A Cold Heart Warmed: Part IX
by Pharassero

Kalay woke early the next morning and checked her supplies before mounting the horse and galloping off to find her friends. It was a long boring morning with no signs of her catching up to them. She had just reached the borders of Rohan and stopped for a drink when she saw many riders in the distance. They caught sight of her shortly after and a few of them raised their bows and readied their arrows. Her horse fidgeted under her, but she kept him steady enough to hail them in peace. Their leader rode out with a small company and surrounded her with spears drawn. "It is a sad day indeed when so many men consider one woman a threat." she told them boldly. A few of them snickered, but were quickly silenced by their captain with a stern look. "These are dangerous times lady, why do you ride alone and without apparent fear. Orcs have been about this countryside of late." The captain looked her up and down, eyeing her weapons carefully before looking her in the eye again. "As you have seen, I am well armed. If you have seen orcs about, perhaps you have seen also my companions." They had put away there weapons and relaxed a little seeing she was alone, they didn't consider her too much of a threat. "Companions you say, you've lost your friends? Not many travel through these lands except we and the orcs that sneak in." She pushed her short hair back up and over her ever so slightly pointed ears and noticed the captain give a start. She smiled at his surprise and asked, "Never seen a half-elf before, and no I didn't lose my companions. We had to seperate temporarily and I am merely tracking them back down. Have you seen a Ranger with two unusual companions with him of late?" The captain eyed her again, while he thought about the last group they had met and loaned their horses to. "Yes lady, we have come across a Ranger with two odd companions with him. a day and a half ago. We lent them horses so they will not be easy to catch up with even if you are on horseback your self." She edged her horse closer to his until they were almost touching, "Then I thank you sir, and I must be on my way if I am to have a chance." The captain widened the gap enough for her to pass, but grabbed her forearm as she did so, "Be careful young lady, and goodspeed." She nodded her head in thanks and gave her heels to the horse, speeding him in the direction of Fangorn. The captain wheeled his horse and was about to warn her against going there when he realised she was already out of earshot.

She entered the woods only minutes later and came upon the sight of the great burning. Orc bones and ashes lay all about, along with a ring of spears. She hurried past that dreadful place and down by the river. Hopping off the horse she knelt and examined the muddy bank, she was lucky in finding the tracks she was looking for. She hopped back on the horse and set him at a trot, she had considered calling out then thought better of it. Who knew what else was in these woods listning.

Hours passed with her getting on and off the horse to check the signs on the ground. She found the spot where they had camped then night before, they were almost a full day ahead of her. She noticed that they were on foot after they left the campsite and wondered how they had lost their mounts.

She kept a close eye on the signs after that, so close in fact that she would have ridden right by the hill they were standing on had the voices not distracted her. She looked up and could just make out the back of a figure clothed in white. "Saruman" she hissed silently to herself. She could barely hear her friends, so she dismounted quietly and snuck up the hill behind the figure. She had drawn her sword and was about to drive it through the wizards back when a very familiar voice said, "Dear girl, what do you think you are doing? Put that thing away, I am not your enemy." Her sword clattered to the ground as she staggered back and almost fell over in shock. By the time she had recovered both her sword and her composure, the old wizard had turned to face her. "Gandalf! But...how can this be?" she managed to stammer after a few moments. She climbed further up the hill and went to stand with her friends who seemed pleased at her safe return. Legolas held back his desire to swing her up in his arms in a welcoming embrace and instead placed an arm around her shoulders and squeezed tightly. Aragorn clapped her on the back and Gimli on her leg, it being the place he could reach easiest without being rude. Gandalf waited patiently for them to finnishe their welcome and then cleared his throat, "I was just telling of my adventures when you came up the hill." He finished his tale, and they all still had a great many questions. He anwered those that he could until the sun began setting low in the sky. "We should make camp. Our young friends will be safe enough for tonight and tommorow we will pick up their trail." Aragorn said. "Kalay and I can scout for firewood," Legolas offered, grinning over at her.

They made their way quickly down the hill and out of sight. Kalay was just begining to pick up small sticks when Legolas grasped her arm to get her attention and then embraced her hard enough to pop her back. "I did so miss you these past few days," he told her while she was still tight in his grasp. "I'm very glad someone missed me.....but could you please let me breathe?" she gasped out while smiling at him. He quickly released her and ran an awkward hand through his hair, blushing. She giggled at his embarassment, and put a hand on his chest, "I have missed you too." He placed his hand over hers and drew close to her, putting his other hand on her cheek. He bent down and gently placed his lips on her cheek as he slid his hand down her face and around behind her neck. Her hand slid down his chest and around to his back, while she put the other one behind his neck. He was about to kiss her full on the lips when he heard a voice clearing behind them. They had been so wrapped up in each other they had forgotten about the firewood and Gimli had snuck up behind them.

They both turned blushing to see Gimli standing a few feet behind them grinning from ear to ear, or so it seemed through all the hair. They both cleared their throat and looked at him with red faces. "Well, I see you two really missed each other." They made an attempt to stutter out a reply, but Gimli only held his hand up smiling. "Don't bother giving me excuses. I don't need'em or want'em. I just came down to see what was taking the firewood so long." They all laughed and began gathering dead branches together.

It didn't take the three of them long to gather enough wood to last them through the night. Once they returned to camp they made a fire and Kalay shared her provisions with them. After the meal, Aragorn had a few questions concerning Boromir's well being, so she relayed her tale to them. When she was done and all questions for the night had been answered they drew lots for the watch. Since her watch wasn't until later she settled into a comfortable position and closed her eyes listning to the nightsounds around her.

Legolas' watch was first so he took up a position just outside of the firelight. He glanced back at Kalay's quiet form several times before it was time for his watch to be over. He woke Gimli before settling down beside Kalay and drifting off into his own dreamworld.

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