A Quiet Walk

by Yaralindi

It had taken me weeks to reach the Ford of Bruinen. The Bruinen Gorges had been wilder than I remembered; the wolves more angry; the hungry flies more eager to latch onto my flesh for a painful drink. For a moment I stood there staring at the calmly flowing water. It was so peaceful, so quiet here that I almost forgot the dangers of the last few days. That brief instance of peace was shattered, however, as a darkly dressed elf on a grey horse sped past me, splashing cold water up as they rushed across the ford, up the hillside, and into the wilds of the High Moor beyond. Suddenly cold and tired once more, I began the long climb.

Days later, wounded and out of food, I reached the Gates of Imladris, an ill-tempered mountain cat close on my heels. The elf guards at the Gates dispatched the wretched thing quickly, but I would bear a mark on my sword arm from one of its claws to my grave. The guards greeted me richly, though with some amount of distrust while I explained to them that I came seeking a Ranger whom I had met in Bree more than a month earlier. There manner changed abruptly when I mentioned his name - Aragorn, one of the Dúnedain of the North. I was quickly fed, my wounds cleaned and dressed, and sent on my way with detailed directions for reaching the guesthouse where Aragorn and his companions currently stayed.

Some hours later I stood before the imposing man. There was something in the way he stood, his head held high, looking straight at me that made me slightly uncomfortable. I stumbled through what I had learned in Bree. The news was grave. There would be little aid from Bree or the men of the north in the coming struggle with the forces of Mordor.

Lord Elrond would be told, Aragorn assured me, but there was another task he would have me do. An ancient sword of power must be reforged and to that end I must retrieve one of the last of the Silithar from Lake Evondim in the north. But this would mean returning the way I had just come! Back to Bree and then north for many weeks. Surely this Ranger did not understand what he was asking. In looking into his face, however, I could see that indeed he understood. There was more there that he would tell me, if he could, about why he could not go for the Silithar stone himself. About why he must leave Rivendell soon with a rather snobbish noble warrior from Gondor and an elf from Mirkwood. Sighing, I agreed to the task and Aragorn provided me instructions for what to do with the stone once I had it.

As it was customary in this strange land, I then made my way to The Last Homely House to present myself to the Lord of Rivendell, Elrond Half-Elven. The house was huge and I quickly became lost. Finding what I thought were the doors to Elrond's Study, where I was assured his Lordship now stood reading some ancient book on some rings of power, I slowly opened the door and found - Gandalf! What an amazing surprise since I had last seen this strange maker of fireworks in Bree some weeks back. His ancient legs must surely be magic if he had made his way to Rivendell without a scratch!

Gandalf greeted me warmly and we talked a short while of the happenings in and around Bree. He was surprised to hear that I and some friends had rid the Barrow Downs of a nasty wight called the Bone Man and chuckled as I recounted my dealings with the strange Tom Bombadil. Then his face grew serious and he glanced furtively across the tiny study we were in. It was then I realized a young hobbit stood silently there, slowly thumbing through one of the old books on a table. He seemed too lost in thought to have noticed my entry.

Gandalf explained that this young fellow had agreed to undertake some arduous task, a task that he forbade me from inquiring about! He was concerned for the young hobbit, whom he named as Frodo, and asked that I walk with him in the garden then return and tell him about our walk. What a strange request but one does not lightly refuse the request of a wizard!

I agreed then excused myself to clean up and see the Lord of the House. This duty attended too, I became somewhat sidetracked answering several riddles posed by a curious hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. What a strange litte fellow, that Bilbo is! By then it had become quite late, but I dutifully returned to the study where I had found Gandalf and the serious hobbit, Frodo. They were both still there. Though engaged in a deep conversation when I opened the door, they quickly grew silent and looked up in some fright as I entered the room. Seeing that it was me, Gandalf let out a sigh and Frodo and I quickly left for a quiet nightime walk in the gardens surrounding the house.

I must confess I had never really considered hobbits before. I had met a few in Bree, but had never crossed the Brandywine into The Shire. This small fellow was nothing like I imagined hobbits to be. He was noble of spirit and very soft spoken. In our walk he spoke more of his concerns for the trials his friends must soon face than on the journey he would be making. I completely forgot the time until a chubby hobbit whom Frodo called Sam came running up. I must confess, the walk had done more to relax me than anything I had done in the months since I set out from Laketown. Reluctantly, I parted with Frodo and Sam and returned to Gandalf to report all that I had learned. He smiled and seemed reassured about Frodo. With a cryptic laugh and a sound thump on my shoulder, he sent me off to bed.


Note from the author: I wrote this small exchange after finding Frodo and Gandalf in Rivendell in The Last Homely House while playing Lord of the Rings Online. I must confess this was the first time I had run across the two of them. I had somehow missed them with the dozens of other characters I had brought through fire and pain into Rivendell. The visuals and story built into this game have always impressed me, but this was the first time I lost myself completely in the story. Oh, to truly have walked with Frodo in the gardens of Rivendell on the night before they set off. How amazing would that be? In a way, now I have.