In The Two Towers, I was very taken by seemingly instant and deep relationship formed by Legolas and Arod. I've also always wanted to do something with a horse POV. I have a horse, and have been riding for six years, so they're a major part of my life. This is my first vignette, so please review! Anyway, I hope that this is original and enjoyable.
AROD OF ROHAN
I have failed. My first duty was to protect him, and I have failed. I feel lost; I cannot take my place in the company without a rider. I wander slowly to the back of the host as it begins to move.
"Have heart, Arod," calls someone kindly. It is an easy thing to say; her rider is not dead.
Now what am I to do? I will be put out to pasture; loved and cherished but unused. I am a horse of Rohan! I am only eight years old; I am in the prime of my life. As was my master, before he was cut down by an Orc blade.
I killed that filthy creature, though it was too late. I struck him with my hooves; I felt his skull crack beneath my iron shoes and I screamed in victory as only a stallion can. But no victory will bring my master back – he is lost to me.
If had been bigger, stronger…perhaps things would have gone differently. I am small, coming in under sixteen hands, and I am light. They never thought I would be fit for a Rider's horse; too little and delicate, but I have speed to be reckoned with, and fierceness.
My tack feels so heavy, empty though it is. The stirrups thump against my sides and my bit pinches in my mouth. I should carry my head higher, I know; I should have some sense of pride, but what pride is there in returning riderless? None. There is none.
"We are a sad pair, my young friend." The big stallion brushes his nose to mine in greeting.
"We are indeed, Hasufel."
Hasufel is much larger than I am; sturdy comes to mind. He is a cloudy gray color, in contrast to my own stormy silver.
"At least we shall have each other's company while we grow fat and old at pasture," says Hasufel gently.
I sigh disconsolately. "I should not have allowed him to fall as I did!"
"There are some things, Arod, that cannot be helped." He flattens his ears, looking pained. "As much as we wish they could."
I swish my tail in displeasure. "I do not believe in fate! Things can always be helped."
Hasufel looks at me kindly. "You have a very good heart, Arod. I wish you would not look down on yourself so."
The company halts momentarily, and I snatch a bit of grass, struggling to chew around my bit. The grass tastes bitter and dry. I am not hungry.
"The reason I do not believe in fate," I tell Hasufel, "is because I was told I would never be a Rider's horse. I would not accept that; I was the best horse of my year! Fate does not exist." I stamp my foreleg, shooing of a biting fly.
"I could argue that it was always your fate to become a Rider's horse," says Hasufel, looking bemused. "What I really meant, though, was that when our Men are called by their Gods, nothing can keep them here."
I can see his point. A horse's only Gods are the grass, the water, and his Rider, but our Men answer to those they cannot see.
A call runs through the company, and we begin to canter. Good, I must put more distance myself and the place of my master's death. I toss my head, fighting the urge to bolt free of formation.
We travel on for two days, and I am grateful to be away from that dark forest. A horse can sense eyes on him like no other animal, and that place makes me nervous. Hasufel and I stay together; none of the others understand what it is like to be without your Rider.
Hasufel acts bravely, but I know he is grieving. He carried his rider for ten years; more years than I have yet to see. Hasufel is now fourteen; in a few years he would have been retired anyway. The thought of being put out to pasture, as green and sweet as it maybe, makes me pin my ears in frustration.
We are flying along now; the lord of all the Riders is pushing us to make haste. Suddenly, a ripple runs through the host. I wait, for timing is essential, and when the horse in front of me begins to slow I too turn and break to a trot.
Within moments we have formed a tight ring around something that I cannot see. The Riders have their spears and bows drawn; I feel the slight shiver run through me that often accompanies battle. I shall never feel that again, I realize sadly.
I cannot see past all the others! What is happening? I flick my tail irately. I have never been very patient; I would not be called Arod if I were. I can hear voices, but I do not understand their words. I know only very few words of Men; their language is so chopped and short compared to rolling calls of horses. I know my name, (the name they gave me, not my birth name) and a few commands.
The mare in front of me takes a sudden step back, bumping into me, and I take a quick nip at her haunch to keep her from crowding me. She squeals indignantly, lifting a hoof in warning. Mares!
I shuffle back a few paces. The voices have grown loud, and there are several I do not recognize. Finally, I succumb to my impatience.
"What is happening?" I call loudly. The cry carries through the company; I have always had a very distinct whinny.
"He doesn't have any!"
Yes, yes, laugh at me if you must, but answer my question!
"There is a Man…and…others…. They are strange! One is very short, and one is very tall… They have all put down their weapons now…"
I throw up my head in an effort to see, tossing aside my forelock in annoyance. Oh, how I wish I were taller!
When the three strangers approach Hasufel and I, I stiffen. Éomer, he means to give us to them! One of the Men speaks up in protest, and they all begin to debate something.
Éomer takes Hasufel firmly by reigns, and hands him off to the dark-haired stranger. Hasufel looks worried, and with due cause! What madness is this? Yet when the man mounts, I can see that is an able rider, moving easily with Hasufel.
When they lead me forward, I behave badly, I must admit. I dance from side to side, pinning my ears and swishing my tail. A gentle hand sets firmly on my nose.
"Arod, is it?" My entire body quiets, and I watch this stranger intently. He does speak as the Riders do; I know what he means! I do not know his words, but I know what he wants, and what he is saying. My ears prick sharply. Speak again, fair one, please, so that I may learn what you are.
"You are very spirited, little horse. I like you." This strange, wonderful creature likes me. I feel a tiny flicker of happiness bubble within me. Then he speaks to the Riders, and they pull off my saddle and bridle. I shake myself from head to tail; it feels good to have my tack off.
Without any warning, he is on my back. I shoot forward nervously, and he moves with me as if we were of one mind. He weighs almost nothing! "Settle, swift Arod. You and I must become friends. I am called Legolas."
Legolas. I will remember that name.
"Come now, a little to the left, and canter for me." I canter in a broad circle, and I can see the amazement on the Riders' faces as we pass. "Yes, we shall get along just fine, you and I!" he laughes, and I toss my head happily.
"Now, Arod, my friend, you must truly do me a favor. My friend Gimli is no rider, and I would be very grateful if you would allow him sit behind me."
Anything. I will do anything for you, Legolas, anything you ask. For the first time since my Rider's death, I rear and strike out from sheer exuberance. Legolas moves with me easily, laughing softly. "You agree then, friend Arod? I thank you, and so does Gimli."
"Hasufel!" I call, and I wonder if Legolas might understand me. "Hasufel, my friend, we shall not be out to pasture just yet!"
My assumption that horses of the Mark were retired if their masters fell in battle is something I came up with. I view it as a gesture of respect towards the master and the horse.
The reason Arod refers to the Valar as "Gods" is that in The Silmarillion, it is stated that Men refer to them by many different names. "Valar" is itself an Elvish word; I would assume that Men of the Mark do not use it.