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Author Topic: Touched by an Angel  (Read 173 times)

Shadowfax

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Touched by an Angel
« on: June 13, 2020, 07:33:27 AM »
The wealth of Rohan was measured in horses.  Man relied on these creatures, not only for mode of transportation, though that was the common purpose for which they were valued, but for companionship, a love shared by many Rohirrim who grew up alongside these symbols of power and freedom.


Freedom.


What mockery.


Shadowfax gazed up at Edoras' wall, standing in the shadow of the fortification that made up the far edge of the pasture, encasing him inside the city.  If only he could leap as high or smite as hard, as fast as he could run, he would clear those walls and make his escape into freedom.  On the other side of that wall, Freedom lied just a few feet away from him.  So close, yet so far.  For the past forty-one years, he could only dream of the grass seas other horses spoke of.  Lands where wild herds roamed…

Perhaps that dream would have come true sooner, if only he had given into those carnal instincts to sire offspring.  A foal like himself would have granted him pardon and release from the House of Eorl without hesitation.  Just one foal.  One Chief to carry on the line.  The House of Eorl would probably celebrate him, if such a momentous birth ever came to be, despite everything he had done to taunt and shun them, keeping them in suspense for so long.

It would be a lie to say the thought hadn't crossed his mind, just to get it over with and be set free.  But for him to give into the slightest of Men's wishes - what the House of Eorl expected of him - would be shattering to his cause, tarnishing the message he had been trying to advocate to all horses, forever a blemish on his reputation and a guilt to his conscience.


I will serve no Man.


Quite a simple concept, really.  But the House of Eorl was not so keen on taking "no" for an answer.  That was fine.  Two could play that game.  A waiting game.  Eventually, one would cave in.  Until death took him. Though, he hoped it wouldn't come to that.  As a far prouder Mearas than any Chief before him, Shadowfax was not about to make compromises to win his freedom.   Dooming his offspring to a life of servitude would be a selfish act either way.  If the line perished with him, it would still be a gain for his cause, and a loss to Man. There was a measure of satisfaction to be had in that.  He could die happy.

How impossibly stubborn and foolish could he be, wasting his life away like this?  The other Mearas conversed in bewilderment at his protest, as the years wore on…


They never understood him.  No one did. 


Strange how Men viewed horses as symbols of freedom.  Not for horses' sake, but for theirs.  Horses gave Men freedom.  And what did Men give in return that horses could not secure for themselves?  Companionship?

Please.

Shadowfax knew better than to fall for Man's companionship. Or "friendship", as other horses fond of Men would call it.  But such bonds would have never come to fruition, had horses not been fenced up or tethered, forced into Man's possession.  Shadowfax had soaked up every ounce of knowledge and testimony from the (former) wild ones that passed through Edoras, and it was clear to him that horses did not need Men.  Men needed horses.  If not for the unjust capture of an ancestor whose weregild service had been paid long ago, he and his kin would still be free in the wild.  None of them deserved to be here.

Unfortunately, it was difficult to raise those issues without having the power of Speech himself.  Perhaps then, he could have resolved his case with the House of Eorl years ago.  All Shadowfax could do was resist.  Refuse the saddle, refuse the pettings, refuse Men to come anywhere near him.  He had stood and paced next to Edoras' wall for years.  Couldn't his pining for freedom be any more plain?  But because horses could not speak, Men could ignore his pleas, seeing only what they wanted to see.  A "wild" and "untamed" beast.

How insulting!  It couldn't be further from the truth!

Really, if he wanted to act wild, he could, but that would be putting on a show of bad manners and temper tantrums, in front of all the other horses.  If a lesser Mearas knew how to behave more civilized, how much higher were the expectations for a Chief?  Lowering his conduct to that of a lesser horse would be downright embarrassing!

And it was.  Er—He might have exaggerated his wild streak a little, just to dissuade Men from bothering him.  Paying homage to his ancestors' wild roots didn't fall into the realm of "compromising", so long as it was a loophole to help him gain space from his captors. 

He had to admit, life in Edoras wasn't all that bad. At least he had the run of the field while being imprisoned for all these years.  In many ways oblivious to Shadowfax, who had never spent a second in the wild, knowing only the parcel of land he had lived on since birth, he often forgot how lucky he was, as a Chief of the Mearas… To always have a spread of lush grass before him, a clear pool of water to drink from, a copse of trees to shade himself under, acres of field to run in and plenty of horses to run with.  Most horses, even wild ones, would beg for this kind of luxury.  Never being confined to a stable. Never having to work a day in his life. Never left wanting for anything except more freedom beyond his reach, where surely the grass must be greener on the other side. . .


News of a stranger's arrival in the pasture rippled to the farthest corners of the field, turning heads and amassing a crowd of horses keen on investigating the grey-clad and bearded man, snorting their interest and whickering their greetings.  Many could sense there was something different about him. Certainly not one of the average Rohirrim, but something far more mysterious than that…

Having lived in the same pasture for over forty years, Shadowfax knew what to expect from each day (mostly) and seldom paid attention to the regulars that frequented the field.  Boredom was his biggest enemy, likely to be the cause of an early death if he were to be cooped up in the same place for much longer, but stubborn to his cause, he would never allow himself to go up to Men as a source for entertainment. 

