AN UNEXPECTED GUEST AT THE SILVER BEECH
The ostlers quickly stabled their horses, and Farmer Maggots’ cart comfortably parked in the stable yard. The rain now fell heavily, and made the already bespattered road begin to slightly flood and transform into an incomprehensible bog.
In such a short time all of the fellowship’s garments had been drenched with the rainwater; now all stood outside the front-door of the `Silver Beech’, and in all, to the passers by, a tired and penitent sight to behold.
Gandalf lightly tapped on the tall oak door. And even through the rumpus inside, and the snatches of singing and echoing laughter, Gandalf’s modest tap seemed to have brought a response; a tall, old, slightly over-worked man answered, an empty mug of beer still in his hand.
`Hello, good sir, and good evening to you little masters,’ he said peering round Gandalf’s figure to the little agitated hobbits. `Mr. Kandy Brothwaite is my name,’ he continued, beckoning them in the dry, cosy room. `How can I help you? Is accommodation to your fancy, or just the beer?’
`We are seeking accommodation,’ replied Gandalf.
`One Man-sized room and five hobbit ones I presume? And how long do you lovely gentlemen propose to stay for?’
`No, no thankyou. Just one Man-sized room if you may, on the top floor, all of us will share; though our other old hobbit here, Mr. Maggot, shall have a hobbit room to himself if you please.
One night will be good enough for us; we have an early start tomorrow. But first my friends are hungry and thirsty, and would be over-whelmed if you would clean and nourish them as best you could.’
`Yes sir! Right away sir!’ he said, bowing low, `But may I also ask the names of my new tenants?’
`Yes, you may, I you wish..’ said Gandalf, `This young hobbit here…’ he continued wavering a hand in the direction of Frodo, `is Mr. … Genho Underhill,’ he replied quickly, `.. This Mr. Brandybuck, Mr. Gamgee and Mr. Took, and I have already introduced you to Mr. Maggot. I am Gandalf.’ The hobbits all bowed in courtesy, as each in turn their name was spoken. Gandalf attempted no such gesture, but merely smiled.
`Well then I best be off to bed then, no, no it’s alright Mr. Brothwaite, I shall eat my fill tomorrow morning, I’m to tired tonight I shall fall asleep at the table! Good night all, I don’t expect I shall see you tomorrow morning; so I wish you all a good sleep and a safe journey!’
Another hobbit appeared and he and Maggot strolled down a passage and out of site.
The others were beckoned to a large table: five seats sat round it.
A roaring fire hissed and spat in the cold stone hearth, though a brazen fender was placed there to contain the fire’s feisty spirit.
If it had not had been for the fire and the wick candles, the Inn would have been in darkness, and Sam did not fancy his chances in the Dark on such a night: a welcoming and warm place it might be, and he would have been more settled if it was not for the strange feeling he felt in the pits of his stomach.
Cold and dark was the stonewalls to him, they enclosed on him and somehow he could not help feeling trapped.
`I don’t like this place!’ he thought, `The sooner we leave the better; there’s not something quite right here! And that’s a fact: though what it is I have no idea, it’s not really the place or people, I don’t think, but something else. Like if you had a bad omen just visit here and you could still feel it’s presence, if you understand me.’
He tried to explain this to Frodo at the Supper table, but Frodo just rolled back his head and laughed!
`Oh Sam! Bad omens! There’s nothing wrong here! It’s happy and safe, and warm and dry! You should be thankful we are staying here, I don’t believe we shall have such hospitable accommodations for some time after tonight.’
Sam still felt unsure, even after Frodo’s, comforting words.
Brothwaite busied himself with the supper and beers; an arrayed selection of beers, fine wines, meats and vegetables were set on the table in front of them.
None of the food nor drink that Brothwaite and other such waiters offered them were refused by the guests: all the sweet smelling meats, delectable crunchy vegetables and golden tasting drink; which slipped down one’s throat like warm honey, had all gone.
Sam squirmed uncomfortably in his seat; he had never liked the idea of people serving him anything, even the smallest things; he had always believed he should be the one serving; after all he was the servant.
