Of UNO and Thunderstorms
DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN LORD OF THE RINGS OR ANYTHING ELSE THAT I REFERENCE! FRANCESCA AND NATALIE OWN THEMSELVES! I ONLY OWN MYSELF AND ANY OCS THAT APPEAR!
Chapter Twenty Two
We didn't ride for very long and soon came to the pile of charred Uruk Hai remains. We all stared for a moment before dismounting our horses. Contrary to what I had believed would happen; I didn't fall flat on my ass. Gimli began searching through the smoking pile with his axe while the rest of us just stood by looking around. After a minute or two, Gimli picked up Merry's belt, which had been burnt to a crisp.
"It's one of their wee belts." He said sadly, holding up the belt. I looked over at Kate, the only other one who knew that our friends were perfectly fine, and bit my lip. Kate shrugged helplessly. Legolas bowed his head. "Hiro hyn hîdh ab wanath." He murmured in elvish. What that means, I have absolutely no idea. Aragorn kicked an Uruk Hai helmet and screamed, falling to his knees. "We failed them." Gimli stated solemnly.
Suddenly Aragorn started examining the ground near the pile of dead Uruk Hai. I looked over his shoulder and saw marks in the ground where three people must have been laying down at some point. "A hobbit lay here. And the other. And Natalie." Aragorn told us as he got up and started to follow the tracks. "They crawled. Their hands were bound." He continued. Aragorn stooped down, picked up a piece of rope and held the ends together. "Their bonds were cut." He said. Legolas, Gimli, Kate and I followed Aragorn as he continued to track our friends. "They ran over here. They were followed." Aragorn stated as he followed the tracks away from the battlefield and towards Fangorn Forest. "Tracks lead away from the battle, into Fangorn Forest." Aragorn finished as we arrived at the edge of the forest.
"Fangorn? What madness drove them in there?" Gimli commented as we looked into the forest.
As it turns out, Gollum didn't throttle us in our sleep and actually led us out of the rocks a few days later. Gollum ran ahead of us and to the edge of the rocks, leaving Sam, Frodo and I to stumble our way after him. Once we caught up, we found him perched on a rock. In the distance I could see Mordor and Mount Doom. I shuddered involuntarily.
"See? See? We've led you out! Hurry Hobbitses! Hurry! Very lucky we find you. Nice Hobbit." Gollum said that last part to Sam as we continued down a steep slope to the ground below. Sam stepped down onto solid ground. Well, supposedly solid ground. The ground squished and sank beneath his feet.
Sam let out a shout. "It's a bog! He's led us into a swamp!" Sam exclaimed. "A swamp yes, yes. Come master! We will take you on safe paths through the mist." Gollum responded and went on a little bit ahead of us. "I think he's gone completely bonkers." I whispered to Sam next to me. "I can't argue with you there, Miss Francesca." Sam said. I shrugged and we continued.
"Come Hobbitses! Come! We go quickly. I found it, I did. The way through the marshes. Orcs don't use it, orcs don't know it. They go round for miles and miles. Come quickly. Soft and quick as shadows we must be." Gollum told us as we squelched our way through the swamp.
Soon we stopped to rest. I looked around to see the marshes spanned on and on for miles. I munched on a piece of lembas and glanced at Sam, Frodo and Gollum. Frodo was watching Gollum doing whatever Gollums do as Sam looked around at the scenery, or in this case, lack of scenery. There was complete silence. There were no birds or animals moving around and it felt eerie if you ask me. I thought about my friends. What happened to Natalie, Olympia and Kate? If I know Olympia, she probably went with Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas. Kate likely went with her sister. I'm not sure where Natalie would have gone. She might have gone with Kate and Olympia. But she also may have tried to save Boromir and been kidnapped by Uruk Hai. There was no way for me to know and I hated it.
"I hate this place. It's too quiet. There hasn't been sight nor sound of a bird for two days." Sam's voice snapped me back to reality. "No, no birdses to eat, no crunchable birdses. We are famished! Yes! Famished we are, precious!" Gollum wailed, then plucked a worm out of the ground. "Oh that's gross." I murmured as I watched Gollum slurp up the worm like it was a piece of spaghetti. Sam watched with a slightly grossed out look on his face.
Frodo broke off a piece of lembas bread and tossed it to Gollum. "Here." He said. "What does it eats? Is it tasty?" Gollum asked as he picked up the lembas and laughed a weird, deranged laugh. He stuffed the lembas in his mouth and promptly began coughing, sputtering and screaming. Anyone other than me see that one coming? "It tries to choke us! We can't eats hobbit food! We must starve!" Gollum screamed. "Technically, this is elvish food." I corrected, holding up my lembas. Gollum totally ignored my comment.
"Well starve then. And good riddance." Sam said to Gollum, looking highly annoyed. "Oh cruel hobbit! It does care if we be hungry, does not care if we should die!" Gollum yelled at Sam. I opened my mouth to say something, but Gollum interrupted me. "Not like master, master cares. Master knows, yes. Precious. Once it takes hold of us, it never lets go." Gollum said, reaching out for Frodo, seeing as he had reached up for the Ring. "Don't touch me!" Frodo snapped. Gollum gasped and backed up, curling up and putting his head on his arms. After a while we got up and continued to trek through the marshes.
