said, "Just that he was glad to see me again."

They both looked up as Tethcelebel came hurrying in.

"I am sorry," she said, going over to her horse, "they wished me to sing the song twice!" Her horse was a pure black stallion. She had been the only one that it led ride him. Mandy stood back, a little afraid of him as he reared up, screaming.

"Sh...sh," Tethcelebel soothed him, "Ta tereva, Fuuine-suule. (It is alright, Shadow-spirit)."

"How did you tame him, Celebel?" Mandy asked, mounting up. Tethcelebel did not answer her until they were out of Rivendell and on their way. Then she looked straight at her, "I didn't."

Mandy looked with new awe at the black horse. It appeared to be a horse like Shadowfax, if not a brother to him. They rode silently, their horses making no noise except for the slight jingle of the harness when shaking their heads. Tethcelebel looked ahead, glancing at the Mountains.

"We should cross Caradhras now," she said, pointing, "It is not totally covered in snow yet."

"I agree," Elwen nodded, looking behind her, "we could reach the mountain before sunup, if we ride hard. We are out of hearing from Imladris."

Tethcelebel nodded, her eyes alight with a challenge, "Come," she yelled, "I will race you there! Noro, mellonnin..." she whispered in Fuuine-suule's ear, urging him on. He snorted and sped ahead, loving the feel of freedom.

The other horses were after her in a flash, and they rode neck and neck. The elves urged them on, cheering and yelling happily. All of a sudden, they realized that they were at the base of Mountain, and the first beams of sunlight started to shoot out. They gazed up at the mountain in awe, wreathed in snow and the sun glancing beams off of it. They exchanged smiles, and Tethcelebel gently nudged her mount with her knees. Fuuine-suule stepped gingerly into the pass, his hooves making no noise. The other horses followed, and the girls were content to let them find the path. They sat, talking with each other.


**********
They had been crossing the pass for a few hours. They were dismounted now, leading their horses. Mandy was in the back, watching how the horses sometimes would flounder in the snow. She suddenly realized that Elwen and Tethcelebel were walking on top of it, as if it was solid.

"Elwen!" Mandy said in shock. Elwen whirled around, drawing her knives. She looked perplexedly at her.

"What is wrong?" she asked, sheathing the knives.

"You are walking on top of the snow!!" Mandy said.

"So are you." Elwen rolled her eyes, "What's that got to do with anything?"

Mandy saw that she was walking on top of the snow as if it were solid sand or something. She stumbled, surprised. She watched Roch flounder through a large swell that was up to his belly, but Elwen just walked lightly over it, pausing to help him. She shook her head, amazed.

"I don't think I'll get used to this," she thought. Ilma nickered softly, shaking his head. "What are you laughing at?" Mandy snapped, leading him along.

They went for a few more hours, when they finally decided to rest. They sat underneath the shade of the cliff-face, eating a piece of the lembas and drinking a little of the water. Then they fed their horses and started off again. Soon it began to snow lightly. The snow on Fuuine-suule's coat shone brightly, making him appeared speckled. Tethcelebel laughed at him, shaking off the snow. They pulled their hoods up to shield their faces and continued on. The cold did not bother them at all, but their hoods shielded their faces so they could see even farther. Finally, the sun began to go down, leaving the Mountain in shadows.


*************
"Celebel," Mandy called up, "are we going to find camp soon?"

Tethcelebel looked up at the sky and then at the lengthening shadows. "Yes," she said, glancing ahead, "I see a ledge a few lengths ahead. We'll be able to camp underneath it." She knew that they could go across the Mountain in the dark but didn't want to tire out their horses. Besides, this would give their pursuers to catch up slightly. She also knew that the sun set early on the Mountain.

Mandy nodded. She noticed that Tethcelebel's horse seemed to fade in and out. She was surprised and watched it. She gasped as it disappeared and then reappeared.

"Elwen," Mandy said softly, "what kind of a horse is Celebel's?"

