The Two Towers: Kyshri's Story - The quest to destroy the One Ring told through the eyes of a runaway elf (part one of thirteen)
He vowed then and there that he would let no further harm come to her while he was still alive. And that, once this journey had been completed, he would find the courage to ask for her hand--to find out if her giving him her pendant was the truth and not a simple jest.
And he knew at that moment that the journey would be concluded--that Lady Galadriel's mirror had truly been wrong about Kyshri's death--because he could sense that no matter what happened, everything would be all right.
He shifted his gaze, peering up through the boughs of the trees to the pale blue sky above, and smiled once more.
They would be victorious; the Ring would be destroyed.
The days we traveled seemed to drag. Gimli kept up for the most part, though there were moments when he lagged. We could not wait for him for too long a time, but there was never a need to retrieve him.
However, we saw more hopeful signs the longer we moved ahead--several empty food-bags and now useless clothing. It was late in the morning of the next day that Aragorn stopped and knelt. Legolas continued on a distance, thinking that he was only checking the trail, but I paused when I saw him pulling something from the grass.
It seemed to be a glittery jewel--on closer examination I saw that it was the brooch from a Lorien cloak. "Then there is still hope."
Aragorn nodded. "Not idly do the leaves of Lorien fall. This did not happen by chance: it was cast away as a token to any who might follow."
"Then one was at least alive," Gimli noted, "and had use of his wits. It is heartening that we do not pursue in vain."
"Then let us go on," Legolas called from the top of the hill, "and be sure that our pursuits do not end in vain!"
We continued until night had completely enveloped the world and then stopped to debate over rest or progression. If we rested, the orcs would most certainly gain ground from us if they did not stop. If we proceeded, however, we risked missing sidetrails from an escaped prisoner.
I knew that I could go on; with so many orcs in the group I doubted either hobbit's escape, but I would not leave the others behind if they chose to rest, which they did eventually. Aragorn and Gimli went to sleep immediately and I laid down to nap, but Legolas did not.
[Will you stay up all night?] I queried.
[I cannot rest,] he answered softly, taking his eyes from what would be our future path to look at me. [The night warns me that they are not pausing.] He bestowed a faint smile upon me. [Go to sleep.]
I obeyed, curled slightly at his feet almost like a loyal hound. My sleep was uninterrupted and I woke to the touch of his fingers on my face. [Wake, maiden of Lorien. Our journey begins again.]
We set out for the third day and traveled until nightfall. Upon our stop I found myself drifting in and out of sleep, though I was unaware I had been so tired. I leaned against Legolas' shoulder and closed my eyes, a branch of my mind screaming that this was not true weariness.
[Kyshri?] came Legolas' concerned voice from a strangely remote distance. [Are you well?]
I startled into wakefulness and gathered my wits as quick as my fuzzied mind would allow. [We are being forced to slow.]
[We have concluded that,] he acknowledged. [Are you well?]
I turned my head away to yawn widely. [I will be fine as long as I do not cease this search. Let me go ahead. On the move I will not tire.]
[It would be far better that you sleep now than succumb on the trail,] Aragorn put in as Gimli, disinterested in our conversation, settled down for the night.
[I fear that if I were to sleep I would never wake.]
[What do you mean?] Legolas asked, clearly distressed.
[That if I were to sleep I would fall deep into an enchanted slumber and never wake,] I answered. [I understand that it sounds as a wild story might, but I feel the magic around us. Saruman will detain us in any way possible and my magus ancestry makes me most vulnerable to his treachery. Allow me to search ahead this night; I will not be farther than a day's journey from you.]
[That is a great distance,] Aragorn replied with a shake of his head. [Too great if you were to stumble upon an orc trap.]
[And you would rather carry me for the rest of eternity?!] I demanded. [This is no curable illness! Once I am asleep, I will never wake!]
[A day's journey is too far ahead,] Aragorn insisted.
[If I was to go ahead I would be a day's journey from you at dawn. If I were to merely sniff about in this area I would grow weary and fall!]
[Whether or not you agree to my going, I will go!] I snarled. [I refuse to be subjected to an eternity of slumber merely because you feel I am incapable of defending myself!]
Legolas grasped my arms tightly and leaned around me. [Aragorn, let her go. As much as I do not wish to allow it, I sense that I must. She will do fine alone.]
[I will follow the trail as it goes,] I announced. [At dawn I will make my way back to meet you in case there were sidetrails I missed.] I pulled from Legolas' grasp and set out alone.
I went much farther than I had intended and by dawn I found myself only a half-dozen leagues from Fangorn. I was about to turn back when I heard the cries of battle and the clash of weapon upon weapon. Cresting the next hill, I passively observed the slaughter of orcs by the Rohirrim. I was uninterested in the battle, being more in search of the cloaks of Lorien worn by the hobbits.
I saw them make a dash into Fangorn and tilted forward, running down the hillside at a speed that barely allowed me to keep my feet beneath me. But as I reached the hill's base I found my throat at the sharp point of a spear. The battle had just been won and the orc bodies were being piled for burning. The hobbits were long gone.
Looking up at my captor, I met his eyes. They were hard with suspicion. He used the end of his spear to tilt my head from side to side, apparently searching for a mark of some kind.
"Do you speak?" he demanded.
I shoved his spear aside and glared at him; I would spare no words for a fool bearing a weapon. As I walked toward Fangorn, however, he wheeled his horse before me and blocked my path again.
I held my tongue though I desperately wished to yell at him for his remark. If he believed he could frighten me into speaking, he did not know the powers of control I possessed.
