Part III  Chapter 4.1 

Quest Day 6 by the hours of the day

  • The King:  Aragorn in Lothlórien, 2980 Third Age (the day before the vow is made).
  • Elf and dwarf:  Legolas and Gimli in Ered Luin, 25 September 2841 Third Age.
  • Baggins and Gamgee:  Frodo and Samwise in the Misty Mountains, 22 July 2941.
  • Fangorn:  Merry, Pippin, Treebeard and Gandalf in Fangorn Forest, 3 Jan 2001.
  • The Dark: The Dark Lord, Captain, Lieutenant and Wizard, in an alternate parallel. 


The first hour:  the dawn


Of those in Fangorn

Merry and Pippin felt different as they had watched the dawn.  They had felt the terror gripping one of the Quest, and knew that this signaled they now had perception they thought solely belonged to Wizards and Elves, not to hobbit-folk like themselves.  And with this, they felt an obligation to go beyond what they had thought before, they as hobbits, were capable of.  So they had not run to find answers from Treebeard, they sought meaning from within themselves. 


The decision on ‘the one thing from the future’ needed to be made this day, and whereas last eve, they had thought this lay in the hands of Gandalf and Treebeard, they now realised that they would have a significant part to play in this.


So it was, as they contemplated how it could all come about, they heard the familiar tones of Gandalf, and looking out to the clearing, saw him talking to Treebeard.


They were excited to see him, and although they rushed to his side, they did not clamor or jump to welcome him as they might have previously.

Gandalf leaned down to embrace them, but he sensed that they had changed.

‘Ah my hobbit friends, I feel there is much that you have experienced and to disclose.’

Merry replied pensively:

 ‘We have seen remarkable things dear Gandalf, and you will find that we are not the Pippin or Merry you knew in The Light.’

and Pippin continued:

‘And umpteen things to tell – and yet still more for us to discover.’


Gandalf and Treebeard looked at one-another, verily the hobbits had changed, and a sadness came upon Gandalf, for despite the recklessness and impulsiveness of Pippin in the War of the Ring which had caused him angst, he would not have wanted that hobbit-carefreeness to be lost.  So he sighed with some sorrow for where these trials had brought Merry and Pippin, but in recognition of their ‘enlightenment’, he requested respectfully:

 ‘Then there is a great deal you both must share with me.  Come let us talk,’

and Gandalf led them back under the trees of the Entwash’s maiden spring.


 So Wizard, Hobbit and Ent spoke of what had befallen them, what revelations had appeared and what remained to be found.


Gandalf listened to the hobbits’ tales of their appearance on the plains afore Fangorn, of the storm and flood, of their brush with the Bullet Train and the soldiers of the forest, and Pippin being shot.  Of course, they had to explain the meaning of bullets, Bullet Train, and being shot… all of which Gandalf listened to in wonder and dismay.


Of Baggins and Gamgee

Frodo and Sam appeared in the lowermost foothills of the Misty Mountains, in the area marked on Bilbo’s map by his cross. 

It was a bitter bleak break of day.  The thick tree cover where they stood shaded the ground from the grey sad sun that had just arisen.  It was not raining but the cover of mist was so heavy that droplets pooled on their elven coats.  The earth was sodden, the air dank and sullen.  The smells of a forest in decay drifted direly and sat grimly on body and spirit. The hobbits sensed this baneful gloom, they wanted to accomplish their mission swiftly and then leave this dismal and depressing place.


Frodo looked around for the signs that Bilbo had recounted to them.  The large tree that had bent over with age, the broken path, the high boulders and the mountain overhang. 


They searched for the hour of sunrise without success, looking for those signs of Bilbo’s flee from Gollum.  They thrashed through scrubland and forest – along paths and broken trails – to no avail.  There was not one sign of Bilbo’s recollections.  They sat down, puffed and frustrated.  They knew it would not be easy, but thought at least something familiar of Bilbo’s images would have come in view.  If they were off the mark, then in this rugged terrain it could take days to search the area thoroughly.   They decided they needed to tackle this methodically.  They we sure the entrance must be on the lower reaches of slopes.  So they took out Bilbo’s map and divided it into segments.  There were six such areas to cover, in addition to the area they had just searched.  They set out to area 1.



Of those of The Dark

A shivery sun arose in the alien world of darkness, it came as no joy for those resident here; its glimmering golden rays consumed by the grim growling  grey of a Mordor morn.


The physician and Lieutenant had stayed at the Wizard’s side during the night.  Now the Lieutenant had to leave, for at the dawn the members of the Quest would journey to other places, and these courses would need to be marked for the Dark Lord.


 Saruman remained in a coma, and at the break of day, with merely the physician to attend to the Wizard, the signs continued to worsen.  A message was sent to the Dark Lord and his Lieutenant.


The physician waited nervously for instructions, the fear of retribution if the Wizard died, welling up uncontrollably.



The second hour


Of those in Fangorn

When their Fangorn experiences had been fully recounted to Gandalf, Merry and Pippin spoke of what they had experienced at the end of the witching hour, and then reluctantly, they hesitated, stuck for words to explain.

Gandalf looked at his two Shirefolk-charges, and realised what they were experiencing…

‘Ah Meriadoc and Peregrin, I sense you struggle with it all.  A power has been granted to you two, which is normally of the Maiar, but do not fear, but embrace it, for its meaning will be revealed in its good time.’

To which Merry answered solemnly:

‘We do not fear it Gandalf, we merely seek to use it wisely…’

and Pippin finished his thought:

‘for it comes with immense responsibility, Gandalf, which we cannot and do not wish to deny…’

Gandalf nodded in agreement, then spoke:

‘Then my friends, we shall work in partnership.  Let us examine what revelations Treebeard has provided the Quest.


Merry took out the scroll, and unrolled its full length.   Pippin glanced at the list and then announced:

‘There are 435 entries Gandalf.’

‘Did you count them Pippin as they were written down?’

‘No Gandalf, the number just came to my mind as I scanned the list,’ Pippin replied, astounding himself even with this prowess.

‘That is remarkable Pippin, for one who recently claimed that he could not keep count of whose turn it was for the next round of drinks…’ and Gandalf laughed, but he saw Pippin was not smiling.

Pippin nodded embarrassedly, realising that these powers had numerous facets.

Gandalf did not want to make an issue of it, so he simply remarked:

‘Well, if there are 435 of them then we should start,’ and he took the scroll from Merry. 

‘Treebeard, there are words for which I have no meaning, can you provide a simple explanation?’

‘Ah, hm, hm, a description, but probably not an explanation, Gandalf.  For numerous listings are beyond my comprehension,’ Treebeard responded self-effacingly.

 ‘As they will be for me, but a basic account is all I, we, need for now.  Let me start at the beginning of this Age,’ Gandalf replied.


Gandalf and the hobbits made themselves comfortable under a voluptuous weeping willow, from which, over them fell, a luminous emerald feathered shawl.  The waters of the Entwash rippled gently by, reflecting the image of the glorious graceful drapery of its companion.   And wafting from the earth, came the aroma of the woodland, of the florid fragrance of forest flower and folk. 

Treebeard stood ready to direct their journey.


So it was, under a sparkling Seventh Age sky with a shimmering scarlet sun in its first flush, The Light had connected on this special anniversary date, those in Fangorn on QD6, to the visions of those in the Old Forest on QD8, and to the happenings across millenniums and worlds. 


Of Baggins and Gamgee

The pale sun could barely raise it head above a frosty mist and cloud.  The sky threatened rain and hung in a gloomy haze.

They walked through knee-high bracken that tore at their cloaks and left jagged burs in fabric and skin.  On a number of occasions, excited by the potential, they ran to a hoary bent-over tree as Bilbo described, only to find that it was just not right…

Sam had found a shattered branch which he used to thrash the thicket trying to find the beaten track…


Of those of The Dark

Frantic to try anything, the physician summoned the Nazgûl shaman.  Next to the Lieutenant this Nazgûl was the most revered sorcerer and healer in Mordorian lands, and the Lieutenant could not now be disturbed.


The Nazgûl came to inspect the Wizard.  A huge form completely cloaked in rough jet twill, whose appearance and demeanor sent a chill of terror in any mortal,  yet the physician was despairing for an ally to share the responsibility – and blame.


The shaman had no respect for the other’s abilities, and arrogantly tried to dismiss the physician from the room, but the physician standing-ground, evoking the Dark Lord’s specific orders.


Reluctantly, with the physician looking-on, the shaman proceeded with rallying the Nazgûlian spirits to heal, save the Wizard



The third hour


Of the King

Aragon came to Lothlórien as he had once in a previous lifetime.  It was early-morn and the magnificence of the golden Mallorn trees reflected the intensity of the feeling he had once felt when he again came upon the beauty of her vision. 

All would need to be different. 

For this he felt a blackness come to his heart, like a void had opened up within him and a feeling of emptiness overwhelmed him.  He doubted that he had the strength to undo what he at one time lived for. 


The sun shone soothingly from above.  He looked up, as if from its splendor a sign would be given; but instead it just shone on his sorrow.  There was no solace to be found in this place. 

He walked towards the royal house, knowing that they would be waiting for him.  As he passed those whom he had called kin, they welcomed him warmly, and assured him that their Lords and Lady were waiting for him.  Each step he made begrudgingly; for he knew these took him inevitably to the decision he feared.


