Glorfindel the Walker
1. Flight to the Ford
It was the late afternoon by the time they went down into the woods, following the very same track that Bilbo, Gandalf and Thorin's company had used so many years before. The company was silent as they moved, and the tension in the air was obvious but somehow subdued.
Sam was obviously in no mood to talk to any one of the members of the small group, for he was already far too occupied trying to handle his heavy pack while simultaneously looking after the glassy-eyed Frodo. Frodo himself was not even in a state to travel: the pain from the Nazgul inflicted wound was slowly spreading, and he swayed terribly as he balanced on Bill's back. Merry and Pippin were quiet, conserving their energy for walking. Strider was as Strider was; silent and dark.
They continued this sombre way for a good few miles until they came out at last on the top of a high bank above the Road. The Road had left the Mitheithel far behind, and it now edged on the feet of the hills, winding eastward among the woods and slopes towards the Ford and the Hithaeglir. Strider, using his innate senses, managed to point out to them the very stone that had been left behind to mark the treasure left by Thorin and Co., and even then they could still see the clearly engraved dwarf-runes about it. From atop Bill's back, Frodo murmured to Merry, 'There is none left now, you know. All of Bilbo's famed treasure. It's gone. He gave it away.'
Merry looked almost shocked. 'Why ever so?' Frodo did not reply for a moment, then he shrugged and smiled wistfully.
'He said that he did not feel it was really his. As if it came from robbers.' The hobbits managed a chuckle or two at this, remembering the countless tales on how the old Master Baggins had to play the thief, unwilling as he was. It lifted their spirits for a short while, but that soon changed as the early evening began to cloak their path. It brought along an ominous feeling of insecurity, and more than once they caught Strider looking backwards, as if anticipating something.
The last of the light had at last dipped beyond their sight when they decided it was time to camp down for the night. The winds were cold there, having flown down from the Misty Mountains, and the hobbits shivered in spite of themselves. They were still looking when a sound came from behind that froze the blood in their veins. The now-dreadful sound of hoofs pounding the Road could be distantly heard from behind them, and Strider forced them off and up into the slopes, where they quietly lay in wait in the bushes and brush. Frodo peered down onto the Road, which was now a good thirty feet below them, in shuddering dread, remembering the awful cloaked riders in black that had pursued them ever since they had crossed the Brandywine River and plunged into Buckland. The sounds grew nearer, and they seemed to be going fast, a light clippety-clippety-clip that seemed somehow oddly lighter than the heavy falls of the Black Riders' mounts. Then, very faintly, a sound of bells caught the wind, and Frodo was perplexed. 'Strider,' he hissed as loudly as he dared, 'What is that sound? It does not sound like a Black Rider's horse!' But Strider was no longer listening, instead he had pressed himself to the ground with a look of joy on his face, and his body seemed to relax.
Then they heard it: the clear sound of jingling bells and the light clip of hoofed feet as they trotted nearer and nearer. Then into their view came a white horse that seemed to gleam in the shadows as it ran into the clearing. It had a headstall that flashed with the light of living gems, and they could see small bells attached to it that rang more softly, and more sweetly, than any they had heard before. But what took the hobbits' attentions the most was the tall and fair rider that sat upon that beautiful horse. His cloak streamed behind him in the wind, and his hood was thrown back so that they could see his fair, flaxen hair that shimmered in the dusk. Frodo gasped, and it seemed that a sheen of white light shone through the rider's raiment, almost ethereal, but most lovely. The hobbits were too shocked and relieved to move from their station, but Strider at once sprang from the heather and ran towards the figure with a cry on his lips.
But, to the hobbit's amazement, the rider had long dismounted before Strider had even moved, and was now already calling aloud to the Man as he ran to meet him. The fair voice, as clear and ringing as any on Middle-Earth, left them with no doubt that this was one of the Elves, the Firstborn Fair-folk, and they were glad.
'Ai na vedui, Dunadan! Mae govannen!'
'It's an elf, Master Frodo! Strider really does know Gandalf, if he knows an elf!' said Sam, with no small amount of incredulity in his voice. Frodo smiled through his pain, knowing that up till now, his companion had not looked upon the Man with overly trusting eyes.
'All that is gold does not glitter, Sam,' he replied, and then turned his head back to see what Strider was doing.
