The thick metal doors slammed, the vibrations ricocheting off the cold stone walls. Esendri sat up, rubbing his wrists, mind whirring. They had marched on relentlessly for the last three days, rarely stopping for more than an hour at a time. Their captive was cast into the fetid dungeons once they reached the city.
He heard a scampering, revealing the presence of rats, and an idea hit him. A soft sound escaped his lips. The rat paused in its scavenging, waiting, listening. Esendri tried again.
He waited as the snout of the creature was raised in curiousity, sniffing the air. There was confusion in its eyes, as it studied the Elf. A smile broke upon the face of the Elf as he felt the familiar tingling of magic rush over him. The rat's mind opened up to him. Having gained the trust of the creature, Esendri spoke to it, before the air around him shimmered briefly before the connection was lost.
He sank back against the wall, exhausted, watching with satisfaction as the rat turned and left. His captivity had weakened him more than he had imagined, and the lack of life in the stone prison had meant that much energy had to be used in order for him to communicate with the animal. Esendri shut his eyes, concentrating his thoughts on his homeland, removing himself from the cold, hard stone that surrounded him.
There he slumped, for what seemed like eternity until footsteps sounded in the corridor. His eyes flew open, and he leapt to his feet, ready for any confrontation.
The footsteps drew nearer, and paused outside his door, before a steel plate was shoved through an opening into the small cell, a thin soup and piece of hard bread placed in it.
"Food for an Elf!" A sarcastic voice laughed.
Esendri's face flushed, but he did not deign to respond. He walked over and studied the plate. Dismay filled his heart, as he realised the fix he was in. Although Elves could survive without sustenance for significant periods of time, they were by no means able to achieve this without the loss of their fighting prowess. It had been a week since he had had anything to eat, and Esendri could feel his strength starting to ebb.
Picking up the bread, Esendri picked at it, producing crumbs and dropping them to the floor, watching absently as rats darted in and out, grabbing whatever they could before disappearing in the cracks. He continued in this fashion, deep in thought, when his fingers closed in on something unusual.
The Elf broke away the remnants of the bread to reveal a thin parchment no wider than an inch. Esendri smiled for the first time in days when he saw the hastily scribbled words. Have faith. Gallenon had not forgotten his promise.
Yuvinel's steed screeched to a halt abruptly. Even so, the speed at which she had mastered the basics of horsemanship astonished both her and the Elves. Barely a fortnight after that first ride, she found herself capable of holding herself upright upon the horse's. There was something about the Elves that made her feel so at home, even more so than she had been with her own people.
"How fare you, Lady Yuvinel?" Elladan pulled up alongside her.
She smiled at him before replying, "Do not worry about me, I can still muster the strength to push on. We are no more than a day's journey from Umstraag."
"There seems to be more to you than meets the eye," Elladan said, eyes scanning his surroundings. "From where do you hail?"
"I am afraid I will disappoint you with my answer, Elladan, for I am but a mere woodsman's daughter. My father and I led a simple existence off the forest, making do with what we had. That was before Marnor broke into our lives, and killed my father!"
Elladan reached out and placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder and nodded comfortingly. A long silence passed before she spoke again.
"It was early in spring, and my father made a decision to visit the city of Umstraag. It seemed as if he was planning to meet someone. I went along, as he did not want me staying behind alone.
"The city was unlike anything I had ever seen before; it was so easy to get swept away by it all! However, things started to go wrong once we got there. The contact my father was supposed to meet did not turn up, and we spent the better part of two weeks searching for him before my father started to become agitated. On the fifteenth day of our stay, we ran into the person whom we pursue: the Lord of the city, Marnor.
"It was a day just like any other, and I was out on my own, exploring the marketplace, when a strange hush fell over the cacophonous crowd. Loud trumpets started blaring, and heralds announced the passing through of the Lord. Everyone fell to their knees and cast their heads down. I risked a glance up at the host that rode past, and my eyes met that of a man of about sixty. All I remember is his eyes, hard and cruel, and I felt myself being compelled to drop my gaze.
"The company passed through without much incident, but having returned to our temporary dwelling for less than two hours, the peaceful atmosphere was shattered by a page-boy's arrival. Flustered and scared, he informed my father and I to flee, for the order had been sent out for my capture. He intended to take me as his bride!
"We left Umstraag under the cover of darkness. There was no sign of any pursuit, but we pushed on. Even after we returned, there was no peace to be found, for they eventually caught up with us! How they did so, I do not know."
At this point, the girl's voice wavered, and tears sprang to her eyes.
Elladan nodded gravely as the maiden stopped in her narrative.
"I will speak to my father about this, for he will be able to offer some insight into the matter. Rest, while I consult Glorfindel about our next move."
Finding the Elflord deep in thought, Elladan approached carefully, not wanting to intrude. His presence was noted immediately, and Glorfindel looked up at him, a warm smile upon his face.
"The maiden informs me that we are but a day's journey from the stronghold. How do you plan we carry out the rescue?"
"I do believe it safe for us to attempt to enter the city under cover. We shall conceal our forms under our cloaks, and disguise our gaits. It is best we split up to avoid arousing suspicion."
"She spoke of a contact her father was searching for, and spies within Marnor's camp. From the sound of it, there is a rebellion."
"What else did she speak of?"
Elladan quickly recounted the conversation he had held with Yuvinel earlier.
"There is something about the girl, Elladan, do you see the way in which she acquires new skills? Her affinity in with the earth is astonishing for a human. She is more than a woodman's daughter. I failed to notice it at first, but it is becoming increasingly evident. Mayhap Legolas detected it on our very first encounter!"
The raven-haired Elf smiled at the mention of his friend. "Ai, Glorfindel, he would undoubtedly have an astute take on the matter. My brother informs me Legolas has an uncommon curiousity for the human race. As for the maiden, I am with your view about her identity. I suspect she does not know who she is!"
"We will dwell on this later. There are more pressing matters at hand. We set off at once."
"Indeed, my Lord Glorfindel," teased the other, before making his way back to his steed and the maiden.
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.