Serious Angst



The Fellowship
by jan-u-wine

Gandalf: In the Beginning

I knew him.  Betimes, since I have but this lesser form, and only these words, (words like trees whose limbs only seem to touch the sky), betimes I forget what we were...
 
What he was....
 
A creature of fire-pure radiance, like crystal adamant he shone in the light of the First Morning, and his Song rose and woke the unreachable Stars.
 
Each phrase of it beyond compare, forged in surety within the dark, touching with glancing brilliance the Lamps and the tender flowering of the Trees, writing itself like ice-chilled flame upon the winds that drift across the un-plumbed bowl of the heavens....
 
And ending, like the very stairs of Light themselves, at the Song-clad feet of another such creature.
 
That one became his Master,  and ordered his Song, made (and unmade) him. 
 
A long weary age, that was, a long accounting of countless moments as beauty slid to unredeemable evil, as Light dimmed before the onslaught of night, and dark became a fearful thing.
 
We were both given form, then, or rather, I was given form, while he, as ever, took what was never his by right or designation.
 
I knew him, this being of departed, unbearable beauty.

I know him, this creature, who, for all his power, may no longer cover his evil with a mask of light. 
 
Master and Slave to the golden child born of his prideful malice. Lord of Abomination. Wolf, serpent, fell drinker of dark blood,  Eye of starless night.
 
Sauron.  We shall not win through by strength of arms. But we shall win through.


*** Source for the history of Sauron, from Maia to miscreant:  The Encyclopedia of Arda   


Aragorn:  Onen i-Estel                           

How very wide the World has grown.  Wide, and fearful, tossed and fretted like the great Sea my fathers so loved.  And all my care, all the toil of myself and my few brethren remaining, cannot serve to hold back its tide.
 
It is not often, now, that the sons of my Lord find me.  Joy, followed quick by dread, wars within my heart.  Elrohir, he who taught me first to draw a bow, touches my shoulder in greeting.  Eyes dark, steady with the passing of many years, hold mine. The beauty of the fair speech, falling from his lips like slow music, cannot disguise the sorrow of his message:   
 
In far-off Eriador, alone, while still the earth slept beneath its burden of snow, my mother has died.
 
Oddly, I look to my hands.  A man's hands.  A Ranger's hands, rough with weather and war, scored by time and ill-use. 
 
A child's hands, unsure, touching silvered points of a broken blade, knowing not why it called to me, called to my very hands as if its strange runes were keening upon a wind which only I might hear....
 
a child's hands, one safely warmed inside her own, the other holding with care a great silver-grey bound book.  There is writing within, tales of kings long forgotten, battles, ages of honour and despair. 
 
And last, the grievous account of defeat within victory, of bitter dishonour served upon the arrogance of high-helmed Men.
 
I bow my head.  I am a child no longer, only my mother's son.  And my father's. A lifetime have I spent, mending with slight hope the faults of the past.  And now the test is upon me, bending me as if to the wheel.  
 
Never before have I known aught but scorn for him, this over-proud man whose ill-timed desire forever dooms us.....
 
Time narrows, pushes me with haste and need.  And at last, with foreboding, I am given to understand his choice.   
 
A gift, a gift of sight the people of my blood have.  A gift, and, still, a curse.  For I see this thing, afar off, and it calls me, pledges itself to me, to my House.  If only I should take it, wield it, by my forebears' power wrest good from this evil.....
 
Our House should be rebuilt, and all the stain of sorrow eased beneath the freshened Light of the Tree......
 
Elrohir's hand rests still upon my shoulder. Elladan, as ever, stands sentinel by his side.  Their eyes are bright with more than the light of their people.  They know my choice, my sorrow, my fear.....
 
they know my Hope......    


Boromir:  For the Honour of the White Tower 

Periannath.

The Halfling of the tales of old.

And this…….person, who in both stature and bearing, seems but a child to me, holds our future, our doom.  From the North he is, like the Ranger, so un-kempt and un-kingly.  Pawns of wizards and Elves, both of them, toys, though they see it not, in this war.

