Treebeard plodded through the eerie forest of Fangorn in giant strides, stepping over the low hanging branches and abandoned boulders. I, however, had to steer Athae round the debris and under any hanging branches. Treebeard was explaining about his forest home to the Hobbits, but I was not listening. I was keeping a watchful eye on the horizon. The trees were waking up, and though they would wish me no harm, I doubt that their anger for the mortal men of this world would be enough for them to attack the Hobbits; they look like small, mortal children to their lives. My eyes soon began to droop as the familiar beat of Athae’s and Treebeard’s thudding feet filled my ears. I laid down slightly on Athae’s back so that both my legs were hanging over one side of her stomach meaning that I was able to lean back onto her neck in order to get comfortable.
“Nae, Athae, nin tress nin pul-na ir nin im ni sin!” I whispered into her twitching ear.
[Try to stay calm, Athae, I doubt I can cope with another injury when I am in this state.]
She let out a huff air with a whistling breath sailing through her teeth before she slowed her pace and lulled me to sleep with her constant thudding feet.
Wind whistled through the trees in heart-warming cheers as Athae and I sailed through the air; galloping through the green pastures of Middle-Earth with the distant snow-capped peaks of the Misty Mountains to my right. I took a deep breath of the refreshingly subtle smell of summer flowers as my eyes searched for some prey to hunt. My bow sat in my lap, an arrow notched, and my sword loosely dangled in its scabbard which occasionally slapped my hip. I was at peace; completely at peace.
That was when the high-pitched scream of a terrified maiden filled the air, shortly followed by an all too familiar, mutilated cry. Grasping Athae’s reigns, I abruptly tugged them making her come to a startled stop. She let out a protesting cry but I looked around the rolling hillside, ignoring her cries, and listened intently to the suddenly silent environment. A second and then third mutilated cry filled the air and a grin swept across my face as a burning fire relight in my chest.
“Orcs!” I whispered as a familiar feeling filled me; a feeling of pure hate filled adrenaline. Athae reared up and charged towards the well-known screams.
It took mere moments to reach and I soon small horde of about a dozen Orcs circling a terrified woman with the hunger for flesh filling their faces. She held a sword in her shaky grasp and pointed it at each of the Orcs if they tried to approach her.
“You will not touch my child!” She screamed as she forced herself to slowly moved backwards. It was then that I noticed that small child she was desperately trying to protect.
I let out a low whistle and instantly captured the hordes attention. I pulled back the bow string and calmly said,
“Leave the woman alone, or face my wrath.”
One of the Orcs let out one of their twisted laughs before saying,
“What danger are you to me?”
It let out another laugh before it raised its deformed sword and screamed again. All the Orcs charged forwards. I leapt from Athae’s back and expertly twirled the blades across my path; slicing the air. Some of them continued to circle the terrified woman who was now desperately clutching her child; pressing them tightly against her breast as tears of fear streamed down her cheeks. However, most approached me.
“Run, girlie, run and hide!” The Orc hissed in its brittle, mutilated voice.
“Because that is going to happen.”
It ran at me, a hungry snarl playing on its lips and a dagger tightly clutched in its clammy fingers. Before it could come in an arm’s reach of me, its head and neck had long been separated; leaving a bloody puddle on the grass like small jewels. All the Orcs froze. I gave them a cocky grin as I watched the anger and fear polled into their mutilated eyes.
“Well … who is next?”
Fury erupted. Almost all the Orcs attacked me in a wrath that would envy even Morgoth himself. Yet, it was soon over. All of them lay dead, their limbs scattered on the earth; entwined with the wonders of peaceful nature.
“Aaaahhhh!!!!” The woman’s scream ripped through the air and I swept around faster than lightning flashes.
A lone surviving Orc held a blood dripping sword in its mangled grasp and sneered down at its whimpering prey. I let and anger growl before charging forwards with my raised steel. I gutted the beast … once … twice … before roughly grabbing the spineless creep by the scruff of its neck and growled in its ear,
“Where is he? Where is you master? Take me to Azog!”
The dying brute let out a malicious laugh as it sucked in its final breaths.
“Why would I tell you? Azog will murder you when you sleep and mutilate your corpse, Princess. Your world will perish in fire and blood; our master will take your world for his own. Sauron li…”
Silence. Before the beast could complete its foul sentence, it slumped to its side; limp with death. Disgusted, I let the body slump to its knees, the sound of flesh hitting the earth echoing through my ears. It slumped forwards and landed on its now broken face.
