I could not stop looking at her as she fought. Every act was smooth and
precise. Not a motion was wasted, not a muscle twitch was lost to fear
or anger. This was a routine for her, like making tea or washing behind
her ears or stepping on ants in a kitchen.
Spot, reach, draw, aim, kill, repeat. As simple as that.
The brigands did not have a chance, even against her horse. One threw
his spear to bring down the dapple-grey but he stepped out of its way
and turned slightly so his rider could more easily put an arrow through
the fool's heart. What could twenty, thirty, forty years of fighting skill
possibly hope to accomplish against one who has dealt with these same
tactics hundreds of times, perhaps even against their great-great grandsires'.
Her face was calm. She was detached, somewhere else. Not bored - though
I probably would be so doing this, if I had her long ages of experience
- but in a state of concentration like a craftsman working his art. Or,
like she was washing behind her ears.
Her chestnut hair was loose and swirled to and fro as she brought them
down, but it never obscured her eyes or her ears. An effortless flick
of her head and errant strands fled from her line of sight.
Then one moment she turned and caught my eye - rusty locks obscured her
nose and mouth but not her piercing grey gaze.
"Watch your right," she said, the first words she had directed
my way, and I was suddenly free of whatever bewitchment I had been under.
I parried the swordthrust and drove the bandit back with several counterblows,
then dispatched him while he was trying to recover.
"We cannot tarry here; it is perilous. Where is your gear? Are there
any others?" Her voice queried from above.
I had not heard her horses approach and jumped as she spoke. I looked
about the clearing at the slain brigands.
"Lady, there is only myself and I have nothing but what I bear."
I replied, swallowing hard. My steed was swept away downstream in
She reached down to me. I quickly wiped my sword on the dead man's grubby
cloak, sheathed it and grasped her proffered glove. With a yank I was
astride her steed and with no signal I noticed he was away into the trees.
I have ridden bareback many times, but never behind, and never at a full
gallop through dense woods. I do not know how I stayed on, but I doubt
it was through my skills.
"Hold on," she said "We must put some leagues between ourselves
and the rest of these brigands before nightfall."
I looked to either side for some handhold on the saddlebags but could
find none. My gaze was drawn to her legs astride this seemingly tireless
dapple grey. Her trousers were grey too, and looked very soft. I dragged
my eyes slowly up to the dagger at her hip, then abruptly up to her pointed
ears, but they were now obscured by her hair blowing in the wind of her
steed's flight. She turned abruptly and caught my gaze.
"Here." she said firmly and reached back, grabbed my wrist and
slapped my hand onto her hip. My other hand followed as of its own mind.
She spoke softly to the speeding grey and his gallop grew quicker still.
My fingers clenched, finding purchase upon her hips. I forced them to
relax, lest I leave bruises upon my rescuer's flesh. I could feel her
muscles flexing rhythmically under my fingers in time with her horse's
I tried to focus my attention ahead in hope of learning our path, in case
I needed to find my way back, but her unbound hair flew into my face.
It smelled faintly of spice and nuts and the deep, old woods. I leaned
slightly to either side and just saw trees racing at us. Occasionally
she would say softly, but so I could hear, "Duck" and we would
tuck our heads down as low limbs passed over us.
We soon came into a less dense area of wood. She sat upright, gathered
her hair and quickly secured it behind her neck. Another word and the
grey was again racing through the trees, but now I could see ahead.
I had no idea where we were or where we were bound. Occasionally I could
spot the accursed river that took my own mount some distance to our right.
I could see the wood we were racing through, and I could see the cloak
of the Eldar warrior daemon that rescued me. And the tied up swirl of
her brown-red hair. And her delicate pointed ears.
Her grey trousers were indeed soft to the touch.
written for the "Snapshot" Challenge at Henneth Annun to describe
the action captured in a picture.
is actually passing a card from the bottom of the deck, or insider dealing,
or something like that.
The Ride illustration is the result of my first draft of this vignette,
so the details and actions should match pretty well. If they don't, then,
I guess someone here put something in my coffee.
Boromir took quite a while to get to Rivendell, and he evidently didn't
have a horse 'till the Rohirrim loaned him one, so but for their generosity
it could have been even longer. Sure he didn't really know where it was,
but did he ask directions even once? Probably not.
Boromir is such a guy.
One hundred and ten days, all alone in the wilderness, with only brigands
and goblin-men for company. Or maybe he wasn't alone the whole time...
a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for
the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages
used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises,
and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who
belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money
or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The
work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for
private enjoyment, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without
the explicit written consent of the author.