By: Bill the Pony
Rating: PG (may raise to PG-13 later)
Spoilers: None that I can think of.
Disclaimer: Don't own them, I'll leave that to the Tolkien family and whoever. I make no profit either.
Summary: The shadow of Mordor is growing darker and spreading across the lands like a plague. Dunlendings have allied themselves with orcs, terrorizing the neighboring lands. Worse yet, it is heard that the head of this movement is inside the order of the Istari. A friend of Gandalf has been framed as the head of this evil plot. It is up to Aragorn and Legolas to clear his name before the order of the Istari bring him up as a traitor, allowing the real traitor to continue his scheme.
Note: Not all the names in this actually mean something. I couldn't get enough info for that. As well as I know that this is not all accurate, I had limited resources. The beginning is mostly just for fun since it started as a short story, but the next chapter I promise will have more 'meat' to it.
Hoof beats pounded the earth like hammers on a dwarven anvil. Mane, tail and rider's hair flashed in the brightly rising sun. One of the mighty horses let free a great bugle of joy as it bore onward at a breathtaking speed. The four awe-inspiring beasts ran free over the plains, free of bit or bridle.
Elrohir laughed as the wind caught his hair sending a dark streaming tail behind him, he urged his blue roan forward, who was all too willing to obey. Beside him his twin brother, foster brother and the elf prince - just as close as a brother - raced neck and neck with his roan stallion. He saw that all were grinning just as broadly as he as the thrill of the ride charged their hearts.
Aragorn noticed his brother's glance, "Shouldn't you keep your eyes before you Elrohir?" He yelled to be heard over the whistle of the wind.
"Nay! Of course not, my Fanyare will not stumble, unlike your old ___!" Elrohir jested. Fanyare seemed to leap forward as if to try to prove his riders boast.
"Save your breath, or do you wish for the wrath of Ralamir to fall on your head?" Aragorn laughed aloud.
"Surely you do not think that any of your steeds, though noble they are, can best my own Cantaris?" Elladen broke in.
Elrohir and Aragorn could hardly hear him over the rush of wind, but could figure out his challenge without any difficulty.
Of course Legolas would not let his own mount be outspoken. Surely, his steed was a beauty to the eye. Falmarin was an iron gray, his dappled coat shone in the light of the sun, his mane was unusually lighter than his darkly dappled coat. Mane and tail streamed brightly in the wind. With neck arched high, the horse was a lithe as his rider. Compared to the three other stallions, he was the smallest in height and build. But unlike the other three's pumping strides, he held a fluid grace which was absent from the other three horses.
"You all speak well of your horses, and fine they are among their race, but Falmarin is far above any of your horses' league!" Legolas laughed.
"Ai! At last I see your boastful and arrogant side, son of Thranduil! Your horse is far to small, he hardly has enough lung to keep up an easy canter," Elladen teased.
"You are full of air, he may be small but his power lays in his last strides. At least I have the means of backing up my claim, unlike certain elves, and a man, I know."
Elladen smiled even wider, Cantaris, Ralamir, Fanyare and Falmarin all alike seemed to sense a challenge broaching.
"Big words for foolish mouths," Aragorn prodded, "I would see Ralamir defeat you all."
"Talk! You humans, all you do is talk! I would see you carry out such a statement," Elrohir said.
Aragorn felt Ralamir tensing beneath him, powerful muscles rippled underneath a dark bay coat, ready to spring at the slightest bidding. Likewise it was with the other three riders, they were already traveling at a great pace, but they knew their wondrous steeds abilities, and knew how much more they could give, "Ha! Careful what you say brother, or you might get it."
"Elrohir is right. Estel, you do talk to much," With those words, Elladen leaned forward over Cantaris's proud, light grey neck and released his horse into a full gallop, "Last one to the south stream tells father why all you youngster's horses are lathered with sweat!"
Legolas laughed at Elrohir and Estel's mockingly outraged faces as they yelled in unison, "No fair!"