Frodo caught an uneasy glimpse in Sam’s kind eyes, Frodo smiled:
`Sam are you enjoying yourself now?’
`Yes, sir, very much so, it’s not so bad after all maybe…’
This gesture in conversation seemed to have worked a little, for Sam (who had been feeling a little left out of such
conversations) had sat up, ceased twiddling his thumbs and staring contently at the floor, and had began to do what he did best (though he would not emit it); to sing comical rhymes and verses he had either made himself or learnt from many:
Kandy Brothwaite appeared, his hands red from clapping and his cheeks from the warm wet tears that stained them.
`Well done Master Gamgee, well done! Bravo! We ain’t heard a more charmin’ tale in these parts for some while!
Sam didn’t know what to think, he had just made it up, a simple song, for a bit of fun to pass away the minutes:
`Well I wouldn’t say it was good nor charmin’ tale, I just made it up on the spot, but I’m no good at it, not like my master or old Mr. Bilbo was!’ said Sam.
Merry and Pippin had taken out their pipes and lit them: Frodo scrounged round in a small sachetel searching for his, and Sam also did so after a brief few moments of conversation with Brothwaite. Gandalf had disappeared.
He soon turned, to find the hobbits sitting comfortably at the table: Pippin with his feet on it. Gandalf nudged Peregrin’s unwashed feet from the table, sat down next to him and began:
`Right my friends! We are all clean, watered and supped, so we shall retire to our bedchamber, this way follow me!’
He led them through many narrow, candle-lit passages and then up many steep stairs: which the hobbits greatly disliked, to their single square bedchamber.
It was filled with red-waxed candles, one large chair sat by the open window and four miniature beds were positioned neatly around the room, a small fire crackled in the grate; longing for someone to comfort.
Gandalf thankfully lowed himself deep into the chair and there stayed.
The hobbits felt unhindered by sleep and so remained awake, taking quietly amongst themselves:
`So Peregrin Took,’ whispered Meriadoc turning on him, `if I know you…. what did you take from Maggot then?’
Pippin smiled and drew out his small brown bag; from it he pulled multiples of yellow barleycorn, and two small bags; one containing mushrooms the other, potatoes.
`These,’ he said holding up the corns, `I got from Maggot’s field when I first arrived, and this morning he picked these two from his cart and gave them to me! `A present,’ he said, `though I don’t know if you deserve it, but I’ll do you good anyhow!”
`Wow!’ said Merry eyeing the tasty supplements.
Gandalf opened an eye from his chair and gazed at Merry and Pippin, Pippin quickly stuffed the food back into the bag and hid it.
And as Gandalf was awake Frodo felt inclined to ask some questions which to him, had not been answered as yet.
`Gandalf, I cannot help thinking about your new horse, Nightstream, he is a fine and noble beast no doubt and as fast and as smooth as the horses for Edoras. But please tell me what became of your last horse, Shadowfax?’
Gandalf opened both eyes, yet a longing sensation came over him:
`It is a funny thing you should say that Nightstream is a horse of Rohan, for he is! He is one of many of Shadowfax’s great kin, though the tale of how Shadowfax came to his undoing is not a noble and not an ennoble one, so to speak. He came to a peaceful, happy end, only a year or so ago! He was old when I tamed him, and even though a Meara horse’s life is long lasting, Shadowfax passed away and I was with him and comforted him in his final hours, and for a moment or two it was as if he were speaking to me and I understood! He said unto me:
“Mithrandir, my noble rider who has taught me much in many ways, I am passing out of this world to be with my kindred among the heavens. Forgive me that I cannot bare you no longer. Though I purpose a final wish of mine, that is to ride my fair brother on your ways, Nightstream his name be, for by night his coat be as black as the surrounding dark and he is swift and as smooth as a stream. He shall bare you now; it is my wish!’
`The morn after I helplessly wandered the plains of Rohan, morning for the loss of my friend.
The sunlight filtered and shone only on one piece of grass, which was lit up, fair, and green and there grazed a magnificent beast; and I would have mistaken him for Shadowfax: if he had still remained.
