As she came towards the stables, she felt uneasy. Maybe I shouldn’t go out by myself. What would Largolian think if he knew about this? She thought to herself. And besides, I shouldn’t go on my own. I mean, what could I run into? I might run into another band of orcs, and this time I might not escape. She unsaddled Thunder and gave him some food. She waited with him for a while, until she was quite sure he had had enough, then jumped up onto him bareback and rode him to a small lake nearby. She jumped off and let him have a drink and nibble on the grass around it quite contentedly, while she thought some more. She was scared, and she didn’t want to follow after them by herself, but the fear that Largolian, Legolas, Beregond and (Dare she say it?) Prince Imrahil would never return over came her own fears. She was determined to follow at any rate, but maybe not straight to Gondor. She would think about that on the way there. She just didn’t want to be left out, and the thought that she might follow them and be at least outside of Lothlorien where they were, was a comforting thought.
Lerina decided not to ride Thunder back up to the stables, for she knew he had to recover his strength. So she flipped the reigns over and led him up instead. He nuzzled her gently as they walked along. She put him away and ran up to her room. She pulled out the sword that was underneath her bed, and started to stretch before she did anything. She picked up the sword, and started with basic moves. She swung left, then right, left, then right, and right again. It was a trick that Rebethian had taught her to confuse her enemy. The sword didn’t seem as heavy as it had, for she was more used to it than before. She practiced until her arm hurt from lifting the sword. Then she picked up her bow and another arrow, slung it to the string, and put the bull’s eye up on the wall. She aimed the arrow and then let go of the string. It hit fare and square in the middle. “Hey, at least I remember it.” she thought about it for a little while. “Hey, am I gonna be good enough to actually face real dangers like that?” she asked herself. Oh boy,” she said as she remembered that she had the power to shoot fireballs. “I forgot that one. It could have come in handy too, when I was being chased by those orcs. But I guess I couldn’t let Imrahil know any secrets. Life’s dull without him around to annoy,” she smirked. She thrust her arm down, and there, just as before, appeared a fireball. “Here we go,” she slowly lifted her arm and let go. It hit the bull’s eye, although not in the middle. “Damn! Guess I’ll have to work on that one. If I can’t hit it in the middle when I’m standing still, how bad am I gonna be when I’m riding?” she asked herself. She tried again. This time it hit in the middle. She tried a few more times until she was quite used to it again, and then picked up her sword and started practicing her moves again.
It was nigh on four o’clock, as she had been practicing for five hours, and in the other time had been resting. She needed to keep up her strength, so she slept in between. She started to think about food. “I can’t starve to death. Hmmm, where do I get it from?” she decided that she was going to have to look for them. “They have to cook all their food somewhere, and I’m going to find that place!” she walked out of the room and walked to the stables. There was one other horse there besides Thunder. “Well, I need to get there soon, but Thunder needs his rest. I could just ride this other horse, but I don’t know what it’s like. I’ll have to risk my chances.” She saw that this horse was a lot smaller than Thunder, but big enough for her. “It’s about 14 hands high, I’d say,” she looked at the hind legs. “And it’s a girl. Great, I hate mares sometimes.” She walked over to the saddle peg and looked at the nametag on it. “Sarshely.” She said to herself. “Hmmm, pretty name.” She brushed Sarshely, which the mare did not like at all. It was always turning around, trying to bite Lerina. When Lerina had finished brushing her, managing to escape without any bite marks or kicks, she grabbed the saddle and chucked the blankets onto her back. The mare started to buck, and the blankets fell off. Thunder seemed to be looking on, very amused at the sight. Lerina tried again, and, just as before, the mare bucked until the blankets came off. Thunder shied loudly. “Oh, quiet you! What’s this horse’s problem, anyway?” she went up to the horse’s head, and reached out to pat her nose. But her hand never got there, for the mare was now so angry that it pulled away and broke the string that was tied around her reigns, and ran out of the stable and over to the next one: Thunder’s. It stood at the door and nuzzled Thunder. Thunder nuzzled her back. “Oh,” Lerina said bluntly. “They’re in love. Oh no, Thunder, you better not be a stallion.” She looked, and was relieved to find that he had been gelded. “Oh, thank the lord for that!” she walked up to the mare, and touched her nose gently. The mare was fine, as long as it was around Thunder. Lerina pulled the reigns gently, but the mare wouldn’t move. She tugged harder, but the mare was obstinate. This was one stubborn mare. “That’s it! I am not riding you! You are going to get into that stable again whether you like it or not. Come on Thunder, out you come.” And she opened the door and pulled him out. The mare followed him. Lerina led him into the mare’s stable and led back out again. The mare had followed Thunder into the stable, and Lerina shut the door before Sarshely could get out. “I don’t even want to lay eyes on that mare again. She’s the most stubborn mare I have ever seen!” she dragged Thunder away from his girlfriend and put him back into his stable. She began the long walk up to the tallest tree in the woods.
