by Elena Tiriel
Two strangers of my kindred approach! From past the southern edge of land and sky, beyond my Rider's sight, they gallop toward us.
Their form is superb: lithe of limb, strong of haunch, and sure of foot. So smooth and swift is their gait that their sires must have danced attendance with mine in the trail of Nahar. They carry their Riders proudly and freely.
But what manner of Riders are these, with midnight manes and twilight overskins streaming in the wind? They must be lords of great honor for such noble stallions to willingly bear them.
My Rider tenses.
The young lord halts the Riders, and the thunder of hoofs fades. We slow our mounts to a walk, showing weaponless hands as we near. He and his second warily ride forward.
"Hail and well met! We are Elladan and Elrohir, sons of Elrond of Rivendell. We convey greetings from the Lord and Lady of Lórien."
He blinks. "The Sorceress of Dwimordene?" he scoffs. "She is but a children's tale!" His second looks askance at him.
Stunned, I glare; Elrohir's voice turns icy. "She is our grandmother."
His face drains of color as he grasps the depth of his insult.
"Forgive my rash words!"
Each nods, though curtly.
"I am Eorl, lord of these Riders; Éomund is my marshal. What business have you in these empty vales?"
"We bring you news of Gondor's war — and offer to join our weapons with yours."
"That is... unexpected."
"Elves are said to be fell-handed, lord." Éomund mutters in my ear. "For your men's sake, look past your mistrust! 'Twould be folly to spurn such aid."
They glance at one another, feral grins matching. "Indeed," one says. "We have some skill with blade and bow."
The hairs on the back of my neck prickle.