Over the soft canopy of the forest of Greenwood, a storm was raging. Flashes of lightning lit up half the sky, followed quickly by growls of thunder that seemed to come from Melkor himself. It had been a long time since the elves had seen a storm this terrible. The rain had been steadily pouring down for the last half hour and now as time neared towards midnight, the storm reached a new pitch of violence.
A stab of lightning flashed dangerously close to the earth, frightening the only two horses out in the gale, two young horses with two young riders, who were rather inexperienced at calming horses down. Unfortunately for the riders, the two horses (well, ponies would be nearer the mark) were fed up with their riders lack of skills, and both charged off into the night, scraping off their riders when they ran right under two low hanging branches.
Bump. Bump. Araviel and Arwen hit the earth with dull thuds. Arwen immediately stood up, her eyes glinting angrily in the dark. In the gloom of the night and dark forest she looked more like a banshee than an elven princess. Her jet black hair was flying every which way, her gray eyes were twinkling like stars, standing out in her pale, muddy face.
“Get up Araviel! If we want to follow Legolas, we’ve got to hurry double quick!” she wailed walking over to Araviel, who was lying on his back, staring up at the sky.
“Araviel?” she asked quietly after a few moments silence. Her friend moaned and rolled over.
“I think I’ve broken something,” he said, his voice full of pain.
“Oh no, this is not good, this can’t be good,” Arwen started muttering to herself, pacing around the clearing where the horses had left.
Araviel sat up a little, rubbing his head. He pulled a stick out from underneath his back, Arwen could see it was snapped in two.
“False alarm,” he said, rubbing his back. His hands came away bloody.
“Araviel, was that stick underneath you when you fell?” Arwen asked in a would be calm voice.
“I guess so,” Araviel replied.
“Good. That’s why your back is all bloody,” she said. She walked around behind Araviel and examined his back. His green tunic was ripped, revealing a long gash down his spine. It was bloody and beginning to bruise. Although it wasn’t a rather deep gash and any grown elf could have healed it rather quickly, it looked horrible to Arwen who had only learned a few ways of healing. Nothing she had yet been taught could have really helped her out in the woods alone at night. She touched it lightly, then picked up a few almost dry leaves and tried to clean the wound a little. It didn’t help much.
“Ow Ar! That stings!” Araviel moaned.
“Stay still! I’m almost done!” she retorted, pushing his hands, which he was attempting to cover his back with, out of the way.
“Like you know what you’re doing anyway,” he moaned, rubbing his forehead.
“My father is a great healer, you know that. He taught me a few things,” she replied, brushing off her hands and looking over Araviel with a triumphant sort of grin on her face.
“All done, you feel better?” she said.
“A little I guess. What’d you put on it?” he asked. In truth, the gash felt worse now that it had been rubbed on by rough leaves, but he felt grateful to Arwen for trying to help.
“Wouldn’t you like to know,” Arwen replied mischievously. She hadn’t done anything but clean out some of the blood, but she couldn’t resist a good tease. To her annoyance, Araviel didn’t rise to the bait.
Araviel stood up. He winced a little as his cut was stinging worse than before, but he didn’t want Arwen thinking he was weak. He looked up at Arwen, who was looking around, trying to decide the best way out of their situation. She bit her lower lip a little, thinking hard.
“Geez, Arwen, you look a mess,” Araviel said.
“Yeah,” she replied as if she wasn’t listening to him. Araviel snickered a little.
“I reckon you’re the ugliest princess ever to live,” he said.
“Yeah,” Arwen said, looking around more and not paying any attention to Araviel.
“You look like some demon from the elder days,” he said, his eyes glinting a little. Unfortunately, Arwen heard him that time.
“What?” she asked, turning towards him, her face full of anger.
“Nothing. Want to just start walking?” he asked.
“Araviel, you look horrible,” she said, looking over at her friend. It was true, his face was growing quite pale with pain and he was splattered with mud. His eyes looked rather big and his face rather peaked. She could tell his back was bothering him. She smiled gently at him and said
“Why don’t we rest here awhile?”.
“No, we should keep moving,” he said back. He took it she was beginning to feel sorry for him and he wanted to show her he was brave and tough enough to go on with his injury.
“But you’re hurt,” she replied, and took a few steps toward him. Unfortunately, she slipped and fell on a patch of mud and went sliding a few feet, landing very unladylike in a pile of leaves. She emerged looking like some sort of ferocious bird. Araviel doubled over laughing.
Arwen angrily grabbed a big handful of mud and hurtled it towards Araviel. It hit him right in the face. He was so caught off guard that she had time to grab some leaves and throw them at him.
Before anyone knew what was happening, they were engaged in a huge mud ball fight. They ran around the clearing, trying to dodge the mud and leaves that were flying everywhere. Picking up and scooping mud by the handful and grabbing as many leaves as the could, hurtling them towards each other. They were making a lot of noise, but neither was thinking about Legolas, they were more interested in hitting each other.
After a good half hour of fighting, they both flopped down on the forest floor, breathing heavily from their battle. If either of them thought they looked hideous before, it was nothing compared to how they looked now.
Arwen had more leaves in her long hair than anywhere else. Her blue dress was so splattered in mud that it was hard to tell that it had been blue only a few hours before. There were various sizes and shades of leaves sticking to the mud on her dress.
Araviel’s once green garments were also covered in mud. Leaves were sticking to his golden hair where Arwen had come up from behind and smacked him with a huge handful of dirt and mud. There were leaves all over his face and more sticking to his cut, which was stinging worse than ever. Fortunately, the fight had driven the fact that he was hurt clean out of his mind and Araviel didn’t notice it.
“Well, now we’ll be camouflaged,” Araviel said, grinning at Arwen.
“Legolas’ll never find us now,” she replied, her eyes sparkling.
“All we have to do is drop to the ground and we’ll blend right into it,” Araviel said back.
“So which way should we take?” she asked, voicing the question that had been bothering them both since their horses took off.
“Let’s keep going the way we were,” Araviel replied and Arwen nodded.
They set out in a more or less Northern direction, looking rather frightening in their mud masks. A half hour or so of unceasing trudging later they entered another clearing, much like the one the horses had left them in. Araviel dropped to a sitting position on the ground.
“I can’t go another step,” he said, rubbing his back. A few minutes into their walk he had suddenly remembered his injury and the pain of it had come back in full force.
“We can sit for a few…” Arwen began, but she stopped short, staring ahead into the darkness of the forest ahead.
“What?” Araviel asked, following Arwen’s gaze. It took him a moment to register what she was staring at. He gasped and stood up quickly.
Three figures, one with golden hair, could be seen walking in the distance, headed straight for the clearing.