The Paradise of the West - A Story

Book 7

Chapter 1: The Five Bearers

It was October the 4th, 1424, by the Shire Reckoning, and the new day was cold and dawning; the Sun was nothing more than a glamorous circle half-suspended in deep blue waters, when Frodo Baggins, a young Hobbit, woke up suddenly as if startled from a dream. He was in a warm and comfortable bed and as he looked around to understand where he was, Frodo was aware that he was in a small wooden cabin that kept on gently bobbing up and down. He was in a ship, but for what reason he did not know; or he had forgotten.

Where am I? And what am I doing here? He thought. His head felt light and he, rather dizzy. He wasn't used to ships, for the fact that he has never been on one.

"The answer to your first question," said a voice coming through the door. Frodo looked up, startled. Had he spoken his thought out loud? Before him he saw a tall man. Or was it an elf? Yes, it was an elf with sea grey eyes and dark hair. "Is: you are on a great ship that departed from the Grey Havens." continued the Elf. "The answer to your second question is, don't you remember? You have left Middle-earth and are now traveling over the Belegaer---Great Sea."

"Elrond!" exclaimed Frodo. But then he realized the answers to his queries. They were somewhat unsettling. "Why?" he asked quietly, almost inaudibly. Elrond gave the Hobbit a long look, which almost seemed annoyed at his questions; he should have known the answers.

"Because we were and are the bearers of the Rings of Power. I am the bearer of the mightiest of the Three Elven Rings: Vilya. The Lady Galadriel, who is also here, is the bearer of Nenya, another of the Elven Rings. Gandalf is here too, for he is the bearer of Narya the Great, the Third of the Elven Rings. You, Frodo, are here because you were the Bearer of the One Ring and all we Bearers must leave Middle-Earth, so that it's people might live as they have once lived, before the Great Rings were forged."

Frodo sat in awe and tried to recall everything that had happened. Of course! Now it all came to him: he and Samwise, his faithful companion, had ventured into the depths of Mordor, the Accursed Land, to destroy the One Ring in Mount Doom. At that thought, Frodo found that his side ached as it did never before; although it seemed ages ago, he remembered faintly the cruel whip that stung him mercilessly, while he lay captive in the Tower of Cirith Ungol. He shuddered at the name.

Soon, all that Elrond had said, started to make sense. He did destroy the Ring in Orodruin, but if not for Gollum he could not have done so. He looked at his right hand and at first was surprised to see his third finger missing. Then he remembered that Gollum had rid him of it when they were fighting near the Cracks of Doom. After the destruction of the Ring, Frodo and Sam were trapped on an island in the fiery liquid, that Mount Doom belched forth. That was all he remembered before he fell down in the poison of the fumes, heat and searing fire and was rescued by Gwaithir, the Wind Lord and by Gandalf the Grey. Or was it the White? Then, he and Sam were brought to North Ithilien, where Aragorn, no, King Elessar Elfstone, was crowned and made King of all of Gondor with Queen Arwen Evenstar by his side, and they dwelled happily in Minas Tirith.

After that, Frodo and his companions Samwise Gamgee, Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took had traveled to Edoras in Rohan and the ruins of Isengard, only to find that the Ents were slowly restoring it to the wonderful place that it once was, before Saruman had soiled it. They had met Saruman and his servant Grima Wormtongue not far away, fleeing from Orthanc. After that encounter, Saruman raided the Shire and Hobbtion. Frodo and his friends had soon arrived in Bree and stayed the night there, without the worry of the Black Riders, since they were destroyed. (At this, Frodo breathed a sign of relief). When they had reached the Shire they had found it not as they expected, but soon set matters right after the Battle of the Green Fields, which he and his friends led. Frodo still grieved the death of his far-off cousin Lotho Sackville-Baggins, even though they were never on friendly terms. After the Battle, Sam settled in with Frodo in Bag End and married Rosie Cotton. Frodo also remembered the sweet little girl that Sam and Rosie had as their first child: Elanor; Frodo smiled at the memory.