Inside he could hear their voices; sounds of wisdom marked with distress.  As he appeared, Lord Elrond came forward to welcome him, embracing him as a son.  Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn waited to greet him when he approached them.  The gravity of the purpose of their meeting pervaded the majesty of the room, and the gloom of lament veiled everything within.


Aragorn sat down with them, but they did not speak straightaway of the matter to be decided.   They were waiting for another to arrive.  So they spoke of the world as it was, the three knowing that Aragorn came from yonder of this. 


Of those in Fangorn

Their journey, transversing man’s ingenuity, had commenced.  Treebeard responded to Gandalf’s enquiries, as they probed the titles of discovery and invention. 


By reasoning and feeling, Gandalf set off, and refining his search.  To this end he had the visions of others of the Quest, and with him, journeyed Merry and Pippin.  A kaleidoscope of images and meaning directed his course, but he had to maintain an equilibrium of these to shore off being overwhelmed by their deluge.


Sun and sky ablaze, Gandalf made his way; the hobbits listening intently, absorbing each morsel of lore  Ù8.1


Gandalf asked and was told by Treebeard, of:  

  • conservation of momentum - the total momentum of any group of objects remains the same unless outside forces act on the objects
  • the calculating machine and the story of Charles Babbage Difference Engine (No. 2)
  • the wave-theory of light advanced by Huygens but soon overshadowed by Newton's corpuscular theory of light
  • the black hole - a region of space in which the gravitational field is so powerful that nothing, not even light, can escape its pull.


At which point Gandalf asked for more:

‘If no light can escape, then how can these be discovered?’

Treebeard paused, collating information since the date of discovery, and then projecting an image of a concept created by a company called NASA:



Gandalf and the hobbits were astonished.


Of Baggins and Gamgee

Their search was more laborious than they imagined…and as the sun took breath in a sultry sky, they had just moved to area 2. 


Their way was hampered by a stream which had overflown its banks, and the ground had become a quagmire.  Their feet sank into a slimy ooze of river silt and shrub debris; it spewed and stunk and made their trekking an odious ordeal; yet they continued without complaint. 

Now and again – a sign seemed promising… only to be a false turn.  The trees were sparser, but there were wildwood folk of all sorts, red foxes and tiny woodland mice, who came to see the trekkers…those who dared disturb their peace.  Sam was thankful these were all they had disturbed, he had been worried about the snakes and rats, those he had heard which were as large as rabbits, and then there were the orcs…


Of those of The Dark

It was an hour since the shaman had called forth the guides, but there was no sign of improvement in the Wizard.  


The physician hovered restlessly nearby.




The fourth hour


Of the King

An invigorating breeze flooded the room with the enchanting perfume of Mallorn blooms and grasses of the glades, and with it, their spirits were infused.  They were speaking of polite things, when Iarwain Ben-adar, not as Tom, but as a majestic sage in a white flowing robe, edged in azure, crimson and gold, appeared.  As he entered the room, a lucent mist, flowed into and covered those within.


Aragorn did not recognise him in this form, but the others did and with esteemed reverence they greeted him.


.Following these greetings, Ben-adar approached Aragorn, and in a softly spoken voice, made himself known to him. 

Aragorn was shocked for although he knew of Tom’s powers, he had not seen him as he now stood.  Ben-adar assured Aragorn that he was just Tom,but that the occasion demanded the truth on all planes to be brought forth, and this figure was his true form.   They sat down again, Ben-adar at the head of the table, Aragorn beside him. 



Fruits of the forest, with steaming honeyed-tea, were brought to the table, to refresh and ease their minds.  Aragorn was reluctant to partake, caught in a dilemma of thought, anxious to move to what consumed his mind, but hoping never to have to discuss it, however the others pressed him to take nourishment.   


As they ate and spoke of things of Middle-earth, the soulful sound of harp and flute was heard, a plaintive melody – for Aragorn, it too painfully reflected his mood, his plea that things could be otherwise…


Of elf and dwarf

Gimli appeared in the bowels of darkness, in one of the colossal columned passageways of the mines of the Lune, the realm of Thráin II.  He felt a nostalgic familiarity with his surroundings; the fragrant aroma of the earth, musty and moist; the hollow silence of the sub-terrain, a whispery whirling chill of sorts that excited the senses; Gimli breathed deeply; he felt at home.   He looked about, his eyes rapidly accustoming themselves to the depths of the dark. 

Yes, this was his world, the world of his ancestors; here the dwarves were the masters.


Legolas and he had calculated they would not arrive at the exact location even though they had left on the dawn.  Vagaries of time and position would have made this nigh impossible; however he was confident that they would be in the locale. They had made up that they would find their way to Thráin’s meeting hall, which they had seen depicted on the chronomap as being in the lowest sections of the mine.  They had arranged to arrive in the mid-morn, when there would be fewer dwarves around, dwarves being notoriously delayed risers; so they only had to contend with those guards on duty.


So keeping in the shadows of the columns, Gimli edged his way down into the mine.   On several occasions, his kin passed him in their reconnoiter of the passageways.  Gimli soon realised that he had arrived in the topmost reaches of the mine, that it would take him some time at this rate to reach the hall.  He wondered how Legolas had fared.



Legolas was overcome by the gloom of his position.  He had no idea where he was, this space was so alien to him.  He had an elven aversion to caverns, and only his commitment to the Fellowship had seen him venture into the mines of Moria in the Third Age, and here Gandalf had used the light of his staff.  There was no such light were he appeared.


He stood still, unable to orient himself.  He closed his eyes in the hope that the darkness of his lids, would accustoms them to the murkiness of the mine.  He was known for the sharpness of his eyes, but in this space they seemed blinded by the dark.  He choked on the pungent odour of the earth, sour and moldy; the doleful silence of the sub-terrain, and the cutting chill that pierced him to the bone. 

Some minutes passed, and slowly, he found he could see forms.  He was in a cavernous room, and out of the shadows he could make out a door under which a dim light crawled into the room in which he stood.   He inched his way to the door, and opened it cautiously.  He peered out and could see a narrow passageway extended to the right and left of him.  On the walls at the far end, there was a sole lantern, radiating shadowy rays which rippled along the walls.  He knew that the hall was on the lowest level of the mine, so he took the direction leading down.   This was so narrow; there was no place for him to hide.  He was sure that Gimli would have been faring better than him.


Of those in Fangorn

They had progressed to the fiftieth entry, and Gandalf turned to the hobbits:

‘I sense the conjunction of visions, and that I am not alone in this foresight.’


Merry looked at Pippin, for they had anxiously discussed what they had been experiencing, but had no idea if this was an aberration of theirs; so they felt relieved that Gandalf had been having comparable experiences.


‘Gandalf,’ Merry replied, ‘Pip and I,  we know not from where, have been seeing flashes of light, but not those of the firefly or lightning from the heavens, but images of people and places, but with no structure or apparent purpose, as if…as if…’ Merry baulked, but Pippin completed his thought:

‘as if, they were snippets from a painting, telling the tale of a life or lives...’

And Merry added:

‘Yet while these individual pieces are heartfelt, of tragedy and triumph played out in the course of the past or future; we cannot find the thread that unites them,’ he said no more for he could not, but he was sure that there were images of those known to him, of Bilbo, Frodo and Sam, and even of Pippin and himself.


Gandalf said nothing at first, caught in a quandary within himself. 

A silence hung heavily, one that the hobbits in prior times would not have been able to let flow without interruption, but now they waited perceptively for Gandalf’s insight.


Gandalf was overwhelmed by the poignancy of what had appeared: fragmented histories and shattered lives, anguish and anger; dances of death, rides of dark night; the sounds of viola and cello, and then the variations of an enigma; constantly changing emotions of an inmost self, of chivalry, sacrifice and loyalty expressed in strange harmonic twists, where fate plucks the strings…


Gandalf felt humbled by these visions, and could not provide the answer the hobbits sought, so rising from the ground, he motioned they stay, and he walked into the forest.


The hobbits watched Gandalf leave, and in their hearts they searched for something beyond the sense of the momentous, what was the meaning of what they were feeling; what was this concerto of images meant to be; how were these to meld with the list of 435 discoveries of man; how could they find this meaning if even Gandalf could not?


So they spoke with Treebeard, despairingly waiting for Gandalf to reappear, for their visions had brought more images of despair and marvel in old lore and new.


Of Baggins and Gamgee

They were searching area 2, when they heard the shrill call of a bird of prey, and looked up and saw a huge black hawk attack a flock of thrushes.  The thrushes scattered and screamed, but the hawk dived into their midst, lunging at and spearing one with its deadly talons, then screeching in triumph, it banked high and was out of sight in seconds with its prize.  The thrushes regrouped and flew on.

Although the way of nature, the hobbits were unnerved by the sight, the chance and callousness of it all.

‘Let us get out of this swamp, Sam, we will not find Bilbo’s path here.’


So area 2 was abandoned, and they moved to area 3.  


This was a dense woodland of contorted greyed oaks, with massive trunks and tortuous, twisting branches adorned by bronze-tinted leafage, they formed a near impenetrable barrier against intruders.  Frodo and Sam skirted its outer perimeter, looking for the signs.


Of those of The Dark

Two hours had passed; both the shaman and physician grew in nervousness.   They knew the order had been given to save the Wizard, and before long an account of progress would be demanded.


Although foreseen, they winced when the knock on the door came.  It was the aide of the WitchKing, seeking news.  They could at best report no change.


Realising that this would not be well received, and slamming the door on leaving, the aide scurried back to the WitchKing.



