AN: Good Lord, I'd nearly forgotten that I'd started this story. I really dislike it when an author abandons his fic midway through the story. I will try my best to finish, but what can I say, life gets in the way.

Chapter 6

Frodo was dying. Ivy, Merry, and Pippin, frozen with the shock of narrowly escaping death by Ring Wraith, could only watch as Sam and Strider examined the wound the Nazgûl had dealt their friend. When Sam dashed off muttering about Kingsfoil, Ivy's wits finally returned. Yes, the athelas plant, a great bane against certain poisons, was something she often used in her potions for her patients. If that's what Frodo needed, then that's what she'd help find!

Ivy had found a good sized patch of the herb when the sound of horses and Sam's alarmed voice sent her racing back to her companions. The reason behind Sam's alarm was a female elf that Strider was apparently arguing with. Ivy couldn't tell Elfish from Dwarf speak, but she quickly gathered what the problem was. "Let her take him, Strider. Your weight plus Frodo's will make you slower. She'll be the faster rider." By the looks that the two shot her way, Ivy guessed that she'd echoed the female's arguments. With a nod in Ivy's direction and a look that spoke volumes at Strider, the elven woman mounted and was off with Frodo.

"We'd best be off," Strider's voice broke the uneasy silence. "It is six days to Rivendell and we'll do our best to make it three." Pippin tugged at Sam's hand and together they gathered the packs. Upon the rising wind, the cries of the Nazgûl sang encouragement.

It was a hard pace, but Strider kept his word. They made Rivendell in three days. Ivy managed to catch Pippin when his legs finally gave out and between her and Merry they managed to carry him the last few steps to the Great Gate. Sentries had long before challenged their party and a few words from Strider had eased their path. Kind hands arrived to help the weary travelers into safe quarters, but it was only after Sam had been given word on Frodo's condition that he allowed himself to be led away.

Ivy found herself being gently stripped and lowered into a steaming bath before she really realized what was going on. Two elven women, one fair haired and the other dark, washed away the grit and dust that had caked upon Ivy's skin on the aggressive trek. It was only when she was being helped into a warm gown that Ivy realized her mistake. She whirled and caught the expressions on her impromptu handmaidens' faces.

"You will stay here, Hedge Witch." Gone were the sweet helpers from before and Ivy could only watch as two icy strangers locked her inside her comfortable prison. She caught her reflection in a low hanging mirror near the bed and saw the mark that had turned her helpers against her. High on her right buttock, a white hand was forever scored upon her skin. Damn you, Saruman.

That's all for now, folks. I'll try to do more soon. :)