Not all our woes, seemingly, have arisen from the East, though likely now it is that all shall pass into, and be devoured by, that dark land. Madness, madness even more complete than that which stays within the noble halls of my fathers……

He sent me on this errantry, my father.  Too many long days, too many dark nights spent upon the endless wheel of his Stewardship, while our lands dwelt beneath the Shadow, have, at last, driven him beyond despair.  I well know what he desires, what he looks for from his son:

I must bring this wergild, this bane of Men, to him.  Together, we might yet wrest Light from the Darkness that steals across our lands.  Together, we might yet restore all that was lost.  Together……

If I have hope of coming again to the White Tower, bearing this gift, I must need pledge myself to this folly, this Quest.  And so I do, my hope, like my heart, divided by fear and doubt.

Of one thing alone am I certain:  if ever the Ring of Power and its mortal heir come to my City, we should defeat our Enemy.

_________________________________________________

On this road, already long and weary, I have come to know the Halflings.  As if they were my own kin, I care for them.  They know not yet of war,  nor the bloody deeds which must come, if follow this road we must.  In the high snows of Caradhras, I carried them, in Moria's  foul pits, I put my body between them and death.  The wizard fell there, taking both evil and much of our hope with him. 

My father would have bid him good speed and a fair journey, my brother would have grieved at the loss of the one he knew as Mithrandir.  

And I ………

I see only the shadow that fell and stayed upon a face of innocence, followed close by silence and a turning-away in more than body.

A certainty rises within me:  it will not, cannot be long now.  Already, in deed, if not in fact, he falters, the burden growing too large for his will.

It would be a mercy, would it not, mercy (and hard necessity) to ease him of it……..

If I should come upon him, alone…..

He has not the strength of body to best me, should my arguments fail to sway him to my cause. 

_______________________________________________

In the midst of all my care, I have betrayed them:

My people, my city, my father.

Worse, (and the reasoning runs in circles (circles bound by gold) within my mind):  I have doubled my betrayal in my oath's abandonment.

What hope there might have been fled away from me, a frightened shadow running towards the bright division of the river.

As if in a dream, I see the boat spinning, seeming empty, upon the current, as if in a dream, I know that I soon shall follow this same water'd course…..

I am, first and last, a soldier of the White Tower.  If it is given that I shall not see her spires again, nor hear the gentle rain of the fountain hard by the Tree, at the very least I shall find my lost honour…..

I will come to her in the winds that take upon themselves the stridence of this horn, in the remembrance of these little ones who shall, perchance, live to tell this tale…..

I raise my sword against the swift-running tide……
.    

Pippin:  Two Soldiers

(with an introduction from my Lord Faramir)

A mere lad he seems, this un-tried Periannath from the strange land to the north. Not even to my shoulder does the impertinence of his copper-piece burnished head reach, yet somehow, behind the play of his smile and the unbroken glint of his eye, there is abiding strength. I feel it, as sure as roots cleave to earth and stars to sky, I feel it. 

There is more to know than that which lies apparent in laughter-turned eyes: in their depths, in well-hidden shadow, there rests a too-soon learning, a too-near sorrow.

With blunt-edged grief, I picture the lost one he somehow puts me in mind of. 

There will be no time, now, for the soft, slow turning of the seasons, no time for lively youth to hone its metal, cure to tried, considered age. 

No time.  Not for us.  Not for him.

He speaks to me of the lone courage of my brother's end.....I have no coin to repay him with other than that of the bitter memory of his strayed cousin.

His head remains proud, unbent, beneath the weight of my tale.

Two soldiers in the service of a lost King, we are, two lives singing a last song beneath the flickering of the Kindled Lamps, beneath the still'd branches of an ancient dream.

My father speaks my name into the gathering night.....


__________________________________________________


The Lady foretold that I should find my courage.  And so I have.  My fingers trace the outline of the Tree, touch the promise of stars arrayed like a crown about it.  His livery.  The one who has come without wishing to war.   Like me.

He rode out from the city today, sent on a fool's errantry.  And now the fog curls thick upon the plain below, and the harsh fire in the east flickers, damped to mere candle-flame ......

It is said, you know, that folk of my blood have the Sight. Never have I thought much upon this (nor of it), but tonight....

Perhaps tonight we.....I……. shall die, not ever to see any of them in this world again, and so I must seek them in the only way I can....

The winds of the World shift with the sweet scents of home. My quick little pony, wild with Spring, forelock tied with clover, runs loose in the field.  Quiet hangs within the great-room.  I see Mum, and Da......