At last she came to the tree, and at the bottom she met an elf. This elf had long dark brown hair, almost black, that fell down to her hips, and was tied back in a loose plait. She had very fare skin, with beautiful light blue eyes. She was wearing a dress much like Lerina’s, but it was black. “Good day,” the elf said to her. “May I ask what your business is with the lord and Lady of fair Lothlorien?”
“Um, I want to talk to them.” She lied.
“Well, they are not here. They are holding a council, away in the pavilion West from here.”
“Well, I, um, left something up in her tree thingy, and I need to go up and get it.” Lerina started fidgeting, a nervous habit.
“Well, I shall accompany you then.”
“No, it’s alright. I can find it by myself.”
“But I need to, for no one is allowed to go up there without some sort of assistance, and, since I’m allowed to go up there by myself, I shall accompany you.”
“Oh yeah? Well, what makes you so important that you’re allowed up there by yourself?”
“Because,” she answered matter-of-factly, “They are my mother and father, and I shouldn’t need permission to go into my own house, now should I?”
“Wait a second, if you’re their daughter, then that makes you Largolian’s sister! He never said anything about a sister! Wait till I get my hands on him!”
“Well, you can’t get your hands on him for he has already left. And, you know my brother, which must make you Lerina. Am I correct? I’ve heard about you. He doesn’t stop talking about you. Well, my name is Marthelen.”
“That’s great. Anyway, I am going up that tree now, so, I’ll see you later. “
“You are not going up there unaccompanied,” the elf said sternly.
“Alright, can you keep a secret?” Lerina finally said, exasperated.
“Depends. What sort of secret?”
“One that you have to promise not to tell anyone, especially your parents.”
“I’m going after Largolian. And Legolas, and Beregond and Imrahil, and Haldir seemed pretty nice too.”
“Because, I don’t want anything to happen to them.”
“And you think by going after them that you are saving them from dying or something? Face it, I wouldn’t think you could do anything more than what they could. I know how you feel, I am very worried about my brother, but it can’t be helped.”
“You’re actually worried about him? As in, your own brother? I don’t think I’d be worried about my brother. They’re so annoying!”
“You think Largolian is annoying?”
“Well, he’s not my brother, is he? I mean, if he were my brother, I would most likely choke him. Don’t you two ever fight?”
“We get along pretty well, although we do pretend to wrestle sometimes. At least, he does. I don’t get older brothers.”
“Oh, they’re all like that. But please, don’t tell anyone. They can’t know that I’m sneaking away. If they do, man, would I be in trouble!”
“Well, like I said before, I guess I could keep a secret. But, if you are leaving, then why do you need to talk to mother and father?”
“I don’t. I was just saying that to get you off my back. But since you live here, you wouldn’t happen to know where the kitchen is, would you?”
“Well, we do have a storage room, if that’s of any use to you.”
Great! Could you maybe tell me where it is?”
“Follow me!” Marthelen pulled herself up onto the ladder and started climbing up. Lerina followed straight behind. At last they got to a little room hollowed out in the middle of the huge mallorn. Marthelen opened the door, and there inside were all sorts of foods that were possibly imaginable.
“Whoa! You got enough?”
“Well, it doesn’t just feed us, but all the guards in the city of Caras Galadhon as well.”
“I guess that’s understandable. Okay, you wouldn’t happen to have any chocolate, would you?”
“You don’t know what chocolate is? I feel so sorry for you, living in a world without chocolate. Maybe you should try inventing it one day. Okay, what have we got in here?” she stepped inside and started scanning the shelves for anything that at least vaguely resembled something she knew of. “Um, could you maybe tell me what some of these are?”