I approached him and he came willingly, I new then this was Nightstream my new beast and I would take him, as Shadowfax had requested.
Nightstream and I have wandered over many hills and countries and attempted many good deeds, I feel I know him, and his ways now, as he knows mine.’
All remained quiet, recollecting what had just been said, and the noble life of Shadowfax: which they were dismayed to hear, had faded.
Gandalf sat up, and pulled his thought aside. He turned to Peregrin and studied him:
`Alright Peregrin, we have prolonged this, but I feel now you should tell us what befell you yesterday in Farmer Maggots’ field, and why you felt the urge to leave the company and stray in the first place!’ Gandalf sternly asked.
Pippin wriggled, the feeling of pressure and fear floated over him.
`Well I thought it would be nice for us all to eat properly tonight (and I wanted to leave that wrenched forest behind). Firstly, I thought, I need to get a distraction to get away; I could have gone when we heard that, `Hom! Hooming!’ though I was frightened and intrigued by it and I delayed too long to be able to get away with anyone noticing.
The best I could come up with was singing, to distract you, then I quiet rode away without you noticing…’
Pippin then went though all the accounts of his experience: the Black Rider, the Visions, Mr. Maggot and his dogs; until Pippin had returned to the part where Gandalf had shot him with a streak of lighting.
`Oh! Mr. Pippin!’ whispered Sam, too alarmed to say much more.
`We were lucky Maggot found you when he did Pip, other wise, how knows what that…that…thing may have done to you!’ said Frodo.
Pippin’s eyes were white with fear, as he had recounted the story, though now he seemed peaceful and more at ease.
Sam stretched his arms above his head and yawned.
`Well if it’s o.k. with you I’m going to get some shut-eye…’
Gandalf nodded with agreement. Sam plodded over to the east facing bed, the furthest from the window, and lay thankfully down on it; breathing in its Rosie petal smell, that cleared his head, and he fell asleep.
There was a tap on the door, it opened and Brothwaite poked his round head though:
`Is everything to your liking sirs? Four hobbit beds and one large chair by the window as you asked.’
`Yes, Brothwaite everything is to our liking, except the disturbance!’
`Oh! Oh, sorry, all right Mr. Gandalf, have a nice night and a safe journey tomorrow. I’m down stairs in the bar if you need anything. Good night all!’ he said backing out the room and closing the door behind him.
No one spoke for a while. Gandalf had closed his eyes again, Merry stared contently at the fire and at length asked Gandalf:
`Gandalf, twice today you have called Frodo Mr. Underhill, and once Mr. Genho Underhill! Is Frodo still to hide his name?’
`Yes Meriadoc! Frodo, and the name of Baggins is known to the Enemy, yet still not Underhill, so I shall remind you if you are talking about Frodo anywhere or to anyone, he is only known as Mr. Genho Underhill if a name has to be mentioned.’ Gandalf spoke this, though still his eyes remained shut.
Frodo had retired to the bed opposite Sam, and joined Sam in sleep, breathing softly into his pillow.
For a while Merry and Pippin remained seated on the floor facing the small fire.
Wiriness soon had covered them, like a dark unseen veil. Pippin took the bed on the east side, close to the widow; Sam snored peacefully next to him in a dreamless sleep.
Merry took the bed opposite Pippin, and as soon as his troubled head touched his pillow his mind was wiped clean of troubles, and he was asleep.
Peregrin laid his mantle, braces and waistcoat at the stern of the bed, and slipped in to the cool covers. He shivered.
Even though he felt that sleep was taking over, he remained sat up, eyes wide-open, staring out of the glass windows.
The street was dark. A single light lit up the road, shadows lurked everywhere, unknown dangers hid in the dark corners and spaces. No citizen of Archet walked among the streets at night, for they were known for their strange reputation. Creatures, murders and disappearances, though there was no record of any for some years now; after eight o’ clock the streets became dissertated.
In the gloom of night Pippin’s sharp green eyes spotted a figure moving, when he squinted he could make out quite a large creature (about as big as a cat or small dog), scuttling on all fours across the mud.
