Gift of the Valar - Chapter 25: Partings
Sam stopped his questions and turned to Frodo, fear and concern etched in his face, "headache Mr. Frodo?" he asked quietly. Frodo clenched his teeth and tried to shake his head 'no' while he rose from his seat. As he stood from the table, his eyes caught the image of a sorrowful Gandalf looking to him. He stopped his movement, about to ask the Wizard the meaning of his countenance, as another pain took him. The room spun and he fell to his knees.
Bilbo, set the tray of ales down with a sloshing clatter and came to Frodo's side. "Frodo lad, whatever is wrong?" he asked. Frodo heard his Uncle's query as if from a great distance as the wave of pain crashed over him once more. His world spun and lights flashed from behind his pain filled eyes as he was violently sick upon the hearth. Sam ran for a towel, Bilbo for water and Gandalf just watched as Frodo writhed in agony upon the floor at his feet. The Wizard stared with great pity at the hobbit upon the floor, knowing that the tide of events just beginning would be yet another agony to be endured.
Frodo lay upon the floor and through the flashing lights, blinding pain and spinning room had eyes only for the Wizard above him. As Bilbo and Sam fussed, wiped and patted....Frodo stared. A vision grew before him and he knew, sitting up and pushing aside the caring ministrations of Sam and Bilbo he pointed at Gandalf and snarled "you knew!". He closed his eyes and saw in his mind his beloved struggling, pleading and he felt her shame as her will was overcome. He felt her terror and shook with the pain of her last choice. "You knew" he sobbed as he struggled to his feet pointing at Gandalf. He rushed in a blind fury to the Wizard and beat upon his grey robes with fists clenched in anger. The Wizard looked down, ashamed to meet Frodo's accusing gaze, as he grabbed the flailing hands and gently subdued the enraged hobbit.
Bilbo and Sam looked on with shock as Frodo collapsed to his knees sobbing. Sam was gently pulling his distraught friend to his feet as a noise was heard in the entry way. Frodo stopped his cries and fixed the Wizard with such a look of hatred and disgust that Bilbo found himself wondering if his charge hadn't had a relapse of his head wound. As Sam gently rubbed Frodo's back in an effort to soothe and Bilbo was about to ask what was happening, Frodo and Gandalf looked to the door, knowing what was about to happen.
A hysterical Marigold ran into the room and clutched Frodo as she cried " e's got 'er Mr. Frodo, help 'er quick sir, e's got her" she sobbed as she collapsed. Sam ran over and saw the cuts and chafe marks about his sister's wrists and he turned to speak hotly to Frodo, only to see that he had gone. Sam turned to Mari "Who Mari, whos got 'er?" he asked gently as he hugged his crying sister. Mari looked up at him from her position upon the floor, tears glistening in her eyes as she replied " 'tis Ted, Ted Sandyman's got her up on Windly bluff".
The Wizard nodded sadly as Bilbo went white as a sheet and said with sudden understanding " the barn, it was Ted in the barn that day, he's the lad that stole that kiss." Bilbo felt anger and resolve fill him as he jumped into action. "Sam, get the gaffer to see to Mari...then get Prody to the Cart. Gandalf, see to your cart and get Prody's supplies loaded." The Wizard nodded wordlessly as the grey haired hobbit ordered him about.
Frodo raced up the path to the top of Windly bluff, in the distance he could hear the sounds of hobbits gathering a search party. In his mind the world had stilled and all was quiet as he worked his vision to find Chrys. He halted as he came to the rock where Mari had sat. He knelt down and gathered up Chrys' flower shears. He spun around and followed the scuff marks and footprints to the lip of the bluff. He dropped the shears as he saw the bloodied rock and felt a moment of relief when he saw the brown hair mingled with the blood. Then his heart stopped as he saw the trail of backwards steps that led to the edge of the bluff.
