The Fellowship of the Gift

by Son of Lin

As quietly as a Hobbit, the Son of Linaewen crept out into the forest. It was snowing heavily, but the spreading branches of the spruce trees sheltered him from the worst of it. He came to a clearing, where he stopped and furtively looked around him. Then, satisfied that he had not been followed, he reached inside his coat and drew something forth.

It was a horn; a great horn of the wild ox of the East, bound with silver, and written with ancient characters. It was the Horn of Gondor, born by the Stewards of Gondor; by Ecthelion, by Denethor, and by Boromir. It was said that if it be blown at need, anywhere within the bounds of Gondor as the realm was of old, its voice would not pass unheeded.

Wisconsin was a little far afield, but was probably close enough.

The Son of Linaewen raised it to his lips, and blew a great blast; the sound echoed off the trees. The Son of Lin leaned back against a tree and waited. Time passed, and he started to fidget. He lifted the horn, as if to blow a second time, but thought better of it. Instead he closed his eyes, raised his face towards the falling snow, and continued to wait.

At last, the tramp of boots on snow came to his ears. Sweeping branches from his path, Boromir of Gondor strode into the clearing. Striding up to the Son of Lin, he bowed deeply.

“I came as quickly as I could. I heard the blowing of the Horn; from the Northwest it seemed, but dim as though it were but an echo in my mind.” He shook his head ruefully. “I went the wrong way on the trail, and was forced to double back. Also, there was trouble when I left the house.”

“Did anyone see you leave?” the Son of Lin asked anxiously.

The tall warrior nodded, as he brushed snow from his tunic. “Linaewan saw me as I went out the door. She cried ‘Boromir! Where is thy horn? Whither goest thou, Boromir?’ But I said I wished to go for a walk, and that the horn kept getting tangled with my scabbard - which is true - and she was satisfied.” He looked around. “Where are the others?”

As if on cue, they heard the sound of someone clumsily forcing their way through the trees, accompanied by the sound of a deep-voiced man grumbling under his breath. Gimli, Gloin’s Son, entered the clearing moments later, stomping through the snow, which came up to his knees. Behind him walked Legolas Greenleaf, son of Thranduil of the Woodland Realm. He was watching Gimli’s progress with twinkling eyes, though barely a hint of an amused smile touched his face.

His face grew serious as he caught sight of the others. “We came when we heard the horn - but too late, it seems, for the meeting has started without us.”

The Son of Lin shook his head. “No, you are just in time.”

Gimli stamped his feet and shivered. “Why we must meet out here, I do not know - snow’s all right on a fine morning, but I like to be in bed while it’s falling.”

Boromir looked up at the sheltering canopy of spruce branches, already piled heavy with snow. “I wonder if this is a contrivance of the Enemy,” he said thoughtfully. “They say in my land that he can govern the storms in the Mountains of Shadow that stand upon the borders of Mordor. He has strange powers and many allies.”

“His arm has grown long indeed,” snorted Gimli skeptically, “if he can draw snow down from Canada to trouble us 200 leagues away.”

“I am not troubled,” Legolas replied (a little smugly). With that he sprang forth nimbly into the middle of the clearing, and the Son of Lin noticed, as if for the first time, although he had long known it, that the Elf had no boots, but wore only Birkenstocks, as he always did, and his feet made little imprint in the snow.

Gimli snorted, ignoring the Elf’s antics. “I wish this lot would go off to Platteville. Folk might welcome it there.” For a heavy fall was rare in Platteville, and was regarded as a pleasant event and time for fun (save by Linaewen’s parents, who kept their heat up all winter long and covered their windows in insulating plastic). No living Platteville residents could remember the Fell Winter of 1998, when College Students invaded the town over the frozen border with Illinois.

The Son of Lin cleared his throat, bringing an end to the banter. “It is time to reveal the purpose for which you are called hither. Strangers from distant lands, you have come and are here met, in this very nick of time, not by chance but because I need your help. Now, therefore, things shall be openly spoken that have been hidden from all but a few until this day. And first, so that all may understand what is the peril, the Tale of the List of Doom shall be told from the beginning even to this present.”

The others gathered about him, and listened intently. The Son of Lin paused for a moment, then shrugged. “Well, you all know the story already - Linaewen bears the curse of helpfulness. She cannot turn down someone in need, whether their need needs needing or not!”

There was a moment of silence while they worked that through.

“In addition, the tasks she must complete for herself and...” he looked down, his face suddenly sad, “...and for her family are many. Not all that she has to do need now be told. Suffice it to say that the List of Doom is a heavy burden, which bears her down.”

He spoke more animatedly. “The List! What shall we do with the List, the ‘least of Lists,’ the trifle that just needs ‘a moment of her time?’ This is the doom which we must deem!”

“Then what are we waiting for?” demanded Gimli. “Let’s have at that List! We can shave it down to household chores by evening, if we get cracking!”

Boromir frowned down at the Dwarf. “The List cannot be destroyed, Gimli son of Gloin. I have tried, and nearly perished. I dare not take up this List, not even for a little while. I would aid Linaewen out of a desire to do good, but would make a mess of things too great and terrible to imagine.”

The Son of Lin nodded. “Nor I. And the List MUST be completed. Each task, individually, is a fine task and of great importance.”