Soon, we saw these little candle-like flames burning near the water's edge in some places. In the water, I saw dead bodies of people. "I see dead people." I whispered. Sam and Frodo both looked at me and I pointed to the water where the dead people were. "There are dead things, dead faces in the water!" Sam cried.
"All dead. All rotten. Elves and Men and Orcses. A great battle long ago. Dead Marshes. Yes, yes, that is their name. This way, don't follow the lights." Gollum told us. Sam's foot slipped and he stumbled, half in the water. "Careful now! Or hobbits go down to join the dead ones, and light little candles of their own." Gollum warned. "No thanks, I like my candles when they're not representing my death. I'm going to watch out more now." I commented. "Girl hobbit is careful, yes." Gollum muttered to himself. Okay, I'm officially freaked out. I thought.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Frodo stop to look at one of the dead faces. Slowly, he leaned forward and tumbled into the water with a splash. "Frodo!" Sam yelled as we all rushed towards where Frodo had fallen. Gollum reached in and hauled Frodo back up, flopping around like a fish out of water.
Frodo looked up at Gollum, confused. "Gollum?" he asked. "Don't follow the lights." Gollum told him and walked away. "Mr. Frodo, are you alright?!" Sam asked worriedly and helped Frodo back up to his feet.
In the middle of the night, I was woken up by a piercing screech. "Black Riders!" Sam shouted. Gollum yelled at us to hide and then ran under a small tree nearby. A strangled gasp came from Frodo as he collapsed on the ground clutching his chest. Sam went to him and tried to help him to our hiding spot. "Come on, Frodo. Come on!" he urged. Soon we saw a wraith flying his dragon like creature low over the marshes. I forget the technical name for them so I'll just call them dragon like creatures. "I thought they were dead!" Sam exclaimed upon seeing the wraith.
"Dead? No, you cannot kill them. No." Gollum informed us. Frodo reached into his shirt for the Ring and the wraiths shrieked louder, flying directly overhead. I covered my ears and mentally cursed them. "Wraiths! Wraiths on wings! They are calling for it. They are calling for the precious." Gollum stated, looking at Frodo.
Sam took Frodo's hand away from the Ring and took it. "Mr. Frodo! It's alright. I'm here." Sam told Frodo, who looked like he was about to faint. His eyes nearly rolled back into his head. With one final shriek from the wraith and a fearsome roar from the dragon like creature, the wraith flew off. Frodo slowly returned to his normal self and he sat up. "Hurry hobbits. The Black Gate is very close." Gollum told us as we slowly came out from our hiding place. "No rest for the weary!" I mumbled to myself as we started off through the Dead Marshes again.
Kate, Gimli, Aragorn, Legolas and I had been walking through Fangorn Forest for ten minutes or so, trying to track Merry, Pippin and Natalie. In my opinion, the forest had a little bit of a creepy vibe to it. Gimli soon found a plant that had been splattered with a black gooey substance. He ran his finger on one of the plant's leaves and tasted the stuff. "Orc blood." Gimli said as he spat out the gooey crap.
"Do I even want to know how you know what orc blood tastes like?" I asked as we jumped over a small stream and continued running through the forest, following Aragorn. Gimli chuckled a bit, Legolas smirked and Kate smiled and rolled her eyes. Aragorn took no notice seeing as he was busy tracking.
Aragorn soon crouched down near some weird looking prints in the dirt and examined them. "These are strange tracks." He observed. Gimli walked around slowly and warily nearby. "The air is so close in here." He commented. Somehow, his voice seemed to echo a bit.
"This forest is old, very old. Full of memory…..and anger." Legolas mused, looking around at the trees. I looked around too, tilting my head back and staring up into the higher branches of the trees. Suddenly there were deep groaning sounds that were definitely not made by anything human. Kate and I jumped slightly and I raised an eyebrow. Gimli gasped in the manliest possible way and raised his axe. Or would it be dwarf-liest in his case? "The trees are speaking to each other!" Legolas exclaimed. "Talking trees…Cool!" I murmured. Legolas apparently heard me and gave me a smile, causing me to blush and turn away. Damn it face! Stop blushing! I mentally cursed, though I knew it wouldn't help worth a crap.
"Gimli! Lower your axe." Aragorn told Gimli once he saw that the dwarf had raised his axe. Gimli lowered his axe with a wary look on his face and held his other hand up in a gesture of peace.
"They have feelings, my friend. The elves began it; waking up the trees, teaching them to speak." Legolas said, turning to look at Gimli. Does that mean he can understand what they're saying? How cool would that be?! I thought. "Talking trees. What do trees have to talk about? Except the consistency of squirrel droppings." Gimli commented.
