The next day, I found myself sitting in a large carriage as Denethor and I made our way towards Lamedon. We had to travel along the South Road. It went along the Anduin River, into the Fiefdom of Lebennin, then north around Dor-En-Ernil and finally reaching Lamedon. It was going to be a long and tiresome journey, so Denethor insisted that I travelled in a carriage for better comfort. I did not complain about that. I did not enjoy horse riding as much as my sister and brother did.
The carriage I was in was very spacious. It was made out of thick wood that had been smoothed on the inside of the compartment. The seats were made out of dark blue pillows, and I was able to close the shutter of the carriage window if I wanted to rest. I did want to rest - travelling in a carriage for long hours made me so tired. My handmaiden and I were the only people in the carriage, but behind us, horses were pulling five other carriages along. Denethor rode ahead with the soldiers and a few other noble men. When word reached the court that Denethor and I were going on a trip, half the court decided to accompany us. It annoyed me, having all these people with us. I found this journey to be a private one. Little Voronda was not ill for court entertainment.
I opened the shutter and leaned out to look ahead. I saw Denethor riding along with another nobleman. They both seemed to be in deep conversation. Further to my husband's left, I saw Imrahil riding with his men. My brother was only accompanying us until we reached Lebennin. From there, he would continue west towards Dol Amroth. I had plans to ask Denethor to stop by Dol Amroth on the journey home. But I had to time the moment to ask him correctly.
I felt a droplet of water hit my nose. I looked up and felt rain starting to fall. I quickly closed the shutters and wrapped my blue mantle around me.
"It is such a shame for the weather to be so gloomy," Máleth, my handmaiden, said.
"I know," I sighed. "I wish it would not rain like this." I heard the rain starting to fall harder. "All the men are going to get wet!"
"Yes, my lady," she replied, threading her needle into her cross-stitch. "I hope Lord Denethor and Prince Imrahil do not catch a fever."
I nodded, picking up my own cross-stitch and continued it. At the time, I was threading a picture of numerous types of seashells that were found along the shoreline of Cobas Haven.
"Finduilas," I heard my brother say loudly.
I quickly opened the shutter and immediately felt the cold breeze. "What is it?"
"We are approaching Lossarnach," he said. "Lord Forlong has opened his house for us."
"That is good news. How long will it take for us to reach his home?"
"The Lord's House of Lossarnach is located in the centre of Lossarnach."
Imrahil rode up ahead, and I closed the shutter. "We still have a fair way to go."
Máleth looked up at me. "How far?"
"I would say about three hours. If the road was not muddy from the rain, the journey would be quicker."
"It is not our day for luck, my lady."
I sat back in my seat, too tired to continue my cross-stitch. I could feel the journey becoming slow. The carriage wheels started to turn slower because of the thick mud. I felt that this weather was a curse! To make matters worse on my behalf, I felt the carriage stop all together. Sitting up annoyed, I roughly opened the shutter.
"What..." The guard riding next to the shutter silenced me. He had put his hand over my mouth. I was so startled by his act, that I pushed his hand away and was about to protest when I saw Denethor riding over to us.
"Finduilas close the shutter!" he said in a harsh whisper.
"What is going on?" I asked quietly.
"Do as I say!"
Even more annoyed, I slammed the shutter shut and sat back in my seat, arms crossed. Máleth looked at me oddly. "My lady, is everything alright?"
"How can I know if nobody tells me?" I snapped. Máleth lowered her eyes and continued her work. Guilt ran through me. "I am sorry, Máleth. All I want to do is get to Lamedon quickly, but everything seems to be going wrong today."
Máleth nodded. "It is quite alright, my lady. I am sure some luck is bound to come our way."
I felt the carriage starting to move again, but at a very slow pace. Outside I could hear the men chatting to each other. I began to assume everything was all right.
The carriage picked up a reasonable pace and we reached Lord Forlong's house a few hours later. The rain had only just ceased, but the clouds above made us believe that we were in for a wet night.
