For the Love of his Master|
Summary: Trapped in a rising storm, Aragorn and his party receive aid from an unusual source.
Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings belongs to JRR Tolkien. I'm just playing in the good professor's playground.
Faramir sighed as he rose to
his feet, staring out over the plains before Minas Tirith. He paused
at the window, observing the thick clouds that were slowly building
on the horizon. He turned at the sound of gentle rapping on his chamber
door. “Enter,” he called as he set his goblet down on a nearby
Damrod poked his head around
the door. “Captain, all is made ready for the return to Ithilien.
Beregond indicated you would prefer to leave as soon as possible so
as to avoid the coming storm.”
“Yes indeed. Thank you Damrod.”
The prince gathered his traveling cloak. “Is King Elessar still planning
to accompany us?”
“Yes my lord. He is awaiting
your attendance in his study.” Damrod smiled at his long time commander.
“I suspect you are eager to return to your wife and children.”
Faramir returned the smile.
“Very much so. I have greatly missed Éowyn and my sons. This fortnight
break from council meetings is most welcome.”
The two men quickly exited
the room and continued down the hall towards the king’s study. They
nodded to the guard on duty as their presence was announced. Aragorn’s
voice sounded from inside, bidding them enter. The king rose as his
steward entered. “Are you ready to depart, my friend?”
“I am, lord. However, we
should make haste for it appears the weather is turning against us.”
The three men left the study
and hurried down to the stables. The wind had picked up in the meantime
and was now whistling ominously through the stone paved streets. The
sky had darkened considerably as well, blocking the sun and turning
the day grey. Despite his warm cloak, Faramir shivered slightly, a feeling
of trepidation washing over him. He mounted his horse as Aragorn led
Roheryn from his stall. The great stallion pranced as his master led
him into the stable yard and easily gained the saddle. Beregond and
Damrod joined the steward and the king as they clattered out of the
yard, heading for the gates of the city.
By the time they crossed the
Anduin, the wind had strengthened to a howling gale. Leaves, small branches
and dirt spun around the horses’ hooves. The four men pulled
their hoods up to cover their heads as a pattering of rain began to
fall. Soon however, the drizzle increased to a blinding downpour, turning
the trail into a sea of mud. Even Aragorn’s keen sight couldn’t
pierce the gloom and darkness that suddenly encompassed them. Lightning
streaked the sky as thunder exploded overhead. Even steady Roheryn sidestepped
uneasily as the storm built around the quartet.
“We must find shelter!”
The steward shouted to make himself heard over the rushing wind.
“There is a cave up ahead
on the left!” called back Beregond.”
“If it isn’t flooded,”
The four men urged their mounts
on through the storm, peering intently at their surroundings, lest they
miss the cavern in question.
“There it is!” cried Aragorn
abruptly. He led the others under the low overhang and into the relative
dryness of the cavern. Even though the stone was damp and cool, the
protection offered was quite preferable to the deluge outside. The men
dismounted and swiftly unsaddled their horses, relieving the animals
of their burdens.
Damrod discovered a small cache
of sticks, captured in a rocky outcropping near the mouth of the cavern,
and quickly fought the dampness to build a spluttering flame. He slowly
coaxed the small fagots into a meagre fire that hissed and popped from
the rain still managing to work its way into their shelter.
Faramir crouched beside his
lieutenant. “Is there enough wood at hand or shall I scour the back
of the cavern for more?”
“It depends on how long this
rain continues, my lord. We have plenty for now.” Damrod flashed a
brief yet grim smile.
staring out at the tree line near her home in Emyn Arnen. The wind whipped
the branches into frenzy, sending leaves spiralling into the air. Rain
lashed against the windows and beat down upon the roof of the cozy home
she shared with her husband and children. Suddenly, she narrowed her
eyes as a shadow detached itself from the forest and hurried across
the courtyard. She moved to the door, swinging it open just as the visitor
raised his hand to knock.
“Lord Legolas,” the lady
of Ithilien exclaimed. “What in Arda brings you out in this storm?”
She moved out of the way, gesturing for the Elf to cross the threshold
and taking his dripping cloak.
“Thank you, my lady,” Legolas
replied gravely. He removed the sodden garment from his shoulders. Water
continued to trickle from his blonde locks down the back of his tunic.
He turned his bright eyes to Éowyn, allowing her to see the worried
reflected in their depths. “Has Aragorn and your husband arrived?”
