Leaves were tinted with the first crisp colors of autumn. Thin wisps of early morning mist yet mingled with shadows in some of darker spots of the forest. The breath of the season had grown colder since last she rode neath the shivering ceiling of green, scarlet and gold. It had been many months since she had slipped solely away from the safety of Rivendell. She strode solomnly along barely there paths and savored the sounds of the forest. Finches sang merrily and the occasional cricket serenaded to potential loves. The entire wood was a chorus of contentedness that enwrapped warmly about the elf . For an unheeded amount of time, she wandered in silent and serious thought, and wondered of the sudden sharp need to ‘escape’. She knew the secretive ways that fate tended to work in and wondered why it had lured her alone into the forest. She bore not the gift of foresight and was left, like most others, at the meddlesome mercy of fate. Such wonderings wound repeatedly in her mind as she roamed aimlessly through the whispering forest.
She had meandered for many uncounted hours when quite suddenly the sweet soppy scent of water brought her thoughts back to reality. “I am nearing the Ford.” she said quietly to whatever creatures might be near to hear her. “I did not realize I had drifted so far from Rivendell.”
The elf tuned in the general direction of the Ford. She was still a few footsteps shy of stepping out into the open along the river when an unnatural chill sliced through the air. The elf stopped and stood as still as a fear frozen fawn. Only then did she hear the solid silence that had struck all of the forest. Not a creature dared cheep or chirp. None but the trees made any sound. They all whispered, their voices tangled into a massive mess of incomprehensable panic.
“Fala, you straggling fool!” the elf scolded herself. “You have stumbled blindly right into the arms of harm!” She turned back again towards Rivendell and was about to dash off when the most horrible sound she had ever heard stabbed like a jagged daggar into her ears. It was the sound of an unholy scream, a scream unlike anything she had ever heard in all her hundreds of years. A chill snaked it’s way up her spine and all the fine hairs on the back of her neck bristled. She swiftly slid behind a twisted tree trunk, trembled and tried to stay silent.
Then came the distant sound of raging hoof beats and shrill ringing bells…quiet at first but quickly nearing.
“It is an elf’s horse, I know the song of those harness bells!” she gasped.
And though Fala knew she should have fled back to the safety of Rivendell, she could not. If there be an elf in need of aid she would be there to aid even if it meant risking her very own life. She was overcome with courage and turned back towards the Ford. “Something dire develops by the river.” she whispered to the tree she at her side. Something dreadful. I can sense it. I have to get there! I have to get there now!”
With those words, she charged at full speed but with silky smoothness around any trees that barred the way. The elf’s pale gray cloak fluttered in silent frenzy as she sped through the shaded woods. She stayed under cover of the forest until nearly atop the Ford. There she came to a swift halt and peered with sharp elf eyes through the quivering foliage. On the far side of the Ford she beheld nine black riders on nine black horses at the rivers bank. The mere sight of the riders made Fala shrink back behind the cover of a thorny thicket. “Nazgul.” she whispered in a shaken voice. She had heard of them but never had expected to see one of the cursed creatures. Especially not so close to Rivendell. And not all nine at the same time. Fear quickly took possession of the elf and she was paralysed with terror.
Suddenly the head rider urged his horse ahead into the water. The horse reared up, and let loose a rabid sound that was half whinney and half scream. Fala cringed farther back at the terrible screech. She began to creep backwards and breathlessly away from the Ford for no matter how emblazened with bravery she might become, she could not possibly stand sole against The Nine. She had nearly decided to flee when a weakened and pathetically valiant voice froze her in her tracks.
“Go back!” the voice demanded. “Go back to the land of Mordor and follow me no more!”
Then came harsh and heartless laughter that made Fala’s heart feel as if it had become slicked with ice. “Come back! Come back!” answered evil drenched voices. “To Mordor we will take you!”
Fala crept ahead again and pushed aside a thick branch of red veined leaves. Finally she saw who it was The Nine were after. It was a child…a child brandishing a sword…a child on an elf’s horse…Glorfindel’s horse to be precise! The ice about Fala’s heart thawed away by the aid of burning and intense rage…one that she never knew was possible. All nine black riders were after a lone and frail child! She was riddled with outrage…
“Go back.” she barely heard the child whisper.
“The Ring! The Ring!” the riders called out in awful but somehow appealing voices. The leader of the Nazgul prodded his steed to cross the river. Two other riders followed.
“By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair…” the child cried out with what sounded to be the last of his strength. He raised his sword. You shall have neither The Ring nor me!”
Fala ripped off her cloak and unsheathed the sword that ever hung upon her hip. “By all that is good and glorious…I shall not let you have him!” she hissed with great ire at the Nazgul as she burst forth from the forest. She knew a flood would come…as always it came when something evil tried to wade it’s way into the realm of Rivendell.
The lead rider’s horse was just about to set hoof on the near shore when suddenly a monsterous roar ripped the air. It was the wrathful roar of rushing water and rolling river rocks. Fala was stopped and stunned for though she had known of the flood she never before had beheld it. And she saw the waters rise and come alive with rage. Waves like curling, white crested flames rampaged towards the Black Riders. And unless her eyes decieved, she thought she saw the the waves form into white riders on white horses that charged and then trampled over the three river caught Nazgul. They were instantly crushed and carried away by the froth and the frenzy of the Ford. The Riders that remained on the opposite shore swiftly slunk far back from the water. But their horses went mad and spun and reared and bucked and leapt too into the rushing river. All were drowned away.
