South of Imladris - Chapter 1

The rain poured hard onto the heads of the fellowship as they crossed the open rocky paths south of Imladris. It had been only one week and three days since their departure, and all spare the four hobbits and Gandalf were feeling uneasy. They had only met for the first time in Rivendell two weeks ago at the council of Elrond, discussing the fate of the one ring. The Hobbits had already known eachother and Gandalf but no one else. It was decided that the ring would be taken to Mordor and destroyed in the fiery passim of Mt Doom. Frodo the ring bearer had received 8 companions to aid him through his journey, 3 of his own kin, a dwarf, an elf, two men and a wizard. The companions traveled in singe file down the paths in silence with Gandalf in the lead, followed by Legolas, Gimli, Frodo, Merry, Pippin, and then Sam who was leading Bill the pony. Then came Boromir and Aragorn.

The rain was turning the usual dusty path into a slick road of mud, which took every chance it had to throw you off balance. This slowed their progress immensely as they all struggled to keep their feet, but Frodo soon lost his balance and fell backwards onto the ground, sliding into Merry. Merry then was knocked down and caught Pippin of guard who soon joined them in the mud. Gandalf stopped and turned back to find the source of the commotion, which were three Hobbits lying in the mud groaning in pain.

"Eeeaarrggg..." Merry groaned. "Frodo you really need to work on your balance."

"Yeah." Pippin agreed. "You must have fallen down about 10 times on the way to Rivendell." Pippin was now flat on his back looking up into the face of Bill, who snorted loudly making the Hobbit scurry to his feet.

"Sorry about that." Frodo apologized. "I guess I'm just a little tired."

Boromir looked over at the hobbits, who were slowly gaining their feet back, then yelled up to Gandalf, "Gandalf! We cannot travel much further in this weather, we must fins shelter for the night!"

Gandalf looked over the shivering Hobbits then nodded in agreement. "We will travel a bit further." He announced. "If anyone spots a place to camp for the night, holler." With that the fellowship set off once more into the night. Harsh western winds whipping against their faces, making the Hobbits bury themselves within their cloaks. Sam took shelter behind Bill who didn’t seem to notice the weather very much, and only kept his concentration on the muddy grounds.

They traveled on for several more minutes before Gandalf halted them and lead them over to a large bolder with a slight overhang to protect them from the wind and rain. The Hobbits nearly laughed out loud at the sight of a shelter, for their small bodies were much less resistant to the cold than Men and Elves. Sam gave Bill a carrot stick, then went over to a pointed rock and tied him up. Merry and Pippin had already created a lounge of blankets and wet cloaks, and were talking quietly amongst themselves. Frodo and Sam soon joined them, and the four began their daily talk about food.

"It looks like we wont be having a fire tonight," Gimli said throwing his pack down. "The wood is all wet!" he then slumped down and leaned against the bolder with his arms crossed. "We'll just have to freeze tonight."

"There are other ways to stay warm other than burning wood master Dwarf." Legolas said from Gimli's side. Gimli turned and looked sharply at the elf.

"Easy for you to say, you Elves don't get cold like normal beings. You find heat in wet chainmail." Gimli spat.

Aragorn glanced over and sighed, sensing a fresh argument arising. The races of Elves and Dwarves had not been friendly to one another for centuries, and because of tales told by the elders on both sides Dwarves and Elves formed a natural hate for one another. Elrond had taken the risk of having both a dwarf and an elf in the fellowship, hoping that the two would be reasonable. He was for now though, wrong. Gimli and Legolas had been quarreling with each other since their arrival at Rivendell, and had not formed friendship since.

"What do you mean elves don't get cold?" Legolas shot back. " We may be able to endure the coldness better than others, but we too get cold. I suppose dwarves are just soft."

"Soft?!?" Gimli said now rising to his feet. "Dwarves are far beyond soft master elf. I believe you mistake us for your own kind when you say soft."

