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Old 07-01-2003, 09:00 PM   #121
piosenniel
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Sting

They trudged on for many hours, or so Ben thought by the way his feet and legs felt. Truth be known he really couldn’t tell how far they’d come. The trees hung in so close that there was no view in the distance to judge how close they were getting, and behind, the trees seemed to close in over the path as soon as the last of the Hobbits walked over a section.

Erendal seemed tireless, and Ben, not to be outdone by any of the Big Folk trudged on after him. ‘Say, Mister!’ he called out to the Ranger, from his place at the back of the line. ‘Begging your pardon, and I do understand how a person would just want to keep in walking to get out from under these gloomy trees, but have you given any thought to when we might stop?’

The Ranger halted the line, and stood hands on hips looking back at Ben.

Well nothing for it but to plunge on ahead! thought Ben to himself. ‘Meaning no disrespect, sir, but we haven’t had a bite to eat since some cold breakfast that seems days if not weeks ago in the past.’

It had only been since the early morning of this very same day, of course, but to a growing Hobbit, missing a meal or three or four in a day, is a grave issue and worthy of discussion. In the dim light of the forest, the Ranger’s face was all but hidden, and Ben stood there imagining a look of disapproval on his face.

It took him by surprise then, when Erendal started to chuckle. And he could see the Ranger shake his head back and forth as the laughter built. ‘Sorry,’ he said to the astounded Hobbits, ‘but I had quite forgotten that a Hobbit’s day revolves around the rumblings of his tummy . . . and to be sure, your stomach’s must be rumbling quite loudly by now.’ He motioned them closer with a wave of his hand. ‘Just a little further, I promise. And then we come to a little clearing with a stream flowing through. We’ll stop there for the night and then push on in the morning.’ He turned and started down the path again.

‘Mind you,’ he said, turning his back toward them, ‘once we get there, stay away from the large old willow that grows by the edge of the water . . .’

Ben nudged Mirabella in the side. ‘I’m so hungry right now I could probably eat that blasted willow . . . yeah, and follow up with a side dish of beech and oak to boot!’

‘OW!’ he cried, as a thin willow wand slashed through the air and slapped him on the cheek. He turned back to look at the offending tree and took a step backward, a glare on his face . . . only to trip over a great oak root and land square on his rear. The leaves of a nearby beach rattled menacingly at him . . .
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Old 07-01-2003, 10:49 PM   #122
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Sting

Falco stumbled along with the other hobbits barely watching where he was going. His mind kept flashing back to the barrow he had been trapped in. He remembered the whispers and the song freezing him dragging him deeper into a cold blackness. Even now that he was free a deep chill pervaded his body and prevented him from warming up. Wights the ranger had said they were and Falco could not have been more shocked and uprooted at that moment.

It seemed there are many things afoot in this world that Falco now realized were quite real and dangerous. Glancing around at the forest they were now walking through Falco could feel the weight of unseen eyes upon them and could no longer dismiss them as being imaginings. Erendal noticed the shivering hobbit and spoke a few words that cheered Falco some. "Do not fret young hobbit, the Wights can harm you no longer. Soon we will be back in your own lands and with this adventure long behind you." Falco smiled at the Ranger and although he had been wary of Old Bill he could not help but trust this man. He had saved them from the Barrow Downs and had been nothing but friendly and open.

Falco had a feeling that Old Bill would have left them to the foul whims of the Wights had he stayed with them. The man and hobbits continued on for a little while longer until at last they reached the clearing Erendal had mentioned earlier. Rosie then appeared beside Falco and said "Do you suppose I should ask Erendal if we can hunt some game? This is a queer forest but surely there must be something rustling about that we could eat." Falco nodded and said "Let's go ask the Ranger." Together they walked over to Erendal and Rosie asked "Excuse me, sir, but do you suppose Falco and I could try to catch some game in my snare? There are a lot of us to feed and none of us have any supplies." Ama spoke up as well asking Erendal a question too. "Oh and could Olo and I go looking for some berries to eat?" All the hobbits stopped and waited for the Ranger's reply unsure of how they should tread in the foreboding forest.
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Old 07-02-2003, 01:45 PM   #123
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Sting

The events had happened so fast that even Erendal could hardly recollect how he suddenly had a band of haflings following him through the Old Forest. Surprisingly, the usually cold and solitary ranger nearly enjoyed the hobbits' company. It was a nice retreat from the hollow lonliness he endured daily. However, when they suggested splitting up, the ranger was slightly pleased.