“Well, that’s dried deer meat,” she said, pointing to a lump of something sitting on the shelf, “and this is an assortment of dried fruits, including pineapple, apple, apricot and grapes. There’s an assortment of nuts,” pointing to a large glass jar, “and that has salted peanuts, cashews and few other nuts I don’t know. Um, and then here we have lembas. We also have bread. They’re the main things we have.”
“Um, I don’t like nuts, and I don’t’ know about dried deer meat. And I have always wanted to try lembas. Could I try a bit of the lembas and the meat?” Lerina asked.
“Sure. Here,” she said, breaking a bit off the cake of whey bread. She gave it to Lerina, and Lerina popped it into her mouth. A sweet, wholesome taste filled her mouth, and Lerina’s eyes lit up.
“Yum! That’s the best thing I have ever tasted! I’ll be taking some of that away with me. What about the meat?” Marthelen took a bit off the meat, and passed it to her. She ate some of it, chewing contentedly. “Mmmm, good. I like it.”
“I think you should try some of the nuts. They’re nice, really.”
“Well, alright. But just two. One cashew and one peanut.” She got them out of the jar herself, and put them in her mouth. These were not the same as the ones that she bought from the shops for her mum. Her mother loved nuts, and, as a result, had always asked Lerina to go up to the shops and buy them for her. “Whoa, these aren’t half bad! I actually like them! Well, it’s all very well that there’s food here, but that’s not at all useful when I’m not going to be here. I need a bag or something to carry food in.”
Well, you could have one of Largolian’s. He has many satchels, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if you kept some. Come on, I’ll show you.”
They went further up the tree, and at last came to a sort of corridor made out of the interwoven leaves and branches over head. They came to a room that was securely built in the boughs of the trees. Marthelen opened the door and walked into the room. It was much the same style as Lerina’s, although not as fancy. “This is my brother’s room.” She walked over to a cupboard and opened it, revealing a heap of satchels and belts and other odds and ends. “He isn’t the tidiest person I know, but he’s not that messy. What ones do you want?”
Lerina looked at the bags quite obliviously. “Um, what’s this buckle here for?” she asked.
“That’s so you can fasten it onto the saddle. But that won’t be of much help to you. After all, you need a saddle to attach it to.”
“Oh, did you think I was going to walk? I have my own horse, and I don’t think I want to carry the bag. Saddle bags are good.”
“You have your own horse? Who is it?”
“Um, I have a gelding, he is big and black, and extremely fast. His name is Thunder. Apparently he is like, one of the last Meeras or something.”
“That would be my horse’s mate.”
“You have a horse? Wait a minute, did you say, your horse’s mate?”
“Then that means that your horse is Sarshely! Oh, you’re the one who owns that stubborn mare! I don’t know why you have her, how can you get her to do anything?”
“What do you mean? She’s fine. She’s not stubborn at all. And she’s a perfectly good ride, fast, but probably not as fast as, Thunder was it?”
“Yeah, that’s his name. But we can’t be talking about the same mare. This one hated being brushed, saddled, and led back into her stable! I had to get my horse…” she stopped as she realised that Marthelen was staring at her. “Oops, hehe, um, I sort of, you know, wanted to ride her instead of my horse. Hehe, sorry.” She said sheepishly.
“I think you had better explain that.” Marthelen answered sternly.
“Oh, sorry, I didn’t know she was owned by anyone, I just thought she was there as a, well, back up horse or something. I had put my horse away, and I wanted to go and see if I could get some food. So I thought maybe I could ride her. Obviously not though. I went to brush her, and she was turning around and trying to bite me, and then when I finally finished, I put some saddle blankets on her, and she bucked them off! I went to try and pat her nose, but she broke away, and went to the next stall and started nuzzling my horse! I was so surprised. I went up to her and tried to lead her back into her stable, but she wouldn’t budge. So I had to get my horse out and lead him into her stable, then when she followed him in, I had to shut the gate before she got out. Man, she was very difficult. I don’t think I have ever dealt with a worse mare than this one.”
“And what did you want to ride my horse for?”
“Well, Thunder needed his rest, and I didn’t want him tired coz’ I knew we’d be riding for quite a bit. Then I figured that this mare was way too experienced for me, so I ended up walking. Sorry, I shouldn’t have touched her.”
