A Daughter of the King - Chapter Twenty-Four

During this time, Gandalf and the others were back at camp sleeping. In the morning...

"Hey, Celebel!" Elwen shook her cousin awake.

"What?" Tethcelebel sat up, glancing around.

"Let's go wake up Aarien." Elwen said with a mischievous grin.

"Alright." Tethcelebel rose and stole softly towards Mandy's blankets. They both looked at them in shock, finding them empty.

"Where...?" Elwen questioned while Tethcelebel glanced down.

"Look, her steps." Tethcelebel pointed, "Come on." They followed her tracks towards the horses. The horses were back, grazing and shuffling slightly.

"The horses..." Tethcelebel mused, examining the prints.

"Look here, the horses prints go off this way," Elwen pointed towards the forest, "And Aarien's prints stop suddenly, as if she jumped onto one..."

"Let's follow them..." Tethcelebel raced towards the woods, "Aarien should not be by herself." They followed the tracks, stopping every now and then to see which way they went. When they finally got to the place where Mandy had been knocked out and kidnapped, they stopped.

"Yrch scum." Elwen muttered, seeing the footprints.

Tethcelebel looked around, trying to find any signs of Mandy. Her eyes caught sight of a slight glitter from under the leaves as the sun hit them. She stooped down and brushed the leaves away, revealing the necklace. She picked it up.

"They took Aarien." Tethcelebel stated, showing her the necklace.

"Southrons!" Elwen said the name like a curse, "Here's the club they used too." She slammed it down, "Etarish! We need to go after her." Elwen said, whistling for their horses.
"No," Tethcelebel restrained her cousin with her hand, "We need to tell Gandalf."

Elwen looked at her for a few seconds, and then nodded. They both mounted up and galloped swiftly back to camp. They came charging in, sliding off of their horses. Gandalf was awake and was waking the hobbits. He glanced at them as they came running up to him.

"You certainly pick odd times to race horses," he laughed, "Where is Aarien? Did you beat her that badly?"

"Mithrandir," Tethcelebel took a deep breath, "Aarien has been taken by orcs...and some men. Southrons it looked like."

"When did you find this?" Gandalf asked, his face instantly serious.

"This morning," Elwen answered, "we wished to wake Aarien but found her gone. We saw her tracks and followed them into the woods. It appeared that the horses spooked, and she rode with them. Then there are many other tracks, men and orc. There is an imprint in the ground where she was dropped."

"We also found this," Tethcelebel held out the necklace.

"My brother gave that to her right before he left." Elwen said softly and then her eyes burned, "We need to ride after her!"

Gandalf shook his head, "No, we should not go after her."

"Why not, Gandalf?!" Pippin leaped up, for by now all of the hobbits were awake and had heard every detail.

"Yes, you cannot just abandon her to the orcs!" Merry cried, recalling his capture by the orcs.

"Peace." Gandalf said quietly, "I do not mean to abandon her to the orcs, my good Brandybuck. Nor am I going to do nothing, my dear Elwen." Gandalf gazed at her, "How many orcs were there?"

"At least twenty," Tethcelebel answered, thinking.

"Twenty." Gandalf looked at each of them, "I know the elves will be quick to say that they could handle twenty orcs, but if there are men as well..." he paused, "We would not be able to defeat all of them. Yes, with my skill and the elves, we probably would be able to rescue her, but if there are orcs and Southrons wandering about, I am sure that Aragorn would wish us to defeat them and not allow them to continue terrorizing the countryside." Elwen sighed, knowing it was good judgment, and Gandalf continued, "When we get to Rivendell, we can set out with a whole legion of elves to track and rescue her. So I suggest we get moving."

"Gandalf," Pippin questioned softly, "So what can we do?"

Gandalf smiled sadly, "Pray to Illuvitar that she will be safe."
They mounted up and rode swiftly towards Rivendell. Elwen and Tethcelebel knew that Gandalf was right, but still wished they could go after her.

**********************
Mandy ran, her legs moving mechanically. She was just willing herself to move, knowing that if she fell...she shook her head, "Don't think about that right now, just keep going." She slipped up as her boots hit the wet grass. Stumbling, she kept her footing. The man glared back at her and pulled on the rope. This caused Mandy to slip and fall. She lay there for a few seconds, not wanting to ever get up again. She closed her eyes. "Lord..." she whispered, "I don't think I can go much farther..." Suddenly, she was in a garden. She glanced around, still lying on the grass. A beautiful angel appeared before her. The angel smiled down at her and held out a hand. Mandy lifted hers up wearily. The angel grasped her wrist firmly and pulled her up.

"The Lord is with you, Daughter of the King," the angel whispered softly, "Do not despair." The angel smiled at her and disappeared. Mandy suddenly found herself back in the woods with the orc and men. Grishna came over to her and kicked her.

"Get up, Erusen." he snarled.

Mandy did as she was told. They gave her some water and then moved on. Mandy glanced behind her as they ran. Her clothes and cloak were getting torn up. She was thankful that she was not wearing a dress. Her boots were the only things that didn't seem to get used. They kept their softness and subtlety while keeping her feet protected. Mandy was very thankful that she had been wearing her boots when she was kidnapped, otherwise she would be leaving a different trail to follow, the blood from her feet.

