Elone... - Chapter Three
The still night blanketed Elone as she rode silently south and east, back the way she had come the previous day.
Fly, Aman, my blessed. Elbereth, cover us in the night; hide us from unfriendly eyes. May your stars guide the way, but do not let their light betray us. The chill winter wind whistled past her peaked ears. She drew her hood up over her head and pulled her cloak tighter around her slender frame. Straining her elf-eyes into the dark night, she made out the approaching vast wastes of Dunland before her. Dunland. It was not unfriendly when Boromir and I passed this way, but who can say what passes in such time? Halting Aman, she overlooked the nothingness that stretched ahead. Nothing seems to be out of the ordinary. Wait! What is that? A faint cawing, shrieking came to her attention. Crebain. Has Saruman even corrupted the birds to his will? What other cause would they have to be up at this time of the morning? They are like crows, the carrion-bird. Saruman has become like one, a vulture of Men, feasting on the dead and weak. A plague and curse on his treachery.
She dug her heels into Aman's ribs, urging him on. The bay horse complied, springing forward tirelessly. Elone crouched close to his neck, not knowing what to expect or be watchful of. Rising beside her, she could make out the tall slopes of the Misty Mountains. She gave a start, seeing a sight she was not expecting so soon. Isengard. The tall inpenatreble pinnacle of Orthanc rose from the center of the structure. Strange shadows and lights were thrown across the black stone, as if by hundreds of fires, deep in the ground. She shuddered. Crossing Orcs and goblin-men? Surely Gandalf must've been mistaken. But now I wonder. What is Curanir doing in there? He defiles the nobility of the Men of Númenor. Isengard was purer in Elendil's day.
Focusing her attention to the far mountains, she searched for the sight she had traveled days to see: a gap in the mountains, the Gap of Rohan. Morning began to light the sky. Elone sighed. She would reach Meduseld before the next night-fall. In the growing light of the now-rising sun, she caught a glimpse of the Gap.
"Aman, we must hurry. I am weary, and time grows short for Rohan. My heart tells me I may be too late."
The Gap grew closer, and Elone's tension lessoned. She would get through safely. Quite suddenly, Aman gave a startled whinny and bolted. Elone clung to his neck, whispering in his ear, trying to calm him. Chancing a backward glance, she saw why. A group of Orcs--but they are too large and broad and swart to be normal Orcs--was gathered behind them. Thanking Varda for Aman's quick reflexes, she turned back around. Suddenly, Aman leapt over an unseen something, and taken unawares, Elone tumbled off. Disgrace! She rebuked herself as she rose to her feet. An Elf-kindred, daughter of Elrond, not being able to stay on a horse! I don't deserve to be an Elf.
She had no more time for further thought. She was slowly being surrounded by the Orcs, if Orcs they could be called. Gritting her teeth in preperation, she drew her sword.
"Daged natha dhaer o Celebrianhin! Slaying will be great from Celebrian's child!"
With a concerted harsh roar, they advanced, and she clove three to the ground with practiced ease and skill. The others backed off slightly, circling her and licking their odd blades. One rushed her from behind. She spun and plunged her blade through him, then whirled to counter the coming attack. Then, the leader, very tall and broad, stepped forward.
"You shall join the others at the Halls of Mandos before the sun is high," he growled at her. "Or perhaps my lord would like to speak with you."
" Naeth na Curanir" she hissed back at him. "Woe to Saruman."
Snarling, he leaped at her. Stepping swiftly aside, she countered his blows, taken aback by his strength and agresssion. This was no ordianary Orc. Elbereth, lasto beth nin; dano nin tur--Varda, hear my voice; give me victory. The Orc swung viciously at her. She leapt away, and came on the offensive: twirling and balancing her sword as she came on the Orc. He was unprepared, having just released his energy build-up, and Elone smote him to the ground.
Thank you. She glanced about her; the other Orcs were gone, they had fled. She winced in realization that Saruman would know of her, and in pain. She lifted a hand to her arm. She was surprised to see her hand come away bloody. I don't recall being struck. Perhaps it was the heat of battle. I hope the blade was not poison.
