26. Boys Night Out
Boys Night Out
Elrond was very pleased with himself. He sat easily on his horse with a grin on his face and a hand rested casually on his hip. More then one warrior of his escort smiled admiring the dashing picture their lord made. His gray stallion sensing his mood danced along the trail in spite of the close rein Elrond held him with.
"Easy Gilpada," he chuckled, "I am just as anxious as you to get home."
"He is full of energy this morning, Lord Elrond." One of the warriors called. "A good run might help settle him down."
Elrond nodded turning back in his saddle to look at the speaker, " Isn't there a good straight stretch ahead?" He asked their leader.
"Yes, My Lord, about a mile or so, it's a straight path right down to the river ford from there."
With a grin, Elrond addressed all five members of his escort, " Are you up to a good run?"
Exchanging amused looks, they chorused back, "Yes My Lord."
Upon reaching the starting point of the run, their captain shouted "Last one to the ford gets cooking detail tonight." At the signal they loosed their reins, heeled their horses and pounded down the to the ford. Elrond led towards the last to the finish unaware that his escort was careful to ensure his safety by not letting him get too far ahead or behind. Exploding with laughter they pulled their sweat soaked horses to a stop. Taking the time to walk the horses to cool down before watering them, they then crossed the ford to the other side. Still chuckling at the feeling of freedom the run had given him Elrond congratulated the loser and asked if he was a good cook.
Grumbling, one of the other warriors commented before he could respond, "If you like boot leather, he is." They all struggled to hide grins at the outraged express on the face of their cook for that evening and settled down to continue the trip.
They made camp that night in a small glade at the base of a high cliff. To one side a small waterfall cascaded into a tiny pool. With the ease of long practice they quickly removed the tack from the horses and the other supplies off of the one packhorse. As always when he travelled with a small escort, Elrond waved aside the warrior that moved to take his horse. "Thank you, meldir, I will care for him. There is more than enough to keep us all busy until we seek our blankets this night."
Stroking the soft muzzle of the stallion, Elrond fed him an apple left over from lunch and started to brush the day's accumulation of sweat and dust from the gray coat. Finished with that, he wiped a cloth over the now shiny coat and checked for any bruising or sores. Satisfied that the stallion's hide remained in good shape, he checked and cleaned each hoof. Once done with the grooming he led the horse downstream of the pool, watered him and turned him loose to graze for the night knowing he would not go far. Returning to the camp, he paused to see where his saddle pack and blanket role had been placed, then after collecting it moved to arrange things for the night.
"My Lord Elrond, dinner is ready," came the call from a warrior standing near the fire.
Waving a hand he finished laying his blankets out and then strode over to the fire. He accepted a bowl from the warrior and sniffed the delicious aroma rising from the pot over the fire. With a straight face he commented, "Not bad for boot leather."
There was laughter and grins as they settled down to eat.
When the cleaning up and organising for both the night watch and breakfast for the next morning were complete the warriors meandered back to the fire where they sat talking as they cleaned or sharpened their weapons and repaired damaged tack.
For the first time in a long while Elrond felt relaxed and at ease with himself. He seldom had the opportunity to divest him self of the formal duties and ceremonies as the Lord of Imladris. All too often he found himself isolated and alone. It was these short trips that provided him with the few opportunities to enjoy the informality and companionship of his warriors. For a long time he sat contentedly resting against a log and listened to the soft voices around him. Someone had pulled out a bottle of wine and was passing it around. Smiling, Elrond shook his head as it was offered to him. Finally as the fire burned down to embers he rose and nodding to his companions sought the edge of the camp to care for his personal needs before crossing to his blankets and settling down for the night.
He found himself considered what had happened back at the village. Its co-operation had required little more then explanation of his proposed solution and the engineer's explanation on how to accomplish it. Their enthusiasm to get started immediately on the bridge required that he leave the engineer behind to supervise the design and actual construction. He would have to arrange for the shipment of some additional construction supplies and another smith to help with the metal work, but even that posed no problem. For once things had gone well and he was going home early. Looking up into the night sky, he sought the star that identified the ship of his father Earendil.
Finding it he whispered "Good night ada," then followed its movements until he fell asleep.
Gilpada-little star walker
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.