They Did It Their Way
Teitho Contest Entry
Time frame: During the Ring War. The Fellowship has left Imladris but has not yet reached Moria or even Caradhras. I am aware of the fact that this story is not canon.
Genre: Humour, Parody
Disclaimer: I own nothing, nada.
Summary: On their way through Hollin, the Fellowship faces many perilous situations.
A/N: Have you ever noticed how many proverbs we use or hear each day? Written for the Teitho Contest Proverbs.
Many thanks to Chen for her wonderful beta work. :o)
The rustling of the leaves and the soft twittering of the birds was the only thing that could be heard in the small clearing where the Fellowship rested. It was still early in the morning, with the sun barely peeking over the horizon. All was quiet and serene and even Gandalf the Grey was still sleeping peacefully, his grey hat drawn deep into his face to hold out the bright winter light.
The Fellowship had taken to traveling during the day, now that they had reached Hollin, for the nights were too cold and dark for them to walk safely. Already the air smelled like snow, but Legolas was convinced that it would not snow ere they were further south or higher up in the mountains, and Aragorn and Gandalf shared his opinion.
Feeling only little need for sleep and having rested the night before, Legolas had taken the last two shifts of the watches, relieving Sam from his night watch some hours ago. The wind played with Legolas' long blond hair and when the first rays of the sun caressed his face, he tilted his head backwards and drank in the warmth of Anor on his skin.
Suddenly, something caught his attention and out of the corner of his eyes Legolas saw one of the heaps of blankets and cloaks move. Smiling, he closed his eyes and tilted his head a bit more, so as to feel more of the sun on his face.
"Mae arin, Aragorn."
Wrapped in his cloak with a warm blanket around his shoulders, Aragorn approached stiffly. "And a good morning to you, Legolas."
Aragorn took a deep breath and let the air out slowly. White mist formed before his face and he stomped his feet on the ground to get warm. "How was your watch?"
Legolas' grin widened. "Some orcs attacked while you slept, but I killed them before they troubled your sleep. After that a horde of wolves tried to eat Bill, but they were no match for good old Bill and he chased them away."
Snorting softly, Aragorn began to rub his arms. "Oh good. And here I thought something important happened."
"No, nothing worth mentioning." Looking at Aragorn with a humorous shimmer in his eyes, Legolas added, "Although if you want to know everything that happened," Legolas' grin widened, "young Master Samwise has taken to talking in his sleep and from what I heard Frodo is not the only one who holds his heart."
A genuine smile lit up Aragorn's weathered face. "Is that so? I am glad to hear that." He rubbed his arms one more time and sighed. "Mhh, what about breakfast? I could do with something warm to drink."
As if on cue, another of the mounts in the clearing moved, and a moment later Sam poked his head out from under his blankets. He looked around, his eyes automatically searching for Frodo, and when he saw that his Master was still sleeping peacefully, he yawned widely and then got slowly to his feet.
He nodded in greeting to Aragorn and Legolas and after a quick morning wash he began to prepare breakfast. Soon, the inviting smell of sizzling meat and roasting bread filled the air. Sipping his warm tea and feeling better already, Aragorn watched the rest of the camp come alive.
Frodo had woken shortly after Sam, helping him with the breakfast. Gimli and Boromir, both light sleepers, had awoken when Sam had clanged the pots and pans, and although Gandalf had not moved yet, Aragorn knew that the wizard was awake and surveying the camp from under his broad-rimmed hat.
Merry, who slept beside Pippin, stirred and then got up to join Frodo and Sam. The food was almost done and the fine smells of breakfast permeated the crisp morning air. Legolas nudged Aragorn with his elbow and nodded in Pippin's direction. Shrugging, Aragorn saw out of the corner of his eye that Gandalf was also looking in the young Hobbit's direction, but when the wizard did nothing to wake the Took, Aragorn did not act either. The young lad needed his sleep, after all.
"Breakfast is ready." Sam announced loudly, gazing at the still mount of blankets that was Pippin. Frowning, he repeated even more loudly, "Breakfast is done!"
The mount did stir a little, but apparently Pippin only rolled from one side to the other without waking.
"Let the lad sleep. Means more food for us." Gimli announced, taking a plate of hot food from the still frowning Sam.
"Pippin never misses breakfast." He said worriedly.
"Or second breakfast. Or elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner or supper." Merry quipped and stuffed his mouth with hot meat, gulping it all down with a huge swig of water.
"Perhaps he is not hungry." Frodo commented, eating more slowly than Merry but with the same eagerness in his motions.
"Ha, a Hobbit and not hungry? A Hobbit who is not hungry does not exist." Gimli said in between bites of bread.
After this comment, the Hobbits began to chatter worriedly about the nature of Hobbits, their love for food and the reasons why Pippin had not yet woken.
