A Quiet Walk
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
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.