Loniel came to love Anor as she loved her family. He was a lively and intelligent colt, he soon learnt his steps and adapted to Mirkwood very quickly. Now Loniel and Laeriel had company during their daily walks. They would wander around the woods on their horses, then let them graze while they talked in the glade beside the River.
One day, Randírion went with them on their walk. He mounted Alagos and the trio walked leisurely on the snaking paths, talking and laughing.
“Would you ladies like to race?” asked Randírion, his eyes shining with enthusiasm.
“Well, I haven’t raced before, but I would certainly like to try,” replied Loniel promptly. “How about you, Laeriel?”
She looked hesitant. “I’m not sure if it is a good idea, Duath prefers moving slowly. Besides, the paths are too narrow to fit three horses.”
Randírion smiled. “That you do not need to fret, I know a place where the ground is flat and broad, it is near to the Old Forest Road.”
“Oh, come on, Laeriel! I’m sure Duath would love to stretch his legs a bit, don’t you boy?” Loniel reached over and patted the old horse’s neck.
“Come, let us go to the clearing first, then you can decide,” said Randírion, urging Alagos to a canter. The girls followed behind him.
Riding for a few minutes, they reached a broad stretch of grass that was rare in Mirkwood. Only a tree or two extended their roots in the ground, isolated from their brothers lining the two sides of the lawn. Anor tossed his head eagerly and stamped his feet. Loniel laughed and patted his neck.
“Woah, my good boy, you can have a little run very soon,” she said soothingly.
Randírion looked at Laeriel and asked, “What do you say?”
Loniel chimed in, “Come, Laeriel, it will be fun!”
Laeriel still looked doubtful, but she nodded in agreement. “Alright, there is no harm for Duath to run a bit.”
“Good! Let us line up back there, then we’ll race to the edge of the lawn,” said Loniel, pointing to the start and finish.
The other two nodded and they lined up at the starting point. Loniel whispered to Anor and the spirited colt answered with a flicker of ears and tugged on the reins.
“Ready?” asked Randírion. “On the count of three. Three, two, one!”
All three horses shot forward at the command of their riders. Anor had an obvious lead over the other two horses, stretching his neck and reached out with his front legs. Alagos was also aggressive, and soon caught up with Anor. The latter snorted and accelerated, hearing Loniel’s shouts of encouragement.
All of a sudden, Loniel heard a scream from Laeriel and a harsh thud. She immediately pulled back hard on Anor’s reins and turned around to see her friend lying on the forest floor, unconscious.
“Randírion!” she called as she cantered towards Laeriel’s still form.
“Laeriel! Can you hear me?” she said quietly, hovering over her.
Randírion soon ran towards them, deeply concerned. “Laeriel! Is she breathing?”
Loniel felt for her pulse, it was still there, fortunately. “Yes, but she is knocked out.”
Randírion loosened the first two buttons of her tunic and felt for any broken bones. “It seems like she has broken her arm as she fell,” he said. “Help me secure her on Alagos, she will ride with me. You take Duath with you. Do you know the way back home?”
Loniel nodded and helped Randírion put Laeriel in front of him. She stirred and moaned in pain. “Don’t worry, mellon, you will be fine,” said Loniel, stepping back. “Ride hard brother, take her to her home, her mother will know what to do.”
He nodded grimly and took off in a speedy but steady gallop. Loniel sighed and walked to collect a frightened Duath.
As a “punishment” to Randírion and Loniel, the two were to take turns to sit by Laeriel’s bed every day. She was not gravely injured, and revived soon after Randírion took her home, but she could not ride for at least three months.
Cloreth forgave the two regretful friends, and thanked them for bringing her home. Loniel felt very bad for pushing her friend into this race, and her brother obviously felt no better. He barely left her side, and he always brought little treats like flowers or cakes to Laeriel as compensation for his foolishness.
One week after the accident, the three young elves were at Laeriel’s house. Randírion was telling the girls about an adventure he had when traveling to Rohan.
“You went as far as Rohan?” exclaimed Loniel.
He nodded. “That was where I found Anor, remember?”
“Oh right, I guess I forgot,” she smiled.
Laeriel moved carefully to a more comfortable position. “How long has it been since you last rode Anor?” she asked Loniel.
“Since your accident, so a week,” she replied.
“Why don’t you two go and ride? I’m sure you miss your darlings,” she suggested, smiling.
Randírion immediately shook his head. “No, I’ll stay here to keep you company. You can go on, Loniel, I’ll look after her.”
Laeriel blushed and said, “No, I insist. You two go on, I can see you are bored stuck in this room with me,” she said playfully.
“I don’t deny that I miss Anor,” said Loniel slowly. “But are-“
“Really! Loniel, I’ve never known you so hesitant. Go and ride, I said I’ll keep Laeriel company,” exclaimed Randírion. “I promise I won’t eat her,” he teased.
Loniel laughed and stood up. “Well, have a good afternoon. I’m glad Anor can stretch his legs after being cooped up in the stables for a week.”
Laeriel chuckled. “I bet you love Anor more than me!”
Loniel winked and quickly left for the stable without answering, knowing that it was probably true.
Anor was definitely happy to be out in the fresh air again. He did a funny little dance every now and then, and Loniel would pat him on the neck and try to calm him down.
It was a lovely afternoon, the sun was shining bright and the air was not as heavy and humid. Loniel let Anor have a short gallop, then let him wander among the bushes and trees after removing his saddle and bridle. She knew she could trust him to return if she called him.
She sighed happily and leaned against the rock she always leant on, and looked to the sky. There was no singing from Laeriel today, but there was singing from a bird on a nearby tree. A gentle breeze picked up and caressed her cheeks, which was a rare and enjoyable moment.
Suddenly, all became still. Loniel frowned and stood up, listening for Anor’s footfall but heard nothing. It was too quiet. Something was wrong.
She dared not cry out loud, it might be danger for both her and her horse.
A piercing scream sliced through the air. Loniel gasped and ran to the edge of the glade, only to see Anor galloping away in great speed and fear.
Loniel stood still, fear clutching her heart. She could hear her heart beating, thump, thump, thump. For a moment, nothing moved. Then she saw it, a blade of glass swayed, then a spider- a giant spider- rose out of the grass, and two more behind it.
Loniel attempted to run, but they swiftly crawled to the entrance of the glade and blocked her escape. Terrified, she ran to the oak tree and began to climb, but the smooth trunk failed her and she stumbled onto the ground. One of the spiders scuttled over to her and reared on its legs, hissing a quiet threat at her.
She quickly got up, but they had closed off all chance of getaway. They slowly caved in on her, moving their furry legs and hissing. Loniel could only move backwards, inch by inch, till she felt the edge of the river.
A spider lashed out at her and cut her leg. She cried out in pain and started to fall backwards into the Enchanted River. All she heard was the earsplitting scream of the spiders and the slice of knives as she backwards fell into the dark and cold waters- and blackness.
Yay! Another chapter! The first one hasn’t been published yet, but I’ll submit this one first I hope you enjoyed it! And who is Loniel’s saviour? Stay tuned for the next chapter!