Spoilers: TTT EE! Other than that, nah. If you haven't seen the movie, what are you doing sitting there!
Disclaimer: Tolkien's world is not mine, the movie trilogy Lord of the Rings is not mine, I write for personal enjoyment only but against my will. sighs The boy, however, is OC so he is mine!
Note: This story came from an idea I had. One of my favorite parts in TTT is when Aragorn calms Brego in the stables, but I always wondered what an outsider might think of this little piece of the story rather than the main characters. So this is my view, in the mind of a young 14 year old stable boy. It's short and sweet so I hope you enjoy!
He was wild. Hardly ever before had I seen such a madness claim a majestic animal like the one before me. It was not abuse or neglect that had led the stallion to such a deep sense of fear; rearing away from the confines of the men that surrounded him. No, it was the horror and brutality of war. It was a crime I could not begin to fathom and a wound I could not even guess how to heal.
The men around the stallion were struggling to get the powerful horse under control, but the careless yelling and the ceaseless yanks of the many ropes that secured the horse in the confines of the airy stable only frightened him more. The halter held him down, the men terrified him, and the raw, fresh wounds contained in his strong will made him react violently in anger, rearing and screaming, fighting to get away.
More than anything I desired to help. I understood horses for I had been around them all my life, but I was young still and a stable hand. It would be dishonorable for me to interfere with the soldiers, so I was stuck to continue doing my work. But even as I brushed a mare's dark brown coat with a handful of hay, I had to endure her tensing under my touch, ill at ease because of the stallion. I wished there was something I could do as I listened to the stallion continue to scream.
The stable was normally calm and filled with a measure of peace. I loved working there, loved my work even if it was hard. It meant I could be near the King's horses, the most valued treasures of our land.
This valley had been growing darker and many evil things had come to pass in the last several years. Everyone was afraid, feared our doom was at hand. I was never informed of the fearsome trouble that plagued the lands of Rohan, the only place I knew as home. The women and children were always shielded from the whole truth, but I had seen the affects of change in the men's eyes, and I knew their pain. Over the course of the past several months I had watched soldiers leave to protect our country, and as of late few returned.
I could see it in the stallion's eyes. Somehow he had escaped the jaws of death in one of these battles that had claimed so many lives, and I knew that whatever we were up against was something to be feared.
It had not been many days since the time that Thèodred, the King Thèoden's son had returned from such a battle, so severely wounded that many feared he would not survive. So when word came of his death not three days ago all were deeply grieved, but hardly any were surprised.
I grieved in secret, feeling my loss differently than everyone else. Thèodred had been kind to me when others were not.
The stallion had been his horse. The head stablemen had told me when the animal had come home not long after his master, tormented by grief and enraged by fear. No doubt the horse had seen the time of his master's fatal blow, a wound that had been draining the young man's life before he had even been found. Thèodred was gone now and had left his stallion behind. They had been close, very close, a bond that could not have been broken. The stallion was the only one left behind and his heart was breaking. Confused, half mad, completely alone, lost in his own feelings.
The worst of it was that no one was trying to understand the young horse.
I chanced a glance over the stall door I was working behind and pain shot through my heart at the sight I beheld. They had been trying to back the stallion into a large stall, but thecrushing weightof claustrophobia had seized him. Long front legs clawed at the air as he reared high, screaming in short, heavy breaths. His hind legs had locked and he refused to go back into the confining shadows of the large stall. He jumped forward, testing and straining at the thick ropes, but there was no breaking them. The soldiers were relentless, and some even pulled in a few lengths, shortening the stallion's area to move along with his temper.
Turning my face away from the sight I tried to go back to my work, but I did not get far before the bundle of hay fell useless from my hand. I leaned into the comforting warmth of the mare, trying to hold back the tears.
Why? Why must there be so much loss and hurt? I had already experienced suffering and pain before these dark days had come to take away my dwindling confidence in life. My father had been killed in battle several years ago, my older brother with him. My mother and I were left alone, and though we were surviving just fine, the life and light of my mother that I had once known was but a flickering memory that came from when I was small. All the time I was around her she was silent. Not cold... just silent. The sense of the loss was something I knew I needed back, that we both needed back.
