Characters: Hobbits, Elves and Men
Rating: G, but darkish
Disclaimer: Tolkien's world and all who dwell therein.
Where were they? It was so dark – and they’d left him!
Knew this were a bad idea… He shivered.
It was supposed to be a four-day hike to Bree and back, a once-in-a-lifetime trip. That first night they’d camped off the road on rising-ground… it was dark, cold… and now they were playing tricks! Never trust a Brandybuck!
He heard clip-clopping, saw swaying candle-flame in a horn lantern… they’d come back! …But it wasn’t, it was an old man in blue, with yellow boots.
“Hey-ho how-de-do, are you lost young fellow…?”
“Please sir, my-my friends have gone without me…”
The young hobbit shivered, face pale, his curls shiny in the mist that swirled around the wain. Tom Bombadil smiled down kindly.
“Friends a-waiting for you, just go down the valley.
See the open doorway there? Go now, do not tarry.
Old Tom’ll wait here, see you down the valley.”
He looked… a house! With open doors, many candles and merry laughter…
“Thank you sir!” He rushed off, his feet barely touching the ground…
Tom collected the little body the barrow-wights left, burying it beneath some friendly pines who’d whisper wind-song lullabies and keep winter’s snows off the hobbit’s last bed.
The field was scattered with tiny lights, candles in the dark… He rolled slowly, lulled by silence and the blessed darkness. The earth felt comfortable beneath his back, it had taken many years to get used to sleeping on the ground, but he was a warrior… such things were borne without complaint.
Yesterday had been flame, noise… shields clashed, swords flashed, smoke, steel and death… Soon they’d go on… when this long night was over… He rolled again gently… and saw a curly-haired child staring down at him! He blinked. No mannish child… a dream… He drifted back to reverie.
It started with summer bells peeling far away in Minas Tirith. The world was changing, a King was newly crowned.
Above, the stars had circled, through the dimness of winter’s dawning a great wain moved among them. Four great lanterns holding flickering candles hung from it rails, and a tall, grey-swathed lady shook the reins of its dark horses.
The warrior stirred... her soft calls roused the many elves and men, slumbering under the marsh-water, an age and more… since the Battle of Dagorland…
“Follow” Nienna whispered, clear and still, “The world is changing. It is time to come home.”
The hills beyond the Barrow-downs faded into blue, distant humps, ‘till it was hard to distinguish between clouds and earth. The Baranduin snaked away to Estel’s left, out of sight to the east, the Greenway pointed north in a near straight line… to Fornost Erain, their last fortress… until the Witch-king took it. Oh, he was defeated, driven out… but not before it was ruined… Deadman’s Dike they call it now…
Glorfindel stood beside him, “Your thoughts turn to the Dunedain’s past?”
Estel nodded. The land stretched away below them, before rising into twilight hills.
“Light a candle for them.”
Estel the boy was gone, Thorongil, Strider… all had slipped past him, now he was Elessar Envinyatar, tasked with renewing what had been lost. He sighed. He’d once stood here with a golden elf-lord, gazing upon places distant in time and space, now… he’d left pomp and circumstance camped outside Bree and ridden west along familiar roads to stand again and look…
Can I do this?
His Steward came quietly to his side, reluctant to disturb him. Aragorn turned with a smile.
“Faramir – you have them ready?”
Between them they dotted the hill-top with candles – each light, a guide home.