On Wings of White by Cathleen

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Story Notes:

A brief continuation of my story "An Ill-Considered Action".

Author's Chapter Notes:

Thank you Dreamflower, for the Beta!

“On Wings of White”

I hang on for dear life while we soar across the dark plains into the night, bound for Gondor, yet I know there is no need for such care. Gandalf said Shadowfax bears a rider only by his own consent. I feel privileged that I should be so chosen. He is an extraordinary horse full of life, gentle, yet fierce and strong; we are three yet we ride as one. Cool air whistles in my ears while the edge of my cloak flutters about my face as if with a life of its own.

When Merry and I were held captive by the Uruk-Hai I often dwelled on thoughts of the grand horses of Rohan. Perhaps I’d found it comforting to dream of flying along just like this, as though on the wings of an eagle? I dare say it was a much better daydream than imagining what lay ahead when I considered those who made up our group of captors.

During those hours of darkness when time seemed to stand still, when each moment blended into another of equal horror, I’d watched them. Looking closer I’d found a rag-tag troop of creatures bound only by their common task of bringing us to Isengard while making our existence a living horror. They hated one another, it was obvious, and I’d considered how I might use that to my advantage. As it turned out, their mistrust of one another had weighed heavily in their undoing.

Odd how the mind works when strained; the horror of what was happening to my cousin and me was so overwhelming that I kept slipping into a dream so I wouldn’t have to face the stark reality of our capture.

Yet every now and again true despair would descend on me and I’d dwell on my terror until I was certain I would go mad. A whimper escapes too quickly for me to stifle it, and I feel Gandalf’s steady hand pressing into my shoulder. How does he know I need the comfort of his strength just as much now as I did then?

Now, here I am, in a similar situation. Flying towards Gondor as if Ringwraiths were on our heels. Oh! how could I forget that is no jest, but only the sad truth of the matter? I’m tempted to chuckle but I fear the wizard will think I’ve gone around the bend completely! I know Gandalf fears for me. It’s hard to believe when he is so quick to scold me for my folly.

I would have thought it was impossible for anything to ever again frighten me so badly after the Uruk-hai. Looking into the palantír was unlike anything I’ve ever known. At least the Orcs were solid and real before my eyes. Yes, frighteningly so, but the disembodied presence within the Seeing Stone was like being stripped bare before the spectres of my worst nightmare. I was unable to battle that torment as I had the Uruks.

I consider Gandalf’s earlier words to me and my heart warms. I seem to sense Gandalf’s smile with my mind, and a moment later he speaks, one hand still squeezing my shoulder.

“Are you well, Peregrin?”

I nod once, remaining quiet, but the wizard urges me to share my thoughts. I tip my head back and gaze up into kind eyes.

“I was thinking about the Uruks. . .and about looking into the Seeing Stone. The experiences were both terrible, and yet. . .” my voice trails off and I look away, at a loss for the words to explain what I mean.

“Yes, terrible and alike, and yet somehow not, is that what you are trying to say?”

“Being held by the Uruk-Hai. . .thinking Merry and I were going to be killed at any moment. . .well, I can’t think of anything that I would have thought more horrible before that. . .but then I looked into the Stone.” 

“And that was worse still than being a prisoner.”

It wasn’t a question, but I nodded.

“Why do you think that is so?”

I ponder the problem intently for a moment before understanding dawns. “I think. . .I think because I was able to fight against the Orcs with my wits, and also because they fought amongst themselves. But the Dark Lord. . .” I shudder and my voice falls to a whisper. “I’ve never fought with a voice in my head before, and one that could inflict such torment. I couldn’t touch him, but he could touch me.”

Gandalf pats my shoulder. “It is difficult to do battle with an unseen enemy, especially one that is able to reach into your mind against your will.”

“Is that why it seems so much more difficult to bear than the memory of the Uruks?”

“Perhaps that is why, my lad. But I think you will be stronger for the experience. Much awaits us in Gondor, and beyond.”

I draw a deep breath and release a quiet sigh. I am ready to face whatever I must.

Shadowfax gallops on into the night and I relax once more into the compelling feeling of taking wing, the thrum of hoof beats creating a music that is soothing to my ears.















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