Based on Tharbad Rescue
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 horse’s 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 the crossing.”
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 headlong flight.
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.
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.