The Fellowship of the Toys

by Peregrine

Chapter 7: Darkness and Snow

The sun seemed to set swiftly beyond the house, leaving the Fellowship of the Toys stranded outside in the darkness. The snow fell heavily in large flakes around them, the soft white powder turning deep blue and then black in the encroaching darkness. Before long, Camel was knee-deep in the stuff. It was past Treebeard's waist by now and poor Brego was swamped nearly to his neck. The riders had an easier time of it--what with being perched atop their mounts--but the snow was rising fast where they crouched and soon there would be no escaping it.

"Well, this certainly was a good idea." Frodo sighed, slumping down and burying his face in Dirk's fur. It was a feeble attempt to stay warm. The little dragon managed to stay atop the snow, but everytime he moved to stay on top of the drift, Frodo was hit with a fresh gust of chill wind. Only the Legolases and Third Legolas seemed to be having little trouble with the snow.

Camel complained loudly and he snapped angrily at the snow, as if daring them to enter his mouth. A few did and he rewarded them with a few swift chomps. He imagined them as the two idiots perched atop his back. This brought a grin to his lips and he harumphed happily.

"This.....is beginning to look.......bad......." Treebeard gasped, the snow nearly up to his beard now.

Aragorn mounted atop Brego, his legs lost below the white, sighed.

"I had thought that we would be in by now, but I had not counted upon Aravan being attacked by that hawk."

"Nor did any of us." Legolases said. They blamed not Aragorn. They blamed no one. It was an adventure and every adventure had problems. This was simply one of those problems. They held out that it would be solved--every problem was solved in time.....

Right?

"Brrr! It sure is cold!" Frodo shuddered. He clapped his orc helmet on. His breath swirled inside and it warmed him somewhat. But then a gust of chill air hit him and it whistled up the back of his neck. He gave a cry and slumped lower upon Dirk's back.

"We must hope that either Aravan regains his strength ere we are all lost, or that the Big Ones return home and find us." Aragorn upon Camel said.

Aragorn upon Brego looked towards the black and blue dragon, his reptilian head yet slumped. He looked weary beyond words and the Legolases spoke to him soothingly, patting him gently.

"I do believe we must hold out hope that the Big Ones find us." Aragorn sighed.

"Great." Frodo sighed.

The snow continued to fall for some time. The animals and Treebeard shifted about from time to time to keep themselves--or at least their heads--above the white drifts piling up around them. It worked for a while, but soon there was no where to shift to.

Camel managed to keep his head above the snow by moving about in circles and breathing hotly upon any flakes that dared enter his domain in the cold. Brego, too, managed to keep a shallow circle opened for him. Treebeard was having a harder time of it, but he fared no worse than anyone.

But it continued to snow.

"The moon rises." Legolases said. Everyone took their word for it. A black bank of clouds blocked the silver orb from sight, but they did not doubt the Elves' words.

"So what time is it now?" Frodo asked.

"Late." Both Aragorns grunted. They hitched their cloaks closer about their plastic frames and sat hunched o'er their mounts.

An owl hooted somewhere in the white blow.

"Oh, no." Frodo groaned. "I hope we don't have to deal with ANOTHER stupid bird."

"It's foxes I'm worrying about." Aragorn upon Camel sighed. "Foxes and cats--"

"And dogs." Frodo shuddered. "Don't forget about them."

"We will know if any dogs approach." Third Legolas said, speaking for the first time in hours.

"Yeah, but what about the foxes and cats? Or the owls, for that matter." Frodo sighed and looked about nervously, his eyes finding only darkness and snow.

"We will just have to sit vigilant and hope that no evil befalls us." Legolases replied.

"You mean no MORE evil." Frodo corrected moodily. Camel grunted his agreement.

Hours passed. The moon sailed unseen across the sky and the wind died. But the night became ever more bitter and the little toys and their mounts shuddered in the chill air--even the Legolaseses felt the sharp bite of winter now.

"I can hardly move." Frodo groaned. He had grown stiff. Dirk's mane bristled with ice and it brought little comfort to either of them now. Aravan, too, was constantly shaking free the icy tips. Legolases brushed others away.

"Oh, but if we only had the sun!" Third Legolas cried to the dark night.

"But, alas, alas!" Legolases cried together. "We are granted no warm glow of fair morning light!"

Suddenly a warm glow of light fell upon them from above.

"What the--" Aragorn upon Camel looked up.

"Is it morning?" Aragorn upon Brego demanded.

"No!" Legolases cried in astonishment. "It is not the sun."

"It's the dinning room!" Frodo shrieked in delight. "They're home! The Big Ones are finally home!"

"We must gather their attention." Third Legolas said. "Else we shall be stuck out here until the gray light of morn finds us frozen nieth the snow."

Cheery thought, huh?

"Hey! Hey! Down here!" Frodo cried. The others began shouting as well. They decided that they were making quite a racket--in Toy standards, at least--but no one from above appeared to have heard them.

Suddenly Aravan leapt into the air and flapped his leathery wings.

"Aravan!" Legolases cried in horror. "But you are yet too weary to fly!"

But Aravan paid them no heed, and they stood shocked and terrified in the snow as the tired dragon wheeled upward towards the window. Then, with the last of his might, he threw himself at the glass. Hitting the door, he bounced off and plummeted to the ground.

Camel hronked in fear and bolted, just managing to get out of the way before Aravan fell dazed into the snow. Legolases ran to him, crying out in horror for their fallen comrade and mount.

But they froze mid way as the door above was pulled open and a head stuck out into the darkness.

"What the--how did you all get out here?" Peregrine cried in amazement. She slammed the door shut again and from inside they heard her voice crying out, "Mum! I'll be right back. I've gotta run outside quick."

There was silence a moment and then they heard the blessed crunch of feet on snow and from around the corner of the house came Peregrine--wearing only jeans and a t-shirt. She was barefoot and shivering, but she was there!

"All of you!" Peregrine cried through chattering teeth. "Boy, it's a good thing I found you! You could've been out here 'till spring!"

And she gathered them all up--dazed Aravan, frozen Legolases, Third Legolas and Aragorn, Brego and his rider, Camel, Treebeard and Frodo with Dirk. All of them she held to tightly as she tromped quickly back for the house and muttering about how she should have at least worn shoes.

Pushing back through the house, every one of them was grateful to feel the warmth of home steal over them--whether it stole over flesh or plastic, it mattered not.

Peregrine ran up the steps to her room and then to her sister's, dropping each toy gently in its proper place. And then, turning out the lights, she left them there to go warm up herself.

And Frodo heaved a great sigh of relief.

The were home again!