NaBloPoMo Day 14: Am I Written in the Stars?


I only  know two of my zodiac signs: Taurus and the Pig/Boar (Chinese zodiac).

Taurus I have been familiar with since I was a kid; I would read my horoscopes at the back of the newspaper and magazines for fun and usually giggle at them. But I never prescribed any belief in them, truthfully. Doesn’t stop them from being fun, though.

For today’s writing topic, I reread a profile on Taurus, as well as one on the Pig/Boar. But, let’s deal with the bull first.

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Stories within Stories: Arwen’s Search


Author’s Note: This is from a collection of stories that I wrote years ago, based on and to fill in some of the gaps in Tolkien’s masterpiece The Lord of the Rings.

= = = = =

Arwen’s Search

Lord Elrond Half-elven seemed disturbed and worried; his daughter Arwen Evenstar perceived his mood and came to his side.

“Father, what ails you? Is all well?” she questioned him quietly.

Elrond shook his head gravely. “Nay, daughter. Something bodes ill in the forests beyond Bruinen. Aragorn should have arrived with the hobbits by now. I fear the Black Riders have waylaid him somehow.”

Arwen sensed the urgency of the situation. Her heart feared for Aragorn’s safety and for those whom he protected. “I will go and search for them, Father.”

“No. I have already sent Glorfindel upon Asfaloth; he will find them speedily. We must make ready in case someone of their party is wounded.” With these words, Lord Elrond left the room but Arwen remained, struggling with her heart and her desire to obey her father. Finally, her heart won out.

Going to her chamber, she clothed herself in gray, drawing a dark hood over her fair head. Taking up her sword, she slipped out to the stables and, mounting the horse Delathena, rode out of Rivendell and into the forests of Middle-earth.

~

For two days, she searched and searched tirelessly, catching sight of five Ringwraiths upon their black steeds. But there was no sign of Aragorn and his Halfling companions. Soon, heartsick, she turned towards Rivendell again.

“I hope Glorfindel found them,” was her heart’s prayer.

No sooner had she crested the hill beyond the river Bruinen than the thunder of hooves reached her sharp ears. Suddenly, Asfaloth burst from the trees and galloped across the river, a smallish figure upon his back! He paused on the opposite shore and Arwen’s spirit cringed as the terrible voices of the Nine cried out to Asfaloth’s rider.

“Come back with us, Frodo! Come back with us to Mordor!” they shrieked.

Arwen then realized that Asfaloth’s rider was a Halfling! In fact, he was the very Halfling that she had been seeking.

She saw the brave little creature draw his sword, warding the Wraiths back fiercely and desperately.

“Go back!” he cried. “Go back to the Land of Mordor, and follow me no more!”[1] But his strength waned. He was injured! Seeing his weakness, the Riders began to advance upon him!

Suddenly, words flowed from Arwen’s lips, stirring the air with Rivendell’s power.

Nîn o Chithaeglir

lasto beth daer.

Rimmo nîn Bruinen

dan in Ulaer.

Suddenly, the currents of Bruinen began to swell as a wall of water rushed over the Black Riders, sweeping them away! Arwen watched them for a moment but then quickly dismounted Delathena and ran to Frodo, who had finally succumbed to his weakness and fallen from Asfaloth’s saddle!

She cradled the hobbit in her arms, seeing that he was slipping from this world. Gathering him up, she mounted Asfaloth this time, for he was the swifter horse, and raced to her father’s house.

Noro lim, Asfaloth!”

The Elvish horses ran rapidly and soon arrived at Elrond’s house in the valley where Arwen sprang from the saddle and rushed into the bright hall with Frodo.

“Father! Father!”

Lord Elrond appeared with none other than Gandalf the Grey at his side. Elrond took the hobbit and they retreated to the east wing to care for him.

Arwen watched them disappear down the hall and then turned at the nearby voice of her brother Elorhir. “You may have saved the Halfling’s life, sister. You may have saved us all.”

She glanced at him with a worried look in her bright eyes. “I only hope so, my brother. I only hope so.” With that, she pulled the dark hood from her head and moved towards her chambers.

