The One Hour Fellowship Writing Challenge

The Passing of the Fellowship by Primula

Gandalf walked in front, as he had found through long years of trial and error that it worked much better than trying to walk backwards. His cloak tended to billow out, and his hat flew off with the gusty wind, but all in all it worked better when he was trying to see where he was going. He thumped his staff and sang Bilbo’s walking song as he went, making it easy to find him even if the weather grew misty.  With him went Aragorn, who knew this land even in the dark. As an expert tracker, he was a wise observer of all small details and had noticed the way the Wizard had chosen to orient himself. Wisdom was a thing to be greatly desired, and he had long ago set out to learn all he could from his great mentor and friend. He faced forward.  Aragorn varied his walk a little though, as the Dunedain were wont to abruptly lunge to one side or another, checking for rabbits to eat. They also found lunging useful for dodging swordblows, and for knocking extra dirt off their cloaks. “Hoo!” he lunged to the left. “Ha!” he lunged to the right.

The others were in file behind. Boromir walked backwards just to show that he would not be swayed by the strange Northern ways. His noble countenance was facing those he was in charge of protecting this way, which was right. All proper Men of Gondor walked this way, and he was not about to change over to any of these new foreign ideas.  He had thinly veiled contempt at times for Aragorn, who imitated the Wizard when he should have been walking like a Man. As he went, he loudly regaled those who would listen with tales of leading entire contingents of soldiers backwards on horseback at top speed. He illustrated these stories with so much arm waving and hand gestures that he would occasionally windmill himself off-balance, but he always recovered. The hobbits found it was truly amazing to watch him doing this again and again but never falling.

Gimli chose to hop on alternating feet, averaging about half a mile for each leg. He said it strengthened his legs and was a common morning exercise for dwarves. The jingling of his mail was a gentle tune for them each day as he hopped along.  Legolas whose eyes were keen, as was his balance and grace, moved along with a series of perfect pirouettes, arabesques and leaps en pointe, occasionally breaking into snatches of operatic arias.  He was the rearguard.

Before him went Merry,  who passed the time by counting out his steps out loud in a simple country singsong voice and alternating somersaults and cartwheels every 25 paces, uphill and down alike.  Pippin who at first tried walking backwards in imitation of Boromir had found it too difficult and had finally settled into a simple sideways grapevine step with hands clapping above his head. He confided to Merry that he longed for the day that he could “really show them something,” and secretly was strengthening his arms so he could practice walking on his hands each night after it was dark.

Sam ambled along on all fours, side by side with his good friend Bill. He said it helped him to empathize with the overladen pony and had begun to carry on in deeply philosophical manner about the true meaning of  what it was to “be” a pack animal by the campfire in the evenings – long speeches that he rehearsed quietly with Bill each day as they traveled.  Always a lover of plants and all things growing, he was becoming an expert on the local flora as it passed so closely under his very nose each day.

The first part of their journey was hard and dreary, and Frodo, whose little red flyer wagon sometimes squeaked enough to drive him mad,  remembered little of it, save the wind and the endless view of Bill’s backside. He scrunched his legs a little closer together, trying to keep warm.  For many sunless days an icy blast came from the Mountains in the east, and no garment seemed able to keep out its searching fingers.  He wrapped his cloak more tightly about him, and occasionally put a hand over the edge to idly toy with the slowly turning wheels, marveling at the precision metal-work of the Elves once more.

The music of the Fellowship traveling through the land was something never heard of before nor since, throughout all the Ages, and many have been the stories and songs that spoke of the sound of their passing.