The fifth hour



Of the King

Ben-adar spoke:

Ya hexa bila dqil ebqitt sha neqqemmamt id sola

Emm si sgot sola

Ya lexa bila si nus sgopt qohgs

Emm sges bep ca, luts ca

Cus op sgot bipjupbsoip id sola

Emm ot foqqaqaps

Epf pisgoph id yges ya fi piy

Emm ygw epf giy

Uomm ca jpiyp si sga sola id imf mipa

Cus yomm opgaqa op sga pay.     

We have come from across the parallels of time,
All to this time.
We have come to put things right
All that can be, must be
But in this conjunction of time,
All is different
And nothing of what we do no
All the why and how
Will be known to the time of old lore
But will inhere in the new.

All listened, hanging on his words, knowing that their deliberations within this mist would frame how the old lore sat in the new.


Ben-adar leaned across to Aragorn, and took his hands compassionately within his, and spoke of the task that had befallen them now. 

All knew of the prophecy that Aragorn had found.  All had hoped, it would never be tested. 


Ben-adar told of what the Quest had uncovered so far, and how the world beyond had changed.  He spoke of this world and how despite their attempts to control evil, the destruction of Sauron had proven only to be transitory.  With the destruction of The One, the Elven Rings, had provided some power to forestall evil’s pervasion, but now, Sauron in his ensuing incarnation, loomed more ominous.  The means to forever destroy him was not in their hands.  The Quest would need to find it, and in the end, Sauron’s eternal obliteration would be achieved. 


He hesitated, drew breath, and continued:

‘However one thing, the love and union of an elf and man, at the cost of the elf’s mortality, has cast the doom of death on all elves.  For the prophecy had so foresaw, that in the third rising of Sauron’s evil, when the Rings of the elves it would control, this renunciation would fall on all those who then existed and followed. 


Aragorn looked at Ben-adar, and spoke that he knew that as it was written, so Gandalf has seen; yet he grieved of what he saw had to be done. 

But he could not say it; he did not know that he could do it; he said this to himself, and not to the others. 


Of elf and dwarf

Gimli made slow progress along the colonnade.  There were more dwarves about than he had reckoned on, and as his priority was to reach the hall undetected, he took all precaution whenever he heard anyone coming either way.   So for a small advance, he was hiding in the shadows much of the time.


Legolas could not believe his bad luck.  Able to see enough to make his painstaking way, he had walked only a few feet, when he heard the sound of footsteps coming towards him.  He rushed back to the room he had come out of, and hid there, the door just ajar, observing the passing of a troop of armed dwarves; and as they passed, a dwarf stopped at the opened door, yelled something out, came into the room, looked around at the space (Legolas hiding in the caliginous shadows), left, pulling the door to and with a clang that sent shivers through Legolas, bolted it from the outside.


Legolas waited for a minute, then tried the door, it could not be opened.  He was trapped.


Of those in Fangorn

The morning was journeying to its end, and Pippin sprung from the ground, announcing:

‘I will go and seek Gandalf out.  For I sense that with the fragments we have there is no rhyme or reason for we cannot see the whole, and without this everything seems random and chaos… for that is what it is, mere pieces…’

and before he could finish his sentence, he heard Gandalf, who had just emerged from the forest,  complete his thoughts:

‘In a grand design, which will only from bud to flower come, when we have experienced the all…’

 ‘Yes, Gandalf, yes,’ and Pippin ran to Gandalf and exuberantly embraced him;

for which Gandalf sighed with relief, ‘hobbits still’,  he said to himself,

and Pippin exclaimed

‘Gandalf, we are so glad of your return, for these visions have drained us sorely…and we do not understand’...’

To which Gandalf replied:

‘We must wait patiently for the whole, we will understand then.  Come we will use what signs we have to feel what from future will bring the images to fruition.’


And so, Wizard, Ent and Hobbits, recommenced their journey through the achievements and horrors of man.


Of Baggins and Gamgee

At mid-morn Frodo and Sam were drained and dispirited.  They sat down at the edge of the wood.  Their searching seemed to be getting them nowhere, and at this pace, taking too much time.  Frodo felt there was nothing for it – they had to separate to search areas 4 and 5. 

This was not without danger, as they were aware that orcs roomed these foothills, and a feeling of safety came from them staying together.  So it was with mounting trepidation they parted. 


Frodo searched the upper reach, covered in boulders and sparse vegetation with scattered trees.  Sam scoured a ridge of scrubland, which skirted the wood then ran up the mountain’s escarpment.


The sun lingered in a skirmish with billowing clouds that persistently attempted to cloak her rays.  As the hobbits ventured along parallel paths, a brisk easterly wind blew across the plains, rising steeply in an updraft at the face of the mountain, and tussling with vapory mountain mists, blustering and forcing them west.


Sam felt the change in temperature as the wind gained momentum; he drew his cloak closely around him, and pulled his hood over his head.  There was a smattering of trees, and was working his way towards them when he suddenly slipped on leaves which had fallen forming a mushy mound, and the drenched earth gave way beneath him, and feet-first, he careered down a slippery slope, ricocheting  off tree roots and boulders as he descended in a sluice of rubble. 


He came to rest some twenty feet below.  Battered and bruised, and disoriented, he took minutes to catch his breath and check that he had not broken an arm or leg.  His backpack and debris from the undergrowth, upon which he slid, had cushioned him somewhat.    He stood up, shook off the crud that had clung to his cloak, and took a shaky step.  He felt his legs crumble under him, so he fell into a heap and decided to wait before trying to stand. 

He undid his pack and looked inside, most things like the oat biscuits and bread had been squashed, but they would still be edible…but he reached for the ampoule of Athelas, which had stayed intact.  He swallowed a few drops and felt revitalised.  He pushed himself forward, grasped a sturdy piece of branch that had made the journey with him, and using it as a crutch stood up… this time he staggered but his legs did not buckle beneath him.  He hobbled onward and as he did, his makeshift crutch hit under the undergrowth a rocky path, he followed it and it led toward the mountain side.  He then noticed boulders on his left… boulders that were not a natural formation; they were positioned there purposely…

‘Could these be Bilbo’s boulders?’  Sam thought excitedly.

and limped hurriedly to them,

‘Yes there was writing, in elvish he was sure, as if a signpost, just as Bilbo had described.’

 With his excitement swelling he hobbled hastily up the path, and there he saw it… the hoary tree bent over with age, with branches extending low, ready to entangle a fleeing hobbit.

Sam felt chuffed and relieved, he was sure he had uncovered Bilbo’s escape route.  He signaled his find with a whistle, as arranged with Frodo, and Frodo returned his call. Sam crashed-down again, waiting for Frodo; he was now aching all over.  He may not have broken anything, but muscles had been wrenched and strained, he felt a pounding pain throbbing from his ankles to his head, he leaned over…


Of those of The Dark

The physician became impatient with the shaman’s incense and chanting.  The Nazgûl’s devices seemed bizarre and futile, so the physician commanded to take over the care of the Wizard and administer a medicinal draft. 

A heated argument developed, which was silenced when they heard the ominous footsteps of the WitchKing.


The door flew open, and the Lord of the Nazgûl entered in a furor.



The sixth hour


Of the King

Ben-adar felt Aragorn’s pain and the mediations of his heart.  And with a compassion that touched all there in this room, he spoke of the options before them.  He asked Aragorn if he wished to be part of what needed to be discussed.  Aragorn replied that his wish would be so, if it did not stop all speaking as they saw fit.  Ben-adar looked at the others and announced that only in truth could a solution to this heartbreak be found, and they all agreed.  With a calmness of purpose, Ben-adar knew that Elrond wished to lead the discussion.


With a breath of sadness Elrond spoke of his turmoil in agreeing to the betrothal, for his heart did grieve of the doom he had long feared, having been told of the prophecy.  For this had spoken of a third coming of Sauron’s evil, and yet he had hoped that this would not eventuate.  For this reason he saw the shadow that lay between them, but he could not speak of the prophecy then to Aragorn or his daughter. He solely spoke of her pain in accepting the doom of men.   For he saw in their bond and his loss, the good of the restoration of the kingship of men.  He fought against his visions of doom, trusting in the circumstances of the prophecy never being achieved.  Elrond stopped, and looked at Aragorn and then the others. 

But Ben-adar sat in silence, for he knew there was more. 

Elrond sighed, knowing that he had not told all, and that Ben-adar waited for this to be said. 


Of elf and dwarf

Gimli felt sure that he was close to the hall, and then as he rounded a bend, he well-nigh ran into a guard standing in front of gigantic oak and iron doors.   Gimli jumped back into the shadows before the guard, distracted by someone who had from inside opened the door, noticed him.


Gimli watched as a frantic message was relayed to the guard, he could not make out the precise words but from all directions, dwarven soldiers rushed by.  He stepped back to the wall; he sensed something was amiss with Legolas.   

Then he overheard a shouted instruction, an alien intruder had been spotted but then disappeared. 

The dwarves divided into groups, one went farther down into the mine, the rest on the alternative path.  Gimli decided to follow the ones going up; he knew that Legolas was in trouble. 


He stalked the party in the shadows, then it came to a fork in the passageway, the band of dwarves split, some followed the colonnade, the others went along a subsidiary path.  Gimli faltered, then chose to follow the latter group.


He saw the posse systematically open doors, enter chambers then withdraw.  The mood of the group was getting frenzied as they searched, swinging axes and spears, and yelling in shrill voices as a way to frighten the foe they were seeking.