"Perhaps it is his Took blood." Merry said and swung his fork around for emphasis, sending small pieces of egg flying around.
"Even a Took has to eat." Sam said meekly, still looking very concerned.
"He is still young; he needs more food than we do." Frodo shot the sleeping Took a worried look. "And Pippin even more so, with all the bouncing and questioning he does all the time."
And so it went on and on; Frodo, Sam and Merry discussed the sleeping Pippin as if he were an object and not a living being, and finally Legolas had had enough of the chatter. With an exaggerated sigh he rose from his spot on a boulder, placed his plate on the ground and made his way gracefully over to the sleeping Hobbit.
"What is he doing?" Merry whispered, but Frodo and Sam had only eyes for Legolas and Pippin, their mouths hanging slightly open.
Sighing once more and tucking a strand of blond hair behind his ear, Legolas eyed the mount of blankets and cloaks, trying to figure out where the head and feet were. The fact that Hobbits had very hairy feet did not make the decision any easier. Finally, when a soft snore came from one end of the bundle, Legolas bent down and shook the sleeping Hobbit.
"Wake up, Master Hobbit."
"'S too early," came the grunted reply and Pippin rolled over onto his other side, completely ignoring Legolas.
Lifting an elegant eyebrow at that, Legolas shrugged and said cheerfully, "Well then, Gimli will be glad to hear that, for that means he can have your breakfast."
With that he turned and made his way slowly over to the others, who watched the scene with amusement shining in their eyes. Silently, Legolas counted to five. He had reached three when…
"Breakfast? Did you say breakfast?"
Laughing, Legolas turned and smiled down at the sleepy Hobbit. "Come now, Pippin. The early Hobbit catches something to eat!" And with that said he resumed his walk over to the fire and the rest of the Fellowship. Needless to say, Pippin was faster than Legolas and was already complaining that they had not woken him for breakfast when Legolas sat down next to Aragorn, who smirked into his tea.
Once Pippin had had his breakfast, he and the other Hobbits began to break camp, while Boromir and Legolas scouted ahead. Gimli supervised the packing, ordering the Hobbits to do this and to do that, giving Aragorn and Gandalf the time to speak in private. The route they planned to take was dangerous, and for some time now Gimli had the feeling that wizard and ranger were not of the same opinion concerning their way.
"Mithrandir, think about it. Caradhras itself will be dangerous enough. Let us take the path that will lead us around the caves." Aragorn said quietly. His time with the Hobbits had shown him their good hearing.
"Aragorn, I know you worry about the caves, but I have foreseen nothing and neither has Elrond. I say we take the eastern path. Why, we could even rest in the caves for a day or two before we move up the mountains."
Sighing, Aragorn shook his head. "You will not change your mind on this, will you?"
Gandalf merely smiled and patted Aragorn's arm in a gesture of sympathy. "Has your time with me taught you nothing about my stubbornness, ranger?"
Another long-suffering sigh left Aragorn's lips, but he knew when he was fighting a losing battle. "Fine. Under one condition." He lifted a finger and pointed it at Gandalf. "You will tell Legolas that we will rest in some caves."
For a moment, Gandalf looked positively upset, but then he stroked his long beard with a gnarled hand. His eyes twinkled in a strange light and a smile played around his lips. "Well, what the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve over."
With that said Gandalf took his staff and made his way over to Pippin, just in time to prevent the young Hobbit from throwing an apple at Gimli's head from behind. Shaking his head, Aragorn followed, but he was wise enough to stay away from the Hobbits' argument about what there would be for supper.
Soon Legolas and Boromir returned, declaring that the way they would take was free of obstacles for at least a league and that they had seen nothing out of the ordinary. As usual, Gandalf took the lead, with Frodo and Gimli following right behind. Legolas was next, then Merry and Pippin who talked softly, but animatedly. Sam, leading Bill, walked behind Boromir and Aragorn was at the rear, keeping an eye out for trouble.
Most of the morning passed by uneventfully, though Pippin complained loudly that they did not stop for second breakfast or elevenses, claiming he had not eaten enough during breakfast. Only when Merry had had enough and slapped him on the back of his head did he finally cease his complaining.
A cold wind blew into their faces, reddening their cheeks and noses. Legolas, feeling nothing of the discomfort the others were feeling, scouted ahead of the group, vanishing between the trees one time, only to suddenly reappear out of thin air, giving them all near heart attacks. All except Aragorn, who seemed to always know when and where Legolas would appear.
A few hours before noon, Aragorn traded places with Boromir, who took the rear position, while Aragorn joined Legolas in the scouting. Legolas had seen movement in the distance and Aragorn wanted to see for himself whether there was trouble ahead. The rest of the group would follow them more slowly, so as to give them time to investigate.
