Drawing of the Dark: 14 Days to Healing

by Dandy Baggins

My first coherent thought was of pain. My shoulder was burning with a cold I had never experienced before. How foolish of me to put on the Ring after all the warnings from Gandalf and Strider. Where was Sam? My last sight of him was a crumbled heap by one of tower ruins? How are we going to get to Rivendell? My shoulder ached, a chill wind blew over me, was it his breath? I opened my eyes and spoke "Where is the pale king?"

No, that wasn't what I meant to say. I shook my head. The pain from that movement nearly caused me to pass out again.

"Who, sir?" sounded the voice of my concern. Tears ran down my face.

"Oh Sam, your okay, I'm so glad."

Did I say it? Did I get it right that time? I still couldn't be sure.

"Help me, Help me to sit up. What happened?"

They did as I requested, then I saw the flames burning bright against the early morning sky. What were they thinking?

"You foolish hobbits have built the fire up again. Where is Strider?" I was beginning to feel better now that I wasn't lying down. Every movement had sent another painful wave down my arm.
Sam looked at the others and then he spoke. "Sir, it was Mr. Strider who told us the build up the fire to keep you warm, don't you remember. He had gone off again looking for a weed or something. After you told him about your shoulder and all, he kept saying something about needing Athelias and when I asked him what that was he said it was kingsfoil, but what he would want with a weed is beyond me, I never heard it had any virtue. He's gone again, begging your pardon sir, I don't know if we can trust him. It's nearly dawn now, sir and he's been gone most of the night."
"Sam, we have been all through this before, he has seemed to guide us well so far, up until last night when I foolishly put on the Ring." Our conversation came abruptly to an end when Strider reappeared.

"Frodo? You are awake? How does your shoulder feel? No, don't speak I can tell it pains you. I have found a plant that will help to heal part of your wound, but it will not heal it all. I have found the black rider’s knife." He took a deep breath "Frodo, I am afraid you have a splinter of the knife in your shoulder. That sort of wound is beyond the virtue of my small plant, so we must get to Rivendell as soon as can be. I will have the others breakdown the camp as I cleanse your cut" As he talked he placed water on the fire to boil. "I will have the others divide up the stores and leave what we can here, and you must ride the pony, I see you are still too weak to stand."

When the water was ready, he crushed in three of the leaves, and spoke softly over the bowl. It was elvish, but I could not make out the words. As the smell of the herb blew through the air, I saw the weariness of the restless night drop from the other hobbits faces, and a small smile lit Striders. Taking one of my shirts he tore it into strips and used it to bathe my shoulder before binding it up. He also washed my arm and side, and some of the pain and cold left them. I couldn't use my arm, so he fashioned a sling for it.

"Rest now, while we break camp we are 14 days out of Rivendell, and we must leave as soon as it’s full light."

Only 14 days, it seemed like a lifetime.

14 days to healing.

As I sit on the ponies back I have had a full day to ponder the world around. My heart is troubled seeing the younger hobbits carrying their packs. Sam is leading the pony. His pack is nearly twice the size of the others. I suspect several of the items that Strider had said to leave behind have ended up in Sam's pack. The pony treads lightly or that is possibly Sam's doings once again. Where one of the others missteps into ruts in their weariness, Sam never falters. He gently guides the pony round the ruts and onward we go. What a weary sight to see the young hobbits walking, while I sit here on the lap of luxury riding. Well, luxury might be the wrong word. This poor little pony wasn't hired for riding. There is no gear to ride on. Only a blanket lies between his backbone and me. I feel like I am going to be split in two. It has been too long since I rode bareback. We are all so weary from lack of sleep last night. I am quite sure none of the others got any, especially Sam. He is like a mother hen when someone is sick. I wonder if they will be able to heal me in Rivendell. Do you know that there is not much distance between the shoulder and the heart? Strider seems to think that's what they were aiming for, my heart. The very thought of that cause my stomach to clench in fear. Just a few inches, 14 days how did I get us into this mess?

We took only a few short breaks today. Strider is anxious to put as many miles between Weathertop and us as we can get. He doesn't think we will be attacked over the next few nights. He says they are waiting, but doesn't tell us what they are waiting for. His anxiousness has increased our own. Just as well, I too, would like to get as far away from Weathertop as I can. My shoulder is starting to ache again. But I won't say anything until tonight. Making a fire hot enough to boil water would take up to much time. And we have several more hours of daylight left. I wonder if I will ever be able to use my left hand again. I can't move it. Should I tell Strider that my wound is seeping blood?

No, that would cause another halt. Let me think what did Mrs. Gamgee do when someone was bleeding? Ah yes, she would apply pressure to the wound, and it would stop bleeding after a little while. Oh, but to touch it is going to hurt more. What to do? Stop and have it looked at? And risk "them" finding us again. Or just go on? Well, stopping doesn't seem to be the correct option right now. This is a rather open and there isn't much of a place to make a camp. How I remember Strider berating us before for not stopping until nightfall.

If I apply pressure to it, the bleeding should stop.
Hullo. What am I doing on the ground?

13 days to healing.

Silly old hobbit, leave the healing to those that know.

I never heard Strider and Sam in agreement before, but both of them this morning were berating me for not saying anything yesterday. I don't remember much from yesterday evening; in fact, I think Sam slipped something into my tea because I don't remember anything at all. And I am so tired today. Is it possible to sleep on a pony? Sam said he didn't slip anything into my tea. He said that I am suffering from a concussion, whatever that means. He said it was the fall off the pony yesterday that did it. A head is not supposed to contact the ground quite like that. Though I don't remember it, Sam said they had to wake me up every couple of hours to make sure I wasn't even worse hurt. It was another, sleepless night for him. Ah poor Sam. I wonder when the lack of sleep will catch up to him.

Strider re-bandaged my shoulder this morning. I do like it when he uses the Athelias leaves to bathe my arm. I know he is trying to spare the use, but there is comfort in the bathing, he sure has a light touch for one who has spent so much time in the wild. I wonder how old he is. Can't be much older than I, but looks are deceiving. I do not look 50 either, although I am starting to feel it now. Speaking of feeling things do you know I felt the splinter move this morning? It was almost like being stabbed again? It was about the same hour as the attack last night. Is it alive? How could it move? If it feels like that again tonight I will tell Strider. Maybe it was my imagination. Maybe a dream?

The order of our march has changed. Strider leads, of course, and Sam still leads the pony, but now either Merry or Pippin is next to me. Actually, they are usually walking side-by-side as now. I had not noticed it before. They are always cheerful. You would think that we were on a hobbit’s holiday if you just watched those two. Very refreshing it is. And chatter. Like two magpies. If one isn't talking the other is. And some of the jokes they try to play on poor Sam. Most of the time, he catches them in the act.

Lately, however, their conversations have started taking a serious turn. During some of our halts they have begun to ask Strider questions about the swords that we acquired. They are work of the Westernesse, made by men that came over the seas and fought against the sorcerer king on Angmar. Why even the mere thought of his name, causes my shoulder to ache. Scary that it is, to know I am linked now to one of those evil creatures, if by no more than just a mere stab in the dark.

Funny what you notice when you have time to think about it. I am tired.

Yes, I think it is possible to sleep on a pony.

12 days to healing.