**************
"There is Rivendell!" Elwen cried, being ahead of the others. She whirled her horse back to them, "Mithrandir, Celebel and I will go inform Elrond what has happened."

"Go," Gandalf nodded, "We will be just behind you."

Tethcelebel and Elwen rode their horses hard into Rivendell. They nodded to the other elves there who waved at them but didn't stop until they came to Elrond. They slid off of their horses and raced into the courtyard, where Elrond was waiting.

"Mae govennin," Elrond greeted them, smiling a little at their disheveled look, "is there some reason you come running into my home without waiting for your other companions?"

"Yes, Uncle," Tethcelebel answered, "There is. Aarien's been kidnapped by orc and Southrons."

Elrond's eyes went grave, "When?"

"Two nights ago, we think." Elwen answered.

"I will get a company of elves together. We will go after her." Elrond turned, "You two should rest, for I know that you will not hear of staying behind." He strode out of the room.

********************
Tethcelebel sat on a bench while Elwen paced.

"You really should sit, Cousin." Tethcelebel murmured quietly, "You will be exhausted by the time we leave."

"I cannot rest, not while I know she's out there with..." Elwen searched for the right word to call them.

"I know, but you should at least try to." Tethcelebel agreed.

Elwen paused in answering because Gandalf and the Hobbits came in.

"Where is Lord Elrond?" Gandalf questioned.

"He is getting the rescue company together." Tethcelebel answered.

"I am here," Elrond came in, "and there are about a dozen elven scouts and warriors ready to go."

"Good, let's go!" Pippin started to go back out when Gandalf laid a hand on his shoulder.

"Not this time, my young hobbit." Gandalf shook his head, "You are going to stay here and rest, all of you are."

"I can fight!" Merry cried out.

"I know you can, but you have done enough fighting, Merry." Gandalf smiled wearily, "You will stay here."

"They will stay busy, Mithrandir," Elrond's eyes twinkled slightly though his face was grave.

Gandalf, Tethcelebel, and Elwen went out to their horses. Beside them stood the other elves, all clad in dark cloaks and had bows slung over their shoulders. Their faces were grave, but some eyes twinkled at the sight of the elven maids coming along. Elwen and Tethcelebel mounted up.

"Welcome, Elwen of Mirkwood and Tethcelebel of Lorien." an elf bowed his head in respect from atop of his dark gray horse.

"You know our names," Elwen stated, "But I do not know yours."

"Ah, forgive me," the elf pulled his hood down revealing an astoundingly divine face, "I am Glorfindel..."

Tethcelebel looked at him in friendship and awe for he had been raised back to life by the Valar when he was slain, and it had never stopped amazing her. "M'lord." Tethcelebel lowered her head slightly, "I did not know you were coming along."

"Neither did I until just recently," he chuckled slightly.

"Ah..." Elwen laughed, "Well, I am glad to have you along, Lord Glorfindel."

"Let us go," Gandalf wheeled Shadowfax's head around, "we will start at the edge of the mountains, for they would not stay with winter coming."

Elwen and Tethcelebel glanced at each other and smiled. They both were thinking that they were on another adventure together, but in the back of their minds they knew that this very well could turn into a heart-wrenching journey.

**************
Mandy looked up at the stars, night had fallen and it had been about a week since she was taken. She groaned, rubbing her wrists as best as she was able. She had not had the ropes off for a long while and her wrists were bleeding. The skin was rubbed raw and every-time the ropes were pulled on, they rubbed off the scabs that kept trying to get formed. "I guess that is one thing the Erusen did not get, the ability to heal themselves quickly." Mandy thought wryly. She wondered who was looking for her and where Legolas was. "Ai," Mandy sighed softly, "I miss you, mellonnin."

There was a soft stirring from the woods, and a deer stepped daintily from the woods. Mandy glanced at it and smiled. "Hello, friend," Mandy whispered as the deer came over to her, "You should get away before they wake up." The deer nuzzled Mandy's hand, making a small noise.

"Deer," Mandy thought swiftly and struggled to get the bag with the necklace from Gwaihir, "Give this to the elves coming to find me, please." Mandy slipped the bag around the deer's neck. The deer nuzzled her again, an understanding light in its eyes. It then turned and bounded silently back into the woods. Mandy glanced around, realizing that they were down off of the mountains.

"We are heading east, almost like towards...no it couldn't be, could it?" Mandy's mind worked swiftly, "It almost seems like we are headed into Mirkwood...but how can that be?" she didn't understand because Mirkwood was the realm of Thranduil. She fell into a fitful sleep, full of dreams about Legolas searching for her and her running from some evil.

Later that night, a man woke her roughly.

"Let's go," the man said, "It's better to travel at night."

"When it's harder to track," Mandy retorted.

The man just slapped her and yanked upwards on the rope. As Mandy scrambled up, wincing as the ropes cut into her wrists again, she groaned to herself, "Why can't I just keep my big mouth shut??" She took in a deep breath, and they started off. She paid attention to the direction and saw that it was definitely going east, towards Mirkwood. "What new treachery is this?" Mandy thought, "That we are going to Mirkwood??"

***Author's Note****
*comes in warily*, hi...please don't kill me...*holds out a peace-offering of any e-chocolate they wish* it will get better, i promise! i told you i like cliffies the next chapter will be up soon!
may the grace of the Valar protect you!
Celebel
p.s. maybe i'll go hide somewhere....

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