Less than a minute after this conversation, I heard faint footsteps and cocked my head to the side as I listened. Kate did the same. Legolas turned in the direction of the noise and walked a little ways ahead up to the top of a small hill. "Aragorn, nad no ennas." He said. (Something's out there.) Aragorn followed close behind and came up next to Legolas. "Man cenich?" Aragorn asked. (What do you see?) "The White Wizard approaches." Legolas answered. Aragorn looked around and took a deep breath. "Do not let him speak. He will put a spell on us." Aragorn replied and put his hand on the hilt of his sword. Gimli tightened his grip on his axe and Legolas knocked an arrow. Kate and I just hung back with huge shit eating grins on our faces. Legolas, Aragorn and Gimli all gave us strange looks. "We must be quick." Aragorn whispered and we whirled around to face the White Wizard.
We were met with a bright white light. Gimli let out a battle cry and threw his axe. It was quickly deflected and Legolas fired his arrow, which was also deflected. Aragorn's sword turned red hot and he dropped it to the ground, where it landed with a clatter. We all backed up a bit and Aragorn shielded his eyes against the white light.
"You are tracking the footsteps of two young hobbits and a young woman." The White Wizard stated, sounding quite a bit like Saruman. "Where are they?" Aragorn asked, still shielding his eyes with his hand. "They passed this way, the day before yesterday. They met someone they did not expect. Does that comfort you?" The White Wizard responded. "Not exactly." I heard Kate mumble. I smirked slightly. "Who are you? Show yourself!" Aragorn demanded. The glowing white light faded revealing Gandalf, dressed all in white and holding a white staff. "It cannot be." Aragorn whispered. "But it is." I thought aloud. Kate smacked my arm and I attempted not to laugh. Gimli and Legolas both bowed to Gandalf the White. Kate and I just stood there, still grinning ear to ear.
"Forgive me. I mistook you for Saruman." Legolas said. "I am Saruman, or rather, Saruman as he should have been." Gandalf replied. "You fell." Aragorn continued, stepping closer to Gandalf.
"Through fire and water. From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak, I fought with the Balrog of Morgoth. Until at last I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountainside. Darkness took me and I strayed out of thought and time. Stars wheeled overhead, and every day was as long as a life age of the Earth. But it was not the end. I felt life in me again. I've been sent back, until my task is done." Gandalf explained. Kind of like Glorfindel. I thought, though why that came to my mind, I do not know.
"Gandalf." Aragorn said as he walked up to the wizard. "Gandalf? Yes, that was what they used to call me. Gandalf the Grey. That was my name." Gandalf smiled. "Gandalf." Gimli grinned. "I am Gandalf the White, and I come back to you now. At the turn of the tide." Gandalf told us. He then put on a grey cloak and began to lead us out of Fangorn. "One stage of your journey is over, another begins. We must travel to Edoras with all speed." He said as we went.
"Edoras? That is no short distance!" Gimli exclaimed. "We hear of trouble in Rohan. It goes ill with the king." Aragorn added. "Yes, and it will not be easily cured." Gandalf replied and stopped. "Then we have run all this way for nothing. Are we to leave those poor hobbits and Natalie here, in this horrid, dark, dank, tree-infested…?" Gimli was cut off when the deep groaning sounds of the trees were heard. "I mean charming, quite charming forest." He corrected. Kate rolled her eyes and Legolas and I both smirked slightly.
"It was more than mere chance that brought Merry, Pippin and Natalie to Fangorn. A great power has been sleeping here for many long years. The coming of Merry, Pippin and Natalie will be like the falling of small stones that starts an avalanche in the mountains." Gandalf turned back to face Gimli as he said this. "In one thing you have not changed, dear friend." Aragorn stated. Gandalf looked confused. "You still speak in riddles." Aragorn elaborated and both of them laughed. "A thing is about to happen that has not happened since the Elder Days. The Ents are going to wake up, and find that they are strong." Gandalf looked back to Gimli.
"Strong? Oh, that's good." Gimli commented. "So stop your fretting, Master Dwarf. Merry, Pippin and Natalie are quite safe. In fact, they are far safer than you are about to be." Gandalf continued. "This new Gandalf's even more grumpy than the old one." Gimli muttered.
Soon we were out of the forest and standing on the edges of the plains again. Aragorn, Legolas and Kate had gotten our horses from where we left them. Gandalf stopped and let out a long, high-pitched whistle that echoed across the plains. There was silence for a split second before we heard a horse whinny in reply. Shadowfax, a large, beautiful, pure white horse came galloping up a hill and towards us.
"That is one of the Mearas, unless my eyes are cheated by some spell." Legolas whispered, more to himself than to anyone else, as Shadowfax reached Gandalf. "Shadowfax. He is the lord of all horses, and has been my friend through many dangers." Gandalf said, bowing his head then stroking the horse's neck. We then mounted our horses and set out for Edoras at a fast pace. This time around, I was able to mount Braylla behind my sister without help. I was very proud of this fact.
Author's note: Well, there you have it my friends. Chapter twenty two. Can you guys believe we're already twenty two chapters into this story? I can't! Thank you guys so much for favoriting and reviewing and following this! It means a lot. In other news, things are slowly, and I mean slowly getting back to a relatively normal level after hurricane Sandy. READ AND REVIEW PLEASE!