A gasp, burst from my throat. The sharp pain had once again sliced through my shoulder. The shard moved. Last night wasn't a mistake and it wasn't a dream. "Strider-" It came out as another gasp. Thank goodness it was his and Sam's watch together or I might have woken up the whole camp. I tried again to speak. "Strider - the pain"

I clenched my teeth, for it wasn't just a flash of pain this time. This was far worse than before. It was inching its way to my heart. I could feel it. My body broke on into a cold sweat. Quickly Sam came over to where I lay, and knelt beside me. Oh dear, this was going to get complicated. My right hand gripped a stone, I had to try and hide this from Sam. I didn't want him to know, yet.

"Sir?"

"Bless you Sam. I knew you'd come over here first. Can you take the standing watch and get Strider for me? I need to ask him a question about tomorrow's journey. And then a bit of your comfort tea would be pleasant. It seems I am having trouble sleeping." It was not a strange request at this time of night. I occasionally suffer the Baggin's curse of insomnia.

"Is that all, Mr. Frodo, sir?"

I braved a smile for him, and replied yes. I saw his face lighten, and him nod, "Right away, sir." As his back turned to me, tears crept into my eyes. I hated to keep things from him, but he was shouldering enough cares right now, and I wasn't going to add to them. It was not by random chance that these two shared their watch. I loosened my grip on the stone, as he went over to speak to Strider and to take his place at the standing watch. Strider grabbed up his pack, approached, and knelt beside me.

"How are you feeling?" He whispered. His night vision saw the tell-a-tale beads of sweat on my forehead. "Any fever?" He poured water on to a rag and wiped off my face. The water helped.

"No, no fever, but my shoulder hurts something fierce, and Strider -" I took a deep breath. "Strider, the shard is moving - I can feel it, like a cold icicle - I am afraid."

"I was afraid it was something like that. I had hoped that I was mistaken and that you didn't have the tip inside. That makes it more dangerous, because it will continue to advance towards your heart, until Elrond can withdraw it. I do not have the skill or the training to remove it. And if I were to try, I cannot insure that I will get it all. The only thing we can hope for is that you have the strength to bear it. My plant will help some of the burden, but I have so little of it left. I am afraid we will run out long before we get to Rivendell. Ah, to be in The Shire where it grows so thick that it’s considered a weed. But if we were in The Shire then none of this would have happened." As he quietly talked, he changed the bandages. "Sam, said you had a question about tomorrows journey? Or was that just a ploy to keep him in the dark."

"Yes, it was a ploy. I do not want them to know yet. Although, I still would like some tea. It looks like it’s going to be a long night. I am use to sleeping on my side. Unfortunately it's the left one. This laying flat on my back is very uncomfortable. It was easier to sleep on the pony. And do you know, I can't even help myself to sit up? I never realized how much use your body made of the left arm and shoulder. What if our camp is attacked? I think I need to start sleeping sitting up. Propped against a rock or something. Or otherwise I'll just have to lay here and scare them away with my singing."

Aragorn chuckled and helped me to sit up. The pain had faded back to the dull ache again. "I'll get Sam. You still need to get some rest tonight, before you start battling Black riders with your voice."
I leaned back against the tree he had helped me prop up against. A cold shiver ran down my back. The thing moves. And still so far to go. I watch as the moon rises over the tree line and works its way across the sky. Sam brings me a hot mug of tea and my shaking hand seeks to absorb the warmth both inside and out. I touch the steaming mug to my left hand but feel, nothing. Not even a little bit of heat to ward off that chill. I pour a little bit of the tea onto my hand and still can not feel it. Sighing. It was no good. There was no way to heat it up.
I can feel Sam watching me from the corner of his eyes. And I begin to understand why after a few drinks the mug starts feeling to heavy for me to hold any longer. He made it a bit stronger than usual.
"Aye, sir but you needed it to be." He caught the mug just before I spilled it. I partially reopened my eyes and looked at him. I had not even realized that I had spoken aloud or when my eyes shut. He helped me drink the last of it.
"Your going to make it difficult for me to battle black riders this way Sam."
He smiled. "Yes Sir. I know."
11 days to healing
How we just plod along.
The world looks the same all around. Shrub trees with thin tattered brown leaves and dry brown grass. The hills behind, the mountains ahead. Ugh. A very dull shade of brown, even the sky. From the hobbit’s cloaks that block the wind, to the pony's soft furry skin. Ah. Waxing poetic are we now, Frodo? I thought to myself. And what kind of color is brown anyways? Is it a mix, say like the blending of blue and yellow to make green? Or is it a blending of all similar to black? Green is the color of spring. Blue is winter, red autumn, but brown? Is this the color of change?

Atrophy? The last bit of autumn before the coming of winter?

Finally the last of the Weathertop hills are sinking below the horizon. I hope I never have to camp in those hills again. Even if we return this way, I'll make them ride all night if need be. Never! Never again! It is getting harder and harder to hide the pain. I nearly woke up screaming last night. While sitting up to sleep did take some of the stress off my shoulder, still when the shard moved and the cold sweats returned it was almost more than I could handle and the pain is lasting longer each time.

The Athelias is gone. Strider used the remainder of it last night. Will I get a full nights rest ever again? It has only been four days since the attack on the hill. Those hills, how I hate them. I am so glad I no longer can see them behind me. The conical head of Weathertop lurking behind me all this way, the constant reminder of my foolishness. Well, I don't want to think about that any more today.

The world is too quiet. Not even the songs of birds.

What is happening in this strange land? The silence is so oppressive, it hurts my ears. I wonder where the black riders have gone off too. Maybe we have lost them in these trackless lands. We have not heard or felt their presence since we crossed the road. It is getting colder. And the clouds are building up too; I expect we will get rain soon, tomorrow maybe or the next day. The thought of being on a cold and wet pony is not a very cheerful one. There is not much to find cheer in lately.

Merry and Pippin don't even sing now. I wish they would. It might help to forget the pain. One of Mr. Bilbo's songs would be nice right now. His walking song, perhaps? Maybe I can hum a few bars to myself? I wonder where that foolish old hobbit is. Drinking beer with the dwarves at Lonely Mountain no doubt, playing checkers with Balin (and losing again). Perhaps just beginning to have a bit of supper at this hour, I sure miss the old fool. He always knew what to do when I was sick or injured. I laugh to myself, not that he had to take care of any of the childhood diseases, and there were always so many people at Brandy Hall. No lack of caregivers there, that's for certain. I pull my cloak closer around me as I watch the sun dip out of sight behind the hill. When did the temperature drop?

Nighttime is coming. I dread its arrival.
I sure wish someone would sing.

10 days to healing.

The scream was rent from my throat without warning. Gone was any sense of trying to hide the pain. The tears of agony ran down my face. On the pain came, not in waves but long and agonizing. I couldn't think. I couldn't breathe. Words filtered through the pain. It was Strider's voice; he was barking commands at the others. I could only make out snatches.

"Merry! Hot water..Sam! Yes, his hand.."

I did not know one could scream this long. Make it stop. Elbereth! Someone make it stop. A cool rag touched my forehead. I wanted to brush it away. A small hand clasps my right as I raised it to brush aside the towel. Ah, something to concentrate on. A small hand must be Pippins. I squeezed it in agony. I tried to block the pain of the left by concentrating on the right. The pain receded as suddenly as it started. Tears of relief now ran down my face. My breathing returned back to normal. Tears of agony, tears of relief. What irony is this? I opened my eyes. My body shakes and not just from the cold ground, the scream of pain had sounded unnatural even to my own ears.