It halted. Raised its pointed snout and changed direction, as if it had smelled something; then it seemingly stood up on its two back legs and grew to about the height of a large man. He turned and ran off into the beech trees and out of Pippin’s sight.
Peregrin’s gaze faltered as he lost sight of the creature. An argent speck in the tree had caught his eye, as he studied it more and more, an outline of a person sitting in the branches of the tree could be sighted.
The pale silver moonlight reflected off his fair hair, resulting in its now silver colour.
Pippin was fascinated by this person. He yawned.
He searched with his eyes for the argent hair but it had gone, instead another cat-sized rodent scuttled along the road and again transformed. Pippin sat up and rubbed his eyes, though he found when he had stopped the other creature had also gone.
`Strange times are these!’ he said settling under the covers, `Silver-haired people in trees, and rodent-like things turning into people! I must be dreaming!’ he said, falling asleep.
A mist wreathed him, it veiled all and he was blinded by it. It slowly merged and formed; a blank canvas in front of him. White, though a tint of pink shone through its smooth soft exterior. Something else now was forming, though he did not feel scared; he felt instead strangely comforted and loved by this shape.
It became an eye. Though it was like, and unlike Sauron’s eye. It searched and longed for him he could feel it, though Sauron’s eye was filled with malice, and hatred and evil; this peace, love and hope.
It remained closed. Dark, long slender eyelashes framing it.
It opened. The hobbit was filled with the most amazing sensation he had ever experienced; though he did not know or understand it.
The iris of the eye was a thing of beauty, wander and many different colours of the spectrum.
Though the base was green, deep, jade green: a brown-yellow agate like colour streaked it, and rimming it, chromite blue crystals.
The most outer-rim was framed with a black velvet ring. At its centre lay the black pupil, in it reflected many things; some seemed passed, some present and others future.
It was a wise, young beautiful eye.
Thorough the remaining mist that surrounded him and the eye, he thought he heard a far away voice softly calling to him; the call was deep, soft and sensual. It rang and coursed through him, he was comforted. The vision faded.
Frodo sat up and shook himself wake. He was still in the room; Gandalf still sat in the chair, Sam on the bed next to him, Merry and Pippin opposite. Many confused thoughts passed though his head in a second, he gasped and breathed deeply and tried to work the puzzle out, but he could reach no conclusion.
Sam stirred and turned over in his bed, his eyes were open. He sat up, and gazed in wander at Frodo gasping and slightly shaking.
`You alright, Mr. Frodo sir?’ asked Sam.
`…Yes…Yes…Sam I’m fine…’
`Bad dream was it sir?’
`Yes…yes something of the sort, though not exactly bad, though strange…yes, very strange indeed,’ replied Frodo.
`You can tell me about it in the morning if you wish sir, I’m too tired and keep even my eyes awake, good night Mr. Frodo, pleasant dreams!’ and with that Sam Gamgee rolled over again and fell back to sleep.
Frodo tired to stay awake, but he found he slipped under the sheets and drifted into sleep.
Hours passed, all silence sojourned in the tavern and out; until one of the hobbits again awoke.
Merry Rosie out of sleep and wandered to the window, he believed he had heard noises though their origination was unknown. He pricked his ears up, nevertheless no sound reached them, nor as he looked out the window did he see anything except the swift moonlight falling about the yards and houses: countless fields of silver. From the bright moon these came, silver clouds, streams, roads and rivers.
For a while Meriadoc gazed at it in wander:
`Passed mid-night,’ he thought, gazing up at the round full moon.
His bed was still warm as he got in again.
Merry settled his head on the woollen blanket, and swayed on the edge of repose; a noise reached him. As if very silent soft feet were padding up stairs, and to Merry it seemed they had reached a door or obstacle, for the noise ceased.
Gradually the door was pushed open, and a swift figure rushed in and shut it: harder and louder than was intentional.
He stood tall and proud amid the small, dark surroundings. Silver shone from his cloak and wrist armlets, his long blonde hair soaked with rain. On his head he bore; as an Elf-King of old, an interleaved silver circlet.