Gandalf, Prody, Sam and Bilbo had hopped into the Wizard's cart and made good time following the panic striken hobbit. As Bilbo dismounted the cart and saw Frodo through the shadow of the bushes, he heard him scream "nooooo".
A sound of anguish, pain, lost love and vanished hope that pierced his heart with a hurt so intense he gasped. He ran towards the edge of the bluff in time to see his beloved nephew turn and scramble over the edge without any thought to his own safety. "Frodo no, you'll be killed lad" he shouted "come back." Sam, grabbing a length of rope from the cart ran to Bilbo's side and watched Frodo's descent with horror.
Frodo, the vision of Chrys' goldenrod dress and awkwardly sprawled body before him, paid no heed to the danger of sliding down the steep rock strewn cliff. He scrambled and struggled to find roots or rocky outcroppings to grasp to control his tulmultuous descent, to no avail. As Bilbo watched the scene before him unfold from his stance above, Frodo lost his fight to control his descent and tumbled head over heels down the last 60 feet of the incline.
The young hobbit heard, rather than felt his arm break as he came to rest a few feet from Chrys. Bilbo and Sam held each other in terror as Frodo and Chrys now lay motionless below them. "Frodo, don't move" Bilbo shouted "we're coming down to get you." As Sam and Bilbo hurried back to the cart, Gandalf pulled his friend aside "Bilbo, Prody is not well, I worry that this shock is a danger to his heart. You must do your best to keep him calm." the Wizard cautioned. Bilbo, frantic in his worry for Frodo nodded and hastened to the cart.
Frodo slowly lifted his head from where it had come to rest upon his right arm. His other arm lay twisted and bleeding with the jagged ends of his upper arm protruding through the skin. He moved his head to bring himself to awareness and felt the dust and debris of his fall shower from his dark curls. A pulsating warmth flowed from his head and the rough ends of the broken bones caused agony with the slightest movement. His eyes came to rest upon his destination, not four feet away Chrys lay, beautiful and still.
"Chrys" he croaked as he tried to roll over and crawl towards her. The pain in his arm was excrutiating, but not nearly as agonizing as the fear he felt for her. He kept moving, inch by inch, pain searing through him with each breath. A foot he moved, then two, until finally he was with in reach of her outstretched hand. He frantically uncurled her cold fingers as he found the pulse point of her wrist. Very faintly he could feel the gentle reminder of her life as it slid past his fingertips.
He groaned as he tried to cradle his arm, which was bleeding quite heavily against the blue broadcloth shirt Chrys had asked him to wear for their special day. With his good arm he gently worked his hand and felt her arms and legs for breaks and bleeding, but thankfully found neither. "Chrys my love, please, please stay with me" he pleaded as he bent and softly caressed her cheek with his hand. He leaned over her and slowly, with great tenderness kissed the bruised reminder of Ted's brutality from her. He caressed her lips with his in the gentlest and most loving of gestures as he begged her to awaken.
But, she did not and soon, in his fear for her he hung his head and cried. His tears dropped to the silky smooth and dust covered cheeks of his beloved, causing rivulets of cleanliness to trace upon her filthy face. "Don't cry love, I'll not leave ya" Chrys whispered weakly as she looked into his eyes. Frodo felt joy fill his heart as he bent to kiss her once more. The blood from his head falling unheeded upon her pale cheek.
"Yer hurt again" she scolded. "What've ye gone and done ta yerself now?" she asked softly, love and concern glowing in her amber eyes. He snorted derisively "I? What have I done?" he paused to stroke her cheek "I've followed you love, I'll never stop following you" he added huskily.
She lay motionless upon the rocks, but her eyes danced as she said "Our next walk'll be side by side." With a weak smile Frodo heart sang as he envisioned them walking through the fields, over mountain paths and into the comfort of Bag End. He indulged his thoughts for a moment and then laying his head next to hers, and positioning his body to give what warmth and comfort he could, said "Give me your hand Chrys, help will soon be here....give me your hand love so that we may wipe the evil memory of violence from us" he pleaded. He turned to her and kissed her gently upon her cheek.
