What's this? A new chapter of LOTR:TUS? I'm soooooo sorry I haven't been able to update this in such a long time. Life, school, you name it... I will try to post more often, but with a major writer's block and school in full-swing again its hard to keep it up. So enjoy this chapter! I will have more out ASAP. Oh and if you haven't already checked out my other stories on my profile i have a new stroy called Sacrifice and a One-Shot called Struck By the Moonlight. They are both going to be a massive rewrite of Power Rangers: Jungle Fury. But i'm amping up the story and toning down all the horrible fighting. I just fell in love with the story in this TV Show. So it inspired me to rewrite it for older readers such as myself. So check it out please!
Reviews are always welcome! It encourages me to post chapters faster!
Thanks for reading,
I do not own LOTR or any of it's characters. I just own Raven and Alyssa.
*EDIT- 10/21/13- I added more to this chapter. Enjoy!*
Chapter 8: The Horse Lords
They approached the acrid smelling pile of uruk bodies. They dismounted to take in the sight of the massacre that had taken place here. Uruk and orc heads were staked upon pikes and some fallen horsemen could be seen in a separate pile of burning bodies. Gimli wasted no time in trying to comb through the pile. Legolas stood back quietly, while Aragorn had a bewildered look on his face. Raven stared in quiet contemplation.
Gimli gasped as he drew out an object from the pile. He turned to the others, "It's one of their wee belts." The piece of clothing, if you could call it that, was mangled and burned so that only the metal and some of the leather remained. Raven's stomach dropped at this gruesome discovery.
They were too late.
Raven, surprisingly, felt tears escape her eyes as she thought of what the young hobbits might have gone through before their deaths. Legolas bowed his head and said a prayer for their fallen companions and Aragorn fell to his knees screaming in rage after he angrily kicked an uruk's head across the field. Gimli was shocked, "We failed them." He stated.
With each of them in various stages of grief, no one noticed Aragorn as he slowly looked down at some odd marks in the ground. Hope springing in his heart he followed the grooves intently, "A hobbit lay here…and the other…" He moved to another groove, "They crawled…their hands were bound…" The trail lead to some gnarled rope, "Their bonds were cut."
They were following Aragorn intently now as he uncovered the hobbit's movements. "They ran over here…and were followed…"
They ran with the tracks as he commented, "The tracks lead away from the battle…and into…Fangorn Forest." Raven's eyes went wide as she considered the implications.
Gimli voiced her concerns, "Fangorn? What madness drove them in there?"
Raven commented, "They were cut off from the plains by the battle, so their only option was the forest. It provided cover for them to escape."
Aragorn nodded, "Well, whatever their reasoning, we must go after them." He held back the underbrush and let Raven step through first as he followed. Legolas and Gimli followed tentatively. All hope was not lost for their small friends.
Boromir and Alyssa had made good time to Edoras despite Boromir's injuries. They now were standing outside the gates of Edoras, waiting for the massive gates to open. Alyssa clarified their situation to the guards on duty and they let them enter Edoras. Boromir looked around at the people as his companion led him up the hill on horseback. The people seemed as if they were grieving or in a state of depression. There was none of the lighthearted feel of a country town or capital city. They neared the palace and he spotted a woman standing upon the ramparts, her blonde hair and green dress flowing in the strong wind. The woman seemed to spot them and came running to Boromir and Alyssa. "Alyssa! Alyssa!"
Boromir was surprised, these women knew each other.
Alyssa gripped the woman's arms and asked, "What is it Eowyn?"
Eowyn's eyes were wide as she gripped one of Alyssa's arms, "It's Theodred! He's been injured, they say he won't make it through the night." The blonde woman was basically trying to drag Alyssa to him. Boromir was troubled, Theodred was a good friend of his and Faramir's. It did not bode well that he was gravely injured.
Alyssa relented, "Alright I'm coming! First I must see to Boromir's health. He was injured in the field and is recovering from some grievous injuries."
He waved her off with a grunt, "I'm fine woman."