"Come Frodo!" said Elrond. The Hobbit stirred out of his memories. He looked upon the Elf with a quizzical expression. "I always knew that you wanted to see the Great Sea, so why don't you come on deck with me and look about." At this, Frodo eagerly agreed. Quickly, he put on his tunic and breeches, and over them, his jacket, and hurried out.

"It's chillier than that out there!" said a voice, sharp, but old. Frodo wheeled around with positive surprise. He was looking at a huddled figure that sat beside his bed. For some unknown reason he had not noticed it before.

"Bilbo!" cried the young Hobbit, with a joy that he could not explain, recognizing the familiar glint in the old hobbit's eye. "Why hasn't Elrond told me that you are here?" he asked.

"Because," replied Elrond. "Because I thought that you had already noticed him. What I mean to say is: he sat there the whole time with his head nodding this way and that (as usual) at the bobbing of the ship!" Laughed the Elf. At this Bilbo gave him a queer look from under his brows.

"Well, go on now!" said Bilbo. "I thought that you were taking Frodo to see the Sea! Go on now and let me rest! I couldn't get a wink while you, my good Elf, were here! Go on!"

"Alright," said Frodo grinning. "I'll make sure that Gandalf comes in here and gives you a `nudge out the door' as he once called it. I see that you are in need of some fresh air to keep you from falling asleep. Such a `wonderful' journey could not be missed!" he laughed. Bilbo mocked a smile. Frodo got his elven cloak, that he still had from Lothlorien, put it on, clasped the elven brooch under his throat and hurried after Elrond. As he went through a hallway and up some stairs that led to the deck, he heard a fair voice singing in some strange language. At once he knew that the voice belonged to the Lady Galadriel. If only Sam was here, he thought. He would love this more than me. Frodo sighed.

As Frodo reached the deck, he was glad he took Bilbo's advice. Indeed, all the people on the ship (who were all elves) were dressed warmly: in their long, grey robes with their mysteriously thin cloaks that seemed to keep out the coldest and bitterest of winter weather. He saw Elrond not far away and ran to him. As he reached him, Elrond said:

"Ahead of us, though many, many leagues away lies the Straight Road that leads to the land of the Undying Realm and our new home. Behind us lies Middle-Earth, the place that was once so dear to us; I am grieved too, for leaving it; for I left there Arwen the Evenstar, that radiates the beauty of Luthien Tinuviel, most fairest of all living things." As he said this, Frodo looked back and saw a thin strip of land, hardly visible. Then, Frodo looked at Elrond and for the first time, saw him weep, though silently. His eyes glittered as tears welled in them and fell like the memories of the past, which he would never behold again. Frodo felt great pity to see such a lord weep, though he knew it was out of love for his daughter, who he loved so much.

Unlike Elrond, Frodo forgot all the pains that he went through, except for the fact that he left all his dear friends there: Sam most of all and Pippin and Merry (although deep inside he knew that they fared fine in the---once again peaceful---Shire). He remembered Legolas, the tall, fair Elf and Gimli the Dwarf, who seemed stouter than stone, but had a heart of pure gold; they were once part of the Fellowship that left Rivendell to destroy the Ring. He remembered Aragorn and Arwen Undomiel, sitting on their high thrones with windows facing the garden where the White Tree bloomed. Faintly he remembered Boromir, who was now dead, but as he thought of him, uneasiness grew on Frodo: for he remembered the assault that that tall man gave him on the hill of Amon Hen. He grieved of course for his death; it the power on the cursed Ring that turned his proud heart into that of a snake. Then, he remembered Faramir, Boromir's young brother and the only living member of the family of Denethor that once lived in Minas Tirith (although the family will keep on growing: for Faramir wed the Lady Eowyn of the House of Eorl, in Edoras).

As all these memories raced through Frodo's head, he felt a single tear rolling down his own rosy cheek. He would miss his friends dearly no matter what. Goodbyes were hardest, when they were said to best friends. A cold gust of wind brushed past his almost elvishly fair face; his eyes glistened with tears and the images before him blurred. He turned away most reluctantly, for he couldn't bear this heartbreak any longer. Middle-Earth was no more than a cherished memory.

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