“Good-bye then, and really good-bye!” he said, and turned his horse and rode down into the west. But he could not resist the temptation of having the last word. Before he had passed quite out of hearing he turned and put his hands to his mouth and called to them: “Good-bye! Be good; take care of yourselves – and DON’T LEAVE THE PATH!”
He could almost hear them grunting miserably, getting angry because he was leaving them when their journey was getting really dangerous. Little did they know that it was he who would be in peril now. But not right away, for it was a safe three-day journey to his destination, and he was glad that it was still morning. His horse – well, not really his horse but the one he had borrowed, was young and strong, and being well trained was able to bear him across till the river at half-gallop. There both the rider and the horse rested, to help the horse regain her strength and for the rider to think of what lay ahead of him.
He knew that his objective now was different, and by far the deadlier compared to the one he was previously assisting, and he knew that it was up to him to give thought to everything. He would have to convince others, and quickly too – for in his heart he knew that it was already too late.
An hour later, he got up, mounted his horse and continued riding like the wind. He passed the Carrock early in the evening and continued till dusk.
The first half of the next day was quite uneventful; he crossed the Old Ford with ease. As the evening drew closer, he turned west. South, far ahead of him lay the gladden river. There was a small ford, the only passage across the river in these troubled days, just ere the river came out of the Misty Mountains, and that was what he was making for.
Before long he realized that he should have turned from the banks of the Anduin quite some time before, for all paths that lay before him were serpentine, and he was able to just manage to find a way through the marsh and briar. He knew that he wouldn’t make it to the ford before nightfall. He took shelter in a small grove for the night.
The sun dawned for the third time since he had left the company of those who were going eastward, and he knew that the journey would end today. Such was the life of our rider, very precise was he in his time-keeping, and so he was all the more furious for being late. For late he was, at least by five days, his only hope was that the others would have been delayed too.
With an hour's ride, he approached the ford. The descent was quite tricky, but our rider being who he was, coaxed the beast down with ease. Only after he had reached the water did he realize that something there was not altogether right.
For the past quarter of an hour, he had been fully and justly occupied with the matter at hand – guiding the horse down. Now that his thoughts were not so burdened with something so laborious, he felt that peculiar prickly feeling at the back of his head. He was being watched. Where from? The very air seemed to be spying on him, oh why hadn’t he noticed this before, but he could not see a single face, not a single eye gleaming in the shadows. Orcs? He did not think so, for it was after dawn now, the sun was in the sky, even if still quite low. He felt something else, something more powerful, and something more…evil.
To assume that fear clouded his judgment would be a very foolish thing to do, for he did not fear easily. Yes, caution and prudence did creep into his action, for he knew that he had to move on quickly, flee rather than fight. He knew that he would be strong enough to defeat whatever evil that lurked here, if it did show itself, but in doing so he would first give himself away. More importantly, he would be delayed – and our wanderer had wandered enough.
He crossed the river, looking straight ahead and with the air of someone who did not know that anything was amiss. He did not risk a look back till he reached the southern bank. He felt contempt for doing things this way, for no coward was he, but he accepted the situation the way it was. The ascent here was by far the easier. His spurred the beast on and the horse sprang out of the gully and started racing past the Gladden Fields. The evil he lost behind him.
The day grew older, and finally he could see the first trees of the realm he was seeking. A low mist loomed in front of him – the enchanted veil over the realm of Dwimordene drew closer to him by the minute. He did not fear it, for fear of this he thought, was absurd.
The horse was apprehensive of it, there was some sorcery there that it did not comprehend, and hence could not like. The rider patted its neck and spoke a few soft words in a strange, sonorous tongue and the beast relaxed. The rider changed the pace to a quick trot, and the distance to the woods was covered in no time. As they reached the wood, they could see a pale figure climbing down one of the boughs, cloaked in white and grey.
“Mithrandir! Welcome. You are long expected. Her ladyship was not worried but the lord was quite so,” said the figure, who could now be discerned as an elf, with a bow slung on his shoulder.
“Greetings, Emeldil! And well met. A wizard is never late, though I confess that I had the care of many other matters in my hand. I have come as fast as I possibly could in haste, and will tarry no more. Come! Let us be off to the city.”
And so the wizard and the elf set out on foot, the horse led by the elf on the path heading for Caras Galadhon, the City of Trees.
Disclaimer: Tolkien is Eru, Iluvatar, owner-of-all. I am not doing this to make any money. Like anyone will pay me for this. All characters belong to him except for the ones I have taken the liberty of creating.