The first day they covered twenty-four miles. They started at sunrise and didn’t stop until long after sunset. Gythien was exhausted. She had never traveled that far in one day, at least not without riding a horse. She was glad when they finally stopped for the night. They were clad with grey cloaks of Lórien, so unless someone was very hard they wouldn’t see, or even notice, the passing of the company. They also never talked. It startled Gythien at first how these elves could march so long without talking or singing. She also wondered how they never got tired, or if they were they never showed it. She chose a spot to sleep that was generally away from the rest of the company. Just as she was settling down Haldir went to her. They spoke long through the night, through their minds of course. After a while Gythien told Haldir how Galadriel had recognized her.
“And she let you go?!” Haldir exclaimed. He couldn’t believe that Galadriel would actually let Gythien go. He decided to let it go, really the only thing that mattered was the fact that Gythien was there at all. He knew it would have broken both their hearts if she had stayed behind.
“I love you,” he whispered, “now and forever.” Gythien smiled and snuggled closer to him. She was bursting with joy at her secret. She couldn’t wait until they got home, safe and sound. She looked into his eyes and smiled.
“I love you, too.” She said.
“I must leave now and go to my own bed; do you wish to move closer to the company?”
“I’ll be okay.” She assured him. “Go to sleep. Tomorrow is a new day.” With that Haldir turned and left, but Gythien stayed awake for a little while. She was thinking about Galadriel’s last words. Galadriel knew Gythien was pregnant. Why would she allow Gythien to go into battle carrying a child? It confused Gythien greatly, but she decided to leave it be till they got back, then she could talk to Galadriel about everything.
~ ~ ~
The next morning the company got up before the sun rose. They all filed into their ranks and started off. The day was pleasantly warm and sunny. Celeborn and Haldir had chosen the shortest route possible so as to get to Helm’s Deep faster. Their pace was quick, for they had to travel about 215 miles, or about 24 miles per day over nine days time, to get there on time. The second day passed much easier for Gythien, her body was becoming used to the grueling pace. The time passed quickly and it seemed to take no time for night to come again. This time she chose to sleep closer to the company. Haldir couldn’t visit with her that night, for he had to gather with some of the top soldiers to discuss their battle plans for when they reached Helm’s Deep. The next morning dawned bright and clear. As they were traveling a great forest came into view, Fangorn Forest. They were to pass right through it. They entered the forest just as the sun was starting its decent from the top of the sky. It was eerily quiet and quite different from the warm grassy plains on the other side of the trees. Gythien was glad to be back in the protection of trees, for she had felt too exposed on the plains between the two great woods. She sensed the extreme age of the forest, so much was it aged that it made her feel young again in her very bones. She thought she heard whispering in the forest, but when she turned her head to see who it was she couldn’t see any of the others making any sounds or moving their lips. The rest of the day passed quickly and without event. When they were setting up camp late that night there weren’t any fires allowed. Gythien was puzzled. She didn’t understand why. Later when Haldir went to her to talk she asked him about it.
“I don’t really understand it either,” he said, “but I heard Celeborn warning the Fellowship against going into the forest at all and he told me to be very careful, not harm any of the trees, and not make any fires. There is also the legend of the Ents. They are said to be giant tree-people who dwell in this forest and protect it from all harm,” he paused for a second before continuing, “but don’t worry, I’ll take care of you. Why don’t you move your bed closer to mine tonight?” Gythien agreed and she almost forgot about the mysterious sounds that seemed to going from tree to tree as she fell asleep next to Haldir.
~ ~ ~
The next two days were uneventful. Gythien stared in wonder at the huge and ancient trees that made up Fangorn Forest. She felt as if the forest was alive, and she could sense its feelings. She also felt that she could have been content to stay there forever if it was not for the whispering that was constantly around the company and seemed to be coming from the trees themselves.
On the third morning after they had entered the forest they heard a great sound. It was like many trumpets, except deeper and more earthy. Everyone in the company stopped. They all stared in wonder as a giant tree walked across their path. It walked slowly by, not even seeming to notice the large company of elves. It stopped just before entering the forest again and put its hands to its mouth. Then it made that deep trumpeting noise and continued on its way.
“Keep moving!” Haldir called when the tree-person had passed. The company went on its way, though it was obvious they all wanted to follow the great creature.
~ ~ ~
The company left the forest around dinnertime. They went a little further before stopping for the night. Everyone was amazed and confused at what they had seen. Haldir called a meeting with his top people, including Rúmil and Orophin. When they had all gathered in Haldir’s tent they all started talking at once.
“Quiet!” ordered Haldir. “Does anyone think they know what that thing was?” Everyone was silent, then Rúmil spoke.
“I think it may have been a tree-herder, an Ent as some call them, but I thought they were only a myth.”
“That was what I also thought.” said Haldir. “I heard Celeborn talking to Aragorn, the leader of the great fellowship, and warning him not to come into the forest. He said that there were many dangers, but he would not voice them aloud. I believe the Ents are not a myth, they were just forgotten over time. I also believe we have seen one this morning. Tomorrow I shall address the troops and explain everything to them. Right now we must all rest, for there is still a long way to go. Goodnight.”
~ ~ ~