A Daughter of the King - Chapter Twenty-One

The next days went by swiftly and smoothly. Mandy rode with the hobbits, the elves, and Aragorn. She spent a lot of time with Elwen and Tethcelebel, fencing, singing, and just talking. They enjoyed each other's company and became great friends. About a week later....

"Aarien? What do you see?" Aragorn called to her. She was riding in front of the procession, letting Ilma run freely. She stopped him on top of a hill.
"A city, Ada." Mandy called back, squinting slightly, "And it flies the Rohan flag!" she galloped back to him, "It is Rohan?"
"Yes, we are only a day's journey. We will camp early tonight." Aragorn answered.

Mandy rode next to him silently. "Rohan...Legolas must have avoided it when he took me to Lorien; I did not know it was so close to it." Suddenly, she felt Ilma shake his head and prance a bit, "Alright, you wish to run?" she squeezed his sides with her knees, "Noro, mellon nin!" Ilma reared and raced ahead. Mandy laughed, loving how the wind sped through her hair and the freedom she felt. Ilma slowed to a trot, tossing his head. Birds flew by, twittering happily. "Lord, thank you, thank you for your creation." Mandy murmured, glancing up at the birds and the sky. Suddenly, she caught sight of a speck in the sky, swiftly flying closer. She turned but found that the Company was too far behind her. She placed her hand on her sword hilt, bracing for anything. She felt the wind blowing from wings and her eyes grew wide as she saw a massive eagle flying towards her. Ilma stirred uneasily, stomping one hoof. Mandy stroked his neck reassuringly, watching the eagle draw closer. Her hair flew everywhere as the eagle landed in front of her. It was taller than her on Ilma, let alone when she was standing on her own two feet. She gazed up at him, surprised at the intelligence that shone from his eyes.
"Greetings, Erusenwen." the eagle spoke to her, lowering his head, "I am Gwaihir, the Windlord."
"And to you, Windlord," Mandy stuttered back, "But why do you lower your head to me?"
"You are Erusen, M'lady." Gwaihir explained, "Your race and mine have had an alliance since the beginning of the Third Age, ever since your ancestor saved mine. That is why I lower my head to you."
"Oh..." Mandy answered, shocked, "I see, M'lord."
"I sensed that an Erusen had come back, so I came to pay honor to that one. I have flown many miles to find you." Gwaihir gave a soft call. ("Almost like a chuckle," Mandy thought wonderingly, watching him.) "This is for you." Gwaihir opened his talon to reveal a cloth bag, "Inside are jewels from the mountains where I live. They are for you."
Mandy took it gently from him and opened it. She gasped as she saw the many different shades of emeralds and jades, all set into a strong sliver of a chain, "But why to me?" she shook her head in amazement.
"I have told you, there is a stronger alliance between my race and yours. Whenever one of the Eagles meets one of the Erusen, it is the custom for the Eagle to give the Erusen a bag of jewels." Gwaihir gazed at her, head cocked slightly.
"But...then what is the Erusen supposed to give back to the Eagle?" Mandy questioned, grasping the bag tightly.
"Nothing," Gwaihir opened his beak in what seemed like a smile, if you could call it that, "They are to do nothing, except to accept it and the help of the Eagles."
"I thank you, M'lord Gwaihir." Mandy lowered her head in turn, "May Illuvitar protect you."
"My thanks to you, M'lady." Gwaihir spread his wings and leaped into the air. He hovered for a few seconds, calling down to her, "Remember...the Eagles will always help you." He thrust upward with his wings, causing a strong breeze to blow against them. Mandy watched him fly away, swiftly disappearing into the horizon. Sighing, she turned back towards the Company. They were closer now, and she rode slowly back to them.

"Aarien." Galadriel said softly as Mandy started to pass her to go to the back.
"Yes, M'lady?" Mandy pulled Ilma up next to her grey mare.
"You have met Gwaihir." Galadriel stated.
"Yes, I have." Mandy looked at her, "I don't know what to think now, Lady Galadriel."
"Peace, Aarien." Galadriel's voice comforted her, but her lips had not moved, "There is a greater work at hand than you know."
"I know, M'lady." Mandy thought, knowing she could read them, "But..."
"Aarien, do not be dismayed. Illuvitar has not forsaken you." Galadriel touched her cheek gently, "Be strong and do not give up hope. He is with you, Little One. More so than anyone I have seen for a long while...there may be trials ahead for you. Aarien, I have seen things about you....trust in Illuvitar." Galadriel said seriously, "Always hold onto your hope in Him."
Mandy nodded, a little taken aback by the force of the gaze of Galadriel. She opened the bag and fingered the necklace. Galadriel gave her a warm smile, "May the Valar be with you, Aarien."
"Thank you, M'lady." Mandy answered, riding back towards Tethcelebel and Elwen.