Merry could not believe the sight that stood now in the soft glow of candle light, yet his eyes did not deceive him. And as the figure closed the door behind him all awoke at the sound:
`Legolas!’ exclaimed the hobbit, Meriadoc, jumping out of bed. `…What?…Where?…Why?…’
`There is no time to explain now! The Nine are abroad, I have seen them, they are outside the beechen-trees on yonder: they are searching and they will soon enter here! You must leave imminently, and quietly with me!’
The others who had just been pulled from their rest were all struggling to their senses: all excluding the Wizard; who stood on his sturdy feet, staff in hand ready and waiting.
`What time is it?’ asked Peregrin, rubbing the exterior sleep from his eyes, `Is it time to get up yet?’
`You should rub that sleep from your brain not just your eyes Peregrin Took! Get up quickly you twaddle of a Took! And get dressed, we must depart!’
While the four hobbits abruptly dressed, the Elf and Gandalf had words in a corner. Legolas looked concerned and Gandalf even more so.
`What is happening? Where are we going?’ asked Sam: he turned round, his jaw dropped, `…Mr. L..Le..Legolas?’
Gandalf and Legolas had finished talking and turned to the hobbits.
Legolas spoke at length:
`We will have to leave now, it is unsafe for us to stay!’ explained he.
`My dear hobbits, I have discussed this with Legolas and he has agreed!’
`Agreed to what?’ asked Frodo.
`Alas! this is ill tidings that the Riders should come here and now, and because of this I must journey away south-east, to Edoras to parley with King Éomer. Legolas will guide you from now on…’
`But where are we to go?’
`You are to go to Rivendell the `Last homely house of the Elves’, Merry, there will be Elrond Half-Elven, and you shall tryst there.’
`Master Elrond, I thought he was in the Undying Lands!’ said Sam.
`There is no time to explain now dear Sam, we must part our ways. Farewell!’
He swept out of the door and was gone, his only reminiscence was his fading footfall down the wooden stairs.
`Come!’ said Legolas, `We must leave for Rivendell, to fair Imladris we go!’
He sped lightly down the steps, the hobbits following; Pippin struggling to put his waistcoat on.
Strangely enough, though there was a danger of old happenings in the streets at night, Brothwaite had not locked any doors.
`The spies!’ whispered the Elf, `His spies have been in here!’
They reached the front door and slid outside into the frosty night.
Two black-cloaked figures passed on nigh, Legolas grabbed Frodo’s breast and pushed him back against the wall as the creatures passed, forcing the other hobbits against the wall also.
`You no longer bare the Ring, Frodo, they cannot find you so easily now, though I shall take no changes…’
The Shadow turned and hissed long at Legolas’ voice.
Frodo glowered at them with such hatred and malevolence, and he imagined himself saying to them in his mind:
`I know what you seek, and I understand how you still feel my presence….’ He gazed down to his breast where the Witch-King had marred him. It still burnt from deep inside.
Legolas let go, and beckoned them to the stables, they came.
Their horses stood silent in their stables, Fatty whinnied as Pippin approached.
He stroked his short head, and led him out of his stable.
When all had been removed from the comfort of their stables, and riders were mounted, Legolas led them out of the round grove stables and onto the road.
An unearthly hiss and scream was heard, the horses reared in terror, though the riders managed to keep their seats.
Three Ringwraiths galloped towards them on their enormous black steeds.
`This way! Follow me, and keep close behind!’ Legolas cried, `Noro lim! Noro lim Arod!’
The slender white stallion raced off into the distance in gallop; the others followed, and so also did the Wraiths.
On they rode Legolas leading, and Sam at the rearguard. Their dim white and brown blurs whistled past and through many trees; and behind pursued the three black shadows. Five more shadows now also joined the concourse of hatred and malice.
Blackness surrounded and enveloped them. A great terror and grief seemed to press on their hearts.
The hobbits’ beasts panted and struggled to carry on at the pace, sweat ran down them and they shook with cold and weariness.
They rode long through the winding Chetwood, but still the devilled phantoms did not cease their tracking.
