Shadows in the Night
Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters, and am making no money from the publication of this story. All characters and places belong to J.R.R Tolkien and his estate.
My cousin and I shiver against the chill night air, at the same time working to loose ourselves from our bonds. It angers me that our masters would leave us chained here, in sight of the fire, yet far enough away that we receive neither its light nor its warmth. But what should our masters care for the plight of their two cheaply bought slaves? They see as equal to beasts; what do they care if we hunger or thirst or grow cold?
Nay, I am bitter. Did my master not offer a handful of dried berries, before growing exasperated at my refusal to accept them and walking away? They are not cruel; they are simply ignorant.
I glance at my cousin who is pulling against his chain furiously. Our masters must believe us fools or be fools themselves to leave us tied so. Do they not realize how easily we can free ourselves? And free ourselves we must, for we have heard our true Master call.
I do not refer to the three seated about the fire, nor to our former masters who traded us earlier this day for mere words. I refer to our Master – the one known and respected all in our land. Our Lord and Chieftain. When he calls his People, they are bound to follow.
I give my chain one final yank, and it breaks free. In seconds, my cousin is free as well. Silently, we walk away from the fire's glow. I risk one final glance at the three seated around it and am relieved to see their attention focused on an old beggar, clothed in tattered cloak and hat, who has come into the fire light.
I will not deny that I feel a pang of guilt at leaving our masters, for we were taught to be faithful. Nevertheless, we must first be faithful to our Chieftain, and attend to whatever business he commands. Then perhaps we shall return to these three.
My cousin and I break into a run, following our Chieftains call. I risk one joyous cry of freedom, and together my cousin and I disappear into the darkness, two grey shadows in the night.
"The horses have gone!" cried Legolas, running back into the clearing.
Gimli swore violently under his breath, and Aragorn looked grim.
"This is ill news," he replied.
"Ill news indeed! It was Saruman, mark my words. Did the old man not appear as Éomer said he would? And where has he vanished to? He has spirited away our horses!" Gimli said.
"I do not doubt your guess, Gimli," replied Aragorn, "Yet there is naught we can do until morning light except hope the horses return."
The three stood in silence, staring at the flickering fire. Somewhere in the distance, Legolas thought he could hear a horse sending out a single wild, joyous cry.
They drew lots for watch, and slowly the night wore away. The old man did not reappear, and the horses did not return.