Denethor helped me out of the carriage. He was rather wet, as were all the men riding that day. Máleth followed Denethor and I up the steps of a great, stone house, where a large, round man waited for us.
"Lord Denethor," he said, clasping hands with my husband. "It is good to see you after all these years. We have much to talk about."
I saw Denethor smiling. "That we do. But may I introduce you to my lovely wife, Lady Finduilas of Dol Amroth."
"Lady Finduilas, I am honoured. I am Lord Forlong of Lossarnach."
"It is a pleasure to meet you," I said, trying my best to give him a smile.
Forlong turned back to Denethor. "I heard you came across something rather curious on the road."
"Yes we did," Denethor replied. "We found carcasses on the side of the road. They were strewn over several meters."
Forlong stroked his beard. "That is curious indeed. None of my men have reported any orcs in the area, nor has any come forth claiming to have slain some."
"Nay," said Imrahil, walking up the steps. "These orcs were not killed by men."
"Prince Imrahil?" Forlong said. "It has been a while since I have seen you. But tell me, why do you say that?"
"It is a custom in Gondor that any orcs which have been slain must be piled and burned, or buried. Neither of these customs were performed."
Forlong nodded, but it was Denethor who spoke. "Then who do you propose killed those orcs, Prince Imrahil?"
Imrahil gave my husband a cold look. "That I am not certain of. However, it is known for different bands of orcs to argue amongst each other. Perhaps something similar happened."
"Orcs bickering among orcs," Forlong said. "They sound a lot like men these days."
"Indeed," Denethor grumbled.
Denethor and I were given a chamber that overlooked a large garden. Lossarnach was known greatly for their flowers, especially in the spring. Sadly, spring was over and summer was beginning. But I could still see hundreds of flowers in the garden at full bloom.
"The gardens are beautiful here, are they not?" Denethor asked, walking through the door.
"They are splendid," I replied, continuing to gaze out the window. "I hope the rain stops during the night so I can go for a walk in the morning." I heard Denethor mumble something behind me, but I ignored him. "What time will dinner be served?"
"I am not sure," he said, taking off his riding gear. "When the servants come and tell us I would suppose."
"Is something the matter?"
"I just have not had a good day," he replied. "This dull weather has not started our journey well."
I walked over to him and fell into his arms. "I cannot agree with you more. Today has been rather horrible." I lifted my head and kissed him. "Perhaps tonight we can make our moods better?"
"That sounds like a very good idea," he said, kissing me.
We stayed in each other's arms for several minutes, forgetting about all our worries. It was such a wonderful feeling, being loved by another.
Dinner in Lord Forlong's house was cosy. The dining hall was a plaza with a large, square table in the centre of the room. Denethor sat next to Forlong and discussed political issues within their lands. I sat across from them, next to Forlong's wife, Lady Thorbes. Imrahil dinned with us, along with Forlong's two sons – Ronir and Garavon, and daughter – Aewen. The court of Minas Tirith had to dine in a mess hall down the road.
"So tell me about Minas Tirith," Thorbes said.
"There is so much to tell that I do not know where to start," I replied to her.
Thorbes nodded. "I can say the same about Lossarnach. But nowadays this part of Gondor is starting to become affected by the enemy. Last month, one of our fields was burnt by orcs raiding the nearby village."
"I am so sorry to hear that," I replied. "Minas Tirith and Osgiliath have not yet been troubled by orcs. But I suppose it is only a matter of time."
Thorbes nodded. "My husband continuously says that this new darkness from Mordor is only going to grow. Forlong has our sons starting their military training early."
I looked over at the two young boys. The eldest, Ronir did not seem to be more than eight or nine summers. "How old are the boys of Lossarnach when they start their training?"
"Usually ten summers. Some knights of Lossarnach train their sons at an earlier age, but boys from distant villages can only start training at the age of ten. Their parents also have to pay their training fee."