Chrys turned to him, ever so slightly to fully gaze into the vast blueness of her love's eyes as she whispered with fear in her voice "I can't move Frodo." He was alarmed, fearing a break he had not detected. "Where does it hurt lass?" he asked softly, not wanting to scare her. Her quickly indrawn breath and tear filled eyes told him before her words had the chance. "I feel no pain Frodo, I feel nothing at all" she gasped, suddenly afraid as she realized her body could not obey her simplest whim. Frodo struggled to appear strong and not frighten her as he said with conviction "I'm sure your body is in shock Chrys...first Ted and then this tumble...which I can tell you was no painless task" he said as he winced and tried to ease her pain with his light words.
His words gave her hope. "I'm so tired Frodo" she said as she struggled to keep her eyes open "Please don't leave me" she pleaded. He kissed her full on the lips "Never" he whispered "for you alone lead me to all that is good in this world." "....or any other" she whispered in return. She closed her eyes wearily as Gandalf brought the cart as close as he could to the broken rocks that they lay upon.
Bilbo helped a shaken Prody from the cart as Sam grabbed blankets, bandages and water from the back. Bilbo took his old friend's hand in his and stared him in the eyes "They have youth Prody, no matter what we shall first see, they have the healing power of youth." Bilbo said fervently. Prody, pale and sweaty from his exertions nodded "aye, and they have love Bilbo Baggins, no more powerful tonic 'as ever been created." he replied. Bilbo helped his ailing friend as they moved to the injured couple.
Sam had gotten there first, his face pale from the sight of the blood and bone protruding from Frodo's arm. "Mr. Frodo, don't move sir, helps 'a coming." Frodo looked to his friend with tears in his eyes as he gestured to the unconcious Chrys beside him "She's not able to move Sam, I'm certain she's taken an injury to her back." he whispered, hardly able to move for his own pain. Sam nodded and ran to tell Gandalf. The Wizard sighed and nodded silently as he began to unfasten the back gate of the cart from it's hinges. He knew already of the lasses state and he bade Sam to bring strips of blanket along as he brought the wooden planks to rest near Chrys.
Prody and Bilbo were kneeling by the couple, taking in the extent of their injries. Prody kissed his neice tenderly, listened to Frodo's description of her last words and set about gently probing behind her back. He drew his hand away after a moment, it was smeared with blood and clear fluid. His face paled even more as he contemplated his options.
Bilbo, meanwhile, tried to apply pressure to Frodo's arm to stop the bleeding. Frodo's pain was so intense he nearly fainted, but fought to stay awake, to see to the care of Chrys.
Prody watched the Wizard set the planks of the cart's gate near to his injured neice. He looked to the Wizard and understood that her only chance lay in the healing powers of the elves. He stood and wearily began to assist Gandalf as they carefully positioned the planks and gently rolled Chrys' body and secured it with strips of blankets to the stability of the wooden planks.
"What are you doing?" Frodo asked, his voice rising in panic as he saw them tie Chrys to the gate. Without answering Bilbo, Prody and Gandalf carefully lifted Chrys' inert form and carried her , with great care, to the bed of Gandalf's cart. They carefully slid the stretcher of planks onto the cart and Prody gave Gandalf some last words of advice, some herbs and additional bandages before he gently stroked Chrys' hair and kissed her cheek farewell.
Frodo, weakened from loss of blood and going into shock, felt his world become fuzzy and he fought to remain in control. As Sam tried to steady his friend in his worry and pain, Frodo grabbed his arm and pleaded "Don't let them take her from me...please?" he begged weakly. Frodo started at the sound of the cart rumbling off and he pleaded with any that would listen "no, please don't take her from me....Chrys...Chrys...CHRYS " he yelled in anguish as he watched the cart disappear down the path. His last memory was of the sun shining and setting aglow the bronze and amber glory of her hair as the cart took what was most important in his life away from the warmth of his love.