Snowmane's Freedom

by Peregrine
Snowmane galloped hard across the open land. All about him horses and men fell, slain by cruel arrow and spear. Blood filled the air with its sharp, iron tang and the grass clumped in sticky pools where bodies fell. Before him rose a great city of white, black smoke and crimson flames smearing its surface like a shadow upon his own white flanks.

Theoden, his master and King of Rohan, rode upon his back, his glittering blade smeared down its length with reeking gore. He cried out at the enemy, he slashed at them, he killed them. Snowmane drove him onward, his hard hooves beating the ground as he ran.

Freedom. Yes, there was freedom in running. Maybe he ran towards his death, but it mattered not to the horse any longer. He was running, he was with his beloved master--he was free!

The horse ran faster, his spirit glad. Death filled his nostrils and fear asailed his senses while felled creatures filled his dark-eyed gaze. But he was free and he ran onward, bearing his master beyond all pain and strife even as he galloped head on into it.

A black shadow, larger than any plain-soaring hawk--fell across Snowmane. The horse faltered slightly, but he would not stay his pounding hooves.

A deadly shriek filled his ears and the cold bit in his mouth was pulled backwards, hailing him about. The white steed--a mount of Rohan and of the King--turned to face this new terror. Great, it was, and dark. Like a serpent with talons and wings and a wide mouth full of sharp, tearing teeth. Upon its shoulders sat a Creature of evil--cloaked all in black with a twisted helm.

Snowmane quivered with rage upon seeing it. Creatures such as these should not exist! They kept him from running! They would take him now from his master! Well, so be it. If he was to die, he would die. But he would defend his master if he could.

He reared and charged the monstrous, foul beast. The dragon-like beast roared and whipped its head around. Snowmane screamed and flailed his hooves and struck the creature. The blow would have felled any other, but this monster merely shrugged it aside and snapped its slavering jaws around the screaming steed.

Pain tore through his being. With blood staining his flawless flanks, Snowmane was tossed aside, torn and broken. As was his master. Dear, beloved Theoden lay dying below him, as broken and bloody as he.

He had to get up! If he could move, mayhap his master would live! But, alas!, Snowmane's hooves moved not. Death was taking him. Ah, but it would not be so bad, really. His master would go to his hall of kings and Snowmane, he would join his forefathers in the broad lands of golden grass and sweet waters where he could run forever and never tire. There his sire would be--his mare, as well, his mother. Together they would run onwards and always below suns and moons and stars, always.

And he would see Theoden again. Sometime, beyond Time, they would meet.

Wracked with pain, Snowmane sighed once and then . . . he was free.