I nodded. "It is similar in Minas Tirith and Osgiliath. Though, the age to start training is eight."
"I hear the knight training fees are far more expensive in the capital?" Thorbes asked.
I nodded again. "It depends on what type of knight the child wishes to be. Only noble boys are able to become guards within the Citadel. It is a sacred place."
"That does not surprise me," Thorbes said, sipping her wine. "The White Tree of Gondor is in the Citadel, is it not?"
"Yes it is," I said. "It is a shame that tree will never blossom."
"You do not believe that... that a... king could return?"
I shrugged. "I have always believed that possibility. But I doubt it will happen in our lifetime."
"Sadly, I agree," Thorbes said wretchedly. "Nevertheless, the stewards are doing a reasonable job in a king's place. Your husband seems to be a fine steward in the making."
I glanced over the Denethor, who was laughing with Forlong. "Our husbands get along rather well."
Thorbes grinned. "I remember many years ago when Forlong and I were only betrothed. Denethor would frequently visit Forlong. They both have a lot in common. Forlong has a wonderful library full of elvish parchments. One of his ancestors was given them by an elf from Imladris hundreds of years ago."
"Who was the elf?" I asked, very curious by her words.
"I am not certain," she replied. "Nobody is certain these days. All we know is that the elf was a well-known sculptor among his kin."
"I am surprised those parchments have not ended up in the library in Minas Tirith."
"I am surprised also," Thorbes said. "Apparently the Lords of Lossarnach were legally able to claim them for all these years."
"Lord Forlong's family has been very lucky."
At the end of dinner, I made my way back to my chamber where I bathed in the privy. It felt so good to sit in a hot bath after a long day of travel. I could still hear the rain outside – it was pouring down now, showing no sign of stopping.
After I bathed, I sat in front of the fire in my chamber, letting the heat dry my hair. Across the room, I watched the rain fall onto the glass window. That glass window bewildered me. Glass windows were not common in Gondor, or Rohan. Glass was very expensive, and not even the windows of my family's palace had glass.
"Finduilas," Denethor said, entering our chamber.
"It is still raining heavily," I said, pointing at the window.
Denethor sighed. "Is it too much to hope that it will stop by tomorrow morning?"
"What happens if it does not?"
"Then our journey will be slower than intended," he said, walking over to me. He lifted me to my feet. "No matter how slow our journey becomes, we will get to Lamedon."
I smiled wearily. "I believe you. I always do."
The next morning, I woke to the sound of rain. I rolled onto my stomach, unhappy with the constant patter of raindrops. Beside me, Denethor pulled me close to him, kissing my hair.
"How did you sleep?" he asked hazily.
"Quite well," I replied. I was rather cold. I was wearing a thin chemise that did little to keep me warm.
"We will have to leave soon," Denethor mumbled.
"You do not sound so eager to leave," I said teasingly. I rolled onto my other side so I was facing him. I snuggled into his chest.
"I believe spending the day with you in the warmth of our bed to be more satisfying than a cold journey through the pouring rain."
I giggled. "Still, we have promised Tatiel to go to Lamedon to support her through Voronda's ill health."
"I know," Denethor sighed. "But a man can wish, can he not?"
I smiled. "You can wish, but I am afraid that wish will not come true today."
Quickly, I got out of bed and placed my robe on. The stone floor was freezing! I had been so used to the carpeted floors of the palace that I forgot to wear something on my feet. Nevertheless, I had to get ready.
An hour later, I found myself waving to Forlong and Thorbes from my carriage. It was still raining, and I was now wet from walking to the carriage. I wanted to run, but Denethor believed I would trip in the mud. My husband had said that in such a way that my brother was still laughing about it as we started to leave Lossarnach.
Smiling, I sat back in my seat and dried myself with a large towel, wondering what other events could happen during the journey to Lamedon.