The Old Grey Wizard
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The Chronicles of The Kelvar: 1. Witness to Arrival
The Chronicles of the Kelvar: Tales of September 18, 3018, to October 18, 3018, as told by witnesses to the events.
Part 1: Shadowfax: Sept the 18th to Sept the 30th, Third Age, year 3018.
Chapter 1: Witness to Arrival
Rohan. Just after midnight.
Upon the upland plain above the Gold-Hairs' walled place I strode that night, my hooves sinking into the softening turf that came upon the heels of rain. It was my play, to wait til the light faded and climb to this shelf above to run, ignoring the protests of whatever mare I then called consort. Here, hid 'neath the fading autumn grass, lay real challenges aplenty: stones sharp as spear-points, hidden crevices, pools of muck waiting to catch and toss the unwary and less fleet. T'was a game of my own invention, to run, twisting and leaping, turning side to side to side, despite the obstacles—nay, in truth, to run because of the obstacles. And ah, the joy and thrill it brought me, e'en as my magnificent obsidian hooves rang on stone, as spits of fire flew from beneath my impeccable legs as I spun and danced on grass laced with stony weapons that could fell the unwary or less agile. For who can call himself King who shall not risk? How else can Lord of Wind Upon Grass hone his skills but to push beyond them? A Mearas' stretch must exceed his stride, else any claim he has to the name greatest of all horses be forfeit.
So it came to be, on that night of the Half Shriveled Moon Before Harvest, that from afar and above I saw the Winged Kelvar-Lord come. From out of the eye of the Mist Winds from the far-off Mountains of the same name he flew, huge and powerful on wings as broad as the stretched green cloak of a Gold-Hair rider, and I knew he could be no other. He is, I deem, the only other creature of land or air to whom I might grant brotherhood, and dominion of what I cannot claim to control: that ephemerae which floats above my rolling realm. Whether he and I have peers 'neath the waves of the Sea, this tale does not tell, nor, indeed, will I waste more thought on mysteries I have no desire to solve.
But I digress. That night from the North he came, the dying Moon just arisen in the East, a grating of raucous ravens pursuing, as is their wont, but the Sky-King outpaced them. As I gazed at him I wondered what drew him so near. For rare indeed was the sight of one of his kind in these lands we Mearas have granted for the use of the Gold-Hairs. I will admit I have not oft seen such a one save far above, floating upon the Highest Winds that 'tis said stream from Mountain peak to Mountain peak and beyond to the archways of the Firmament.
Yet as he approached, it seemed to my eye that the Lord of Winds Above rode slowly on the air, his great wings beating harder and with an ungainliness uncommon to his kind. I paused in my evening's exercise, therefore, indulging my curiosity and giving my sole peer his due. I stamped my forefoot on a handy stone to raise a spark, just for the sport of it, snorted, and watched.
What hindered his usually elegant flight was not at first apparent to me, for my eye was made for land-search, and the seeking out of things close, or of sighting the shadow of foes on the horizon, not for discerning what transpires in Cloud-Land. Yet e'en as I watched, my amusement at his growing clumsiness rising, he flexed his great feathered forelimbs and veered into a falling spiral. That was when I saw the source of his awkwardness. Upon my fellow King's back a creature clung: A man-beast, draped in a flapping excess of the flimsy self-made skins they wear, and clutching a stick.
For what reason would the Windlord deign to allow such an indignity, I wondered? To be ridden, and by one as weak and stupid as a Two-Legged, Babbling, Fur and Featherless Mortal Human? To be sure, my own folk had bargained thus with the Gold-Hairs to the gain of both, and my forefathers in my house of the Mearas had allowed the crowned Kings of the Mark at times to ride upon their backs. I, however, had never stooped to such nonsense, for none in the Gold-Hairs Ruling House had proved deserving since I was foaled, I can tell you that. And so to witness another of nearly equally royal heritage to allow such a thing…! I could not fathom it, and my curiosity, whetted by the teetering uneasiness of his broad golden-hued wing, was further sharpened.
I cantered to the edge of a broad shelf that gave a fine view of all below. Far away and to the right the flickering torches of the Gold-Hairs collection of man-stables glowed, and the Moon, though waned to less than half, shone bright and silver enough upon the spilling vale that I could espy the scene.
The Windlord's downward spin tightened as he dropped with tremendous speed. For a moment, a grunting nicker of concern escaped my throat, for I thought no bird—Eagle or no—could control such a steep descent, and surely he—and his passenger—would be dashed to the earth. Then Gwaihir—for so I have since learned is his proper name, bestowed upon him by the Firstborn—reared back his great wings at the last, flapping them strongly enough to flatten the long yellowing grass in every direction. He swung his thick legs forward, razor-sharp talons extended, and alit upon the Plains as delicately as a butterfly. But the Man-Thing tumbled from atop him, clumsily, as all such two-legged ones seem to be, and though he flung his narrow stick out to catch himself, fell ignobly to ground.
This time, more than just a grunt escaped my elegant throat. I tossed my handsome head and roared with laughter at the sight, for the fellow was revealed to my eyes now as a decrepit old one, head and face half-covered in unkempt hair. Gwaihir stepped back a pace or two, to get out of the flailing creature's path, or so it seemed to me from afar. If I could have shouted loudly enough to be heard, I might have let loose a choice comment to the unlikely pair—but I could not hear their converse, nor they mine. Finally the Man-Thing rose to his two clumsy feet, bowed to the Windlord—I grunted with approval at that, at least he seemed to have manners of a sort—and after a brief conversation, Gwaihir sprang up from the ground and was aloft.
I watched the Eagle Lord flap and rise into the moonlight, jealous for a moment of the sight of him floating upward. What might it be like, I wondered, to look down on all from such a height? And then I remembered that plump red mare who had called out so worriedly after me… and I decided my land-bound plight not so very difficult after all. I gave not a second thought to the clumsy old Two-Foot that the Windlord had borne to the very doorway of the Mark, and made my way back to the herd with an expectant gleam in my brilliant black eye.
...to be continued...
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