It wasn't long before all four were neck and neck once again. The golden plainland flew by them, the thrill of the ride rendering them thoughtless except for the excitement of the race. The wind caught their laughter and added to it as it whistled past. Elrohir suddenly let out a shout to his horse, Fanyare lunged ahead, gaining a good neck length on Legolas, Elladen and Aragorn.
For a half a minute the standings remained with Elrohir and Fanyare in the lead, the other three waiting for their opportune moment to spur ahead.
The four pounded on, adrenaline pumping through their veins. Ahead, about a mile, Aragorn could dimly see the stream. He was taken off guard when he saw Legolas pull Falmarin back, slowing his pace just enough to drop back about a neck length from Elladen and Aragorn. He felt a spike of worry that something might be amiss, but was reassured when Legolas flashed him an impish grin.
Falmarin tossed his head in impatience as Legolas pulled him back with a quiet word, "Your strength is not your endurance at these speeds, Falmarin. You must wait my friend," He whispered as he leaned towards the horse's pricked ears. Falmarin gave a long suffering snort.
Legolas smiled and sat back, waiting.
Ahead, a good horse length, Aragorn had gained on Elrohir with Elladen closing in as the stream drew nearer. Glancing back briefly over his shoulder as Ralamir powered on, he saw that Legolas had dropped back even farther. He mentally shrugged and turned forward, melding himself with Ralamir as they neared the stream. Ralamir let forth a great bugle then surged forward, taking the lead on his brothers. Ralamir's hooves churned the earth beneath. Elladen and Elrohir both prodded their steeds on but Ralamir lunged ahead with great strides.
The stream neared, Aragorn felt the tingling of triumph beginning to edge at his heart. Ralamir seemed to feel it as well as they pulled father away from Elladen and Elrohir, almost a horse length and a half now. Just as he was sure he had the victory, a gray blur, streaked past his right. Aragorn shouted in surprise, Ralamir skidded to a halt beneath him in equaled alarm. Carefully honed reflexive grip was all that saved him from tumbling over Ralamir's head. There was a flash of flaxen hair and flowing tail.
From a distance they looked like a dark arrow speeding across the plains, the petite horse ate up the ground in long fluid strides. Horse and rider's hair streamed like the helms of the Rohirrim behind them. Falmarin had raced from two horse lengths behind to nearly three and a half ahead in less than twenty seconds. It was true that Falmarin was not the long distance runner, but kept at a steady gallop, he had the ability to shoot forth like an arrow from a bow and take the lead at the last second.
Legolas bent over the Falmarin's graceful neck as the delicate but strong body lifted upwards as he leaped over the narrow stream. Sitting back, he hardly felt the impact of Falmarin's hooves with solid ground on the other side of the stream. Falmarin rolled back on his hind hooves and pivoted, prancing on his front. Legolas threw his head back and laughed as he saw Aragorn sitting dazed upon the bay Ralamir, who seemed also to hold a puzzled expression.
A moment later the twins splashed across the stream at a trot. Elladen pulled his light grey up beside Legolas, "Ai! Why do I not think that was a fair tactic?"
The three allowed their steeds to drop their heads and drink from the cool water of the stream, "Are you insinuating that I cheated?" queried the wood elf of Mirkwood.
Elrohir pursed his lips, "Oh, of course not my prince," he said sarcastically, while elbowing his elder twin brother in the ribs from beside him on Fanyare, "It was a fairly run race, Legolas. Have no fear, I believe my brother here is just a bit ashamed at his defeat."
"Ashamed?" Scoffed Elladen, "Me? Of course not, for I am not the one who is dragging himself to the finish line with his tail between his legs," The elf said the last part slightly louder as he saw Aragorn riding Ralamir slowly in.
Legolas and Elrohir chuckled at Elladen's teasing jab. Aragorn glared darkly at the smirking elves as he crossed the stream at a walk. Fanyare, Cantaris and Falmarin seemed to be making their own prods at Ralamir as he came in with head slightly more lowered than usual from the fine horses normally noble bearing.
