Brothers in Spirit - A short story
Glorfindel sat at the top of a grass covered dune over looking the ocean. At several yards below him the waves roiled and crashed against the sand with its normal melodious rhythm. He gazed out across the endless miles of water to the horizon beyond that seemed almost unreachable. The sky was overcast with looming gray clouds warning of a storm that was soon to come. Small patches of sunlight shone through the clouds in golden rays of shifting light.
He dug his bare feet further into the sand, enjoying the soft warmth of the smooth grains sliding between his toes. He smiled as the ocean breeze tousled his hair and cooled his chest. Here he was perfectly content, something that was becoming far too rare in his life. By the ocean he could lose himself in his own thoughts and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounded him.
If any human were to come upon him like this they would think that had strayed into a vision, so angelic did he look. He seemed to glow whenever the sun's light touched him. He sat so still that one might think him a statue. His unbound golden hair stirred in the breeze as the only evidence that he was indeed real. So handsome, wise, and strong did he look as he sat there like a king upon his throne. Even the mortals would be able to sense the great power that stirred beneath the surface of this elf. Yet so intensely did he stare out at the horizon that one could scare help but wonder what it was that occupied such a wise elf's thoughts.
At the moment his thoughts were of Valinor, far to the west. Somewhere out across that ocean and past the horizon was that most beautiful place of the Valar. He longed to see the White Mountain, to look upon the great Lord and Lady, Manwë and Elbereth. He wanted to see that land that was the center of so many tales and legends. That place of such pure joy and perfection. His mind was filled with wonder at the very thought of Valinor. Not even the images in his mind from speculation could possibly come close to the true magnificence of that place.
His contemplative mood was suddenly disturbed by the faint sound of rhythmic drumming. He straightened up and tilted his head sideways to catch the sound better. The sound was coming from quite a distance but was steadily growing closer. He narrowed his eyes and furrowed his brow as he tried to identify what or who was making that sound.
Then suddenly the sound was so loud to him that it seemed to be almost on top of him. He still could see nothing though he knew now what it was that was making those sounds. It was the thunder of a horse's hooves hammering upon the ground. The loud huffing of a horse's steady breathing was now discernable as well. It was only one horse. How very odd. No horses roamed wild here and he knew of no men that would venture this far down in the Enedwaith alone.
Suddenly to his right a white blur burst out across the grassy dunes and raced down to the beach. It was a white stallion of such majesty and strength that for a moment Glorfindel thought he was dreaming. It was sprinting across the sands as though the wraiths of Sauron were upon its heels. Its ears were pressed flat against its head, nostrils flaring, mane flying, and feet churning up the sand beneath it. It was a wild, untamed creature with fierce light in its dark eyes. It darted in and out of the sunlit patches, glowing like a simbelmynë flower (aka Evermind. It is a small white flower that grows in abundance on graves and tombs, most famously on the barrows of the Kings of Rohan.) Glorfindel was seized by the splendor of so free a creature.
He followed its retreating form until it skidded to a stop almost a mile from him. The stallion did a half rear before tossing his head, which sent its long mane flying. The horse seemed to be mocking the wind for not being able to keep up with him. It crow hopped another few feet forward before whinnying out its defiance and freedom to the heavens. It paused there for a moment before wheeling around and galloping back in the elf's direction.
Glorfindel could not take his eyes from the shining white stallion. So much controlled power flowed through that creature as it ran. The very air seemed to become charged with energy around it. The elf lord wished fervently that he was riding upon the stallion's back right then. Racing the wind and waves with it, to feel the steady pounding of those hooves and the power surging beneath him like barely harnessed lightning. He felt as if his heart was taking flight with the horse as it ran. He became so lost in the grandeur and majesty of the running stallion that he hardly noticed how close it was coming to him.
Then suddenly the stallion came to a halt only a few hundred yards from where he sat. It turned its head to look at him with such intensity that the elf felt he was being pierced through the heart and read like a book. He sat perfectly still, taken aback by the intelligence in those deep brown eyes. They stared at each other scrutinizing, calculating one another. Neither moved nor seemed to breathe as they waited for the other to make a move first. The only sounds were the crash of the waves, the cry of a stray gull, and the rustle of grass in the slight breeze. It seemed that both would stay there forever in that stand off, neither wanting to appear afraid and back down.
The wind began to whistle through the grass and across the sand as the clouds grew darker overhead. The rain was threatening to fall at any moment, still both refused to move. The waves grew more violent. The sound of the surf was becoming a roar as it smashed against the sand. The wind tossed the elf's hair and the stallion's mane about as it swept across the beach. Lightning zigzagged down the sky, sending a blinding flash across the sky, and thunder rumbled overhead. The horse started at the loud noise and Glorfindel blinked against the sudden glare of harsh light. When he opened his eyes the stallion was gone, galloping away down the beach. The rain began to fall at an angle and within moments he was drenched. The horse was soon lost to sight in the storm. Glorfindel knew that this would not be the last time the two would meet. Not if he had anything to do with it.