Presently they came to the open road again: the East-West road running from Bree and Archet to the Last Bridge; it was a long stretch, and they were more vulnerable out in the open.
`Hurry!’ cried Legolas, `We must reach the shelter of the woods again!’
The blurs and outlines against the reddening sky of Midgewater, the died blood scarlet tops of the Weather Hills and Amon Sõl, flashed by in a second.
Night became day, and day became night and still they rode on.
Legolas steadied Arod, so he now flanked along Sam, riding Crescentmoon.
`Go on ahead Frodo,’ called Legolas, `Lead us into Trollshaws!’
Standing up in his stirrups, Legolas put a silver arrow to his long bow and released it with a deadly accuracy.
It hit the target right through its invisible brow, and the figure reeled back in horror and pain falling from his steed. Soon Legolas had brought three more back to the Earth.
Indeed the fellowship’s steeds were well suited for such things; sturdy and speedy were they.
At last over the horizon many glittering leaves were seen: the last rays of evening reflecting the dew on their green wax-like surfaces.
The eaves of Trollshaws!
The horses raced across the Last Bridge, before the Elven country began.
Harsh hooves rolled like an oncoming thunderstorm across the wood; and underneath them the shallow rill of the Hoarwell ran.
Ever closer and closer the eaves came, and thankfully they galloped under them.
The three remaining wraiths then stopped inches from the first new buds of spring from the trees of Trollshaws:
their horses neighed and reared as if cowed or opposed to enter the forest.
A shrill wail went up into the air, as the terrible beasts turned and fled out of sight.
`We shall stay here tonight, for we are safe under the cover of trees,’ said Legolas. `Let us hope that they do not return.’
He paused. Listening to the sighing birches.
`We shall take watch, dangers may be about.’
`I shall go first!’ volunteered Frodo.
Deeper into the Trollshaws they now rode, searching for a clearing fit for resting the night.
An hour went by until at last they came to one deep enough into the woods and under the cover of trees so they could sleep.
Pots, pans and wooden crocks soon were set about on an old gnawed stump they found in the hollow. And as soon as Sam and Frodo had returned with the faggots of wood they
kindled a fire and sat around it. Legolas had been busy elsewhere setting traps and trammels up to catch some fresh meat for the meal.
He returned and sat around the circle of fire with the warmed beings.
Sam busied himself tending to the fire, and placing a large pot of water (which he gathered from a nearby stream) in the heart of the flames. Merry and Pippin were asked to prepare the mushrooms, carrots and potatoes for the broth; and sat peeling the potatoes.
While Frodo was quietly listening to many of Legolas’ tales of his new kingdom in Ithilien.
Many snapping noises were heard; as if a sharp-toothed beast had caught its prey.
Legolas jumped up, listening:
`Take no heed my friends I believe our supper is caught!’
And he sprang away into the woods to search for the trap.
A few minutes later he returned from behind a large birch: and from his right hand hung three-buck rabbits and in the left he bore a plump ground-Ptarmigan.
`We are in luck!’ he cried.
Sam, cleaned and wetted his small knife; and with the help of Legolas; skinned and dressed the coneys, and added them to the broth along with the other vegetables.
Then Sam plucked the white plumed grouse, wrapped it in some sweet smelling leaves and placed it in the fire.
The others remained around the fireside, admiring the sweet aromas erupting from the flames.
Then when the Ptarmigan had nicely crisped, Sam reached into the fire with a damp stick and pushed the parcel out of the main stretch of the blaze to cool.
Merry poured each companion a bowl of broth and handed it to them.
They soon had eaten all the broth and the Ptarmigan, it had been a well-tended and prepared meal.
`Sam,’ said Frodo at last when the food had gone and their attentions wandered back to their friends, `that was a lovely meal, thank you!’
Sam blushed, `Just doing it how I usually, sir, nothing special!’
`Well you’ve got a talent for cooking, Sam!’ said Pip.
`You can just take any substance and make it miraculous and edible!’ added Merry.
Sam went so red that even his feet turned scarlet.
The glade around their camp was not anything special: vast spinneys of trees girdled it. Beyond there in the trees no lights of sky could be seen, but from where they now sat they gazed on a perfect opened sky-light of stars and a last half-moon.
