To the Edge of the Universe - Waking
It was an old man with a gray beard and long gray hair. He was dressed in brown and had a kindly face. His warm brown eyes smiled at her as she gulped some more of the milk. She recognized it as goat's milk now and drank eagerly. She was very fond of goats milk.
Soon the bowl was empty and the man eased her down onto the pillows. She sighed, abruptly aware of a throbbing in her side and shoulder. She was alert enough to watch the man as he moved the room. He picked up a tray, and filled it with a bowl of broth, what looked like cheese and bread.
Then he returned to the bed and smiled again. He handed her a spoon and Omey did her best to feed herself with it, but her hand trembled weakly and she soon had to admit that she could not even feed herself. She was very embarrassed and she blushed deeply, but the man took the spoon and carefully fed her the broth. About half way through the bowl he took up the bread and dipped it into the broth and fed that to the elf.
This was humiliating for Omey, but she felt much better for it. When the meal was over she lay back with a sigh and looked up at the man. He seemed to smile a lot. That was encouraging. For some odd reason he put her in mind of Gandalf.
"I hope you are feeling better now, you have lain there for the past two days."
"That long?! I have to go! They must be miles ahead by now." She would have lept off of the bed if she had had the strength, as it was she only managed to sit up feebly and fall back on the pillows. She lay there gasping.
"You are not going anywhere just yet. You are in no condition to travel. Not for some days."
Omey groaned, there was no getting around it, he was right. She couldn't even sit up, let alone chase after a mob of Dwarves. It was then that she remembered that they were staying with Beorn. Two days, they would have taken a day to get there, and if her memory had not failed utterly they would stay there at least that long. If all tales be true, it would not take her body to much longer to heal, elves were supposed to be quick to recover from wounds.
"What is your name?" She asked him curiously. She had her suspicions, but she wanted to be sure.
"Most call me Radagast. And what may I ask is your name? I am curious, for I seldom see elves wandering in these lands. They remain for the most part in Lorien, Mirkwood and Rivendell. You look to be one of the Galadhrim, but I may be mistaken."
"My name is Omey, I have come over the Misty Mountains from Rivendell with thirteen dwarves, a wizard by the name of Gandalf and a hobbit called Bilbo. I am anxious to find them. They are heading for Beorn's home. Do you know where that lies?"
"I do indeed, but you are not well enough to go chasing after them just yet. Lay back there. Tell me, what is Gandalf up to? I have not seen him in many years."
Omey thought for a few minutes, she wasn't certain that she should tell even Radagast anything so soon. She had only met the man twenty minutes ago. However he had saved her life, and according to the books he was trust worthy, even if he had forgotten his original mission for the sake of bird and beasts.
She studied him for a moment and discovered another advantage of her present form. She stared into the warm brown eyes and found only kindness, warmth and wisdom. Maybe less wisdom of the wide world than Gandalf, less experience than the Grey Wanderer. But there was no menace or evil intent in the gaze.
She settled back on her pillows and told him her story from the time she had met Gandalf on the road to Bag End.
Bilbo woke with the morning sun in his eyes and lept up to put the kettle on and relised he was on a cliff. Then he sat down and wished in vain for a wash and a brush. He didn't get either, what he did get was cold mutton and rabbit for breakfast.
While he was eating he called to mind the fair face of the elf that they had lost in the Goblin mines. Omey. She hadn't really wanted to come anymore than he had, she had wanted to stay in Rivendell with the others of her kind.
Bilbo sighed. He missed her dreadfully. He wondered if she was really dead. Gandalf had thought so, and Bilbo was inclined to agree. He had over heard the Goblins speaking of an elf a few moments before he had walked into their midst. Surely they wouldn't have left her alive, not after that bit with the Great Goblin. Still, it seemed to him that they should have at least gone and looked for her. He bit into his cold mutton leg. Elves were not to be under estimated, whatever Thorin said. It would be just like her to walk up suddenly, when they least expected it.
The after- breakfast flight drove all thoughts of Omey far from his mind however. He clung to his eagle and shut his eye tightly, trying to pretend he was on the ground.
"Don't pinch!" said his eagle, "You need not be frightened like a rabbit, even if you rather look like one. It is a fair morning with little wind. What is finer than flying?"
He would have liked to have said, "A hot bath and late breakfast on the lawn afterwards." But he thought it better to say nothing, and to let go his clutch just tiny bit.
After an hour or so the eagles saw the point they were making for and began to circle. There was an enourmous stone below, almost a hill of rock, it was there the eagles landed and set down their passengers, one by one.
"Farewell, wherever you fare," they cried, "till your eyries recieve you at the journeys end!" That is the polite way to say good-bye among the eagles.
"May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks." Said Gandalf, who knew the correct reply.
And so they parted. After the eagles were gone they discussed what was to be done.
"I always meant to see you safe (if possible)over the mountains," said the wizard. "And by good luck and management I have done it. Indeed we are now a good deal further east than I meant to come with you, for after all this is not my adventure. I may look in before the end on it before it is all over, but in the meanwhile I have some other pressing buissness to attend to."
They all groaned and begged him not to leave, and Bilbo wept. They had begun to think Gandalf was going to come all the wayand would always be there to help them out of thier troubles. Bilbo wished now more than ever that Omey had not been lost in the Goblin Mines. An elf was nearly as good as a wizard, on an adventure, young or no.
"I am not going disapear this very instant. I can give a another day or two. Probably I can help you out of your present plight and I need a little help myself. We have no food and no baggage and no ponies to ride and you don't know where you are. I can tell you that. You are still some miles north of the path we should have been following, if we had not left the mountain pass in such a hurry. Very few people live in these parts, unless they have come since I was last down this way, which was some years ago. But there is somebody I know of who lives not far away. That Somebody made the steps on the great rock- the Carrock I believe he calls it. He does not come here often, certainly not in the daytime, and it is no good waiting for him. In fact it would be very dangerous. We must go and find him; and if all goes well at our meeting, I think I shall be off and wish you like the eagles, "farewell wherever you fare!"
They begged him not to leave, they offered dragon gold and silver and jewels, but he would not change his mind. "We shall see, we shall see. I think I have already earned some of your dragon gold- when you have got it."
When they had stopped pleading with the wizard they all took off their clothes and washed in the river, which was shallow and stony at the ford. Then they dried in the sun, which was now shining brightly. Then they crossed the river carrying the hobbit. Then they entered Beorn's lands.