A Daughter of the King - Chapter Thirty-Six

Gimli rubbed his eyes, shaking his head. He had fallen asleep on the boat after about two hours of riding in it. He woke to find Legolas still paddling, his eyes peering into the darkness. He suddenly noticed Gimli awake.

"Had a nice nap, my friend?" he asked, guiding the boat.

"Yes, thank you," Gimli yawned, "what's put you in such a good mood?"

"We are catching up," Legolas answered, "Look." His slender hand pointed downriver. Gimli squinted slightly, seeing what looked like a flash.

"I thought I saw a flash," Gimli muttered.

"You did," Legolas smiled, "it's their fire. They are not more than two hours away from us."

"Good," Gimli grinned, picking up a paddle, "good."

Elwen looked up at the moon. She turned to go wake Mandy when she heard the faint sound of a paddle going in and out of the water. She peered upriver, her eyes widening in shock. She saw Legolas and Gimli's boat coming down the River.

"Etarish!" Elwen said in disbelief, "Celebel!" She whirled around, going over to Tethcelebel. Elwen shook her, "Celebel, wake up!"

Tethcelebel instantly woke, her hand going for her dagger. She glanced at Elwen, her eyes questioning.

"Legolas has caught up!! He is not more than two hours away!" Elwen told her, waking Mandy. They leaped up and put out the fire. They hurriedly threw their things into the boats and climbed in. They pushed off and paddled swiftly.

"They have caught sight of us." Legolas told Gimli, "There! Can you see them?"

"No," Gimli answered, "but I do not doubt it."
Legolas laughed lightly, dipping his paddle faster.

Tethcelebel glanced back, her eyes searching out Legolas and Gimli. She raised her black paddle in salute, knowing Legolas could see her. She burst into laughter as she saw him wave at her. Elwen looked at her, rolling her eyes as she saw Legolas wave out of the corner of her eye.

"We will beat him," Mandy murmured, her eyes alight.

"If we can get to the Falls before he does," Tethcelebel was thinking aloud, "our horses will be able to outrun him."

"Unless he has Arod waiting for him as well," Elwen reminded her, "Then twill be a race."

"Then let's give him a race to remember." Tethcelebel grinned at them and raced ahead of the boats.

Elwen and Mandy looked at each other and then raced after her. They passed by Lorien, barely even noticing it. They kept glancing back, checking for Legolas. At times he seemed to be gaining, at others further back, but he always stayed within view. After a couple hours, they heard the sound of a great roaring. It got louder and louder as they came closer.

"The Falls of Rauros!" Tethcelebel yelled, pointing, "Let us
hope our horses have gotten here."

"You know they have, Celebel," Elwen shouted back and turned her head to look at her brother, "You are going to have a race on your hands, Brother." Her eyes were alight with competition, searching for their horses. She grinned as she saw two shapes running through the trees, seeming to race the boat. She touched Mandy's shoulder, pointing. Mandy smiled, watching the shapes. She whistled softly and a neigh answered it.

"Where is your horse, Cousin?" Elwen teased, glancing on either shore, "He seems to have forgotten about you. That's what you get for keeping a shadow creature!"

"He will be here," Tethcelebel snapped back, her eyes lighting up angrily, "he will be here. Or maybe your eyes are not as well as you think?" She glanced teasingly at her cousin who rolled her eyes.

Tethcelebel looked forward, eyes widening as they came upon the Argonath. They passed through them, in silence and in awe. The sun started to shine out from the cliffs, casting them in shadow and wreathing everything else in light.

All of a sudden, they heard a ringing neigh. They glanced up the cliff-tops. Fuuine-suule reared up and then raced out of sight.

Tethcelebel turned to Elwen, grinning knowingly. Elwen shrugged, shaking her head.

"I'd be surprised if he gets down from there in time," she muttered, "Look! We are nearing the Falls."

They were almost out of the cliffs, and they could hear the Falls roaring. Tethcelebel lingered behind Elwen and Mandy, watching Legolas come closer to the Kings. She guided her boat to the edge of the bank, jumping out. She pulled it up next to the other. She waited while Elwen and Mandy called
to their horses.

Mandy whistled a short three-note call. Ilma came racing up to her, shaking his head. Mandy leaped onto him, waiting for the others. Elwen whistled a low note, and Roch trotted up almost dancing. Elwen greeted him and jumped onto him.

Tethcelebel looked about, searching for Fuuine-suule. "Where are you, mellon?" she murmured to herself.

"Come, Celebel!" Elwen reached down a hand, "Roch can bear us both. We must go. Look, Legolas is almost here!"

