Chapter 9 – To Rohan
Silence filled the room. Saruman stared at me in astonishment. He dismissed the Uruk-Hai with a wave of his hand. They left through the door behind me. I waited for the subtle sound of the lock falling in to place, but the noise did not sound. An idea formed in my mind. My mind whirled with possibilities. I settled on one option that did not involve fighting, as my body was starting to shut down. My whole body was trembling and my new tunic was soaked with blood. My head throbbed with pain, and my hand felt as if it was on fire. I reached up and pulled the collar out slightly so I could see down my front, and immediately looked away. The sight almost made me sick. I took a deep breath in through my nose, trying to fight the nausea rising in me. I lifted my head, and watched Saruman, who was flicking through a book in the smaller room. I took a step backwards, making no sound. I kept my eyes trained on Saruman, ready to stop if he so much as moved an arm. I stepped back again.
"Such a sudden change of heart makes me wonder what your true motives are."
I froze as Saruman turned around. He stared at me for a minute, waiting for an answer.
"My change of heart happened some time ago. I had just not admitted it to myself."
My voice sounded a lot calmer than I felt. His eyes stilled on my tunic, taking in the state of it.
"You have not healed. Elves usually heal faster than other races."
His voice was curious and he continued to study me.
"We heal faster than others when our souls are whole, and mine is not."
My voice wavered as I thought of Legolas.
"I would appreciate another tunic, if you have one."
Saruman nodded and disappeared round the corner of the smaller room. I began to take a step backwards but stopped as he appeared again.
"There is one in the armoury. It may be a little big, as it has been made for Uruk-Hai, but I should think that will not matter. I will fetch it for you."
He turned on his heel, but looked over his shoulder.
"Do not think about trying to leave this room. You will suffer for it if you do."
He disappeared around the corner again, and I heard his footsteps grow faint as he went down a staircase. I waited a few moments to make sure that he had gone, and then rushed to the door behind me. I placed a hand on the door, and began to push it open. I stopped as a crippling pain flared through me. I breathed in sharply, biting my lip to keep from crying out. I had spent too much time away from Legolas: my body was slowly dying.
The pain faded away and I gently pushed open the door, holding my breath. No Uruk-Hai guarded the door and none were posted down the corridor. Expelling my breath, I shut the door behind me, and started off down the corridor. Suddenly, I heard heavy footsteps, echoing louder and louder as they came closer. Panicking, I looked around and spotted a door to my right, just in front. I sprinted towards it, praying that it was unlocked. I barged the door with shoulder, and it swung open. I quickly turned and shut it behind me, leaning my back against it. I pressed my ear against the door, listening for any sign that meant the Uruk-Hai noticed me. No alarm was raised, and they did not stop outside the door I had just come through. I breathed a sigh of relief and looked round the room I was in.
It was a tiny room, and had a staircase in the middle, leading down. Torches flickered, casting light down the stairs. Wasting no time, I descended the stairs, taking them two at a time. I knew that I did not have long before Saruman returned and found me gone. The stairs ended in front of an archway. I jogged through it, going down a small corridor before coming in to another round room.
Huge, heavy-set doors were directly in front of me, stretching up to the ceiling. A long oak table took up the right wall, while a wooden stall occupied the left wall. Ignoring the stall, I stared at something glinting on the long oak table. With a cry of joy, I rushed forwards, picking up my blades. They had been cleaned, and kept in good condition. I stroked the handles, revelling in the feeling of the smooth leather. They seemed to hum softly, as if they too were happy to be back in my hands again. I placed them back on the table and turned around to look at the stall. A black horse watched me, dark eyes assessing me. I walked towards it, murmuring in a low voice. It snorted uncertainly as I approached it. I reach out and stroked its muzzle gently. The horse snorted again, but pressed its nose against my hand. I continued stroking it, and looked it over.
It was completely black, except for one white sock on its back left leg. Its mane and tail were tangled, and mud was crusted in them. Its coat was dull, and cuts covered its rump.
"You are no better than I am, my beauty."
I whispered to the horse, resting my head against it's nose.
"So it would seem, Child of the Stars."
A light voice entered my mind. I drew back, staring at the horse in astonishment.
"You are one of the Mearas!"
I breathed the word, stunned. The horse nodded its head a little.
"Then how have you come to be here? You do not take kindly to being captured."
The horse snorted, sounding frustrated and I hummed gently, trying to soothe it.
"I was enslaved by Black Riders. The one that rode me placed me here, as I did not obey its commands. I would not allow myself to be ridden by such an evil being."
I realised that the Black Riders the horse was referring to were Nazgul. I understood now why the horse was in such bad shape.
"What do your fellow horse call you?"
