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Asfaloth, Across the Sundering Seas

Author - Marghana

Written on - Wednesday 25th July 2012 (05:48am)

ASFALOTH, ACROSS THE SUNDERING SEAS

The great white horse atop the hill gazed out over the waters of the bay, sensing with flared nostrils the approach of a swan-vessel. A swan-boat and the precious friend it carried, back from the Lonely Isle raising its back on the horizon of the gray-and-silver rolling waves.

He watched unmoving as the small ship slid into a natural quay at the foot of the hill and the occupants set foot one by one on the narrow plank that lay across the railing to the ground. As if counting, his large eye registered the gait of each elven sailor and passenger until, with a low nickering, he found the object of his search. “Asfaloth!” cried a golden-haired elf through his cupped hands, “I have come!” He waved his arms above his head, then took the uphill path.

Asfaloth in turn took the downhill path, picking his way easily down to the shore. Glorfindel had not climbed more than thirty feet, when his friend found him and nuzzled his first question regarding this recent trip and the one to come. “I did, mellon, I found one that can take us over water into the East. They are making it ready for the journey, and will come for us soon.”

The elf and horse took the road to the Calacirya, walking side by side. “I thank you, my brother and friend, but my legs are stiff from the crossing and I need to feel rock and soil beneath my feet. Once we have gained the Pass, by your leave I will straddle your strong back and you will bear me flying to the city gates.”

Asfaloth laughed softly, for well he remembered the instruction standing for them both on the limitations they must observe within the walls of Valmar: no running, no whinnying, no rooting in the gardens, no bickering with other horses. Without, was another situation altogether; and they would leave the roads and gallop the fields and forests free of restraint. Horse and rider felt no fear, neither of beasts nor treacherous ground, and trusted each other with absolute certainty. Never had one failed the other, not in life-shaking events, not in daily details.

“We are summoned to the Máhanaxar, where this evening the Lords of the West will sit in council. The final word will be spoken, our traverse will be commended to Ulmo and Osse both, and the charge lain upon us: to aid the deliverance of the Outer Lands from the spawn of Morgoth.” Glorfindel flung his arm over the strong white neck as they walked. “For this task I am sent back, and for this task we were brought together, you and I. If not with you, Asfaloth, I would have no hope for this undertaking… I thank you from my heart.”

The great white horse stopped and turned to look his friend in the eye. A gurgling sound rose from his depths and he shoved his forehead into Glorfindel’s chest, then tossed a shrill whinny back over his shoulder for the elf to climb on already. “Very well,” said the Noldo, swinging himself lightly to Asfaloth’s back, “move as you will, my brother.”

The leagues to Valmar melted away as they raced a flock of swallows winging west. The birds finally veered off towards the north, acknowledging defeat in the opinion of Asfaloth. Soon the spires of the towers of Valmar rose into view, then the walls and the orchards surrounding. They slowed their pace and pulled up before the great circle of seats, at that hour still empty, and sought the fresh repose of shady trees.

“Graze on the sweet grasses, Asfaloth, and I will drink of the green. Here we shall await the coming of the Powers.” Glorfindel picked a spot under a wide-branching tree in full flower, and sat with his back against the smooth trunk. He let his eyes become unfocused and rested his hands on his thighs, palms upward, while Asfaloth wandered nuzzling and munching.

To be continued...