They were kneeling by me in the dark. Sam was holding my left hand and Pippin my right. The tears were glinting in all the hobbits eyes. Merry and Strider were applying hot rags to my side and left arm. The warmth relieved some of my chills. My voice was a whispered croak as I spoke. "A little tea.. please.."

Sam laughed, and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. "Mr. Frodo you didn't have to wake up the entire campsite like that for a spot of tea. I could have made it for you without rousing everybody else." I managed a small smile as his joke, and took a drink from the cup he offered.
"Sorry.. Sam.." The effort to talk was almost too much I closed my eyes again. "I'll try to be more considerate in the future...."

I awoke again just before dawn. Merry and Pippin were still sleeping as Sam and Strider were smoking their pipes and packing up the campsite. Sam took the pipe out of his mouth and used it to point at them. "We figured we'd let them sleep a bit longer to make up for last night. I must say Mr. Frodo; you gave us quite a scare, with that shriek of yours. Are you sure your okay to ride? Strider wants to move as soon as it’s fully light, but I want to be sure you can stay awake on the pony before we head out. It's fixin' to rain today and I don't want you blown off his back. Looks like its going to be a storm like the one we encountered right before we got to Bree, and it was hard enough that night to walk upright let alone riding half asleep and without any tack. We're going to wish we were undercover of a roof and not out wandering the wilds, afore its over."

"I can make it, I must." My voice was nearly back to normal again. "And Sam, thank you for last night. I needed the smile."

His smile broadened as he spoke. "I was just doing my job, sir."

The ride was the same as before and before. Well if you discount the rain and the fact that the ground was beginning to rise. The lands remained much the same although it seemed to be more gray than brown, it must be because of the rain. It difficult to make out much under its steady fall, But I could feel the slope rising in front of us. I did manage to stay awake most of the day. It's hard to sleep when you have to fight to keep from sliding of a wet, damp pony. But with Merry and Pip walking on either side of me now, I keep my seat well enough. We aren't traveling late today since the rain will cause it to get dark earlier.

Why does it seem so gray? I think I am beginning to dislike rain.

9 days to healing.

Does pain never end? I have lost my voice; Strider said it was too much stress on the vocal chords. I, a grown hobbit, screaming his fool head off in the dark of the night and after an hour or more it became a silent scream. It had been a long night for all of us. The rain did not let up until late. And of course the shard's travel went on. Thank goodness though the rain had stopped and we will be able to go further today. I dread any stop or halt now. I just want to get to Rivendell. I was right; the ground had been rising yesterday. Today we are reached the top of the slope. From here we could see a line of hills. And thin and gray the road and a river snaking between them. We had been treading northeastwards for the past two days.

"I am afraid we must go back to the Road for awhile" Strider's voice broke through my thoughts. "We have come to the River Mitheithel, and there is no way to cross it saves for the Last Bridge. Fortunate indeed if we do not find the Last Bridge held against us. I think we should make straight for the road now, as hard and as fast as possible. There is a small copse of trees before we get to the road where we will camp in for the night. I have stayed there before. There will be ample firewood to keep us warm, and Frodo, there is Athelias growing there too. Not abundantly but it should get us through the next couple of nights."

I nodded acknowledgement at his words and fell back into my thoughts. That was some relief. A night with less pain would be most welcome. Where was Gandalf in this wild, world? Why didn't he meet us as he promised? Is he ahead somewhere clearing a path for us? And what will happen when we reach the Bridge? Are we walking straight into an ambush there? The Road. I can see the necessity of returning to the road. An ill feeling crept up from the pit of my stomach. Nothing good has resulted anytime our feet touched it. It was on the road the Black Rider first caught up with us in The Shire. It was on the road that they once again caught up with us in Bree, and finally on that accursed Weathertop. The temptation to put on the ring gets stronger each time. What will happen the next time I put it on? Or the next? Where did that thought come from? Why would I even put it on one more time? Let alone two? Where is Gandalf? I just want to turn this whole thing over to him and be done with it. It is too great a matter for me.

Where did the time go? I must have slept on the pony again. We have reached the copse for the night. Oh, why must we halt again? If I get down off the pony, then night will fall. I can't take another night like the last two. I shook my head at Sam, who stood waiting to help me dismount. Tears of frustration slid down my cheeks.

"Come Frodo." Strider's voice sounded encouraging. "I have found the plant. Lets see what will happen if we add it to Sam's tea. Maybe the combination of our little magic's will help you sleep through the night."

"Please Mr. Frodo" Sam pleaded. "You must come down."

I sighed and slid off the pony. Another day over, night will come.

The Road. Tomorrow our feet will touch it again. Surely nothing good can come from that.
8 days to healing

"Wake up Mr. Frodo. Its time for breakfast."

"Just 15 more minutes, Sam?"

"Now sir, if you don't get out of bed now. You know Mr. Bilbo is going to be mighty put out with you. You know how he enjoys having second breakfast with you."

"5 more?"

"Okay you have forced me into it." He threw open the shutter. The sun filtered in through the curtains. The sound of crows echoed in. A dark shape formed in the distance, the sun was blotted out for a moment. The crow flew at us; larger and larger it grew as it approached.

"Duck! Sam!" I yelled. "It’s going to fly in the window...run...it’s coming for us, "A weight was on my chest, and I couldn't sit up. We weren't going to make it, unless I sat up.

My heart was racing. Thank goodness. It was only a dream. A second later it felt like my shoulder finally caught up with the rest of my body. I bit my lip to keep from yelping with the momentary pain as it came and went. Glancing around the camp I realized that it was late or rather early. Sam’s tea had helped. I had nearly slept the night away, it was nearly dawn, but I was still so tired. I lay back down and I threw my right arm over my eyes to help block out the moonlight and fell back asleep.

When next I awoke I lay listening to the sounds of the morning. A thrush was singing in one of the trees. The crows that plagued my predawn dreams were calling to each other. It sure is nice just to lay here and be able to listen to the morning sounds again. Merry and Pippin were chattering about their last raid on Farmer Maggots fields. It's a very animated discussion. Makes me very glad I am not farmer in The Shire. I wish they would stop talking about food, my stomach is growling.

"Hey would you two quiet down, you are making me hungry." I sat up with a grin. "When is breakfast anyways?"

"Ah you always were a lay-a-bed, Frodo" Merry smilingly said. "We never could get you to wake you up for first breakfast, no matter how hard we tried. No wonder you never grew any bigger then a tween. You always missed out on half the meals."

"I think you were just trying to get out of cleaning up after the meals" Pippin joked.

'Ah, you try cleaning up after Merry's lunches, Pip. He once used every pan I had in Bag End to cook a meal." I joked in return.

"Oh you were always trying to get out of work. Frodo. I think you intentionally burn food just to get out cooking. Look at how you lazed about today while we had to pack and get ready to go. That was your plan wasn't it? To sleep until all the work was done. Ha. Now I see your mind."

I felt the smile leave my face and a cold chill blew through me. Why did his comment bother me?

"What did I say?” asked Merry to Pippin, who shrugged his shoulders.

"Frodo, what is that matter?" asked Pippin

I shook my head. “I don't know.” It was almost as if it wasn't Merry's voice that I heard. No. I told myself firmly. I will not think about it. "It was nothing.. I must have just felt a cool breeze or something. Where have Strider and Sam gone off too?"

