The Sun’s rays shone brilliantly, the Enchanted River sang with its soft, rhythmic voice and the humid air of Mirkwood somehow seemed to have disappeared this afternoon.
Loniel bathed in the sunlight and sighed happily while listening to Laeriel’s soothing voice singing a gentle song.
“Your obsession with song grows by the day,” teased Loniel good-naturedly, eyes closed.
Laeriel stopped singing and laughed lightly. “Your obsession with the Sun grows by the day, too,” she replied.
“I take that as a compliment,” said Loniel. She opened her eyes and smiled at her friend sitting on a branch of a giant tree planted next to the river, dangling her feet.
“You should be more careful when you sit on that tree, because if you fall into the Enchanted River, you will fall into deep slumber and never to wake again,” warned Loniel.
Laeriel laughed again and stood up on the branch steadily. “Well, mellon, it happens that I am one of the elves with the best balance in Mirkwood, and I can conquer this mere branch with ease.” She lifted her leg and did a light jump that scared Loniel out of her wits.
“Really, Laeriel! You should be aware of the fact that I am afraid of heights. I beg you, mellon, come down before you break your neck!” begged Loniel, genuinely scared for her friend.
Laeriel smiled and climbed down gracefully.
“Loniel, I shall teach you to climb a tree some time soon, it is not natural for elves to fear heights,” teased Laeriel, squeezing her best friend’s hand.
“You shall not teach me, and I shall not learn,” was her reply. “It is natural for each individual to have their own fears, and heights happens to be mine.” She patted the dust from her dress and stood up. “Let us go to my home, nana promises to teach me bake a cake today, and I prefer to learn that much more than climbing trees.”
“Splendid!” exclaimed Laeriel. “Cake is my obsession second to song,” she joked.
Loniel giggled and lead the way back home.
The young maidens skipped past luxuriously decorated houses and numerous elves tending to their own matters before they saw Loniel’s home, which stood proudly on a gentle slope. When they neared, Loniel recognized the handsome black horse standing patiently next to the stables.
She gasped with joy and tugged on Laeriel’s sleeve. “Come, Laeriel! My brother has returned!”
They bounded up the slope and burst into the house. Randírion was in an embrace with Myrna, and his face lit up when he saw his sister.
“Randírion! I am so glad you have come home!” cried Loniel as she leapt into his arms.
“Loniel! Dear sister! You have grown so tall!” he laughed, patting her back. Then he pulled back and made a face, “My, you are still far behind Laeriel in looks,” he teased and smiled at Laeriel.
“Greetings, Laeriel, you have grown so fair,” he said and gave her a brief hug. “I believe you have become the Nightingale of our woods?”
Laeriel blushed and smiled shyly. “Thank you for your fair words, Randírion, but I’m afraid do not live up to them,” she said modestly.
“No, mellon, you know you have the most beautiful voice,” said Loniel. “She has sung in King Thranduil’s feasts for four times!”
Randírion looked impressed. “You are blessed to have such a lovely voice, Laeriel, I hope it sweetens as the years go by.”
“Alright, enough for polite words. Where are my presents, brother?” asked Loniel impatiently.
“What presents?” asked Randírion innocently.
Loniel smacked him playfully on his arm. “You know!”
Myrna laughed and interrupted their conversation. “Daughter, you must let Randírion change into more comfortable clothing first. You are filthy, my son!”
He laughed and said, “Mother, you know I prefer Ranger’s attire to tunics.”
“Nonetheless, you shall change,” Myrna insisted, pushing her son into his room.
“Alright, mother, as you say,” shrugged Randírion as he disappeared into his room. “Please help me wash down Alagos while waiting for me, he is exhausted after the journey,” he said.
Loniel nodded and headed to the stables where Alagos was waiting. The horse neighed as he saw Loniel approach. She greeted him and patted him before leading him into the stables. She slipped off the saddle and bridle with the help of Laeriel and washed him thoroughly with a brush and rag. They had just finished polishing Alagos’ saddle when Randírion entered in a clean tunic and leggings.
“Le hannon,” he thanked the girls and stroked his steed’s velvety nose. “Come, Loniel, I shall show you your present.”
He lead them further into the stables and stopped at a stall near the end. He whistled and a beautiful stallion with a golden coat and snowy white mane appeared.
“He is a palomino!” cried Loniel joyfully.
“Yes, and he is yours,” beamed Randírion.
“Thank you, brother! He is the most beautiful horse I have ever laid sight on,” she exclaimed happily.
She stroked his nose lovingly and he poked his nose curiously at his new mistress. “What is his name? Is he tame?” asked Loniel.
“I have named him Anor, since you love the Sun so,” replied Randírion. “I found him in the outskirts of Rohan, and I have ridden his for a few days,” he answered. “He is not fully tame yet, but you can teach him the ways.”
“You know I am not much of a rider,” replied Loniel. “Can you teach me?”
“Of course,” said Randírion. “And I have a saddle and bridle made for him.”
“Thank you! You are the best brother anyone can have,” she hugged him.
“Anor, you and I shall be best of friends, along with Laeriel, of course,” she added, smiling at her best friend.
Laeriel stroked Anor’s glossy coat and said, “He is really striking, Loniel. Now you and I can ride together!”
Loniel suddenly asked, “Randírion, you have brought something for Laeriel, haven’t you?”
“You underestimate me, sister, I am not as absent-minded as you are,” he winked.
“Since when was I absent-minded?” she protested, following him back into the house.
Randírion revealed a stunning harp from its silk cover and gave it to Laeriel.
“I thought it was the best gift I could get for a lover of song,” he said, smiling at a stunned Laeriel.
“Oh, le hannon,” she whispered, running her fingers tenderly over the small harp which could be easily carried around. “I do not know what to say.”
“Just say you will use it well,” replied Randírion kindly.
“Yes, that I will,” smiled Laeriel radiantly. “Thank you, Randírion, you are most kind.”
“Why don’t you try it, mellon?” suggested Loniel, eager to listen to the sounds of the harp.
She nodded and struck the delicate cords which produced a calming sound. She did that a number of times and Loniel thought she was listening to a waterfall falling gently off a cliff.
“It is wonderful,” said Laeriel quietly, smiling at the harp in her arms.
“Aye,” agreed Randírion. “And there are many a day when you can play it by the river while your horses graze and Loniel stares at the sun until she is burnt by the heat.”
“Randírion! You are cruel!” exclaimed Loniel in mock anger.
Randírion laughed. “Yes, sometimes I am. And I certainly do feel cruel now. Only towards food, I could eat a horse!” he joked.
“Well, you’re certainly not eating my horse!” Loniel returned the joke.
They laughed and Myrna smiled from the kitchen where she was preparing supper while listening to the youngsters’ conversation.
le hannon: thank you
Hello! Here’s the first chapter, finally! Istarriel and Lalaith-Elerrina for your comments! I really appreciate them! Please tell me what you think of this chapter, I hope you enjoyed it!