1. An Ominous Beginning
The golden hooves of Nahar pounded on the path, and his shoes rang as they struck those half-obscured stones that dared to break through the blanket of leaves and brave the light. Laurelin's light shone with fierce brilliance off his white coat, though she had still an hour before waxing to her fullest. The forest echoed with the thunderous call of the Valaróma as I held it to my lips and wound it again and again.
This time I achieved a response. Far back along the trail that I had just followed, the distant yapping of a young hound sounded. It seemed that Huan had left off following the hind and decided to follow rabbits instead. I could say it was an improvement from pursuing young Nolofinwë's escaped horses, but that was all.
Anticipating my wish, Nahar checked his flight and wheeled around to follow the puppy's voice. As he galloped toward the now endless yipping, I ran over possible ideas in my mind. Something had to be done about Huan. He was a very nice and adorable puppy, but it was not merely my, or even my dear Vána's undying patience that was getting strained. The complaints I received about him were endless, and every time I found and brought him back, he would assure me in his dog-speech, whilst using his tongue to great extent upon myface, gnawing upon the end of my long beard, and looking at me with the most innocent, imploring eyes, that he would never, ever, go anywhere or chew upon anything without my consent unless he was certain I would not mind. The day after he said that, my saddle was found in shreds, and though I possessed many dogs, I knew which was responsible for the undesirable mishap.
Yes, something had to be done about little Huan. The question was . . . what?
We left the forest in our wake, and leaning right, followed the line of trees down to the valley. Huan's ear-splitting howls had grown steadily louder, and as we reached the bottom of the smooth descent, theyhad reached their peak.
But though I searched keenly all over the valley floor, I did not see him.
It was not until my ears followed the noise of his pitiful wailing into the branches of a fully-grown tree that I realized what had occurred. Unless rabbits had newly mastered the art of flight, he must have taken a flying leap at a bird. I espied him nearly ten feet in the air, stuck on the lowest branch of a tree. Apparently, though an admirable jumper, Huan was afraid of heights. His mournful face was turned upwards appealingly in a silent plea for help. Then he started yipping again.
I nudged Nahar who obediently cantered gracefully to the base of the massive tree. Huan's quick ears heard our coming and he turned his heartbreaking gaze towards me and gave one, long, final howl. Then he seated his hindquarters on the thick tree limb, opened his mouth, allowing a good deal of saliva to fall on the limb, and started panting happily. He knew he was about to be rescued.
I raised my arms. He rose to an anticipatory crouch.
He leaped right in my face, sticking one forepaw in my eye and another in my mouth before sliding down my beard, pulling out a few hairs along the journey,to stretch across the saddlebow. I spat out a little dirt and some dog hairs (along with something else the nature of which I had no longing to know), whilst he gave an immense yawn and settled himself down for a nap as I took him back to his residence. That was what usually happened. This time it could not be allowed to.
"Huan!" I admonished, as sternly as I could. He instantly leaped up and started licking my face. For such a little puppy, it was truly a wonder the amount of slobber that he seemed to be able to conjure up at will. Pulling my face away, I wiped it with my sleeve, while he sat in front of me, panting and transferring more drool to my beard, the end of which had somehow appeared in his mouth.
A moment later, he found himself safely upon the ground.
"Huan, this must cease."
He yawned. An ominous beginning.
"I cannot continue to keep a dog who behaves in this fashion. I have no doubt you intend to behave, and if you were capable of speech, would indeed swear by thewhite peak ofTaniquetilthat never again would you disobey me. But as soon as I am elsewhere, and you find yourself tempted, off you will go again, chasing rabbits, or whatever other creature whose scent happens to catch your nostrils."
He yawned again, and burped, sending a bedraggled red feather fluttering to the ground. It had indeed been a bird that he had leaped at.
And he had no intent of paying the least bit of heed to any remonstrance I would give. He was tired after his big adventure and was considering enjoying a lengthy nap. Huan appeared to be in a pleasant mood, which merely meant he had been having a satisfying hunt until he had managed to entrap himself. He was usually very penitent about his misbehavior after he had had his nap, but was exceedingly grumpy until then.
The fact that something really, indeed must, be done about this disastrous dog was even more firmly established when I observed he had a bit of shiny thread stuck between his teeth, certainly having belonged to something he should not have been eating, and almost as certainly a shoe that had belonged to Vána before its unfortunate demise.
But what could I do?
My musings were interrupted when Nahar whinnied a greeting. Hearing the sound of hoofbeats, I looked upwards, and saw a fine grey stallion coming towards us, bearing an elf-lord upon his back, and attended by several fine hounds. I directly recognized Curufinwë, fourth born son of the Fëanáro, who often hunted with me. Huan seemingly recognized the hounds, for he at once leaped up to greet them and chew on their ears, which they did not appear to appreciate much.
Curufinwë bowed as he approached me.
"Hail, Lord Oromë!"
I nodded courteously in return.
"Well met, son of Fëanáro."
His horse stopped beside us, though whether Curufinwë had stopped it there, or it had stopped of its own will, I could not tell. Curufinwë glanced at me sidelong and his eyes were veiled. The fourth son of the Feanaro was always a strange person to speak with, for his thoughts were ever hidden, strive as his companions would to uncover them. Even so, his tongue and piercing gaze could strip the deepest riddle from another. In that, he was very like his father.
"I heard a strange howling and came to uncover its meaning. I trust that all is well?" He enquired, pleasantly.
"Yes." I answered. In that moment, a sudden thought came to me. A strange thought. I turned it over swiftly in my head, searching for any flaws, but I found none. As I had said, Curufinwë would often hunt with me, and I saw that he cared well for his hounds. I smiled.
"Yes, it is. Though you have saved me trouble, for I would soon have come searching for you."
His shrewd eyes bored into mine, as if trying to unlock my thoughts, but it seemed he was unsuccessful, as he sat back with a faintly dissatisfied expression, as though his effort had come to naught.
I could hardly contain my excitement, so relieved was I at having found the perfect solution.
"I have a gift for you."
To Be Continued . . .
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.