Flight to the Ford: Asfaloth's Tale
1. Never Trust a She-Elf
Disclaimer: Meglin is my invention. Everything else belongs to the Tolkien Estate, New Line Cinema or somebody I haven't heard of.
Chapter One: Never Trust a She-Elf
I walked along the narrow path without paying much attention to my surroundings. I was fuming . . . and with good reason, too! There I was out in the middle of nowhere, when I should have been at home having some choice bits of bread. Mmm, I love bread. Especially with a little honey spread on it. But no, no, no, I have to run off and carry this hoity-toity, bow-before-my-beauty-lowly-beast lady through goodness-knows-what peril and . . . but I am getting ahead of myself. Let me explain. My name is Asfaloth and I am an Elvish horse. For you ignoramuses out there, I will tell you exactly what that means.
In the first place, I am fast. Not just ordinarily fast, like some nag from Esgaroth or Bree, but really fast. Of course, that is to be assumed, for Esgaroth and Bree are ruled by the humans. Humans are stupid, and they do not know how to treat horses. Fortunately for my psychological well-being, I have never been forced to suffer the indignity of prolonged association with humans or humans' horses.
Being an Elvish horse also means I am smart. All my stablemates and I understand Elvish and some of the Common Speech that all races speak (despite what the Rohirrim claim about such an ability being unique to Felarof, Horse of Eorl. In truth, Felarof was the only horse dumb enough to reveal it.) Elves can speak with all animals, however. Now I am rather smart even for an Elvish horse.
A usual (though not inevitable) benefit of being an Elvish horse is, in addition to being clever, I am rather handsome though I never flaunt that fact. I am a tall, white horse with a long, silky mane and tail. Since I am an Elvish horse, I obviously belong to Elves and therefore my rider should be an Elf. Now, this is where it gets confusing. My master is Glorfindel and he is the one who should have been riding me. But my rider is a "she," not a "he." She is the daughter of the Half-elven Lord of Imladris - that is where I come from.
It all started two days ago. I was in the stable speaking to my stablemates about the quality of the hay we have been receiving lately, (which, I may say, has left something to be desired even though they did not seem to agree) when several Elf lords entered. I spotted my master among them. In my humble estimation, Glorfindel seems to stand out in a crowd. He walked over to me and produced some bread that I lost no time in demolishing. He smiled slightly and rubbed my jaw which he knows I like, but I could tell that something was wrong. I saw that the other Elf lords were going to their mounts as well. All were armed and clad as if for a ride of at least several days. There was tension in the air. I was not worried though. I knew Glorfindel was equal to any task. He was a warrior and an Elf lord, and I would stand with him against an entire legion of orcs if he bid me do so. He entered my stall and saddled and bridled me, but did not tell me what was happening—a sure sign that he was preoccupied. The other Elf lords, so self-centered they rarely bring an adequate amount of treats for their horses, were already riding out. This was when things started to go sour. My master was just about to mount and ride out with the others when I heard a voice call, "Hail, Lord Glorfindel!"
Glorfindel left my stall and bowed to a female Elf who had entered silently (as all Elves do. It is sometimes very disconcerting). "Hail, Lady Arwen," he replied.
As soon as I saw the one called Arwen (who I had seen before), I knew there was going to be trouble. Females are always trouble, but my concerns were verified when I noticed she, too, was carrying a sword and was clad for travel, not wearing some long, gossamer dress (the kind that always seemed to be mysteriously drawn in the direction of my mouth for a good gnawing).
"Is Asfaloth prepared to depart?" Glorfindel nodded but did not speak. He seemed to be worried then.
I had seen Arwen (who is called Undomiel) before. Few of those who dwelt in Imladris had not. She was said to be the most beautiful of all those who walk the face of Arda, whether they are Elves or are of the Secondborn (which is not surprising, seeing how customarily unsightly they are) since her ancestor Luthien, daughter of Thingol. Like her ancestor, she was also said to be betrothed to a human. I had no little respect for her father and was surprised that he had allowed such a thing. Glorfindel had known her since she was a little child and cared for her greatly. I eyed the Half-elf with some trepidation as she started to move towards me. I had a bad feeling about this.
"What are you doing?" called Glorfindel. Arwen Undomiel did not respond, but walked over to me.
"Shall we go hunting, Asfaloth?" she murmured quietly. Yes, I had a very, very bad feeling about this.
"Peace," she replied, though her eyes twinkled as she spoke.
"Are you certain this is wise?" Glorfindel said. His voice had taken on a perceptive tone that he only used with me when I had stolen part of his breakfast or done something similarly naughty that he had discovered.
A half smile fleetingly crossed her face; then Arwen sighed. She seemed deeply saddened. "I am worried," she answered.
My master's expression softened. "Aragorn?" he asked.
She nodded. "I must find him." There was a fearful urgency in her voice and her brow was furrowed.
