Arandel sat erect on her white horse. They had been riding for what seemed like an eternity, and she felt that if she sat in the saddle any longer, she would never be able to stand upright again. But she wasn’t about to complain. She had asked to come on this trip, and she would sound like a whiner. But just sitting on a horse sure was boring.
“Mistress Arandel,” came an irritating singsong voice from behind her. “You really should have your hood up. The sun isn’t good for your complexion you know.” Arandel rolled her eyes. It was her handmaiden, Denyemead, who her mother had insisted on sending with her. She has to be the most irritating person in all of middle earth. Thought Arandel. She threw her hood back even further, and acted as if she hadn’t heard her. “Mistress!” Denyemead admonished. Arandel looked at her father for support. “I think it will be just fine for the princess to keep her hood back, Denyemead. She needs all the fresh air and sunshine she can get,” Aragorn told the girl as he gave Arandel a quick wink. Arandel cast her father a grateful look.
The sun shone in wide patches across the path. Arandel could smell the sweet scent of pine in the air. A bird twittered merrily in the branches above. To Arandel it seemed that he sang a song, about things gone past and things to come. Aradel lifted her face to the suns warm inviting fingers, and began to sing a song of her own.
Days have come,
And days have gone,
And some are still in passing.
Just as the road passes ever on,
So days will still keep passing.
Until the end of time.
Suddenly Aragorn held up his hand, signaling the company to a halt. “What is it father?” Arandel asked, reining in her horse next to his. “The horses,” he said peering into the trees, as if looking for something no one else could see, “They’ve become skittish. There is something about that they fear.”
Arandel pulled her cloak closer about her. The wood was now strangely silent. The bird over head had stopped his singing, and the squirrels had scampered for their holes. Even the previously warm sunlight suddenly seemed dim and cold. “Oh dear,” whined Denyemead
There was a whine, as of an arrow being loosed from a bow. A guard just to the King’s right fell with a black arrow in his breast. A shower of identical arrows soon followed it. A few horses fell, pierced with dozens of arrows and riders of the fallen horses were soon trampled by other fear-crazed horses. Auduril leapt to Aragorns hand. “To me, men of Gondor!” He cried, as dozens of goblins poured forth from the forest. Arandel tried desperately to clear her horse as it fell with an arrow in its side, but was pulled to safety at the last moment by a strong hand on her tunic. “Cling to me Arandel! Don’t let go no matter what happens,” Her father had placed her in front of him on his horse, and shielded her with his body.
She held tightly to his tunic with both hands, her mind too blinded by fear to think. Auduril moved in a blur of motion, cutting down goblins left and right. “Heron!” he paused for a moment to place Arandel in front of another rider. Arandel recognized him as her fathers most trusted rider. “Take the Princess and ride for Minas Tirith. Don’t stop or look back. Now go!”
They had hardly gotten out of sight of the king when Arandel felt a cold pain pierce her shoulder. She cried out in pain. Heron’s arm slid around her waist, as he pushed the horse on faster. Arandel brought her head up to peer over her shoulder. A black feathered shaft was imbedded deep in her shoulder, blood already making a large red stain on her cloak. The wind whipped her hair into her face, and a cold numbness spread down her arm and into her chest. She gasped for breath; her lungs seemed to tighten so she couldn’t breath. She thought dimly as the world started to go swiftly dark, that there must have been poison on the shaft. Then she slipped into complete and deathlike darkness.