Farion moved quickly through the trees. Aliana could feel the eyes of the Elvin guards as they silently escorted her to the edge of Lorien Forest. Once she reached the border she stopped and turned Farion around.
“Farewell, my lady. I hope we meet again,” Rumil called out as he once again dropped from the trees to stand in front of her.
“Farewell, Rumil. Tell the Lady of the Wood I was escorted safely. We will meet again……..someday,” the last word was almost a whisper. The rest of the guards brought themselves into view and they all bowed reverently to her. As they watched, Aliana reined Farion towards open land and stepped into the sunshine.
Immediately Aliana could feel the gloom in the air. It was as if evil was trying to lay a blanket over the earth. She thought she could hear Sauron whispering on the wind, calling to her. She did her best to ignore it and keep her mind on what she had set out to do. Aliana decided to follow the river most of the way. There would be places to hide if needed and Farion could cool off quickly in the water if he overexerted himself. It was going to be a long journey to Minas Tirith and time was growing short. They rode hard all day, only stopping for a moment when Aliana worried that she was pushing her horse too hard.
They stopped next to the river, giving Farion a chance to take as much water as he needed. Aliana quickly splashed her face with the cool water and filled her water pouch. She sat on a large rock and watched her horse as he waded into the water and drank. A strange noise came to her ears. She saw Farion lift his head and look around. Aliana knew something was wrong as Farion instantly grew nervous and trotted to her side. She patted his neck and crawled up the small embankment, making sure to stay hidden. As she reached the top, the site before her sent chills down her spine.
A large group of goblins were trekking their way across the plains. Aliana had never seen a group of goblins so big before. She guessed there were at least 350 assembled together. They all wore helmets that hid their faces from the sunlight for it would burn their skin. They appeared to be headed straight for the river to rest. Aliana knew she didn’t have much time before she would be detected. She hurriedly scrambled back down the embankment and jumped onto Farion’s back. Staying as low as possible she spurred him into a run down the river. Just as she cleared the bend, she heard the first of the goblins splashing in the river.
She moved Farion up onto the bank so they could move quieter. She had no way of knowing if the terrible creatures would now follow the river or cut across land. All she knew was if she was caught, she would more than likely become the main course for that evening. Grateful that she had not been caught by surprise, she let Farion put as much distance as possible between them.
As the day passed, she caught site of other creatures marching off in the distance. Some seemed to be stragglers struggling to catch up with unseen armies while others were huge groups like the first she had seen. She heeded Galadriel’s words and stayed as hidden as she could, yet moving as swiftly as possible.
As darkness fell, she could see the place known as South Undeep. It was there that she decided to rest for a couple hours, and then move on using the cover of night. Again, there would be no fire to stay warm to. It was a starless night with a brisk wind blowing. In the wind she could hear Sauron’s whispers calling to her. As she tried to rest with her back to a tree, the whispers unnerved her. She pulled her cloak tightly around her and tried to calm herself. Aliana felt so small and insignificant. She would be alone like she was now for lifetime after lifetime. Eternity would come, but she was going to pay a high price for it. Would eternity be worth the heartache she would endure? Aliana brought the blackness to her mind and in a few moments could feel the prince’s heart beating with hers. She could feel him with her and for that instant she felt whole. Yes, she decided, it would be worth it.
A strange noise tore her away from Legolas. Aliana lifted her head and quietly listened to the night. She looked at Farion and thought he looked like he was ready to bolt. Silently she rose and threw her pack over Farion’s back once more and jumped up on his back. Something was close. She could feel it. She quietly bade Farion to move quietly. Aliana could see nothing in front of her and relied on her faithful horse’s senses to steer them clear of the terrible feeling that had come over her.
She traveled in the blackness for what felt like forever. After several hours she could see a hint of light filtering through the air. As she could start to make out shapes around her, Farion moved faster. By the time the sun was starting to show over the mountains once again, her horse was in a full run. They traveled like that until the sun was straight overhead.
The whispers in the wind seemed louder. By her horse’s temperament, Aliana guessed that he could hear them too. It seemed to make Farion run faster, to which she was grateful. By early afternoon the mountains of Emin Muil were looming in front of her. She found herself at the place where the river parted, which meant she would follow the side known as Amon Lhaw. It was easier to stay hidden for the trees were close to the river. For the first time that day she almost felt safe.
Farion seemed happy at the reprieve from moving as fast as he was able. He moved through the trees at a regular, steady pace. Aliana could see the lake in front of her and knew that across the lake is where Aragorn had lost his friend. She remembered his story of the battle the group had found themselves in against the orcs. This had been the place where Merry and Pippin had been taken. The memory of what she had endured with the orcs sent a shiver down her spine. This place was to be traveled carefully. As this thought crossed her mind, she felt eyes upon her. She quickly looked around but could see nothing out of place. Farion gave out a nervous whinny, but did not change his pace. Aliana drew her sword and held it tightly. She would be ready this time. She let her horse take charge of their path while she kept a keen eye out. Again, Farion whinnied nervously but this time he quickened his pace. She could feel the danger drawing closer. A noise came from above the trees. It sounded like something with huge wings beating through the sky, circling above. Suddenly the noise ended, leaving a eerie silence. She could feel something drawing closer but still could see nothing.
All of a sudden something appeared before her, making Farion rear up in fear. Aliana hit the ground hard. It took what felt like several moments for her senses to come back to her. Once she realized where she was, she quickly sprung to her feet with her sword held ready in her hands. The site in front of her terrified her. The figure in the black cloak seemed to glide toward her. Looking upon it she could see nothing but blackness where its face should have been. She knew instantly what was before her. It was a nazgul. Hearing a hiss behind her, she turned to find another black rider.
“The massster wantssss her unhurt,” the first black rider hissed to the second.
Without a second thought, Aliana turned and bolted through the trees up the hill. As she ran as fast as she could, he could hear their hisses coming closer. Sheer terror gripped her heart as she ran. She felt a low branch slice her cheek as she did not duck in time to miss it. She felt thistles tear at her tunic as she ran through a thorn bush, hoping they would not follow through it. To her dismay, she turned to see them come through it unscathed. She looked up and could see the top of the hill close in front of her. If she could reach the top they would lose sight of her for a few precious seconds, giving her a chance to hide. It was her only chance for escape. Pushing herself harder than she ever had before, she took the last couple steps to freedom.
She ran into something hard and was knocked to the ground. Aliana felt cold hands grab her arm and pull her onto her feet. She quickly turned to look up at her captor. She found herself staring into the void of the witch king’s face. Aliana struggled to break free which made his grip harder upon her arm.
“You cannot esssscape. Masssster isssss waiting for you.”
“I am not going anywhere with you!” she screamed at him. He answered with a daunting laugh, much similar to the one she had heard in her head. It infuriated her and she fought with everything in her to break free.
The witch king raised his right arm, closed his fist and smashed it into the side of Aliana’s face, knocking her out cold. She dropped to the ground at his feet just as the other two black riders glided over the crest.
“You two will return to masssster. Tell him we have been successsssssful. I will take her into the mountain to await hisssss arrival.”
The other two nodded and moved to their great winged beasts that were awaiting them in the clearing ahead of them. The witch king picked up Aliana like a limp rag doll and threw her over the back of his own winged creature. He climbed up behind her and hissed to his creature. In seconds they were in the air, taking Aliana to her new home.
We return to the forests again. Our hobbit friend has lost all faith and finds the true meaning of apathy by the end of this chapter. He is taken captive by a band of elves and one human. This chapter suggests that some of his past will be revealed soon.