Gilraen - The Story Continues - Chapter 7 - Drifting Down the Anduin
Drifting down the Anduin
Gilraen continued to back up away from the ent, but it walked up to her and picked her up. "Hrum, Hoom, who are you?" He said with a wispy, tree-like voice. It took a moment for Gilraen to regain her composure. "I'm Gilraen, Queen of the elves." She gasped out. At this the ent realized that he was holding her a bit tight. He loosened his hold of her, but not by much, and spoke again. "Hrum, you don't look like an elf, and Gilraen doesn't sound much like an elvish name. Who are you?" The ent replied to Gilraen, looking her up and down. "Dressed in elvish garb though." He muttered to himself. "Do you happen to be Fanghorn?" Gilraen asked the ent cautiously. "Hrum, Hoom, yes that be my name, though I'm called Treebeard by most." The ent, Fanghorn replied. "Well, then you remember a man named Aragorn when you went up to see Saruman who was trapped in Isengard?" Gilraen asked quickly. "Aragorn, Hrum, Hoom, yes, I remember a man who said his name was Aragorn." Fanghorn replied after a moment. "Well, I am his descendant,
he is one of my forefathers. He married an elven princess, who became the Queen of the elves and men." Gilraen replied, her eyes glittering. "The queen of the men is passed down to the wife of the King of Arnor and Gondor, but the elves were given the privilege to choose their own queen out of the daughters. I am the elves choice. I am not an elf, although I am half-elven." Gilraen replied, trying to talk slowly, although she was getting very excited. "Hrum, Hoom, slow down little maiden. I can understand what you say, but it is puzzling to me." Fanghorn replied, his tree like features scrunching together into a frown. "It's true. I travel with seven elves. Our camp is over by the shore." Gilraen replied, her eyes sparkling with excitement. "Hoom, hmm, all right, we shall go to your companions, and I will find out what is going on, for you are two hasty, little one." Fanghorn said after a moments pause. He set Gilraen back down on the ground, and she started walking back to the camp. It took awhile, but eventually Gilraen and Fanghorn made it back to camp. Aeteran and Falisur were arguing over whether or not to go looking for her, and the rest of them were sitting down eating lembas, when Gilraen and Fanghorn entered the camp. At once Falisur and Aeteran stopped arguing and everyone stared at Fanghorn in wonder.
"Master Fanghorn, you are very welcome here." Alassemiire said after a moment or two had gone by in silence. "Ah, if Alassemiire is here then everything is well." Fanghorn replied, and Alassemiire smiled. "What goes on in Middle Earth that a queen of the elves, with a company of noble companions, sets forth from their forests and dwellings to travel as common elves?" Fanghorn asked inquiringly. "Evil again stirs in Middle Earth." Gilraen replied. "Hoom, hmmm, this is not good news. I do hope they will leave the forest alone this time." Fanghorn murmured to himself, frowning. "I would doubt it, but we will do all that we can to protect your forest, Fanghorn." Alassemiire replied, kindly, and earnestly.