"What would you know about elves? Noegyth Niblin. all you ever seem to do is insult us." Legolas said coolly. Gimli heard Aragorn chuckle slightly in the background, but was too busy inventing a comeback to care. 'I hate it when he uses elvish on Me.' he thought to himself.

"Dwarves would not waste their time dealing with Elves, for we have built great mines in the mountains, and we have meaning in our life. You immortals sit and pity yourselves while we create a grand economy."

For a moment, Gimli thought he saw a dancing flame lick the eyes of Legolas, but it vanished just as fast as it had come.

"We do not pity ourselves!" Legolas yelled loudly enough to make all heads turn towards the two.

"Dwarves hide in their mountain seeking riches, they care nothing for the troubles of others. They are blinded by their greed as they waste their whole life away in a prison of stone." Legolas finished with a glare so hard it might have given a Bellrog a pause for thought.

"What!...why you..." Gimli was completely lost for words and just stood there gaping at the elven prince.

Legolas seemed to be quite happy with the Dwarfs reaction, but was still not finished. "You might gain a few allies in the world if you could tear your eyes away from your precious rocks!." This was too much for Gimli and he reached over to his ax and grasped the handle tightly in both hands, then planted his feet firmly apon the ground. "I'll show you a thing or two about Dwarves!" he hissed, then took a step forward threatening the elf with his ax.

"Legolas! Gimli!" Gandalf shouted over to the two, seeing that the situation might get out of hand in mere seconds. "This is no time for your arguments. Both of you lie down and got some sleep, or you will have us all up until the first light of dawn with your bickering." Seeing Gimli with his ax had made the fellowship become suddenly alert of the situation and was now watching the two intently. Realizing this, Gimli lowered his ax and shot one last look of disgust at Legolas and slumped slowly down against the bolder once more, his gaze never leaving the elf. Legolas returned the gaze and slowly walked over to the other side of the bolder and took his place beside the hobbits. Who now lie in a huddle, making themselves appear as one large clump of cloaks and blankets as they settled back down into a peaceful slumber.

Aragorn sat apon a rock looking out into the forest in the west which was down in a steep but short ridge, unmoving and silent. Boromir was already asleep and snoring loudly, until he received a soft but forceful kick from one of the hobbits. He raised his head to see Merry looking at him with annoyance, and then turned over on his side to hide his embarrassment. He then mumbled something about light sleepers under his breath that Merry could not follow, but heard Legolas laugh softly on his other side. Merry just let out an exasperated sigh, then re-burrowed himself in the bundle of cloaks so that only his hair could be seen. Gandalf still sat up straight against the bolder as if deep in thought, but he soon pricked up his head and yelled out, "Aragorn! You will take the first shift of tonight's watch." Aragorn nodded at the wizard then returned his gaze out to the wood. "Legolas you will take the second, and Pippin will take the third." Legolas made no sign of reaction, but Gandalf knew he had heard for elves had the sharpest hearing of all creatures, and there was no doubt that Legolas was still awake, as he did not need sleep as much as the rest of the fellowship. Pippin though, was fast asleep and would probably not wake up until the smell of breakfast found its way over to him. So Gandalf slowly got up and walked over to the clump of Hobbits and squinted in the dark to try and find which of the bundles was Pippin. All that was visible of the four was a scruffy tuff of hair sticking out the blankets, and it would have been impossible to tell them apart if you had only just met them. Gandalf soon found what he was looking for and bent down and roused the Hobbit to his left. "Pippin." He said softly.

"Mmmm.... What?" Pippin said suddenly over a large yawn. "Is it morning already?"

"No no. But you do have to get do for the third watch after Legolas in a couple of hours." Gandalf said. Pippin groaned then sank back into his blankets finding it too cold to be exposed to the night's coldness. "Ok" he said over another yawn, then fell almost instantly into sleep once more. Gandalf sighed, but still could not hold back a small smile. He was glad Elrond had agreed to let the hobbits come, for they brought cheer into the fellowship that was greatly appreciated. He then went back over to his current spot along the bolder and joined the others in sleep.

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