“Nay and I am beginning to
worry. They had hoped to arrive by midday and the time is now two hours
past with no word from their party.”
“I feared as much. My scouts
reported that the Anduin is overflowing its banks.” His gaze followed
much the same direction as Éowyn’s had been for the last few hours.
He ran his hand over his hair, his brows narrowed in thought. “Is
there any place that they may have sought shelter?”
Éowyn frowned. “I am not
certain. Faramir knows the country much better than I.”
Legolas nodded. “I understand.”
He remained immobile for a few moments before shaking his head to free
himself from his reverie. “There is a shadow in my mind. The last
time I felt this was with Estel on the Quest.” He murmured the
words as if speaking only to himself.
The lady came forward, placing
a gentle hand on his arm. “What troubles you, my lord?”
The prince turned his head
to meeting her grey eyes squarely. “I cannot shake off the sense that
they are in danger. Are there any of Prince Faramir’s Rangers nearby?”
“Anborn and Mablung arrived
earlier today to meet with Faramir regarding some new recruits for the
Ithilien Company. Shall I call them for you?”
“Please do, my lady.” Legolas
retrieved his cloak from the hook on which Éowyn had hung it. “Excuse
me. I shall return momentarily.”
Éowyn watched the Elf duck
out the door before donning a cloak herself and hurrying to the small
barracks behind the main house. Anborn opened the door as she approached.
“Lady Éowyn, is something amiss?” the seasoned Ranger enquired
as he drew the woman inside.
“King Elessar and Lord Faramir
haven’t arrived yet. Lord Legolas is concerned for their welfare.
He believes them to be in danger.”
“Does he require our assistance?”
Mablung joined the conversation.
“I believe he intends to
search for them. He asked that I summon you for him.”
Anborn glanced at his fellow
ranger. “Should we ask Turin or Beren to join the hunt as well?”
“I know not. Did the Prince
ask for any other Rangers, my lady?”
“Nay, he simply asked me
to call you and stated he would return shortly. Then he slipped outside.”
“Conversing with the trees
again, no doubt,” Anborn remarked wryly as he took up his quiver and
Eowyn frowned at the statement.
“This is hardly at time to make a jest.”
“‘Tis no jest, my lady,
the Elf lord truly speaks to trees.” Mablung added as he buckled on
his sword belt. “I would not believe it myself, except I have seen
it with my own eyes.”
“It is conceivable that he
is calling for aid from his own people.” Anborn added. “It would
seem to be the faster means of conveying a message.” He handed a small
pack to his friend. “We’d best be on our way.”
By the time the three had slogged
through the mud, Legolas was standing under the eaves.
“Some of my scouts will join
us. We must move quickly. Are you prepared?” the Elf enquired of the
“We are, my lord,” Anborn
answered with a nod.
“Then let us depart. Lady
Éowyn, it would be most appreciated if you could prepare warm blankets,
clothing, and food against our return.”
“I will make sure all is
ready,” Éowyn answered with a faint smile. “Please bring them
home,” she added, uncharacteristic pleading in her voice.
Legolas bowed over her hand
before darting into the trees with an easy running stride. The two Rangers
quickly followed and were soon lost in the gathering darkness.
A sudden crash woke Faramir
from the fitful slumber he had dropped into. Wearily, he blinked at
his surroundings to determine what had fallen. Damrod ducked into the
opening, his dark hair plastered to his face and neck.
“The water is rising. We
need to move quickly.” The Ranger’s face and body were grim. Aragorn
rose to his feet.
“We shall have to lead the
horses. The footing is much too treacherous to attempt riding.”
The steward moved stiffly to
join his king and friend. “The storm is still raging?”
“Aye, and it is getting worse.
That crash was a tree felled by the wind. I wager there will be mudslides
upriver if this continues.” Damrod spun to stare out across the sodden
land. At the moment, lightning struck a nearby pine with an earth-shattering
crack. The sound, coupled with the sudden clap of thunder, spooked all
four horses and they galloped out into the rain.
“Roheryn!” Aragorn made
to follow, just as the great tree split down its trunk.
“Look out, my lord!” Beregond
shouted as the massive piece of wood came tumbling downward. The King
leapt back, not a moment too soon to avoid being crushed by the heavy
“Are you injured, mellon
nîn?” Faramir asked as he knelt by his liege’s side.