"Very well. May you make good speed. This forest is always open to you and all other elves." Fanghorn said to Gilraen, and he turned and walked away back into the forest. Silence reigned for a few minutes, but finally Aeteran spoke. "Next time, tell someone when you're leaving, and have a companion go with you, Gilraen. We can't afford to loose you by some accident." Aeteran said firmly, but concernedly. Then Falisur commented on how he had never seen an ent before, and with that everyone began talking and laughing. After they had all eaten they packed up their sacks and went back to the boats. The boats were then launched, and Gilraen and her companions were once more traveling down the Silverlode. Late in the Afternoon the boats passed the Argonath. Gilraen stared in awe for a little while, but then resumed paddling, and they beached the ships. It was right near where she had camped on the way up to Eryn Lasgalen, but this time she was there with different thoughts, and different feelings about what she was doing. After hiding the boats in several different clumps of shrubs, they loaded their sacks on their backs, and started running inland. After an hour or two they burst through the trees and onto the plains of Rohan. "You know, this is one of the times when I wished we could have a horse." Gilraen panted. "That's the first thing we're going to do when we find some." Alassemiire replied, smiling. They continued running, and, by nightfall had covered a great distance. All seven of them continued to run however, and the elven blood in her surged through Gilraen, and helped her to maintain her strength and the pace at which the elves chose to run. By dawn they had passed several villages, and had nearly covered half the distance to Edoras. There they stopped. "You and Wilwarin go on to Edoras and warn them of the coming danger. We will continue on and meet you at the gap of Rohan." Gilraen told Alassemiire. Alassemiire nodded, and she and Wilwarin started to run in the same direction that they had been taking. Gilraen and her companions however, turned south, and walked for a little at Gilraen's request. Then, after a half hour of walking they resumed running. In the middle of the afternoon they came upon another village. They stopped outside of it and held council as to what to do. "We need horses." Falisur whispered. "Aye, and what are we going to buy them with?" Lenthenar asked. "I say continue on foot, and ignore the village." Isurindal commented. "Gilraen will tire soon." Aeteran stated bluntly. "If the villagers see us running they will become suspicious and then the Rohirrim will stop us." Lomien commented. They all looked at Gilraen. "We will go into the village and I will buy the horses. I brought what money I had with me away from Gondor when I left." Gilraen said, not bothering to whisper. Then she got up, and started to walk toward the village. After a moments hesitation the other five elves got up, and followed her in like manner. The small group didn't attract much attention at first, but after a young man got a good look at them he raised the alarm that foreigners were in their town. At once all of the village folk came out of their homes and surrounded Gilraen and the elves. After several minutes of chatter and babble and threats from the villagers Gilraen raised her hand to bid them to be quiet. Suddenly she found a sword at her throat. Immediately the elves had drawn their arrows drawn on their bows, two aimed at the old man who had Gilraen by the throat, and the other three aimed at the rest of the crowd in general. "Peace. What is the matter here?" Cried out a voice from over the crowd, and the villagers stepped back to let a patrol of the Rohirrim come through. The elves didn't stir, for the man still had his sword at Gilraen's throat. "Put down your weapons." Gilraen said to the elves, who reluctantly lowered their bows. "What has happened here?" One of the riders asked the old man. "Horse thieves." The old man replied without turning. Finally, Gilraen had had enough, and in one swift movement had drawn Huinenna, her sword, and knocked the old man's sword away from her and out of his hand. The Rohirrim patrol began to approach with spears raised, but Gilraen raised her hand to stop them. Surprisingly, they halted. "What business does five elves and a girl have to do here in the Riddermark?" The leader asked in a harsh tone. "We are mere travelers. We go to Minas Tirith." Gilraen replied calmly. "No they're not, they're horse thieves!" The old man cried out in anger.
"And how do you know this?" The leader asked, turning to the old man. "Three horses disappeared 4 days ago." The old man replied. "We had not even left Lothlorien 4 days ago." Lomien said, incredulously. The leader turned back to Gilraen. "If you are not horse thieves than who are you?" He asked, more gentle, but still firmly. "My companions are the elves Aeteran, Lomien, Lenthenar, Falisur, and Isurindal. My name is Gilraen." Gilraen replied quickly. "Gilraen, eh? There was a messenger sent out from Minas Tirith from King Aragorn about his daughter, Gilraen, who had run away. Are you the princess?" The leader asked looking at Gilraen curiously. Gilraen hesitated, but when she felt a hand on her shoulder, she knew that there was nothing she could do but reveal herself. "My father did not know of my mission, and only supposed that I ran away. I was the princess, but on my journey to Minas Tirith, I was met by King Thranduil of Eryn Lasgalen, and he chose me to be the Queen of the elves, which, as you know, is hereditary among the princesses of Gondor and Arnor, but the elves have to choose who shall be their queen. No, I am no longer the princess of Gondor and Arnor but the Queen of the elves." Gilraen replied quickly. A moment or two passed in silence, and then the guard broke out laughing. "A small girl, queen of the elves?" He laughed, and soon all of the villagers were laughing. While they were, a small peasant girl sneaked up to them and tugged on Gilraen's sleeve.