Legolas could hear the yelling coming closer, doors being opened then shut; they were searching for him.  In the dimness he scanned the room to see if there was a place to hide. 


Of those in Fangorn

The worlds of the hobbits were conjoined by their kinship and by magnetism of their day’s star, and unseen to these beings, solar flares had fused, and this illuminated their skies with a vermillion glow.

They did not know how it occurred, but Brandybuck and Took felt what they felt.


Gandalf looked up at the amber orb as it reached its zenith, and from his Maia dominion, images flowed… and from the Ent’s list, he felt…


So Maia and hobbit linked in Quest’s realms, saw and felt what the past and future brought.  They knew that only by their union could an answer come to the fore, but it would be forced, for as faith comes into being, so the meaning of their visions would by revelation arise.


There was an intense stillness in the air as the cosmic conjunction took place in a cloudless cobalt sky; not a solitary bird took to the wing or sung, nor did any forest folk stir from burrow or lair.


So through instruments of agriculture, transport and the horrors of execution,  and considering those of building, food, health and conception, they, Maia and hobbits in unison,  guided by their Shepherd of the Trees, travelled in search of the one  Ù8.2


And as the day was reaching its end, they had explored and delved, stripped bare and divulged, the essence of the initial hundred.


Of Baggins and Gamgee

Sam awoke to a distraught whistle, he did not know how long he had been unconscious; he tried to whistle back, but he had no breath to signal, his lips were cracked and his mouth parched… and he could only make a feeble hiss.  And as he tried, his head spun and pounded and felt as if he was about to swoon.


Frodo had rushed from his search area, and was heading in the direction of Sam’s whistle, but now, despite his repeated whistles, Sam was no longer signaling back.  

He then heard the hoots of orcs in the bushes, and smelled their rancid odour on the breeze, they were close; he was afraid that they had found Sam, but took heart that he had not heard the commotion of a struggle, which he would have expected if Sam had been captured.  So Frodo laid low until he heard the orcs pass by. 


Of those of The Dark

 ‘The morn-tide is drawing to its close, and yet the Wizard is not revived; what is the delay?  Such dereliction will not be tolerated! ’


At first the physician and shaman were terrified to admit to failure, but the shaman, quick wittedly knew survival stood on a knife’s edge, exclaimed, glaring at the physician:

‘The guide will not function in the presence of a non-believer.’


Before the physician could utter a word in defence, the WitchKing, who was aligned to the Nazgûl, ordered:

‘Physician go to the Lieutenant and stay there until called for,’ then addressing the Nazgûl in a threatening tone devoid of camaraderie:

‘Very well, Shaman, the guide may operate unfettered.  The Dark Lord expects the Wizard’s recovery by mid-afternoon.’


The physician scuttled off to the Lieutenant, thankful for being discharged from the precarious duty.



The seventh hour:  the zenith of the day


“Morning passed, afternoon came…” (Tolkien, FOTR, ‘A Short Rest’)



Of the King

After a steely silence, Elrond continued and spoke of the children, especially of the son.  For Arwen had accused him that he had not been true to her, by not telling her of this revelation.  He had not lightly denied her the substance of this vision, for what he saw was covered in greyness and doubt.  For the vision of the son, in those that reoccurred to him in day and night, was of a son born, but then vanishing into a void.

He stopped and looked at Ben-adar,asking, pleading if this was the only answer. 


Aragorn devastated, at once declared poignantly that while he could relinquish his love and union with Arwen, as a way to save the immortality of all elves, he could not abide the thought that Eldarion, his son and heir, would by this action, also go to nothingness. 


They all sat in despair of the thought, the grief filled the air.  


However, Ben-adar would not have this sorrow linger, for within them there was wisdom and powers to find the path which could lead away from this end.


So as the morning passed its summit, Ben-adar sought from each of them their feelings – their hopes and fears for the present and this future. 


Of elf and dwarf

Gimli was guardedly following the band through the twists of the winding passageway, when without warning a dwarf left the group and rushed back up the path.  Gimli had no time to hide, so with a bravado that was his character, he called at the dwarf as he approached, asking for a report on what was happening.  The dwarf stopped, then respecting Gimli’s seniority, blurted out that they were signs that the intruder was in the adjoining room; he was on his way to alerting the main troop to this tiding.  However, as the alien was said to be extremely dangerous, they had been  directed not to risk capture but to execute him on sight.


Gimli gave him a hurried leave to depart, then rushed up the pathway.


Of those in Fangorn

So the day had reached its zenith, and a yawning orb, wearied and mellow, warily started its lengthy journey to rest in a lavender sky.  However, Gandalf, Merry and Pippin were oblivious to wanderings of this star.


They were immersed in the awe of what man had accomplished  Ù8.3 in science, agriculture, communication, medicine and the study of his beginnings. 


They heard from Treebeard of the discoveries and the discoverers, of man’s fight to find his place in nature and his wish to conquer it; of pivotal advances and that of the everyday; that of the heavens and that of the earth; of those that saved life and that which destroyed it.  

As each was laid before them they were astounded by man’s creativity and his destructiveness.


As the afternoon drew to the end of this hour, Gandalf suggested stopping for a repast.  The hobbits were reluctant to be distracted from the visions from here and beyond, however, Gandalf was insistent. 


Of Baggins and Gamgee

Frodo looked up from the thicket in which he had taken refuge. 


A determined tangerine sun had fought its way in front of surging clouds, reaching its zenith and control of a slate-coloured sky.  Its rays of warmth comforted Frodo, and as he lay, he wished that he could just rest here in peace, that all the turmoil and struggle would be blown aside just like the clouds; he remembered how in the innocent days of the Shire before the Ring, he would lie in the meadows with the sun beaming down on him just as now with not a worry in the world; oh how he wished it could be like that again. If only…



Sam had fought himself out of the swoon and found the flask alongside him, he took a gulp, and then frantically puckered his lips and blew with all his breath, and a whistle sounded. 



Sam’s whistle brought Frodo back to the now; he jumped up and started to run to the sound, whistling back. 

Within minutes, Frodo burst from the forest…with glee he spotted Sam, and he rushed to his side, but his elation turned to dismay  when he saw the sorry state that he dear friend was in, for he was sitting in a pool of blood. 

Sam had not realised that a branch spike had pierced through his cloak and into his back.  Frodo removed the spike, and poured the Athelas over the wound and bandaged it. 

It was then he heard leaden footsteps crashing through the forest.  It was as Frodo feared; the orcs had heard the whistles as well.


Of those of The Dark

The day had grown grimmer, the orb at its zenith scarcely detectable in a gloom of perilous pall; the world as the Dark Lord wished it.


The Lieutenant was surprised to see the physician, and to hear the events that had transpired. 

There was no love lost between the Lieutenant and the Nazgûl, for these two had constantly vied for Sauron’s patronage and the status of The Dark’s master shaman. The Lieutenant gloated at the thought of the trap the Nazgûl had fallen into if Saruman could not be resuscitated.  On the other hand, the Lieutenant feared, if the Wizard was healed, the Nazgûl would gain favour… However, not lingering on these thoughts, the Lieutenant re-focused on the palantir and pursuing the movements of the Quest. 

The physician started to pace the chamber in anxious anticipation. 


There was no news about the Wizard. 

The corridors of the Tower buzzed with dread should the Nazgûl fail.



The eight hour


Of the King

As the day made its waning way, Ben-adar heard in turn the thoughts and feelings of Celeborn, Galadriel, Elrond, and then Aragorn.


Of elf and dwarf

Gimli arrived as the troop charged into the room.  There were screams and rants. Gimli, throwing caution to the wind, dashed in to come to the aid of his friend.


There he found a dwarf holding a lantern, five others scouring all parts of the room, including the imposing cupboard which covered the north wall of the room, however, the interloper was not found. 


Angry and exasperated the search party left, acknowledging Gimli with respect, assuming him a visiting dignitary.    Gimli left with them, though he had noticed…

The door was bolted behind them. 

The soldiers regrouped, and Gimli courteously took his leave to return to the hall.  They raced off, and he walked off in the opposite direction.  

When they had turned the corner, Gimli retraced his steps, unbolted the door and snuck in.  There he came across Legolas.  The friends embraced in thankful relief. 


Realising their situation was perilous, the friends left speedily, re-bolting the room and hastening down the pathway, making the safety of the colonnade without being discovered.  There, hidden in the shadows, they whispered of their experience; Legolas explaining his arrival in the room, his attempt at escape and his refuge in the cupboard where his elven cloak camouflaged him from detection by dwarves, though fortunately, not from Gimli.


Now reunited they turned their attention to implementing their plan, made more difficult by the frenzy of the search for the intruder.  It was crucial to get Gandalf’s letter to Thráin’s counsel, Dwalin, a long-time friend of Tharkûn (the name given to Gandalf the Grey by the dwarves).  Dwalin was one of the dwarves who had gone with Gandalf and Bilbo on the mission to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from Smaug.  By Gandalf’s description,  Dwalin was very distinctive looking, having a blue braided beard; it was their task to find him, give him Gandalf’s letter and token, and ask him for an introduction to Thráin himself. 


Thorin, Thrain’s son, had recounted to Gandalf, that on this day, Thráin had brought delegations from all the dwarven lines to Ered Luin.  Though at the time, Thorin was unaware of Thráin’s plan to leave for Erebor, later he realised this must have been Thráin’s way of shoring up the alliances should he not return.  Dwalin was the major convener of this meeting, which was held all day in the hall.


