The girl and the cat slipped as silently as the shadows they cast across the brightly lit landscape. The moon shone fiercely, not only aiding them, but their pursuers as well.
“How far could she have gotten?” asked a tall Elf, dark-haired as were his sister, brother and father. “She is, after all, rather sheltered. She’ll need our help the moment she comes across a Warg or orc.”
“I think not,” murmured his twin. “Elladan, I taught her to use the sword long ago. I see her practice it often.”
“You what?!” cried the Man, leading the small company. “You did that without my permission?”
“Lord Aragorn, she told me you had promised to teach her. We waited five years before I started,” Elrohir admonished.
“Fair enough. Still, she took her coat of mail, the mithril one. She’s set out for something, but for what, I do not know. I only hope she goes east.”
“Time was that going east was a deadly peril,” remarked Haldìr.
“Not now. Now the West is the peril, and much as I hoped against it, I see a small figure heading west.” Aragorn’s voice was sad.
“Aragorn, she takes after you,” laughed Elladan. “Strong-willed and naïve.”
“Naïve? Hardly,” mused Elrohir. “Stubborn, yes.”
“I beg your pardon,” said Aragorn, trying not to laugh.
“Oh no,” said Haldìr, coming to a stop. She’s heading north, towards Elvish lands. They were the hardest hit…”
“She’s looking for Regina,” said Aragorn grimly. “Come on!”
Liedral looked behind her and saw several figures on horseback galloping toward her. She knew it was only a matter of time before she was caught. Rather than let them catch her easily, she plunged headlong into a forest, thick with underbrush, that would slow their horses.
“Why are you doing this?” asked Holbytla, having been blessed with the gift of speech some years before. She climbed a tree and leapt from branch to branch
“Holbytla, didn’t you hear what Haldìr said?” replied the girl, panting as she swung her sword in front of her to clear a path. “My mother is missing. She’s out here somewhere, in danger, and I intend to find her.”
“Are you crazy? You have nearly the entire of Middle-earth to search! You have no idea where she would be! And then there’s the-“
“Holbytla,” interrupted Liedral. “Why don’t you tell me something I don’t know?”
“No need to be rude, girl. Besides, I’m merely the voice of reason.”
“Reason?” laughed Liedral. “You hardly ever give me good advice!”
“Be that as it may…” mumbled Holbytla. “What was that?” she asked, her ears pricked forward in alarm.
Before Liedral could respond, she ran into a young man, of her own age or slightly older. His features were fair, but in shadow from the trees.
“Pardon me, lady. Why are you here?” he asked, furrowing his brow.
“I’m running,” answered Liedral carefully.
“From what, if I may?”
“You may. To tell the truth, it is not from, but to. I’m trying to find my mother. She disappeared in the wilderness not long ago, and I, uh…” She trailed off.
“Well, you’re being pursued,” he pointed out. Distant shouts could now be heard echoing throughout the forest.
“Yes, I know. That would be my father, uncles, and…another,” she replied.
“Would you like some assistance?” he asked politely.
“Of course,” said Liedral simply.
He guided her to a tree. “Follow me,” he instructed, hoisting himself up. She followed, albeit slowly.
“Here,” he said at last. “Now we jump from tree to tree.”
“We what?” she asked, a sinking feeling in her stomach.
“Watch.” He demonstrated, leaping gracefully. She followed suit, less gracefully.
“Here, in this tree trunk,” he gently pushed her in, and she fell about three feet. “You okay?” he called softly.
“Yes…next time tell me there’s a drop, will you?” she asked, standing and rubbing her bottom.
“Alright.” He gently let himself down and crouched, motioning for Liedral to do so as well.
“Who are you?” she whispered.