"My father wants to know, do you want horses?" She whispered. "Yes Gilraen replied, handing a small bag of Gold coins to the girl. The girl ran back into the crowd, and then came back. "They'll be right outside the village, but my mommy says you need to leave now unless you want to be taken off to Edoras and then back to the King of Gondor and Arnor." She whispered, and then fled back into the crowd. Gilraen looked around her. Everywhere there were villagers except for where the horses of the Rohirrim stood. It was the only way through the village, and the one place that they might get through. "We're going to run by the Rohirrim on their side very quickly." She whispered back to Aeteran.
Then she started to count. "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, run now!" She whispered, and then dashed toward the Rohirrim. The elves followed, and the Rohirrim were caught off guard. They dashed past the Rohirrim, and ran quickly toward the end of the village where they saw six horses awaiting them. Gilraen saw the little girl next to a house, and, making sure she was looking, dropped another bag of gold while running. She just had time to see the little girl pick the bag up and scamper back into the house, when she heard the sound of hoof beats. They were being pursued. By then they were running past the last houses, and they all quickly jumped onto the horses. Gilraen sheathed her sword, and then she and the rest of the elves rode like the wind, away from the village. The Rohirrim guard pursued them as far as they could, but their horses needed rest shortly, and Gilraen and the elves rode out of sight.
They rode all day and night before their horses tired, and then they dismounted and rested. "I have been convinced that men are crazy in Rohan." Aeteran said, as soon as they had eaten. "Not crazy, just men." Falisur replied, and they all took rest. Gilraen was awakened in the middle of the afternoon by the sound of hoof beats. She immediately jumped to her feet, finding that the rest of the elves were already up on their horses. Gilraen quickly mounted her horse, and stared in the direction of the hoof beats. Off in the distance she could see two riders, but they did not ride like men. It was then when Gilraen looked around her. There were the mountains, looming up around her, and she could see what looked like a tiny, spiky pillar off in the distance. "Isengard." She gasped under her breath. Then she smiled. "It must be Alassemiire and Wilwarin." Gilraen said cheerfully. "That's what we think, too." Aeteran replied, turning to look at her and smiling. It was ten minutes before the riders got close enough that one could see their faces. Gilraen smiled as she recognized Alassemiire and Wilwarin ride up. Within a minute or two Alassemiire and Wilwarin were among them, their horses painting hard. "The king listened, and said that he would watch for the approaching evil, but will not do anything until he is sure." Wilwarin said, dismounting. Alassemiire dismounted also, and the rest of them did the same. "Let's run, and leave the horses. My legs feel cramped and in need to stretch. It is only a few hundred miles to Minas Tirith. We will travel faster if we do not have to stop every day to rest the horses." Gilraen said cheerfully. Aeteran and Isurindal exchanged glances, and then they looked at Gilraen. "Certainly, Gilraen, if that is what you want to do." Aeteran replied cautiously. "Yes, I am sure." Gilraen said, seriously. "Then we leave the horses." Aeteran said, and they took their bags down from off of the horses, and left, running southeast toward Minas Tirith. By mid-afternoon, they reached the base of one of the Ered Nimrais, the mountains that separate Rohan from Gondor. They had two choices, either to go over the mountain, or to continue along east and approach Minas Tirith from the east. "Well, it is easier to run along the base of the mountains going east than across them. Let us continue east." Gilraen said in answer to the curious looks of the elves. At that they turned and went along the base of the mountain, without a word. Thanks to her elvish blood, Gilraen managed to keep the pace of the elves, and not tire. They ran all through that night, and the next day without exchanging a word among them, though many of them quietly sang to themselves in elvish now and again. Gilraen heard songs of the love of Luthien and Beren, of Doriath, of Valinor, of the Silmarils and the grief that came from Feanor's oath, of Yavanna, of Manwe, of Mithradir, of the War of the Ring, of the Battle of Pelennor fields, of the beauty of Melian the Maia and her descendant Arwen, of Lothlorien, and the first and second ages. The songs always uplifted Gilraen's heart, and gave her more determination. They ran all through the second night, and by morning on the third day had reached the Northwest border of the Firien Wood. It was then that they heard the sound of galloping horses, well trained at that by the way that they ran. Gilraen turned to Aeteran and grasped his arm in fear. He kept running and Alassemiire grabbed her and pulled her along into the Firien wood. There they all stopped.