Elwen chuckled, watching it. "It is a shadow creature," she answered, "visible during the day, but in shadows, practically invisible unless you know where to look. At night, you wouldn't know it was coming up to you until you hit it....or it hit you."

"How on earth did Celebel get it?" Mandy asked in amazement, her eyes still following the horse as it faded in and out.

"That is a long story, my friend," Elwen replied, "best told by the one who knows it."

Mandy nodded, knowing that she would have to ask Tethcelebel for it was obvious that Elwen was loathe to repeat the story herself. Soon, they reached the ledge and stopped. They swung down from their horses and unsaddled them. The horses stayed under the shadow of the ledge, nibbling on stray grass they dug up out of the snow. Elwen had a fire going in no time, and Tethcelebel and Mandy spread blankets on the ground to sleep on.

The fire flickered its shadows on their faces. Mandy stole a glance at the `shadow' horse and could see the red fire reflected on his coat. She also saw that his eyes were black too, except for a small patch of silver or white (she couldn't tell) in the middle.

"Celebel," Mandy questioned, "how did you get Fuuine-suule?"

Tethcelebel smiled. She looked at her horse for a few minutes and then turned her gaze onto Mandy.

"Twas many years ago," she said, her face taking on a far away expression, "Two or three summers before the finding of the Ring. One day, I was riding my other horse, Celeb was its name, through Lorien. I strayed too far south....I did not realize until it was too late that I had entered the Southern part of Lorien. There is great evil there, so great that even my grandmother cannot drive it out. As soon as I knew, I hurriedly urged Celeb back towards home. I heard Wargs behind me." (Mandy heard Elwen curse that name, wishing it to go into the Abyss).
"I told my horse to go even faster, which wasn't hard because the fear of the wolves was in him. Suddenly, a great spear flew out from nowhere and struck Celeb. He fell to the ground, neighing painfully. I rolled and cried out as I saw him laying there. I stood, going over to him. He was dead. I slung my bow over my shoulder and ran with all my might. I knew that I didn't have much of a chance, but I was taking it. I wasn't about ready to let Wargs kill me." Tethcelebel's face was dark. She stared into the fire, and Mandy could see the flames reflecting in her eyes.
"All of a sudden, I heard a sound near me. I whirled around, notching an arrow. I couldn't see anything. Then a giant shadow seemed to loom up in front of me. I backed away, my bow useless at my side. It reared and screamed. I knew then that it was a horse, but one I had never seen the like of. I realized that he was my only chance. I stepped forward, talking soothingly. He reared up again and brought his hooves down just in front of me. I leaped back but continued talking to him. Suddenly, his ears pricked back, and I heard the sound of orcs and Wargs. He rose up, screaming a challenge. Then he looked at me and came over. He nudged me with his shoulder. I grabbed hold of his mane and swung myself up. He ran swiftly towards the Galadhron. I believe he must have run for eight straight hours with me on his back because I passed out almost immediately when he started to run. The next thing I knew, I was getting taken off him by Haldir and getting carried to my grandmother."

Tethcelebel grinned wryly, glancing over at Elwen, "I was in big trouble; I don't think I've ever been in so much trouble except for one other time." Elwen grinned back, nodding.

Tethcelebel continued softly, "I remember waking up in the next morning by hearing a horse's scream. I threw on a robe and raced down to the stables. I found the horse rearing and screaming, not letting anyone come near him. He was in the back of the stable, half-hidden in the shadows. All of the stable-hands had backed off, giving him room. I ran in between them when the head stableman grabbed my arm.

`No, Child,' he told me, `he's a shadow creature, he won't be tamed.'

I pulled away and walked forward. The horse nickered a greeting, shaking his head. I murmured softly as I came towards him. He lowered his head, so he could look me in the eyes. I gently stroked his nose, talking to him. The stablemen looked on in amazement. I led him into a stall and closed the door. Then I turned and saw my grandmother standing there. She was watching me and smiled.

