The fortress was imposing still,
Upon the hill, it caught the eye.
He hid his normal clothes away,
No longer grey, but now a spy!
Went to the gate and walked right in—
With shaven chin now caked with grime,
He prowled those dank and ghastly halls
Where darkness falls before its time.

The Fortress Lord was still unseen,
His name and mien a mystery;
The wanderer sought the answers—
A Necromancer's history!
He learned the truth, but ere he left,
He found bereft a Dwarven King—
Who lay dying in a foul pit
But hadn't quit; he still did cling
To Map and Key meant for his heir
Who'd someday dare the dragon's flame.
The wanderer swore to be true:
Give him his due when the time came!

He came again to Rivendell
A tale to tell of their old foe
He begged the Wise—he spoke at length—
To muster strength for a great blow.
The White Wizard derided him
And chided him for his great haste!
The wanderer lit up his pipe;
His brother griped with clear distaste,
Said scathingly, "It's such a waste,
My brother's taste for his small things!"
The wanderer just puffed away;
Blew an array of perfect rings!

When rambling by a misty peak
He heard a shriek—a bird of prey,
An arrow sticking near its hip,
A poisoned tip the beast to slay.
Another would quit, but not him;
Herblore taught him by his cousin
Let him find the proper weeds
And roots and seeds; half a dozen
Different types of plants he plucked
And then he chucked them in a pot!
He boiled them and made a dressing—
A true blessing, his patient thought!

The White Wizard addressed the Wise,
He had devised some weapons weird
To beard the foe and smash his lair;
They'd enter where all Mirkwood feared!
The wanderer was with them when
They struck the den of their old foe;
They breached the walls, they slew the trolls,
They gained their goals and cheered, although
The Fortress Lord ran fast away,
He'd long this day of wrath foretold;
So southward then he turned his feet;
A planned retreat, a new stronghold!

The wanderer was wary then,
And chary then of too much mirth;
Someday a host of Shadow's thralls
Would threaten all of Middle-Earth!
He voyaged south to warm Umbar
Where winters are so soft and brief;
He spoke to Captains of Corsairs,
Said their affairs would come to grief
If they accepted Mordor's coin
And then did join the Shadow's cause;
They'd only dig their own abyss—
They greeted this with loud guffaws.
They thought him just a wanderer,
A maunderer, a mountebank;
He spoke of Evil's hidden claws;
They knew he was just an old crank!

(To Be Continued?)

Author's Note: It's scary how addictive this sort of thing can be, when I'm in the mood to try to find all those silly little rhymes to preserve the meter. Now I'm seriously considering a plan I had previously rejected—trying to press onward with a slightly distorted summary, in light verse, of Gandalf's exploits during The Lord of the Rings.