"It is not safe, they do not fear this wood." Alassemiire said quietly. "How do you know?" Asked Aeteran seriously and with a tone that made Gilraen think that he feared the answer. "I rode with them for ten years before the War of the Ring, disguised as one of them. The Rohirrim nor any man, woman or child of Rohan would fear to go into these woods. We must continue on." Alassemiire replied, whispering. "Well, where shall we run, they are gaining as we speak." Lenthenar whispered urgently. "Let us run further into the forest, to the other side, and then climb into the trees and rest. That way they will pass us without knowing it, and we will be able to sit down for a little while." Gilraen whispered anxiously. Aeteran nodded and they ran further into the forest. They ran for hours, always in hearing range of the riders, but never knowing how close the Rohirrim really were. Finally, at noontide the trees began to thin, and once again Gilraen could see the plains and fields of Rohan. She quickly turned around and ran back into the forest until the trees where again growing thickly together. After a minute or two Gilraen saw the elves coming toward her from her perch up in the tree, and as soon as they were below her she hailed them. "I'm up here!" Gilraen said, trying to keep her voice quiet. At once the elves stopped and looked up. After a moment or two Alassemiire spotted her and showed Aeteran and the others. Gilraen motioned for them to come up, and they started to climb the trees. Just as soon as they had all hidden themselves the Rohirrim came into sight. It was several minutes however, before the Rohirrim had come near their hiding places, for the trees had slowed the horses down considerably. But when they came within reach of the trees that Gilraen and the elves had hidden themselves in, they continued on toward the eastward plains, and did not even pause to look around. Gilraen and the elves stayed in the trees for several hours before they came down. Then Alassemiire, Wilwarin, Lomien Gilraen, and Lenthenar drew their bows in readiness, and Isurindal and Aeteran drew their swords. They all walked slowly toward the eastern plains, making sure to make no noise, and to observe all that was around them. The trees and undergrowth started to thin, and soon they stepped out onto the plain. Gilraen looked quickly about her. There was no sound of hoof beats, nor any spear pointing up into the night sky. Alassemiire crouched down, and put her ear to the ground. After a few minutes she rose. "They are not far away. Horses stamp to the south, near the mountains. If we are quick we may be able to outrun them to the Anduin." She whispered. "Then that is what we must do." Gilraen replied softly. Then, putting her bow back in its place and putting the arrow back in her quiver, Gilraen began to run. The elves quickly put away there weapons also, and followed after Gilraen. They ran all night, and all of the next day. By then they had passed the beacon hills of Gondor : Calenhad, Min-rimmon, Erelas, and Nardol. The Druadan forest loomed up towards the group of runners, and Gilraen's heart had begun to race, for once more did she hear the sound of hooves. The night was near, and Gilraen hoped to loose the Rohirrim in the dark. But she knew that the Rohirrim knew that she and her companions could not go into the Druadan forest, and that they could not skirt it quickly by going south. So there own path was known, and soon her father would know of the chase. But Gilraen refused to give up heart and to despair, and she pushed herself on, knowing that one false step could determine her fate. They ran all night, and just as dawn was breaking, they saw the Anduin, rushing and raging before them. But even the strongest currents of the Anduin could not block out the sound of hoove beats, which grew louder, and nearer every second. Gilraen did not look behind her, she knew that if she did, that fear would grasp her, and the riders of Rohan would capture her at the price of her companions lives. She raced on, the Anduin closer every second, when she heard a spear fall next to her. Still she kept her head straight before her. Gilraen kept on running, refusing to look back, refusing to despair. She kept running, and soon was running down the banks of the Anduin. Before she realized it, Gilraen had run far into the Anduin, beyond her depth, and was being swept down the Anduin. She saw Alassemiire running along the banks after her, but the rest of her companions she did not see. All of a sudden her head hit something, and everything went black.