DISCLAIMER: Unfortunately, I do not own any of the LOTR characters, who all sprung from the mind of JRR Tolkien. I'm just attempting to wax lyrical with them.
athelas63 - Thanks a lot for your review – I love Boromir too as you've probably gathered…
Purloined Identity – Yes, there is more to this series of vignettes – glad you liked the first one.
The Phantom – Ahh, Boromir, such a tragic hero; I felt he deserved a little unspoken tribute…thanks for the review!
Sustenance Through Fire
"Gandalf now openly wore on his hand the Third Ring, Narya the Great, and the stone upon it was as red as fire".
-The Grey Havens, The Return Of The King.
And now I come to it at last.
I had not thought that I would look upon Middle-Earth so fondly in the days of my youth, when Saruman had been a friend and I arrived late at councils because of my toils.
There have been many toils, these long years I have spent accounting for the grate in my voice, the slight stoop in my back, the temper that flares on account of foolishness, and more often than not, directs itself at Peregrin Took.
Ah, Pippin. How much he has grown, how much they have all grown. When I first saw them, the young - yes, they were so young then, so wide-eyed at the prospects of life - I did not think I had seen a more likeable group of friends, nor a more unlikely band of heroes. And Pippin, well. Always putting his foot in it, as Bilbo had so perfectly encapsulated the young Took's misadventures. But misadventures his deeds during the War of the Ring were not.
Peregrin Took, Knight of the Citadel, indeed. A soldier of Gondor for a time, my, my. Though most of the time I had spent the journey to Minas Tirith berating him for his lack of tact, he proved the most eloquent towards the Steward. Perhaps Denethor made him swear allegiance because of some unexpected sense of humour? No. I think he took Pippin into his service for many reasons, not least in hoping for some kind of belated and distant repayment for the death of the son he did not understand in life.
Middle-Earth slips away from me. The mist is all encompassing. I had forgotten that it does that, having made the journey across the water once before in my arrival here. All seems to fade away. Against all odds my back seems to have taken rather favourably to the cloying white smoke that surrounds the ship.
I had almost not left. Forgetful, it seems, of all the weariness that such work creates, I had contemplated remaining in Gondor. Aragorn will prove more than a King, I feel. He is a leader, one to unite all Men. He took the mantle of leadership when I had fallen, and the result is plain to the eye. Merry and Pippin rescued and a chase made by one from each of the Three kindreds that will outlast all men's lifetimes.
It was quick thinking on Pippin's part, however, that induced him to throw the brooch of Lorien to the mud. A certain token of his and Merry's continued survival.
Fool, I had called him. Yet maybe it was I who was the fool, so long the Shire had lain before me without my immediate recognition. Frodo, young hobbit, has ventured onto the deck of this grey ship. I did not wish this to fall on his youthful and inexperienced head, but fall it did. His agonies are deeper than he shows, but then that is what has provoked admiration in me for him; his unwillingness to burden others with his own troubles.
He did not ask Sam to go with him into Mordor, but go he did. He did not ask for the Ring to become his burden, but bear it - well, bear it until the end he did, his resilience remarkable, his pain unthinkable.
Sam did not understand until the last moment. He had carried the Ring also, for a time. Perhaps one day we shall see another ship dock on the shores of Valinor and a small figure step out of it, a hobbit out of legend, a hero of song. Nine-Fingered Frodo and the Great Ring, that was the song the minstrel sang for us at the banquet. There were many tears shed then, from happiness and grief combined.
I have cried all my tears into the ground. I have seen many lifetimes of anger, pain, grief and unbridled hatred to last me a millennia more. But such is the life of one who has fought against Sauron and all his works. All of us stood alone at some point, the hobbits torn apart by war and injury, even mistrust and anger. Poor Sam. He forgave Frodo so willingly, easily, and now his closest friend has departed Middle-Earth forever.
There are many friends I shall miss whose journeys will not lead them to the shores where the grey ships lie.
Aragorn, with whom I have shared many a quiet evening in the wild alone, conversing over a low fire and a full pipe, the King, the Elfstone, the heir of Isildur, whose every deed surpasses my greatest expectations of him. Even he, blessed with the long years of the Dunedaín rangers has not the lifespan of an Istar, but though the years may separate us, our friendship was and never shall be in question or doubt.
Merry, Pippin, but they have enough renown in both their adopted lands without sailing into the West. They talked of riding out to Rohan again, to visit Eomer and to go on to Minas Tirith. I think Pippin wanted Merry to see the kitchens in greater detail. I hope that their ties with Rohan and Gondor never dim through time.
So many more, so many lives that has passed into stillness and silence.
Through fire, and water.
I had known it then. Some premonition within me had harkened my senses to the coming of the Balrog. It was not Pippin's fault, indeed I never mentioned the incident or continued the subject whenever he tried to make stumbling, tearful apologies. It was my time to be tested, and it had been through fire that my victory and death had been acted out. Like the ring I bear on my finger, fire was my test. After that, my body was renewed but my task the same.
The fall was not so hard. It became easy to let go, so easy when my foe lay broken upon the icy mountain, the cold snow beneath me a soothing balm for my burns and exhaustion.
And now Frodo has come to stand with me, gazing back at Middle-Earth as it recedes behind us. He has grown, as Saruman said, wise. Wise beyond his years.
This is the last journey, isn't it, Gandalf?
Yes, dear Frodo, the last journey from home. I hope you do not have any pressing matters in the Shire to attend to; Círdan is not one for sailing back from whence he came without good reason.
Nothing that Sam cannot deal with. Nothing puts him off his course; I have seen proof of that.
Well, then. I hope now, Frodo, that you can begin the healing of your many wounds. Pursuing the destruction of the Ring has taken its toll on all of us.
I'm glad you're with me. It was not Sam's time to leave. I'm not sure he ever could.
They will never cease to amaze me; the hobbits, and I hope I shall never see the day when they do. Círdan guides the ship across the glassy surface of the water with peaceful calm. It was he, who, through some foresight of his own, had given me Narya to carry in secret, through the many dangers I had to pass through.
The Ring of Fire, Narya the Great.
Through fire I came to death. Through fire, I had continued to live, and it has aided me, this ring, whenever the days became too long and my ancient body felt the strains of resisting Sauron's evil and working, almost continually, to thwart his plans. Aragorn had been a constant during that time, lending his skills as a warrior under many names, not seeking renown, riding forth against the Enemy time after time. An example to us all, and yet it is to me that he credits his own deeds and judgement.
Middle-Earth pulls away from us finally, and the sweet smell of Valinor's green shores begins to lace the air.
Olorín, I was, in my youth in the West that is forgotten.
Through fire, we have all to pass before the end. Many fires are dimmed. But this is not the end, for there are many torches that remain alight in the land we have left behind, to burn in glory and hope for years to come.