The raging thunder of hooves rumbled beneath her cold, shivering frame as arrows slit the air by her head. The agonized screams of her bodyguards fell behind her and were drowned out by the rush of wind in her ears. Her golden horse rode in desperation as the howls of wolves echoed through the snow-clad forest. In a last desperate move, she whispered in the ear of the white falcon that rested on her shoulder and jerked on the reins of her horse as he flew from her. She rode fast away from the falcon as his pale wings lifted him beyond the reach of the orcs that hounded the lady in white. She pulled her horse this way and that, careening between pines and vaulting over rotting logs. Her flight led her clear of the forest and her eyes scanned the vast, snowy plane for any sign of liberation. Her thoughts were interrupted by the scream of her horse as an arrow entered his leg. She was thrown onto the cold earth as he collapsed in a miserable pile. Before she could even think of fleeing, a vicious black warg leapt upon her crying steed, and drove its great teeth into the pour creature's neck, spraying crimson blood into the white snow. She attempted to scurry away, tearing her simple dress as she dove into the brush. She remained silent as her horse was torn apart by the growing pack of wargs, and the harsh voices of orcs filled the air as she drew her knife. As the hunched, twisted beings cleared the forest, she could see that they were unlike the barbaric orcs of Gundabad or of the South. They were clad in pale, ancient armor and they bore the mark of a red circle inscribed by a black diamond. They gnashed and hissed, searching the clearing for her, and digging through the bloody remains of her horse for any items of value. She could faintly hear the brutish Uruk commander yell, "Lord Vader wants her alive! If a single hair on her head is out 'a place, you'll be dealin' with me!"
Her fingers tightened around the handle of her knife as a pair of orcs neared her hiding place. The scrawnier of the two drew his knife and hacked at a nearby bush.
"What did this Princess do to drag us all the way out here?" he snarled.
"I hear she has a map that leads straight to home," his bulkier compatriot replied, "Those northmen have gotten Lord Vader all riled up. He thinks they could find out a way to disable the weapon."
Princess Leia of the Northern Tribesmen of Alderaan held in a gasp as she realized the severity of their words. They knew about the spies, she thought, They will be preparing for an attack. Her thoughts were interrupted by the screech of the smaller orc. She was found. She instinctually lunged towards him and drove her knife into his neck. His garbled screams alerted the nearby orcs of their position, and soon boney hands had wrapped around her struggling body. Her pale face was scratched by long, dirty fingernails, and her skin was punctured by the twisted steel of their armor as she was thrown against them. She felt the flash of her knees burst open as she was shoved the ground. She looked up to see a particularly ugly orc standing above her, licking his cracked lips with a devilish gleam in his red eyes. Before he could move towards her, a blade flashed and his head was torn from his shoulders with a torrent of black blood. The commanding Uruk kicked the headless corpse away and sheathed his blade.
"I said not a scratch!"
She felt a coarse rope tighten around her wrists, and the Orcs began to drag her along before they all come to a sudden halt. A deep chill ran through the air moments before an ear-piercing shriek erupted from above the trees. A shadow eclipsed the sun as a rush of wind stung her eyes. The orcs became unsettled and the commander was the only one of the mob who stood fearless before the writhing mass of black scales and leathery wings that filled the sky above the clearing. The horrid creature landed, throwing up a wave of snow, and it let out a hiss as it snapped at the surrounding orcs with its snake-like head. Her eyes were slowly drawn to the beast's rider and a shiver crawled down her spine as he stood. He was cloaked in black, and he was helmed with dark iron. At his belt rested a broadsword not of orc-make but wrought with skill long lost. He moved slowly and with precisely, as if he were holding back a torrent of power within his tall, broad form. He landed in the snow with the harsh clang of metal and he strode towards the commander with silent control over the now submissive crowd. He stared down at the Uruk through his black hood, daring the commander to speak.
"You have failed me Commander"
His voice was like the torrent unleashed by an opened dam, deep and wrathful, and yet, he sounded as if the source of his words was speaking from a great distance behind his veil.
"I'm…I'm sorry m'lord," the Uruk stammered, "they wouldn't surrender and we had to kill 'em. But we did catch the princess for ya'."
"An incomplete success is still failure, and failure will not be tolerated."
A gauntleted hand shot up to the Uruk's neck and he was lifted a foot off the ground. His garbled pleas were soon silenced by the crushing of his throat, and his dying body was dropped into the snow. With slow, agonizing precision, the rider turned his hollow face towards the captive princess. He strode towards her, pain and hate emanating from his silent, composed form. Leia shivered as his cold, sharp fingers planted themselves under her chin. She stared deep into the empty slits where his eyes should have been visible beneath his helm, but all that rested there was an endless void of darkness.
"Where is the map?"
His words seeped from his nonexistent mouth through nonexistent teeth as his grasp around her chin tightened. A harsh torrent of wind threw back his black cloak in waves of darkness surrounded by specks of white snow. Surprising the fear mounting in her chest, Leia managed to reply with the most confidence one could ever expect to be mustered against such terror.
"It is beyond your reach, foul one."
"I did not come here for insults," he hissed was his clawed gauntlets punctured her skin, "I know the one whom you have rested your hopes in: the old man who taught you the ways of elven medicine and guarded you against the monsters in the night. He will not avail you this time. He will die, and all of the North shall bow to the will of Lord Vader!"
With that, his grip shifted to her neck as he lifted her from the ground. She choked as her own weight pulled her down against the steel strength of his outstretched arm. He threw her against the ground before his beast, and he mounted it with a single, fluid motion.
"I want that map found and destroyed!" He growled at his surrounding minions, "Search along the Misty Mountains and through the northern reaches of Wilderland! All who have seen it must die!"
He cracked the reins, and the beast spread its wings and lifted itself into the air, grabbing the princess with its bloodstained talons as it began its assent. She became dizzy as the world beneath her become small and distant, and her last conscious thoughts were of the dreaded fortress that her spies had reported and the only being in all of Middle Earth who could save her and her people. Help me Obwain, you are my only hope…