I see.....myself.......

The spinning arc of stars pulls me away......

An encampment, tents large…….. large, like those of men.  Men arming for war, faces grim and touched by desperate fear.   And in the midst of them, a small form, head clasped within a brass helm, jerkin hiding bare knees.....

He smiles in saucy-sly pleasure at the near-useless sword which threatens nothing save the blind night.  

Oh, Merry.  When, in all this strange world, did you become so foolish? And how, in all the miles and the darkness which lie between us, shall I ever find you again?

In between the fear which seeks to stop my breath there is steadfast determination:  this time it shall be left to me to pull you from beneath trouble's weal……….
  

Another encampment, if such it could be called, the smell of waiting death lying close about it. 

Oh, Lady. I do not wish to see them thus. 

In a summer now long-gone by, a voice softer than memory spoke to me of Elven stars, and the green that lives in the First Forest and the Light that dwells beyond the shore of the Sundering Sea.  

It is almost stilled now, that voice.  Even the quiet words that recall home, that speak of comfort in red-hewn dark meet with naught but absent keening, as if that which drives the sound is even now a thing of shadow and dread night.    

It is not, after all, such a terrible thing to simply die. With all my heart, and all my hope, if one wish should be granted me, I wish that for them:  a simple death.

It is what I would share with them, after all:  a journey from that which is known and feared to that which is unknown but welcome.  The Sight (and the wise and somehow joyous wizard at my side) have told me that. 

I shall see them....see them all again.  It is enough.  It is more than enough.

I bow my head and wait for what is to come.  There are still tears in my eyes.             

In the press of on-rushing darkness, I speak aloud the only word of the Fair Speech it is given me to still recall: 

Namarie.


Gimli and Legolas:  Morranon

Gimli:

Stout lad.  Though ne'er stout nor lad. 

Bodies, like slag from silver, heap about us, dying limbs spray us about with bright/dark blood.  And still the count rises, and still we stand, unhurt. 

Never might I have thought the sound of axe cleaving life from these foul creatures might sicken me, yet I wish now it might need fall no more.   Notched with the bite of bone, the fine blade wrought by the smiths of my fathers rises and falls without pause, running ever with the reminders of death. 

At my back the Elf stands, bow singing in the dark of this day.  In memory lost, the music of the Fair Folk twines 'round the tight, harsh whisper of string.  The store of arrows, bound about with gold-tipped feathers,  are near spent.  From the bodies which lie about us, I ken he shall not be in short supply……

A great cave-troll is upon the field.  Friend and foe fall beneath his rage.  Dark advances with him, falling heavy as starless night upon my heart. 

I cannot breathe, can no longer lift my arm.

Beside me, now, an almost-song rises.  I know not these words, but this song………

It is a song of the Sea, and the chant of it folds in about me, stays me in this last moment from despair……

And I know what time is, to him, now, as this soft seeming-keening holds me, as if to an ageless river of gold, a river stayed in its very course by this woven Song.

My folk would call this a death-song.  The bow no longer sings close on my ear.  We will not meet in the Halls, he and I.  I bow my head.  In my heart, I call out to my fathers….

Side-to-side we stand now.  The almost-stilled call of the Sea rises like its own tide about us………


Legolas:

Only a moment, it has all been.  A moment in a dream tied end-to-end by Forest and Sea.   

And now the dream parts, like the ragged grey-red clouds above, the speech of root and branch giving over to the Song held close upon the Western shore.

Never shall I see that Shore, nor the one that lies beyond it.  

And the Song grows within me, spills like light itself from my lips. 

We have fought well, Elf and Dwarf, Dwarf and Elf………. I have lost, by now, the count of my misshapen kinsmen-by-malice-born who lie about us.  No more a game, this, no more the strange-sad joy of sending them on their long journey. 

No more. 

Back-to-back we stood, but we shall face what waits for us now side-to-side.  Blunt fingers hold yet the axe which might have been mate to mighty Dramborleg, buried long in all save memory.  It is dark entire upon the field, dark within my heart. 

