Road To Rivendell, The: 1. Fog on the Barrow Downs

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1. Fog on the Barrow Downs

Frodo blundered through the dense, opaque gray fog
towards distant voices calling his name: "Frodo, Hoy!
Frodo!"

Suddenly the calls changed to shrill cries of
"Help! Help!". He tried to run towards them,
struggling up the steep slope, frantically shouting
his friends' names until his breath gave out. Then a
high, horrible, unHobbitlike scream froze the blood in
his veins and stopped him in his tracks. It was
followed by a second scream and then a third. And
finally, after a long terrible silence while the fog
darkened around him, another cry of "Frodo!"

"Here! I'm coming!" weak with relief he finished
scrambling up the steep side of the down and staggered
towards the voices.

"Frodo! Mr. Frodo!" Sam materialized out of the
thining fog and they fell into each others arms.

"Sam! Sam, what happened?"

Before he could answer Sam was displaced by Merry
and Pippin, hugging their cousin in passionate relief
and both taking at once.

Merry: "Where did you go?"

Pippin: "All of a sudden you were just gone!"

Merry: "Really Frodo you must be more careful!"

Pippin: "What if you had run into the Barrow Wights
too?"

"Barrow Wights!" Frodo gaped. The fog had thinned
to a few drifting whisps, the stars shone bright
overhead giving enough light for Frodo to see a tall,
cloaked figure looming up behind his friends. He
gasped in horror tried to shove Pippin behind him.

"No, no, it's all right Mr. Frodo." Sam reassured
quickly.

"I am not a Wight." the figure said with a note of
amusement its light, clear voice.

"This is Lightfoot," Sam explained, "He rescued us."

Frodo blinked. What was one of the Big Folk doing
out on the Downs? And what kind of name was Lightfoot?

"What brings four Hobbits out of the Shire and onto
the Barrow Downs?" Lightfoot asked almost like an echo
of his own thought.

"We..we were making for Bree."

"You would have done better to stay on the road."

"We weren't on the road, we were taking a short
cut." Frodo stammered.

"That was unwise." The Man said coolly, then turned
sharply in response to something the
Hobbits could neither
hear or sense. "As is staying out on the
Downs at night, even for me." The Man unslung
the bow he carried over his shoulder and nocked an
arrow. "This way."
****

The shelter the Man brought them to looked
uncomfortably like a barrow; walled with great stones
and roofed with a mound of turf.

Lightfoot lit a lamp on a stand by the door, then
crossed the long, stone floored oval room to light a
second on a cupboard at the far end. six cots, three
to a side, stood with their heads to the wall and
piles of neatly folded blankets at their feet. They
looked enormously long, nearly long enough for two
Hobbits lying head to foot. Wood was stacked next to a
raised slab between two stone plinths supporting the
roof with fuel for a fire laid ready upon it.
Lightfoot lit this too and turned to face his guests,
still huddled by the door.

"Come in."

The Hobbits, moving as a clump, took a few
uncertain steps farther into the room.

"Is-isn't this a barrow?" Pippin quavered.

"It was meant to be one," Lightfoot agreed
calmly, "but abandoned unfinished for some reason. My
people have used it as a guard post since the days of
the Witch Wars. Then he put back his hood
and four chins dropped. Their rescuer was not a Man at
all, but a Woman!

She had long black hair plaited and coiled around
her head, and might have been almost pretty if she'd
only wash her face and look a bit less grim.
She took off her cloak and threw it across
one of the cots, revealing a long coat of
worn dark green leather with a sword belted over it.
She did that off as well and laid it
on top of her cloak.

"Are you hungry?" she asked.

A question Hobbits rarely answer with a no and one
well calculated to raise their spirits. There was a
table and several stools between the hearth and the
cupboard, as oversized as the cots and clearly made
for very Big People indeed. The food was rather
disappointing; rolls of dried meat, flat hard bread,
and dried apples and pears. But there was also a
cordial that Lighfoot poured from a leather flask, gold
colored and tasting of honey and apricot that filled
the Hobbits with warmth from top to toe and wiped away
their fears.

Frodo even felt brave enough to ask about the
Barrow Wights. "In the Shire it is said they are the
ghosts of the ancient folk buried in the mounds."

The Woman's eyes flashed alarmingly but her voice
was clear and calm as she answered. "That is not true.
These are the graves of my ancestors. Some are from
the time of the Kings but others are far older, from
the Elder Days before Men entered Beleriand to join
the High Elves in their war against the Great Enemy.
The Souls of those buried in them have long since
passed into the West and beyond the Circles of the
World.

"The Wights are evil spirits out of the Witch
Kingdom who cloth themselves in the bones and garments
of the ancient dead. My kinsmen and I avenge that
descecration when we may, but there are many other
dangers in the Wild these days now Sauron has
returned."

Frodo swallowed. "So we have heard. We were warned
to stay off the road."

"No doubt your advisor had good reason for his
words, but friends as well as enemies watch the roads
out of the Shire. In any case I doubt he meant for you
to try to cross the Barrow Downs so close to
nightfall."

All four Hobbits blushed. "We fell asleep," Merry
admitted shamefacedly, "when we stopped for lunch, and
didn't wake til near sundown."

Lightfoot nodded as if that was to be expected. "It
is best not to stop or rest in the Downs unless in
some protected place like this. Even in daylight they
are not truly safe."

"If I might ask, ma'am, what were *you* doing out
here all alone if it's so dangerous?" Sam reddened to
the ears as she looked his way but met her eyes stoutly.

"The Downs lie on my path homeward." she answered
mildly, apparently unoffended. "And I am armed and on
my guard against Wightish spells." she stood up. "Try
to get some sleep. As I said this place is defended,
the Wights cannot enter here."

"Like Tom Bombadil's house." said Merry.

Lightfoot shook her head. "Not so strongly
protected as that - but sufficient for Wights and
their like." (1) she turned towards the lamp on the
cupboard.

"Don't blow it out!" Merry, Pippin and Sam cried
all together.

She smiled at them, quite gently. "I wasn't going
to." her eyes turned to Frodo. "Light and fire are the
best defense against wraiths."

Like Black Riders? Suddenly he was sure Lightfoot
knew more about them than she was letting on - maybe
even everything. His hand went involuntarily to the
pocket holding the Ring but he felt no desire to bring
it out - quite the opposit. Almost as if the Ring
didn't want Lightfoot to see it.
******

1. The 'protection' on the Ranger Shelter needs a stong
and practiced will behind it to be most effective,
just as defensive walls need warriors behind them to
repel foes. If the Hobbits were alone they would not
be safe even in the shelter.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Morwen Tindomerel

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 04/13/03

Original Post: 04/12/03

Go to Road To Rivendell, The overview

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