'And I raAan… I ran so far todaAay… I just raAan, I ran both night and daAay… those Uruks won't get away… doo doo doo doo doo doo doo. Doo doo doo doo doo doo dooooo!'
Yeah Percia was bored; there's only so much physical activity she could do before her mind wanders. The landscape here was pretty dull. Ooh a rock, ooh another rock, ooh some grass… Ugh, Percia knew they were heading into Rohan, but would it kill them to panty a tree here or there?
"Their pace has quickened," Aragorn yelled suddenly from up ahead. Right they were in the middle of a chase, can't forget that. "They must have caught our scent."
Well on one hand how the Uruks smelled anything over their own stench was impressive. On the other… well the remaining fellowship was kind of ripe. None of them had bathed since Lothlorien. Of all the things she really missed from home, showers were in the top ten.
"Come on Gimli," Legolas 'encouraged' our Dwarf companion. Though really considering how unaffected he looked Percia was tempted to trip his ass in a mud puddle or at least muss up his hair a bit. They may have a slight truce since the incident in Lorien but it didn't mean she wouldn't strike when provoked, even if he technically wasn't trying.
"Three days' and nights' pursuit. No food. No rest," Gimli huffed from behind her. Because they all needed to be reminded of how tired and hungry they were. Thanks Gimli. "And no sign of our quarry but what bare rock can tell."
Well admittedly it was a neat trick. Aragorn had tried teaching it to her, but she didn't have the patience for it. She did however have really good eyes, as she proved an hour later catching the glint off the leaf-life clash left in the mud.
"Not idly do the leaves of Lorien fall," Aragorn muttered beside her.
"Considering the amount of foot traffic, it's likely the twins are being carried, so that would give them a chance to leave a trail."
"They are small enough to not hinder the Uruks," Aragorn agreed. "They appear to be less than a day ahead of us."
"Right, more running… yay…" Huffing a bit Percia dragged herself back to her feet and pushed onwards.
"Come on Gimli," Legolas yelled at their current smallest member. "We are gaining on them!"
Gods he's an optimistic bastard, isn't he?
"I am wasted on cross-country," Gimli managed to growl out through his pants. "We Dwarves are natural sprinters! Very dangerous over short distances!"
Percia barely managed to keep from laughing. Yeah, she'd have to agree with that statement. All the Dwarrow she knew preferred smaller distances if they ever had to run. They all seemed to like saving their strength for fighting. To each their own.
When they crested yet another hill Aragorn stropped and looked out across the land. If this was a movie no doubt the director would have done a close up then panned out, before turning back to Aragorn to capture his broody look. Seriously, the man was perfect for the emo hero.
"Rohan," he spoke, barely even hinting about the excessive running they'd been doing. Gods sometimes she hated how fit the man was! "Home of the Horse Lords."
Horse lords huh? Wonder what they will think of the daughter whose father is Lord of Horses. She had retained the ability to understand all equine, which made for some interesting stories.
"There is something strange at work here," he continued. "Some evil gives speed to these creatures."
Well, considering these creatures are likely pure evil that was kind of obvious.
"Legolas, what do your Elf eyes see?"
Percia felt that might have been a bit racist but not her problem since Legolas clearly made no comment about it.
"The Uruks turn northeast," he advised. "They're taking the Hobbits to Isengard!"
"Well that's no good," Percia huffed. "Isn't that the home of what's-his-face? The white wizard dude?"
"It's ill news regardless," Legolas added. "We need to catch them before they make it to their destination or there will be little we can do."
"More running… yay," Percia deadpanned, earning slight smirked from the other two. Gimli just huffed, still working to catch his breath.
"Come," Aragorn ordered. "We must push on."
Since there was nothing she could really argue about, Percia did as asked and kept on running. The group managed a fairly good pace, even poor Gimli. Percia couldn't help but think Chiron would love to make some of the demigods at camp go through training like this, especially the more troublesome members.
They continued for the rest of the day and through the night. When morning broke it was to a red sky.
Legolas pulled up next to her. "A red sun rises. Blood has been spilled this night."
They shared a look before the Elf passed her. Percia couldn't help but remember the old rhyme her mother taught her.
'Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in morning, sailor's take warning.'
Every time it proved true. She thought she even asked her dad about it once, but she couldn't remember his exact answer. Her science teacher mentioned something about pressure, atmosphere and air currents, but Percia didn't really get all of that either. All she knew was it was not a good sign.