"They have gone to spy out the road. They should return soon." Merry said, serious now. "Do you suppose 'they' will be waiting for us at the bridge?"

"I hope not. Pippin, you mentioned second breakfast, did you louts save me any or am I going to have to cook it for myself?"

"It would serve you right to eat something that you made. Gah. Yes, there is breakfast for you; Sam threatened us within an inch of our lives. We even kept it warm for you."

"Thanks Pip, Merry. You don't know what it means to me to have you three by my side."

I was just finishing up eating, when Strider returned to the camp.

"Where is Sam?"

"I have left him to watch the road, there has been nothing on it since the rain two days ago. If we hurry we can get there, cross the bridge and be undercover this afternoon. I would prefer us to be on and off the Road while the midday sun still burns bright. If you are finished we can be up and out of here in no time, that's if these scamps did what I told them."

"We finished, we finished." Merry quipped back at Strider. "We were just waiting on Frodo to finish eating so we can clean up the pan" He gave me a mock sneer. "Getting out off washing up again aren't you."

It didn't take us very long to clean the pan and pack up my bedrolls. Merry and Pip for all their joking complaints had everything gathered and packed up. And of course, Sam would already have his pack; he never strayed very far from it. One mile, two we scramble down the Road, there is no sign of life other than a few birds. At last, a sight of the bridge. Our plan is to have Strider go on alone, and make sure it was clear before the rest of us crossed. From the roadside I can see his cautious approach to bridge, how stealth-fully he can move, it’s almost elf-like. He crossed the bridge once and on his return trip he stooped and picked up something from the middle of the bridge. He hurried back to our post. In his hand he held a stone.

"This is a beryl, an elf-stone, whether it was set there on purpose or dropped by chance, I do not know, but I am going to take it as a sign that we can cross the bridge safely. But within a mile or to we will turn north to avoid another loop in the road. We dare not keep to the Road without a better sign."

Quickly we went over the bridge, the river Mitheithel, the sound of the water flowing under it is the only sound we heard. Another mile passed and finally we have entered a ravine that runs north of the road. At last we are off the hateful road. Not a sign of the enemy. Not a whisper of danger. It is time for another turning. On and On. The hills march easterly along our route. The day that started so pleasant was drawing to end. The sun that shown so brightly all day was now beginning to set.

"How much further tonight, Strider?" I was beginning to miss the camaraderie of the campfire.

"We will rest under the dark trees of that forest ahead. I want to make sure we are deep undercover tonight, and our tracks are lost in the fallen leaves."

Why do the enjoyable moments pass swiftly by? While the painful ones seem to drag?

7 days to healing.

Plod, plod, plod

I wish I could walk along with the others. Not only would it help reduce their burdens and it would give me something to break the monotony. I hope that after this I shall never have to ride the bareback of pony again. Seven days. Finally, we have reached the half way mark. It has been a long, weary struggle. The Athelias tea is helping but still the pain lingers on, waiting for another day to rear its ugly head.

I have had a chance to look around today. The hills that's are rising about us are littered with broken towers and ruined battlements. It's a strange feeling they seem hauntingly familiar. Almost like I have been here before. I wonder who lives in the towers for they seem so decayed. Where have I heard of this threatening and comfortless land before? It is like walking on the edge of a tale.
"Who lives in this land, and who built these towers?" I asked Strider who was gazing at the towers too.

"No one lives in these lands. The towers were built years ago, but all was destroyed in the war that brought the North Kingdom to an end. The men that dwelt here ages ago fell under the shadow of Angmar. But that was so long ago that the hills have forgotten them"

"Where did you learn such tales, if even the hills have forgotten." Pip asked.

"The heirs of Elendil, do not forget all things past, and many more things are remembered in Rivendell"

"Have you often been to Rivendell?" Sam asked.

"I dwelt there once, and still I return when I may." said Strider.

Rivendell, Ah, that's it that is why they seem so familiar. Bilbo told me about seeing these towers from the Road, long ago. It was just before he met up with the trolls. I chuckled as I remembered the old tale about poor Bilbo and his squashed toes. Maybe there is something I can do for the others that will help take their mind off the trek today. I looked at the three other hobbits trudging along side the pony.

"Lads, would you like to hear one of Old Bilbo's tales as we go along. Seeing the towered hills has reminded me of it."

With a whoop, a nod, and a "please sir," the other three agreed.

"Okay let me see if I can remember it a right, it has been quite sometime since I told the tale. It was the last day of May and it was raining, hard, the thirteen dwarves with little Bilbo traveled down the road. Gandalf had disappeared again and the dwarves were in a huff."

"As usual" Merry interjected.

"Ha! You remember that? Yes, that is correct. The dwarves were in a huff, as usual. It was getting late so they stopped their ponies for the night, atop one of the many hills somewhere around here, and tried to make a camp for the night. Well none of the dwarves was able to make a fire and they were fighting and arguing among themselves. And poor Bilbo thought about his home and hearth, and wanted nothing more than to be back at Bag End beside a roaring fire, and sitting down to a hot meal."

"A very hot meal" added Pippin, "With lots of it"

"Shh" said Sam. "I'm trying to hear the story"

I continued. "It was while they were arguing that Balin (who was on look out) spied a fire in the night away ahead under the trees. And it was decided that Bilbo needed to go before and spy out the fire and return. He put up an argument our little Bilbo, but he seemed to be quite out numbered. So very quietly, and hobbit-like Bilbo sneaked down to the fire and discovered the trolls."

"This is where it gets good,” whispered Merry to Strider, who was also listening to the story.

"Shh" said Sam and Pip together.

"Well hindsight says that Bilbo should have left them to eat their sheep. But Bilbo, rather foolishly decided to try his hand at picking one of the trolls pockets. Now, for someone who didn't have any experience with either pocket picking or trolls it didn't take him very long before he was caught. Poor Bilbo was grabbed by a foot, and dangled by his leg, as the trolls decided whether or not he was big enough to eat. Well, while they were arguing Balin, who was slightly worried about Bilbo, came down in search of him. And soon POP over his head went a sack. Bilbo was tossed aside, he wouldn't make a meal but the dwarf would. Poor Bilbo and his poor crushed toes, which had been nearly broken by the trolls grip, watched helplessly as the trolls caught the 13 dwarves one by one. Now things looked very bleak for Thorin and Company when Gandalf returned secretly and kept the trolls arguing with each other all night, until without warning! The sun arose and...."

"POOOF" Shouted the other three hobbits at the same time and Strider burst out laughing.

"Ha! Yep and poof, turned them all into stone." I said laughing. "You know, I wonder if we will come near that place on the way to Rivendell."

"Oh Frodo, you don't really believe that old tale do you.."

"Well, Pip I.."

"Oh don't ask him or Sam that, Pip, of course they believe it, Frodo and Sam grew up with Uncle Bilbo's tales. Neither one of them will ever say that when Uncle Bilbo spoke it wasn't the truth."

"Hey Strider, in all your travels have you ever seen the stone trolls?" asked Pippin.

I caught another small smile on Striders face. "No, I can't say that I have seen the trolls, but that doesn't mean they don't exist."

"See." Said Sam emphatically. "They do exist."

"Well," Pippin joked, "If I ever meet up with a troll I'll show him a thing or too."

"Oh Pip, you wouldn't recognize a troll if it hit you." Sam replied.

It seems to be getting cold, I wonder if the others can feel it?