A few days later, Glorfindel slunk through the grass on the dunes. He moved as silently as a shade. Only a few hundred yards away the white stallion was playing in the surf on the beach. It was kicking foam up into the air and prancing about like a young colt. It was the first time the elf had seen the horse since their last encounter. He was glad to know that it had stayed in the northern part of the Enedwaith. He still found it odd that the horse would come here and wondered from whence it had come. It was not of Rohirrim or Gondorian stock, he could tell that easily. No, this horse came from the elves, but to whom it had belonged and how it came to be here was still a mystery. The only elf haven that was close to the Enedwaith was Rivendell, but why would it run from there?
Glorfindel kept up his steady, stealthy pace until he was only a few dozen yards from the stallion, entirely hidden in the long grass. He was there for only a moment before the stallion stopped in its play and turned to stare at him. He was astonished by the wit of this animal. He had been perfectly silent, not downwind from it, and he was completely camouflaged. How had the stallion known he was here?
It held its head up high and flared its nostrils, eyeing him closely. Glorfindel crouched, frozen in place, unsure of what to do. The horse was poised for fight or flight, muscles quivering and ears lay back against its head. It was just waiting to see what the elf would do. They were once again in a deadlock position. He had to do something to show the horse he was not someone to fear. He only wished to be friends with the stallion. He had no intention to harm such a handsome creature. How could he show the horse that he was not an enemy?
Then an idea came to him. He smiled and relaxed back onto his heels. The horse blinked, surprised by this sudden show of ease in his presence. It took one step sideways before pausing at a strange new sound. Glorfindel had begun to sing. The horse's ears flicked in his direction, but stood unsure of what to make of this new situation.
Glorfindel sang the Song of the Sea in a clear, low voice but ever so quietly at first. The horse dropped its head a little lower, listening hard. It seemed to be familiar with the sound of the elf song. The golden haired elf sang a little louder and his voice seemed to dance on the air with joy. He was invisible to mortal eyes were he was hidden, making it appear that a ghost's voice was carrying down the beach. He was lulling all who may be listening into a daze.
"To the Sea, to the Sea! The white gulls are crying,
The wind is blowing, and the white foam is flying.
West, west away, the round sun is falling.
Grey ship, grey ship, do you hear them calling,
The voices of my people that have gone before me?
I will leave, I will leave the woods that bore me;
For our days are ending and our years failing.
I will pass the wide waters lonely sailing.
Long are the waves on the Last Shore falling,
Sweet are the voices in the Lost Isle calling,
In Eressëa, in Elvenhome that no man can discover,
Where the leaves fall not: land of my people for ever!"
The stallion lowered its head until its gaze was level with the elf's. Glorfindel stared back into the horse's eyes as he sang, lowering his voice. Slowly, he quieted until the last word died on his lips and the last note hung like a thin line between them. Then suddenly there was a silence as the song drifted away on the wind. The horse stood passively for a moment before it whirled about quickly and cantered away from him.
Glorfindel smiled with satisfaction, feeling that he had won a small victory that day. Perhaps there was hope yet that the stallion would trust him and be his friend. He would not give up until the horse learned that he was not an enemy. He stood up slowly, and shook the sand off his body. He had gone far enough for today. He would come back tomorrow and try again.
Almost every day there after Glorfindel would sit in the same place and wait for the stallion to come. Each day the horse would wonder down to this spot on the beach to play. The stallion would see him and Glorfindel would sing to him. It was a different song each day so that the horse would not lose interest. He sang of the Tale of Eärendil, of Beren and Luthien, of Nimrodel, and of the land of Beleriand, which had been lost now for many a year. Time did not matter to the horse and the elf. Days slipped by as easily as the waves on the sand. He sang many a song to the stallion upon that beach with the waves lending their rhythmic music to them. Each time during these songs the elf would creep a little closer to the stallion until the horse threatened to run then he would sit still and finish the song.
Each day they did this until the elf was almost close enough to touch the stallion. The horse no longer ran from him now. It would stay near the elf for hours just to hear him sing. Perhaps the horse could not understand the words but the beauty of it was not lost to its ears. They had finally become friends of sorts, but the stallion still did not let Glorfindel touch him.
This day the elf planned to change that. The day started out the same as always but for this one he had chosen a special song to sing. It was the hymn of Elbereth, a song known to enchant even the vilest of mortal creatures. Its words weaved a graceful pattern around the listener, soothing their minds. The stallion's eyes closed as it stood only a few steps away and listened.