Alyssa looked back at him with a hard stare, "No you need rest. Don't pretend that I didn't see you shifting uncomfortably in that saddle the whole way here."
He huffed, cursing her observation skills. "Fine."
Eowyn was now looking at Boromir with interest, "Lord Boromir? Lord Denethor's son?"
Boromir nodded. Alyssa looked shocked for once; she didn't know that he was the heir to the Steward of Gondor! It made her all the more determined to see him back to full health. She turned back to Eowyn, burying her shock, "You see to Lord Boromir's accommodations and I will go see what I can do for Theodred."
Eowyn nodded and helped Boromir off Alyssa's horse; he let out a small grunt as his injuries protested. A guardsman took Alyssa's horse to the stables at Eowyn's behest. The three ventured into the palace, hoping they were not too late for the Rohan Prince.
Raven, Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas tracked the hobbits deeper into the forest. Raven and Aragorn scouted ahead while Legolas and Gimli scouted along the path behind them. Gimli wiped a dark substance off of a leaf and he tasted it. Gimli quickly spat it out. "Bah! Orc Blood!"
Raven chuckled from up ahead, "You know, I could have told you that without tasting it."
Aragorn smirked and joined in, "Who knows what the orc had…nasty, festering diseases."
Gimli's eyes got as wide as saucers and Raven laughed, her spirits lifting. She smiled at Aragorn who grinned back at her. Suddenly the grin on his face froze as he darted ahead, the grin turning into a frown. He leaned down and laid his head against a boulder, listening. "These are strange tracks.."
Gimli panted, "The air is so close in here…" Gimli leaned against a tree.
Legolas nodded, "This forest is old. Very old…full of memory…and anger."
Raven agreed, the trees creaked noisily and you could almost hear the angry groans. She shivered, fearful. Gimli raised his ax in alarm. Legolas spoke quickly, "The trees are speaking to each other!"
Aragorn whispered urgently, "Gimli! Lower you ax!" Gimli reluctantly lowered his ax and the four members of the remaining fellowship trudged on.
Legolas stopped dead in his tracks and walked quickly over to a group of trees. He spoke in elvish, "There's something out there."
Aragorn looked back at Legolas, "What do you see?"
Legolas went white in the face, "The White Wizard approaches." Raven quickly closed ranks with their group, each of them drawing their weapons.
Raven tensed and Aragorn sighed, "Then we must not let him speak. He will put a spell on us."
Raven readied her daggers as Gimli, Legolas and Aragorn readied their own weapons. Aragorn whispered, "We must be quick."
Suddenly, all four of them turned and threw their weapons at the glowing orb that was the White Wizard. Gimli's ax shattered on impact, Legolas' arrows were deflected, Raven's daggers disintegrated and Aragorn dropped his sword because it was burning his hands. They shielded their eyes from the bright white light. Saruman's voice rang out, "You are tracking the footsteps of two young hobbits."
Raven was barely holding herself back from charging the wretched traitor as she screamed out, "Where are they!" Legolas put a hand on her shoulder, trying to calm the furious woman.
Saruman replied, "They passed this way, the day before yesterday, they met someone they did not expect. Does that comfort you?"
Aragorn whispered in outrage, "Who are you?" He yelled, "Show yourself!"
The white light faded to reveal…Gandalf.
Raven fell to her knees in shock, paling in the face. Aragorn simply stared at the once-dead man. Legolas and Gimli were in similar states of shock. Aragorn said in disbelief, "It…it cannot be…" Legolas and Gimli bowed to Gandalf, showing their respect, Aragorn spoke again, "You fell…"
Gandalf nodded, "Through fire and water on the lowest dungeon on the highest peak I fought the Balrog of Morgoth. Until at last I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin on the mountainside. Darkness took me…I strayed beyond thought and time…star never seemed to end…everyday was as long as a life age on the earth. But it was not the end…I felt life in me again…I've been sent back till my task is done."
