Love's Joy and Love's Sorrow - Chapter 2

I trotted up to the gate of Bree. The window flew open to reveal the face of the guard.

"Just another Hobbit. Why are all the strange Hobbits coming here lately I wonder." He said gruffly to me as he swung the gate open. My heart began to beat fast. It must have been Frodo and Sam!

"Other Hobbits you say? It must have been my friends. What did they look like?" I asked the gatekeeper, trying to keep the excitement out of my voice. As he described them I knew that it was they and Merry and Pippin!!

" When did they pass through?" I asked nonchalantly.

" Last night. They disappeared though. That's good, I guess, for there were black riders coming for them. They were going to kill them. Scared the daylight out of half the town! Hope the Hobbits don't come back though, for the riders will surely follow!" He said to me. For some reason when he said the "Black riders" a chill went up my spine. I tightened my grip on my pony's mane as sweat rolled down my back. Trying to act like I knew what this was about I said, " Oh great... the black riders are back. Don't worry, though. They're not after me." I trotted through the gate. " Can you direct me to The Prancing Pony?" I asked him. I hoped I could find someone there who knew where they might have gone. He gave me direction and I arrived at the Prancing Pony shortly. I found that it was run by a man named Butterbur, so I set off to find him.

"Oh dear. Another hobbit. What do you want, Mam?" he asked me.

"The hobbits last night were my friends. Do you know where they went?" I asked him bluntly.

" No, I must say that I do not know. It must have something to do with their associating with that Strider character." He said mournfully. I raised my eyebrows in surprise.

" Who is Strider? " I asked him in surprise.

" He is a Ranger I'm afraid. Dangerous those Rangers, I say." He said to me. I shrugged. Well, I'll have to trust Frodo's good judgment, I thought to myself. He interrupted my thoughts saying, "They left in quite a hurry last night and they headed that way he said " Immediately I turned around and walked up to my pony, Dreeah, and swung myself onto her back and trotted away in the direction Butterbur had indicated.

A few hours later I trotted through the forest. I was tired and weary and longed for a hot bath and a rest. Suddenly a figure jumped out of the forest and put a sword to my throat. As he looked into my face he gave a cry of surprise.

" Why, it's a Halfling!" he said in surprise.

"I'm a Hobbit!" I replied indignantly. He gave a low chuckled and moved the sword away from my neck. Though, I noticed that he did not put it back in its sheath.

" What is your name, Halfling...er... Hobbit?" He asked me.

" What is your name, sir?" I asked him.

" You first " he said. I sighed.

" Fine, my name is Rana. And if you are Strider as I suspect, then you would know my cousin, Sam." I said in reply.

" So, you are Sam's cousin. And yes, I am the one who is called Strider." He answered. "What are you doing here?" he asked me.

" I saw Frodo and Sam leave the Shire and I followed them to see what was going on." I answered. Our heads jerked at the same time as we heard yells and screams coming from the hill.

" The Hobbits!" Strider yelled. I was off my pony in an instant and running along Strider. "I'll get a torch," he yelled to me. I nodded and ran faster as he broke off into the woods. I saw the remains of a campfire as I ran. I burst over the top of the hill. That was when I first saw the Black Riders.
They wore black coats with hoods over their faces. Their very presence made you frozen with fear and unable to think. They had an air about them that made you know that they had killed many and could kill you with a flick of their finger. And their eyes. Okay, you can't really see their eyes. But if their gaze locks on you, you will not be able to move. Many men have stood there, rooted to the spot, as a Black Rider came and killed them. I saw one go after Frodo. The rest were rounding on Sam, Merry, and Pippin. I grabbed my dagger, the only weapon that I had and launched my self at a Black Rider attacking Sam. Okay, I know, that was a stupid thing to do, but hey, "their very presence made you frozen with fear and unable to think." The rider was about to stab Pippin when I jumped on him. I distracted him long enough for Pippin to get out of the way. I jumped out of the way of the Black Riders sword and whirled around just in time to see Frodo get stabbed. The Black Rider grabbed me and held his sword to my throat and made ready to stab me. Frodo was badly hurt, or dead; I was about to die and it seemed like all hope was lost.

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