I growled lowly at it before spitting at it in disgust; cursing its death and Orcish afterlife.
“Help me…” The woman whispered, regaining my attention.
Dropping down beside her, I desperately tried to not stare at the fatal wound that slipped across her abdomen, blood slowly trickling from it; seeping to there ground and cleansing the earth.
“Help …”She whimpered, her shaking desperately trying to clog out the flow.
I placed my hands on hers, my sword now at my side, and removed them from the wound.
“Alas, there is nought I can do for you, my dear. The only relief I could gift you is death itself. I maybe a gifted healer yet for a wound as fatal as yours there is no cure.”
Slowly I laid her down on the grass and lifted my hand on her face, gently stroking her paling cheek.
“I understand, miss. But promise me own thing, keep my son safe for me, my lady, raise him as your own.”
I smiled down at her and quietly said,
“But, please do not tell him of his true heritage till he is of age. The burden that he will have to bear is too big for a young boy.”
With shaking fingers, she lifted her hand up to a golden chain around her throat and with a swift yank, snapped it off and allowed a ring to fall into her hand.
“Give this to him when he comes of age.”
Carefully I took it from her fumbling fingers. Without looking at it, I popped it on my ring finger, for safe keeping, and then grasped her flaying hand in my own.
“What should I call him?”
In her final breath, she was able to utter one single word,
“Princess … Princess please wake, I need to speak to you …”
Groggily, I opened my eyes to see that Treebeard was crouching by my side, his enormous eyes staring innocently at me.
“What is it, mellon nin?”
“I need to speak with you, Princess.”
“Then speak away,” I yawned.
“Not here; not near the young ones.”
I looked over my shoulder to see that the Hobbits were curled up among some tree roots and were peacefully snoring away. I smiled at their peacefulness trying my best to remember exactly when I had felt like that, if ever; so young and carefree. It seemed almost impossible to me.
“Very well. Walk with me, Master Ent.”
Carefully, I slid off of Athae’s back and slowly began to walk in step with the giant Ent’s strides. Silence followed us as she we moved away from the slumbering Hobbits who were lying near a trickling hollow filled with the infamous Ent-draught.
Before I disappeared beyond the sight of the quiet clearing, I paused in the never-falling shadows and smiled at the innocence of the two creatures. Yet, they had changed so much since we had departed from Rivendell. Back then they were more mischievous and now … this journey has dampened their spirits and almost silenced their laughter.
“What did you wish to speak to me about, Treebeard?” I asked once I had caught up with him.
“These trees have become reckless in our absence, Princess. It is dangerous for any to walk among moving their roots as we do; especially when creatures like the Hobbits travel under their branches.”
“They would not attack when I am near them … would they?”
“I do not know, Princess, I do now know. They hunger for the blood of those who would wish them harm; those who hacked their limbs to feed the flickering flames.
Lowering my head, I looked to the small pieces of debris which had been scattered by hundreds of decades of time that had crept mercilessly through the shadows; claiming the trees; voices and silencing their souls.
“Time is a cruel mistress,” I whispered, “Once these trees were warm and friendly. Once the birds would have joyfully sung to one another as mice scampered through the ferns under foot. Now, the wood has been silenced and nothing joyful sings. Men have begun to fear these trees more than they do the Greenwood; the shadows of Fangorn frighten them more than the Mirkwoodian spiders.”
“These are deadly times.”
My voice trailed off as I caught sight of the congealed blood which tightly clung to my blood-stained shirt; I had almost completely forgotten about my injuries. I smiled softly at my forgetfulness before looking up at Treebeard.
“I do believe that I ought to change into something less blood drenched and tend to my wounds.”
A low whistle slipped from my lips and as fast as a breath, Athae was by my side. Carefully, I took my huntress’ dress from one of the saddle bags and some cleans rags from a different one before I took my staff from its supports on Athae’s side.
“I shall re-join you in a few minutes, Treebeard. You can re-join the Hobbits if you wish.”
His stiff limbs creaked and groaned as he bowed to me before he slowly turned around and began to gradually make his way back to the clearing.
Hastily, I ripped the leather corset from my chest and stood there, in the middle of the forest, in my undergarments. I took the gem from my staff and gently cupped it in my hands, my fingers carefully curling round it. Briefly I closed my eyes, blocking out the loud noises of the world, and took a single, steady breath.