Legolas sighed. “Then we have but two choices; to complete the tasks on the List, or to ignore it completely. But both are beyond our power.”

“There is a third option,” the Son of Lin interjected. “We must help the Listbearer to bear this burden.”

“How can we do that?” asked Boromir, puzzled.

“By raising her spirits, by inspiring her; by giving her the best Christmas present she has ever had! This is the road we must take!” The Son of Lin looked around. “What say you?”

“Yes!” exclaimed Boromir. “We shall bring such a gift as shall be accounted a marvel among the Three Kindreds: Elves, Dwarves, and Men. Forth the Three Shoppers!”

“A good plan,” Legolas said approvingly. “But what shall we get her? We are none of us skilled at gift-choosing - for that, I would turn to Galadriel, or Celeborn, whose gifts are said to be great and who is renowned as the wisest elf yet remaining in Middle-Earth.”

“Aye, or the Master Craftsmen of the Lonely Mountain,” Gimli put in. “What manner of gift could we get her?”

“We can figure it out at the mall!” said Boromir, impatient to be off. “Forth the Three Shoppers!”

“Oh, do be quiet,” Legolas said with a sigh. “Careful thought must go into this. First, what does Linaewen like?”

They all looked at Boromir.

“Well, me, certainly,” he said. “But she has me with her everyday - and her shelves are overflowing with trinkets and toys of me. It is a handsome face, stern of glance - although I admit that the bobble-head doll looks somewhat grotesque.”

“It is true - we need something else,” the Son of Lin said. “I cannot even think of a Boromir product to get her.”

“What else does she like?” asked Legolas.

“Umm,” said the Son of Lin, scratching his chin. “Star Trek, non-Boromir Lord of the Rings, uh, Sherlock Holmes... Particularly Watson...”

“Sharpe,” pointed out Boromir. The others looked at him, and he flushed. “What? He’s another handsome fellow, and would look good alongside Super-Posable Boromir Action Figure.”

The Son of Lin shook his head and sighed. “Umm, she likes cardinals - a lot - oh, and the Green Bay Packers!”

Boromir scratched his chin. “Perhaps some type of snack food. That type of cheese... what’s that called?”

“No!” snapped the Son of Lin. “No Sharpe cheddar jokes! It’s not funny! I’m serious about this!”

“I was just going to mention cheese...” Boromir grumbled, looking hurt.

“Cardinals are probably a bad idea,” mused Gimli. “Anything with a cardinal on it probably serves no practical purpose - no more than a mathom, if you will. The Packers are a good idea...”

“Yes,” said Legolas, “but here in Wisconsin, I have noticed that Packer merchandise is very expensive, particularly during football season.”

“Expensive? But the Packers are losing!” exclaimed Gimli.

“Since when has that mattered?” asked the Son of Lin, looking confused.

“But will another Packer sweatshirt, or a Packer mug, truly inspire Linaewen?” asked Boromir doubtfully. “It seems that Star Trek or that Dr. Watson fellow - very clever, definitely underrated in the movies, I say - would make better gifts.”

“But again,” Gimli put in, “they will be mathoms - useless trinkets. Since meeting Galadriel, the Lady of the Wood, my taste for useless trinkets has soured somewhat. It seems that a practical gift would be better. Dishes, perhaps?”

The Son of Lin shook his head. “No, it must be something... BIGGER than that. Boromir, what would you ask for as a gift?”

“For myself,” said Boromir, “I would see the White Tree in flower again in the courts of the kings, and the Silver Crown return, and Minas Tirith in peace; Minas Anor again as of old, full of light, high and fair, beautiful as a queen among other queens.”

“Maybe next year,” promised the Son of Lin. “Legolas?”

A faraway look came into the Elf’s eyes. “To walk among the trees of Fangorn: they have voices, and in time I might come to understand their thought.”


The Dwarf frowned. “Either a place - Moria reclaimed, for instance - or another chance to set eyes upon the Lady of the Wood, and hear her sweet voice once again.”

The Son of Lin frowned. “None of these things you desire are material things, are they? Not knick-knacks or toys, but not practical things either. These are... something more. It seems that I must give a gift like these, if I am to help Linaewen.”

“A vacation?” suggested Legolas.

“Ugh, we just finished moving!” The Son of Lin shuddered at the thought of more traveling.

Gimli, his voice thoughtful, spoke up. “The greatest gift I have ever received were the three strands of hair that Galadriel gave me. Perhaps you must give something of yourself...”

There was a long moment, and then Boromir spoke up. “A story.” Stunned, the others contemplated this. “She loves to write and to read,” he pressed on. “She reads the stories of people on the Lord of the Rings message boards, and she writes stories about the characters she loves. Well, then - write a story about characters she loves, and give it to her!”

“I tried writing a story about you,” the Son of Lin admitted. “It was... a failure.” He looked away, embarrassed.

“Then not a character. Yourself.”

The Son of Lin’s eyes glazed as he thought. “Yes... yeeeessss... I could do that. A ‘conversation,’ like the ones she writes...”

“Then it seems that the Quest for Linaewen’s Gift has achieved its end,” said Boromir in satisfaction.

The Son of Lin nodded. “Then I must hurry up and write it. Maybe I can submit it to Bilbo for editing...”

As they broke up, Boromir mumbled, “I still think cheese would have been a good idea...”

The End