"Certainly not, young hobbits. The woods are dangerous, and it is too easy to get lost. As for food, we are not far from my dwelling. A hot meal will do you good, by the looks of you."

Several hours later, near dusk, the group arrived at his shack. The ranger ushered them inside, looking around the darkening woods suspiciously. He shut the door behind them, started a fire and aquired help from the hobbits the fix a stew; slicing vegetables and fresh meat. Soon, the odd gathering sat around the fire, sipping the hot broth of their invention.

[ July 04, 2003: Message edited by: Himaran ]
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Old 07-02-2003, 02:53 PM   #124
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Sting

The hobbits sat around the flickering flames of the fire, the shadows dancing and creating eerie shapes on the walls of the shack. Olo watching the shadows flit across the walls as he ate his broth. After the long trek from the barrow to this hut, the good food warmed his insides as nothing else could have done. The immense feeling of satisfaction in his stomach rose to his head, and drowsily he fell asleep. One by one, the other hobbits curled up on the floor and were soon in a deep slumber as well.

**

The next morning dawned early, although through the thickly set trees of the Old Forest it was difficult to see much light. Through odd gaps in the trees, light streamed through, illuminating parts of the forest. As the hobbits rose early and left the shack, the woods were eerie and mystical in the dawn’s morning light.

Erendal had left early, seeing to business around the forest, but after the hobbits ate a small breakfast he soon returned.

“Up you get!” he said, ushering them out the door. “We still have a long way to go!” Not without some grumbling, the hobbits were soon wandering the paths of the Old Forest again, their hearts and hopes rising at the thought of nearing their homes.
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Old 07-02-2003, 08:31 PM   #125
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Sting

“Up you get! We still have a long way to go!”

Mirabella took her sweet time rousing herself, and strolled around in the morning sun. The journey had been a lot less eventful she had to admit, and she knew it had to have been because of the Ranger. Though she tried her best to shwo her dislike, he simply laughed it off, which infuriated her more.

'And how are we this morning Mis Mirabella?' he said with a smile 'The sooner Im home the better' she grumbled back, and he chuckled at her.

Moving up beside Ben she asked 'You think he would be a little less cheery in a place like this'

Ben smiled 'There be a difference between mistrust and dislike Mira. Why do ye no' give him a chance eh?' Miarbella looked at him 'Oh ho! So youre on his side now eh?' Ben couldnt stop giggling, and Mira grumbled as they journeyed along.
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Old 07-03-2003, 11:46 AM   #126
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Sting

Three days into the Old Forest

A few days later and Mirabella was still grumbling. Though her mood had lightened a little since the Ranger had managed to keep them from any misadventures. They had become used to the gloom of the Old Forest, and found themselves able to make light of it in their young fashion. The trees, too, for their part seemed to sense they meant no harm, though they creaked and rustled if one of the little folk strayed off the path.

Tom raced by Ben and Mirabella, his great tongue lolling from his mouth, heading for the front of the line. The Ranger nearly went sprawling as the dog hurtled past him, bent on some destination unseen in the distance.

‘Come on, Miri! said Ben, as they turned a corner on the twisty path, and saw the Ranger shaking his head at the quickly disappearing dog. It looks like Tom has found something!’ he grabbed her hand and took off at a run.

The other Hobbits, eager to see what the dog had found, joined in the chase down the path . . .