No longer do I hear the sounds of battle, nor does the smell of death rise from earth over-borne with blood.  A blue-green voice of deep grey waves runs like peace itself through me, gulls call soft in skies woven bright with silver-gold light.……

I do not fear.  I hold fast to the Song, and it to me.  I grieve, only, for him, for…….

my friend-unlooked-for.  We shall not meet again beyond this Road.  Never shall my eye rest, in judgement fine, upon the held-crystal fire in the deeps of the earth, never shall I teach him the slow speech of trees, never shown him the fairness of the Foam-flower*, ever sailing upon the dark Sea of night….      

Only death shall we share, now.  Only these few moments, the black tide advancing, the Song rising in answer, sweet and swift, rising before us like a shield.  

Namarie, Elf-friend.**       

  ___________________________________________________

*Vingilot, Earendil's  ship, in which he sailed to Valinor.  It became the barque in which he also navigated the night-sky.

**Gimli was named "Elf-friend" for the great love between himself and Legolas, and his reverence of the Lady Galadriel.    


Frodo:  The Choices of Master Baggins


I do not choose now to do what I came to do……


Fire without, fire within, but not such as is consuming enough to take that which is, at the last, taking me….

From somewhere far away, a voice (my own voice?) echoes in the dark of my mind:  from the beginning, in the ending, there was no choice……no choice………

no…………………..

A mouth which I recognize as my own, and yet not my own, forms words, a will which is my own, and still not my own, forces my hand to move. 

As my small thoughts quell beneath compelling darkness, I wish without hope for death to find me.

I have failed, and all is Darkness.

__________________________________________________

Sam:  Formless

For the second time in scarce over a year, I hold silent vigil as he stays within enfolding, formless sleep.

formless

Oh, yes, I know the word, know it for having seen it.

That was what they were….nothing-ness cloaked by naught that was of this world….bits of death walking beneath the light of the sun.

That is what they were, they, and their Master…..and that which his malice wrought.

That is what he carried about his neck.  That is what lay hidden, cold, above his heart.

'Twas more (and less, save to all but me) than the World its evil sought to end.

I watch him now, watch eyes moving beneath closed lids, watch the ever-so-small drifting of white-enclosed fingers.

His sleep is not so formless, at that.

I take the hand that seeks the now-blank space at his throat and speak his name into the too-quiet room.

Not the slightest alteration of breath answers me.

My own fear does.  Fear which has form, for all that I can put no name to it. 

Were we Home, and this my garden, a sharpened, quick-edged shear would answer this need, would sever entire that which grows within this ever-quieting earth.

But we are not Home, nor this form, so silent within its struggle, a garden.

And I struggle, myself, when he wakes and looks about, in the ordinary light of ordinary day, and laughs, all glad and sunny-like.

His hand, still held within mine, is cool as the sweet spring of Thistle Brook.  Fair, for all its loss.

Soft light seeps from where late blood flowed, twines unknowing fingers in its clear glow.

Of a sudden, I understand, and turn so that he may not see the tears standing in my eyes.

There is, within the bitter-sweet circle of this World, formless good.

In the end, it is that which took him.

__________________________________________________

Frodo:


I do not choose……..

I choose…………….

At the very edge I stand, and look from grey-shrouded rock to grey-shrouded Sea.  My heart stills within me.

It has been a very long while since I feared that which I do not know.

Yet, still, I do fear.

Not so much for myself, this fear, this…..disquietude.  No, more for them, for in my leaving, I do them hurt.

Especially this one.

Sam.

Whatever can I say to you?  In all the many tales, the many words of the Fair Speech, perhaps there is a name for that which we are, that which we became.  I have not one.  In all that we bore together (yes, together, Sam!),in the end there was but one life, split in twain by time and circumstance alone.

You are right, Sam.  I cannot leave.

Just as surely, I must not, cannot remain.  

Should I stay longer, there shall be an ending, still,  an ending as sure as this, a sooner and darker ending.  I cannot change what lies hidden, yet, within, nor longer hold back the darkness that paints every moment with pain and shadow.

It seems a strange distance to the un-wholeness of my hand.  And I look all that far, fair way and see Light, spreading, touching where evil stayed, and know with certainty that whatever life I may yet own is beyond the circle bordered by this Sea.

Stay, Sam.  Stay, and do for me as you always have:

That which I can not do for myself. 