He motioned to her. She walked over to his side and they spoke in low tones. I knew the name Aragorn. I had heard the sons of Elrond and Glorfindel speak of him often, though who he was I had no idea. I had a feeling that Arwen wanted to go looking for him. Worse still, I was getting the feeling that she wanted me to carry her. Her grey palfrey was not suited to any kind of war-like situation, and I must admit that I had a reputation for being fast, strong and brave. But no way was I getting anywhere near a human! Their conversation was getting a little bit louder, but still not loud enough for me to make enough out to understand it. I heard my master saying something about "nazgul" and "battle". He was gesturing wildly (for an Elf), but Arwen was just standing there with a stubborn expression on her face. Glorfindel looked more upset than I had ever seen him.
Then Arwen said, "I do not care. I must go." Typical female. I shook my head and grabbed a mouthful of hay. Glorfindel then said something I could not hear and they turned and walked over to me. She climbed onto my back, and if an Elvish horse did not always have to maintain his composure, I would have turned my head and bitten her for her impudence.
"I will tell Lord Elrond of your search," my master told her.
"My thanks," Arwen said. She hesitated. "You may want to tell my father that Hadhafang is not lost if he notices its absence. I lost my sword in the river yesterday and have not been able to locate it and retrieve it yet. I. . . . borrowed his."
Glorfindel sounded weary as he replied, "My horse, your father's sword, and an Elf warrior's mission. Be cautious with Hadhafang. Your father would be quite distressed were you to lose it, and I would not see you visit Mandos' Halls before your time." His voice rang faintly with teasing, as though also to mask his unease.
"Do not fear. I will be careful," she replied amusedly. "Though if it were not for Meglin, I would not have lost my sword at all. My sneaky brothers taught him that trick he used. It is not often that my sword is wrested away during sparring."
'No,' I thought, 'I wait until you have set it down to, uh, borrow it.'
"Particularly on the bridge over The Stream," Glorfindel finished with the touch of a smile. He appreciates irony, as any Elf-lord should, and he had undoubtedly been the one to teach her brothers in the first place. "Your father will not be pleased, but I will tell him for your sake."
Then he raised his hand to stroke my nose and whispered, "Good hunting, Loyal One." He raised his head again and looked affectionately at the lady. "Farewell, Arwen. Be careful. May your journey be swift and your return safe."
I heard her reply, "Farewell, Glorfindel. Do not fear. I can defeat them should battle be unavoidable."
He grimaced faintly at the last part, nodded and stepped aside, motioning for me to leave which I foolishly did before I had a chance to express my opinion. I had said I would stand with Glorfindel against an army of orcs if he bid me do so. It was proven true by my carrying the Lady Undomiel, which in my opinion is a good deal harder. At least my master never rode another horse (I would not allow him to), so he would be staying out of danger. On the other hand, he had to explain Arwen's absence to her father, Elrond. I was not sure which was worse since I did not think she was supposed to have anything to do with battles.
We traveled the rest of that morning at a swift but steady pace, reaching the boundary of Imladris before Anar came fully overhead. It was not far from Imladris, but the terrain was mountainous. Arwen may have been in a hurry, but she should have known that horses should not be pushed for greater speed when they do not have the faintest idea why they are hurrying, and that they certainly need many more treats than I received from her.
Still, I am very strong and rarely complain, so I generously refrained from throwing her in the Bruinen River when we arrived at its edge. Carrying her was better than carrying a human, after all. The Bruinen flows at the outer boundaries of Imladris. It is the Elves' safeguard against invasion which, under Elrond's authority, extends even to the waters that spring down from the Hithaeglir. When Imladris is threatened, at his command they will rise and sweep away the enemy. He had never had to do it in my lifetime, but it was common knowledge that he could and the power he commanded was a subject for much speculation. Particularly when I was irritated with some exceedingly arrogant or insensitive Elf (or Half-elf), I would dream of what I would do if I could command water. The water was not terribly deep at the Ford, yet I eyed its ripples nervously. Arwen sensed my uneasiness and allowed me to pause, pawing at the water slightly with my right forehoof. Since it did not leap out of the river bed and swallow me, I started to walk across. I love to splash in puddles and made sure that the drops thrown up by my hooves went high into the air. I heard Arwen spluttering and decided it would be safer not to prance so much. The streambed and shores were lined with small, sharp stones compelling me to place my hooves cautiously. The water flowed around a bend between sheer rock faces that were a small extension of the Hithaeglir.
When we reached the other side, she asked me to gallop, which I did not truly mind because I like to run. However, I could sense that she was growing impatient. She should take lessons from Glorfindel. Once I stole a valuable dagger that his father had given him and stuffed it down a rabbit hole, and he was completely unperturbed by it. Well, at least until I returned it and he saw I had slobbered on the handle just a little bit. Umm . . . there might have been a few teeth marks too. His reaction was undeniably very . . . interesting.
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.