"Mae govennin, Aarien." Tethcelebel said, riding with one leg drawn up over the saddle-horn lazily.
"Hi, Celebel." Mandy greeted her, looking at her, "Forgive me, but how on earth do you keep your seat riding like that?"
"Oh, practice." Tethcelebel chuckled, "When you have to ride as much as me, you would find the same kind of tricks, believe me."
"Ah...where is you cousin?" Mandy glanced around, not seeing Elwen or Legolas.
"Which one?" Celebel teased, eyes sparkling.
"Elwen." Mandy answered, flushing slightly.
"Ah, well she is riding with her brother, my other cousin, talking with Mithrandir." Celebel sighed, relaxed, "We are nearing Rohan."
"Yes, Ada, that is, Lord Aragorn said only one more day's ride." Mandy watched some of the other elves chatting gaily with the others.
"Yes, I am glad. I would like to go back to Lorien." Tethcelebel smiled.
"Yes..." Mandy laughed, "I would just like to walk about."
Tethcelebel laughed merrily, "I think you will get that chance, for the horn is about to blow to dismount." As she said this, the horn did blow, and everyone dismounted. "I told you that you would get your chance." Tethcelebel grinned.
"Yes, you are right, as usual." Elwen teased, coming up behind them, "So, how did you like Gwaihir?"
"Gwaihir??" Tethcelebel looked at Mandy, "You met the Windlord?"
"Yes, I...I did. A little while ago, he came up to me, really." Mandy answered.
"He gave you that necklace." Tethcelebel noticed it for the first time, "You are Erusen."
"I suppose I am..." Mandy nodded, "Yes, I am."
"Enough serious talk! Come, we will have singing and dancing tonight!" Legolas strode up, "And I want you three to join us." The girls grinned at each other and walked off with him.

The elves sang and danced for a greater part of the night. One produced a flute; and another a type of horn that played high notes. The rest sang and danced together. The Men watched, most not joining in. The hobbits danced with the elves and sang some of the songs but mostly would listen spell-bound to their voices. Aragorn and Gandalf sat near the fire, stomping a foot to the beat, and clapping hands. Arwen joined in with her younger cousins, letting loose of the proper queen and was just another elf involved in a fall festival. It started to die off as the moon lowered towards the west. Mandy walked to her tent, laughing joyfully with Elwen and Tethcelebel. They said goodnight and went to bed.

"I will tell you nothing!" Mandy said, straining at the ropes burning into her wrists.
"You will tell my master, Erusen-wen!" the man snarled the name like a curse, "Or you will regret you were ever born. Now, get some rest. You'll need it." the man laughed cruelly at her. Mandy gazed at him evenly. His gaze wavered slightly, then he walked away.
"Lord." Mandy prayed desperately, "Help me." Her head lolled to one side, trying to sleep....
"You will tell me." a man in a hood said coldly. Mandy did not say anything, only shook her head.
"Very well." he nodded to one of the orcs, "Perhaps this will help persuade you to help me, Erusen-wen."
The orc smiled evilly and dragged her out of the room. He tied her to a post outside in a courtyard. She glanced wearily around, her eyes going wide at the sight of the whip in his hand.
"You will feel the teeth of my whip in your flesh, Erusenwen." he sneered, cracking it, "it will not be long before you will beg for mercy and tell my master whatever he wishes." So saying, he raised the whip and brought it down onto her back. She screamed in pain as he brought it down again and again. Soon, she did say anything, only shuddered.
"Lord..." she murmured painfully, "help me, help me survive." Then the orc threw the whip down, roughly untied her, and dragged her back. He kicked her into the cell, locking the door. She landed on her back and screamed as pain shot up and down her shoulders and back.

Mandy screamed, waking up. She shook, looking about her. Her blankets were drenched in her sweat and her hands were shaking. Aragorn came racing into her tent. He saw her shaking and gathered her into his arms. "Sh...sh..." he murmured softly, rocking her back and forth, "It was just a dream."
"Ada..." she whimpered, arms around his neck. She hadn't remembered being this scared since she was very young.
Aragorn stayed with her until she fell back to sleep. He watched her for a little while, wondering what had caused her to shake like a leaf in his arms. He sighed, rubbing his hand through his hair as he came back to his tent. Arwen looked questioningly at him.
"She had another nightmare. I believe it was about her attack from the orcs." Aragorn explained.
"She will soon lose her dreams, Elessar." Arwen comforted him. He nodded, and they went back to sleep.

They rode for most of the morning, everyone getting quiet as they approached Rohan. People stood outside the city, gazing at the Company in wonder. Women started running up to some of the Riders, crying in relief to see their husbands and fathers returned safe. Others scanned them desperately, faces falling as they realized their husbands were gone. Many gazed at the elves in wonder and at Aragorn and Arwen. They buried Theoden that afternoon and crowned Eomer as king. That night there was to be a feast in honor of him and of Eowyn's marriage to Faramir. Mandy went to the feast but couldn't forget about the dream that had seemed so real. Legolas, Elwen, and Tethcelebel both noticed her more subdued than usual, but didn't press the matter. They were content to help get her mind on the feast.

***Author's Note***
mae govennin! everything with Gwaihir i made up for the sake of the story. i don't know much about the history of the Eagles, but Gwaihir does play a part in my story, so i had to figure out a way to bring him in...i hope you enjoyed this chapter. btw, remember the nightmare...it also plays a big part in my story

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