About mid-morning they came over a rise and Aragorn directed them into an outcrop of large boulders, right before a large group of horse-men passed by, the sound of hooves mimicking thunder. From what Percia could see they were all armed to the teeth and clearly well trained on riding. So, she wasn't exactly thrilled when Aragon jumped out from their hiding spot to call attention to themselves.
"Riders of Rohan! What news from the Mark," he called out as loud as he could.
She had to admit the group turning in sync like that was very impressive. She wondered if the old cavalries on earth had that kind of discipline. They even circled their little group quit well, trapping them easily with their horses and spears. Wonderful.
One horse pushed forward and Percia could tell from the difference in his outfit that he was the leader of this outfit.
"What business does an Elf, a man, a girl and a Dwarf have in the Riddlemark," he demanded, his voice deep and fairly menacing. "Speak quickly."
"Give me your name Horsemaster, and I shall give you mine," Gimli retorted in that arrogant way Dwarrow seemed to have.
Would it be bad for her to knock him upside the head? From the look Aragorn gave the other he felt the same. Still, it was likely better to show solidarity, even if you think another member of your group is an idiot.
The man was not amused as he swung off his horse in a very practiced move, handing the reigns off to the man next to him. He moved forward to tower over Gimli, hazel eyes glaring down at the Dwarf.
"IU would cut off your head Dwarf," he spat the word as if it were a curse. "If it stood but a little higher from the ground."
Oooh! Burn. She knew Gimli hated having his height, or lack-there-of questioned by men and elves. Even though he was perfectly acceptable when it came to Dwarrow.
However, while Gimli looked a bit miffed, Legolas actually drew his bow on the man. "You would die before your stroke fell!"
Great, now the spears were back up and pressing closer. Gods, why were males so stupid?
'Is he gonna kill them? I hope he kills them.'
'Why did we stop? I'm not being fed so I see no reason to stop.'
'My hooves are killing me. This running all over the place is ridiculous.'
'Your hooves? Mine are still covered in Uruk blood! I'll never get the smell out!'
'At least it's just your hooves. I've got it all in my mane, and my rider is no good with a brush. He always misses the right spots!'
'Do you think we'll get apples later? I want apples.'
'You certainly don't need them. I swear your flank has grown by three inches!'
'Excuse you! I am the picture of equine beauty. You're just jealous Stallion Windchaser chose me last season.'
'He didn't choose you. You went into heat early, you cow.'
'Ladies, this isn't the time…'
'Oh shut it carrot-stealer! You have no right to say anything!'
'Yeah, everyone knows you bribed the Stallion the season before.'
'I did no such…'
She jumped turning to look at Aragorn and the others. Apparently, she missed their conversation as they were all staring at her. Horsemaster had taken his helmet off, showing a fairly impressive mane of dirty blond hair and a fairly handsome face.
"Sorry," she muttered sheepishly. "Just uh… got distracted…"
For one second all of the noise the horses were making stopped, before it exploded again. Several were throwing questions at her and others were trying to get a look. The men on the horses were clearly confused as to why their horses were acting up, Aragorn though was giving her a look, to which she just shrugged. Suddenly the Horsemaster's horse let out a loud whinny and stomped her hooves on the ground, at least that is what everyone else heard.
Percia heard, 'SHUT IT!'
The rest of the horses quieted down and the leader pushed forward much to her rider's confusion.
'Are you the one they speak of, who understands all equine,' the horse asked politely.
"I am. My name is Percia, and you are," she replied in kind, trying to ignore the looks now being shot her way by the riders. Her friends already knew about this quirk.
'My rider calls me Wyn, in honor of his mother, Theodwyn and sister Eowyn.'
"It's a pleasure Wyn," Percia greeted.
"How did you…" the man stuttered a bit, eyes wide in surprise. "How could possibly know my horses name."
"Because she told me. She's very polite," Percia informed him matter-of-factly. "Wyn, we are chasing after a pack of Uruk, big ugly smelly things. Have you and your herd come across them?"
'Yes, last night,' Wyn responded with distaste. Several other horses commented on the creatures. 'Nasty things. They have harmed many of the people we are charged with protecting. We helped our riders slay them in the night. None survived.' This last part was said proudly.
"What did it… uh she say," Gimli corrected when Percia gave him a look.
"I congratulate you and your herd for bravely fighting the Uruk and defeating them," she continued on, ignoring the shocked exclamations all around her. Many of the horses were bragging about how many their riders took out. "However, the Uruk took two of our party. They are very small, no higher than your flanks. They would smell like food and sunshine. Were they among those killed?"
'I did not smell such,' Wyn admitted. 'Any of you?'
