“A horse there was surpassing swift,
His coat was white as driven snow,
His arched neck had a handsome lift,
He was an invincible foe.
He never thought of quailing from
(No matter the danger of the clash)
A fight his master needed won;
He would to the battle dash.
Running bravely towards the line
Of pike-men standing side by side,
With battle-rage his eyes would shine,
And death would from his fury hide.”
As first I gave Asfaloth the usual cues to stop, and then pulled on the reins, I was merely amused; he continued to ignore me and went on with his rhyming. He obviously was not going to stop until all of the snowdrops had been properly slain. Looking around, I saw that some of the younger elves in my company were growing slightly impatient. This was somewhat understandable, in particular for Elrohir, as his horse would often follow Asfaloth’s example.
“Enough Asfaloth,” I said. Instantly, the horse stilled under me, though I was uncertain whether it was because of my words, or because he had just finished off the last row of decorative bushes. As I had foreseen, he was a remarkable horse, and progressing quite satisfactorily. Asfaloth even followed my directions most of the time, which was more than I could say for other horses who have been inflicted upon me by someone I will not, at this time, name. It will suffice to say that perhaps this person’s odd sense of humor came from his human side. Turning, I rode back to my companions, accompanied by Asfaloth’s continued chanting,
“Thus those companions won the day.
Gondolin’s fate would not come here.
The goblins would be kept at bay
So long as Asfaloth was near.”
An excellent horse, true. But he did have one slight problem. He knew he was excellent, and reveled in talking about it. I could live with that. Despite my original suspicions, he was not Mordor-spawn or a sadist. I actually found that I truly liked him, though if he did not stop that incessant rhyming, I might soon be revisiting Mandos.
That was all that was needed. He fell silent and then stopped as we reached the others. It was just after sunrise. Elrohir was here with his horse; Elladan, of course, had come with his brother; and Meglin had insisted on watching our horses’ first trials under saddle last month, and since then had been most obstinate about continuing to observe, as he termed it, “our hilarious routine” (that might have had something to do with the fact that Asfaloth refused to budge until I had given him his morning honey bun (my horse has a serious infatuation with bread), and Ainille persisted in trying to transfer Elrohir from her back into the nearest tree). I inwardly rolled my eyes as I saw the solemn expressions on the faces of the three elves and waited. I did not have to wait long. It was merely a question of who began first. Young elves!
“Gorfy,” Elladan began gravely (while I concealed a sigh upon hearing my ridiculous nickname again, that everyone else in Imladris seems to find extremely humorous), “I retract all that I have said about Asfaloth’s capabilities. Never have I seen flowers that massacred.”
Asfaloth looked very proud of himself. Sometimes I think it is a good thing that he is still young enough as a three-year-old, that he does not always recognize sarcasm. I would rather not have to explain to Elrond that the reason his son would spend the next six weeks healing was because my horse had become offended and “massacred” him, too.
“He is truly a remarkable horse, my lord.” This was from Meglin. “The way he shredded that Niphredil was unbelievable.”
Asfaloth was acting very self-important by now, and obviously wanted to strut. Elrohir looked at him askance, realizing that Asfaloth was taking this seriously. As Elrohir opened his mouth to add his remark, I interrupted him before he could add anything damaging to either Asfaloth’s pride or his own health.
“Your turn, Elrohir.” I said, drawing my finger swiftly several times across my throat. He took the hint and closed his mouth. Then, mounting Ainille (whose reins he had been holding), he prepared for his ride. His rides had turned out to be much more interesting than mine (especially as Ainille would sulk terribly if she did not first watch, and then surpass Asfaloth, which was rare). She would express her displeasure by constantly trying to roll, and if she were still carrying Elrohir, what did it matter? I was quite thankful that at least Asfaloth appeared to idolize me. He always did whatever I asked, and seemed to live for my approval (and any accompanying treats).
There had been reports of greatly increased activity among the orcs and other minions of the Enemy. Oddly, there had not been much fighting, merely rumors in the earth of the amassing of legions, far off. Mithrandir had appeared again, and disappeared for long hours with Lord Elrond. When they returned, both had been unusually grave. Lord Elrond had warned me that we were on the brink of war, and so we prepared: the sons of Elrond, myself, and every other capable fighter in Imladris. No day passed that did not find us engaged in studying the arts of warfare, either on foot or on horseback. I was secretly glad that I had accepted Asfaloth, not only because he followed me without question, but because, as all of his bloodline were (though I would never admit that to Elrond), he was very talented at maneuvers. At least, he was on those occasions when he was paying attention.
Though, as I watched Ainille furiously attacking the last remaining Niphredil bloom, and then turning and engaging Asfaloth in a fierce staring contest, I had to admit that sometimes I entertained doubts as to our steeds’ effectiveness, despite the fact that the Niphredil had been “properly massacred.”
We were not ready for a war yet, either Asfaloth and I, or Imladris, but soon we would be, and may the Valar have mercy on those that threaten our realm.
The End (or is it really the beginning?)
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.