Crowned With Flowers: 61. Crickhollow

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61. Crickhollow

It was a fine autumn morning, Khamul thought as her horse lazily walked down the road. She wasn't entirely sure where she was going, but she was following her senses. Or, at least, her idea of where the Ring might be.
It was sometime after noon that Khamul found the house. It was a nice house near a forest. Wisps of smoke drifted up from the chimney and Khamul saw flickers of shadow inside.
Khamul stared at the house for a long time. It looked…rather like the houses in Hobbiton. She wasn't in Hobbiton though, she knew that much. This was a far more isolated place.
Still…there was a smell to it. Like the Ring. It was faint though, far fainter than yesterday.
Whether the Ring was there or not, it had been there once. And there was someone still there. Someone who might know where the Ring was now.
Khamul grinned and swung down from her horse. One of her favorite things about these Hobbits was how easily intimidated they were. They were so short and so cowardly. She towered over them while they crumbled like sand before her.
She was just starting across the grass toward the house when she heard the thunder of hoofs. Spinning around, hand on her sword, Khamul nearly dropped from shock when she saw who it was.
"What're you doing here?" she called as Vorea rode up. Along with Aica and Ringe, which was a shame, but Khamul was determined to ignore them.
"Shortly after you left, Lord Sauron sent us to Eriador as well," Vorea said. "Morgoth believed we would have a better chance of finding the Ring if we were to separate."
"Where's he?"
"I do not know, though I suspect he went either east or south."
"Well, as long as he's far away from me, I'm fine with that," Khamul said. "Found me at a good time though. Smell that." She nodded at the house.
"Smell it?" Aica sneered.
"Shut up. Vorea, recognize anything?"
The one-eyed ringbearer sniffed the air. "I do not," she said. "There is something in the air, but I cannot identify it."
"It's the Ring. A faint trace of the Ring, but still. Somebody's inside there, too. I think we should break down that door and give 'em a right fright."
"Sounds good to me," Aica said, grinning.
The three new Nazgul dismounted and drew their swords before following Khamul toward the house. It seemed to shiver as the ringbearers approached.
Aica reached down and picked up a rock. With a cackle of glee, she hurled it at the house, smashing a window. There was a terrified scream from inside.
"There is just one occupant," Vorea said, raising her sword. "Shall we slay him?"
"What's the fun in that?" Khamul muttered. "Suppose so."
"Are you going soft?" Aica asked, a gleam in her eye that Khamul didn't like at all.
"Shut up and stop playing with rocks," Khamul snapped. "You're going to let him get away!"
A sinister smile on her lips, Aica nodded and followed Khamul into battle. The second ringbearer kicked the door open and ran inside, readying to fight whoever had the misfortune of being home.
"There's no one here," she muttered.
"Apparently not," Vorea agreed, looking around cautiously. "Ah." She pointed to a fluttering curtain. "He went out the window."
The four ringbearers hurried out of the house, nearly tripping over each other in their haste to find their quarry. Khamul and Aica were neck in neck as they dashed around the house and found themselves staring into the tangled depths of a forest.
"Where the Hell did he go?" Khamul muttered.
"Into the forest obviously," Aica snapped.
"I know that! I don't see him though, and nothing looks like it's been disturbed." Khamul looked along the forest and saw a red coattail disappear into the shrubbery. "There he is!" she shouted.
The Nazgul whirled around and took off in pursuit of the Hobbit. They crashed through the shrubby, gnarly roots tripping Ringe and causing Vorea and Khamul to slam into each other, sending both to the ground.
Aica laughed faintly maniacally and kept running, her blonde hair bouncing in the wind.
"Get up!" Khamul snarled, trying desperately to untangle herself from Vorea. Valar! The ringbearer wore more armor than the most paranoid orc, and bits of it kept snagging Khamul.
"She will find him," Vorea said.
"That's what I'm worried about!"
Vorea frowned and seemed about to ask why, but by then Khamul had untangled herself and was chasing after Aica.
The Halfling was running fast, but slowing rapidly. He was round and short and his little legs were no match for the long-legged Nazgul. He kept glancing behind him and put on a burst of speed, but it was no use. It would all be over soon.
Aica drew her dagger.
"Don't kill him!" Khamul yelled. "He knows about the Ring!"
Aica wasn't listening though. She drew her arm back, ready to skewer the little creature.
"Listen to me, dammit!" Khamul snarled, making a flying leap in which she tackled Aica, slamming her into the ground. The Halfling made his escape through a hedge.
"What was that for?" Aica snapped, jumping to her feet. "I had him!"
"We needed him alive!"
"Now he's gone!"
"And he's just as useless as he would've been dead!"
"Except now he's going to rouse the town!"
Khamul snorted. "A bunch of Halflings. Right. Explain to me again why we need to fear that?"
"The Halflings have long had the Rangers of the North as their protectors," Vorea said, walking up. "If the Halflings know of Nazgul in the Shire, be assured the Rangers will as well."
"We can take them," Aica sneered. "Just like we did that bunch that tried to stand against us in…ah, I forget. Who cares?"
There was the faint bugle of horn calls in the distance. The Nazgul grew quiet as they listened.
"We need to leave," Vorea said. "To be found here would be to alert the Wise as to our intentions."
"They already know," Khamul said.

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: Barazinbar

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - The Stewards

Genre: General

Rating: General

Last Updated: 07/27/12

Original Post: 08/20/11

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