Morning was now bright, and she could see clearly about her. The Gap was not far, and it would be only a matter of crossing the plains to Edoras. What of Aman? She stared around, straining her far-seeing eyes. She could see nothing. Curse the Isengarders! Elbereth--do I ask for too much?--where is Aman?
She saw, passing back through the Gap, a figure, it's foot-falls--or are they hoof-falls?--were smooth and rythmatic. Aman! Blessed indeed are you among the horses! More worthy to me than the Meras. Im estel le haerannin. I trust you forever.
Once back with her horse, she rode full speed to Edoras, never looking back.
It was late evening by the time she reached Edoras and the Golden Hall. She was known at the gate, and taking Aman, they let her in.
She approached the throne, dirty, blood-stained, and sweaty with the grime of hard travel. Theoden sat, slouched in his chair. Elone winced inwardly to see him so.
He turned weary eyes upon her. "Arnach. Welcome. The dark gathers as though before a storm. What thunder rolls that you come to my court in such a fashion?"
"Saruman?" a surly voice sounded from behind the throne. A slouched figure approached her. She wrinkled her nose. Grima always appeared greasy and unclean.
"Yes," she replied. "Saruman. It has been brought to our attention that he is a traitor. Isengard reeks with deciet and hidden schemes. I passed it myself this very day, and have barely come through to you. I was waylaid by Orcs of a kind new to me: Orcs of Saruman's making. Gandalf warned--"
"Gandalf?" Grima interupted. "Speak to the king not of Gandalf Stormcrow."
"And speak to me not ill of Mithrandir, Grima Wormtongue," Elone shot back. She then turned back to the king. "I know you are weary, lord, and so am I. But you do not wait until war is upon you to begin to plan and ready the riders. The hour will soon be too late, Theoden-king. Beware. Not all the evil dwells in Mordor."
Theoden nodded. "You did right. I will summon Theodred and Eomer tomorrow morning. Too many months have passed since your boots left their soil on the floors of Meduseld, Arnach. Sleep in peace tonight. Hama will show you a room and bed."
She bowed. "Thank you, my lord."
She followed Hama the doorward, though she knew where he led her. She slept in the same room every time she visited Edoras. Once there, Hama bowed breifly, then left.
The room was small and rough, but comfortable in the way of the Rohirrim. A simple bed with a chest at it's foot, small table and large window were about the only things in the room. She sighed wearily and sat on the bed, smiling at the carvings on it's head. A running horse, it's mane flying in the wind. This is why I love Rohan. The people are simple and wholesome, free and not so solemn. Wise, but not dusty and dry, like the "wise men" at Minas Tirith. And Theoden is kindly.
A knock on the door. "Come in."
The door opened, and a tall Man entered. As the door opened, she saw the moon in the sky. It was dark night already. The Man was fair-haired, as were all the Rohirrim, with a simple mustache, proud face, and an important bearing. Ceremony was dispelled, however.
"Arnach! Theoden told me you were here."
"It has been too long since I have seen you, Eomer, Third Marshal of the Mark. How goes life in Rohan?"
Eomer shook his head. "The warning which you brought was only confirming suspicions in my mind. Too often have I seen the crows gather over towards Isengard. And there is always the feeling in my heart." He turned to her. "I have been uneasy for a while."
"These are uneasy times, friend."
"Too true. Wait, what is that on your arm?"
Elone glanced at her arm. She had forgotten about it. "I was waylaid on the way here. I had forgotten I was cut."
"Let me have a look."
She carefully rolled up her sleeve. Eomer studied the ragged gash. "It is not deep, or serious. A simple strip of cloth will do the trick."
"I have one of those somewhere." Elone laughed. "How is Eowyn?"
"Well." he replied. "Strange that you should ask. Something has been tugging at her mind lately, and she asked me yesterday if I thought you could help her."
"What is bothering her?"
"When Gandalf was last here, he spoke of an heirloom, of the house of Tinuviel, but that had been forgotten for hundreds of years. He merely mentioned it in conversation, but it has caught Eowyn's interest. And yourself being an Elf, she wondered if you knew of it."
A lost heirloom of the house of Tinuviel? I have never heard of it. "I have never heard of anything that I can recall. What was it exactly?"
"The Last Tear of Luthien."