Couple of Friends, A
1. On the Trail of Trolls
- Gandalf, Ch. 2 of The Hobbit
The trail was cold, and had been for many hours, but the stench still made Elladan stop in his tracks. His horse jerked her head at the abrupt movement, and then whinnied nervously as the familiar scent became apparent to her as well. Dismounting, he tossed his reins over the saddle horn and knelt by the side of the narrow track they were using as a road.
“Trolls?” Elrohir had dismounted as well and was standing over him, a frown on his face. They had been in the wild for nearly a year, tracking down bands of orcs in the Misty Mountains, and there had been rumors of trolls from some of the reclusive green elves they had met along the way.
Elladan nodded and stood, brushing his hands off on his cloak. “Three of them, and going the same direction we would like to go.” He grimaced. “Well, if they get close to home they’ll be in for a surprise. Still, there are a lot of gentler folk in these parts who can’t handle themselves as well as us.” He met his twin’s eyes, and they both nodded.
Elrohir sighed and mounted his horse, gathering the reins in one hand and loosening his sword in its scabbard with the other. “We’ll ride slowly around this next set of curves, and then run for the ford. There should be Rangers there this time of year. We can gather a crew and throw these three out.”
Elladan gathered his own reins and pressed his ankle into the horse’s side. She settled into a patient walk, still wary of the troll-scent. Elrohir’s gelding followed more willingly, safe in the knowledge that he would not be the first to be eaten. The twins rode in silence for a while, the elven horses making little sound on the packed-earth trail. It wound further down the slope until it leveled out and met the forked road to Rivendell. It was here that they heard the approach of another horse, the hoof beats a familiar cadence through the trees.
Elrohir stood up in his stirrups to see better, and then he raised one hand in greeting as he dropped back into his saddle. Elladan steadied his horse and then greeted the newcomer himself. “Ai! Mithrandir! A pleasant surprise. What are you doing out on the trails this night?”
The wizard halted in front of them, a smile on his bearded face. That ridiculous hat was still perched firmly on his head, Elrohir noted with an answering smile. “Well met, my friends. Are you from Rivendell or for it? I have a band of hardy adventurers somewhere behind me on the road.”
Elladan answered him, keeping a firm grip on his nervous mount. “We are going home, at last, but we came upon the trail of trolls just over an hour ago. You should warn your friends, for there are three of them, large and fierce.”
Gandalf looked troubled for a moment, as if reviewing the sense and capabilities of his companions. “Perhaps I should. No doubt they have walked right into them, I shouldn’t wonder.”
The twins exchanged a look and then nodded to the wizard. “If you are bringing this pack to Rivendell, do you have a message for our father? We had intended to gather a few friends and take care of the trolls, for they are frightening the local folk, but if you are going to attend to it…”
Gandalf waved his hand. “I’ll see to the trolls. You may tell your father that I am bringing fourteen, most of them dwarves and very surly by nature.” There was a twinkle in his eye as he said it, remembering the twins’ childhood fascination with seeing a dwarf.
“Mithrandir!” They said in unison, both laughing now. “Very well, we will receive your dwarves. But do expect a lot of teasing! For those currently on duty at the outposts are all of a minstrel inclination, and I daresay you will be serenaded through the valley.”
“So be it, then,” replied Gandalf, a twinkle in his eye again. “Good luck, my friends, and do not be too enthusiastic when you welcome my dwarves.” With that he turned his horse and returned the way he came, going perhaps a little faster. Elladan shook his head, still smiling.
“Well, we should be on our way, then. If we hurry we can reach the edge of the valley by tomorrow night.” He slapped his horse’s neck affectionately. They left the path and urged their mounts into a brisk gallop across the fields.
According to plan, they reached the white stone path into the valley. “Home sweet home,” sang Elrohir, pushing his horse into the lead as they slowed to a canter on the path. It was as familiar as the palms of their hands, so they had no trouble speeding down the twists and turns to the floor of the valley. The lights spun and twinkled invitingly, and the water of the river burbled soothingly along its stone bed.
When they reached the open glade through the forest they were greeted by an elven patrol, full of cheer and good food. Rejoicing at the long-awaited return of their lord’s sons, they pressed upon them food and a few songs before letting them set off for the river.
It was nearly dawn when the rode the horses over the narrow stone bridge and right into the central courtyard of Rivendell, where word of their coming had spread from the border and the doors were flung open to greet them.
Elladan and Elrohir both leapt from their saddles to embrace their father, handing their reins to the smiling horse master and slinging worn saddlebags over their mud-smeared travel cloaks. “We are returned at last!” Sang Elrohir as he went up the steps ahead of his father and brother, scooping up a small boy as he tried to wriggle through the crowd. “Estel! There you are! Have you forgotten all about us?”
The lad in his arms wrinkled his nose. “Of course not. What did you bring me? Did you fight lots of orcs? Was it exciting?” His dark hair was messy and flew around his face as he talked, and his hands and feet were grubby. Ahead in the hall stood a patient young woman with a smile on her face, awaiting the return of her ragamuffin son from the arms of his revered foster-brother.
“We fought many orcs, little brother, and fierce ones they were! But we triumphed in the end, with much hard work. Elladan has your presents in his saddlebags,” he added with a grin, releasing the boy so he could run to Elladan, flying into his arms to demand his new toys. Elrohir bowed now to the boy’s mother, taking her hand to lips as she laughed at him.
“You spoil him terribly, my lord.” Gilraen struggled to put a disapproving look, but couldn’t in the face of his forthright flattery and courteousness.
“My lady, you wound me.” Elrohir’s face softened as he glanced back to his twin, who was laughing as he assembled an array of treasures in front of Estel. “It is nice to have somebody to bring things home to. Speaking of,” he went on, a smile returning, “this is for you.” He extracted a small pendant from his saddlebag and fixed it around her neck as she bent to let him do so.
Gilraen touched his face fondly. “Thank you, Elrohir. It’s beautiful, and I share your sentiment. Now, you had better give your father whatever message I am sure you have forgotten by now.” Her eyes were laughing as he remembered and he wheeled with a shout at his twin.
Elladan rose from where he had been playing on the floor with Estel. “What, dearest brother?”
“The message, dolt! We need to warn father about Mithrandir’s troupe of dwarves!”
“What troupe of dwarves are you speaking of, my son?” Inquired a curious voice just behind him. Elrohir whirled again, nearly hitting Elladan with his cloak as the latter came to join him.
“Mithrandir is on his way back, father, and he has a group of adventurers with him. He told us they were mostly surly dwarves. I told the guards at the border, and they will let them pass.”
Elrond nodded, moving across the hall to his private study, his sons trailing behind. He sat down and clasped his hands thoughtfully, watching them. Tall and elven-fair in the manner of his family, with black hair and piercing gray eyes, they were mirror images of each other; even their expressions, at this moment, were the same.
Yet he could tell them apart quite easily, though many folk who did not know them well could not. Elrohir was a better rider, and his gloves were less worn from holding the reins too hard. The sword at his side was also loose in its scabbard, while Elladan’s was held firmly and the handle polished. He preferred the bow now piled with his saddlebags and riding cloak to one side of the study.
“We will welcome the dwarves, if they come with Mithrandir’s word. He did speak to me vaguely of a map he obtained several months ago. I would imagine he has come into contact with a certain dwarf, and decided to fund their mission.” He would not say more to his sons then, and sent them off to bathe and dress for dinner, claiming they smelt of troll and week-dead orc.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.