At first light Arien mounted upon her horse, Celebang, and was about to set forth when Lhach, her father the king’s personal advisor, stopped her.
“Do not linger long in these woods. There are orcs about. Do not rest for long untill you are though,” he warned her.
“But that means I will have to ride without stopping for two days and a night!” Arien gasped. “I cannot do this thing that you ask of me.” She was regretting making her father send her to Lorien now.
Lhach smiled faintly. He was remembering the terror he had felt over three thousand years ago when he ws setting out on his first message run. ” You’ll be fine. I know it. We shall all miss you and look anxiously for your return. Namarie, Arien.” With that, Lhach turned and walked quietly back to his sleeping area. Arien wached him for a moment, wondering why he had told her these things. Then, like a slap in the face, it came to her. Her father didn’t think she could handle it on her own! That hurt her deeply.
A lone tear ran down Arien’s face, leaving a wet trail of salty liquid. “When can he trust me? What must I do to earn my father’s respect?” she asked Celebang, whose anly answer was a low whinny and a gentel nudge. Arien pressed her forhead to Celebang’s. The two stood queit ly for a moment. An eagle cried overhead; a lonely, peircing sound, like a lost soul crying for a meaning. Arien shivered and pulled her cloak tighter around her cold body in the predawn mist. She moved away from Celebang and mounted.She rode off into the forest just as the sun burst above the horizion.
Hours later she was still in Mirkwood and decided to eat a little breakfast. Without stopping Celebang, she reached into her bag and took out a lembas bread. As she munched, she thought. It might be nice to meet another elf on the road. Definetly not an orc. Maybe even a mortal man, though she wasn’t too sure about that one.
Suddenly, Celebang shied. “Easy, there. It’s alright. Calm down,” Arien soothed. She glanced around nervously. It wasn’t like Celebang to shy at nothing. She fingered the pendant she had recived as a babe.
She slowed Celebang to a walk, him fighting her every step of the way. Suddenly, she heard a low growl to her left, then another to her right. A grey shape hurled itself at her. Wolves! In the dead of winter they had had nothing to eat for almost two days.
Celeband reared in fright and then took off as soon as is hooves touched the ground. Arien cluched Celebang’s mane in fright and squeezed her eyes shut. The snarling, snapping wolves were so close she could feel thier hot breath on her legs.
Suddenly, she remembered her sword, Thalion. She groped for it and he fingers closed around the hilt. Shakingly, she pulled it out and smote the wolf to her right. It yelped in pain and then was still. Arien brought Thalion to her left and drove it into the other wolf’s back. It, too, cried and fell silent.
Celebang slowed to a stop as Arien stared at the shapes of the dead wolves. She had never killed anything bigger than a bug before.
After a long while, she dismounted and whiped Thalion clean in the grass. Then she mounted again and rode off, never looking back.
To be continued