Aragorn stepped forward and whispered, still in shock. "Gandalf…"
Gandalf had a curious look cross his face, he almost looked confused, "Gandalf? Yes…That was what they used to call me. Gandalf the Grey. That was my name."
Gimli grinned along with the other members of the broken fellowship that was slowly mending itself back together. "Gandalf." He remarked happily.
Gandalf smiled, "I am Gandalf the White…and I come back to you now. At the turn of the tide."
Raven smiled, it was good to have the old wizard back.
Gandalf urged them on through the forest, "One stage of your journey is over, another begins. We must travel to Edoras with all speed."
Gimli frowned, trudging behind the group, "Edoras? That is no short distance."
Aragorn caught up with Gandalf, "We hear of trouble in Rohan, it concerns the King."
Gandalf looked grave, "Yes. Theoden will not be easily cured."
Gimli sounded dejected, "Then we have run all this way for nothing." He started to get frustrated, "Now we have to leave those poor hobbits here in this dark, dank, tree-infested…"
Raven shushed the dwarf as the trees growled in anger, ready to insight their wrath upon the weary travelers.
Gimli changed his tune immediately, "Ah…I mean! Charming…quite charming forest."
Raven shook her head, "Trees have feelings too Gimli. Try not to get us killed. I like being alive, thank you."
Gandalf continued like he was never interrupted, "It more than meer chance that brought Merry and Pippin to Fangorn. A great power has been sleeping here for many long years. The coming of Merry and Pippin will be like the falling of small stones that start an avalanche in the mountains."
Aragorn chuckled, "There is one thing that you have not changed my friend."
Gandalf was confused, "Huh?"
Aragorn smirked, "You still speak in riddles." Gandalf and Aragorn laughed at his observance.
Gandalf smiled, "A thing is about to happen that has not happened since the elder days. The Ents are going to wake up and find that they are strong."
Gimli looked alarmed, "Strong?! Oh that's good…" Raven snickered as Gimli gave her a withering look. She shrugged her shoulders as she made her way back to Aragorn.
Gandalf pointed his staff chastising the Dwarf, "So stop your fretting master dwarf." The fellowship continued on toward the edge of the forest, "Merry and Pippin are quite safe. In fact they are far safer than you are about to be!"
Gimli sighed, "The new Gandalf is more grumpy than the old one." Raven elbowed him as he grumped.
Raven chuckled, "Now who's grumpy. Are all dwarves this way?"
He harrumphed, "Women. All the same no matter the race. Human, Elf, Hobbit or Dwarf they are more stubborn than stone. I will never understand them."
She laughed and walked away, "You never will either."
Lady Eowyn led Boromir to his quarters in the palace. He was roomed a couple of doors down from Theodred, who was now battling for his life after taking a bad hit on the battlefield. He was worried for his friend and also for his friends who were traveling with him before. Boromir silently wondered how Aragorn was dealing with the loss of Raven. His inner demons rose up again at his guilt for not saving his battle-sister in time. All Boromir could do was wait and hope for the best.
Alysssa was brought into the prince's room. Theodred was lying on his bed, moaning in pain. His face was quickly draining of all color and he was sweating with a fever. She would have to act quickly if she was to save the gravely wounded Rohan prince.
Eowyn stood behind Alyssa as she assessed the how bad the prince's condition was. He had a deep stomach wound that looked as if it had been poisoned. She turned to Eowyn and asked, "Do you have the arrow that pierced him? Or the sword?"
Eowyn nodded and retrived it from a side table. Alyssa smelt the black substance on the end of the arrow, her eyes widened, "Nightshade Berries. The poison is slow and painful. Someone wanted him to suffer."
Eowyn looked pensive and sorrowful, "Can you cure him?" she asked.
Alyssa tied her brown hair back and pulled up her sleeves, "I can try. Luckily, I have some herbs left over from healing Boromir that can cure this caliber of poison." She turned to Eowyn, "I will need your help though."
The white lady nodded, "Of course."
