1. My Boy
I remember three faces from my birth. One was my mother, standing over me protectively and drying me off. The other two were clearly kin to each other, both sitting on. One of the pair had a golden mane, paler than the straw I lay on, the other's was the russet red of my own coat. Even as I looked at him for the first time there was something that drew me to him, some kindness, a desperate wish to please. Both sat on the ground nearby, eyes alight
"It's wonderful isn't it?"
The russet haired one held my gaze even as he answered "More than wonderful, more than magical… To know that there is new life, new hope…"
Slowly as he was speaking he stretched out his hand towards me. Gently, curiously I snuffled it, breathing in his scent. I couldn't name it then, but know I know he smelt of parchment, of old leather, of mustiness…of books.
"Happy Birthday Faramir" It was the straw headed one who spoke, but my boy paid little attention. Slowly, determined to show him that I could be bigger, not loomed over, I untangled my long legs and, slipping and slithering, climbed to my feet.
His smile grew wider "Good girl, clever girl, Saelwen."
Though I didn't understand the word he used, and being busy suckling didn't much mind, I knew, somewhere inside me, that it was my name. I was his, he was mine.
We grew up together, him and me. As my mother raised me on her milk, he would be there, leaning on either fence or stable door, watching. As I began to wander a little it was he who called me, enticing me to take just one more step away, one more, one more. When I frolicked with the other foals, it was he who laughed and cheered me on, his face split with a warm smile.
Then one day, when I had just turned two, he did not come at all. I stood by the fence all day, through the night, and through the day again, barely grazing or drinking. Finally I resorted to calling. It took three loud long neighs before someone came… It wasn't him, just one of the grooms who cared for us. He led me away to the stable, sponging off sweat I hadn't even noticed covering my body
"Peace now little one, I don't know what worries you, but I'm sure it will be settled soon."
I tossed my head, attempting to convey that it could not be settled at all soon, unless my boy returned. With a shake and a shrug the groom left me.
Three days later my boy returned, moving stiffly and with his arm in a sling. Awkwardly he reached over the door to stroke my nose "Hello Saelwen."
Relieved to see him I forgot my age and nuzzled him, pressing my nose to his chest. He laughed, but it was choked and only half real
"Have you missed me then?"
I nickered and snuffled, attempting to explain without words, exactly how much I had missed him.
He scratched my poll gently, then ran his hands up my ears in a caress "I'll take that as a yes." Then he sighed "You're one of the few who cares what happens to me in this country Saelwen…"
I didn't understand the significance of his words then, but I would learn soon enough.
Spring TA 3003
It seemed very little, him resting on my back day after day, talking nonsense. Neither did it matter too much when he swung up to sit lightly on it, his legs brushing my side lightly. Slowly he stroked my neck then slipped neatly down again.
Gradually he sat on me for longer and longer, asked me for more. By winter, I would carry him everywhere he wanted. And in the dark evenings he would come to my stall with a book and tell me stories, of elves and of ancient kings, and occasionally, quietly, he'd speak of his hope that there was still a King alive, that one day he would return. Very little of that made sense to me, but his words had a soothing tone, perfect for following a hard day of travel. And I loved him, as much as I had loved my mother, maybe more.
Then the day came when dark two-legs, who I heard him call orcs came as we rode, and we had to fight. The smell was bad, death, blood, madness destruction. He held me steady, soothed me with a gentle hand on my neck and a quiet word. We fought together, more than horse and rider… one entity, one soul. Then he slipped, falling from my saddle with a yelp. The scent of orcs came close to overpowering as they closed in for the kill and instinct screamed for me to run away. But I stayed, standing over him and baring my teeth. They would not hurt him, not while I was here. But before I could fight he was on his feet, quick as a foal and the others were crowding around, shielding us.
That evening he came to my stall, slipping inside almost furtively.
"You did your breeding proud today Saelwen" He came over and rubbed my ears, still talking. "Orcs are strange creatures, cruel. I have seen even those professed bravest flee from them, though they have fought many times. You stood, even though every fibre in your body told you to do the opposite. You stayed." He came round and looked me in the eyes "Why did you stay?"