6 days to healing.

I really am beginning to dislike rain.

The hills are closing in around us. What an eerie feeling.

This valley goes on forever. It is very hard on the others, scrambling among the rocks and fallen trees. And what more, it is raining again. It has rained though much of the day, and its not a gentle fall rain. It is a cold, driving rain from the west with no sign of letting up. I am very cold and very wet, and my body aches miserably, especially my shoulder. Every step the pony takes sends another wave of pain through me. Will this day ever end?

Why can’t I get warm? Sam was even kind enough to toss the spare blanket over me, but even that doesn't keep out the chill. I wish I had a warm mug of tea to hold between my hands. No wonder, the dwarves were so huffy in Bilbo's story. If it was this cold that rainy day in May then they must have been must have been a very unhappy company, indeed. I really would like to sit along side a hot fire, with a big hearty meal, and a full pipe. And still we trudge northward, there is no way out. The valley rises about us, trapping us into a ravine of dark empty space and climbing out is now out of the question. How would we get the pony and me up there? I can barely hold onto the reins with my right hand. Thank goodness this pony seems so attached to Sam. There would be no way for me to keep my seat if he ever bolted in fright. A mist seems to be gathering. It’s hard to make out any features through the rain. Gray, it's a color even worse than brown.

Ah Frodo, I thought to myself, you are all woe and no glow today.

The rain is starting to fall harder. I could no longer see Strider's ahead.

"We are stopping." Striders yelled back through the storm, swiftly he came back to the four of us. "We are going to lose each other if we keep going. "

"Okay, but where?" I yelled, back at him, the wind seemed to be blowing our voices away.

"We need to find shelter against one of the western ledges. The storm is too strong for us to go on until it lets up. I know of a small alcove not quite a cave, we can shelter there and wait out the storm. Follow me."

He was right; it was a small alcove under a ledge, barely enough room to huddle together.

At last some shelter from the cold. I leaned back against one of the cold walls. Huddled in my cloak and blanket, it is so cold, and yet I’m so tired. I dosed as Sam and Strider prepared to make a fire.

"Sorry, sir." Sam's voice roused me from sleep.

"What is it, Sam?"

"We tried sir, really we did, but we can't get a fire going, the wood is too saturated from the rain." His voice was full of sadness.

"Well, no harm done, Sam. It’s just a little thing."

He interrupted me, "But sir, you don't understand."

"Guess not, what is it Sam, that is bothering you so?"

"Oh sir," now I could hear that he was crying, his voice breaking "No fire, means no tea."

Maybe it wont be so bad. Too tired to eat, too cold and sore to sleep properly, the evening was miserable. Once again I dropped off into an uneasy sleep. At this rate it was going to be a long night.

I watched in blind horror as the five moving steadily down the ravine. Their cloaks were gone. A pale light shown about them. No longer did they have to try to figure out which of us had the Ring. They knew. Their blades were raised again. I backed up against the stony ledge, my sword falling from my grasp at their command. I was trapped. Where were my friends, my companions? Lost in a gray world and they could not find me. I heard their voices far away. An echo. But loud and clear I heard the command to put on the Ring. I watched in horror as my left hand, crept slowly toward the pocket that held the Ring. My hand, which would not obey me, was obeying them. No. I yelled at them, I would not yield. Startled, by my shout. He stepped closer and grabbed my arm. The cold burn of his hand pierced my head. Then he drew his knife and plunged it once more into my shoulder. I screamed. The pain was just too great, the more I struggled the more he held me down. I couldn't move. The pain pressed me back against the ledge. Shriller and shriller my voice went up. I couldn't bare it, stop, please, I pleaded. Make it stop, cant breathe. The echoes from the scream died. Still the pain went on deeper and deeper. Why wouldn't he let go of me? Help me somebody please help me. No sound came from my ragged throat. "Elbereth, please help me." I whispered. And just as suddenly the knife was drawn out and he disappeared. Remember, a voice echoed in my mind remember.

I woke up; I was lying on my back Sam was sitting on top of me. Merry and Pippin were holding down my arms and Strider was attempting to restrain me from banging the back of my head against the ground.

I looked up at Strider and whispered, my voice gone again. "They are coming."

5 days to healing

Rain and more rain. Will it never stop?

Another drip landed on my leg. It ran it's cold tentacles down my leg and to the ground. Another shiver passed through my body. It was so cold, so painfully cold and empty. I huddled in my cloak and blankets against the ledge wall. My forehead pressed against my knees. We were all trying to get some much-needed rest while the rain poured on. Since we can't move, might as well sleep or....

"Something to eat Mr. Frodo," Sam offered. "It’s not hot, of course, but it will be filling."

I looked up at him. I saw the shocked look again, and caught the glint of tears in his eyes.

I put my head back down again.

"No thank you" I whispered, "If I eat, I'll be sick."

They were all like that since this morning, ever since the little light that could filter through the rain, revealed another gift left by the Morgul blade. The irises of my eyes had turned an icy white.

I felt trapped under this ledge. How soon would it take them to reach us? Did the rain stop them also? Surely they must have been stopped. Their horses were real; they too, must get weary sometimes. Were they two days behind us, three? I wish we could get out of this horrible valley. Strider believes that it should stop raining tonight and that we will be able to leave in the morning. I certainly hope so. This little alcove is little enough protection from the rain; we’re stuck up against the side of a wall. Even pondering hurts, I closed my eyes and dosed again.

I watched in blind horror the five moving steadily down the ravine. Their cloaks were gone. A pale light shown about them...No..I shook myself awake. That same dream again.

"Strider!" I whispered. "We must move the camp, now, or it will be too late! I can feel them Strider they are inside my head. Rain or no rain, we must move." The effort to speak was exhausting.

Quickly he instructed the others to load the gear onto the pony.

"I'll carry Frodo," he said, "We must move quickly." I felt myself slung over Strider's shoulder, like a sack of potatoes and felt the jar of his back against my shoulder. The pain crashed through me and I gasped, the shock of the impact nearly caused me to black out again. Where was Gandalf in all this mess?

"Hang on Frodo." I heard the words in my ears.

“We’re six days from Rivendell, he’ll never make it” Replied Sam.

“Have faith Sam, your Mr. Frodo has endured this long. He’ll make it.”

On through the evening and into the night Strider led us, a few halts for rest and onward he urged the others. It was close to midnight and the rain had finally let up, the moon was starting to rise over the rim of the valley, half-full, when we finally halted at another small cave.

"Frodo, can you still feel them?" Strider asked. His breath barely strained, while the others were panting heavily. I shook my head. Their presence and the terrible sense of foreboding that had come over me were gone. "Well we must rest for the night anyways. I'm sorry, Frodo it’s going to be another cold and damp one. The wood in the ravine is still saturated by the rain."

I nodded it. It was no worse than I expected.

I am in pain. The pain is me. There is no relief that I can see. I sat against the back wall of the small cave and quietly wept.

4 days to healing

The pain is me. I am the pain...The pain is me. I am the pain...the litany ran through my mind...