Alyssa started by cleaning the wound, dirt had surrounded the open wound and had begun to infect it. Once she saw clean pink skin she applied the herbs to the wound to draw the poison out of his body. She wrapped it up and cleaned any other minor wounds that he prince had acquired. All they could do now was wait and hope for a miracle.
After cleaning up, Eowyn hugged her friend. "Thank you. I don't know what could have happened if you hadn't shown up."
Alyssa smiled but was reserved about the situation, "Don't get your hopes up yet."
The woman broke apart when Alyssa spotted Boromir leaning heavily on the door frame, he asked, "How is he?"
Alyssa turned to her patient, crossed her arms and frowned, "You shouldn't be walking around with your wounds. I told you to rest."
He frowned, "I'm fine woman. By the Valar, you sound just like Raven sometimes; always worried about something." He suddenly looked downcast. He looked back up at his female companion, "Will he be alright?" Boromir looked determined.
Alyssa relented and sighed, "He is slowly improving. I don't know if he will recover or not. He's still in danger. If his fever breaks he might survive the night." She frowned and ordered sternly, directing her attention to Boromir, "Now come on. I need to change your bandages before your wounds get infected." He groaned as she dragged him back to his quarters.
Days Later, At the Edge of Fangorn Forest, near the City of Edoras-
Raven, Gimli, Aragorn and Legolas exited the forest after trekking behind Gandalf, who was headed for Edoras. They had recollected their horses, Arod and Hasufel, from the pile of orc remains and continued on. Gandalf stopped the party suddenly and whistled long and loud in to the wind.
Nothing happened until they heard a whinny resound across the plain. A white horse of perfect stature and shape came galloping toward the fellowship. Legolas squinted, "Is that one of the Mearas, unless my eyes are cheated by some spell."
The horse glided to stand before Gandalf, who rubbed the horse's muzzle. "Shadowfax, the lord of all horses, he has been my friend through many dangers."
Raven marveled at the beautiful horse. It seemed to glow with the sun's rays as it glided through the plain's grass. Mearas were very uncommon, but a beautiful sight whenever found. Gandalf motioned for them to mount their horses. Aragorn had to help Raven up onto Hasufel because of her broken ribs. She cried out as one rib poked at her insides. Aragorn mounted up behind her and whispered a quiet apology to her. He braced her against his chest so that she would not jostle her ribs too much. Edoras was at least a day's ride away so she nestled against Aragorn's chest and fell asleep.
Raven was locked in a dark room. As her eyes adjusted and she saw that it was a dark cell and her hands were bound around her bloody wrists. She ran her hands through her hair and found that her black hair was matted and gory with an unknown substance. Raven still felt her broken ribs scraping the sides of her organs painfully as she crawled to the cell door, dragging her mangled leg behind her. Raven started to feel a weird feeling creep along her flesh as she made her way to the door. She leaned against the bars and moaned in pain, that's when a black smoke erupted from her old scars from the wraiths. Her scars became a deep black and the veins coming from the scars turned a vile black as well. She tried to scream but it came out in a high-pitched screech, hurting her own ears. She caught a glimpse of her face in the shards of the window and saw that her deep green eyes had turned almost white and her face had become sunken and dark. Raven shrank away from herself, cowering in the dark corner of the cell. Suddenly, the cell fell away and she was confronted by the bright, fiery vision of Sauron's eye. It spoke to her and she was drawn to it, like a moth to a flame. There was no escape…
Raven was jostled awake by Aragorn who looked down at her with a worried look in his eyes. He asked, "You were dreaming, I woke you when you started struggling and screaming. Are you alright?"
Raven sighed and leaned back against him, curling into his chest, comforted by the sound of his steady heartbeat, "Yes. I'm fine." She answered.
He looked like he did not believe her, "Are you sure?" he asked.
She nodded and fell silent. Aragorn sighed and dropped the subject. Eventually, he would get answers from her.