Some muttered before one on the back side started calling out. 'I remember something like sugar and sun!'
Percia had to bite back laughter as the horses moved to let the other horse through, without allowing any of their riders control. The poor men looked so discombobulated over it.
'I had just pushed through the main camp and was rearing against a Uruk. For a moment I smelled sugar which confused me and made me hungry,' the horse informed her excitedly. 'Then it faded, like it had moved away.'
"Were there any large boulders or tree lines nearby they could have fled too? Perhaps made it hard to see them," she queried hopefully.
"Yes," the man answered instead, clearly trying to gain control of the situation. He had a hand on his horse's jaw line, rubbing gently. "None of the men saw the beings you are describing. But, if our horses smelled them, they could have been there. We saw no such bodies when we piled the Uruks up to burn. They might have managed to make it to the tree line, however, the forest nearby was Fangorn, which is not an easy place to traverse."
"Eomer, my lady," he introduced, taking her hand and kissing it.
Percia raised her eyebrow a bit in surprise, considering how adverse he'd been earlier. Still, she shook it off and chalked it off to him simply being polite due to his station and her being a girl. The patriarchal societies in this world still annoyed her something fierce.
"Percia," she responded kindly. Feeling a strong presence at her back she glanced over her shoulder to see Legolas glaring at Eomer. What was his problem?
"Eomer," Aragorn butt in, clearly trying to move this along. "Where did you leave the carcasses?"
"There," he pointed to where a large plume of smoke continued to rise into the sky. "We left none alive."
"But it is still possible our friends managed to get away," Gimli stated with surety.
Eomer looked like he doubted that but did not want to be the one to take their hope away. Instead he called for two horses to come forward. Hasufel and Arod came forward, one white the other a brownish coat. "May these horses bear you to better fortune than their former masters. Farewell."
He made eye contact with Percia once more, almost as if judging her before placing his helmet on once more and mounting Wyn. "Look for your friends. But do not trust to hope, it has forsaken these lands," he warned them darkly. "We ride north!"
Once more the group moved in order, the riders clearly knowing how to control their mounts. Percia grinned at the multitude of horses calling out their own goodbyes and telling her to visit.
Soon enough they were alone, their horses waiting patiently for their orders. It was decided Legolas and Gimli would ride one, as the Elf would counter the weight of the Dwarf for the animal. Percia and Aragorn rode the other steed.
Ride was SO much better than running. She vowed to give both horses apples or carrots the next time such was readily available, as well as a good brush down. They deserved it.
It took them very little time to reach the burning pile of bodies. The smell was horrific, even though mostly ashes remained. She wondered how any of the horses managed to smell either Hobbit given this stench.
Gimli went directly to the pile, trying to sift through it to see if there were any clues. She, Legolas and Aragorn immediately started looking around the area for other signs.
"It's one of their wee belts," Gimli announced, holding the damaged item up for their eyes.
Percia grit her teeth, refusing to believe they had been killed just yet. Legolas looked disheartened, blue eyes unsure they would find anything. Thankfully, Aragorn was like her and refused to give up.
"A hobbit lay here," he stated, eyes trailing the ground, his fingers pushing grass blades to the side to gather more information. "And another… They frantically crawled away…"
The group followed as Aragorn followed the path left by their friends. He plucked a scrap of rope from the ground. "Their hands were bound but they managed to cut them." He stood moving quickly. "They ran over here. They were followed…"
Gods watching Aragorn track something was like watching a suspense movie! Get to the good part already!
"Their tracks lead away from the battle," he cried happily, coming to a stop at the edge of the forest. "Right into Fangorn…"
"Fangorn," Gimli repeated with dread. "What madness drove them in there?"
"Uruks. Battling Horse dudes. Death and destruction," Percia pointed out dryly. "Any of this ringing a bell?"
"I just mean that is not a place to go in lightly," he growled out.
"I doubt they had a choice," she shot back. "But it doesn't matter. They got away from the Uruks, which means they are likely alive in there and we need to get them out."
The others looked to Aragorn who nodded. "The lady is right."
"Who you calling a lady," she sassed. "And I'm always right."
"On the latter I'll agree to disagree," he murmured wryly. "As for the former, Eomer seemed quite taken with you, my lady."
Percia frowned in confusion. "He was being polite…"
"Was he?" Aragorn pretended to look politely puzzled, his grey eyes sliding to a rather disgruntled Elf.
It took a minute before Percia seemed to realize he was trying to start something, which she just knew would irritate her.
"Stop being an ass and let's go," she huffed, stomping off into the forest.