The young Elf was woken up by a sharp pain to his side. Struggling to open his eyes, he found a strange soldier staring down at him.
"Might this be your steed?"
Esendri looked up, head spinning, and his eyes dilated in a fleeting mixture of delight, followed by anger as they rested upon a splendid chestnut stallion being held down by four men with ropes. The horse was rearing wildly, and was letting out anguished screams as it fought them.
The Elf called out to the beast in his native tongue, "Lindral, heb-bellas, i lu teli!"
The men gaped openly with amazement as the wildly charging horse became instantly docile and allowed itself to be tied up.
"You are capable of speech," said a familiar, caustic voice, causing Esendri to startle. "We have paused for the night, and I want you to reconsider my earlier offer."
Casting a last look at the Elf laying on the ground, the swarthy man smirked and turned around.
Left to his own devices, Esendri managed to shift his position discretely to get a better view of his surroundings. It seemed as if a company of more than thirty men had taken him captive, each fully armed, their steeds well-built and powerful, flanks gleaming in the moonlight. A fire and a watch had been set up. They were relatively high up the slopes of the mountains, for the snow was deep, and the landscape sparse. His heart sank, seeing that even with Lindral's help, he would have difficulty escaping.
A dish was thrust in his face, a piece of cooked meat on it.
"You should have something to eat." The voice was hushed and surreptitious.
Esendri turned to see a young face, watching him eagerly. This man was different from the rest. Not older than twenty-five, he was leaner too, and had a dark bristle growing on his face. His intelligent eyes seemed to take in everything about the Elf, and there was unmistakeable curiousity in them.
"Do you not speak our tongue?" the young man said, not taking his eyes off Esendri for one moment. "I see that you comprehend what is going on, at the very least, and it would not surprise me if you could reply if you chose to! I have heard so much of your kind! This is the first time I've actually seen one of the first-born, and I must admit that you indeed do live up to the songs of old!"
The servant frowned quizzically. The man did not seem to have any bellicose intents. Yet, he was still distrustful.
"Do you come out of the forests of the East? I have heard stories of a great Elven king who dwells within the Woods. Judging from your appearance, it seems as though you are a Wood Elf!"
Upon seeing no response, the man offered the piece of meat to him again. "Fill your stomach, for the journey to come will be harsh. The conditions of the High Pass will be trying at the very best!"
Esendri recoiled from the sight of the cooked meat, disgusted.
The other sighed, and drew out a flask. "Perhaps then, a drink?"
He uncorked the flask, and approached the Elf cautiously.
"Come any nearer, and you will be sorry!" snarled the Elf, his defences flaring up upon seeing the other drawing near.
The man drew back, surprise in his features. "So, you speak after all!"
A black look from the Elf silenced him.
"You are proud too. Rest assured that I will reveal none of this to my leader! I must go now. Try to get some rest; we set off at dawn!"
And with that, the young man stole silently away, leaving the befuddled prisoner without a second glance.
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.