I asked the horse, stroking the its neck, trying to lend it some comfort.
"I do not have a name. I lost it when I was enslaved."
The voice in my head sounded sad, and I felt pity for it. Horses were pack animals: without their names, they were nothing. Loud noises came from above me. I looked up sharply. Saruman had found out I had disappeared.
"I do not have long before I am found. I need to get out of this place. What I ask of you now is a great favour. Will you carry me to Rohan?"
I talked quickly, glancing at the staircase. The sounds from above me were getting louder. I turned and ran back to the table, snatching up my blades. Scanning the room, I spotted a quiver. I slid my blades in, lifting the strap over my head and settling it on my shoulders. A cracking sound made me whip around. The horse had reared up, bringing its front legs down on the wooden bar that caged it in the stall. The bar splintered, and the horse trotted forwards, coming to a halt in front of me.
"You are a Child of the Stars. Your people have always been kind to mine, and so, I will carry you to Rohan, and wherever you wish to go after that. You can be my rider."
A surprised smile lit up my face. Mearas only allowed kings to ride them – clearly, I had found the outcast of the race.
"You need no tack?"
I asked but knew what the answer would be already. The horse snorted, and flicked its head up. I smiled. The horse knelt down, and I hoisted myself up on its back, shifting until I was in the right position. We turned to face the heavy set doors.
"Word has reached me that my brother, Shadowfax, has been spotted in Rohan."
I looked down at the horse's head, an eyebrow raised.
"How has word reached you? Isengard is impenetrable!"
Sounds of heavy footsteps pounding along above us had me looking up. We were running out of time, and I did not know whether I would survive a fight.
"We animals have ways of getting word."
The horse shifted from foot to foot.
"If you are to be my rider, I would like to ask one thing: would you give me a name? I had a beautiful name when I was a foal. I was the only mare that my mother had – all of my siblings are stallions, but I cannot remember the name."
I racked my brains, searching for a suitable name, aware that we had mere minutes before Uruk-Hai found us.
I whispered the Elvish word for spirit. She reared up, whinnying.
"The name makes my blood sing. It is the right name."
She twisted her head, and looked up at me.
"Are you ready?"
I nodded and she walked towards the doors. They were thick, solid oak. I could see no key-hole or any other means to open it. I began to despair when a thought occurred to me. I remembered the incident in Moria. I had said a charm of power then; why not use one know?
Bowing my head, I searched through my mind for a particular Song of Power. Finding one, I sang it, the words melding together slightly as I sped it up. I prayed that it would work; usually, for this sort of magic, it would a couple of hours.
A loud bang startled me and I looked up. The doors had burst open. A large crack ran down the middle of each, splintering off in to fine lines. Delicate wisps of smoke curled up and disappeared in to the air.
Fëa shot forward, breaking in to a gallop. We raced through the broken doors, and entered a stone tunnel. Her feet clattered off the cobblestones, sparks flying. The sounds of Uruk-Hai faded away as we galloped through the tunnel, until all I could hear was the sounds of her feet, and my heavy breathing. Finally, we reached the end of the tunnel. We cantered up a hill and stood for a moment. Plains opened out in front of us. I looked back. The tower of Isengard rose up, seeming to pierce the sky. I shivered and turned back. Fëa pawed the ground, eager to get going.
"How fast can you get us to Rohan?"
Fëa danced on the spot, and I could not blame her for being happy to be free.
"I can get us there by the next dawn."
I gently laid a hand on her neck, getting her to still for just a moment. I debated whether or not to say the next words, not wanting to give offense but I decided to speak; her well-being was as important as mine.
"Will you not get tired? You do not look well."
She bucked, sending me lurching forward.
"I am one of the Mearas. We are made to gallop great distances, and carry burdens. My injuries are old. I am keen to let myself go, feel the wind, feel the earth."
I chuckled slightly, but stopped as the movement made my chest hurt. I settled myself, and gave Fëa a slight nudge in the side, and we sped off towards Rohan.
We galloped continuously. I leant low to her neck, allowing her to move freely. The land sped past us, unaware of our passing. Fëa did not seem to tire; her breathing did not increase, and she continued at the same speed. The wind whipped through my hair, sending tendrils flying across my face.
Day turned to night, and still we galloped on. Pain burned my front and back. I started to cough. I brought my hand to my mouth, still coughing. Fëa continued on, unaware. With a final hacking cough, I slumped forward, my vision blurring. I brought my hand away from my mouth, and saw that it was splattered with blood. I did not have much time.
"We have arrived."
Fëa's voice sounded in my head. I sat up, and stared wildly around. Fëa was standing quietly, her chest heaving, her flanks and mouth foaming with sweat. I blindly slid off her, landing in a heap. She bent her head, nudging me gently. I forced myself to stand up. I stroked her nose, waiting for the dizziness to subside.