Tethcelebel saw that it was true and walked slowly over to Elwen. Elwen pulled her up, and they started riding swiftly down to the plains of Rohan. Tethcelebel cast a sad glance back but her sadness turned to joy, for out of the shadows galloped Fuuine-suule. She whistled a haunting high-low-high call that seemed to bounce off the cliff sides. He shook his head and raced after them, his strides lengthening.

"Come," Elwen glanced back, "let's see if your horse can catch up to Roch." So saying, she let his head loose a little, allowing him to run even faster.

"Roch will weary quicker with two on his back!" Tethcelebel said.

"No," Elwen grinned, "he will be fine!" They rode faster, with Mandy coming right behind them.

Tethcelebel gripped Elwen around the waist with one arm while she looked back, her eyes following Fuuine-suule.
Suddenly, she caught sight of something else.

"Elwen!" she cried in warning, "Legolas is at the banks and so are more horsemen!! They are riders from Imladris. They have brought Arod and are running after us!"

"They will have to catch us first!" Elwen growled, releasing Roch even more.

All of a sudden, Roch swerved to one side. Fuuine-suule had come up on them and was running side by side with Roch, matching him stride for stride. Elwen's eyes were wide, for in the last race Roch had easily outdistanced Fuuine-suule, but now the horse was staying with them.

Tethcelebel swiftly swung her leg around, so she was hanging onto Roch by only an arm. Fuuine-suule came right over, and Tethcelebel leaped onto him. She shook her head, grasping the mane. Her horse did not have a saddle or bridle, for Tethcelebel was able to guide him with words and touch.

"Now, let's give them a race!" she called for the other riders were catching up to them, with Legolas in the lead. Elwen nodded and gave Roch his head, loving how he ran faster than any other horse it seemed. Mandy gave Ilma his head as well, and he sprinted ahead of Tethcelebel and her mount, chasing after Roch. Tethcelebel kept her mount back, not fighting against him. He merely shook his head, wishing to run faster.

"I know, mellonnin," she whispered, "but not yet. We will catch them." She watched the other riders coming up, knowing Legolas would reach her first.

"Hello, Cousin," Legolas from behind her, "ready to get caught?"

"You'll have to catch me first, Legolas!" Tethcelebel retorted, whispering to her mount, "Noro lith mellon! Noro lith!"

Fuuine-suule sprang forward with a cry and galloped swiftly. He knew this country and ran joyfully. Legolas was caught by surprise but urged Arod faster.

Tethcelebel still held her mount back a little, knowing that they could outdistance Arod easily. Fuuine-suule called sharply, leaping as he ran. The Elves behind had been watching Roch run, admiring him. They had laughed as Legolas and Tethcelebel taunted each other. Then they gaped as Fuuine-suule suddenly raced away with a speed not seen in too many horses.

Tethcelebel grinned back at Legolas, waving a hand goodbye. She held Fuuine-suule back, not letting him run his full strength. He started to catch up with Elwen and Mandy. Elwen had outrun Mandy and was allowing Roch his full head over the plains. Ilma ran faithfully on, trying to catch him. Mandy waved and smiled as Tethcelebel passed by them.

Tethcelebel lowered her head slightly and urged Fuuine-suule faster. She was gaining on Roch, not letting him get too far ahead. She did not know if she wanted to let Fuuine-suule loose all the way, for she knew something that no one else, not even her grandmother, knew. She had found out by an accident really, but one of the first times she was riding him, she met Gandalf riding on Shadowfax outside of Lorien. The two horses had greeted each other like old friends. Gandalf had looked closely at her mount, saying that he was one of the Mearas, a brother to Shadowfax. Tethcelebel had always kept this a secret. She didn't know why she did but she did, which is why Roch had been able to beat Fuuine-suule. Tethcelebel had held him back, not ever letting him ride his fastest.

Suddenly she was shaken out of her daydreams, feeling Fuuine-suule going even faster.

"Daro!" she told him, "Daro, not yet!"

Fuuine-suule seemed not to hear her for his strides started lengthening and quickening, the space between him and Elwen minimizing. Tethcelebel called to him urgently, trying to get him to stop. Then she heard another sound: a ringing call much like his. She glanced to the left and saw Shadowfax racing up, rider-less and free. She could feel the power beneath her legs as Fuuine-suule ran with his brother as if having no burden at all. She knew she could not have stopped him even if she wanted to: she was just along for the ride. She grasped hold of his mane tighter and her legs gripped him. He and Shadowfax ran together: stride for stride, breath for breath.