____________________________________________

check the Discussion thread, please

[ July 03, 2003: Message edited by: piosenniel ]
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Old 07-03-2003, 09:38 PM   #127
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Sting

Ferd charged after Tom and the others lagging a little behind even though his pants were a bit looser than when they set out on their boat two weeks before. Suddenly the trees parted, and the hobbits stood in what appeared to be a wide clearing.

“What is this place?” Penny asked. Her voice was filled with awe as she turned around soaking it in.

Ferd searched his memories for stories about the Old Forest. Why would there be an area this big without any trees in the middle of the forest? He thought turning in the same way as Penny. Then it hit him…this was the Bonfire Glade!

“Olo! Do you remember the stories of when the trees attacked the Hedge?” Ferd called to Olo who was facing the opposite direction. Spinning around slowly, Olo met Ferd’s gaze. A broad smile covered Ferd's round face.

“Yes,” Olo drew the word out as though he already knew what Ferd was going to say next, and the hobbit gradually matched Ferd’s grin.

“This must be the Bonfire Glade!” Ferd was ecstatic and he began to dance around the circle, but stopped short when an old branch reached out and scraped his arm. He covered the scratch with his other hand and gave the tree and hateful glance. Then turning back to his companions who were by now curious as to why he was making a fool of himself, he called out, “We’re almost home! The Gate can’t be but a couple of hours from here!”

What followed seemed a little chaotic. The hobbits began jumping up and down and hugging one another, and then hugging Erendal who appeared to be uncomfortable with receiving the affection. Finally they decided to sit and have a small bite in the clearing before making their way home.
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Old 07-04-2003, 02:32 PM   #128
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“We are nearly home!” Ama smiled, her face grinning at Olo who was now a little more optimistic since he felt he was to blame. And grabbing his hand she danced around, cheering, “Home, home, home!” Everyone was thrilled at the thought of getting home and though they were hungry and thirsty these desires were forgotten momentarily in the joy of finally making it back to the Shire. At length they sat down on the floor, in a circle and they were joined by Erendal who, taking a package from his bag, spread out a few apples and bread in front of the ravenous hobbits. They ate with high hopes and laughed while they ate.

As Ferd chewed thoughtfully on a piece of bread he spoke up, “Just two hours or so,” the other hobbits nodded, “And then we can go home, eat, drink, wash and sleep!”

“Ah sleep!” laughed Penny, “It will be lovely to sleep in my comfortable bed without stones digging into me! And finally a peaceful nights sleep with out wondering where you are or where you are going.” She threw her apple core down to the floor and took a small sip of the water that Erendal had too brought along with him.

“Or what might attack you.” shivered Mirabella remembering the Wight.

“But it hasn’t been all that bad,” sighed Ben.

“Hasn’t been all that bad?” asked Falco derisively.

“Well it hasn’t!” replied Ben, “ Think about it! We have been on a adventure, just like the ones in tales. We survived a Barrow Wight, we met a Ranger!” he giggled smiling at Erendal.

“The lad has a point.” Erendal said, “I mean what hobbits can say they have done all that?” The others nodded, thinking hard. “Its true,” he shrugged.
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Old 07-04-2003, 08:07 PM   #129
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Pipe

“Almost home!” Those words echoed in Penny’s mind as she devoured her food. Finally home with my family in my cozy hobbit-hole, with a bed, food, a bath and no wights. Penny was so cheerful and she her smile was so big. She had rarely smiled since… well since they left. Penny had lost track of days. They almost certainly were gone for about two weeks.

Penny remembered the day they left for the boat ride. She couldn’t wait to get on the river. She had told her Mum and Pa that shed be gone for only a few days. Were they worried, because a few days passed a long time ago? Penny listened to the others talked. Now that she thought about it, it hadn’t been too bad.

“The worse parts were, the rain, Old Bill, sleeping, food, Barrow-Downs and well that’s about it. Look on the bright side we all survived and we even found Tom.” Penny thought.

