Stalking the Fellowship

Chapter Forty five: A riddle

Mo idly pushed the carrots in her chicken soup around. Since both Aragorn's company and the twins of Elrond has left, they had been fed with what could be called food (at a stretch) with a side of stale bread, which was the best the kitchens had to offer.

"I'm bored," she offered up to no one in particular.

"Aren't we all?" Fran replied, "after all that endless riding I didn't think there could be any worse, yet this is just…" she was at a loss for words.

"There's absolutely nothing to do," Mo frowned, "Even Elladan," her eyes narrowed, "gave me something to do, even if he was…. Anyway, I'm bored."

"So you said. Where's Madeleine?" Fran questioned, not really caring.

"Dunno. I saw her at breakfast, she left as I came in, she must have been up early. She was muttering something about 'new found resolve' and 'I will conquer', whatever that means."

"She probably has a new plan devised to get Legolas." Fran rolled her eyes, "They're both sooo dense. Legolas is dense because he doesn't notice her blatantly fawning after him and she's so stupid because she just won't give up, it's as if she likes it."

"We'll leave her to it. Now, what are we going to do to fill the time between now and our next meal? We achieved our goal of annoying Eowyn yesterday so now the houses of healing aren't nearly so interesting…"

"I miss Cocoa." Fran muttered, "I haven't seen her since we were on the Corsairs ship."

Mo sat up straighter, "That's what we'll do! Go find the horses! Who knows what these people are doing to them."

.-.-.-.

"This is so annoying. Why have they built this place so backwardly? Stronghold of men my arse, it takes hours to get anywhere. Which circle are we in now?" Mo questioned irritably.

"The second, I think." Fran frowned, "I think we'll be there soon."

They eventually reached what they thought was the correct circle but they still had to find out which stables the horses were in. Two hours and thirteen stables later they had looked upon two hundred different horses, none of which had been their own.

"I wish I had gone with Elladan when he went to stable our horses!" Mo exclaimed, her brow contorting into a frown at the mention of that name again.

"That's it!" Fran exclaimed, "Mo you are a genius. We have been looking at all the poorer stables but Elladan would have housed them in a special one, a royal one. Especially as he was housing his and Aragorn's horses."

They hurriedly set off walking towards the stables nearest the entrance, which held the better horses owned by the nobles who would want to dismount as soon as they could after a long ride.

They arrived at an ornate stable, its white stone surprisingly clean, especially after the battle that had raged just two days prior. They entered the premises only to be stopped by a large, well build man who held a bale of hay in his arms, "What is your business here?" He scowled, his voice full of disdain, "I have better things to be doing than putting up with girls who want a look at the 'pretty elf horses'." He ended with his voice in a mocking falsetto.

Fran gritted her teeth before reply with false cheer, "We wanted to know if our horses were stables here."

The man surveyed the two girls dirty appearances, although their faces were clean their clothes were another matter, spattered with mud and orc blood. "I don't think you'll be finding your horses in this establishment." he replied, sneering.

"No, honestly. Their names are Orion, he's black, with a white star, Coco; she's liver chestnut and Sirius he's black as well but with white socks. An elf Lord brought them in here, his name was Lord Elladan, son of Lord Elrond of Rivendell." Mo explained, glaring darkly, she had been forced too used the name again.

The mans eyes widened, he knew of the horses they spoke of but it was impossible that such noble horses belonged to such ruffians, "Ye have no proof. Now be gone!"

"No." Fran and Mo said at the same time.

"I want my horse," Mo continued, "didn't the elf five you any instructions? For when the owners, that's us, turned up."

"Yes he did." Was the short reply.

"And they were?" Fran prompted.

"He said 'expect them to be stubborn' which is odd because they have been as good as gold."

"He was talking about us dumb ass." Mo replied, glaring.

"He also said that they would know the answer to a specific question, well Lord Elladan didn't say that, his brother did."

"Continue…"

"He said that I could give the horses to you if you knew what 'orn' meant, I had no idea what he meant, but the owners of those there horses should."

"Oh for heavens sake!" Fran exclaimed, "Just when we need Maddy. Elrohir thought she would be here with us when we came to get the horses, only she would be weird enough to know that. Now let's see…"

Mo was not impressed, "Damn those stupid elves and their even stupider riddles. Why is everything they do so complicated? Couldn't they have just described what we looked like? No! of course not, that's just to simple, just won't amuse them because of their freakishly long, eternal lives."

"I take it you do not know the answer then?" The man replied.

"We didn't say that," Fran protested. "She's told us this before, what has 'orn' in it? Celeborn, Aragorn…"

"She was only telling us this a few days ago…" Mo muttered.

"Fangorn!" Fran exclaimed, "that means treebeard. And Celeborn can't mean something beard, that would be stupid, though something tree is stupid as well…Orn means tree." Francesca proclaimed happily.

There was the sound of someone clapping, "Well done Francesca Andrews, maybe you do in fact listen to what I'm talking about," came voice from the entrance.

They turned to see Maddy with a grin on her face, "Well Mr. Man, you owe us our horses."