"A Elbereth Gilthoniel,
silivren penna míriel
o menel aglar elenath!
o galadhremmin ennorath,
Fanuilos, le linnathon
nef aear, si nef aearon!
A Elbereth Gilthoniel!
o menel palan-díriel
le nallon sí di'nguruthos!
A tiro nin, Fanuilos!
A! Elbereth Gilthoniel!
silivren penna míriel
o menel aglar elenath!
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees,
Thy starlight on the Western Seas.
Glorfindel silently got to his feet as he sang, sneaking ever closer to the wild horse. He stretched out his hand toward the horse as he got nearer. The stallion's nostrils flared wide at the smell of the elf so close to him. Its eyes snapped open, piercing him in place where he stood. He did not move, but continued to sing. The horse's eyes rolled until the whites of its eyes showed, but it did not pin its ears back. It was only afraid not hostile. It shook its head and backed away when the elf ventured to move just a bit closer.
Snow-white! Snow-white! O Lady clear!
O Queen beyond the Western Seas!
O Light to us that wander here
Amid the world of woven trees!
Gilthoniel! O Elbereth!
Clear are thy eyes and bright thy breath!
Snow-white! Snow-white! We sing to thee
In a far land beyond the Sea.
O stars that in the Sunless Year
With shining hand by her were sown,
In windy fields now bright and clear
We see your silver blossom blown!
O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees,
Thy starlight on the Western Seas."
Glorfindel did not give up. He never stopped singing, and started the song over when it ended. He kept his hand out toward the horse always just within inches of its delicate nose before it would move away again. After a long time of this strange back and forth dance, the horse stood still. Glorfindel reached out and touched the stallion's nose. Its muzzle was as soft as velvet beneath his finger tips. The stallion only submitted to it for a moment before throwing his head up and backing away, but the elf would not be driven away. His small triumph spurred him on until little by little the horse accepted his touch.
By sundown the horse stood placidly by his side while he caressed its face and ears. He began to speak to the stallion in a low voice. He told the horse all the things he dreamed they could do together. They could race the wind, fly among the stars, out run even the swiftest horse, and face any danger if only they had each other. The stallion's ears turned in his direction, listening intently and seemed to understand his words. While he talked he stroked his hands down the horse's neck and over its shoulders until he stood back by the horse's side. He ran his hand down the horse's warm back, wishing he could be riding him at that moment. The stallion swung its head around to look at him like it had heard his thoughts. It gave him a gentle nudge and bobbed its head.
The elf looked at the horse in surprise. The stallion nudged him again and whickered softly. If you ask it of me I will let you ride, the stallion seemed to be saying. The elf stared into the horse's eyes. He smiled happily at the trust he saw there. Then in one smooth, graceful motion he was upon the stallion's back. The horse did not even flinch, confirming his suspicions that this horse had once belonged to another. He buried his hands in the stallion's mane and leaned forward, crying out.
"Noro lim, mellon, niro lim!" (Ride fast, friend, ride fast!)
The horse sprang into a gallop. Its hooves appeared to be flying over the sand and sent spray up in all directions as they raced through the waves. Along the edge of the beach, they flew mane and hair streaming out behind them like banners. They seemed to move like one being as though their bodies were melded together. The stars began to appear in the sky so close that the elf felt he could reach out and touch them. The moon rose and sent its silvery rays over the beach. It seemed to the horse and elf to glow with the radiance of their new found companionship.
The elf marveled at the powerful creature that he sat astride of as its feet surged beneath him. He could feel the stallion's muscles rippling under his smooth coat with a sense of awe. The very wind appeared to be chasing them, trying to keep up. Glorfindel felt as if he was soaring into the boundless sky. The world seemed to go on without end. It felt as though they could run forever.
At long last Glorfindel drew the stallion to a halt and they turned to face the sea. Together they looked out over the ocean, watching the moon rise high in the sky and the stars twinkle like so many small diamonds. The elf smiled at the glorious sight and patted the horse's neck.
"You shall be called Asfaloth, the sun's white blossom. We shall be like brothers to the wind and the stars. We will be as one mind and spirit in perfect harmony. One shall never be without the other for we shall be stronger together," he whispered to the horse then leaned forward, wrapping his arms around the stallion's neck. "What say you, Asfaloth? Brothers in one spirit?"
The horse nodded its head and let out a piercing whinny, crying out to all the world of their new allegiance to each other. Glorfindel smiled, and it was as he said in the years to come. Never was one without the other, brothers in one spirit.
Information was gathered from The Encyclopedia of Arda, The Council of Elrond, and The Grey Havens.
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