"Eothain!" another Rider called as he approached. "What have you?"
"A she-elf with no voice, it seems!" was Eothain's amused answer.
The other Rider looked at me narrowly. "Bind her. We will question her later when we stop. If she does not speak then she best be born a mute or there will be a consequence to her insolence! We shall lash her until she speaks!"
I understood, but was not cowed. Eothain understood as well and chuckled knowingly as he retrieved some rope. I pushed dignity aside and allowed myself to be bound--I was not so angry that I had no sense--and tossed over the rump of Eothain's horse. The company of Riders rode back the way I had come, Eothain grabbing my wrists and hauling me up repeatedly until he realized I would be easier to watch out for if I was in front of him.
I considered my options. I still had my weapons, for Eothain had not taken them once he had bound me, but being before him, I could not simply slide off and risk being trampled.
Then my only choice was to see what was in store for me.
[Where is she?]
Legolas looked around from the hilltop. [. . . I see nothing.]
His demeanor was fretful. Aragorn knew he must tread carefully. [Could she have found the orcs?]
The elf shook his head. [Not . . . Not unless they had turned back on their trail or had stopped for more than a few hours of rest. And she knows better than to try battling them herself.]
[Even in the face of harm to the hobbits?]
Legolas bit his lip nervously and made no reply.
Aragorn surveyed the plains before them, but his musings of Kyshri's whereabouts were cut short upon seeing a sort of shadow or blur. He quickly went to the ground and placed his ear upon the earth while Legolas shaded his eyes and saw that the shadowy blur was actually a company of horsemen.
"There are one hundred and five," the elf reported. "Yellow is their hair and bright are their spears. Their leader is very tall. They have three empty saddles, but no hobbits."
Aragorn rose, watching Legolas strain his eyes through the company. His hopes fell when the elf dropped his hand and bowed his head. ". . . She is not among them."
"They may have seen her," Aragorn suggested.
So they waited, drawing their cloaks around them and sitting by the hill's foot. The company galloped by in pairs, some often standing in the stirrups of their well-bred mounts and casting a look around, though none ever seemed to notice them so near.
They had almost completely gone when Aragorn rose and called in a loud, clear voice, "What news from the North, Riders of Rohan?"
The horsemen wheeled their steeds, charging toward the three and closing them in a circle of spears. One with the tail of a horse as a crest for his helm rode forth until the very tip of his spear was less than a foot from Aragorn's chest. The Ranger did not move.
"Who are you and what are you doing in this land?"
"I am called Strider. I came out of the North hunting orcs."
The Rider dismounted and handed his spear to a nearby horseman. He drew his sword and faced Aragorn curiously. "I thought at first that you were orcs, but I see now that is not so. Indeed, you know little of them if you hunt them in this fashion. They were swift and well-armed and great in number. You would have changed from hunter to prey in an instant." He leaned nearer. "But there is something strange about you, Strider. That is no name for a man and your raiment is strange as well. Are you elvish folk?"
"No," Aragorn answered. "Only one of us is an elf, Legolas of the distant Woodland Realm of Mirkwood. But we have passed through Lothlorien and the gifts and favors of the Lady go with us."
The Rider was briefly overcome with wonder, but his eyes hardened and he frowned. "Then there is a Lady in the Golden Wood, as old tales tell! But if you have her favor than you are perhaps sorcerers as well."
"That is my Lady you speak so ill of, Rider," snarled a familiar voice from the ring of horsemen, "for I am also from Lothlorien! You best take back your words before I force it of you!"
"So you speak only when we want you quiet?" a Rider asked, raising his arm warningly. "Silence!" And he cuffed something before him.
Legolas lunged that way, checked only by Aragorn and Gimli. [Kyshri!]
[Ah, Legolas! I thought I heard your name being spoken!]
"Silence!" the Rider cried again with a second cuff.
"Eothain!" the first Rider called sharply. "Bestow no more harm upon her! If these are her companions and they will tell us what she will not, then we have no need of her!"
"Then you will not mind if I depart from your generous company!" With that, two booted feet rose and came into powerful contact with Eothain's chin. The Rider released his horse and fell back in surprise, allowing the legs to continue their path to the horse's other side. A small commotion indicated the prisoner's trail and then a bound figure leapt into the circle of spears.
[Kyshri!] He caught me in a tight embrace. [Are you all right?]
[I am fine. They did not harm me . . . too much.]
He drew one of his daggers and reached behind me as I leaned against him, cutting the rope that bound me and then examining the raw skin of my wrists with gentle fingers. [Trying to escape?]
[I went farther than I had intended. When I stopped to go back I heard the sounds of battle. I moved on, thinking that someone might have waylaid the orcs and given the hobbits an escape. I saw them running into Fangorn and tried to follow, but was stopped by these Riders.]
"---But wanderers in the Riddermark would be wise to be less haughty in these days of doubt," the lead Rider, Eomer, was saying. "Tell me your right name."
"First tell me whom you serve," Aragorn answered quickly. "Are you friend or foe to Sauron?"
"I serve only the Lord of the Mark, Theoden King son of Thengel. We do not serve the Black Land but we are not yet at open war with him; if you are fleeing his power, you had best leave this land. There is trouble on our borders and we are threatened, but we desire only to be free and to live as we have lived, keeping our own and serving no foreign lord, good or evil . . . Who are you? Whom do you serve? At whose command do you hunt orcs in our land?"
Here it is! Thanks for sticking with me while I got in gear and submitted this! And if any of this sounds familiar, a lot of it I borrowed from the book and edited so it wasn't so long. ,_,;;