Rarely did curiosity get the best of Shadowfax to prompt him over for a closer look at a visitor.  Against the herd of mat grays, darks, and earthen shades, his silver sheen upon white gleamed apart from the rest, marking the few Chiefs that stood watch in the field.

He kept his distance from the crowd, peering over to examine the stranger, listening intently all the while, but otherwise didn't want to appear as though he were expressing too much interest in a person, and despite his shiny white coat making it impossible to do so, tried not to draw attention to himself by separating a little ways from the others.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2020, 12:44:03 PM by Shadowfax »

Gandalf

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Re: Touched by an Angel
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2020, 08:06:15 AM »
Gandalf was still in shock. Saruman had turned his back on their order's mission and sided with Sauron. It's not that he didn't understand the white wizard's reasons. He feared Sauron himself. Greatly so, but such fear would never lead him to betray those who had placed their hopes on him. Was he alone now? Pallando, Alatar and Radagast seemed to be otherwise engaged with their own things. At least, they hadn't chosen to outright betray the cause, only to fulfill it in their own ways. The thought that the fate of the order of the Istari and the fulfillment of its mission might rest solely on his shoulders was a burden he would have to find a way to carry with the help of the many friends he had made among the Free Peoples of Middle-earth since his arrival.

After escaping the pinnacles of Orthanc with Gwaihir's help, Gandalf was left with the difficult task of deciding what to do next. His feathered friend had already told him that he couldn't take him all the way north to Bree as it was too far, but he could take him somewhere closer. He then asked the Windlord to leave him at the outskirts of Edoras where he would certainly be able to find a quality horse that could take him the rest of the way. Convincing Théoden King to grant him such quality horse for the trip was something he would have to think about later. Their flight was uneventful especially considering how it had begun and the wizard said his thanks and goodbyes to his friend who flew home from there.

On foot, he walked the rest of the way to the fields of Edoras. Gandalf knew people in many places from all walks of life due to his many errands. He was acquainted with some of the horse keepers at Edoras and he asked gently and amicably for permission to see and talk to the horses for a moment. It was granted as long as he came out alone. He agreed and then went inside the walls. He inspected his equine companions for a moment and then took a seat at the ground, crossed his legs and started to whistle a melody from Valinor. The horses started to approach his location. ”Oh, wonderful that you’ve found my music interesting. It was indeed for your delight and nothing else.” He said the truth. It was better to attract attention with kindness than with a demanding nature, especially when you were the one in need of help.

Gandalf’s eyes again inspected the audience he was able to attract to his position. He was sure he could find a companion for his risky and urgent journey towards Bree among them. Beautiful and strong examples of the most refined and attentive horse breeding techniques among Men. His eyes lingered a few seconds longer on Shadowfax’s form, distant from where the others had gathered around him. He then turned his gaze back to the ones surrounding him and opened his mind to achieve communication with them just as a black mare let her thoughts be known. Don’t even look at Shadowfax. He won’t do anything for anyone’s sake, not even his own. She then snorted and shook her head disapprovingly.

*Don’t be so fast to judge the heart of another. Not even the very wise can know all ends…* Gandalf looked down as his left hand rose to his chest, close to his heart. The invisible ring he wore, Narya, had become slightly warm around his middle finger. *Maybe his fate is just another. Unknown still… even to himself… Waiting for a chance of fulfillment. His heart is unhappy… not wild.* His hand again lowered to rest over his leg and his eyes met the mare’s as he spoke, who nodded in agreement and gave a few steps back in respect, ashamed of her judging behavior towards her peer.

An older bay stallion then approached Gandalf by his left side and nudged him at the shoulder. What brings you back, wiz? Need a ride? But I’m too old now to offer myself again… buggers. It was fun last time. The wizard opened a smile and gave Alor, once his travel companion, a caress along his neck. *Yes, rather unfortunate. You were a great companion in an uncharacteristically uneventful journey… But I must not lie to you and your peers. From now on peril will become my shadow and follow me wherever I must go. I offer you my stories, my music and my protection, but I cannot guarantee to my companion safety in this trip, only a good company.* Sincerity was always the best choice. Those horses were trained for war, though some hadn’t seen a true battle yet as their uneasiness revealed when he spoke about imminent peril.

Gandalf clapped his hands once to call their attention and dispel that sense of weariness he sensed in his equine companions. *See it this way. Whoever choses to accompany this old wizard will see parts of this world he or she may never have the chance to see otherwise. Who knows? Maybe even become the theme of songs and legends as all who have shown bravery in the face of peril before. This reminds me of Nahar's story somehow...* Gandalf finally stood to all his height and looking at those around him finally spoke his infallible catchphrase. *Who wants to share in a adventure?* His smile was broad and he waited to see who would overcome his or her fear and present himself to be his companion on this which would certainly be one of his most important and most dangerous travels. His eyes again searched for Shadowfax, but did not linger on him.

{{ OOC: Sorry for the long delay in replying here, Ari. I hope this gives you enough to work with. I don't expect Shadowfax to fall for Gandalf's catchphrase at first, but his reaction is sure to be interesting. }}

 


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