THE Paradise of the West. Chapter 1:The Final Farewell of the Five Bearers
Chapter 1: The Final Farewell of 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, and was partly submerged in shadow. He was in a ship, but for what reason he did not know; or had he 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. He sat up and looked out the small round window of his cabin, and his breath was taken from him: he saw the Sea stretching on for as far as he could see---and further---and the pearly-dawn sky reflected in its greatness, with the many rays of the early Sun dancing on the gentle ripples.
And with that vision, his memories crept back to him: he had left the world which he had known for fifty-four years of his life; that has seen through his sorrows and merriment. He had left Middle-earth, and the past of his life. And although the reason for what he has done brought him relief, it brought a tightening to his heart at the same time; it seemed true, that life was like a blade---double-edged. He left to find healing from his grievous wounds that would have driven him to madness had he stayed, and yet he had left his closest and dearest friends on those shores, some that he would never see again in this lifetime, unless it be in the halls of Mandos. But such is fate: it is not always kind, and does not always go the way you want it to.
Frodo sighed, as he tried hard to remember how long he has spent on this ship, for he could only remember the tearful parting, but everything to this moment was blank.
"Good morning, Mr. Baggins," He heard a familiar deep voice coming from the door. His head snapped up, and his blue eyes met the grey of a tall and dark elf. Wise he was and fair, and like him, had left a treasure that he could never attain again. Lord Elrond had come to greet him on this fine morning. Frodo smiled and stretched in his bed.
"Good day to you too," he answered. "For a good day it is, am I right?"
"Indeed. But how do you fare?" the Elf came and kneeled in front of the Hobbit. "You have collapsed where you stood after Mithlond was eclipsed by mists, and the Light of Earendil within your Phial could no longer be seen from shore; it's light was so blinding in the last few moments while you were still conscious, that many of the Elves shielded their eyes. But thus you have slept for the good day that has passed. I do hope you are well?" there was mild concern in the deep eyes. So that is what had happened! He had merely slept for a day; no wonder he could not remember what has happened in between the leave and the present
"I am well, no need to worry, but I do appreciate your concern," Frodo said politely, as he always was to his betters and elders. "And now, I would dearly love to go out and admire the Sea for all it is." Elrond gladly accepted the invitation and stood up to leave. Frodo jumped off his bed, not bothering to tidy it up, when he heard another all too well known voice call out to him:
"It's chillier than that out there!" Frodo briefly noted his thin tunic and breeches. Then he turned to face the caller of the voice.
"Bilbo!" he exclaimed happily, as the he recognized the figure partly concealed by the diminishing shadows of the previous night. "I had not noticed you before."
"That would most likely be, because he spent this entire time, nodding his head in sleep (as usually of late). He seemed quite content when you decided to join his for a day of quiet rest." Joked Elrond lightly, a glint dancing in his grey, grey eyes. Bilbo just mockingly scowled and Frodo stifled the urge to laugh.
"Well, go on now!" said Bilbo, waving an impatient hand at the two of them. "Go on and let me rest! I couldn't get a wink while you, my good Elf, were here!"
"Alright," said Frodo grinning. "But 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 another smile. Frodo grabbed his Elven cloak, threw it about his shoulders, clasped the elven brooch under his throat and hurried after Elrond.
The hallways of the ship, were, as was the rest of it, pure white---whiter than the snows on Caradhras; whiter still than the fair skin of the Lady Galadriel, Lady of Light, whose voice was traveling and reverberating through the ship as a soft wind that one could only feel within his heart, when all is well. Up the two went an intricate and spiraling staircase, that glimmered silver-white from the luminescence that came down from the deck, and then he was outside, and the sea air greeted him with delight, besides many Elves.
Frodo looked up to see the glamorous, huge, white sails billowing in the wind that spurred the ship onward. He walked down the white deck to the stern of the ship, looking back to what he left behind; he did not notice that his nails were digging into the wooden railing as he grasped it. Nor did he hear Elrond come up, and look down at him, as Frodo was lost in his own thoughts, tugging the cloak more closely about him. So that was it, he thought: everyone had their own course to follow, and catch up on what the Quest of the Ring had taken from them, and he would not be there to see it through with them.
What saddened Frodo the most, was the fact that, after all he and his friends have been through, for all that they helped him, he only had three years to thank them and rest in the peace that they had restored. He sighed once more, and was taken out of his reverie, when a hot cup of some steaming dark drink was held in front of him. He looked up to meet Elrond's almost sympathetic gaze.
"Drink this," he said softly. "It will help." Frodo took the mug and sipped at the Elven tea; it did help clear his mind of whatever worries and perplexities he had. "Look there." Said the Elf-lord and pointed to the prow of the ship, but his gaze went beyond that. "Ahead of us, though many, many leagues away lies the Straight Road that leads to 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 that dwell in Middle-earth." Frodo looked at Elrond and for the first time did he see him weep, as Elves may, though silently. His grey eyes became as the Sea itself, glimmering with unshed tears that would not fall, with the light of the morn bright upon them. Those silver eyes that beheld much sorrows of the early world became far seeing, looking away at things that could not be seen by any others, and 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.
Like Elrond, Frodo also could not forget the pains that he went through, nor those people that gave him hope when he had lost it all: Sam, whom he missed most of all, because he was his closest and dearest friend and Pippin and Merry who dwelt happily in the cheery Shire. He remembered Legolas, the tall, fair Elf and Gimli the Dwarf, who seemed stouter than stone, but had a heart of pure gold; 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, a slight uneasiness grew on him, 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 was 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).
Frodo looked back and saw, though it was hardly visible, a tiny strip of land that might have been deemed a trick of the eye. That was the last time he would ever look on Middle-earth. And it was then that he felt rather than saw the presence of Gandalf, Galadriel and Bilbo at his side. The old wizard put a gentle hand on his small shoulders, and faced the dimishing land. So there they stood, the Five Bearers of the Rings of Power: Lord Elrond, the bearer of the mightiest of the Three Elven Rings, Vilya. The Lady Galadriel, bearer of Nenya, and Gandalf the White too, for he is the bearer of Narya the Great, the Third of the Elven Rings. Frodo himself was here because he was the Bearer of the One Ring, Saurons's Ring of Power, and Isildur's Bane. And all they, the Bearers, left Middle-earth, so that its people might live as they have once lived, before the Great Rings were forged. And all that was created with their magic would diminish to what they were.
"Namarie," he whispered the elvish farewell inaudibly and felt a single tear rolling down his own rosy cheek. Goodbyes were hardest, when they were said to 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 it any longer. Middle-earth was no more than a cherished memory.