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Of Echoes at Bruinen: 1. Of Echoes at Bruinen
Just who was it, exactly, that was calling the waters of the river Bruinen down upon the Nazgúl?
Written to correct a scene that irks me mainly because of the equally irking Mary-Sues it has spawned. Elves with magical powers of the elements, my butt...
Arwen’s face stung and a tiny drip of blood made its way down her right cheek. Asfaloth had turned under her far quicker than she had anticipated and she herself hadn’t been as fast. The result was a branch in the face.
But none of that mattered. What mattered – the only thing that mattered – was the ailing Perian riding in the saddle before her, gasping for either breath or light, Arwen could not say. What mattered were the creatures chasing them. Arwen spurred her horse onward.
“Noro lim, Asfaloth! Noro lim!”
The ground wheeled by under them and Asfaloth’s hooves were nearly floating above the ground instead of touching it. Still the creatures gained on them.
The creatures, of which there were only nine in the world, were known by many names, each more frightening sounding than the next, though they all meant the same thing in the common tongue. Arwen knew them as the Ulaer in her own tongue. To the ancient Númenoreans, they were known as the Nazgúl. In the common tongue of Westron, they were called the Ring-wraiths.
There were five behind her, their fearsome black steeds spurred on by their master’s evil will. One by one, the other four materialized out of the woods to join them; from behind a stand of trees, a row of brush, a boulder. All nine now chased them. One reached out an icy claw toward Frodo and the Perian stared back at it, seeming not to comprehend.
“Noro lim, Asfaloth. Noro lim!” Arwen urged her horse onward. All would be lost if she could not reach the land of her father.
She came at last to the Ford of the river Bruinen which marked the beginning of her father’s influence.
No, she corrected herself, not her father’s influence; that of the Elf ring Vilya, one of The Three.
Asfaloth waded through the shallow water and came up on dry land again on the other side, stamping his hooves as she went. On the other side of the river, the thundering strides of the Ring-wraiths slowed to a halt. Their horses faltered at the sight of water. Arwen could not tell why, but took it as a gift. Perhaps they did not dare to enter the lands protected by Vilya. Perhaps they were fearful of the water itself.
Yes! That was it! They had reason to be fearful!
Arwen could hear a whisper on the wind, two voices drifting down from the mountains just eastward. It was already growing in intensity, but it would need a few moments more.
“Give up the halfling, she-elf!” A voice growled at her from the knot of black riders.
Arwen drew her sword and it sang as she did. “If you want him, come and claim him!” she shot back.
The Ring-wraiths hesitated for several moments. Then, their leader spurred his horse forward into the water. The other eight followed and they made their way across the ford slowly and cautiously.
The whisper had grown and Arwen found that she knew the words. They were the very words her soul had just called out. Two distinct voiced chanted the phrase over and over and Arwen’s heart sang to hear them. It joined in the chorus and soon she found that she was chanting the words, too, even though she knew she had no power to add to the call itself.
“Nín o Chithaeglir, lasto beth daer. Rimmo nín Bruinen dan in Ulaer! Nín o Chithaeglir, lasto beth daer. Rimmo nín Bruinen dan in Ulaer!”
For a moment, the waters of the river’s edge receded and there was silence. Slowly, it was replaced by a sound like thunder from up river. A great wave crashed around the bend and made its presence known, a wind racing before it. Its leading edge rippled and shaped itself into the heads of horses, the white caps of the waves becoming their manes. The wave raced forward and broke upon the Ring-wraiths. They were pulled under. Or perhaps they were trampled. Arwen could not say for certain which. When the waters of the Bruinen finished churning, there was no sign of the Ring-wraiths.
Arwen whispered a silent thank you to her father and her dear, old friend.
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