Racing for Rohan - Chapter Three
As she burst through the stable doors, Alarion once again felt the soft glow of the sun on her skin. She saw the crowd of boys, still huddled together around the poster, no doubt plotting some ridiculous scheme to get themselves into the Races. Many flaxen hued heads turned to her as she came out, their blue eyes narrowed suspiciously.
Alarion glanced quickly at them, then turned and followed her brother down the hill to one of the smaller stables. Catching up with him, she couldn't help but wonder why it was that he went so fast. The twins were a pair of pranksters, and their many tricks had plagues Edoras for 15 years. The fact that they were normally so laid back gave her reason to worry slightly - they were jokers, yes, but very determined once they put their minds to something.
"Thanks for getting me out of there," she told him gratefully, "So...what is it you ant my help with?"
"You'll see," he replied, without so much as a change in pace, "You'll see... but don't go getting you hopes up. It all needs to be finalized and there may be problems because - well, you know..." This time he glanced side-long at her with `that look' on his face. That look, thought Alarion, he's used it since before I can remember. It was the sort of look that said you-know-what-I-mean-that-thing-that-no-one-wants-to-say. Yep, that just about sums me up, the thing that one-one wants to say.
Soon, they entered another stable block, very similar to the last, only much smaller. She blinked a few times, her eyes struggling to react as fast as they could to the change from the sun to the shadows. She didn't often come into these stables unless she needed - her work was with the royal horse's, not those of the people.
Her eyes beginning to adjust to the dim light, she saw four boys standing secretly around a stable containing one of the last pure black horses in Rohan. They were whispering to each other quietly, and glanced only momentarily at Alarion and Thengeld as they came in, and she recognized most of them as being a year or so older than her. The horse seemed to understand the need to silence, and stood unmoving, listening intently to their words.
That was one of the reasons Alarion loved horses so much - they weren't just great stupid beasts. They had minds of their own, their own personalities, and they understood perfectly well what was going on in the world. And they don't judge people by her parents, she thought sighing...
The group of boys turned to them, acknowledging their presence with a few quick nods.
"Found her." Thengeld informed them.
"Would never have guessed..." came a witty reply form one of the boys, who grinned at her brother.
"Have you told her anything?" another asked.
"Not yet - I thought I'd leave that to you Hereth."
"Well, I feel honored."
"But how do you know they'll let her anyway?"
"There's no rule that say's she can't."
"I know - still..."
"I'm sorry, I feel like I'm missing something here - what exactly are you talking about?" Alarion cut in, exasperated. She didn't like people talking about her behind her at the best of times - but to do so in front of her was nothing short of rude. For the first time, the boys turned to her.
"The poster on the hill. You've seen it no doubt."
"Yes..." she answered slowly, without a clue where this was going.
"Have you read it all?" Hereth questioned.
"No - I couldn't get to it. There was a big crowd of boys there. Why?" she asked suspiciously.
"So you haven't read the small print then?" he continued, eyebrows raised.
"No - for goodness sake, what's this all about? Thengeld? Care to explain?" she stared at him pointedly.
Thengeld opened his mouth to speak, but Hereth got there first.
"We all know that each team needs four members - that's the way its always been. Well, we've got our team," he said, looking around at his friends, "But this year they've added a new rule. Apparently, we need to have an experience stable hand to help us train, help on the day and take someone's place if they cannot Race." he finished.
Alarion stood shocked, opened-mouthed. Surely - no, they couldn't be - they weren't suggesting - she -
"We were wondering if you would be our help." Hereth at last came to the point. Alarion was speechless. For a few seconds, she was frozen, rooted to the spot.
"She doesn't want to do it - come on Hereth, we need to find some one before all the good ones are gone." urged a tall green-eyed boy.
"I didn't say that," snapped Alarion, a little sharper than she had meant to, "In fact, I didn't say anything at all. However, I would be honored to help you with the Races this summer."
Hereth smiled at her, and the other boys grinned and sighed with relief.
"Thanks," he said, "Now if you'll excuse us, we're off to register. I heard the East fold are a really good team this year - wee need to start training extra early and extra hard..." and with that, all five boys bustled out of the stables, leaving Alarion alone with her still-numb mind and the silent black horse.