They camped for the night outside Edoras. Raven was curled up fast asleep against Aragorn as he smoked his pipe, staring into the fire. He reached down and fingered his Raven pendant absently. Aragorn looked over at Gandalf who was also smoking his pipe, looking straight at the pair of rangers. Gandalf rose and walked to the edge of the ridge they had made camp on. Aragorn gently settled Raven down onto their bedroll, she protested in her sleep and he leaned down to kiss her on the forehead and she settled down, a smile crossing her face. Aragorn rose to follow Gandalf, coming to stand beside him. The moonlight shone down on the two of them.
Gandalf spoke, looking into the distance, "The veiling shadow of clouds to the east takes shape. Sauron will suffer no rival. From the summit of Baradur, his eye watches ceaselessly…but he is not so mighty yet that he is above fear. Doubt ever gnaws at him. The rumor has reached him…the heir of Numenor still lives…Sauron fears you Aragorn. He fears what you may become and so he will strike hard and fast at the world of men. He will use his puppet Saruman to destroy Rohan, war is coming, Rohan must defend itself and therein lies our first challenge. Rohan is weak and ready to fall, the king's mind is enslaved, an old device of Saruman's, his hold on King Theoden is very strong. Saruman and Sauron are tightening the noose. But for all their cunning we have one advantage. The ring remains hidden and that we seek to destroy it has not yet entered their darkest dreams. So the weapon of the enemy is moving towards Mordor at the hands of a hobbit and each day it brings it closer to the fires of Mount Doom. We must trust now in Frodo, everything depends upon speed and secrecy of his quest." Aragorn looked troubled, "Do not regret your decision to leave him," Gandalf reassured, "Frodo must finish this task alone."
Aragorn shook his head, "But he's not alone. Sam went with him."
Gandalf looked shocked, "He did?"
Aragorn nodded. Gandalf looked relived, "Good. Yes…very good."
They turned back toward the fire where their friends slept peacefully. Gandalf followed Aragorn's gaze to the sleeping form of Raven.
Gandalf spoke, "So, you two have fallen for each other." Aragorn looked sheepish at being caught but nodded, Gandalf remarked, "Raven has led a long and lonely life. She is a strong woman. But I fear that she will break in the coming months. Her future is uncertain and shrouded in darkness. Her past will come back to haunt her. With every passing day, old darkness that has lain dormant for many years will awaken."
Aragorn looked pensive, "She's been having…nightmares. Her dreams are vivid and she strikes out physically in the throes of them. She never tells me what they are about though. I am worried for her."
Gandalf frowned, "Nightmares, Hmm…tell me if her dreams worsen or if you have trouble waking her."
Aragorn nodded, "I won't lose her."
With the conversation finished and dawn hours away, Gandalf and Aragorn settled down for the night. Gandalf sprawled out on his bedroll and Aragorn settled down beside Raven, drawing her close to his chest. Raven immediately responded to his presence and snuggled into the folds of his leather jerkin, sighing in contentment. Soon, all five of them were sound asleep.
The next morning, Aragorn gently shook Raven awake. She blearily looked up into his eyes. She mumbled, "Good morning."
He smiled and leaned down to kiss her. After they parted she laughed, "A girl could get used to this…"
He smiled roguishly at her and rose, carefully bringing her to her feet with him; mindful of her ribs. They walked over to their horse together and he bowed, "After you milady."
She laughed again at his antics and swatted him good-naturedly, "Why thank you kind sir." He lifted her up on the horse and jumped up after her.
Gimli was on the back of Legolas' horse, Arod, he commented, "If you two are done making doe-eyes at each other I'd like to get moving." He mumbled about how it was too sweet for him under his breath. Aragorn and Raven laughed as the five of them rode toward Edoras.
Edoras was in sight, the massive city stretching over a hill and the great hall of Medseuld at the top. Gandalf stopped them before they could enter the gates of the city.
He said, "Edoras and the Golden Hall of Medseuld. There rules Theoden, King of Rohan, whose mind is overthrown. Saruman's hold on Theoden is very strong." He instructed, "Be careful what you say. Do not look for welcome here." Gandalf kicked Shadowfax into a gallop toward Edoras and the rest of the fellowship followed.
Theoden has been asleep for too long.