“That’s alright. But I can’t understand why she was such a nuisance. Although, she only let’s me handle her, and my friend tried once, but she was bucked off. And my friend is really good with animals. That’s what surprised me. I didn’t let anyone else ride her after that. I was too afraid that she might hurt someone. So now I only ride her, and I ride her pretty much every day.”
“I see. Well, I think I like the saddle bags, and I’ll take two of those.” She picked up two matching saddlebags. “Ah, would you happen to know what the time is?”
Marthelen looked up at the sun. “It’s about five o’clock now. When did you want to leave?”
“Probably around six o’clock. Well, I better get back. Oh and one more question, how do you put these on the saddle?” Marthelen laughed.
“I’ll come with you and put them on, okay?”
“Cool. Let’s go!” they climbed back down the ladder, and back into the storage room. “I think I’ll take a loaf of bread,” she picked up a loaf of white bread, “and lots of Lembas too,” she picked up nine cakes, which were wrapped in large leaves, “um, nuts, and deer meat of course, and dried fruit. I might as well take them all. After all, there’s no point in me starving to death.” Marthelen picked up two smaller bags with draw strings on them, and handed them to Lerina.
“Here, put the fruit and nuts in these.” Lerina walked over to the jar and picked out handfuls of nuts until the satchel was full. She did the same with the dried fruits, and then put them into the bigger bags.
“Um, what do I put the meat into?” Marthelen reached up and took down a bag with lining inside of it.
“Here,” she said handing the bag over. “The lining inside keeps the meat clean and cool.” Lerina took some of the meat and put it into the bag. In one bag she the loaf of bread, the nuts, the fruit, the lembas, and the meat, and the other she was keeping free for other things she needed. The bag was now quite full with food, but was unusually light. They grabbed the bags and went down to the bottom of the tree. Then they walked up to the stables again.
When they had gotten to the stables, Marthelen said, “Wait, you go back to your room and get what you need, and I saddle your horse.” So Lerina ran back up to her room and pulled out the bundle of things she needed. She unwrapped the bundle, and pulled out the pants and put them on underneath her dress. She put the long sleeved top on, and pulled the tunic on over the top of it. She grabbed her socks that she was wearing when she had come to Middle Earth, and put them on as well as her boots. She fastened the belt up between her waist and her hips, and put the knives into the sheaths, which she had absolutely know idea what to do with them. Lastly, she put the cloak on and fastened it around her neck. She brushed her hair and put it back in a low but tight plait and grabbed the sword and put it in the sheath on her belt. She decided not to take her bow and arrow, for she knew that if she were in a real situation she would most likely be too scared and would miss her target. The sky was turning dark, for it was at the beginning of winter, and was darker than the summer. She opened the window and a cold breeze blew through. That reminded her. She ran to the cupboard where she had seen some warm blankets, and chucked two onto her bed. She grabbed a pillow from the bed, along with the other things she intended to take with her, grabbed her brush and walked out the door and into the stables. Marthelen was there with Thunder saddled up and ready to go. Lerina chucked everything onto the ground, and started folding the blankets. Surprisingly, they folded up really small, and Lerina was able to put them into the second saddlebag with plenty of room to spare. She put the pillow in, and her brush, along with Thunder’s currycomb and body brush. Marthelen showed her how to put the bags on, and Lerina fastened them on herself.
“Well, this is surprising,” said Marthelen. “First I see you in an elegant dress, and now I see you in pants, tunic, boots and cloak. Very strange indeed. One thing I want to know though, that cloak is different than the ones that we have here. Where did you get it?” Marthelen looked at the cloak that fell down and touched the ground.
“Um, a friend gave it to me.” She put her left foot into the left stirrup, and pulled herself over. She grabbed the reigns from Marthelen, bid her goodbye, and rode towards the forest. She went to the middle where she was supposed to meet Rebethian. As usual, Rebethian was there with her horse.
“Well, I see you are ready. Now, remember this: follow the way that Largolian went, until you come to some large mountains that look purple from a distance. Ride to them, then go left from there and straight ahead until you come to a forest. You’ll know what to do after that. Good luck, and may the Valar be with you.” Lerina said goodbye, and rode of in the direction of the outskirts of Lothlorien.