Fala finally snapped out of her state of being awe struck and scrambled towards the child, who had just collapsed unconcious to the ground. She sped to his side and resheathed her sword. She began to struggle to lift the small one. He was so cold and lifeless that he might have been declared dead by an untrained eye or touch.
Moments later, after the river had spent all if it’s anger, the sound of feet splashing through the Ford caught Fala’s ears. She looked up and beheld even more creatures charging towards she and the little one. She instinctively reached for her sword, but then recognized the great Lord Glorfindel was at the head of the approaching group. Behind Glorfindel came a man…a ranger…a familiar ranger by the look of him. And three more children attired muchly the same as the other that laid unconcious before her.
“Hail there!” called Glorfindel. “How fares the little one!”
“He is alive.” Fala answered as the others crouched with great concern about the fallen one.
The others rolled him over and began trying to rouse him…but they could not.
“Time is precious now.” the ranger said grimly. “He is close to lost.”
“You there, Fala. I beg of thee to ride with the wounded to Elrond. You would make it there swifter for you are lighter than the ranger or than myself.”
Fala nodded and Glorfindel immediatley helped her onto his steed. The ranger then lifted the small lifeless body to Fala and she pulled him to sit in front of her, and clutched tight to him. The ranger nodded and whispered, “Stop for nothing.”
The three smaller ones crowded about the horse, fear and sorrow glistened greatly in their eyes. One of them opened his mouth to say something but Glorfindel cut him off, “Hasten them swift and sure to Rivendell! Set a fire neath your hooves my staunch steed, and bring them to safety by your speed!”
At that, the horse leapt gracefully into a swift but cautious gallop. Fala clung even tighter to her ward as they raced off.
“Don’t you lose him. Please don’t lose him.” called out a desperate voice from behind just before horse and riders slid smoothly into the enveloping shade of the forest. And onward they charged, a melody of soft, swift hoofbeats and sharp singing bells.
Fala sensed that the little one was slipping away…or being ripped away into all consuming and eternal darkness. “Berio ven Eru.” she whispered close to the small one’s ear and prayed with every last scrap of hope that he might still hear her. And to Fala’s relieved surprise…he murmered something in return. But she could understand his words for they seemed shattered and senseless. She felt his hand as it found and clenched onto the her arm that was wrapped fimly about his chest.
“Strength yet survives in you, Gornon.” She whispered again and kissed the top of his head. “Do not slip away. I will hold you here for as long as you let me. Do not slip away.” And she felt his hand grip tighter to her arm. He had responded each time to her voice, and so Fala began to sing with the hopes her song would steal him back from the evil that was trying to snatch him away. Perhaps she could help hold back the venom just long enough to deliver him into the healing hands of Lord Elrond. So she sang in a voice that was entangled with both sweetness and sorrow…
Slip not to shadow.
Be drowned not by dark.
Behold to the beacon
That burns in my heart.
Slip not to shadow.
Heed not the howls.
Hear me, my Gornon,
Hear only me now.
Slip not to shadow.
Hold not to grave charms.
Be held by heart.
Be held by arms.
I will hold you…
And only you…
And ever you…
Away from their harm.
Fala sang the song repeatedly into the little ear. Tears slipped from her eyes each time the small one’s grip loosened from her arm. And then she would sing all the louder, until she felt him hold firm onto her again. And what a sight they were; a saddened she elf singing so sombre as song, clutching tight to an unconcious hobbit as they dashed through shafts of shimmering sunlight and sable shadow. It was an image that stayed ever etched into the memory of any creature that chanced to look upon the strange sight that desperate day.
Evening encroached and still they had not reached their destination. But suddenly ahead was a small group of elves. There was no time to stop. She slipped, still singing into the small one’s ear, straight through the group. She did not need to look back to know that the others had spread out behind and around her into a shield of venerable elven warriors. And her heart lightened a little to know that protection now surrounded them. So on she sang as they ever closened to the sanctuary of Rivendell.
By nightfall they had finally arrived. She made straight as an arrow for Elrond’s House. To her utter amazement a grim group of elves were already assembled and awaiting Fala’s arrival. Glorfindel’s steed had barely halted before the grim ones were there and pulled Fala’s Gornon from her arms and carried him off. It felt as if her very heart had been ripped away and she collapsed onto the ground. Some of the lingering elves helped her back to her feet. Immediately she tried to dash past them into the House. But stern staring guards barred her way.
“Let me go to him.” she whispered desperately. “Why will you not let me go to him?”
“The Lord Elrond has ordered that none shall pass but those whom He has deemed privalaged to pass.” one of the elves informed her in a sympathetic tone. “Frodo of the Shire will be your burden no more.”
Fala backed away. She did not know what to say. She would not dare argue against the Lord Elrond’s orders. Her ‘burden’ was now in the best possible place he could be in all of Middle Earth. He was safe. She had great faith in Lord Elrond and whispered, “I will go now. But I beg of you to bring to me any word of this Frodo’s well being. Whether the word be for the sweeter or the sadder.”
The elves nodded, and one took hold of her hand. “I am certain Lord Elrond will call upon you soon enough.”
She nodded wearily and moved towards the white stallion that had bore them to safety. Fala kissed his cheek and whispered heartfelt words of gratitude. The horse nodded then turned and sped, clopping and jingling, back out into the darkness, back to Glorfindel.
Fala felt terribly tired all of a sudden, and decided it would be best to find her way home. She nodded a thank you to each of the elves that had escorted her back into Rivendell, then took one last lingering glance up at the House of Elrond. A solitariy tear slid from one of her dark glittering eyes. She turned away, oblivious to the multitude of inquisitive eyes that fell upon her. Then Fala the Deliverer unceremoniously melted away into the murk of a new night.