"Well if you hadn't come tearing past me like a demon out of the fires of Mordor, then maybe you wouldn't have scared a decade off my life," Aragorn said.
Legolas laughed, "Oh yes, I'm sorry, I fear I forget that you are only mortal and that mortals scare easily."
Elladen nodded, "Not to mention their pride squashed with a trivial beating in a race."
Aragorn felt a smile tugging at the corners of his lips, "Ha! This is the day! The thought of an elf speaking of men's pride when they do not realize their own stiff necked arrogance!"
"It matters little I'm afraid," Elrohir grinned, "You'll still be the one telling Father of your little romp."
Aragorn's eyes widened slightly, "'My little romp?' Why is it always my fault? Wasn't it…"
He stopped when he saw Elladen lean over to Legolas and whisper just loud enough for him to hear, "Blame shifting, now isn't that just like a human?"
A wider grin blossomed on Legolas's face at the man's mock outrage. He knew his friend could not stay sour for long with the banter of his two brothers.
"Oh, I give up on you three, you're all hopeless," Aragorn shook his head bringing Ralamir around and started back towards the direction of Imladris.
Elrohir sat up, "Us? Hopeless? What could he possibly mean by that?"
Elladen shrugged in simulated ignorance.
Aragorn rolled his eyes, but with his back to them he had no need to hide his smile.
Legolas shook his head, "Come on you two, and you as well Estel, stop your sparing before we end up having to have a rematch over another dispute. I say, think of how much worse Lord Elrond would react when Estel had to tell him he lost twice and cost his horse sores."
Aragorn scoffed but couldn't retort before Elladen muttered, "His horse wouldn't be the only one with sores."
Aragorn sent Elladen and Legolas twin withering glares but otherwise remained wisely silent. He had resided long enough with the two twins to pick up that any word would mean fair game for sarcasm.
Ralamir had to defend his own pride as Falmarin, Fanyare and Cantaris, bobbed their heads and whinnied quietly to each other. The bay snorted and stamped a hoof, nudging Aragorn's leg eyeing him imploringly, begging to be allowed to defend himself. When Aragorn shook his head reprovingly, he received a smart swat by a long black tail, "Ralamir!" he shouted in disapproval, "That was uncalled for, you should be more mature than to throw tantrums like those three. Or should I say, six," he threw a glance over his shoulder.
Ralamir tossed his head and snorted, sounding for all the world like a concluding, "So there."
The elven prince nudged Falmarin forward trotting past Ralamir and Aragorn, "I see there will be no end to this useless bickering. I would rather have a good meal than listen to you three arguing…"
"Discussing," Elladen insisted, interrupting Legolas.
"What difference does it make?" Laughed Legolas, "Either way you are keeping me from a meal - that is at this very moment growing cold - with your 'discussing'."
Aragorn rode up beside Legolas, "Now you are starting to sound like one of those hobbits my friend!"
"No, I'm just making up for all those meals you've made me miss because of your frolicking about with orcs and the like," The elf teased.
"Frolicking? I do not 'frolic' with orcs, or anything else for that matter."
"Well then what do you call the time you…"
"Ai!" Cried Elrohir from beside them, "You two are worse than Elladen and I!"
"Never!" Both Aragorn and Legolas said adamantly in unison.
"They make it sound like a bad thing," Elladen whispered to his twin sibling.
The foursome teased each other and joked their way back across the sun-flooded plains, content in each other's company, every care and worry swept aside with the gentle breeze. The very thought of tomorrow bringing trial seemed preposterous. At least for now. So lost in the bliss of companionship of both elf, man and horse, they never saw the brief, fiery glow which flared behind them beyond the line of high razor ridged mountains. As suddenly as it appeared, the choking darkness diminished, leaving the sky blue, and the larks to sing.