Strider was talking to the elf with a clear note of relief in his voice, hushed as it were. From where he was, Frodo could not clearly hear the spoken words, but there was a sagging of the shoulders and a lighter note of voice that marked the Man as obviously relieved. The two continued to converse rapidly and urgently for a moment, then Strider looked up at them and hailed them down.
'This is Glorfindel,' he pronounced, and the hobbits then truly saw the extend of his relief, 'Who dwells in the house of Elrond.'
'Hail, and well met at last!' Glorfindel said as he turned to face Frodo. 'I was sent from Rivendell to find you, for we feared that you had encountered danger upon the Road.'
Frodo perked up immediately as he heard the news, and for a moment a bright hope flared in his heart. 'Then Gandalf has reached Rivendell?' At that, Glorfindel's face darkened, and a flicker of unrest crossed his blue eyes.
'No. At least, he had not when I departed, but that was nine days ago. Elrond received news that troubled him,' answered Glorfindel. 'Some of my kindred who journeyed in your lands beyond the Baranduin, learned that things were amiss and swiftly sent messengers, as they could.'
'Baranduin?' Pippin asked, tripping over the unfamiliar term. Glorfindel turned to him and smiled.
'The Brandywine River, I believe it is called in your tongue.'
Merry laughed aloud in joy.
'Gildor! It must have been Gildor Inglorion!'
'Indeed it was Gildor who told us of your plight, and he said that the Nine were abroad, and that you were astray bearing a great burden with no guidance, for Gandalf was not with you.'
Frodo sagged in relief at the news, for this Glorfindel would most assuredly be able to help him, if he were out here in the Wild. What Glorfindel said next confirmed his suspicions.
'There are few even in Rivendell that can ride openly against the Nine; but such as there were, Elrond sent out north, west and south. It was my lot to take the Road, and I came of the Bridge of Mitheithel, and left a token there nearly seven days past.'
Strider held up the pale beryl that he had found at the Bridge, and sighed again. 'So it was not a token of chance that I found this?'
Glorfindel smiled again as he looked at the stone. 'No,' he said, then his face darkened. 'That day, three of the Nine were upon that Bridge, but they withdrew and I pursued them westward, whence I came also upon two others, but they turned away southward and I did not follow them.'
'You rode against the Nine?' came the incredulous expression from Pippin. 'You rode against the Black Riders? On the Road itself?' This caused all the hobbits to give Glorfindel another, better overview. For the first time, they noticed the Elf's rich attire: about his shoulders was cast a cloak of deep night, and it was fastened at his throat by a silver brooch with an insignia that looked like a jewel or star. His high collared tunic was of a pale, almost-white blue, and at his throat was fastened yet another insignia, but one drastically different from that that bound his cloak. It was small, but extremely intricate, weaving the pattern of a flower in strands of finest gold, then bordered in that of sheer silver. At his waist was a long, sheathed blade, and its hilt was made of ivory and was of obvious Elven make. It was then they realised that this Elf was almost, if not probably, of royal blood, and they were awed. Glorfindel suffered their observation with good grace and a gentle smile, and when they were done he continued.
'I then turned away to search from your trail, and two days ago I found it and followed it over the Bridge. Today, I have found you! But come! There is no time for further news or explanations. Since you are here, we must risk the Road now and go. There are five Riders behind us, but where the other four may be, I do not know. When they find your trail they will follow you like the wind, and in my heart I fear that we may find the Ford already held against us.'
By the time Glorfindel had finished, the evening had fully cloaked them in her embrace. Frodo suddenly felt a great weariness overcome him, and a mist seemed to spring before his eyes, and a shadow passed between him and his friends. Pain spread through him, and a cold that did not come from the wind struck him so that he swayed and clutched at Sam's arm.
'My master is sick and wounded,' Sam said angrily. 'He can't go on riding after nightfall. He needs rest.'
Glorfindel turned to Frodo and lowered him to the ground, then took him into his arms and examined him with great gravity. There was a sombre look in his face as he listened to the recount that Strider told of their activities at Amon Sul, then of the deadly knife, which the Man had kept and now drew out. Glorfindel looked up from his study of Frodo's wound, and accepted the weapon with long fingers even as he shuddered.
'There are evil things written on this hilt, though maybe your eyes cannot see them. Keep it, Aragorn, till we reach Imladris! But handle it as little as you may, and be wary of it. These wounds are beyond my skill to heal. I will do what I can, but now all the more do I urge you to go on without rest.'
