A Party of Special Magnificence
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Striding: 1. Striding
Striding by Mar'isu 3/22/2006
"Elladan! Elrohir! Wait up!"
The twin lords of Imladris turned to face their thirteen year old foster brother. Elladan raised a questioning eyebrow in imitation of his father, but the young Man was too busy panting with exertion to notice.
"Let me come with you," Estel pleaded once he could breathe again.
"Can you keep up, gwador?" Elrohir asked. "We will not wait on small steps and short breath."
The boy squared his shoulders and raised his chin defiantly, "I can match pace; just watch me."
Despite the warning glare that Elladan threatened to roast him with, Elrohir shrugged as if it made no difference whether three hunters set out or only two. "If you can stay close as we track, I see no reason why you shouldn't come. It's not like you're actually going to hit anything." Elrohir teased.
A huge smile blossomed on the teen's face. "Thank you," he said, giving the elf a bear hug before dashing off to retrieve his bow.
Elladan shook his head at his younger twin. "You had to do it, didn't you?" he finally challenged.
Elrohir blinked in false innocence. "And what have I done?"
"'Hope will fly if given wings,'" the saying rang true in more ways than one, "and you, mellon, just made an eagle of him."
"By Manwë, Aragorn, can you not hurry?" Legolas came darting back to his traveling companion. "At this rate, I shall be old 'ere we cross Nimrodel."
The young Ranger smiled at the impatient prince. "It is but a half-day's journey to the Golden Wood," he remarked.
"Yes, and Arien has already turned for home," Legolas replied, walking backwards to glare at his friend. "I am not sleeping on the ground tonight, Arathornion."
"Peace, Legolas," Aragorn soothed, maintaining his pace. "We will reach Lothlórien by nightfall, and there is no need to push ourselves to arrive earlier."
"Ah, but we shall miss the farewell feast," the Mirkwood prince murmured, as if to himself.
"What was that, mellon?" Aragorn asked.
The young elf shrugged. "It is nothing, mellon nin. I had heard that the Evenstar was visiting her grandmother but returning home soon. No matter." Having said that, Legolas shot forward, eager light shining in his eyes.
Aragorn smiled and lengthened his stride. It would not do to be left behind again.
Before the éored could pursue the wildmen, a shout went up from the edge of the camp. The grooms tried in vain to calm frightened horses, but one had broken his tether and was fleeing the camp with speed born of terror.
"Thengel King!" the master of horses cried, distressed. "The colt!"
Before Thengel could even think, the Ranger who had recently joined their company took off running in the direction the horse had taken. Rohirrim noble and commoner alike watched in awe as the dark figure chased the white horse . . . and caught him. With a final sprint and a touch to the neck, the man had the gleaming animal still.
The high-spirited colt tossed its head, but allowed the Ranger to take hold of its lead rope and draw it back to the group.
"He has a good heart," Aragorn murmured half about the colt, half to it. "But it is not meant for battle."
"My lord, how did you catch him?" The horsemaster took the harness, stroking the spooked colt on the nose. "Snowmane was sired by a Mearas, and his dam was Lightfoot, one of our swiftest horses. Surely we should call you Wingfoot for such a display."
"I have pursued others just as swift," the newly christened Wingfoot replied, reaching up to absentmindedly stroke the silver pendant he wore about his neck.
"My Lord Thorongil!" Gondor's captain checked his pace as he heard his name shouted behind him. The star broach on his right shoulder bumped slightly against his collarbone as Thorongil executed a smooth turn.
Denethor smiled as he approached the soldier. "You walk as though Umbar itself is fleeing from you," he commented. "There is no need to chase what is fixed in place."
"But not in time," Thorongil replied. "I would see Gondor safe, and soon. Before . . ." The captain trailed off, slightly distressed at to whom he had almost revealed himself.
"Before you claim what is yours," the Steward's son whispered.
"I claim nothing," Thorongil answered, hand automatically hovering over the pendant hanging beneath his leather shirt. "I have no right, not anymore."
"You mean 'not yet,'" Denethor corrected.
The Dúnadan sat in the Hall of Fire, smoking a pipe with his dear friend and recounting some of his adventures. Eventually, as it always seemed to do with Aragorn, the talk had fallen to names as a new round of "Label the Ranger" had come up.
"Quite frankly, I preferred Longshanks," Aragorn mused. "The older inhabitants of Bree still call me that, but the younger . . ."
"Oh, you have to admit they're right," Bilbo chuckled. "The way you go stalking up and down the Wilds as if life itself won't wait for you." The elderly hobbit shook his head. "There's just no two ways about it, my friend. You are a 'Strider.'"
"'Twill be another twenty years ere I can shed that name," Strider groaned.
"Likely," Bilbo agreed, enjoying his friend's resigned sigh. "And by then, who knows? Perhaps the King will come again."
"Perhaps," Estel murmured.
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