For answer I pressed my nose to his chest, trying to convey in that one gesture my love, and the bond I had with him.
He nodded slightly, understanding what I meant "Thank you Saelwen"
I was his mount for 15 years, but gradually I started to slow down, I couldn't run as far or as fast as I had before. It was then, as the sense of darkness started to enfold me, that I refused to let him tack me up, dancing sideways out of rech and snapping my teeth at the tack, ears back
Slowly he backed up against the wall, leaning against it "Saelwen? Why are you doing this?"
I shook my mane Because I'm a liability to your life as I get slower
"Do you want to be retired?"
I hesitated then nodded, walking forward to nudge him in an attempt to convey that it was for his own good.
Now he rides one of my foals while I graze here in this paddock near the sea. It is a good place, sweet grass and warm sun. But I miss him, and I worry, as much for him as for my foal.
Something is wrong, I jerk my head up, ears pricked forward and nostrils flaring. Something is terribly, terribly wrong. Through all the confusion and fear my brain provides one thought Find him
I wheel, thundering along the fence and seeking an escape route. Then I remember the gate, it is latched firmly shut but with some clever fiddling I persuade it to open. Stretching out my neck I race northward, towards where I was foaled, towards him.
Seven dawns later I stand on a battle field, the scent of blood still hanging in the air. Slowly, with enough wary glances for a stranger to think that the corpses might eat me, I pick my way across.
Once I am clear of the bodies it is easier. Tired as I am I pick up to a canter once more lowing my head and charging the guards on the gate, forcing my way through and ignoring their startled yells. Lifting my head high I trot on up the street, eyes rolling in a warning to all those who might consider catching me.
I intend to go to the stables, or up to the top and call out for him. But I pause by the tall wall that separates the human rest pastures from the rest of their square blocky stables. Pricking my ears I can hear a voice, only faint, but definitely him. My heart urges me to leap the wall but my manners remind me there is the proper human way. I pace along the wall until I come to the door, which I bang firmly with my hoof. Behind me I hear other humans laugh, perhaps thinking I am a silly trick horse trained for begging. I wait.
Eventually the door opens and a frowning man pokes his head out to demand "Who knocks?"
I prick my ears and snort.
After looking everywhere the man turns to me, his eyes cold and hard "Go on you fleabitten nag, get out of here." He flaps his hands but I stay solid, taking half a step forward. Then his hand connects with my neck.
With an affronted snort I wheel away and trot back to where I heard the voice earlier. There is a convenient side street opposite the wall. I back into it, measuring the height of my adversary. When there is enough of a gap to give me a chance of a decent run up I stand still briefly before breaking into a canter. Automatically his kind words from those years of training come back to my head
Easy Saelwen, I know you want to run it, but keep your stride short girl, it makes it easier
And it does… With all my strength I leap up, front legs tucked, stretching my body to meet the height. I barely make it, my stomach brushing the rough stones of the top as I arch over it, nearly making me lose momentum and balance.
Then I realise it is a long…long drop down onto the grass below. Down, down, down…
My knees buckle on impact and I lie stunned for a moment, my lungs gasping for the air that was knocked out of them.
I hear cries of wonder and alarm, but am too spent to move. The blocking of the sun indicates a crowd has gathered around me. Then I hear a voice, clear and strong above the bubbling chatter
"What's going on?"
There is a shuffling of feet then someone drops down next to me, cradling my head, calling my name. No… not someone… Him
"What were you trying to do girl? What made you do that?" The worry in his voice is enough to stir me.
He backs off slightly as I slowly twist over and climb to my feet. My legs wobble and tremble in mimicry of a foal's. Tentatively I reach out towards him with my nose. I feel drops landing on it as he cries silently, then he cups it in his hands, pressing a kiss to my muzzle.
I nudge him, replying silently with the same depth of feeling
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.