For a quarter of an hour Legolas and Aragorn made their way through the forest, keeping their eyes open and their steps silent. They crossed a tiny stream that was nearly covered in ice and climbed up a small rise that was overgrown with ferns. The leaves of the ferns had rolled into themselves because of the cold and the ground was frozen.
"Come Aragorn, it is not far now." Legolas said and in the next moment he swung himself into the branches of an evergreen tree that stood beside him. Aragorn followed Legolas' movement with his eyes for a moment, before he resumed his walk on the ground.
He could see nothing out of the ordinary, but he trusted his friend's instincts implicitly, and when Legolas said he had seen something suspicious, he believed that. He did not have to walk long before Legolas' voice came from above.
"Aragorn, quick. Come up here!"
Grabbing a low hanging branch, Aragorn climbed the tree, less gracefully than Legolas had done, but almost as fast. Soon, he stood on a branch next to Legolas, who pointed into the distance. "There, between the pines on the small hill. Can you see the movement?"
Aragorn squinted into the direction Legolas was pointing, and after some moments he could make out dark shapes moving under the trees. "Wargs?"
"Are you sure, Legolas? They look bigger than mere wolves." Aragorn gripped a branch above his head and leaned forwards slightly to take a better look.
"I do not feel the dark presence of wargs." Legolas said, leaning back against the tree trunk and crossing his arms before his chest. "They are wolves."
"Have they noticed our presence?"
"No, I do not think so. The wolves are heading in the same direction we are. But if we continue on our way and keep our pace, we will eventually meet them. And should the wind change direction, the wolves will smell us easily enough. Especially with Bill… and the dwarf."
Suppressing a retort about Legolas's last comment, Aragorn leaned forward even more. The branch he stood on gave a soft creaking sound, but the wind playing with the leaves drowned it out.
"From this distance, I cannot see them clearly." Aragorn turned his head and gazed at Legolas. "How many do you count?"
"I see ten of them." Legolas said, still leaning against the trunk of the tree.
Frowning, Aragorn turned his attention back at the wolves. "Are you sure, Legolas? I would say there are at least fifteen, if not more."
"Ten. There are ten."
"Mhmm." Aragorn said, before he nimbly swung up onto another branch, from where he would have a better view. The branch creaked under his weight and bent dangerously.
"Uhm, Aragorn, are you sure you should stand on that… twig?" Legolas asked.
Aragorn glanced at the branch he was standing on and then bent his knees a few times to test its strength. "It will hold my weight. I have been a ranger long enough to know whether a branch will hold my weight or-"
The rest of his sentence went unheard in the snapping sound of the branch and then the surprised yell of Aragorn, who suddenly had nothing but thin air under his feet. With a sickening feeling in his stomach the world tilted around him and Aragorn felt the cold air rush him by.
With a dull thud that drove the air out of his lungs he crashed onto the ground, stunned speechless for a moment. Wide-eyed and still struggling to get his breathing under control, he watched as Legolas landed gracefully beside his fallen form.
An elegant eyebrow raised in amusement, Legolas tilted his head to the side. "You were saying, ranger?"
"Well, I must have slightly erred in my judgment." Aragorn grinned up at his friend sheepishly, holding out a hand for Legolas to grab.
Helping Aragorn to his feet, who rubbed his bruised backside ruefully, Legolas smiled smugly. "Ah Aragorn, to err is human, to forgive elvish."
And with that, Legolas turned on his heel and made his way back the way they had come. Rolling his eyes and still rubbing his backside, Aragorn hurried to follow. When he reached Legolas' side, the elf had an evil shimmer in his eyes.
"Legolas, you won't-"
"Ah, this is too good to not be told, Aragorn. The Hobbits will be delighted to hear of your newest misadventure. And I am sure Boromir will find this tale very amusing."
"Valar protect me. Who needs enemies when he has friends?" Aragorn lamented, but before he could say more, they saw Gandalf's pointed hat peek out from behind some bushes, indicating the Fellowship had reached them.
Gandalf, seeing the grin on Legolas' face and the sheepish look on Aragorn's face, decided in the split of a second that he did not want to know. Still, there was the matter of the movement Legolas had seen.
Before Legolas could say something that he would regret later, Aragorn stepped forward. "There are wolves ahead of us. Ten at least, but they have not yet detected us."
Gripping his shield more tightly, Boromir said grimly, "The wolf that one hears is worse than the orc that one fears."
"Aye," Aragorn said. "But where the wolf howls there also the orc prowls."(1)
"Ah, nonsense." Gandalf waved his staff in front of Aragorn and Boromir, huffing. "What are ten wolves against us nine? Let us go on and deal with the wolves when we meet them."
