A/N: It hasn't been too long… really… maybe… :wince:….
"So the final test for the novices is to track you across the forest surrounding Imladris."
"Yes," replied Glorfindel.
"This continues over the two days, during which they should be tested on most of the areas that they have been trained in," Morlome continued.
"Those two days are from dawn today and tomorrow at dusk?"
"During this time they will be observed, unseen, by you and three of your captains."
"So why are you here, in Erestor's room, eating lunch with us?"
"Why run around outside when I could be better acquainting myself with my future in-laws?"
"But how will they track you?"
"She lays the trail down the night before and then comes back," Erestor supplied, disapproval colouring his voice.
Glorfindel returned his smile. "I usually use it to tack the novices tracking me, it can be surprisingly entertaining, but I always make it back for lunch and dinner." Seeing Erestor's not so convinced look she moved the conversation on, "Besides, Elrond wishes for me to greet a party of humans before they reach the home."
"Humans?" Morlome asked, her eyes lighting up with curiosity.
Erestor raised an eyebrow. "Why are you so surprised? You know humans often come to Imladris."
"And you know that I haven't met many humans," she retorted before turning to Glorfindel with a brief explanation, "We rarely see anything but Elves in the Grey havens."
"Do you usually go to meet guests before they reach the home?" Gilnaur asked with a suspicious look in his eye.
Glorfindel had been hoping that they wouldn't pick up on this. After her little adventure in the village, she had warned her captains to keep a double look-out for possible dangers. While she doubted that this lord was any danger, or in any danger himself either, she would rather meet him sooner than later. However, she saw no need to worry their two guests.
"Variety is the spice of life. Speaking of which, I really should leave. A messenger has informed me of their approach." Placing her fork down, she dismissed herself to meet their new guest.
'How hard can it be to track a single elf?' That phrase seemed to come back and mock her. Maegdin, daughter of Sergeant Malaglar, sat in a tree, waiting for the missing novice to join the party. They had come across a split in the trail and, knowing one direction was false, they had sent a novice down each path to see which was real. One had returned, but they were still waiting for the other.
"What is taking him so long?" one elf questioned.
"We should send someone to find him," Maegdin commented.
"Why do we not all go? We know that is the right path now."
"But if he is not there, or we miss him and he comes back then a member of our team will be lost," Maegdin stated, her tone making it clear that she thought this was obvious. Really, Elegaer did get on her nerves.
"Then we will-" he never finished his sentence as the elf in question suddenly landed beside her. "Where have you been, Angadal?" Elegaer hissed.
Maegdin was about to come to the other's defence when Angadal himself spoke up. "There are humans approaching."
The party seemed rather less than impressed. "So?" Elegaer said, "It will just be some Dunedain."
"These aren't Dunedain, nor are they just any humans. I think there is a lord and lady among them."
Now the novices seemed interested. "Where?" The other member of their group asked.
"About a long bowshot away and approaching, though they seem harmless enough."
"Of course, otherwise the border patrol would not have let them through," Elegaer sneered.
"Hush, they draw near," Maegdin hushed. So, in silence, they waited for the humans to approach.
The humans rode on horses which, though not of the calibre of Elven horses, were still well breed. Unlike the rangers, these humans were richly dressed or wearing armour. It was obvious who the nobleman and woman were. Judging from the ages they were father and daughter. The daughter was the most enigmatic member of the party. While she was no expert on human ages, Maegdin guessed that the human girl couldn't be older than 16. Her hair was cut short and she wore men's clothing. From her saddle hung a sword that looked far too heavy for a young girl. All this tied together to curious effect, and the tense mood of the party as a whole added to this impression.
Suddenly an elf appeared beside the novices. He smiled at them. "You're the novices." It wasn't really a question. "Do not worry about the humans, they are being watched. Continue with your test." Indeed, Maegdin could see tell-tale signs of an Elven party hidden in the undergrowth.
"They look very strange," Angadal perked up, "Especially the girl. Not even Glorfindel wears men's clothing."
Maegdin grinned, "Maybe she thinks she is a boy." Her jibe caused the elves in hearing range to chuckle. The noise attracted the attention of the group below, causing the strange girl to glare up at the trees.
"Elves," supplied the richly dressed man. "They will watch us as we travel through the woods. They will appear when they are ready." However, the girl's frown only lightened slightly.
Angadal leaned towards Maegdin and whispered, "She is a grumpy youth."
Maegdin nodded, unable to disagree.
"You should move on," the elf soldier said, "or you will have no chance of catching Glorfindel." He then smiled, "Not that you have a chance anyway." Then he disappeared back into the vegetation, leaving the youths to move on.
Glorfindel sat upon her horse, watching the human party approach. With a soft word, her horse moved forward to meet them, splashing across the shallow stream.
"Greetings Lord Helmar, Lady Bellen. I am Lady Glorfindel, Captain of the Imladris guard."
Lord Helmar bowed his head. He was a fairly elderly man, by human standards. His wife had passed away giving birth to his son, who hadn't survived the week, leaving him with but a single daughter. "It is an honour to have you meet us here."
She manoeuvred her horse to walk beside the lord's. "I hope your journey was pleasant."
"Pleasant enough, save for one group of bandits, whom we escaped with little difficulty."
"I am glad to hear that," she replied. "Where did you encounter these bandits? We are expecting a group of Dunedain soon, I'm sure they can deal with the problem," and see if it is related to the village, she added mentally. It might just be a coincidence, she hoped it was, but it was better to step on the cautious side in such matters.
"West of here, about two days' journey, in the mountains. They were a band of twenty or so."
"They would not still be there had we dealt with them instead of running away. It was only-"
"I suggest," Glorfindel easily cut through, not looking at the girl, "that your daughter should refrain from making such ignorant comments. It may reflect badly on yourself.
"Ah, Imladris," she added, turning back to the road as the buildings came into view, though she did catch the soft "I try," that came from under the lord's breath. Well, that was interesting. From the corner of her eye, she could see the young 'lady' grip the reigns tightly, her face colouring. Yes, this was interesting.
End of Chapter 9
So here you are. I hope I'll get the next chapter up sooner. Well, that's my aim anyway.