A stump that they supped on stood in the centre of the dell. The brightest star, the star of Eärendil: shone clearer than water and onto their heads, as they slept next to the dieing ashes of fire.
But before they had settled down to sleep they washed and cleaned the crocks and packed them ready to set off early the next morn.
Trees muffled with a slight wind, but apart from the breeze all was silent.
Frodo watched his surroundings silently: it would be three hours until Sam took over watch from him; and at least the coldness of the night would not let him drowse.
Night waned, and Legolas awoke at the sound of footsteps.
Pippin, whose watch it had been, had dozed off into a deep slumber.
The Elf gathered himself, and stood tall: gazing now and again north, east, south and west: though his main attention grew intently on the east bank of the forest. But not even his sharp eyes could pierce the thick eaves.
He knelt down; and imprinted nearby, in the soft mud by the birch roots, were many animal slots. A great, padded four-toed paw had made them.
`Wolves!’ he whispered drawing his sheathed sword.
A stiff, stifled growl echoed behind the Elf; and he swung round to it. His eyes were ablaze; and for the first time in their journey, with fear!
He ran back to the hobbits’ sides and woke them.
`There are wolves about, wake up and keep your wits about you!’ he told them.
Then in a sudden terror and madness, their horses (which were nearby) reared and bolted out of sight.
A panic took them, and they rose quickly, blades drawn, ready to suppress the enemy.
From the shadows two darting fiery eyes were seen; they glowed with hunger and malevolence.
The once hunting fellows had now become the hunted.
A hefty bulk padded forward; its maw ran red from its recent meal. Its snow-white pelt was thickly tarnished with the deep red liquid.
`White wolves!’ whispered Sam, too afraid to raise his voice any higher.
It let out another rolling growl, bearing its long, stained blooded fangs.
Dotting around (though at first they did not notice it) were many more evil eyes of the same resemblance to the wolves’.
This had been the third time already in their journey that they had been attacked; forgoing their feared conclusion that already the great arm of Sauron stretched far, and was clasping Middle-earth; for undoubtedly these new white wolves were the work of the Black Hand.
Legolas’ bow was not at hand, so his only weapon was his sword.
Still the wolf advanced on towards the fellows, while many more white beasts trailed on behind it.
Merry shuddered, in panic; and this situation brought to mind something his father had told him long ago, and thus he chanted over and over in his silent frustration:
`There is nothing to fear but fear itself, there is nothing to fear but fear itself,’ he said backing away. A wolf snapped at his words. He and the other hobbits began to tremble. All accept the Elf, who stood steadfast awaiting the wolves to pounce; so that he may smite them down even before their paws touched earth again.
`No,’ whispered Merry, `there is nothing to fear but a great big pack of hungry wolves ready to pounce on us!’ he joked.
Sam continued to step backwards, though the hobbit was not looking where he was heading and fell rearward over a felled tree limb that lay in his path.
There was a thud and a shrill `Oww that hurt…what the?’
And this had been the second chance the beasts needed. They tensed their powerful hamstring muscles, stretched out their front legs and lunged at the startled troops.
Wolves galloped around them and bit at them, swords and daggers swung aimlessly about the scattered beasts. Sight and hope was lost amid the swarming white hues.
Blood was split: though it was difficult at the time to tell whether it was friends or foes.
One wolf had sprung straight onto Sam’s chest; as he lay on his back, after having fallen over. The wolf now plunged all his mass into Sam’s shoulders pinning him to the earth.
Spittle and blood ran off the wolf’s fur and onto Sam’s sweaty, and pained face.
`Mr. Frodo! Mr. Frodo! Help!’ he screamed.
A malevolent grin spread across the beasts’ features, as he bent over the struggling hobbit towards his neck.
Frodo ran towards Sam’s voice, yet another wolf bounded into him knocking him aside before he could reach his servant, who was now weeping in terror.
`Mr. Frodo! Frodo! Please help me!’ choked Sam.
The wolf’s fangs had pierced Sam’s neck.