I stood in the garden in the Shire. The grass growing about my feet, surely Sam would have trimmed it by now. Where was he? Usually he joins me on these late night walks when my insomnia keeps me awake. I don't know why tonight would be any different. Well someone must clip the grass. I picked up Sam's shears where the lay abandoned in the yard. How unlike Sam to just drop them. I kneeled down in the grass and started trimming. Where had all these rocks come from? I threw them over the hedge. How can I clip the grass, when I have to stop every couple of inches to throw rocks out of the garden too? I had not clipped very far when I paused. Then I heard a noise. Looking back over my shoulder I saw the grass behind me had already grew another foot. At this rate I was not going to catch up with it. I looked around again, a sudden chilled pain swept through me. There was someone watching me. I could feel it. "Sam, Is that you?" I asked the night. "Sam?" There was no response. The grass suddenly turned gray and started to wilt at my feet, "What the..?" I didn't want it to die. That isn't what I wanted; soon the entire yard turned this ghastly color and started to fade. No! Bilbo's beautiful garden was dying. A voice sounded. I looked up, a shadow appeared on the other side of the hedge. One of the Black Riders stood there peering at me through the night. He forced his way through the gray hedge and advanced, his arm stretch toward me..

I sat up. Strider was sitting up watching the dawn spread across the sky. He heard my movement and came to the back of the cave. "How are you feeling?” He asked his voice quiet, so he wouldn't wake the others. "Can I get you anything?"

"Maybe some water." I whispered. "I can't seem to find my canteen."

Strider chuckled quietly. "That's because, Sam moved it when you started throwing things in your sleep. Quite the active dreams you are having Frodo. You’re jumping up ready to bolt, screaming in pain, or throwing things at us."

"Sorry.." I started to whisper. He waved away my apology. Another sound was heard. We turned to look but it was just Sam waking up.

"Sir? Do you need anything?" He said jumping to his feet. "Why didn't you call me, Strider?" He glared at the ranger. "I told you to call me when he woke up."

"I didn't call you, because he just woke up. And you needed your sleep. You won't do your Mr. Frodo any good stumbling around in exhaustion. Take your sleep when you can. Remember that Sam, especially these days. Now, I need you to stay here while I climb the ledge and get my bearings, after last nights dash in the dark, I think we have come to far north. Rest, eat. I'll be back shortly. Guard them well Sam."

Thank goodness the rain had stopped. A gray mist lay about the valley. After effect of the storms, I surmised. We ate a cold, comfortless breakfast and waited, it was not very long before he returned.

"Yes, it is as I feared we have gone to far north. There is a valley a mile back that runs south-eastward that is the direction we will need to go."

We stumbled our way through the rocks and downed trees. The winds direction had shifted around to the south and soon the clouds were being blown from the sky. It took most of the day to make our way through the next valley. The going was difficult, and soon became worse as our company was brought to a halt by a high ridge that crossed our path.

"Well, we have a choice, Frodo, we can either go back or.."

I shook my head; going back was no longer an option.

"No? Than our only other option is climbing the ridge, and I fear that means you have to climb, I do not think we will be able the pony up either, but we shall see."

Nodding, I dismounted with Sam's help. Looking up at the ridge, I was as ready as I could ever be. It wasn't as bad as I first thought. It was worse. My lifeless arm hung at my side. I could not use it to keep myself from slipping. After an hour everything had numbed into one purpose, to reach the top, my right arm and shoulder ached as it bore the brunt of the spills. Clenching my teeth against the pain, I fought the ridge with as much strength as I could muster. Even with Merry and Pippins aid, the way was difficult. I felt pieces of my life being left behind on the rocks we scrambled over. And just when I thought I could not drag myself any further. We reached the top. Thank Elbereth, I threw myself to the ground and lay shivering from the cold and strain. The trees and rocks turned shadowy and faded as I closed my eyes in exhaustion.

"Mr. Frodo?" Sam's voice woke me in the dark.

When had the sun set? Why was it so dark?

"Mr. Frodo, Sir.. Wake up sir, for a little while.. I made you some tea.."

3 days to healing

The bright morning sun had chased the last of the clouds out of the sky, although a gray fog seemed still to lay about the lands. Strider and Merry had scouted ahead and caught a glimpse of the river Bruinen again. "How could they see it?" I thought to myself. "The fog had not yet lifted?" Still I did not question Strider, his eyes seemed to see keener than the rest of us. It was time to head back towards the road and the final Ford. The land sloped away from us down into a valley of firs and hardwoods. It was a gentle slope and I was able to ride again. The light from the sun so warming to the cold embers of my heart, the clouds are gone. But why doesn't the sun drive away the gray fog? I rubbed my eyes, and my vision cleared a little. It wasn't a fog. It was me.

"There's a path here!" Pippin cried.

Overgrown it was, but unmistakably a wide path was before us. The downed trees and boulders that had so plagued us before had been pushed to the sides of it.

"Should we chance it Strider? It looks to be the easiest way down the slope." I asked.

"What do you feel?" He asked in return.

"If you are asking if I sense anything evil before us, I would have to say no, not yet at least. I think it is safe for the moment."

We traveled down the path; it really was the easiest way down the hill. Merry and Pippin had gone on ahead. Our slow, plodding pace wasn't quick enough for them under the bright sunshine. The pony stepped lighter than it had in days. I patted him on the neck. I wonder if Sam had named him yet.

"Sam?"

He looked back in surprise; I suppose I really hadn't been very talkative. How I missed my evening pipes and talks with Sam in the Shire. "Sir?"

"I was wondering if you have named the pony yet. I have not had a chance to take notice of what you call him."

"Well sir, I have been thinking about that, and I have taken to calling him Bill. You know after old Bill Ferny who sold him to us. A bit of a bargain, he is now, isn't he? Well, worth the silver pennies. He has the strength and the heart of a lion that he does. And a bit of an insult to Mr. Ferny it is."

"Bill. Yes, it seems to fit him very well." Our talk was cut off by Pippin and Merry running back up the hill. Both looked like they had seen a ghost. Sam stopped the pony. The moment lost again.

"There are trolls in the woods ahead...They are very large." Pippin panted the words. "We caught sight of them through the trees." Merry nodded in agreement.

"Trolls?' Asked Strider, picking up a large stick; "Let's go see."

Quietly, we proceeded down the slope. Pip was correct; there was the shape of trolls in the clearing ahead. Unconcerned Strider walked up to them and prodded one of them. It didn't move.

"HA!" said Sam. "See, I toldee so. Mr. Bilbo's stone trolls do exist." He said with a happy grin.

"I think it would be a good time to stop for luncheon." The sun was high and the younger hobbits were starting to sweat in the heat. "I am hungry, and they look like they could use a break. What say you, Strider?"

"Well, as long as you will eat something yourself Frodo. We'll stop for a little while. No just pushing your food around your plates, like you have been doing."

I smiled sheepishly at him. So he had noticed that. "You know, now you sound like Bilbo. He was always telling me that."

We stayed in the clearing until afternoon; Sam sang a silly song he made up about the trolls. It was the first song we have heard since Weathertop, and it was heartening to hear a voice singing again. It had been too long. It was early evening when at last we reached, once again, the dreaded Road.

For an hour or two we traveled down the road. It was heading towards evening and the shades of they day were coming to a close, when we heard the dreaded sound of hoof beats behind us. Quickly we scrambled off the road, my heart was racing.

"Frodo?" Strider asked quietly. I shook my head; it didn't feel like a Black Rider. He nodded in return and went back to watching the road. Suddenly he sprang from undercover into the road. A burst of elvish sprang from both their tongues, my heartbeat calmed; it was an elf from Rivendell. We were found at last.

"Hail and well met Frodo,” he said, "I am Glorfindel.

