The company walked through the dark forest quietly. All were wondering what Gandalf had to say. Yet their wonderings were punctuated by thoughts of this new elf stranger. She walked deftly over roots and leaves; she was definitely a forest elf. Her golden hair was tied in a small twist at the back of her head and she wore clothes of grey and green similar to Legolas’. The brown horse was just as nimble as she was in the forest, it never faltered on uneven ground or on erupted tree roots. It was proud and strong and held itself like a horse of Rohan yet it was smaller then them.
Merry whispered to Pippin, “Who is she? At first glance she almost looks like Galadriel, but now she is totally different…but not. It is strange”
Pippin nodded, “That’s also what I thought. Could they be related?”
“Maybe,” whispered Merry. “Look, she wears a cloak of Lothlorien, maybe she comes from there.”
“Then what is she doing here?” The two hobbits looked at each other and Merry shook his head.
“Elye nar mára málo, Rocco,” she said to the horse.
“You named your horse, horse?” asked Legolas.
“Seemed logical,” she said.
“What do you mean your horse’s name is horse?” asked Merry.
“Rocco means horse in elvish,” she laughed, “I suppose it is rather a silly name.”
“I’d say it makes perfect sense,” said Gimli.
“It walks through the woods as if it were a field. How is this possible? Is it not a horse of Rohan?” asked Legolas.
“She is a horse of Rohan, but she grew up in the forest with me. She has been a good friend, I don’t know how I got along without her,” Nien patted the horse’s back.
The horse tossed her dark hair and whinnied softly. She nudged her elf friend and she smiled back. There was obviously a strong bond between the elf and beast. It was similar to the friendships of men of Rohan with their horses. Legolas was about to ask how a horse of Rohan became a horse of Fangorn when he was suddenly silenced by the sight before him. It was a small clearing made of a circle of trees. A ray of light made it through the canopy and shone warmly in the centre. A vast garden of beautiful, bright flowers criss crossed the ground. At the far end was a small hill with an indent which housed a makeshift bed of grass and old cloaks. Running over the side of the hill was a tiny waterfall that fed the garden then slowly trickled off in the direction of the Entwash.
“This is beautiful,” gasped Legolas.
“Yes, it’s the only place in Fangorn where flowers will grow. The Ents asked the trees to move for me so I may grow them and shed some light on my life. It is my grotto.”
“Sam would love to see this garden,” said Merry as he gently touched a bright fuchsia flower. “It’s so amazing.”
“You have friend who’s a gardener too?” she asked excitedly. “I’ve always been fond of gardening; it’s so peaceful and rewarding. My favourite part is when the flower first blooms, that’s when you know that all your hard work is…”
“That’s very nice Nien but we have more important matters to attend to,” Gandalf sat cross legged on the ground in a small patch of grass.
“Sorry,” she sighed and sat down, followed by everyone else.
Gandalf remained silent for a while, his eyes were unfocused and he was clearly concentrating hard. Everyone remained silent, waiting for the obviously important news. Then he looked up and his eyes were deeply troubled filling the company with dread.
“There is a new evil before us,” he took a deep breath. “Middle Earth is at war again.”
Everyone sat silent and still. This news scared and puzzled them.