So the friends, hidden in the shadows, contemplated how they could get access to Dwalin in the hall.


Of those in Fangorn

Although initially reluctant to divert from the intrigues of their visions, as Gandalf set out the spread of food in front of them: chunks of smoked beef and oatmeal biscuits, piquant lime chutney and seeded mustard, fig scones and chocolate-chip brownies, plump purple grapes and crunchy pink-kissed apples, and poured out mugs of copper-coloured ale, which, with exuberance, frothed and flowed over the brims, the hobbits realised how ravenous they were, for they had not eaten or drunk anything all day.


Treebeard strode off into the forest to check on a remote rumbling in the forest to the south.


Gandalf sat with the hobbits in the midst of the clearing, the soft warm rays of the post-noon sun embracing the huddled group; they felt comforted and safe in its golden-poppy glow.  And as they ate and drank with gusto, they relaxed and shared the visions that had come upon them.  As they spoke, they realised that they had all seen a part of a whole; a snippet of the same scene, but different; as if they were looking upon the same happening from divergent vantage points.  As they spoke, the hobbits becoming increasingly animated in their recounting, of sights of kings and queens in glory or dishonour, they noticed how the parts melded into one-another to give a panorama of a fateful event.  It was Pippin who spoke of this:

‘I see how our visions come from our inner slants, and it is when these are, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle slotted into place, that you see the image for what it is… Gandalf, how is this so?’


Gandalf hesitated in his response, trying to decipher the meaning, then replied perplexedly:

‘A higher power has construed this to be Pippin, far beyond my sight or reasoning; however the intent is clear, from wherever or whomever these sights have been relayed to us, unified they will form a whole that will direct our course.’

‘If it is so, and known, why are we not told, why must this come this way?’ Pippin queried.

Gandalf smiled at the innocence and practicalness of the comment:

‘Ah Pippin, if only we could know the reasons behind all things, but my reckoning is that we must find our own reasons, our own paths, when they are myriad laid out in front of us, we must seek…’

And as Gandalf was reflecting on choices, they heard a commotion from the forest, and from Wellinghall’s sentinels Treebeard appeared, walking uncharacteristically briskly, Quickbeam following him.


‘Come, we must pack up and leave this place… Hm, hoom, we will be discovered…’

‘Discovered, Treebeard, who would seek us in Wellinghall?’

‘Those of the troops who pursued Quickbeam and Merry, they are combing the forest, intent on capture…’

Quickbeam interjected:

‘They have brought reinforcements, canine-trackers and gyros in the sky...’

And all then heard the distant baying of hounds.


Of Baggins and Gamgee

Frodo pulled Sam into the brush and then covered the blood with twigs.  He had just sprung into the shrub himself when a group of orcs hurtled along the path.  As they passed they ran yelling and lashing out at the undergrowth with their spears.  They did not notice the hasty camouflage of the blood, until the final orc landed right in the covered puddle, and the blood spurted up at him and over his boots… He stopped and bent over to examine the splash… the rest running on without him.

Frodo realised at once, he would recognise it as blood – as the orc did, and he then started to search the ground, and uncovered the droplets of blood trailing into the wood.  He sniffed the air, and was about to signal his troop, when Frodo took his sling shot, stood up, the orc turned to face him, and Frodo let fly a stone which hit him directly between the eyes.  He fell without uttering a sound. 


Frodo could see that Sam was spent and could not help him, yet he had to hide the orc’s body.  So he dashed from the cover and pulling him by the leg, his boot caked with blood and mud, and smelling overpoweringly foul, he heaved him into the underwood, and over to where there was a partially obscured ravine, at the bottom of which was quag.  Pushing his body over the edge it tumbled downhill and was swallowed by the swamp. 


Once done, Frodo collapsed beside Sam, he was shaking uncontrollably; hobbits were not made for such combat, and he did not know how he managed to do it… He was so thankful for the hours of fun he had practicing hitting bottles with a slingshot in the fields of the Shire; never thinking how one day this idle pastime would save his life and that of his friend.


He looked at Sam, and Sam smiled back at him.

‘Mr Frodo, like in the biblical story, you downed the Goliath with a single shot,’ and they laughed and embraced as brothers. 


‘Well Sam you have found Bilbo’s path, I think we should rest for a bit, until we are recovered enough to find the entrance, what do you think?’

‘I think that wise, for we have both been through the wringer...’

‘And your back Sam, how is that?’

‘The Athelas has worked a miracle, I feel no pain…but I am lightheaded and nervous of the swoon…’

‘Then let us eat Sam… that should give us energy…’ and he opened Sam’s pack and saw the squashed bread and biscuits…’  He flattened out the bread and with the cheese and pickles he had in his pack he made a modest ploughman’s spread, which they gobbled up and quaffed peach nectar, the sweetness sending ripples of vigor into their spent bodies.


Of those of The Dark

The Nazgûl was confident of the occult spells at The Dark’s disposal; nevertheless this shaman was aware these would be tested to the limit, for by all measure, the Wizard was dying.


 As the afternoon progressed, the Wizard vacillated dangerously, at times seemingly moving from the depths of unconsciousness, murmuring and twitching, then sinking into a death-like drift.

The Nazgûl had deduced that the time-travel had drained the Wizard’s life-force; Saruman’s organs now closing down at the precipice of expiration.  

This loyal servant of the Dark Lord, once great king of men, considered that Dark’s tampering with tides-of-time and venturing across its parallels a perilously dangerous pursuit, and disapproving and jealous of Saruman’s craft, that Maia sorcery itself had brought this outcome upon the Wizard.  However, being charged with saving this agent of The Dark, the sharman desperately sort a path to reversing the deathly malaise.



The ninth hour


Of the King

Ben-adar waited until all had had their say, then he started the consideration of each position.   And so the discussion continued.


Of elf and dwarf

They watched as dwarves entered and exited from the hall. 

Then as they pondered what to do, they saw him, Dwalin.   A dignified looking dwarf, beard braided with blue as Gandalf had described, he looked self-possessed and tenacious but with an air of concern as he left the hall, and strode by where they were hidden. 


Gimli followed him out of sight of the guard of the hall, then approached him, announcing:

‘Lord Dwalin, I come with an urgent message for you fromTharkûn.’


Dwalin stopped, looked suspiciously at this dwarf he did not know, but quickly in seeing Tharkûn’s seal on the parchment, invited Gimli to his room, which was just off the colonnade.  

Gimli looked back in Legolas’s direction; it was unsafe as yet to introduce him to Dwalin.


Dwalin set to read the note from Gandalf.  He paused at places, looking up, then returned to Gandalf’s request.

When he had finished, he still looked cautiously at Gimli; could he trust this not to be a trick in this time of turmoil. 

Then Gimli handed him Gandalf’s token, a jewel from the Smaug’s den – part of the treasure divided up by the dwarves after the dragon’s slaying, and given all those years ago by Dwalin to Gandalf  in appreciation for saving his life. Dwalin recognised it, nodded genially to Gimli, and spoke in friendship:

 ‘Truly then you come from Tharkûn, it must be of grave import for him to part with this gem.  So you have come with the alien, who has caused such a raucous…’

‘Yes, a trusted friend also of Gandalf…’

‘Where is he?  It would be wise to bring him here until an audience with Thráin can be arranged. It will not be easy to do or soon.  Thráin has convened delegations from the Firebeards and Broadbeams dwarves.  They have been meeting this day, the reason for the heightened security you have seen, and only yestermorn, a group of dwarf guards in the mountain outreach were attacked and killed, so there are extreme measures in place to counter an attack.  And Thráin has…’ Dwalin hesitated, shook his head, then continued:  ‘you could not have come at a more turbulent time.’

Gimli thanked him for his trust and refuge.

‘It is out of respect for Tharkûn, and his tireless efforts for my kin that I offer this, although I do not think that he and Thráin have met…but your friend is in danger out there, you should fetch him now.


Gimli left Dwalin’s room to fetch Legolas. 

Excited commotion continued in the corridor, but Legolas was safe in the shadows, camouflaged within his Elven cloak.  They heedfully made their way to Dwalin’s chamber.


Dwalin bowed deferentially to Legolas and Legolas did likewise to him. 

‘I must return to the meeting or my absence will be of concern.  I do not expect that I can arrange your meeting with Thráin til end of day, if then.  But you will be safe here, I would suggest you do not leave these confines – for the order is to kill the intruder on sight, so anxious are the generals to ensure the safety of the delegations.   Yet your wait will not be wasted, for it is fortunate since I was given the task to trace Durin’s line, I have these ancient records from our library, and Tharkûn mentions you come to talk to Thráin about our traditions, you may find valuable insights within these,’ and Dwalin handed Gimli seven parchment volumes, then left.


Of those in Fangorn

They did not wait for further explanation, but taking Treebeard’s lead, who had scooped up the remnants of their lunch, the hobbits ran and collected their belongings.  Gandalf checked that nothing remained, then they hurriedly followed Treebeard, Quickbeam staying behind.


Treebeard led them to the northernmost reaches of the forest, then instructing them to wait; he plunged into the lake before the Onodló falls.  It was deep and cold, but he carried their provisions to and underneath its cataract, disappearing beneath the spray.  When he reappeared, he was pushing a wooden row boat to the edge where they stood; they clambered aboard and Treebeard guided it back under the waterfall.  They were drenched by its plunge, but beyond this, they came into a gaping limestone cave adorned by breathtaking formations:  giant flowstones, columns and draperies, clustered with gypsum chandeliers, balloons and pearls, like a palace ballroom. Maia and hobbits alighted and alike stood stunned and enthralled by the wondrous sight.   There was an acrid odour of sulphur and sound of a roaring wind; but they smelt and heard nothing, so in awe they were of this display of paraded beauty. 