"Hail and well met." I climbed down from the pony and took about three steps to greet him. I felt the blood drain from my face, and I dropped to my knees, a wave of dizziness had overcome me. I felt Sam's arms help me into a sitting position.

"Better, Sir?" He asked. I thought I nodded, for it was too much effort to speak.

"You are awfully pale, sir."

It was the last words I heard, as night fell down about me.

2 days to healing

The tower swayed in the wind. Blackness lay about the lands. The dark impenetrable. I was high above the ground. I watched as the world sank away from the top of the tower. I was going to fall. The wind blew harder and harder from the east. Across the tower he advanced towards me. Another rider in Black. Why wouldn't he leave me alone? He plagues my dreams, always showing. Never speaking. The sky suddenly filled with more black creatures circling the air. They were landing, joining him. His advance continued. I backed away, my shoulder throbbing in time with my racing heartbeat. Back and back I moved until I could go no further, I was brought to a halt by a short wall behind me. There was no escape. A cold wind blew up my back. Again I saw his long clawed hand reaching towards me. No! I had to get away, but there was only one way down. I put my leg over the wall. No way to escape except to....

I jumped off the horse and landed in the surprised arms of Glorfindel.

"Are his dreams always this violent?" I heard him ask Strider.

"Lately? Yes."

Why was it so dark? Where had the sun gone? Why were we traveling at night?

"We need to get him back on the horse."

"They are all weary, let them sleep for a little while. It was a long journey in the night"

The words faded.

I awoke to a discussion. The white horse? He'll ride ahead if the enemy approaches. My brow wrinkled as I listened to the conversation. They were discussing me, leaving them, should danger approach. What a concept. Leave my friends to fight alone? While I ride off to safety? I think not. I roused myself.

"No!" My voice raised above their discussion. "Absolutely not! I will not leave my friends behind in danger."

"It is you Frodo, and that which you bear that brings the danger upon them. You must ride the horse. It will surely lighten the load for your friends." Glorfindel argued.

"Please, Mr. Frodo?" Sam pleaded. I looked at the others. The worries and the weariness of the last fourteen days were etched into their faces. They were much too young to have the cares so deeply defined. I sighed and nodded, won over by their silent appeals, which only Sam had the heart to voice aloud.

The day dragged on. Half awake, half asleep my mind flitted like a dragonfly across a still pond. How many days were they behind us? I could feel them drawing nearer by the hour. How soon until once again we are running blindly in the night and now the danger seems to be both to the front and the rear. I wonder had Gandalf reached Rivendell.

"Glorfindel?" I saw the elf start. "Had Gandalf reached Rivendell before you left? We guessed that he was about three days ahead of us when we were at Weathertop."

"He had not reached it before I left, but that was ten days ago. And I did not pass him on the road Frodo, so I do not know. But you had asked me this same question last night, do you not remember?"

"I had? I must have forgotten. Still it would be comforting to know that he is there ahead of us."

"Comforting, indeed." commented Strider.

I lapsed back into silence. The dragonfly resumed its pond skimming. Comfort? And what is that anymore. A wish? A dream of an ending? The elven drink has wakened my mind, but does nothing for my spirit or my body. I feel so lethargic. If only I could sleep. How wonderful it would be to sleep in a real featherbed again, with soft pump pillows and a warm down comforter. How deliciously warm that would be. Warmth. Where has the sun gone? The world is so unfamiliar; the light has gone out of it, save one, and that is the soft glow of the elf. Will I never see and feel the sun again and be truly warm? To say that the pain has redoubled is an understatement to what I feel at this time. Will this riding never end? I am so weary of it. Where will we stop tonight? Will he be on hand to trouble my dreams? I dread the night for I fear my dreams. I dread the day, for I can no longer see my friends. Why can I no longer see them? Where was Sam? He had said he wouldn't leave my side, yet, I can no longer hear them walking. I can no longer see them through the darkness.

I am so alone now. And something Evil is approaching.

1 day to healing

They hovered over me. Their flat face peering down into my dreams.. Hands reaching through the mists clutching, dragging me towards an abyss without bottom.. Grey-green shadows without features lying in wait, weaving claws which flay my flesh from the bones. I wake with faces that hover above me. Who are they? What do they want.. It no longer matters for I know them not.

"Fly! The enemy is upon us! Fly!' The voice of the elf, what was his name? Awakened me. "Frodo, you must ride!" I couldn't move, my shoulder burned with a deadly cold. Fly? How? Why?

"They are holding him" Slowly from my groggy state I roused, they wanted something. Who? My body was being torn in half. “Fly fool” screamed one half “halt” whispered the other. Who is talking? Suddenly another voice broke though the gray.

"Noro lim, Noro lim. Asfolath."

Elvish? Bilbo? Slowly my brain translated. "Ride on, Frodo, Noro lim means ride on."

"Yes Bilbo, I remember now." I spurred my pony. "Where too? Where are we going?"

"To Rivendell, lad, we are going to see the elves."

"But Bilbo, what about the Black Riders?"

"Ah, ride on lad, Elrond is waiting." Across the ford we rode, the water splashing my feet. Water? "MAMA! PAPA! NO!" I cried out in anguish..The tears spilled from my eyes. Come back. I whispered. I miss you, come back.

Where? Where was I? I pulled on the reins and the white horse stopped. Why can't I hear the others? Even at the darkest hours, I still heard them, their voices quiet in speech, even Sam's soft snores at night, why can't I hear them. Where is Sam? There was the Nine across the river from me. There was nothing to stop them from crossing as easily as I had. It was all over. "Go back" I whispered. Leave me be. I am so tired of being hunted.

Their voices were echoing in my head. "The Ring. The Ring. Put on the Ring." I watched in horror as my immobile left hand inched closer to the pocket where I kept it.

"No." I wept; this is not how it's supposed to end. "Go away, let me be. Please, just go away," I drew my sword. At last colors in the dark. Why Red? I stared at in confusion. What should not have color does. What should have color does not. Why is my sword out?

They laughed, the sound of it knifing through me, reawakening me from my revelry. "Come back, come back. To Mordor we'll take you." I almost rode forward.

"No." I whispered. Then He laughed again and stood up in his stirrups. No! I shook my head.

"No!" my voice shrill against their onslaught "By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me." His hand raised and pointed towards me. My sword broke and fell from my shaking hand. He clenched his fist, the shard moved and the pain erupted from my chest. Too Much. It was too much to bear. A final scream was torn from my throat and then I felt myself fall and the ground rose up to greet me.