“No, Beregond’s warning
came just in time.” Aragorn rolled to his feet, surveying the barrier
that now stood between the men and their freedom. “However,” his
mouth twitched with wry humor. “I believe that our progress is now
The Ranger and the Captain
of the White Company stared at King for a few moments, unsure if he
were making a jest. Their answer came in the form of Faramir masking
a snort of laughter as a cough. Rueful chuckles sounded all the way
around as some much needed levity was interjected into the situation.
A few miles away, the same
lighting strike attracted the attention of the small party of searchers.
Three Elves summoned by Legolas had joined them shortly after they had
left the house. “They were already in route. I have been sensing danger
for the better part of the day.” The elven prince had explained
noting the look of surprise on the men’s faces.
“We must be cautious. There
is grave danger here.” Mablung warned as the wind continued to howl
Abruptly a fourth Elf dropped
from the trees and ran lightly up to his lord. His musical voice chattered
briefly in the unknown speech of the Greenwood Elves before Legolas
stiffened to attention.
“Come,” he barked, turning
in the direction from which the scout had come. The two rangers exchanged
glances before giving chase.
“What it is my lord?” Anborn
called as they hurried along, their faces pelted with the cold rain
“Daeron has come across four
horses. Two are injured but he believes the third may be Roheryn.”
Legolas shouted back over his shoulder.
The six hunters struggled up
a muddy hill and scrambled down the other side, slipping and sliding
as they went. At the bottom lay a chestnut horse that Anborn easily
recognized as belonging to Damrod. He dropped to his knees beside the
fallen animal and carefully felt for the foreleg. He shook his head
at the obvious deformity he felt.
“Broken?” Mablung asked.
“Aye, but I don’t see either
the Captain’s mount or King Elessar’s Roheryn.” He paused as a
powerful whinny rent the air. Both rangers spun to see the King’s
charger pushing against Legolas’ chest. The horse obviously wanted
the Elf to do his bidding. The prince placed a gentle hand on the stallion’s
nose, murmuring softly in his own tongue. Roheryn bobbed his head as
if he understood the words perfectly. Suddenly, he turned and galloped
off through the trees. Even more surprising, was that then Legolas abruptly
and without explanation hurried after him. The four Elves held a quick
conference before following in their lord’s footsteps. Anborn caught
Mablung’s eye and shrugged before picking up the trail.
Inside the cave, all four men
were shivering in the knee-deep water. Although drowning wasn’t a
concern, the cold certainly was. Since the storm showed no signs of
letting up and the tree was firmly wedged in front of the opening, each
was silent, contemplating the situation in his own mind. Suddenly a
shrill screech sounded from outside and Aragorn leapt to his feet. Exhaustion
forgotten, he waded to the entrance, water sloshing about his legs.
“Legolas!” he shouted.
“We’re in here!”
Moments later the other three
men could hear voices drifting through the blockage. “Anborn, Mablung,”
“Aye, is the Captain with
you?” called back Anborn.
“Yes. We are uninjured, but
we cannot move the tree and the water is rising.”
“Fear not, we have hithlain
rope with us.” Legolas answered firmly. He could then be heard giving
instructions to others in his own tongue. Faramir exchanged a look with
his friends as the wood groaned. After a few minutes that seemed an
eternity, the tree shifted sufficiently for the men to be able to squeeze
their way out. Aragorn pulled his elven friend into a fierce hug.
“Valar bless you mellon
nîn. How did you find us?”
“Roheryn. He led us to you.”
The blonde prince answered with a gesture towards the stallion now standing
calmly nearby. “He was most persuasive.”
Aragorn drew close to his horse
and rubbed the nose fondly. “Thank you, my friend. Once again you
have saved my life.” Roheryn whinnied softly, bobbing his noble
head as if in reply.
“It would appear that the
storm is abating.” Beregond spoke through chattering teeth. “Perhaps
we may finish our journey with no further interruptions.”
“Lady Éowyn is awaiting
our return.” Mablung said with a smile for the White Company’s Captain.
“I would wager she’ll have water on for tea and warm blankets aplenty.”
“Then let’s not keep the
good lady waiting.” Faramir stated as he too patted the faithful steed.
“Shall we go home?”
“Indeed, we shall.” Aragorn
answered as the little group headed for Emyn Arnen.