Nariel the Red

Chapter 1: Beorn's Diary

A red headed girl of about twelve entered the hall in tears and made her way over to a bed in the corner. The girl was Nariel daughter of Caraneth who was the daughter of Beorn the bear man and Rhovanien of Lake Town. Being a Beorning she was taller and broader than other girls of her age, but still she appeared delicate. Her clothes were simple a woollen tunic dyed a vibrant red like her hair that fell in waves down her back. Nariel dried her eyes as best as she could before she retrieved a large bag from under the bed and began packing some of her belongings.

Eventually, her packing finished, she walked over to a shelf on the other side of the room and removed a worn looking book. It was her grandfather's journal, and never failed to bring a smile to her face. She sat cross-legged on the floor, wiping her eyes again she began to read.

TA2941- As I write this now I can remember very little of the battle itself. I arrived to find my friends vastly outnumbered and changing to my bear-form I joined the fray. I saw Thorin fall to the enemy spears but recall little else after the rage took me, except the stench of the enemy and the taste of blood.

When I calmed down and the battle had been won, I went to bathe myself in a nearby stream. I removed the matted blood from my fur and then reverted to my human form again emerging from the water. It was then that I saw her for the first time.

Rhovanien, the wild one. She was carrying a basket of food, presumably for the weary warriors after the battle. She was tall and slim with waist length red hair and dark eyes. For once in my long life I wanted to give up on my reclusive ways.

She was cooking a stew over a large fire when I made my way back to the camp. As I sat down near the other men she offered me some, which I of course refused. "No thank you. I don't eat meat" I said. She looked at me then, straight in the face, and smiled It was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen.. "Oh, you must be the bear-man" she said sitting next to me with a plate of bread and fruit, which she handed to me. "I've been waiting to meet you. I am Rhovanien" She was captivating, the wild one. I was lost from that moment.

Nariel flicked forward a couple of pages and then continued to read a small smile on her face.

TA2941, Yule- The Yule festivities have now finished. The celebrations went well, better than I ever could have imagined. Gandalf the Wizard and the little Hobbit attended the celebration as well as many of the races of men as I was determined to leave my reclusive ways behind. The hall was decorated with vast tree branches and foliage. A great feast was prepared and the great hall was filled with singing and laughter. But one voice out shone them all. Rhovanien had come from Lake Town, and no matter who tried to engage me in conversation, she drew my eye.

Bilbo the Hobbit sat next to me at some point while I was watching her. "You like her." He said simply fiddling with a piece of mistletoe in his hand. "I don't know much about the traditions of men" he continued, "...but where I come from we use this..." He held up the plant, and I interrupted him. "...to steal kisses from maidens at Yule time?" I asked. He handed the plant to me and nodded towards Rhovanien without another word.

I stood up and walked towards her slowly. She was standing leaning against one of the pillars, drinking ale and laughing at some drunken men as they sang. Usually I am confident in all that I do, but then I was shaking. When I reached her side she turned towards me and smiled. All fear left me. I held the mistletoe above her head. "Wild one, I wonder, would you gift me with a kiss under the mistletoe?" She laughed making my heart skip a beat before she replied. "If you insist on calling me that my lord Beorn, I shall have to call you Bear-Man all evening" Her eyes sparkled with mirth and I couldn't help but grin. "I am no Lord Rhovanien" Then I leaned in and kissed her. As we pulled apart I saw her blush and could wait no longer to ask, so I whispered in her ear "Will you marry me wild one?" And she whispered back simply "Yes Bear-man, I will"

Nariel sat back and thought. Although her grandfather now ruled many men in the lands between the forest and the mountains he still distrusted strangers and was often reclusive, preferring the company of his family. She looked back down at the journal and skipped ahead a few pages.

TA2943- Today my son was born. Rhovanien believes that he will inherit my skin-changing abilities and so we have named him Grimbeorn, fierce bear. This day however has given me great sadness as well as great joy. For it was only today that I realised the differences between myself and my wild one. She is of the men of Lake Town, not of the long-lived men of the mountains. I have lived a long time, and today I realised that it is likely I will outlive her.

Nariel knew that this thought still plagued Beorn. She could see the difference clearly between her grandparents. While Beorn still remained strong and ageless, Rhovanien seemed older and fragile. She was now 56 and her hair that had once been red was streaked with silver. Turning the pages again Nariel found the last extract that she was looking for.

TA2945- Today Rhovanien bore me a daughter. She looks so much like her mother we have named her Caraneth, red maiden. Grimbeorn is already protective of her, only two years old and he will not leave her side.

Beorn watched Nariel as she read. He had lost his daughter today and now he would lose his granddaughter. Caraneth had made her feelings clear. He watched silently as his son entered the room, as protective over Nariel as he had always been over her mother. "You don't have to go Nariel" he said kneeling beside her. But she shook her head and stood. "I have to." She replaced the book on the shelf and walked back to her bed. "My mother always said, if anything happened to her I was to find my father."

Beorn couldn't stand it anymore. He walked outside and called one of the horses to him. Dollabain was one of the strongest, and unlike the others was a deep black, he would make sure that the youngest Beorning reached her destination unharmed. "She will be fine" He turned to see Rhovanien standing behind him. She was right of course, as she usually was. Radagast was one of the Istari and a lover of animals. He would look after her. She deserved to know her father. "I don't want to lose her to." He admitted finally as she wrapped her arms around him. "You won't lose her, she isn't going very far. She can still visit us here. And you can visit her." At his wife's reassurance Beorn laughed. "Of course I'll visit her; no wizard is going to stop me seeing my granddaughter!"

Nariel walked out into the sunlight, the sun would not last much longer but it still seemed too bright. Nothing seemed right today, she had lost her entire life in only a few short hours. She hugged her uncle before he handed her the bag, Then she walked over to her grandparents and hugged them. Beorn lifted her up and put her on the horses back, before he changed his mind. There was no tack, as like her grandfather and the rest of her family, she had no need for saddle or bridle. Taking a deep breath she prepared to leave the only home she had ever known. "Come on Dollabain we ride to Rhosgobel"