The fading light of evening shone clearly over the mountains, staining the land of Lorien after it’s name.
The Golden Wood.
Two horses came thundering over the plains towards it with unworldly speed. One, the marchwarden of that fair country, Haldir, and his daughter, Halithe. Just returned from an errand to Rivendell.
The pair had been racing for a while now, and since the vast forests had come into view, both put on a new burst of speed.
Haldir on Maliki, his grand, blood bay stallion, and Halithe on Nuruhin, her ashen grey mare. A good race, and fair enough. Halithe had been practising while her father had been away even though her father had been riding longer. They were just about equal. Of course Haldir wasn’t about to let his daughter win.
“Nice try!” He called to her in the common tongue as Maliki surged ahead. He often spoke with his daughter in the common tongue. She had learned it when she was young as he had.
Nuruhin whinnied tossing up her head furiously as the stallion passed. Halithe held her in until the right moment.
Then at last, when they were about a quarter mile away, she gave the mare her head. In a second, she was neck and neck with her father as before.
Haldir looked to his daughter with a smile.
“So you have been practising!” He announced with a laugh.
After a short sprint, Maliki leapt easily over a log and began to slow. The fallen tree served as a finishing line whenever the two raced. Nuruhin followed immeadiately after with a snort of defeat before trotting over to Maliki where he was paused.
“I’ll get you someday father…” She told him with a determined glint in her eye.
“Of course you will! Just not today..keep working at it. Maliki is getting old. Nuruhin is still in her prime. She’s a good horse. And you’re a good rider…But nothing in this world comes easily. Remember that…”
“You say that every time.” She murmered, turning Nuruhin back towards the trees.
“Only because it’s the truth!” Haldir exclaimed, following his daughter.
“As long as you know that..”
“Trust me. I know it…” She added with a sigh.
There was a silence between them for a while as they followed a thin path through the trees which lead to the river Nimrodel.
“We’ll stay near the river tonight..” Haldir announced, looking back to his daughter. He was leading now.
“Okay…” Halithe mused, her voice a monotone. She didn’t much care for the flets they often spent nights in when they returned from errands and such.
The sky was growing dark now. A few stars had appeared near the Eastern horizon though to the West it was still pale orange.
After a few more minutes, they could hear the soft bubbling of the river, winding it’s way through Lorien. It was close.
When at last they entered the glade opening into clear land along the river’s banks, Haldir dismounted and looked around. He sighed, obviously quite happy to have returned home.
“Here we are….” He mused.
Taking a step towards the cool, clear waters of the Nimrodel, he paused.
“It’s beautiful isn’t it?” Haldir inquired.
There was no answer.
He called, turning around.
There was no one. Only Maliki standing off to the side obediantly.
“Halithe?!” He called again.
A heavy sigh escaped him.
Where had she gone THIS time?