The Journey Begins.
The Fellowship gathered everything they thought they would need for the journey. What they could not carry themselves was loaded onto Bill, a chestnut pony, with flaxen mane and tail, which the Hobbits and Strider had brought with them from Bree. Solaris was walking as fast as Legolas and seemed even more alert than he as she scanned first the sky and then the surrounding forest watching for any potential danger to the group. Legolas and she worked together at this even though he was not really at ease with a female in the group. He was concerned she might hinder them, though he didn’t make this thought known to the others.
Boromir and Gimli walked side by side for a time. Boromir was also uncomfortable with the situation. “She will tire of this journey and will soon leave us to return to Rivendell. Within two weeks she will be gone for her sex cannot bear the pace we must sustain, especially with little rest.”
“I do hope you are right about that. A wager perhaps?” whispered Gimli, looking up at the Man.
“Perhaps a small bag full of gold will do for the winner. I wager she will not last two weeks,” murmured Boromir.
“And I wager she will endure for a full turn of the moon before she turns back for Rivendell,” Gimli replied in hushed tones.
“Agreed.” And they shook hands to seal the bet.
“And what if I last longer than either of you have wagered?” asked Solaris, as she walked silently up behind them.
“Then, we both lose and must start anew,” said Gimli, grinning.
Solaris asked, “Who will win the gold if I last all the way to Mordor?”
“We had not thought though that possibility.” they both replied in unison.
“Then let me suggest who should receive the winnings; Give the gold to the poorest person in Gondor. That is what I would want.”
After walking until late afternoon, they stopped at a craggy outcrop, high above the plain. Legolas and Solaris kept lookout as the others rested and worked some minor cramps out of their legs.
Pippin asked, “Boromir? Would you and Aragorn teach us how to use our swords properly? We do not want to be prepared the next time we face a foe.”
“Gladly, young Hobbit,” said Boromir, as he withdrew his sword and invited Pippin and Merry to do the same.
Gandalf looked towards them sparring in the clearing. “We must hold this course west of the Misty Mountains for forty days. If our luck holds the Gap of Rohan will still be open to us. From there our road turns east to Mordor.”
Whilst Boromir continued his tutelage with the two hobbits, Solaris noticed Legolas’ hand shielding his eyes as he stared towards the south, and turned her gaze in the same direction. Boromir was heard in the background, “Two, Three, Four, Five. Good, very good!”
Aragorn instructed, “Move your feet!”
And Merry cheered, “That’s good, Pippin.”
Gimli looked at Gandalf and said, “Anyone was to ask for my opinion, which I note they’re not; I’d say we were taking the long way round. Gandalf, we could pass through the Mines of Moria. My cousin Balin would give us a royal welcome.”
Gandalf shook his head, “No Gimli, I would not take the roads through Moria unless I had no other choice.”
At this moment, Boromir accidentally nicked Pippin with his sword; Merry and Pippin charged him together, yelling “For the Shire!” As they ran towards Boromir, who fell pulling the two hobbits down with him, while Aragorn chuckled at the sight of a Man being toppled by two hobbits.
Aragorn walks over to them. “Gentlemen, that’s enough.”
He lays a hand on either Hobbit’s shoulder. Pippin and Merry grab his legs, pulling him down on his back.
Pippin yells out, “You’ve got my arm…you’ve got my arm!”
Sam and Frodo were also enjoying the sparring match. Sam glanced towards the south. “What is that?” He asked the others.
“Nothing, it’s just a whiff of cloud.” grunted Gimli.
“It’s moving fast…against the wind.” replied Boromir, standing and sheathing his sword.
Legolas’ voice rang out, “Crebain from Dunland!”
“Hide!” Aragorn shouted to the company.
“Hurry! Merry! Frodo!”
Aragorn yelled, “Come on! Come on! Take cover!”
They scrambled around the area, gathering their belongings, and extinguishing their campfire, before hiding themselves beneath overhanging rocks and under bushes. No sooner were they concealed than a large flock of black birds swooped overhead, cawing loudly; they circled the outcrop. Before turning back and flying off in the direction they had come.
Gandalf moaned as they emerged from their hiding places. “Spies of Saruman! The passage south is being watched. We must take the Pass of Caradhras.”
“Gandalf, we should wait here and follow our original path,” spoke Solaris, looking at him.
“No, we will go up the mountain it is the only way to get to Mordor since the passage south is being watched.” Gandalf spoke.
“Just like a female to try to get us to go an easy way, probably not to freeze her body,” huffed Gimli.
“No, Gimli. I am not afraid of the pass of Caradhras. The passage south is now clear for us to pass through. Saruman will think we will go over the mountain and put his concentration there. While leaving the passage south unwatched or by the time he figures it out, we be through the passage,” said Solaris.
“No, we will take the Pass of Caradhras.” spoke Gandalf, as he turned his gaze towards the snow capped mountain.