Figure of Shadow--part 4 - Frodo is hurt. Everyone knows that. But what about Lila?

"Lila! Are you okay?"

"Who's there? How do you know my name? Flinka?" Lila reached around, blind, feeling nothing. . . nothing. . . below her, above, to all sides.

"Lila, don't move. Quiet. You're going to hurt yourself- they're going to find us- hold still. . ."

Lila felt a cool hand over her mouth. It didn't feel right. Not a real hand she thought. Like water that's not wet. . .

"I said to be quiet," the person hissed. "You're being about as loud as a roller coaster."

That's funny,Lila thought. A roller coaster. But how- how could whosis know about roller coasters? "I don't remember what they sound like."

"Lila, shut up!" Lila could feel the person gazing intently at something. . .

"This isn't another memory, is it? It can't be real. . ."

The person sighed, still invisible. "It's not."

"And neither is the danger, is it? And the darkness? What about the fact that I'm not on anything . . .? It's all because of you, isn't it? Who are you?"

"Marisa."

Lila gasped and felt herself tumbling through space, time, locked doors to universes. . . "Marisa!" she screamed, but her little sister was gone. . .

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Lila! Flinka licked Lila's face to wake her up. Lila, you have to wake up! Come on!

Lila blinked and saw the rugged looking face of a man studying her. Something in Lila told her, `no, don't run this time; talk to him. You're never going anywhere if you're too afraid to talk.' Struggling into a sitting position she stared at him, taking in his unshaven face, dirty hair, the expression in his face. . .

"Lila. That is your name, at least, what you say."

"Yes, sir."

"Why are you here?"

"I don't know. I-I-- I just don't know."


Strider sighed and gazed at the girl, Lila, his eyes flashing in the moonlight. He couldn't help but wonder where she was from, with her strange clothes and appearance. She looked to be about sixteen; but she was so small, perhaps four and a half feet tall. She was slender, young. The most curious thing was that she was on her own out in the wilderness. "Where're you from?"

The girl took a deep breath. It seemed as though she were listening to something. "Moria."

"Hm." Strider frowned. He was now sure that she was lying. "And- where are you going?"

"Rivendell. But I was taken ill, though I don't know why."

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Strider had felt something in him telling him to set up camp where they had found Lila. . . and to let her stay. Lila leaned against a tree, saying nothing, but not sleeping, either. Flinka stayed hidden, a mouse in Lila's pocket. As Strider kept his distance, so Lila kept hers. But he still noticed Lila staring at Frodo. He stayed where he was, hand on his sword hilt, ready to draw it when needed.

Lila knew the Ring was dangerous, and the thought stayed at the back of her head, nagging, until she pushed it away. She saw right through the cloth to the Ring, saw its shining gold, and was mesmerized by it. And then she heard a slithering, metallic voice coming from it.

`I know you,' it said. `I hear you. I see you. I feel you. I read you. You want a key. A special key you can't find. I know it. I know where it is. Bring me to the Eye and I'll give you your key.' It was tempting. . . she could get the key, leave the land of Middle Earth and be safe, and it wouldn't affect her. . . and then she was blind.

Get the Ring, get the key. Leave the Ring, forget the key. Get the Ring. Get the Ring. Get the key. . . the Ring- the key- the Ring- the key- the Ring. . .

Somewhere in the distance Flinka was biting her fingers until they bled freely and shouting. But that was there. This was here and now, and the Ring and the key. . . and then something blocked the Ring and Lila felt herself fall back.

Gasping, Lila struggled to sit up. Her fingers were dark and red, but under the blood she could tell that the wounds from Flinka's teeth were already healing. She stared at Frodo, no longer able to see the Ring. It was almost as if something much more than Frodo's pocket were blocking it.


The next day had come quickly enough, as did the one after that. Lila followed the four hobbits and Strider, but keeping her distance. Strider had grown used to the idea that she was not dangerous, and had begun to ignore her. Lila made a point not to mention food; Flinka snuck off every now and then to transform and eat whatever she could find, and the rest of the time she was a mouse in Lila's pocket.

The afternoon wore on and the land was covered with long shadows of early evening, chattering in their speech, whispering to the shadows of the travelers. Lila smiled as they ogled at her; she was the only three dimensional thing a shadow can see.

They were beginning to look out for a place off the road where they could camp for the night, when they heard a sound that brought sudden fear back into their hearts: the noise of hoofs behind them. Lila shrank back in fear, thinking it may have been Galdor again, for she had been unconscious when he passed her, and she had neither seen nor heard him. Flinka, for the first time, didn't share at all in her person's feelings, rather, she wondered why Lila didn't remember this part of the book. After all, the hobbits had met with no really hostile beings after Weathertop.

Lila, Flinka whispered, that isn't a horse of an enemy; it's elven.

I know, Flinka, and that's what worries me. What if it's Galdor again?

Don't you remember the book? It's Glorfindel, and I doubt if he bites.

Lila said nothing, but seemed happy enough to disappear with the others into the bushes, listening to the ringing of what seemed to be small bells. It took the others long enough to hear them, but when they did, Frodo said, "That does not sound like a Black Rider's horse!"

"No duh," Lila muttered under her breath. Strider gave her a funny look, but because he didn't know what to think of such a strange phrase, he didn't say anything.

The light faded, and the leaves on the bushes rustled softly. Clearer and nearer now the bells jingled, and clippety-clip came the quick trotting feet. Suddenly into view below came a white horse, gleaming in the shadows, running very swiftly. In the dusk its headstall flickered and flashed, as fi it were studded with gems like living stars. Lila tensed as she watched the rider, with his flowing cloak and shimmering golden hair.

Strider sprang from hiding and dashed down towards the road, leaping with a cry through the heather; but even before he had moved or called, the rider halted, looking up towards the thicket where they stood. When he saw Strider, he dismounted and ran to meet him calling out: Ai na vedui Dúnadan! Mae govannen! The elf, for now all recognized him for what he was, was soon speaking quickly and urgently to Strider.

Soon Strider beckoned to them; the hobbits left their bushes and hurried down the road, and, with Flinka's urging, Lila reluctantly followed. "This is Glorfindel, who dwells in the house of Elrond," said Strider.

Lila felt Glorfindel's mildly puzzled gaze on her. She bowed her head and said nothing, and as she did so, another wave of sickness threatened to engulf her. She took a deep breath and attempted to steady herself, but dizziness still nearly took over her. She felt herself sliding in and out of consciousness, in and out, in and out, picking up only tidbits of the conversation: Something about Gandalf; the Nine; Elrond; the knife and the wound Frodo had; and then:

"You shall ride on my horse. I will shorten the stirrups up to the saddle-skirts-"

But Lila's world was going black . . .

Author's Note: Neeerrraaa-gooooyaaaaaaaaaaaaooooo-iiiiiiiiiiii------ Plinka! I hope you rrrreeeeeee enjoyed it! keekeekeekeekeekee!

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