It would take another week before the fellowship would reach
the Pass of Caradhras, the days had been long and the nights were filled with
combat training. The girls had slowly begun to improve and had grown a little
closer with their companions. Each night when they camped Chris would train
with Boromir, Aragorn and the Hobbits, then later in the night when their
companions slept Legolas would instruct Elle with her blades.
“You are making good progress, for a woman.” Boromir said jokingly as he deflected her sword again. They had been sparring for just over an hour when Boromir lowered his blade and sheathed it. He patted her back before making his way over to the fire pit. Chris followed and sat between him and Pippin. She smiled when he handed her a plate of food that looked bare compared to his highly stack plate. A small chuckle escaped her lips as he shovelled down another helping of sausages and then looked up at her with a confused face.
“It always surprises me how much you little guys eat! I wonder if it all goes to your feet instead of your hips.” She spoke good naturedly.
“Hobbit bellies are deep!” Pippin said with pride as he patted his belly.
“Especially yours Pip, it bottomless!” Merry piped in saying the last part in a stage whisper.
“It must be true! For I am sure I saw you consume a whole wild boar yourself!” Boromir laughed as Pippin smiled.
“It was half a boar, Merry ate the rest.” He spoke with his cheeky grin widening. A deep laugh then made his smile falter for a moment.
“I did wonder what happened to it!” Aragorn chuckled as he sat beside Boromir and placed three rabbits by the empty stew pot. Chris eyed them for a moment but turned away when Aragorn pulled out his knife and reached for one. In an attempt to block out the sickening sounds of him skinning the poor thing Chris tried to start conversation with her companions.
“So, Boromir… tell me about… Gondor! What’s it like?” She asked hoping her would go into an in depth description. His eyes glittered and his chest puffed up with pride.
“Gondor, it is a beautiful land with glistening cities and a strong people. We Gondorians stand at the forefront of Mordor’s assaults, many times have they tried to defeat us and each time men show their true strength.” He smiled as he thought of his home. “I hail from the mighty city of Mina Tirith, our capital and home of the famed white tree. It is from here that my father, the Stuart of Gondor, rules with a fair hand and keeps all other lands safe.” His voice rose a little and he glanced over at Aragorn, Chris then began to wonder if this had been a good idea. Aragorn however simply continued skinning the rabbit. Boromir rose and looked down at the dwindling fire.
“I shall go fetch more fire wood.” With that he left. Chris looked up to see Elle sat quietly nibbling on some limbas bread, it had been all she had eaten for the whole trip.
‘You know you’re too picky for your own good.’ Elle looked up at Chris then wrapped up the bread placing it back in her pack.
‘I know but I can’t stand stew.’
‘There’s a lot of food you can’t stand…’ Chris thought dryly. In there friendship feeding Elle had been a problem; it had gotten to the stage where Chris’ mum refused to cook for her. It wasn’t like Elle had any easting disorders or anything, she was just ridiculously picky. She didn’t eat anything that was ‘soggy’ or contained any form of onion. Hence her only eating the lambas bread.
‘You should probably get to know Frodo and Sam better.’ Elle thought as she stood and stretched her arms.
‘Why?’ Chris asked looking over at the reclusive hobbits.
‘You’re going with them to Mordor aren’t ya?’ Elle reminded her. With that Chris stood and brought some water over to the hobbits. As she approached their quiet murmurings stopped and they just looked at her. Sitting beside Frodo she held out the water skin.
“You need to keep hydrated we have a long way to go yet.” Chris smiled and kicked herself a little when they looked confused.
‘Guess they don’t know what hydration is.’ She thought absently as Frodo took the water and drank it thirstily. She laughed a little as most of the water cascaded down his cheeks that were now puffed up like a hamster. He looked adorable.
“How are you feeling Frodo, you look a little tired.” She noted the smudges under his eyes. He shook his head.
“I am fine; you need not worry for me Eadgyth.” He said as he passed what was left of the water to Sam.
“Of course I’m gonna worry.” She said in an exasperated tone. “You were stabbed only a few weeks ago and we’ve barely stopped for more than a few hours to rest. How is it by the way, healing well?” He absently touched the old wound.
“It is healing well; Lord Elrond did most of the healing it just needs a little time.” Frodo said in attempt to reassure her.
“She’s right Mr. Frodo, maybe we should ask Gandalf if we could slow down a bit, for your health. It’s a heavy burden and you need your rest.” There was a silence between them. The ring, the one thing that could end the suffering of innocents and the sacrifices of soldiers, the thing that was so heavy there were bruises on Frodo’s neck where the chain holding the ring had bitten into his skin.
“No.” He said decisively. “We must get this done as soon as we can, no delays.”
“Frodo is right, Eadgyth and Samwise.” Boomed Gandalf’s deep voice, even when he spoke softly it had the effect of a bellow. “We cannot delay, lest more lives be lost for our slow pace.” His expression softened. “Get some rest, we leave at first light.”
That night Chris laid out her bed roll beside Sam and Frodo, they spoke lowly until they finally drifted into sleep.
Elle watched as the camp settled down to get as much sleep as they could. She had found out quickly that her Elven body hardly needed sleep at all, though she was still difficult to wake in a morning, so she trained with her swords at night with Legolas. Absolutely no complaints being alone with Legolas! Elle had thought the movie Legolas was hot but with the real thing there was no comparison.
Once all of her companions were asleep she heard the familiar sounds of almost silent footsteps. She turned and there he was at the edge of the camp motioning her to follow. Usually when they trained they went to higher ground so they could still watch over the group and train in secrecy.
Once again her defensive skills were good but her attacks were weak and easily disarmed. Then they had first trained Legolas had been surprise at her level of incompetence, he had assumed she was a little out of practice, not a compete novice. But he had promised not to mention it to the fellowship so had kept it to himself. However the knowledge of her inefficiencies had made him worry for her, if they were attacked Eadgyth and the Hobbits would be protected due to their inexperience, Ercassiel would be expected to fight with the others. If this happened he knew he would be drawn to protect her. With this knowledge they had long and difficult training sessions. At first she found them difficult and exhausting but seemed to pick it up quite quickly, to which she was glad but she was far off from doing any real fighting.
That night he had led her to a large ledge that looked over the camp. There was plenty of space to practice but they had to be quiet so they didn’t wake anyone. As usual they began with some basic forms with out the weapons and then once that was finished they would spar each other until it was time to wake the others.
“Move your feet.” He ordered as their weapons clashed. She was heavy footed and wasn’t quick enough during their sessions, this added to his list of worries. If she didn’t move around she could easily be surrounded and struck down. He then began to attack faster giving her less time to get a hit in. After he had disarmed her the third time she sighed.
“Your skills are improving but not fast enough. If we were attacked tomorrow you would be killed.” He said bluntly. Elle marched over and grabbed her discarded swords from the floor.
“Then we need to keep going and not stop every bloody time you disarm me.” She said as she got back into her stance with anger fraying the edge of her words. “As you say, I need all the practice I can get!” Charging at him she sliced her blades in an X motion which he evaded skillfully. As she rushed passed he tripped her, causing her to fall flat on her face.
‘You may be hot but you are such an ARSE!’ Elle thought as she wiped the dust from her face. When she stood his eyebrow raised playfully.