With a taper alight, Pippin ran across to a crystal alcove, excitedly touching the icy gems and shrieking with delight.  Merry stood with Gandalf watching his antics, despite all that had happened and was happening, he was still Pippin, Pip; and they were glad.


Gandalf turned to Treebeard:

‘What is this place my friend; in all my wandering over Middle-earth, I have not heard speak of this cavern…’

‘And none know of it, for it is protected by the Ents.  But come, I will give you a tour later on, we have so much to discuss, for you should be aware…’

Treebeard led him passed cleaved fissures in rock, formations resembling a whale and a forest of pine trees flanking a glistening inky lake, to a rocky outcrop in the form of a magnificent set of stools. 

Gandalf and Merry sat down; Pippin was scouting out the shapes, yelling out:

‘Come see, these look like donuts…, these like roses….’


But Gandalf knew that Treebeard had serious things to discuss, so he did not answer Pippin’s exuberant calls.


‘What is it friend that we must discuss.’

Treebeard hesitated then answered:

‘You are not safe for long … we must…’


‘We must do what Treebeard, surely no-one will find us in this concealed cavern…’Gandalf replied.

 ‘They have dogs that will track you to the lake edge, and they will locate the cave, unless…’


‘Only fire or flood could mask your scent...’

‘Fire, Treebeard, you would set the forest, your home, on fire; no I cannot sanction such sacrifice…’

‘Hm Hmm, yes a fire would destroy my kin, but a flood, dear friend, would cover the land then recede with scant despoilment of it.  All the Fangorn folk have been warned and taking to the highest slopes. The Ents are already at work to unplug the underground stream feeding the regal river; it will cause a spill sweeping all the northern reaches of the forest…if it can be done in time.  Quickbeam will oversee this and send us a message.  We can only now wait…’


Pippin could hear the somber voices and saw the solemn faces, and came over to join them.  Merry explained their situation.  The four waited. 


As they waited they heard the baying of the hounds, coming continuingly closer.


Of Baggins and Gamgee

They had packed up and started their search yet again.  They knew they were somewhere close, for they were certain the tree was Bilbo’s tree, and the boulders, the boulders he had described. 


A horde of cresting clouds was assaulting a post-noontide saffron sphere, but valiantly it was resisting attempts to diminish its reign of the ever darkening sky. 


They scoured the mountainside near the tree, but they could not find an entrance.

Could Bilbo have been mistaken?  But then everything he had recounted had proven to be accurate.


They scampered in the brush up and down the path, and then they heard the pounding of orcs returning.  They hid in the shadows of the shrub and watched as they drew up to their position.  They were sweeping the underwood in formation, hollering out a name; they were looking for their missing comrade. 


It was mid-afternoon, the struggling sun was still commanding the skies, how could this be, Frodo thought, orcs were supposed to be blinded by sunlight. 


Frodo gasped in horror as a goblin-like creature passed within inches of him.  He was monstrous; a towering burly body, swarthy skinned with a flat fleshy nose, wide vicious mouth, barbed teeth and yellowed eyes, which he squinted in pain from the light, attempting to shade them with massive hairy claws of hands.  He was so close to Frodo, as he coughed; Frodo smelt his putrid breath and was splashed with his spittle.


Frodo dared not breathe, thinking at any moment they would be detected, but this warrior of The Dark, in frustration stabbed the undergrowth with his spear, turned and ran on with the others; up the path from which they had come. 


Of those of the Dark

As the hammers of the tower clock boomed 2pm, the Nazgûl had given up hope of reviving the Wizard and sent an urgent assessment to the WitchKing. 

A missive riposted:

‘Explanations are worthless.  The Lieutenant will take charge.’


The Lieutenant arrived, superior and irked.  Saying nothing, this rival, brushed aside the Nazgûl, but recoiled at the sight of the Wizard; for Saruman was totally encased in a whitish aura, the corona of death.

Appalled, the Lieutenant questioned brusquely:

 ‘When did the aura appear?”

But not waiting for an answer, knowing precious moments were lapsing, dispatched tidings to the WitchKing that the Wizard was expiring and beyond revival.

The Lieutenant and Nazgûl anxiously awaited a response.

A command retorted:

‘The Wizard must be transported to the hall.’

The two looked aghast, simultaneously reasoning that the Wizard would not survive the move, nonetheless they had no choice but to comply.  So arrangements were made for Saruman to be conveyed along the passageways to the hall; Lieutenant and Nazgûl following behind.



The tenth hour


Of the King

They argued back and forth on what was possible… and what was not.  They called for manuscripts to be bought to check on recollections of the words of the prophet Elmowé and others. 


They agonised about what could and should be changed, and what such change could lead to.  For they were conscious that whatever was changed, would flow on to the future.


Of elf and dwarf

What a find, these documents delivered to Gimli and Legolas, they could not have wished for more.   They were nothing like the Great Books of Gondor, they were humble parchment sheets and scrolls, bound with leather ties…One looked like it had been in a fire – scorched on its raw sheepskin cover.  They smelt of years of storage in the earth, of mildew and smoke, but they were treasures nevertheless.


Gimli was no scholar, more interested in his youth in the pursuits of warcraft… but he had been brought up in a household respecting history and tradition, and his uncle had told him a legion of stories of the exploits of their kin, and shown him trophies of dwarven adventures.  In fact Gimli’s father Gloin had been one of Bilbo’s companions on the quest to the Lonely Mountain…so Gimli was fascinated to hold in his hands the original Khuzdul scripts of these heroic tales. 

So Gimli set about, starting at the latest volume, to translate the tales for Legolas; elf and dwarf conjoined by these as the day weaved its way towards the advancing afternoon.


Of those in Fangorn

Tense time passed.

They did not speak, they waited, they listened. 

Nothing stirred in the cave, the stagnant silence broken only by the echoing plunk of drops carving from the rock its shape and form, as had occurred through the millennia.


They heard the sounds of thrashing in the forest, and the bounding of a pack of howling trackers.  They were close, just beyond the lake…


Then the barking turned into a yowling and a wail.


They saw water gushing into the cave, and a falcon of lustrous midnight-blue burst through the waterfall, and alighted on a branch of Treebeard. 


In delicate dulcet tones, she spoke:

 ‘The waters have covered the land, and hidden trace of your whereabouts.  The intruders are in disarray but remain nearby. They will not locate your presence despite their spies in the air, but all is not safe outside, so you are counselled to stay within the cave.’


Treebeard thanked his winged friend, and she nodded graciously in acceptance of his thanks, then turned to Gandalf:

‘Friend of the forest, we meet up once more.’


Gandalf instantly recognised this ally who aided him and Gwaihir in his struggle against Saruman on  Quest Day 4:

‘And I am beholden anew to you, Nessun, for coming to my aid.’

‘We of the air and The Light, must in alliance vigilantly guard against those who would destroy our world.  I wish you well mighty Maia, and will always come at your call,’ then taking to the air, she swooped once around the cave then flew out through the torrent of the cascade.


‘Who was that?’ Pippin asked.

‘One who has been of service to the Quest, but we have not the time now for me to explain, when all is finished I will tell you her story, but now, posthaste, we must return to our search… for time has slipped from us and we have much to do.’


‘Gandalf, in all the excitement, I am concerned that my visions have been disrupted, and that I will not be able to retrieve those sights…’ Merry gasped in realisation of what had transpired.

‘My concern also Merry, but like all in life, we may have to intuit what it is we have missed, and if there are pieces lacking when we discuss the whole, fill the gaps with our best deductions.  Come now, we cannot change what has happened, but we must not tarry with what we must do.’


So the four set to recommence their journey of future’s list.  


Of Baggins and Gamgee

Frodo and Sam breathed a sigh of relief… and lent backwards into the mountain side.  As Sam did something caught his eye, a colour in the otherwise brownness of the undergrowth.  He climbed over to the spot and there was an orange bud, and then below, others, and as he clambered down the slope, he smelt the sweet-sickly odor described by Bilbo.  The entrance must be close-by. 


With Frodo at his side, they combed the shrubbery, but could not find an opening.    Just as they were giving up in despair, Frodo saw a scurrying brown bush rat disappear through some tightly intertwined tree branches.  Although it could not have been detected if more than a foot away, immediately in front, Frodo and Sam could see this gate had been made by some creature, to cover an entrance.  They gingerly removed it.  Obviously in setting his trap for Bilbo, Gollum had removed it to lure the hobbit to it as a chance of freedom, where he intended to strike him down. 


Peering inside they saw a murky sinister tunnel.  Although reluctant to venture into such a place, reminiscent of Shelob’s lair, they felt comforted that this time they had the advantage of surprise.  They stepped within.

They returned the entrance cover, and advancing, mostly slid down a sludgy channel into the mine.


The faint light passing through the entrance gate, cast a dappled glimmer which palely lit their way.   They had no idea where to find Gollum, but this uncertainty was allayed as they heard voices looming out of the dark; coming from way below them. 


They inched along; the path was soggy and steep, the walls, clammy and gelid as if they were composed of glacial ice.  A chill pierced their flesh, and the stench of rotting matter made them gasp.