 

Two days later, Arwen heard that Frodo was awake and progressing well. This relieved her heart’s ache of fear for the brave hobbit. She gathered bouquets of elanor for his room every morning whilst he remained abed and even paid him a visit or two herself, when he was well enough to receive visitors. It seemed to brighten both their spirits, for he enjoyed her company very much and his regaining health pleased her.

One eve, all gathered for a merry supper. Arwen sat beside Frodo with Sam ever vigilant at his other hand and Gandalf across from them, Aragorn—known to his Halfling friends as Strider—at his side. Throughout supper, there was much lively chatter, songs, and stories. Frodo spoke quite a bit with Lady Arwen, Sam, and Gandalf but, after a while, the Lady dropped from conversation with the hobbits and wizard and exchanged a few words with Aragorn. Frodo’s alertness was fast returning and he noticed certain looks and manners with which Arwen and Aragorn regarded each other, even a secretive smile gracing either of their commanded countenances for a fleeting moment.

Leaning towards Sam, he whispered, “Are Strider and the Lady Arwen in love?”

Sam snuck a peek around his friend. “Aye, Mr. Frodo, I believe they are. Though they don’t fully act it in public.”

Frodo just smiled and enjoyed the peace of the moment, for—though unbidden and undesired—the next day was to bring a most tumultuous year into his life. A year that would change the world as they all knew it.

[1] The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien, page 241.

 

Merry and Pippin’s Ride to the Grey Havens (A Middle-Earth In-Between Story)


Rosie Gamgee smiled as she moved about the kitchen to the sound of little Elanor’s voice babbling happily. The maidenchild sat on the hardwood floor in a pool of sunlight that poured in from a bright window. Her little hands reached out as though to grasp and hold the golden light.

The child’s violet eyes sparkled and her pretty mouth was spread in a seemingly-permanent smile. She babbled quietly, talking to the air around her and then becoming quiet as though listening in return.

Suddenly, there came a hard rap on Bag End’s elegant green door! Rosie was rather confused, unused to any sound other than the jangle of the bell at the door-front. Nevertheless, she opened the door and found a tall, white-haired man standing there, a staff in his hand.

“Good-day, Mistress Rose. Do you remember me?” he asked.

“But of course I do. Come in, Mr. Gandalf! Come in!” Rosie opened the door wide, allowing him into the cozy hobbit-hole.

“Thank you very much.” Gandalf removed his old, blue hat and stepped inside, bending his gray head and allowing Rosie to take his hat and staff.

“Might I get you some tea, Mr. Gandalf?” she questioned politely, setting his things down gently and hurrying to the kitchen.

“Yes, some tea would be lovely.”

Just then, Rosie paused in the doorway of the long hall. “Oh. If you have come to visit Mr. Frodo, sir, I’m afraid that you’ve missed him by several days. He and my Sam headed off in the direction of Rivendell the beginning of this week; they’ve been gone four days now.”

Gandalf smiled, for, of course, he knew all of this already. “Yes, Mistress Rose, I know. I’ve only come to the Shire to collect Master Peregrin and Master Meriadoc, for Sam shall need them when he and Frodo reach their destination.” This he said as he seated himself at the table.

Rosie was alarmed and almost dropped the teakettle. “What do you mean Sam will need them? Are he and Mr. Frodo in some sort of danger, Mr. Gandalf?”

“No, no, they are not. It’s just that Samwise will need his friends’ company for the return journey, but more I will not say until I see Merry and Pippin.”

Rosie nodded, pouring some tea for the wizard. “Well, then, you’ve arrived just in time, for they normally cut around for tea at four o’clock and should be here any moment.”

Just then, a soft coo at the foot of Gandalf’s chair arrested his attention; there was Elanor, tugging on his cloak and looking up at him in the most interested manner, as though she recognized him.

“Oh, forgive me if she’s bothering you, Mr. Gandalf.” Rose promptly apologized and moved to collect the child, but he had already swept her up into his lap.