Watch over the changing of the Shire from first-green to summer-gold, from harvest-red to winter-white.  Grow your children beneath her Sun.  Fill my home with their laughter and warmth.

This is all I may leave you, Sam.  All that I ever had, or shall attain to.  This, and a promise:

Beyond the turning of the years, beyond the tides that rush and retreat between what was and what is, another white-sheet'd ship shall wait.  For you, for me, for what we did, Samwise, last of the Ringbearers, she shall wait.

If you should choose as have I.

Fare well.

__________________________________________________

There is song as we ride out into the harbour.  It is more a feeling than a sound, more a colour than anything else.  The Immortals, yearning towards their Home.  Even Gandalf's voice rises within the tapestry of it.

Uncle and I are the only mortals here, yet we stand not together.  His hand is about the line, his eyes towards the unseen western shore.  So torn am I, so grieved, I must look behind, must fill myself with these last moments.  I hold the Lady's Glass above my head. The Song is all about me, surrounding me, becoming me.  The air is sweet and cold.

I feel my heart slow.

All is Light.      




Meriadoc:  As A Father……..

He says that I must write it down.  All of it, all that I may remember of the great war of the Ring.

Well.

I don't want to,

 I don't want to remember any more how we all used to be, how hard chance (or harder choice) drove hope and heart from us, banished laughter from our lips, wove unknown dark into the threads of our dreams. 

But he says I must, my insistent cousin, whose eyes, of late, glance not sharp and bright like the hawk for which he was named, whose eyes, instead, hold questions and distant sorrow.

He is, after all, Thain.  And, for all of that, still just Pip, who, with ne'er a word could wheedle my last bit of pipe-weed from its pouch…….

Ah.  There is a memory.  Even now, all these years after, when I have lived it, *know* well how the tale ends, fear trails through me, dims my eyes with tears.  Of all the partings I had known, of all those that were to come, that one cut me close, as if half of me had vanished without warning. 

And I became reckless in my abandonment.  What ever was there left me, now, so far from home, one small soldier (who knew not, even, how to be a soldier!) in the great company of Men?  In the midst of them I would fall, unheeded, unknown…..

A large hand falls upon my shoulder, eyes accustomed to the bright blood of battle look into mine with knowing kindliness. 

The King.  Of all these folk, these masters of swift horses and fierce pride, the King himself seats me at his side, engages me to speak, as if my small cares were of great import in the harsh storm of the World.

I kneel before him.  Always, always, I have been careless in my love.  And I love him, this old Man who must perforce ride (in all haste) the path his only son has taken before him.  Of a sudden, I ken that blood matters not, not in this place, this time, so close to death.  I offer him my sword, my words falling between us in the gathering dark:

As a father you shall be to me.

And he answers, forging grief to grief, tying known sorrow to that which is to come:

For a little while.

How very long, sometimes, a little while might be.  Years, it seemed, were caught up in the mere count of days, months entangled in the dread day he fell.

Out of all that day, bloodied and riven by smoke-tattered clouds, I remember little.  Like a great bowl, it was, the field, a great bowl  over-filled with the pitiable remains of war.  And in the midst of it all, my King, my father-for-a-little-while, fallen, and evil stooping before him.

Cold seeps up my arm, still, as I walk in memory, as his eyes plead for a death by any hand save this, as a sword flashes silver-swift in the sullen air, as sun gleams against bright hair…….as my own arm, with its last strength,  finds for the blade of Westernesse a  final home.

I am laughing.  Laughing in the darkness of the day, as a foul livery, stripped from its faceless form, lies empty before me.  So evil melts away, like black ice beneath a spring sun.  He is safe, my King, my father, my Lord.  Safe. 

The world is spinning now, dipping into night, though I believe it might yet be day.  I have followed the body of my Lord into the city, and now I am lost.   Lost.  I  laugh again, a rusty laugh, like the blood upon my tunic.  All are lost, and I am the least of those…….

If only I may find where they have taken my Lord, I might lie down beside him.  I should like to walk with him in the Halls of which he spoke……

A voice.  Like water running swift it is, like pipe-weed and bitter ale on a sweet summer night….like….

Home.

Pippin.

Oh, Pip.


I pray that Master Took, The Thain, is well pleased with my effort.  Also, that he might never again ask me to recall those days, nor what we all gained by that which we lost.  