The sheer decline ended and the path leveled off, and the voices seemed not far away.  Then the tunnel took a sharp turn dividing into dual passageway.  They listened, and detected that the voices, still too muffled to understand, came clearly from the right-hand path.  So they verged right, panting with exertion and saying nothing, desperately trying to follow and make out the words which were being spoken. 


They came to a rock ledge, and saw a pair of figures below them.  Their eyes had become accustom to the inkiness, and they could make out that one was Gollum and the other, well the other, was Bilbo. 


Of those of The Dark

At the hall, the Lieutenant and Nazgûl had been met by the WitchKing, who, seeing the dire plight of the Wizard, angrily proclaimed:

‘The Wizard should not have been permitted to slip so far,’

then before more could be said, the Dark Lord emerged from his chamber and was striding sullenly towards the three.

Sauron looked down at the Wizard, then tersely interrogated the Nazgûl and the Lieutenant.  The pair confirmed their suspicions that the time-travel had weakened the Wizard’s spirit, and by this, had suffered irreparable damage.

The Dark Lord said nothing in reply. 

He placed his hand on the Wizard’s brow.    It was stone cold. 

With a wave of his hand, he dismissed the Lieutenant and Nazgûl. 


The WitchKing escorted the Lieutenant and Nazgûl out of the hall.  

As the two looked back, their Master walked to the cabinet containing the instruments of The Dark.



The eleventh hour


Of the King

Finally an impasse had been overcome, and although not all were in agreement, a congruence in principle had been reached on what must be done. 


And with all prophecy and argument considered, the weary waning sun sunk in sorrow and sympathy with them and their decision. 


And so, with overwhelming anguish, it had been decided; decided that the love between Aragorn and Arwen could not result in her relinquishing her immortality, for this would seal the doom of all elves, and none had the power to reverse what had been prophesized to occur.


What lay to be changed hung on the second meeting of Aragorn and Arwen, which seemed to happen by chance, if it did not occur, then the vow would never have been made. 

But then they saw that in changing this would have changed other events, for if they did not meet, then Aragorn might have returned Éowyn’s love, and Éowyn might not have ridden to battle, thereby slaying the Lord of the Nazgûl as only she could do. 


So many pieces to consider!  These they realised had not by chance alone been joined; now they must be pulled asunder, with regard to what else might fail in doing so.


So they all determined, Aragorn and Arwen must meet upon Cerin Amroth, and their pledge be made.  However, lore would be re-written such that Arwen, at Elrond’s insistence, would depart Middle-earth.  She would not see the image of her son Eldarion in the forest; she would not see what future lay before her with King Elessar; she would not return to Rivendell or Elrond.  She would sail to the West with her people…and yet all things would continue as in old lore…until the end… when the annihilation of Sauron in the Third Age and the future of Middle-earth did not depend on what was written by the Master of Middle-earth.


But of the future of the son of Arwen and Aragorn, Eldarion, the dilemma continued. 


Of elf and dwarf

The primary manuscript, if it could be called that, contained scraps of documents interleaved with the parchment sheets.  Notes of scribes and papers from witnesses to parts of the events, recounting the adventures of dwarves from the Second Age, of refugees from settlement of Belegost and Norgol fleeing to Kharazd-dûm and the discovery of mithril.


Gimli put this volume down and prowled around the room, although fascinated with the read, he was anxious for their meeting with Thráin.


Legolas wishing to calm the situation, remarked:

‘Gimli it must be late afternoon, and we have not drunk or eaten all day, come here and relax while we take a repast.’

‘You are on the mark, my friend, let us take a diversion to our search.’


With that Gimli opened his rucksack, and unpacked salted beef and cheese biscuits, and a bota of spicy shiraz.  The found plates and glasses, dusty but clean, and sat down pleased for the respite.


They had just begun, when there was a knock on the door.  They looked at each other, and by expression, decided to leave it unanswered.  However, the rapping continued, blaring and insistent.


Gimli motioned to Legolas that he would answer it.  He went to the door, and opened it slightly, a young dwarf lieutenant was standing there, spear in hand, he bowed to Gimli.

‘Delegate Gimli, I have a message from Lord Dwalin.  He has been detained, but a meeting has been arranged.  A guard will escort you. This note will explain.’

Gimli thanked him, took the note and closed the door.


Gimli broke the seal, and read the message to Legolas:


‘Gimli, son of Glorin, there are dire things occurring here.  I cannot assure your safety, but I have given counsel to Thráin that Tharkûn has a pressing message for him.  As I had reckoned, Thráin has not met Tharkûn, but has heard of his gallantry on behalf of the dwarves of our line.  He will see you, but fear his reaction when he confronts the elf, although I have reminded him of the friendship between Celebrimbor and Durin III; but be aware in these times he is unpredictable and subject to rapid changes of mood. 


Hold yourself in readiness.  You will be escorted to the hall; you must come totally unarmed.  I will be there.



High Council


Gimli put the letter down, and spoke to Legolas:

‘They are fearful of you my friend, and I fear that we must go unarmed and Dwalin cannot guarantee our safety.’

‘There is nothing for it Gimli, I, for one, am content that we have gained an audience.’

‘You are correct Legolas, for the circumstances we are fortunate for this to have fallen into place.  We must be ready, let us finish eating, then return to the writings.’

So elf and dwarf, relieved of sorts, ate and drunk, then refreshed and more light-hearted, returned to their probing of dwarven lore.


Of those in Fangorn

To the ensuing lot, Gandalf felt limited connection, as if the auxiliary visions he was receiving, were screening out the irrelevancies.  Whereas before, he had been intrigued to know what lay behind the fascinating titles and names, now a fresh focus seemed to be directing him.  If he trusted himself implicitly in this feeling, he would have not asked Treebeard for any details on these fifty, but he was not that confident of his intuitiveness… just in case the one, the critical one, slipped passed his awareness, so half-heartedly Gandalf asked Treebeard to give his description of a few that seemed to stand out  Ù8.4



So it was that they heard of the story of medical advances uncovering the reasons for disease and man’s development of antedotes to fight sicknesses; of light turned on at the flick of a switch; of improvements in agriculture and building; and those products of the everyday.  All amazing in their way, but Gandalf was confident that the one they searched for was not among them. 


But one name particularly intrigued Pippin, and at his request Treebeard recounted how a secret-formula softdrink had dominated a world of like products, but he added:

‘’Coke” as it is known, is an icon of the modern world and sold in every corner of this globe...  but it is not as refreshing as Entdraft.’


‘Then you should bottle and sell Entdraft Treebeard…’ Pippin replied.

And they all laughed.  It was good to have some levity to lighten the intensity of their search.


Of Baggins and Gamgee

Perched on the ledge, fifteen feet above the figures, they could now make out the words being said.  They had arrived during the riddle contest.  They could hear the agitation and desperation in Gollum’s voice:

 ‘That’s not a riddle,’ he screeched.

 ‘You can’t chose the words of the riddle, you have to chose the answer,’ insisted Bilbo.

 ‘I demand three guessems.’

 ‘Then have them, but answer, “what have I got in my pocket?’” (Tolkien, FOTR, ‘Riddles in the Dark’) Bilbo retorted.

Gollum, guessed, guessed and guessed again.

 ‘Wrong, wrong and wrong; you are now bound by your promise to show me the way out,’ Bilbo uttered in an unflinching voice.


Gollum cursed, spat and argued that he had not agreed so, and then slunk away, back to his island in the befouled water. 


He had returned to find his Ring, but it was not there. 

He screeched, a high-pitched squeal of agonising pain and hate that reverberated and lanced the silence of the mine, for he knew now what was in ‘the pocketses’ (Tolkien, FOTR, ‘Riddles in the Dark’)


Bilbo, Frodo and Sam, had never heard such a shriek of evil, it sent shivers of fear through their bodies. 

From their viewpoint, Frodo and Sam saw Bilbo start to run up the weaving path, and Gollum racing furiously along the alternant path, trying to cut him off.   Gollum reached the entrance of the tunnel and removed the gate, trying to lure Bilbo with the light of freedom, and hid in the shadows, waiting for Bilbo to try to escape.


Bilbo was racing up his path, he stopped, then disappeared. Frodo and Sam could discern by the dust of the footsteps of the invisible Bilbo that he came to the bottom of the path leading to the uncovered entrance, from which the light of a dying day had filtered its rays of freedom, he stopped, spotting in the shadows Gollum waiting for him, then ran up the incline and out through the opening. 

Gollum waited, and waited, then he realised…


Of those of The Dark

The Lieutenant and Nazgûl were kept waiting outside, then, just as bell tower tolled four, the two were ushered back into the hall. 

They were astounded to behold, first a rush of a choking black smoke and a pungent burning odour, and through the brume, there was Saruman sitting up; Sauron standing alongside.


The two hastened to observe the Wizard’s amazing revivification.  Saruman appeared wan and dazed, but awake; a miraculous restoration.


The Dark Lord was leaning over speaking to his Maia-kin.  It was not that he had empathy for the Wizard, but his own Master had guided him to an insight the Wizard had, and he vehemently desired this.  It was for this reason, and this reason alone, he had deemed to revive the Wizard; otherwise this Maia’s extermination would have been nothing more than a minor irritant in terms of the course of The Dark. 