`It appears that you have a new horse, Tethcelebel,' she told me, `since it is only you he will let near him.' She strode over, looking at the horse. `A mighty creature he is,' she murmured to herself, `a shadow-creature. Come, back to bed for you.' She led me up to my room. I have had him ever since, and he has saved my life on more than one occasion."

"Wow," Mandy said in amazement, "that is an amazing story."

"It happened," Tethcelebel smiled, "now I suggest we get some rest. I will take first watch."

Mandy could faintly hear Tethcelebel singing an ancient song about Valinor. She slowly relaxed, sleeping deeply.

"Ai, Valinor!
Elbereth, Gilthoniel!
Vanesse ar este.

Ai, Valinor!
Mar e en,
Meles ar seere!
Hoopa an si
Yerya ho Endor.

Ai, Valinor!
Mar e mii Nuume.
Amin wanya en.
Er u-an limbe malina,
Tenna Lorien arwa waana
Ar ilya fiirimo arwa u-enyala,
Quendelie ho Lorien."*

Tethcelebel sang softly, her voice quivering slightly with a longing for a far-off shore. The horses stirred, nodding their heads. The last thing Mandy remembered was seeing Tethcelebel gazing out into the darkness, her eyes looking out towards the Sea.


****************
"Lord Elrond," Legolas lowered his head respectfully. He was standing out in the courtyard, waiting for the girls to come out. They were to be leaving soon for Gondor.

"Greetings," Elrond smiled, "where are your other companions?"

"I do no know," Legolas answered, "I thought they were still eating breakfast."

"They are not," Elrond said, his face creased in worry, "for I have just come from there."

Legolas looked at him and then ran to the stable. It was as he feared, their horses were gone. It appeared that they had been gone for the whole night, if not longer.

"Not again," Legolas groaned, going back to the courtyard, "They have left for Gondor themselves." he told Elrond. Elrond shook his head, sighing.

"Then you must go after them with the escort I had planned," he told him, striding away. Legolas nodded, concealing a smile. Soon, the company was riding after them. Legolas was ahead, tracking the girls' horses. He saw that the hoof-prints were more than twelve hours old.

"They are making for Caradhras," Legolas muttered to himself.

"Great," Gimli moaned, "the last time we went over that mountain it nearly killed us!"

"Peace, Gimli," Legolas laughed merrily, "it will not kill us this time!"

"That gives me no comfort," Gimli grumbled. Legolas just laughed again and urged Arod swifter.


*******************
Elwen woke to see Tethcelebel standing and gazing far off, down the mountain.

"What is it, Celebel?" she asked, standing beside her.

"Horses," Tethcelebel grinned, "they have come."

"Let's go," Elwen said, "they will not find us so easy to catch."

Elwen shook Mandy awake, while Tethcelebel put out the fire. They swiftly leaped onto their horses and galloped away. They pressed their horses, rushing over the path. The snow leaped up, flying about. They knew that if they wanted to keep ahead, they must get down the Mountain.

"They will camp," Tethcelebel murmured, "for their horses will need resting."

"Ay," Elwen nodded, "and we will get ahead while they camp, for we are rested."

"Yes," Tethcelebel smiled, "we should be down the pass by mid-morn."

"And then where?" Mandy asked.

"And then," Elwen turned to her, "whatever we find." She grinned and rode. Mandy paused slightly, glancing back. She could just pick out the horses stirring up dust. She smiled, catching up to Elwen and Tethcelebel.

***Author's Note***
hey guys! when this comes up, i'll probly be gone on vacation. i will try to answer your questions at my grandparents but...*shrugs* i made up the song about Valinor and i hope you enjoyed the story of Tethcelebel's horse.
God bless,
celebel

***Translations***
Valinor

Ah, Valinor!
Elbereth Gilthoniel!
Beauty and honor.

Ah, Valinor!
Home is there,
Love and peace!
A haven for those
Weary of Middle-earth.

Ah, Valinor!
Home is into the West.
I will go there.
But not for many more years.
Until Lorien has passed
And all Men have forgotten
The Elves of Lorien.

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