1. An Unpleasant Assignment

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~ Wynne gets a mission she can't turn down

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~ Wynne gets a mission she can't turn down.~

1. An Unpleasant Assignment

The Wold, Rohan, Fourth Age 8

"I have decided you shall marry an elf this summer. A noble-elf." Mother's voice was calm and matter-of-factly.

Wynne stared at her in disbelief, nearly dropping the stack of plates in her hands. She had been helping her mother clear the table after dinner. "An elf? Why?"

"Well, seeing as you clearly did not inherit your grandmama's beauty, I have realized we need elven blood to make sure your children shall not be plain as well." She sounded like she was discussing which stallion to mate with which mare to produce the most desired offspring; as if her daughter was one of their horses. "In addition, I have good hopes you will catch the elf king, or at least the prince, which of course will be very beneficial for our status."

"But we don't know any elves... How–"

"Don't interrupt! I have been informed by our dear relative Aragorn that the King of Greenwood leaves on a mission to hunt orcs in the Brown Lands for the summer, and for this quest he needs horses. He specifically asked for Rohirrim breed – and who has finer mearas than we? Nobody has. Well, so I made your father speak with dear Aragorn and tell him we would be happy to oblige. We have agreed to lend King Thranduil ten of our best, and they come with a groom. Someone who can tend to the horses and help the elves with whatever they need. And that groom is you."

Wynne felt a chill at how definite that sounded. "But–"

"Will you be quiet, girl!" Mother pounded her fist on the table and Wynne stood straighter. "Your real mission will be to catch a royal elf – that would be the king or his son – and make him marry you, like I said."

Wynne stared at her. A quest to hunt orcs sounded terribly frightening, but trying to make an elf king marry her even more so.

"Mother, please. I can't. I'll do anything else, just–"

A hard slap on the cheek silenced her. "You will do as told! Béma help me, I swear you will be the death of me." Mother struck her other cheek too for good measure. "This summer will be your twentieth; you are no little girl anymore. I was married at that age and already with child and so was your grandmama. I don't understand what you are fretting about anyway! Have you ever seen a male elf before? They are exceedingly handsome." She pulled out a chair for Wynne and sat down opposite. "It should be easy. You will be the only woman of the company, it will be just you and all those elf males. You will be close to them at all hours, sleeping in their camp, sharing their meals, tending to their wounds if they get any. If you play your cards well it will only be a matter of time before some – or all of them – are attracted to you! Males are weak. Show them a little skin and they won't be able to resist you. Trust me on this. Elves are no different than stallions; a mare in heat will make them mad with desire."

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