14 days to healing, but three days to recovery.
SR October 21

Rivendell. The thought broke through my delirium. We were here. It was my last coherent, remembered thought as I fell off the white horse, and the ground rose up to greet me.
The jolt of the ground caused a white flare and the last of my consciousness with the real world was gone. The pain of my side and shoulder consumed me. The rest of my body no longer existed. There was myself. There was the pain. Into this new world I stumbled. Crumbling, stumbling walls to fall. There was myself and that is all. I clutched my shoulder, my left arm hanging limp. It was so cold. A gray fog swirled about me as I remained on my knees. Where was I? Nothing to see. Nothing to hear. My thoughts took dragonfly flights again. Skipping across the still pond. No light. No dark. I was alone and it frightened me. There was the pain.
I rose unsteadily to my feet. The gray fog swirling haphazardly about my knees. Where was I? Where was my companions? Why didn't they follow me? The river it had flooded, horse heads, and rocks, tumbling over and over. Until all was swept away. All swept away? Why am I alone. Tears? Crying heard. I touched my cheeks, no, no tears to dry only to cry. Lost. They had to be lost. There was the pain. Too much. I stumbled onward. I must rest. My weary body cried out for it hungrily. I was a dragonfly with no place to land. A light broke through the gray. Beautiful. A glimmer of hope. I took another stumbling step toward her. Freedom at last. Or so I hoped. Frodo, im Arwen. Telin le thaed. Lasto beth nin, tolo dan na ngalad. I do not understand. Her glow started to fade. Wait don't go. Who was she? A voice ask, not mine, no voice existed for me to utter with. An elf. He's fading. He's not going to last. I don't know the way. We have to get him to my father. Father? No, I have none, my parents are dead. Bilbo was kind enough to take care of me. Such a dear friend. I am lost. I do not know the way. I want.. need.. DON'T LEAVE ME. I took another stumbling step, and was grabbed from behind by unseen hands. Fear swept through me at their touch. No.
The shard moves and I feel the drag. It comes from my shoulder. No, from the Ring. Neither. Both. The hands that clutched at me sent waves of pain through me. My eyes left the light and it was gone. Where are you taking him? No. Wait. Don't leave me. I soundlessly pleaded. Don't leave me alone with them. I felt the cold hands touch my wounded shoulder. I remember the smell, it is athelias. But it doesn't ease the pain. It burns. By Elbereth, it burns. I wrench free from their grip and started to run. The echos of the sound of their screams raced through my head. No, they were my own screams. I am beginning to sound like them. Sweet Elbereth what is happening to me.
Will I never be free of them.

Rivendell. 14 Days to healing. But 2 days to recovery. Shire Reckoning October 22.

Help me please. Whomever you are.. were.. Help me find my way. I am riding. Riding again. Why am I on horseback again? No wait I'll fall. Not again. The pain was too much before. I cannot bare to think of another fall from such a great beast. They are coming. I hear the hoof beats racing in time with my own heartbeat. No please, not again. The water splashes. Water. Oh for the taste of water on my throat again. I had not realized I was so thirsty. Give up..halfling. I hear the words cry out again. Slowly in fear I realize I am beginning to understand what they are saying to me. I shake my head. I cannot go on. I must.
If you want him come and claim him. The words haunt me. Fear rides upon a black horse. Fear also rides upon the white. A white hand shining in the dark. I look at my own. And see through them. Fear shines. Elves shine. I shine. The gray fog is steadily rising. Before it was at my knees, now it as my waist. An insatiable thirst grows within me. How long has it been since water touched my lips. Water? But Papa I don't want to go boating, Uncle Bilbo said he would take me to see the elves, today. If I had been with you, would you still be around. Papa. Please papa, mama come back to me. I miss you so. My heart lurches in pain. Skipping beats. Skipping. Skipping stones. Across the water. Oh Elbereth, I thirst. Would that this gray would go away, so I can see my way. Where is Gandalf. He promised to meet us. A wizard is never late Frodo Baggins. Gandalf. I must ask him why the elves glow and why I share it. So weary of running. Hiding. Riding.
The pain grows again. It must be nearing the hour. What will happen when it reaches my heart. Thump Thump. Hear that, it is the sound of my foolish heart still beating. Still. Beating. There is a play on words. Beating still. How can it beat and be still at the same time. The first wave of pain strikes me and I drop to my knees. This is worse. Far worse than before. Can one hide from the pain. One pain. One. A respite. A moment alone. Bilbo when do we see the elves you promised to show me. Why is the sword out. Wait. No please. It is too much. I cannot breathe. It aches. Oh it aches. Someone please take it away. It is consuming me. I am afraid. I am alone. Take it away. Breathe in. Hold on lad. Breathe out. It is eating me from the inside out. Please Sam, hold my hand. It is later than you think.
No more. Go away.

Shire Reckoning October 23 and October 24th

If you want him come and....NO! Elbereth, not that! Gandalf! Gandalf, why do the elves shine? I can see them as clear as papa. But, Papa I don't want to go. Bilbo said.....I could stay with him. Forever, if I needed too. Gray fog covering me now. Lying in a bed. There is Sam...My friend. And Bilbo, too... But where is Mama..Papa, why didn't she come with you to see me.. Hold on lad. Hold on, But I am not going anywhere. Breathe in... breath out, foolish lungs, why bother. Do we dare make the cut? Cut off. I am cut off there is no relief. We have to. Two, three, or four friends to see me on my way, three to ride, one to stay. Gandalf? Your very curious for a hobbit, bit unnatural. A Bit curious ,a bit unnatural, a bit elvish, a bit not... Unnatural? What is a barrow-wight Gandalf? I met one once. It was advancing toward me. I cut off its hand and still it came. The more it advances, the more of him it will consume. Consume, same old tune again Bilbo, you were always harping on me to eat more. I am not hungry Bilbo...just so very thirsty.. It's almost to his heart. Heart over head, head over heart, which is right and who can choose. Who will win and who will lose.
Will we be able to heal him? When do we start? Bilbo, did you see the cow jump over the moon? Almost as funny as your squashed toes. I fell off the table and landed on the floor, a ranger came and slid me right out the door. We can wait no longer; the shard is nearly to deeply embedded as it is. No the pain, no please not again. Baggins I am a Baggins. Stop, please, your hurting me. It is mine now, its apart of me. Please stop, it is biting me. No wait, stop, it attached, can't lose it, must not lose it. Gandalf said so. No! Please. NO More. No more? It is gone. But it was my mine. My own. my precious. No, that was Bilbo, no Gollum. Both neither. ME.
Finally. The pain is gone. I could almost dance. Blessed relief. I am floating Gandalf. Did you know I can fly. I am a dragonfly and the world is my pad. Tolo dan na ngalad.. No, let me be. I just want to fly. No, not anymore. I just want to sleep. Call him back Bilbo. Bilbo? Oh Bilbo, just fifteen more minutes, let me sleep just another fifteen more minutes. So tired. Couldn't sleep again last night. Come back Frodo. Yes, that was my name I nearly forgot. But, I'm not going anywhere, I just want to sleep. Don't leave me Bilbo I am so alone. I am lost.
Help me Bilbo, Sam, help me find my way I am so lost. Just follow my voice, lad. Tolo dan na ngalad. Come back to the light and leave the shadows. Sam? When did you learn to speak elvish, Sam?
Don't make me do it, sir, you know how he hates it when you miss second breakfast with him. Ah Sam, just five more minutes. Come, sir wake up, breakfast is ready and it's a beautiful morning. He pushed open the shutters and the morning light streamed into the bedroom.
The song of birds and a waterfall filled the room. Very pleasant it was to listen to. As I lay and listen, I realize suddenly there is no pain. For the first time in days, there is no lingering, waiting to erupt, pain. I feel the tears of joy under my lashes.. Now sliding down my face and into my ears. My ears? I am laying down, on a bed, no less. The warmth of the blankets wrapped around me filled me with a silent joy. It has been so long since I felt warm. Where were we? I lay and listened. Where are the others? No sound is in the room, well except the birds and the waterfall.
Startled I opened my eyes and looked up at an ornate ceiling.
The morning light played upon its carven features.
I spoke aloud to the seemingly empty room.
"Hullo? Where am I? And what is the time?