37. Deferred Until Destiny
Don't look down, Khamul told herself as she rode along the road to Redhorn Gate. The valley of Azanulbizar was below her, and she didn't want to end up splattered across the sharp rocks.
Caradhras loomed before her, its red sides gleaming in the sun. It looked like a sentinel, guarding the only pass over the Misty Mountains for miles and miles.
There was a small shrine near the base of the mountain. Put up by the elves, no doubt, Khamul thought, glancing at it. To Varda, certainly. They were always singing songs and dedicating things to Varda.
When she reached the Redhorn Gate, Khamul's horse turned aside from the path and refused to move on.
"You stupid horse!" she snarled. "You will go up that pass if I have to lead you up it myself!"
But try as she might, she could not make her horse go up the road. I wonder if Aica had this trouble, Khamul thought. Probably not. Her luck is far too good for such a rotten person.
"Do not blame your horse."
Chills ran down Khamul's spine as she looked for the speaker. There was no one, and she wasn't entirely sure that she hadn't imagined it.
"Where are you?" Khamul whispered. Who are you? she thought.
"This way is closed to you. Find another path."
"I am going up that mountain horse or no horse!" Khamul snarled, jumping off her horse and starting up the path. She felt an instant, intense unease. She wanted to turn and run and never look back.
"This way is closed to you. For now."
For now? What did the voice mean? Was there even a voice in the first place? Was she going crazy?
"I'm going up the pass," Khamul snapped. She was not about to let a disembodied voice tell her what to do.
"The Grey Pilgrim told you of your destiny?"
Not this again. "You can take my destiny," Khamul said, "and you can shove it up your disembodied ass. Shut up and leave me alone."
"Return to this mountain when you are ready to meet it."
"I'm ready now, dammit!" Khamul yelled.
The mountain shook and trembled and boulders began to rain like hailstones. One dropped only feet in front of Khamul, smashing through the path.
"Well, that puts a dent in things," Khamul muttered.
She turned around then. What choice did she? It wasn't like she was obeying the voice because she liked to. There wasn't a choice. She simply couldn't continue.
"I didn't give into it," she told her horse as they rode away. "Those boulders fell. That was why. There wasn't a path left!"
Was it just her, or did the mountain look smug?
She rode for days around the damn mountains until she came to the gap in them. Unless Aica had a remarkable talent talking to dwarves or had somehow managed to get up the mountain, this was the way she'd have taken as well.
On the seventh day after leaving the mountain, Khamul saw a rider coming towards her. A yellowed-haired rider on a brown horse.
"Aica!" Khamul roared.
The horse jerked to a stop. "Khamul," Aica said. "Er…"
"What have you been doing?" Khamul snapped.
"What did you do?"
"Nothing! I…er…was just out for a…vacation."
Khamul snorted. "You spied on Arthedain through the stone, and then decided to use the time you should've been in Fornost to go adventuring?"
"Yes," Aica said with a smile. The lying smile Khamul knew only too well.
"What else did you do?" Khamul asked. "And how did you get across the Mountains?"
"I went under them," Aica said. "The dwarves were very agreeable."
Khamul had absolutely no idea how Aica could manage that. "Why did you go across the Misty Mountains?"
"To get to the other side?"
Aica was hiding something. She would usually be snapping at Khamul by now, telling her to mind her own business.
"What were you doing?" Khamul growled.
Aica sighed. "I went to Lorien. Don't worry," she said as Khamul began cursing, "no one caught me."
"What did you do that for?"
"All right, all right! There was this elf trapped in the stone. He thought he could escape if he was in a different kind of magic object. I took him to Lorien to get him out. It worked, and now he owes me a favor."
"That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard of!"
"But he owes me a favor," Aica said with a grin. "An elf in my debt. This is going to be good."
Khamul also had an elf in her debt, though whether Glorfindel would honor it was dubious. Still, it was a good thing, she supposed. He would at least hesitate about killing her if the situation ever came about.
"You're still an idiot," Khamul said. "Any more stupid ideas or can we go back to Angmar?"
"I don't know, you've got some damn stupid ideas yourself," Aica said.
Ah, things were getting back to normal now. That was good.
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.