“Valar, nin kyerm an-llie na-sour nin. Nesta-sin fírib herna i gar- desha athranna-deno nin!” I calmly whispered into the stone.
[Valar, I pray for you to bless me. Heal these wounds which have been so wrongly inflicted upon me.]
From behind closed eyes, I saw the flash of light from the jewel and a warm sting course through my body as the dried blood fell from my flesh and the wounds perfectly resealed themselves; not even scaring. Carefully I dropped my blood filled undergarments and stood completely naked in the woods; yet my hair was their ro protect my dignity.
Quickly I slipped on fresh undergarments before pulling on a short sleeved, bustier shirt which had an extremely low cut neck line. Carefully, I stepped into the dress which had a corset tie front. Swiftly, I tied the lacing and then fastened the belt tightly around my waist. The dress straps ended around my shoulders, almost like the slim straps of a waistcoat. The dress clung tightly to my features and the soft green colours blended well with my ginger hair. The swirling floral prints embedded into the material in light brown seemed to almost glow in the dim light. After picking up my dirty clothes, I quickly walked back in the direction of the camp. In only a matter of minutes, I had caught up with Athae and Treebeard who were ambling along at the extremely dull, slow pace.
“My Lady!” Treebeard said as he stopped and allowed me to place the clothes in Athae’s saddle bag.
I smiled up at him as we continued to walk on in a comfortable silence. Thar was, until, distressed pleas filled my ears.
“It’s got my leg!”
“Did you hear that?” I whispered.
Struggling sounds filled my ears. Sounds which travelled along the humid air from the clearing.
My eyes widened in shock.
In a low voice, I whispered,
“The Hobbits …”
My feet heavily pounded the earth as I leapt over wood and stone; aggressively cutting through the air.
“Help!” Both the voices screamed.
However, when I returned to out makeshift encampment I was greeted with silence. Frantically I scanned the area, searching for the two Hobbits; terror filling me as thoughts filled my head of the sight of finding their mangled bodies. Treebeard seemed much less disturbed than I. He spoke to the slightly stirring tree roots which I had seen the boys curled up in only a few minutes pervious.
“Away with you. You should not be waking. Eat earth. Dig deep. Drink water.”
The boys bolted up in the middle of the never-ending pile of leaves. I leapt towards them, pulling them out of the leaves; into my arms.
“Are you okay? Nothing broken? Nothing eaten?” I asked, looking at them with worried eyes, frantically scanning their bodies for any obvious signs of injuries as I held that at an arm’s length away from me.
“We’re fine!” Merry coughed.
“Go to sleep,” Treebeard continued, “Away with you.”
“Be more careful next time!” I whispered, hugging them both tightly to my chest, “I doubt I could cope if something happened to either of you.”
“Come,” Treebeard said to us, “The forest is waking. It isn’t safe.”
Quickly he picked them up and placed them on one of his shoulders.
“Treebeard!” I called.
He looked down at me and nodded his head, not even needing to hear my request. He leant down, placed his hand on the floor, allowing me to step onto it. Carefully he lifted his hand and allowed me to sit on his other shoulder. Slowly we began to amble through the forest once more; Athae trailing behind.
“The trees have grown wild and dangerous. Anger festers in their hearts. Black are their thoughts. Strong is their hate. They will heart you if they can.” Treebeard explained.
“There are too few of you now,” I added sadly, placing a tender hand on his bark, “Too few of you Ent’s left to manage them.”
“Why are there so few of you when you live so long?” Pippin asked curiously, “Are there no Ent-children?”
“There have been no Entings for a terrible long count of years!” Treebeard sadly clarified.
“Why is that?” Merry puzzled.
“We lost the Entwives.”
“Oh,” Pippin gasped, “I’m sorry. How did they die?”
A light giggled crept up my throat and I was just able to say,
“Die? No they did not die!”
Before I erupted into a miniature fit of giggles.
“We lost them,” Treebeard continued, “And now we cannot find them. I don’t suppose you’re seen the Entwives in the Shire?”
“Can’t say I have. You, Pip?”
“No … what about in Lothlorien, Authiel?”
“I may have done, once, but that was a long, long time ag. There are many places that some beings could hide if they wished in Lorien,” I replied wistfully.
“Ummm … what do they look like?” Pippin questioned.
“I … I don’t remember now … Authiel?”
My brow furrowed as I thought for a moment, reaching deep into the many crevices of my mind; refreshing my multiple memories to try and find some recollection of what the Entwives looked like. Yet …
“Neither do I …”