A Cold Heart Warmed: Part VIII
by Pharassero

Kalay woke several hours later feeling rested and ready to go. The rest of the Fellowship other than Boromir were already awake and packing their gear for departure. Boromir sat opposite Kalay, and was just waking himself. She stood and winced as the scabbing under the bandage pulled and opened a few spots on the wound. "Kalay, be careful. You don't need to open that back up again." Legolas scolded her. "Its not like I was doing it on purpose, but I have to get up eventually. We have to save Merry, and Pippen." she returned his scolding. She turned to get her pack and was surprised when she noticed it missing. She stood back up and turned, about to ask the others if they had seen it when she saw Legolas grinning and holding it out to her. "I already took care of it." She blushed as she took the pack and carefully slung it over her shoulders, "Thank you."

Aragorn helped Boromir to rise and shoulder his now lighter pack. "When we get closer to Gondor, one of us should escort Boromir there if we have not caught up with the orcs yet." he announced to the company. They each looked at the others in turn, finally Gimli piped up "Who will go?" Each of them considered the pros and cons of their leaving or staying with the company, until Aragorn gave them a little breathing room. "We can decide that when the time comes nearer, let us now worry about finding the trail." All nodded agreement and they sat off hurriedly, even Boromir whose wounds were the worst.

Hours they travelled, following the orcs trail easily since the foul creatures do little to hide it. Footsore and tired, they finnaly stopped for a brief respite while Legolas used his keen eyes to give them any news. "All I see is an eagle, and far off at that. It is flying swiftly away from us." This news left them little hope, but even a little hope can persuade someone to press on. When they had eaten an bit and rested, the company again took to the pursuit of the orcs and their friends.

They travelled on until dark and then they stopped, councilling whether or not to go on. Gimli's argument was that they could miss a sign in the dark and lose the trail, wasting hours trying to find it the next day. Legolas' was to continue and therefore possibly gain some ground. Aragorn listned to the councils of each of them and then turned to Kalay, who had stood silent this whole time. "You have listned to us argue over these points and said nothing. What is your thought on this?" She shook her head and cleared her thoughts, "I will go with the decision of the company. Both sides have made very good points, but the more time we spend arguing over it the less time we have to act on either decision." Aragorn smiled lightly at her answer, and Legolas beamed at her, "Wisdom from the mouths of babes." he chukled. She blushed and turned away getting the whole company to laughing, even Boromir who grimaced in between laughs.

When all had settled down again, it was chosen to rest for several hours unitl just befor dawn. They would pick up the trail then and hopefully luck would ride with them. Kalay slept fitfully that night and Legolas not at all, though he did check on her several times. She rose just before the others and readied her pack. It was still quite dark when the company set out on the trail again. As the sun rose high in the sky the lands began to change, they drew close to Gondor and it was time a decision was made. While the two men and Gimli were discussing who should go and for what reason, Legolas drew Kalay a ways away to speak quietly to her. "You should go Kalay." he told her quietly. "But I am sworn to protect you, not him."

"I know that, but by protecting him for this short while you may save us all."

She was about to make a reply when he kissed her passionatly, then drew back and smiled.

"And besides, you and I both know you are the only other one who could track us back down once you have safely delivered him to Gondor."

She bowed her head in agknowledgement and he hugged her to him tightly. When they turned to go back to the company they found they were be stared at by the others grinning. Kalay raised her chin defiantly and marched back over the others with Legolas, "I will go with him." She declared, challenging anyone to gainsay her. the others only nodded agreement and after a final meal together they parted ways.

Kalay kept silent for many hours after the breaking of the Fellowship, lost in her own thoughts. Boromir coughed to break the silence, and she looked over at him. "I was wondering something, if you don't mind me asking." He returned her gaze a bit unlevely since their height was so different. "What is it?" she asked him a tad surprised. "You are very different from the other elves I've seen. You keep your hair short, and on that you yourself don't seem to be as tall as most of them."

she chuckled to herself at his observant question, "Well for one thing, I am half-elf. My mother was human, my father one of Lord Thranduil's personal guards. My hair, is a matter of my own choice. I keep it short because, though I inherited the fineness of it from my father the thickness is from my mothers side. It tangle much too easily and causes too many distractions for me when it is long." They walked on for severla more minutes as Boromir digested her answer, "I guess thats as good a reason as any." He finally said.

They continued on through nightfall, taking only short breaks to eat and rest their feet. It was well on into the next day before the land changed again and this time for the better it seemed. They saw rolling hills of grass in the distance and it lightned their hearts. "I will be home soon," Boromir told her. She smiled at his excitement thinking to herself that he sooner he was home, the sooner she could catch up with the others. They continued on until nightfall and decided that since they were so close they would rest that night and be refreshed and ready in the morning to finnish the journey. Kalay lay down and closed her eyes preparing to doze off, "I wonder if we should set up a watch?" She opened one eye to look at Boromir after he asked this. "What my eyes do not see my ears will hear, and my ears can hear even an elf on new fallen snow." What she had said may have been a bit of an exageration, but not much as she was a very light sleeper. He shrugged his broad shoulders at her staement and settled in for the night.

Both of them woke early and ready to go. They shouldered their packs and set off at as brisk a pace as Boromir could handle. It was still several hours before they reached the gates of the white city and were welcomed in. While everyone was greeting Boromir and patting him on the back, Kalay was edging back toward the gate. She had almost made good her escape when he spied her and called out, "Kalay, don't leave just yet." She stopped and walked back over to him as the crowd made way for her. He clapped her on the shoulder and said, "You must restock your provisions first. I would ask that you stay for a feast, but I know how badly you wish to return to your prince so at least let me send you off with plenty to sustain you." He thought for a moment as they made their way inside, followed by seemingly the entire castle. Once inside a steward came over and Boromir took him aside discussing things with him in private. He then came back to Kalay, "I must depart your company now and go to the healers, but the steward here will see my orders done," with that he left her. The elderly steward came over and bowed low in respect, "I will show you to the kitchens where you may replenish you pack." He turned to a younger lad and whispered something in his ear before continuing on. The boy took off back outside and down the steps at once, Kalay glancing back at him as he ran. She shrugged her shoulders and followed the steward to the kitchen where she carefully packed dried fruits, meat, a chunk of hard cheese, nuts and waybreads into her pack. She took along a few slices of fresh meat, cheese and bread for her dinner that night. She turned to the steward and told him she was done, he stood holding a wineskin. "It is a gift from our Lord in thanks for bring Boromir home. It is the best vintage from his private stock." She took the skin and thanked him, he led her back outside. The boy she had seen the steward talking to before they left for the kitchen was standing out in the courtyard holding the reigns of a beautifull horse. I wore only a very light saddly with many places to stow packs and gear on, whick most of the places were taken up by arrows and a light blanket. Kalay looked back at the steward who was now smiling, "Another gift of the Lord of Gondor my child. He wishes you goodspeed to your friends." She expressed her sincere thank and appreciation of the gift and bounded down the steps, stopping a few feet from the horse so as not to frighten it. She walked over to its side and accepted a leg up from the boy, who handed her the reigns afterward. She waved a farewell before turning the steed and galloping away.

She got just out of sight of Gondor, and slowed the horse to a easy trot. She covered good ground before nightfall, and was lucky enough to find a tiny spring to tie the horse near for water. She warmed her meal by a discreet fire and ate. She hoped that she could catch the others quickly and that they had rescued the two young hobbits. Putting the fire out she checked the horse once more and lay down to sleep.

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