Merry stood with his back to a tree deep in thought. His face was twisted in concern. He heard footsteps and looked over to find Pippin walking towards him.
“Everything’s almost ready Merry. Nien has given us a few supplies and the horses are all packed,” he looked at his friend’s worried face. “Oh cheer up Merry! We’re going to see Aragorn again and Eomer. It’s like a big reunion. Maybe we’ll even see Eowyn.”
A big smile graced the hobbit’s face and Merry grinned back weakly.
“You’ve always been so optimistic, Pip,” he sighed. “I just can’t see the bright side right now.”
Merry let his back slide slowly down the trunk of the tree and felt the soft moss under him. He sat with his knees curled against him and looked at Pippin.
“We’re going to war again Pip. Remember how it was before? Death everywhere,” he looked down at the ground and sighed.
Pippin paused for a minute thinking hard what to say next. He crossed his legs and sat down next to his friend.
“We have to do it for the Shire, Merry. It’s our home. Just think of all the little hobbits running across the fields playing tag or the smell of fresh bread waiting for you at home. Think of the golden fields of wheat and the beautiful gardens which grace the front of every hobbit hole. Are you willing to lie back and watch it all disappear?”
Merry looked up at the young Took. He had grown so much. His eyes were determined but filled with compassion and worry. He knew his friend was right. If they didn’t fight for the Shire, who would? He smiled at Pippin.
“We’d had better try our best then, dear friend,” then surprisingly he laughed. “Remember when we first came to Fangorn. What silly young hobbits we were. Remember how frightened we were of Treebeard? I wish he were here now. I’d like to see him again.”
“I also,” smiled Pippin.
Then they heard some rustling in the woods and looked up half expecting to see Treebeard approach but had to turn their gazes sharply downwards for instead of an Ent, a disgruntled dwarf emerged from the bushes.
“Humph! Darn trees and brambles. Ahh there you are young hobbits,” he looked at Merry and Pippin. “It’s time to go. Gandalf says we must leave now. He is in rather a big hurry.”
The two hobbits and Gimli ambled through the dense forest to the bright grotto where everyone was waiting. The hobbits were given full backpacks and good walking sticks. The company slowly trudged through the stuffy wood in silence. The had walked for some time when suddenly there was a high trill emitted from the canopy and they looked up to see a beautiful bird. Its feathers were of a bright red that contrasted sharply with the dark green of the leaves and the light blue of the sky. It sang one last time but finally flew off to the east.
“It is a good omen,” smiled Legolas and he began to sing.
“Where thou dwellest, in what Grove,
Tell me Fair One, tell me Love;
Where thou thy charming nest dost build,
O thou pride of every field!”
His voice was soothing and enchanting and filled the company with hope. He took a breath to sing the next verse but a new voice rang out instead.
“Yonder stands a lonely tree,
There I live and mourn for thee;
Morning drinks my silent tear,
And evening winds my sorrow bear.”
It was Nien and she smiled at Legolas inviting him to sing the next verse.
“O thou summer’s harmony,
I had lived and mourned for thee;
Each day I mourn along the wood,
And night hath heard my sorrows loud.”
Nien then sang and her voice was stronger and it echoed between the corridors of the trees as if they were made of polished stone.
“Dost thou truly long for me?
And am I thus sweet to thee?
Sorrow now is at an end,
O my lover and my Friend!”
Legolas’ voice sculpted the last verse into a melody that would ring in their dreams and cause peace and tranquility in their hearts.
“Come on wings of joy we’ll fly
To where my bower hangs on high;
Come, and make the calm retreat
Among green leaves and blossoms sweet.”*
“That was beautiful,” gasped Pippin.
“It is a song between the sparrow and his lost love,” said Legolas. “I must commend Nien for knowing the part of the sparrow maiden. It is an old song and few remember it.”
“I know many lost songs,” she smiled slightly then looked away as if she was trying to hide something.
“Too bad we won’t have your lovely voices to guide us to the lands of men,” laughed Gandalf. “The trip would be so much shorter.”
Pippin looked up sharply, “what did you say? Legolas isn’t going with us to Rohan?”
“No, I must go to Mirkwood as quickly as possible and I am afraid Gimli and Nien are also going that way.”
“Oh no…I will miss you. We have only seen each other for a couple of days and it is hard to leave such good friends so quickly.”
“I’m sorry, Pippin but we need to go home and rally troupes for this new war…and it must be done quickly by the sounds of things,” grunted Gimli.
“You’re going too, Nien?” asked Pip.
“Yes, I am going to Lothlorien, my home.” She said the last part of the sentence with a sharp bitterness. Everyone looked at her closely from the corner of their eyes. She was a strange girl with a mysterious past. Why did Gandalf need her to go to Lothlorien?
*“The Birds” by William Blake
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