“No, it’s quite all right, Mistress Rose.” Gandalf answered smilingly and began to talk to Elanor, who babbled in return.

Rosie hurried about the kitchen, preparing the bread, jam, and cakes for that afternoon’s tea, but her sharp ears caught snippets of what seemed to be a conversation going on betwixt the wizard and her daughter.

“Yes, I know you will miss him but mayhaps you will see him again someday. Besides, your papa will have no end of stories to tell you for years to come. You’ve been a great help to Frodo, Elanor; more than you know.” Gandalf said quietly, to which Elanor just smiled.

Now, Rosie was very smart (it was one of the things Sam greatly admired about her) and it was then that she realized, “Mr. Frodo isn’t coming back.”

Suddenly, a loud jangle of the doorbell startled her and she flew to answer it. Standing on the porch were two rather tall hobbits; they were, of course, Merry and Pippin.

“Hello, Rosie!” Merry greeted her in his normal, friendly fashion. “Are we a bit late? Business about the Shire, you know.”

“Business indeed, Master Meriadoc!” A great voice boomed from within the kitchen, and they rushed in to find Gandalf seated there, sipping tea and holding a sleepy babe in the crook of his arm.

Amidst their amazement at the sight of him, Pippin managed, “Turned molly-coddler now, have we, Gandalf?”

“Most certainly not, Peregrin Took! No more than you have turned sensible,” the wizard replied, handing Elanor over to Rosie who took her to the nursery directly and left the tea to the gentlemen.

“Come now, young Masters. Have a seat and refresh yourselves, for I have come on a special errand to collect you.” Gandalf then took out his pipe whilst Pippin and Merry had their tea. Being now an esteemed knight of Gondor had changed nothing of Pippin’s appetite; he was still always hungry and so devoured his tea with relish.

“So where are we off to now, and why without Frodo and Sam?” Merry questioned when they were done.

“Because you are going to meet them, that’s why. Now collect your things and be quick about it. We have near a fortnight’s ride ahead and Frodo and Sam have already gained four days on us.” Gandalf then rose and bidding Rosie good-bye and thank-you, they took their leave of Bag End.

Gathering food, cloaks, and ponies from their homes, Merry and Pippin soon made ready to leave. Gandalf was again on Shadowfax and led the way out of the Shire.

“So where are we going exactly?” Pippin repeated the question, for Gandalf was notorious for not answering when asked pointedly.

“We are going to the Grey Havens.”

“The Grey Havens? But isn’t that where the Elves will leave Middle-earth forever?” Merry chimed in, remembering what Frodo had previously told them of Lord Elrond’s plans. “Why are we going there? And why is Frodo?”

Gandalf sighed as though very weary. “Frodo is wounded very badly. It will never heal, not fully. He needs rest, my friends, a long rest. That is why we are going to the Havens. You to keep Sam company and I to go with Frodo and the Elves into the West.”

Pippin almost halted his stalwart pony at this. “Do you mean to say that neither you nor Frodo are coming back?!”

Gandalf, however, kept on riding. “No, Master Peregrin, we are not. The time of the Ringbearers has come and gone. It is time for us to rest.”

At this, the sleeve of his cloak shifted, revealing upon his hand Nayra, one of the Three, the remaining Rings of Power. With the destruction of the One Ring, though, they had lost their strength; a sacrifice the Ringbearers had been willing to make.

Merry and Pippin now understood a bit better and, for many hours, rode on in silence as they pondered Gandalf’s words.

For the next few days, they rode hard so as to overtake Sam and Frodo. The strong little ponies seemed inspired by Shadowfax’s presence and ran with a vigor and speed before unknown to their masters. They traveled straight for two days and two nights at a hard run. Then they stopped for half a day to allow the animals to rest, and afterwards continued on.

Merry and Pippin continued to question Gandalf, quite dismayed that he was leaving them. Amidst this conversation, he told them something of great importance that forever remained with them.

“Samwise is going to need you two very much after we are gone. You stand by him as he has stood by Frodo, and be hobbits that I shall be even prouder to say that I have known and loved.”