I should very much like for Estella to bring me some tea, now.   And my son.  Please, I should like to see my son.      

                                   
Samwise:  Naming Day  

Mr. Frodo sent me a letter once.  Near in time my wedding Rosie it was, yet close, too, upon the year he journeyed over the Sea.  In the post it came, though never a day there was I did not see him. 

He sent me a letter.  (Well, being Mr. Frodo, he sent many such, but this one I kept special, and trace the meaning of it when Spring visits).
 
I think he found plain joy in putting pen to paper, in seeing words unwind before him, like grey smoke rising up a chimney flue.
 
Full of enquiries, this letter, full of the curiosity that marked him, as much as anything else:  which bulbs were I planning to start come Spring, which barley might do well in that fallow field he held hard by Deephallow.......... whether or no he truly could grow mushrooms down cellar.......
 
Full amused I was, visioning him at his desk, penning the note in all haste, ne'er a thought passing through his head that we should see each other upon the morrow.
 
So busy about my mirth I was that scarce I noted the words, dropped accidental-like nigh to the very end of the parchment.  An afterthought, they seemed at first, lying so light between a request for the arbour to be summer-sewn with blue-bells, and an enquiry on the readiness of Gaffer's brew.
 
It were no accident, no after-thought, those words, standing plain as if they were alone upon the page:
 
Please, Sam.  Forgive him.
 
Fear and something I could not name, could not even find reason for, ran through me. 
Forgive him?
 
With all my heart, I thought I had, but the Master saw that which I did not, felt it tearing away at me, tearing, as sure as the creature had torn living flesh from him.
_________________________________________________________________
 
More quiet even than usual he was, when I chanced upon him in his study late next afternoon.  I minded what day had recent passed, and were glad he seemed not the worse for it. Not worse, yet seemingly no better.  Wandering, he was, and did not turn, even, when I spoke his name.
 
"Frodo."  This time without the title, and his head came about, focused upon where he was.
 
I made to give him the rough scrap of paper I held.  Good enough for him,  I thought, good enough.......
 
And stopped.
 
"Might I..........might I have one of your parchments, sir?" (knowing full well these same parchments were made special for the Master, coming all the way from the Last Homely House itself, and were meant for use in Mr. Bilbo's book.
 
Wordlessly, he handed over the sheaf, pointed me to the pot of midnight ink and his best quill, silently stepped through and closed the study door.
 
And now, all these many years later, I sit, still, in the chair that was his, sit for the last time and read aloud, to naught but the darkness, the words I penned on that day of Spring, so very long ago:
 
That Was My Name

None may remember him now,
none save me and you.

He, and his name that turned from one thing
to another.

Do you think, Master,
that he knew Spring,

and cared for the little rivers,

or took joy when the Sun warmed
a rain-washed earth?

Do you think he ever courted a lass,

or drew a deep draught of fine ale,
or danced 'round the fire on Summer-eve Night?
 
Did he e'er sit quiet 'neath the stars and think of naught,
or smoke sweet leaf under a harvest moon?

Did he e'er laugh at lac'd white, whirling soft upon the air,
lie warm abed in Winter?

Five hundred years and more.

Five hundred years to learn hate and fear,
and what it means to hunt and be hunted..

Five hundred years to forget he ever had a name.

Master, you know me.  None better.

You know what words I keep within my silence,
just as well as you know those I speak outright.
 

I am glad
he is gone, Master.

Master:

I found a thing, forgotten and lost among dust-scrolled 
parchment:
 
a hasty recollection of a child's birth,
a name faded against crumbled leaf.
  
Trahald  *

That was your name.

I knew you, Trahald.

Haply you have found peace.

 More certain, you have found my forgiveness.
 
With all my heart, this time, Trahald, my forgiveness.
________________________________________________________________________

*Trahald was Smeagol's name in the language of his own people, the early Stoors.  It means "burrowing".  "Smeagol" is an anglicized version of the name.  It comes from the Olde English root-word smygel, which is also the basis for the word "smial".

AN:    they have, at last, all departed away, and naught remains save the burnished echo of their voices, calling us through the doorways of time.

The Quest:  it is ours now, and this Fellowship, bound by love.     



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