It was a beautiful day for flying, even with the clouds and the rain. Aica kept a careful eye on the river below while Ringe watched the shore. Theoretically, at least. He kept getting distracted.
"That's a really big waterfall."
"Shut up and watch for movement."
"I can't see anything from so high up."
"I don't care. You'll spot something if there's something that's stupid enough to show its face. And if it does, I want you seeing it."
Ringe sighed and watched the shore. He didn't see anything. Sometimes he did see things, but they were on the east bank of the river, and Aica got mad when he pointed them out. She told him to watch both banks, but she only cared about the western shore.
He hadn't seen so much as a bird from the western shore. Either there was nothing there or else someone was taking a lot of care to make it seem that way.
"There's something!" Aica hissed, peering down at the water far below. She jerked the reins and the Fell Beast hissed and started circling.
"What is it?"
"I don't know. It's small and pale… I think it's holding onto a log."
"A log?" Ringe strained for a look but Aica held him back.
"You're going to fall in," she snapped.
"What is it?"
"I don't know! When it's dark we'll go down for a look."
There was a speeding blur, then a shriek from the Fell Beast. Aica screamed and clutched onto the reins as they began falling backwards, the wings flapping in vain, the claws grasping at nothing, the beak snapping at an untouchable enemy.
"What happened?!" Aica screamed.
"I don't know!"
"There was that thing… It was an arrow! Someone shot us!"
And then they went down.
The Fell Beast was long dead before it hit the ground. Clinging tightly to its back, Aica gasped as branches impaled the corpse, some jabbing up only inches away from her body.
The creature came to a rest on the floor of a forest. There was nothing but destruction for several hundred feet in all directions. Broken branches, shattered trees. Several trees swayed precariously and threatened to fall.
"What miserable wretch shot us down?" Aica hissed, lying on the Fell Beast's back, staring up at a clouded sky full of trembling trees.
"I don't know," Ringe whispered. He was shaking uncontrollably and probably wouldn't be able to move for hours.
"It must've been an elf. Only an elf could make a shot like that."
"I'm going to find that elf, Ringe. I'm going to find him and tear him to pieces."
"Are you listening to me?"
Aica sat up, ignoring the waves of dizziness and nausea that assailed her. "Get up," she snarled, kicking at Ringe.
"I don't think I can."
"You better, or else I'll come over there and hit you." Aica dragged herself to her feet and took a shaky step toward her brother.
Ringe jumped to his feet, but then clutched desperately at Aica for support as his legs threatened to give out.
"Sorry, sorry," he apologized frantically as Aica glared. When he was feeling more stable, he looked around. "What're we going to do now?"
"I'm going to find that elf."
"I don't know, but I'm going to find him. Just you watch me." Aica looked over at the remains of the Fell Beast. She kicked a leathery wing and then lifted it up, peering underneath it.
"What're you looking for?"
"Shut your mouth and help me find the palantir."
"Oh. Will that find the elf?"
"Sure will. Real fast, too."
They found the palantir sometime later. It had been thrown from the wreckage and was embedded in the trunk of a tree. It took some work to remove it from the wood, but after Aica realized that nothing she could do could possibly break it, they got it out quickly.
"Right. So, an elf in the Emyn Muil. Where?" Aica peered into the crystal. She looked through the forest and hills piece by piece. An orc here, a goblin there, but nothing substantial.
"Anything?" Ringe asked.
"Shut up. I'm still looking. Wait…" The shrubs were smashed in this part, the grass was trampled. A very large force had just passed this way.
"What is it?"
"Will you be quiet? I'm busy!" A very large force indeed. Aica followed the trail as it became fresher and fresher until she saw… "That bastard!"
"What about him?"
Aica snarled, too furious to even speak properly. "He's done something to orcs."
"I don't know! Cross-bred them with Men, it looks like. They're big and they're out in the day."
"How do you know they're Saruman's?"
"Because they've got his hand on them!"
"No, you moron! Well…I don't know. Saruman's sign is a white hand, and they've got that stamped on them. They're his, all right, and I know exactly what they're doing."
"What is it?"
"He's got them hunting the Ring!" Aica jumped to her feet. "We can't let them get it! Right! Where are they?"
"I don't know."
Aica looked around. "Where're we?" she muttered.
"I think north is that way," Ringe said, pointing in a direction.
"Yeah, and that's where the arrow came from. Northwest… We'll go that way." Tucking the palantir under her arm, Aica started off with Ringe following a respectful distance behind.
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.