4. Clash of the Titans
“O where are you going? And what are you seeking? A colt was seen fleeing, From you, we’re perceiving, O tra-la-la-lally, He’s gone from the valley, Ha ha!”Then more laughter. An ancient oak grew beside the path, and the merriment seemed to originate from it. Glorfindel raised his eyes from the ground, and his keen gaze pierced the leaves and branches until he found the singer. Seated on a bough, at some height from the ground, a dark-haired elf was reclining against the tree trunk. He met Glorfindel’s gaze and smiled mischievously. “Looking for something?” he called. “Or should I say, someone?” Glorfindel inclined his head in greeting. This was not wholly unexpected. “My greetings, Meglin, and I daresay you already know the answer to that question.” “Perhaps,” the elf returned merrily. “White foals are unusual here, thus it was unforeseen when one appeared on this very path, and made off up the hill and out of the valley. He ran with surprising fleetness.” Another dark head appeared around the trunk of the tree, a little further up. It belonged to an elf-maid who appeared to be of kin to the other in the tree, for there was a marked similarity in their faces and cheerful smiles. “And do not neglect to mention that this foal possessed an even more unusual ornament.” “Indeed, Alquandil, never have I seen a horse with what seemed to possess such an odd mouth.” “One would almost think he had warg blood at first glance. The way he appeared to have such a long front tooth.” “But what tooth is made of metal?” “Indeed, my brother, and what tooth is etched with golden flowers?” They both laughed. Glorfindel could not help smiling as he watched them. “Can you tell me which way this most unusual, warg-blooded, metal-toothed colt went?” “Left at the fork in the trail,” Meglin replied. “And he followed the edge of the valley for some distance. Alas!” he continued with mock dismay, “then he was lost to our sight, but we suspected we would be joined by you soon. Though I am surprised Elladan and Elrohir would miss this opportunity.” “They so dearly love your horses,” Alquandil finished. “They were unable to join me,” Glorfindel explained innocuously, “Elrohir is choosing his own horse.” Identical, mischievous grins sprang onto the faces of Meglin and Alquandil. “Oh, that will never do, Lord Glorfindel,” began Alquandil. “After all, we have not seen them for many months,” said Meglin. “I am sure they will value our advice,” continued Alquandil. “We really must be off now,” finished Meglin. They sprang up and climbed nimbly down the tree, Meglin first pulling out a silver harp that had been hidden by the trunk, and tucking it securely under his arm before following. “I thank you for you aid,” Glorfindel smiled. “And we thank you for yours,” Meglin grinned. “Good hunting.” Alquandil nodded in farewell, and they ran lightly away down the path. Glorfindel smiled to himself as he turned back to Asfaloth’s trail. Meglin had been born but three days before the twins, and had been their friend as the three of them grew. They had always dearly loved to badger each other, and as they saw each other more seldom now, Meglin (with Alquandil following her brother’s example) would give Elrohir little peace. Hopefully, it would distract him from composing another annoying little ditty about the Brave Warrior and the Hunt for His Faithful Steed. Now all he had to do was find his new horse and retrieve his dagger before it was damaged. How difficult could that be? *** It was some time later that I awoke. Yawning, I stretched my stiff neck and shook my mane. Blinking my eyes several times, I glanced blearily around me before starting in surprise and leaping to my feet and out of the trees, unfortunately slamming my nose into one of the pine branches on my way up. Owwww! That hurt! Sometimes speed can have its drawbacks. I took a deep breath and glanced around. I felt a heavy weight settle into my stomach as I saw Anar slipping behind the horizon. I had been here for hours. ‘Calm down, Asfaloth,’ I thought to myself. ‘It is not as if it is actually dangerous to be out after dark.’ No sooner had I finished that thought than the weight in my stomach trebled in size, and a conversation on which I had cleverly eavesdropped was recalled to mind. ‘Asfaloth, you thoughtless, rash, disgrace to your sire’s name, have you not an ounce of sense in your head? You heard Elrohir telling Glorfindel that goblins had been sighted at the north-easternmost border and you just had to run off in the north-easternmost direction!’ I probably would have hit my head against something out of sheer frustration, but since my nose was already smarting, I rethought that notion. Concentrating on my bruised nose instead of my predicament helped me clear my mind. It was probably safe here. The sons of Elrond had probably cleared the area of goblins. . . . and wargs. What else was there after that? I swiftly regretted that I had asked. A story my mother had once told me came immediately to mind. When all the mothers and their foals had long been bedded down for the night, and I was supposed to be sleeping, but had instead been trying to sneak away and explore, my mother had told me a story; a story that would certainly have frightened someone not possessing my bravery. ‘There is a far off land,’ she said, ‘a land so evil we do not speak of it. Its name can only be whispered, and only when it must be warned of. It is called,’ Here she lowered her muzzle to my ear ‘Mordor. In that dark land, there dwells a cruel lord. He is most terrible; the Enemy of the Free Peoples of Middle-Earth. I shuddered appropriately. ‘He does not leave his land,’ she said, ‘but sends his servants to do his work for him. Goblins and wargs. . . . At this point, I interrupted. ‘What are goblins and wargs, Mother? ‘Wargs are like wolves, my son, but larger and more intelligent. Goblins are. . . . ‘What are wolves, Mother?’ I interrupted again. ‘Big dogs.’ ‘Oh.’ ‘But goblins are a great deal worse.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because they were elves once.’ I squealed in fright. You must remember that I was very young. It is excusable. ‘Elves?’ ‘Yes, my son, but that was a long time ago. The dark lord’s teacher stole them away, and kept them in his old fastness of Angband and turned them into orcs.’ ‘What are orcs?’ ‘Large goblins child, and do not keep interrupting.’ ‘Yes, Mother.’ ‘But the dark lord, Sauron, keeps other servants who are worse still.’ ‘Worse than ugly not-elves and doubly big dogs?!’ ‘Shhh, you will wake your sister. Yes.’ ‘What are they?!’ She lowered her voice until I could barely hear her. ‘Ringwraiths.’ ‘What are ringwraiths?’ ‘It is difficult to say with certainty. They are terrible creatures. There are only nine, but they are more than sufficient to complete his evil deeds. It is said that they were human once, but were ensnared by promises of power. ‘Humans are stupid.’ ‘They have not the years of the elves, Asfaloth. When they have dealings with the living,’ (I gasped), ‘for they are not such, they wear black cloaks and hoods. And they ride horses.’ ‘But what horses would bear such vile creatures?’ Here my mother looked at me ominously. ‘Horses foolish enough to wander away from their mothers when they were young who were found and carried away to Mordor.’ ‘Er. . . . uh. . . . oh.’ ‘Which is why it is very important that little foals do not wander away at night.’ Needless to say, I stayed beside my mother for a whole week and a half. Well, almost. The lure of an elf-maid’s long hair proved irresistible, and since nothing happened to me, well, I need not elaborate. This was the story that was recalled to my mind, at that most inopportune moment. I took a deep breath. Well, it was just a story after all. My mother had undoubtedly told it to me just to keep me with her (of course, I could not really blame her; after five foals, the last one ending up in the lap of some wandering wizard, no wonder she wanted me nearby). It was nothing to worry about. No, nothing at all. I was not scared. I mean, what is scary about the fact that you might be attacked by once-elves; big, mean, ugly dogs; and not-humans? A chill wind blew. It was very cold, I decided. Yes, too cold to be exposed like this. I turned around, went back under the trees, and huddled down in the thickest part. I was cold though, not scared. I am Asfaloth of Imladris. I do not get scared. But I was still cold. This part of the wood was not thick enough. I got up and went to some spruce trees that were clustered closer together, blocking out all light on the inside. Maybe this would do.
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.