1. An Unpleasant Assignment
The Wold, Rohan, Fourth Age 8
"I have decided you shall marry an elf this summer. A noble-elf." Mother's voice was calm and matter-of-factly.
Wynne stared at her in disbelief, nearly dropping the stack of plates in her hands. She had been helping her mother clear the table after dinner. "An elf? Why?"
"Well, seeing as you clearly did not inherit your grandmama's beauty, I have realized we need elven blood to make sure your children shall not be plain as well." She sounded like she was discussing which stallion to mate with which mare to produce the most desired offspring; as if her daughter was one of their horses. "In addition, I have good hopes you will catch the elf king, or at least the prince, which of course will be very beneficial for our status."
"But we don't know any elves… How–"
"Don't interrupt! I have been informed by our dear relative Aragorn that the King of Greenwood leaves on a mission to hunt orcs in the Brown Lands for the summer, and for this quest he needs horses. He specifically asked for Rohirrim breed – and who has finer mearas than we? Nobody has. Well, so I made your father speak with dear Aragorn and tell him we would be happy to oblige. We have agreed to lend King Thranduil ten of our best, and they come with a groom. Someone who can tend to the horses and help the elves with whatever they need. And that groom is you."
Wynne felt a chill at how definite that sounded. "But–"
"Will you be quiet, girl!" Mother pounded her fist on the table and Wynne stood straighter. "Your real mission will be to catch a royal elf – that would be the king or his son – and make him marry you, like I said."
Wynne stared at her. A quest to hunt orcs sounded terribly frightening, but trying to make an elf king marry her even more so.
"Mother, please. I can't. I'll do anything else, just–"
A hard slap on the cheek silenced her. "You will do as told! Béma help me, I swear you will be the death of me." Mother struck her other cheek too for good measure. "This summer will be your twentieth; you are no little girl anymore. I was married at that age and already with child and so was your grandmama. I don't understand what you are fretting about anyway! Have you ever seen a male elf before? They are exceedingly handsome." She pulled out a chair for Wynne and sat down opposite. "It should be easy. You will be the only woman of the company, it will be just you and all those elf men. You will be close to them at all hours, sleeping in their camp, sharing their meals, tending to their wounds if they get any. If you play your cards well it will only be a matter of time before some – or all of them – are attracted to you! Men are weak. Show them a little skin and they won't be able to resist you. Trust me on this. Elves are no different than stallions; a mare in heat will make them mad with lust."
Looking down at her folded hands, Wynne tried to push back the disturbing images of mating horses that sailed up before her inner eye. She had seen it happen since she was a girl; she knew exactly what the stallions did to the mares and the thought of this happening to her made her feel sick.
"You must encourage them," Mother continued. "That is, the two royal elves, King Thranduil and Prince Legolas, as their names are." Standing up again she began to pace the room, speaking with increasing eagerness. "It will be the perfect alliance. Elven blood – elven royal blood at that – bred into the lines of the Rohirrim! Your offspring will be half elvish, long lived and beautiful. The future Lords and Ladies of Limliht will be famous!"
Wynne remained silent. Her cheeks still throbbed and she knew she would be struck again if she made more objections; Mother apparently didn't mind if she was covered in bruises when she met the elves. She never hesitated to raise a hand against her. Perhaps she beat Father too, who knew?
"Elves are not accustomed to humans and you will use this against them." Mother smiled grimly. "Undress before them, seduce them with alcohol – I do not care what you do as long as it is successful. If you become pregnant first and marry after, that is of no matter. Even if they refuse to marry you you will at least have a half-elven child of royal blood." She sounded like it was the simplest thing in the world.
"They will get offended and send me away," she blurted in a final attempt to stop the mad plan. "And then I would be all alone in the wilderness and get killed by orcs, or wolves, or trolls or… robbers, or…" She knew she sounded childish but couldn't stop herself.
"Nonsense! They need the horses and they know it; they won't send you away. They will think it is the way of humans and get used to it, and as time passes their lust will work its course. They shall not be able to resist you in the long run. Like I said; men are weak."
Wynne felt bile rise in her throat at the thought of mating with an elf, or any male person. She had lived at home with her parents and grandparents all her life and never even talked in private to a man. They were large and burly, and, judging by the men she saw at the marketplace, ugly and stinking.
As far as she knew elves were no better. Sure, according to Mother they were handsome, but then she probably thought human men were attractive too. Maybe Wynne was strange to think men ugly and disgusting but she just couldn't imagine she would ever want one to mount her like a stallion.
A chill trickled down her spine as she tried to picture herself seducing an elf king, taking off her clothes in front of him to make him desire her. It would never work. She was no beauty and had no plump arms or soft bosom to impress him with. She had spent most of her life on horseback so her face was tanned and freckled from the sun and her body lean and strong.
She was plain, just like Mother had said, and the elves wouldn't look at her twice.
"I can't do it. Please don't make me!" she begged.
"This is not up for debate; it has been decided for a long time. You will go." She had a threatening frown.
"I refuse! You don't own me and I'm not a mare you can force to mate!" Her outburst surprised even herself. She never talked back.
Mother's face turned white and she grabbed Wynne's arms with fingers like claws, nails digging deep as she pushed her against the wall.
"You. Will. Not. Disobey me." Her voice was low and deadly cold. "You will go to the elves and come back with an elf husband, or at least his child in your womb. If not, you shall regret it."
Wynne's head pounded and her vision swam.
"When do I leave?" she whispered, all defiance gone.
Compared to her mother's fury even an elf in her bed was to prefer.
Feedback is always appreciated. Please let me know if you enjoy the read. :)
Update February 2023: This fic was completed in the summer of 2020 but now I've done a MASSIVE rewrite, and in addition written a new chapter from Legolas' point of view I felt was missing.
I've also changed the title from the previous "Horse Lady of Rohan".
This was my first fanfiction (I had only written original fiction before) and I have always been satisfied with the plot and the research but not so much with the flow, grammar etc. And the English sucked. (I'm an ESL and this was before Goodle Docs had their helpful grammar aid).
So proud of this fic now. My baby. *happy tears*