The Swifting

Night was a comfort to more than just monsters and fearful creatures. It was her blanket, that shielded her from curious eyes, from misunderstanding peoples. And Selanae had met her share of such.

The hooded cloak she wore flapped as a breeze swept across the land. The plains spilled below her as she surveyed the land from her spot on rocky terrain. It was calm out there. The sky was clear and the moon shone on all that went on.

Or didn't go on. It was indeed quiet. Just as Selanae liked it.

Another breeze came, this one harsher and suddenly cold. She frowned and grabbed the hood of her cloak to keep it from blowing off. Her eyes didn't leave the plains.

Suddenly she saw movement off almost out of view. Whatever it was, it was large, or a group of creatures, moving quickly. She could hear the rumble of steps. Her eyes narrowed. Night, it seemed, was indeed giving cover to these beasts.

They stopped at the edge of the plains where forest began. Selanae wondered why.

She moved closer, following the bordering rocks as much as she could. The closer she was to the creatures, the louder they were to hear. It wasn't much longer before she knew what they were.

Orcs.

Immediately a disgusted smirk seized her lips. Orcs were nuisances. How often they appeared and had to be slaughtered. It bothered Selanae. She sighed into the wind and crouched down to the rocks.

There were probably a hundred or more of them. They squabbled and fought amongst themselves, though not enough to kill each other. Selanae frowned. She would have liked that.

Suddenly two creatures caught her attention, not for their vileness or foul smell, but for their innocence and size. Her breath caught in her throat.

They must have been but children! Their small limbs were bound, and even now an orc taunted them.

Selanae pulled her bow off her shoulder, along with an arrow. She got up so she kneeled, facing the offending orc. With her eyes wide and open, she released the arrow.

The orc fell, and suddenly all of them were in an uproar. They looked around for but a moment before fighting amongst themselves. Selanae smiled, especially as she saw the two children crawl away from the group.

Good, she thought. Move faster. She frowned. Another orc was following them, seeming to slink off after them quite intentionally without any of the others knowing. Selanae readied another arrow.

The orc fell, and the group's uproar suddenly broke up from among themselves. The orcs turned outward scanning the plains and forest's edge. Selanae pressed herself to the rocks and stared ahead. Her second arrow hinted that it wasn't one of the orcs who'd killed another. Selanae hadn't expected that rouse to last anyway—just long enough for the children to escape.

She couldn't see them anymore. If they made it to the forest, they could hide, and from the looks of it, they had to have been that far at least. Her eyes darted back to the main group. The orcs fanned out and started to search. Their swords were drawn.

Selanae smirked at them. They wouldn't find her.

Suddenly an arrow clattered against the rocks, right next to her. Selanae jerked back from it, and quickly glanced to the orcs.

In the moonlight, she could see their teeth gleaming with slobbery spit.

She glared at them, all of them, and got to her feet. She'd meant to elude them, but suddenly an orc was up on the rocks, a stone's throw away from her. He was smaller, with two different sized ears and a nasty grin. His crude sword was drawn, pointed at her. Selanae rolled her eyes at him and took a running leap off the rocks.

Her landing was a bit rough, but Selanae shook it off as she got to her feet, ready to face the orcs. They charged her, and she calmly drew her sword.

When they were close enough, Selanae charged back. Her sword singed the air as she swung it hard, hitting an Orc on the head. A loud clang of metal cued his death, especially as her hit continued past his helmet.

She wasn't oblivious to the fact that she was surrounded. It fueled her, and she found herself dancing around as she fought. Her blade sliced through the air and stabbed into orc flesh, even as she artfully dodged attacks and twisted her body gracefully just out of reach of a sword's end.

She kicked her legs high and plowed her elbows into the masses around her. She jumped backwards, flipping her body away from an attack.

And then she knew she'd made a mistake. She was too close to the others, and to make up for it, she raised her blade.

An orc swung his blade down hard on her. His crushing blow sent her blade from her hand. Selanae gasped, but quickly swallowed and readied herself. Even weaponless, she was not helpless.

A horse's cry alerted her, and as she risked a glance towards the animal, she saw several soldiers and horses, plowing through the orcs. The orcs around her started to divide up.

But she still faced several.

The sounds of the battle left her ears as she fought. The orcs swung their swords, aiming to cut her in two, but Selanae merely leapt from their aim. Her cloak was torn as it swayed behind her, the fabric not as fast as she. Selanae followed the swing of one of her attackers and as it carried on past her, she leaned her body back as she kicked forward.

She began to spin around, kicking at targets and felling them, even if not mortally. She started to hit out with her hands, bringing them down on the orcs or hard into their sides. Soon the crowd around her diminished until she realized the battle was over.

Soldiers stood around her and the fallen orcs, some not noticing her yet. That was fine by her. Selanae began searching for her sword, ready to leave as soon as she found it.

But she wasn't completely unnoticed.

"You fight strangely, lad. Who do you serve?" someone demanded, and she heard the fresh sing of a blade being drawn.

Slowly, Selanae turned to the source. Her head was still covered by the hood and she peaked from it to see a broad-shouldered man, atop his horse.

A soldier. Probably the leader of the group. Selanae sighed and sheathed her sword.

"Let me pass," she said, and then nothing more. She started to move past the soldier, but suddenly he jumped off his horse, into her path. On instinct, her hand went for her blade, but she stopped herself as she saw the man's readiness to run her through.

"I asked who you serve, lad. Are you friend or foe?" he said, his voice low and menacing. Selanae stared at him with cold eyes.

"That is no business of yours," she said back, equally menacing in her tone. "Now let me pass." With that, she changed directions, ready to find a different way into the forest and after the children she'd seen.

"Rohirrim!" the soldier bellowed. All the horses with their soldiers came their way, circling her. Spears were aimed at her, and she found no more than an arm's length of breadth around her. Selanae spoke quickly but forcefully.

"I seek not to be your enemy, but if you press me so, you will find yourself on the wrong end of a sword."

A chuckle rippled through the soldiers, but their leader remained stone-faced. He held his sword up to her neck. "If you will not answer to me, you will not answer at all." He lowered the blade and ordered: "Bind and gag him!"

Selanae spun her body quickly, lashing out with her right leg and hitting three men with it before the soldiers tackled her. She struggled against them, but so outnumbered and so confined, she failed.

She hated when that happened.

As the men wrestled her to her feet, her hood fell back, and a collective gasp went through the men. The leader heard it and turned to see the cause.

Her brown hair wasn't the customary length for women, but they undoubtedly realized her gender from her simple but pretty face and her vibrant but dark eyes.

"Eomer?" one of the men said, though Selanae didn't know what Eomer meant until the leader reasserted his command.

"The order stands," he said between clenched teeth. Usually when someone discovered she was a woman, they apologized or backed off. But this Eomer merely seemed more angered by it. Selanae didn't understand why. She was hoisted to a riderless horse, her hands bound in front of her and a strip of cloth placed firmly over her mouth.