“What are we going to do with Tom? I mean we can’t just leave him here. Someone should take him home.” Penny said.
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Old 07-04-2003, 09:45 PM   #130
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Sting

As the hobbits discussed who should keep the dog, Erendal made a hard decision of his own. The ranger knew that it was time for him to return home, and for the haflings to go to theirs. He cleared his throat slowly, and the others stopped talking to listen to him.

"Well, dear hobbits, from here you can guide yourselve's home without trouble. You must only stick to the path, and within several hours you will all be recieving a stern lecture from your parents. I have greatly enjoyed leading you here; and it is with deep sadness that I depart. But I must return home."

Ben's face clouded at the thought of Erendal leaving. "You mean going back to your little house by the river?"

The ranger smiled once more, and it was not merely a polite gesture, it was heartfelt. "No, dear hobbit, I am going back to Rohan. You see, I lived in the Old Forest because I saw the people's of Middle-Earth becoming evil, self-centered and lustful. But You, dear hobbits, have shown me the truth; that many still walk on this earth that are kind and just, and innocent. And thus I am going home, to where I belong, to seek knews of what family I have left. Perhaps one day I shall return here, and visit you in the Shire. Goodness, you will all be so big by then!"

Ben thought for a minute, and then said, "Sir, I doubt that anyone will believe we met a real ranger. Could you give us a little thing to show them, to prove to our folk's that we really met you?"

The ranger pondered the question a moment, and then drew out from his belt a small dagger, but beautiful. It had a wooden handle, with exquisite lines carved into the smooth pommel; and a thin, curved silver blade. Erendal handed it to Ben. "This was a gift to me from the elves of Mirkwood; and it was they who wrought it. Few regular old men living in the Old Forest would carry such a thing. Keep it safe, Ben. As for the dog, why not decide later, once you are safely home?"

Later, as Erendal walked south through the forest, he thought of all the events that had just occured. Good Bye, Dear Hobbits, and Tom. Good Bye, Ben. I am truely going home.

[ July 05, 2003: Message edited by: Himaran ]
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Old 07-05-2003, 02:29 AM   #131
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Sting

Mirabella sat at the corner of the group when she heard the Ranger say he was leaving. She couldnt help but feel sad. She had tried so hard not to trust him, but he had proved to be as good of folf as any, and she felt horrible.

All the hobbits chattered amongst themselves about who was to keep Tom. The dog simply sat at the fire and looked her way, a strange sort of look in his eyes. Mirabella knew now was the time to eat her words.

As the Ranger walked away, she squeaked 'Thankyou Erendal. You're one of the best of the Big Folk Ive ever met' and she gave a great smile.
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Old 07-05-2003, 08:50 AM   #132
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Sting

Olo watched the Ranger disappear into the trees, his heart warmed to the Big Folk, now he knew there were some good people out there. The hobbits sat in the Bonfire Glade a little longer, the initial thrill at discovering how close they were to home replaced by silence as the hobbits mused on the events of the previous two weeks. Who would have believed that all this could stem from one small boat adventure?

Some minutes later, the hobbits rose from the ground, stamped out the fire, and began the last few hours of their journey. Buckland was so near now – Olo barely thought of the trouble he would inevitably be in from his parents – and thought only of being able to tell of their adventures to the other hobbits. He could see it now, describing the boat rushing downstream, the barrow wights, and they could lord it over the others that they had been in the Old Forest! Olo smiled exultantly. His fears had passed, and his guilt had slowly been ebbing away as they got nearer and nearer home, and the hobbit had begun to realise that they would make it.

Tom ran along at their side, sniffing out every tree and leaf that they passed by, curious about the new places that he was seeing. The hobbits spoke little, silent with relief, tiredness, and the flood of emotions that were taking over at this point. Olo looked down, and realised they were all still wearing the strange clothes from the barrow. They would look a sight as they entered the Shire!

Ama walked a little ahead of the others, and they were soon awakened from their thoughts by the sound of her calling “The gate! I can see it!” Olo dashed ahead to look, and indeed, there it was. They were home at last.
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