Firin stumbled over a tree root and fell flat on his face. It took him a moment to get up, but he eventually hauled himself to his feet, dusted himself off, and continued on his way.
He was going to do a very noble, brave thing and no one would ever make fun of him again.
He had refrained from telling anyone about this simply because they would tell him he was a fool (his father and brothers), tell him to leave such things to real men (brothers), or to go find something that he was actually capable of doing (father).
There were very, very few things that Firin was good at. He was very short, nearly as short as a dwarf, and extremely thin. He also happened to be ten years old.
Besides physical awkwardness, Firin was never as clever as his father or brothers. His mother ignored him, instead lavishing her attention on his older brothers.
The only person who had ever paid attention to Firin had been his nursemaid, but she was gone now, having returned to her family far in the north.
Firin missed her. Much more than he would miss his father or brothers if they were to leave. But she was still only his nursemaid. She…she wasn't as important as his mother.
The thought caused tears to spring to Firin's eyes. Not for his mother, no, never for her. But for the idea that he must love her more than the woman who raised him simply because she had given birth to him.
And now she had been captured by the orcs of Caradhras, and Firin was going to rescue her. He didn't particularly want to rescue her. She had, if he recalled correctly, never said a single word to him nor even cast a glance his way. At least his father berated him on a regular basis.
Firin made up for his awkwardness and his uselessness in one area. He was reasonably, passably, intelligent. He spent hours and hours reading in the family's library, pouring over books and manuscripts. He knew everything there was to know about many things in the world. Things he would never see, cooped up in the house in the north.
One day I'll see the world, Firin thought. In fact, I am right now. A little part of it, at least. But that'll be enough for now. Once I rescue Mother I'll be able to go where I like. Everyone will look at me and say 'There goes the great Firin! He rescued the Lady from orcs, not to mention braved the slopes of Caradhras!'
Firin smiled at this, though at the thought of the great mountain, his heart sank. Caradhras frightened him more than orcs ever could. Orcs could be fought, eluded, or hidden from. Not the mountain though. It was always there, and it held his fate in its…whatever the mountainous equivalent of hands were.
The Misty Mountains came closer and closer as the day wore on. Firin rested under a tree for the night before continuing on in the morning. It was the fortieth day after he'd left his home when he finally reached the Redhorn Gate.
Snow covered the pass. Great icicles hung from overhanging rocks, threatening to drop and cause severe injury to those below. It looked like a deathtrap. But he had to go on.
Near the gate were ruins of little shrines. No doubt they were to those who had died on the pass.
Firin shivered, then looked closer. The second-to-last shrine had a piece of metal on it. Bending down, Firin picked it up. It was an arrowhead, painted black.
"A Haradrim arrow!" Firin gasped. He'd only read about such things! To see it now, in the flesh! How fascinating!
He wanted to pocket it, but it was rude to steal from shrines. Besides, the mountain might take offense.
He had several arrowheads in his pocket, not that he had any arrows or a bow. He'd taken them anyway, pilfered them from his brothers' supply. Who knew if they might come in handy?
"Here, an equal exchange," Firin said, placing the shiniest arrowhead on the broken shrine while pocketing the Haradrim one.
There were sixteen shrines, now that he looked closely. The first few were barely visible, and none of the others were very interesting. The last had some rather nice flowers on them, but they were just wildflowers. Nothing rare or uncommon.
Steeling himself, Firin took a deep breath and walked into the pass. The snow deepened and occasionally he crunched through ice. Fortunately, the hanging icicles above didn't fall.
As he walked on, Firin wasn't sure what to do. He'd planned on being accosted by goblins by now, fighting them and driving them off, and then following them into their lair. He wasn't sure how to find the goblin hideout from here.
The wind began to pick up and soon rose to a howling pitch. Snow blew around Firin, and the cold started to seep into his bones.
I need to find shelter! he thought, looking around for a place to wait out the storm. There were no caves though. There was nothing.
Was there a voice on the wind? Firin wasn't sure. There might be, but he couldn't tell. It was probably just the wind. Wind could make strange noises.
Stumbling through the snow, Firin tripped and fell. He couldn't get up. He was so cold, and so tired. So very, very tired… He just wanted to lie down and rest.
Dragging himself away from the edge of the pass, Firin rested his head against the mountain wall. The sides were red.
"It's true," Firin muttered. "I thought it was just a metaphor."
He knew he shouldn't close his eyes, just like he knew he shouldn't have laid down. But he was so tired.
Firin closed his eyes. The wailing of the wind reached a peak. The words among the wailing were gibberish. Meaningless words.
"Hope…" Firin muttered, hearing it in the wind. "Eagle…star…elf…" Firin couldn't finish. His lips were cold, he was cold. The cold began to drift away then, replaced by a peaceful feeling. He could see something gray even though his eyes were closed. It looked like mist.
As the rest of the world fell away, Firin could no longer hear the wailing of the wind, the strange mutterings of the voice. He couldn't feel the cold, the tiredness, the fear. Nothing. Everything was gone. It was wonderful.
The mist began to part. There was green beyond it. Wonderful green hills. So beautiful. Blue water lapping at white sand. It was warm there, peaceful there. There were people waiting for him. He could see them.
One was a shadow, hardly visible. It was his nursemaid. The other was a man, gone gray-haired before his time. They were waiting, together. Waiting for him.
Firin smiled and started across the water, not caring how he could move on the liquid. Only caring that he reached them, these two people who were the only ones who had ever cared about him.
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.