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The Least of Rings by Dreamflower, Part 8

Author: Dreamflower
Title: The Least of Rings
Rating: G
Theme: "All Things are Possible" AU
Elements: This story-starter-- "In the Springtime, birds a-wing time, all hearts are merry and light!"
Author's Notes: This story was inspired by Tolkien's original version of The Hobbit. The relevant passage is quoted at the beginning—taken from the original 1937 edition of The Hobbit.
There will be acknowledgements and special notes at the end of the relevant parts.
Summary: Bilbo picked up a very interesting trinket on his journey with the Dwarves…and it's not what you think. (A series of 500 word vignettes)
Word Count: 500 in each part

Part 8

17 Afterlithe, S.R. 1418

Naturally Gandalf was right. It was too dangerous for the two younger hobbits to go back without an escort.

"Strider will come along with you hobbits. You'll travel a-foot. Avoid the roads. I'll go ahead on horseback, try to drive the Nine out of your way. I'll leave tonight as swiftly as possible. Strider, make all haste towards the Ford."

For the hobbits "all haste" was unpleasant. The ponies were left behind in Butterbur's care, and Strider's horse served as packhorse. They trekked through brush and briar and bog, bedeviled by insects, driven at a pace they had never imagined. Strider was not willing to stop every couple of hours to eat, either!

Six days of trudging, and they had stopped to make camp. They noticed flashes of light to the distant East. "Weathertop," explained Strider. "Gandalf said he'd meet us there if it was safe, but judging by what we can see, it likely is not."

The next day, Strider suddenly gave the order for the hobbits to hide. He stopped and stood there with the laden horse. He was quiet, but they saw his hand was near to the hilt of his knife. The hobbits silently found the stones they kept in their pockets.

A pair of nasty looking ruffians came into view. They stopped at the sight of Strider, who looked back them coolly. The Men hesitated, then one said "Where's them hobbits you went off with?"

"What hobbits?"

"The ones you left Bree with. There's a pretty little price fer them." said the one on the left.

Strider allowed his hand to caress the hilt of his knife. "If anyone is to get their price, it won't be you."

The one on the right gave a snarl, and pulling his own knife, leapt to close the distance between himself and Strider. At the same instant there were two flashes in the air, and the Man on the left dropped to the ground.

"Good shot, Sam," said Merry.

"I think yours hit first, Mr. Merry," replied Sam.

The big ruffian tried to close with Strider, but their guide was taller with greater reach. All four hobbits looked away as Strider's knife struck home.

He turned to look in the direction of their hiding place. "There's a low dell with a stream past that bend in the path beyond that fallen oak. Please lead my horse there, and wait for me." He grabbed the small spade they used to dig firepits from the horse and turned towards the Man he'd slain.

The hobbits were pale. Sam and Merry looked at each other. Had they killed the other Man? or was Strider going to slay him?

Tears welled up in Sam's eyes; he started to turn, to ask. Merry put a hand on his arm. "Do we really want to know?" he asked, ignoring his own tears.

"Come along, lads. Let's do as we've been told," said Frodo softly, putting an arm around each. Pippin took the horse's reins.

Part 9


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 29th, 2013 01:13 am (UTC)
Yes, adventure usually reads a lot better than the experience. A good thing they had Strider with them, but the consequences of their actions will weigh on them, I'm sure.

- Erulisse (one L)
May. 30th, 2013 12:06 am (UTC)
Yes, they've had their first battle.
May. 29th, 2013 06:37 am (UTC)
It is a bit condensed, of course. I love the indication that the ruffians saw Strider as competition for the bounty. Now, to see what they find at Weathertop! Is there still a Morgul knife?
May. 30th, 2013 12:09 am (UTC)
It is condensed, truly, because of the format I chose!

I figured that the ruffians would expect anyone out in the woods like that would be "one of them"--and of course, he's still in his rough Strider persona, that seems roguish enough to the uninformed.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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