However, on appraising the condition of the Wizard, he realised, unlike his underlings, who had misinterpreted the Wizard’s demise as the effects of time-travel, that the whitish aura was the sign of something else; it was that of the Ancient One.  Sauron could sense the vestige of the prophet immediately he saw the comatosed Wizard. 

All the remedies of the physician, Nazgûl and Lieutenant were useless in opposition to the stupor imposed by the mighty White power.   Now resurrecting the Wizard took on an added dimension for the Dark Lord; it was a challenge to defeat the intervention of Light’s prophet.


Though he had sent for the two, he did not bother to explain his thinking to them, his main regret was that he had trusted this matter into their hands for this long, he had lost valuable time.  Now the Wizard was conscious he could extract that memory that had been implanted. 


However, as Lieutenant and Nazgûl watched on, in awe of the Master’s prowess in all things, and now retrieving the Wizard from imminent death, it was clear that Saruman had not fully recovered; appearing stuporous, and wheezing with every breath and stuttering utterance.


Sauron, intolerant and frustrated, resenting his dependence on this Maia-vassal, directed that the Lieutenant take charge of the recuperation, requiring that the Wizard be returned to the hall at nightfall.  The Nazgûl, he expelled to the troops in the fortress.

With the assistance of aides, the Wizard was supported out of the hall.


Sauron, in a fit of rising fury, stomped off to his chamber.  He would make the Ancient One pay for infiltrating his kingdom and striking down one of those under his protection.  He would reciprocate in kind, a direct deadly strike against one safeguarded in the dominion of The Light.



The twelfth hour


Of the King

Aragorn had pleaded that the existence of Eldarion not be annulled by their actions, for while he would sacrifice his union with Arwen to save the immortality of the elves, he could not relinquish his son… whose existence did not carry any connection to the dreaded doom of the elves.


Ben-adar and the elves knew of no means to continue a life which no union had created; if such was possible, then it was beyond their powers.  But Aragorn was beseechingly insistent.


Ben-adar and the elves pored over the manuscripts, through prophecy and sacred rules as the peaks of Mallorn “glowered against the sunset” (Tolkien, FOTR, ‘Queer Lodgings’)


Of elf and dwarf

They had gone through the fifth lot of papers, Gimli was translating the sixth, and Legolas, while listening was examining the seventh and remaining lot.  He had untied the package and was flicking through the documents when a card fell to the floor.  He picked it up, and recognised it as elven, and on it surface “cold stars were glinting in the sky high above the sunset”. (Tolkien, FOTR, ‘A Journey in the Dark’)


Of those in Fangorn

They could not tell from where they were ensconced that the day was nearing its end. 

They also did not know that The Dark had set its sight on them and was searching for their position; however, Gandalf sensed its tentacles reaching out for those of the Quest.  But he said nothing to the hobbits, they had enough to contend with; for the images from the others were growing in intensity, and scenes of those, of fame and little renown, pulled at every fibre of his being; how could they, simpler souls, cope with this all?


They did not speak of what they saw, but he saw on their faces, the grimace of haunting pain and despair.


Treebeard sensed that they had private things to discuss, and seemingly distracted, excused himself, and walked off towards the opening of the cave, just out of their sight.


Gandalf gave the hobbits a reassuring embrace:

‘We will find solace when its purpose becomes clear.’


They looked up at him and nodded in understanding, and courageously

tried to comfort him, Merry admitting meekly:

‘We do not mind that this has to be played out as a trial upon us so that an understanding will appear, we fear only that we will not have the insight to comprehend when the time comes.’


Gandalf smiled at their humbleness and made a heartfelt reply:

‘I have no fears that you will meet whatever measure will come before you.  Come; let us see what wonders Treebeard’s list holds for us.’


They walked to the entrance of the cave were they expected to find Treebeard, but he was not there.  Gandalf looked around the cave but he was no where in sight.


‘Gandalf, Treebeard would not have left without a word to us, would he? Pippin exclaimed.

But Gandalf did not answer, he strode to the opening, to where the fall flowed in torrents, and with the acuity of a Maia, through the din of the cascade, he heard talking, one distinctively the voice of Treebeard.

He turned to the hobbits:

‘Stay here no matter what happens.  If I do not return, use your bands to call upon the Ancient One, he will protect you.  Here help me push the boat from the shore,’

and doing this, Gandalf rowed beneath the fall and from their sight as Methedras “jagged peak, clothed in everlasting snowed, gleamed far above the world, blue-shadowed upon the East, red-strained by the sunset in the West”. (Tolkien, ROTK, ‘The Muster of Rohan’)


Of Baggins and Gamgee

Gradually, pathetically, Gollum realised that Bilbo must have used the Ring and invisibly slipped by him.  In an uncontrollable rage, he started to throw rocks and spin in the dirt, shrieking:

‘Thief, thief, thief! Baggins! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it forever!’ (Tolkien, FOTR, ‘Riddles in the Dark’)


He repeated this over and over again, louder and louder, until his voice was deafening, the words reverberating off the walls of the cavern.  Frodo and Sam had to put their hands over their ears so stop the voice and pain of this pitiful creature.


Then exhausted by his rant, he stopped, and hissing he snuffled about, then started back down the path, speaking to himself; Gollum and Sméagol in turn.

‘We knowss where’m the vile, tricky, thiefy, hobbit lives.  We’ll search’m out.’

 ‘But Hobbit’s a long, long way…away…and there’s horrid, horrid orcs and others... and the light... .’

 ‘But we’d travel in dark.  Curse’m.  No-oness knowss uss.  The hobbit, ’m will not expect uses.’

 ‘But we’ve not the Precious, the Precious, who will...’

 ‘Scar’d frighten’d uselesss one.  We got the Preciouss b’fore. From otherss, you fought’m…’

 ‘But the Precious…’

 ‘Wick’d oness.  Take things from uss! W’d you want to live without the Preciouss?!’

 ‘No, no, not without, without the Precious.’

 ‘Then wes must find the Bagginss hobbit, and take o’r Preciouss back.’

 ‘Yes, yes, take the Precious back.  Yes take our Precious back.  But what if he will not give it back, nasty hobbit had sword.’

 ‘Wes must take it back from’m by force.  Wes must kills the hobbit, for now’m knowss the power of our Preciouss.’

 ‘Kill the hobbit?’

 ‘Kills’m, the hobbit, ass you once kills Deagol, for o’r Preciouss.’

 ‘Yes, yes for our Precious.’

 ‘Wes must go straight now.’


 ‘Now.  H’m will keep the Preciouss hidd’n.  H’m will not show the Preciouss to otherss.’

 ‘If we don’t get the Precious back?’

 ‘No, no, n’ver, the Preciouss is o’rss!’


And so Gollum and Sméagol muttered and whined their way to the island.

 ‘Must leave now.  To get o’r Preciouss.  When the “Yellow Face” diess we go to find’m and o’r Preciouss.  We take secret’d jew’l…. the jew’l of the Ring….
‘t will light up when the Preciouss is near,’ Gollum spluttered with rancor and limped off.

Sméagol continued piteously:

 ‘Cannot live without, without the Precious.  “Precious is gone.  Only poor Sméagol all alone”.’ (Tolkien, TT, ‘The Forbidden Pool’)


‘Great pain with Precious but morest pain without, without it.  Jew’l long-lost lost-long in river with the One, now hidden in earth.  Hates and loves, loves and hates the Precious, but dies without, without our Precious, we must find and take it back!’


Frodo and Sam heard all that Gollum and Sméagol had said. They shivered with the torment and evil expressed. And yet they pitied him, even Sam now could see how wretched this creature was because of his obsession for his Precious.  

They saw Gollum shuffling back along the track and then paddling over to the island.  He climbed up on to bank, and with his green eyes flaming, and hissing through his teeth; Sméagol confirming and Gollum answering:

‘Must watch for orcs and Wraiths, and find hobbit with our Precious. Baggins hobbit stole it from us, yes?’

‘O’r Precious!  Yess Bagginses, we hate all Bagginses.  We must have it.  We wants it.  We wants it… yess, yess, we must have it!’


Frodo and Sam knew what they had to do; it had been planned with Gandalf.  Nothing that had happened needed a change to this plan, and their ledge gave them the perfect site for this, though here “no gleam of sunset touched”. (Tolkien, TT, ‘Journey to the Cross-roads’)


Of those of The Dark

The Lieutenant administered a potion of Athelas, and the Wizard rallied remarkably. 

Saruman was not only lucid but eager to recount what had transpired in Minas Tirith and insights on time-travel. Saruman commenced an animated narration, obviously oblivious to the period of coma; the Lieutenant listened in astonishment of the Wizard’s renewal of body and mind.

Finally the Lieutenant interrupted the Wizard, and recounted what had happened and warned that Sauron expected that Saruman had insight of paramount consequence.


Saruman was staggered by what the Lieutenant told, becoming solemn and circumspect.  Withdrawing inwardly, searching for a trace or remembrance of this insight, a dream-like vision came to the fore, and the Wizard instantly recognised its significance.


Saruman thanked the Lieutenant and requested some privacy to prepare for the audience with Sauron.  The Lieutenant left, promising to return to escort the Wizard to the hall.


Saruman induced a trance-like state, revisiting and reviewing the vision; the vision and object that Sauron wanted, the pieces….  The Wizard reached into the jacket pocket, it was there; then went across to the coffer; the coffer seethed with the near connection. 

The Lieutenant reappeared to take the Wizard “down into chill grey mists that no gleam of sunset touched.” (Tolkien, ROTK, ‘Journey to the Cross-roads’)