Moonlight made shadows sharp and ominous in the woods. All was quiet, except for the gentle burbling of the stream not too far away. Somewhere an owl hooted, piercing the night with its screech.
She looked up into the trees. Stars winked down at her in the gaps of the branches, and the moon glinted with its pure, white light.
She always liked the night. While the scene in front of her might strike most as eerie, she drew comfort from the soft rustling of leaves as the wind blew gently, from the shadows that looked so enormous, from the stars that always greeted her with the same familiarity; and always, without fail, day or night, the smell of burning wood from outside the cabin.
She could just about hear her father humming to himself within, and judging from the clattering he must be clearing up the table after supper. She smiled to herself as she knew what tune he was singing quietly, the same as always. She closed her eyes and leant against a beech, as she heard her father's words wash over her.
"Nid wy'n gofyn bywyd moethus,
Aur y byd na'i berlau mân.."
Somewhere to her right, a twigged snapped.
Her eyes flew open, her hand on the short dagger on her hip. She tensed as she strained her ears to listen. Quietly, so quietly, she trod around the beech and peered into the silvery darkness.
She exhaled silently as the tension from seconds ago left her body. Probably just an animal. Still, Da had taught her well. Always be ready.
Always sounded a bit corny, but there you go.
Sheathing her dagger (she hadn't even realised that she had drew it), she started her way back to the cabin, following the little yellow glow ahead that could only be from the kitchen window.
Suddenly, the glow went out. She frowned. Da always kept the candle going until they both went to bed. Must've reached the wick-
With a crash so loud that it must've woken the whole of Middle-earth, her father screamed. Her blood ran cold and she stood still, rooted to the spot with fear as she heard footsteps that weren't Da's, rough voices that weren't Da's.
Her brain ground into action, making her body move from her temporary paralysis; get to Da, get to Da, get your sword, get to Da…
She grabbed her sword from her pack that was close to the cabin, where she had luckily left it when she went for a piss in the woods. Get to Da…
Noises reached her, noises that she knew came from swords; she could hear the footsteps more now, heavy and clumpy as the fight carried on. She had heard nothing more from Da since his yell, but she'd seen him fight. He reminded her of a lynx when he fought, light on his feet and almost noiseless except for the ringing of his sword.
She sprinted towards the cabin, and leapt up the short stairs that led up to the platform on which the wooden house was built. She crouched low, and crawled towards the kitchen window, the noise from within louder than ever. Raising herself up on her heels ever so slowly, she peered into the cabin.
Sure enough, there was her father. He was almost dancing. His sword sang as orcs fell around him, and she counted quickly. Five dead already, three more.
Ok, ok, if I can jump through this window and reach him in time, I can kill two of them while Da finishes the last one off, then-
As she watched, her mind racing, her father suddenly fell on his knees in front of her. On his left shin, a gash glinted with fresh blood. Bone, starkly white against the deep red of blood, flashed when he moved slightly. She clapped her hand over her mouth to stop a scream bursting out. Do something you idiot! Save Da! Save Da…!
Her legs were bent ready to launch herself through the window, sword in hand, when Da lifted his head slightly. His grey eyes flickered towards her. He knew she was there in the shadows. Of course he did. Stay where you are.
One orc stepped towards her father, while caressing its sword with an almost lovingly. God, it was ugly, its sword a brutal thing too. It bent down until its face was level with Da's.
"A dwarf. Name of Oakenshield." the orc spat. "Where?"
Her father levelled his gaze at the orc's. "I don't know, even if I knew who he was." His eyes danced with mirth, though his face was screwed up with disgust. "You're wasting your time. So fuck off."
The orc straightened up, and jerked its head at the other two. Da's eyes met his daughter's again with a steadfast stare, his jaw set in a grim determination. His face moved only slightly as the sword went into his back and through its chest, his eyes widening more as it withdrew.
She watched. She did nothing. She could only hear a roaring in her ears as her blood pumped furiously in her body, and her father slowly fell on his back onto the wooden floor.
The orcs kicked open the door they had forced open before. Through it, she glimpsed their wargs as they climbed atop of them and sped away with shrieks.
She couldn't remember getting to Da. She was just suddenly there.
She looked down at her father's chest and found she couldn't look away; redness seeped through his clothing, and his hands were stained the same colour. She stared at the wound while his breathing got more laboured the second.
She tore her eyes from the mass of red and into the grey of her father's eyes as he spoke her name. She felt her own eyes prick as she started to realise that Da was dying, actually dying...
"Go north. Find Gandalf. Tell him I'm dead, and he'll know what to do. He'll help you."
She frowned with confusion, despite her tears. "Help? Why would I need help? I can survive Da-"
Da smiled slightly and his breathing hitched with it. "Mona, this isn't about surviving. It's about living. That's what I've been trying to teach you; you'll come to understand when you meet Gandalf. And...ask him why they came here. Why they came for me." Her father gasped suddenly with fresh pain. "G-go. Leave. They'll be back soon to search the house."
"No," she said in a cracked whisper, "I-I won't leave you Da, you'll get better, you'll see-"
And with that, she knew she had to. He said her name with such an unbearable finality. Da was dying…
She got up, left the kitchen, and climbed upstairs to her room. She gathered her things slowly, and took one last look at her room. She could hear her father gasping.
She raced back to him with her pack in hand, sword on her hip, daggers fastened around her waist.
"There's-there's some food from earlier.."
"And you'll take Cai?"
"Of course." Her father's horse.
He nodded. "Well then." He gasped again but smiled this time, locking her eyes with his once more.
"You're so much like your mother, you know. It's time to see her again, which isn't really so bad, is it?"
"No, Da.", she choked, tears streaming down her face. He gripped her hand like a vice and she held his just as tight.
"I love you Mona. More than you could ever know."
"Love you more though," she said tremulously, forcing a smile. He shook his head and laughed lightly. "Not possible. You'll understand wh-when you have a child.."
His hand relaxed around hers as his stormy eyes fixed on something in the distance, and his last breath escaped his body.
Dead, dead, dead, no no NO….
She stayed by his side until a shriek, far in the distance, woke her up from her horrified stupor. Orcs. Time to go.
She got to her feet, muscles aching as she had stayed next to him for so long. She closed her father's eyes, but didn't place his sword on his chest, even though she longed too. No point telling the orcs that someone else had been here.
She had turned around and ducked her head to go out of the door, when she paused. She went back to Da and took his sword, replacing an old one she hardly used by his side. She left.
Saddling Cai was good. Made her think.
Finally, everything was ready. She swung up onto Cai's back, double checking that everything was tied on properly. She turned him around to have one last look at the place she called home, and felt her eyes filling up again.
"Stop it," she said to herself firmly, "Da wanted you to find Gandalf. You have food, a horse, a heading. You know how to fight. Get a grip."
Wiping her eyes on her sleeve, Mona turned Cai north.
A.N: So this is a prologue'Mona' is a Welsh name and it's basically a version of the name 'Ynys Môn', (Anglesey, in English), an island just off the north western coast of Wales. The song mentioned towards the start of the chapter is called 'Calon Lan'. I think it's really cool how easily the Welsh language can be incorporated into the Tolkien verse so easily, seeing as he based so much of his linguistic creations on it. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed! More to come :)