I listened to the mare breath quietly, her breath coming in deep comforting whuffs that did my heart good. Anytime I was upset I knew I could count on the horses. They felt and understood; gave quiet strength and support where others could not. My hand fell to her neck, stroking her softly.
"That horse is half mad my Lord, do not trouble yourself – leave him!" the voice of a soldier speaking to another carried over the rising calls of the stallion. For a moment I ignored the voice, rather content to regain inner strength from the understanding mare. Besides, who could not see that the poor stallion was acting mad? Why would anyone need verification for that?
My emotions nearly took hold of me again. I turned farther away from the open stall door so no one would notice. I understood how the stallion felt, could connect to the fear and pain it kept bottled up inside because no one saw fit to heal his aching soul. His heart was closed, as mine was. No one was trying to understand. But I knew that he wanted it, ached for it. But who was going to try? Who cared? Who could really understand his aching heart? Who could understand mine?
Yet amidst my pain my ears suddenly latched onto a soft voice speaking words in a language I had never heard before. At first, I mistakenly took it for singing, for the voice that spoke did so with such feeling and the words that came so sweet that perhaps it was understandable that I should think so. Then I shook my head. It couldn't be real. It was the dying desire within me to see the world light and free as I used too, but the melody struck me somewhere deep inside. I had to know more.
It was at that moment I realized I could no longer hear the stallion call out in anger and fear. Rather I could hear long, soft whinnies of warning, accompanied by the deep voice that spoke words that touched not my mind, but my heart.
Again I looked over the stall door and was greeted with a much different scene than I had just moments before. The dark colored stallion was down on all fours now and was no longer surrounded by soldiers. The men that had moments before been trying to confine the horse had all backed away, the ropes they had been using rolled up in their hands. They watched with no small amount of shock and amazement as a single man stood at the horse's head, speaking a tongue I could not place.
His garb was poor, weatherworn and stained from many obvious years in the wilds, most likely far from here. He was a ranger. There was a gruffness about his stature that normally would have frightened me, but his voice, his words... aye; the very light in his eyes betrayed a side of him that his body did not eagerly tell. His hands were light and gentle as he reached forward to touch the stallion, keeping his gaze on the ground while the horse whimpered in fear. He heard the tone clearly, understanding it, and began to speak even more gently, speaking in a way that only he and the horse could understand.
His fingers brushed the side of the stallion's nose, delicately massaging the sensitive skin as he reached for the knotted rope tied securely to the halter. Though he removed it rather quickly, the stallion did not flinch and shy away. He was much calmer now, whickering softly at the man. The ranger finally lifted his eyes to gaze at the stallion's head, though never directly into his eyes. He knew not to look into the stallion's eyes; the ranger knew it would anger the horse. He continued his long, steady flow of the graceful language, one hand still massaging the side of the stallion's nose, whereas the other lifted up to the wide forehead, scratching comfortingly.
I stood fixed where I was, amazed. How had he done that? It took him a matter of minutes to do what would have taken us months to come close to, if we ever got that far. Yet even as I watched him somehow I knew.
The ranger had seen this before. He knew how cruel the world could be. He had endured the affects of brutality and hatred, and somehow he had remained open to the world. I could see it in his eyes, the way he moved, the tone of his voice... the very remedy the stallion needed to continue. It was not long before he bade his new friend farewell and picked up the saddle he had dropped earlier, disappearing from the stables. I watched the stallion for a moment as the ranger left. The horse never let his eyes leave the man, even when he had disappeared from sight. The longing in the animal's eyes was clear, and I knew he would have followed the ranger if he could, just to stay with him. For a long time the stallion stood there, staring fixedly on the spot his healer had fallen from his sight. Unmoving, hardly breathing, he waited.
It didn't matter that he never spoke to me, never got to hear my story nor even learn my name. That day something changed in me, gave me the strength to take up my burden again. Even though it would not be long before I myself would witness firsthand the treachery that had nearly driven the stallion mad when we left for Helm's Deep, I no longer feared nor doubted the good that was still in this world and why I needed to fight for it. I had seen the good of the world in one of the most unlikely places, in a time I needed it the most. I came to deeply love and trust the man that would soon become my leader in war.
He may think he had healed one heart that day, but I may never get to tell him - he didn't heal just one... he healed two.