Handing the hilt back to Strider, Glorfindel probed the knife-wound on Frodo's shoulder, and though his expression seemed to be one of disquietude, the hobbit felt a little bit of the chill leave him, and a warmth crept down his shoulder, easing away the pain. The shadows lifted and grew lighter, and he once again saw his friends' faces more clearly. It was then, at last, a measure of hope and strength returned to him, and he managed to sit up.
'You shall ride my horse,' Glorfindel proclaimed as he shortened the stirrups so that the halfling could sit upon the saddle. 'But you need not fear, for my horse will not let you fall that I command him to bear you. His pace is smooth, and if danger should come near to you he will bear you away with a speed that even the black steeds of Mordor cannot rival.'
Frodo shook his head vehemently, part out of not wanting to abandon his friends and part out of wariness of the large and rather imposing creature before him. 'I will not leave my friends behind in danger,' he said as he looked up at Glorfindel with serious eyes. The elf chuckled slightly then, and shook his head as he lifted Frodo up and onto the beast.
'I somehow doubt, Master Baggins, that if you were not with your friends that they would be in danger at all.' Then the mirth left his voice, and he became serious once more. 'No,' he said. 'I think, Frodo, that it is that which you bear that puts us all in peril.'
Thus Frodo had no choice but to sit upon the white steed, and Bill was laden instead with the packs of the others, and they marched lighter and made better time. However, none of them, not even Strider, could keep up with the relentless pace that Glorfindel set for them as he led them on into the very pits of night where neither star nor moon shone so that they might see better. The hobbits stumbled in weariness and out of deprivation of their supper, and even Strider seemed to be tired and haggard, though there was a light in his eyes that made him appear to be remembering a distant memory of old. It was, however, only dawn when the Elf took pity on them and led them to a halt. The hobbits who had been on foot immediately cast themselves into the brackens of heather at th side of the side of the Road, and Strider sat down to rest. But Frodo seemed in a dark dream upon the Elven-horse, and none dared to wake him. Glorfindel, being an elf, set himself to watch, guarding their rest.
Some time after dawn, but before any of the hobbits had awoken, Aragorn rose from his rest and stretched. Glorfindel turned from his constant watch of the west and smiled.
The Man limbered up and shivered slightly in the morning air, and then walked over to where the Elf sat and seated himself down, back facing the sun that rose steadily in the east. 'Suilad,' he replied in an agreeable tone, though there was still a trace of tire and worry hidden in the inflections of his words. Glorfindel reached out and clasped his shoulder in a familiar and comforting gesture, falling back on the many years of camaraderie between them.
'You can still return to sleep for a while yet,' the Elf suggested, though he did not take his eyes from the Road. 'I can keep watch alone.'
'I am no longer Estel!' Aragorn replied with a humorous note, though in his heart he feared what that meant. Glorfindel laughed in low but clear tones before settling back to his position.
'It has been far too long a time since you last graced Imladris with your presence, Aragorn.'
Aragorn shrugged in a non-committal motion and said, 'It is not my way to linger in those halls, even though my heart remains there. I am Isildur's heir, and a Ranger of the North I shall stay.'
'A habit picked up from the gwanûn?' inquired Glorfindel, and the Man chuckled at the notion, fondly remembering the days when he had joined his foster-brothers in their constant war against the yrch. There was a comfortable lull in conversation before the elf broke in in a slightly whimsical tone, his eyes dancing with a light that had once been common before the Enemy. 'Speaking of which, they are due to return soon. Elrond sent them away, and though he feared greatly their abilities against the Nine, Elladan and Elrohir have long surpassed many in their skill. When they return, the House of Elrond will once more be complete as it has not been for a long while.'
It took a short while for Aragorn to realise what Glorfindel meant, but when he did his face lit up and lines of care seemed to lift themselves from his face in his joy. 'Arwen,' he whispered reverently, 'she is home from Lothlórien?' Glorfindel nodded, allowing a small upturn of the corners of his mouth as he watched the emotions play across the Ranger's face. 'She is home,' Aragorn said once more, as if to reassure himself, then the two returned to their watch.
It was sometime in mid-morning when Glorfindel woke the hobbits from their slumber. As they awakened, he passed them each a small portion of clear liquor from his leather flask. The liquid was clear and seemed like water, but it had no taste and felt neither hot nor cool against their tongues, but it seemed to restore some of their lost energy and strength, and they felt refreshed even though all they had was stale bread and what was left of the dried fruit for breakfast.
This is 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 the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.