This lifted their spirits slightly and they rode a bit lighter of heart the rest of the way. After several more days, they crested a hill and saw a beauteous sight: the Western Sea. Gandalf bid them wait at the Havens’ gate, near some trees, whilst he rode down to where a white ship and a host of Elves were waiting.

“It seems so strange,” Pippin said quietly.

“What seems strange, Pip?” Merry shifted in his saddle to look at his friend.

“That we’ll never see Frodo or Gandalf again.”

Merry nodded. “Yes, it does seem strange…and sad.”

Just then, they heard the clippety-clip of horses and ponies. Silently they watched from their shadowed place, with tears filling their eyes, as Lord Elrond, Lady Galadriel, Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam rode past toward the white ship.

A World in Twilight


Disclaimer: All characters from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings belong exclusively to the Tolkien Estate. These characters are not mine. I simply play with the wonder that is them and the world they inhabit and the stories that could lie between the lines.

Fall was quiet, leaves of gold and amber making their silent courses to the carpet the ground. This was when he enjoyed the world, at its twilight. Gandalf’s own was approaching, this he knew. His task had been fulfilled.

Four years to the day when he had delivered the hobbits to Imladris from Minas Tirith. Four years since the little ones had fought for home and hearth. Four years since he had passed through his own fiery gauntlet. It might not seem like a long time to some, especially to he who had seen the ages of this world pass by like wisps of cloud. But it was enough.

Twilight was falling for him. And also for others.

Frodo was beginning to fade; he could feel it. It was like a breath of cold seeping into his heart. Gandalf would soon leave on that last ship from Middle-earth, and he knew that Frodo must leave with him.

‘It is time,’ the old Maia murmured as he walked beneath the fading trees of Lothlorien.

~

If spring is Lothlorien’s glory, then autumn is its phoenix burning.

‘Gandalf, you wished to speak with me?’ A bright figure paused at the doorway to the wizard’s chambers. Galadriel, Lady of Light.

‘Lady Galadriel, please.’ Gandalf held a hand out to her.

The Elf Queen smiled and took his arm in full confidence. ‘What is it, old friend? You know my time for granting requests grows short.’

‘As it does for all of us, my Lady. But this boon I must ask.’ Gandalf turned as they reached the moonlit terrace. ‘Frodo is failing. Failing and fading quickly.’

Galadriel’s bright eyes seemed to cloud a bit. ‘His wound is a danger to him; it feeds on the darkness the Ring left in his soul, the broken pieces of himself.’

Gandalf sighed, suddenly feeling very old. ‘He is so young to have borne so much.’

Galadriel placed a hand on his arm again, Nenya, the ring of Adamant, shimmering in the pale moonlight upon her finger. ‘We were all young once, Gandalf.’ A gentle smile graced her lips. ‘But you had a request.’

The Maia regarded her softly. ‘You already know of it, my Lady.’

Galadriel gave a quiet nod. ‘Frodo is not merely a Peleninath. He is also a Ring-Bearer, as is Bilbo. Therefore, I would think it fitting that they should join us; they have earned their rest.’

A smile, one she had known of old, crinkled around Gandalf’s ancient eyes.

‘Our twilight has come, Gandalf. Soon we will journey beyond the White Towers and into the West. The power of our Rings has ended and the time has come for the dominion of Men; may Aragorn and his line rule well.’ The Lady of Light then turned to Gandalf, echoing his words, ‘May they be blest.’

Gandalf, too, smiled. ‘A part of you will always live on in Middle-earth, my Lady. It lives on now in your granddaughter Arwen and will flourish in her children. The light of Lothlorien will never fully be gone as long as one descendent of her line lives.’

Galadriel gave a quiet smile at his words. She did love her granddaughter Arwen Undomiel wholly and completely and part of her heart was saddened at her remaining behind, having given up her Elvish radiance and immortality. But Galadriel also knew the powerful bonds of love.

Galadriel looked out over the gold-and-reddening Wood. ‘Yes, our twilight has come.’