The Elves behind them gasped in surprise, seeing how alike Shadowfax and Fuuine-suule were. Their horses shifted under them, uneasy but running still. The Elves murmured to each other, watching the race between two evenly matched beasts.

Elwen was laughing within herself, thinking that they had beaten Tethcelebel once again. When all of a sudden, Roch snorted and reared slightly. Elwen brought him down and urged him on again, wondering what had happened when she suddenly heard the sound of hoof-beats behind her and catching up quickly. She glanced behind and her eyes widened for she seemed to see two Mearas, one pure white and one pure black, racing each other. Then she saw Tethcelebel just holding on, leaning down. They raced past her, tossing their heads. Tethcelebel looked back, her eyes apologetic. Elwen urged Roch faster, trying to catch up to them.

"What kind of horse is Tethcelebel's?" she wondered, "Roch beat him last time!"

"Alright," Tethcelebel shrugged, "taste the wind, my friend!"

She let loose of him and allowed him to run without hindrance. She had been trying to get him to stop but now she gave up and let him have his head. She grinned joyfully as she felt him lengthen out even more under her, almost beating the wind. She let her hair fly and stooped low over his neck, loving the race. She glanced at Shadowfax who seemed to smile at her before racing ahead of Fuuine-suule. Her horse snorted and leaped forward, catching up and passing Shadowfax.

"If Shadowfax is the West Wind," she murmured to herself, "then Fuuine-suule must be the Wind that speeds through the dark of night, for he speeds along as fast as the wind."

Suddenly, Shadowfax and Fuuine-suule started slowing, neighing to each other. They walked next to each other, finally stopping. Tethcelebel slipped off of his back, sinking to her knees. She gasped in breath for it felt as if she had not had any since this race started. Fuuine-suule nuzzled her back affectionately.

"Good ride, my friend," she stood, "good ride." She stroked his nose, looking at him.

Shadowfax reared, giving a ringing call. Fuuine-suule reared as well, echoing it; and it seemed that white and black mixed, as if they were each other's half. Then Shadowfax ran as swift as the wind down the plains. Tethcelebel became aware that Elwen was approaching quickly. Tethcelebel glanced up as Roch slid to a stop in front of her, prancing slightly.

"Well, Cousin," Elwen looked down at her, "your horse is not all that he appeared."

"No," Tethcelebel blushed, "I am sorry I did not tell you."

"How long have you known?" Elwen questioned, "He is a magnificent animal."

"I was riding alone near the borders where I met Gandalf," Tethcelebel answered, "he told me. It was the end of the summer I had gotten him."

"I see," Elwen didn't press the matter, "Well, we should get going unless you want to get caught."

"Let's go," Tethcelebel swung on Fuuine-suule who needed no urging. They raced down the plains, smiling at the freedom each felt.

"Aarien!" Legolas called, Arod approaching her swiftly, "Stop!
Please stop."

Mandy glanced behind her, slowing Ilma down a bit. She patted his neck, "Good run, my friend," she told him, "but we are caught."

Legolas smiled as he passed her, waving a hand. Mandy shook her head and dismounted, waiting for the other Elves to come. She grinned as she watched Arod race after Roch and Fuuine-suule, trying to catch them.

Legolas groaned, knowing that Roch was the fastest horse in Lorien and Mirkwood. He also knew that if Tethcelebel allowed Fuuine-suule to run all out again...there would be no catching her. He urged Arod on, hoping that the speed of his horse would shorten the distance between them. The horses had already been running for three straight hours, and he did not know how long they could keep on going without collapsing.

"Elwen," Tethcelebel drew her horse alongside of Roch, "I think we have given them a race. Now we should allow our horses the rest they need."

Elwen glanced down at Roch, who was running hard, and saw the sweat building up around the saddle. She could also see foam flecking from his mouth. She nodded, easing him down into a slow gallop.

"You are right Cousin," she said, "We have shown them that they couldn't have caught us unless we let them. Twould not be good for us to run our horses into the ground."

"No," Tethcelebel grinned, "no it wouldn't." They slipped off of their horses and sat on the grass, waiting for the others to catch up. Their horses rolled on the ground and munched some grass. The girls had given their pursuers a race and could have beaten them if they wanted to.

***Author's Note***
hi! this time i will be gone on vacation when this comes up...i think anywhoo....i hope you enjoyed the chapter. did you like the race?? now your wishes will all come true: the next couple of chapters will be about Aragorn and Arwen and Gondor. thank you so much for your patience...hope it hasn't been too boring for you
God bless~

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