"Well done, beautiful Fëa."
I whispered in her ear and she whickered softly, pressing her nose in to my chest. I looked up at the hill in front of us. Rohan stood before us, shining in the morning sun. I could see the roof of Meduseld rising above the fencing surrounding Rohan. We stood in front of the main gates. The watchtower stretched above it.
"Who goes there?"
A voice floated down from the watchtower. I looked up, shading my eyes from the sun. A soldier was looking down, a spear held in one hand.
"I am Seraphina, and this is my horse Fëa. We seek refuge in Rohan."
I called back to him, struggling to make my voice heard.
"You look as if you have just come from battle…"
The soldier sounded wary, his hand tightening around the spear he was carrying.
"We have faced many trials to reach Rohan. I beg you - let us in."
I stopped as another bout of hacking coughs made me bend over and clutch my knees. I drew in deep breaths, and slowly stood up. I looked up at the watchtower, and noticed the soldier had gone. Despair started to rise, when one of the wooden gates slowly opened. I trudged forwards, Fëa following. We walked through the gates and waited at the bottom of the watchtower, as the gate swung shut behind us. Two soldiers approached us. One of them held a head-collar, which he tried to slip on to Fëa's head. She backed away, snorting.
"She needs no head-collar. She will follow if you ask her. Fëa needs food and water, and her injuries need seeing to immediately. Treat her well – she saved my life."
I addressed the solider, who nodded.
"Go with him, Fëa. You can rest now."
She nickered, and nudged my chest. I patted her neck, placing a soft kiss on her nose. She followed the soldier, who had started to walk towards a building that I assumed was a stables. The other soldier stood in front of me, patiently waiting. The people of Rohan stared as they passed, shock registering on their faces as they took in my ragged state. A small girl ran up to me, and stopped beside the soldier. She looked up at me, her eyes wide. Slowly, she held up a white flower. I bent down, ignoring the protests of my muscles. I gently took the flower, placing it behind my ear. The girl giggled and ran off, back to her mother, who was waiting down the path. I straightened, and inclined my head to the woman. She smiled back at me, and walked off, hand in hand with her daughter.I jumped as the soldier tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to him, opening my mouth to speak. The next moment, I lay on the floor, trembling and coughing.
"My Lady! What ails you?"
The soldier looked concerned, his eyes wide. I tried to speak, but hissed in pain instead. I could feel blood oozing from the wounds in my back and front. My head pounded, as if hundreds of dwarves were inside my head, mining for jewels. I opened my right hand, and saw that the mark in my hand had turned black. I clenched it shut, not wanting the soldier to see it. The pain coursing through my body subsided for a moment, and I used the momentary lull to speak.
"Have any travellers passed through here in the past few days?"
I croaked the words, cursing inwardly at how weak they sounded.
"Yes – a man, a Dwarf, a wizard and an Elf. They are still here in fact."
"Do you know what the Elf is called?"
My voice shook with the effort of speaking. The soldier's brow furrowed in concentration for a moment, and then it straightened out again.
"He is called Legolas."
Sweet relief bloomed in my chest and I managed to speak, voice croaking.
"Take me to him now."
The soldier nodded. I began to sit up, but collapsed back to the ground again. Without warning, the soldier slid one arm underneath my back and the other underneath my legs. He lifted me up, cradling me to his chest. He started running up the path leading to Meduseld. He flew up the steps, taking care not to jostle me. The soldiers guarding the door pushed them open on our approach, escorting us inside. We entered a large hall. Stone pillars rose to the arched ceiling, and tapestries hung on the walls. My vision began to blur, but I could make out a throne at one end, with a table to one side. The people at the table looked up at our approach, and silence fell. I forced my eyes to focus, searching the faces at the table. Suddenly, a cry rang out, and a lithe form detached itself from the group. He ran towards the soldier. Gently taking me from the soldier's arms, he carried me over to the table, where the others were standing and clearing the table top. He lay me down, and brushed the hair from my face.
His voice caressed me, like a gentle breeze. His hands clutched one of mine. I had found him. He was here. Darkness edged my vision as I started to lose consciousness.
"Legolas. She does not have much time."
Another voice cut through the haze. I recognised that voice, but, no. It could not be.
My voice was little more than a whisper.
"It is me, my dear. I will explain later. Just hold on."
A blurry face loomed over me. I heard more voices, but they mixed together until all I heard was a buzz. I did not care. Legolas was here, with me. Nothing else mattered. With that thought, I closed my eyes, and let go.
tolkiens_ - the way Sera opens the doors is info contained in here. I do not own the info, and I did not write it.Thank you to Certh, for recommending it!