With that, Gandalf pushed past the two humans and resumed his walk. Aragorn and Boromir looked at each other for a moment, stunned, but then Pippin moved between them. "Well? You heard him. Time to move on." Grinning cheerfully, Pippin followed Gandalf, leaving the two men behind.
"Hrm, aye." Boromir shouldered his large shield, and soon the Fellowship was on its way again.
Around midday the group rested in a small clearing, giving the Hobbits an opportunity to eat while the rest of them sharpened their weapons or mended tears in their clothing. Gandalf sat down against a tree and pulled his hat down, his staff across his lap. A few minutes later the wizard was snoring softly, to the amusement of the Hobbits.
Still munching on a piece of bread, Pippin made his way over to where Legolas sat, checking his arrows.
"Pippin, what can I do for you?"
Scratching his head, Pippin flopped down next to the elf and eyed the arrows curiously. "Have you made them yourself?"
"The arrows? Aye, I make all my arrows by myself." Legolas answered.
"Mhm, then you must be really good at it, with you being so old and all."
"Well yes, elves are naturally skilled in these things." Legolas said kindly, ignoring the snort that came from Aragorn's general direction.
"Strider?" Pippin turned and gazed at Aragorn, who only shook his head.
"Nothing, Pippin, nothing."
Sensing that something was going on that he did not understand but wished to find out, Pippin looked up at Legolas, who glared at the ranger. "Master Legolas, why are elves so skilled with bows?"
"Because we are good fighters, Master Peregrin."
"We train hard and due to our long life we are able to perfect our skills."
"We need to be good fighters to survive." Legolas said, frowning, wondering as to where all this questioning was going.
"So, you say you are a better fighter than Strider? Or Boromir? Or Gimli?"
"What? That pointy-eared princeling?" Gimli huffed, but no one paid him any attention. Boromir and Aragorn were both looking smugly at Legolas, waiting to hear his answer.
Swallowing, Legolas nodded. "Aye, in some ways, yes. Elves are faster, stronger and swifter than mortals."
Boromir crossed his arms across his chest, while Gimli lifted his axe, claiming, "I can beat you any time, elf."
Aragorn simply returned to his whetstone, knowing Legolas was only speaking the truth.
Legolas, for his part, glared at Gimli and then gave the disgruntled-looking Boromir a sharp look. When neither of the two backed down, he threw his hands up in the air and said, exasperated, "Well, that's the way the lembas crumbles. I cannot change it."
Gimli huffed some more and murmured into his beard and Boromir's facial expression was unreadable, but none of the two said anything. Gandalf's snoring became louder, and seeing that all the excitement was over, Pippin devoured the rest of his bread and joined Merry, Sam and Frodo at the other side of the clearing.
Sensing the tension in the air, Legolas stood up and picked up his bow. "Aragorn, would you join me in scouting ahead? We should be on our way soon and I want to make sure that the way is clear."
"Sure." Aragorn replied and a minute later the two friends vanished into the underbrush. Boromir and Gimli conversed quietly over this and that and nothing in particular, their senses trained on their surroundings and the dangers that could lurk there.
After a few minutes, Pippin began to shift around where he sat and sent brief glances at Gandalf, who still snored loudly. Unconsciously, the young Hobbit licked his lips and scooted a tad closer to the wizard. His brown locks bobbed with the motion and there was a twinkle in his eyes that his friends knew only too well.
"Pip, whatever you are thinking, don't do it." Merry whispered.
"Yes, Pippin, leave Gandalf alone." Frodo added, while Sam nodded his head at his Master's words.
Pippin turned huge eyes on Merry, Frodo and Sam. "But a look won't hurt. And he will not even know."
"He is a wizard Master Pippin. Wizards know everything, if you don't mind me saying so." Sam said softly while he placed another small branch on the fire he had lit to brew some tea for them all.
Pippin frowned. With Aragorn and Legolas gone, Boromir and Gimli deep in conversation and Gandalf slumbering, it was the perfect situation to take a quick look at the long, gnarled staff Gandalf was using. Ever since Pippin had seen it for the first time he had wanted to take a closer look, for he simply knew that some mystery or another encircled it.
Scrunching up his face, Pippin got to his feet. "A look won't hurt."
"Pippin!" Merry whispered and lunged for Pippin's cloak, but the younger Hobbit was faster.
"He won't wake up, Merry. I'll be careful."
Sighing in frustration, Frodo pleaded, "Pippin, let sleeping wizards lie. You will only get yourself in trouble."
Making a shooing motion in Frodo's general direction, Pippin made his way over to the sleeping Gandalf. His steps were as silent as those of an elf, and not even the other Hobbits, who sat close by, could hear him.
Slowly, Pippin knelt down next to Gandalf and eyed the sleeping wizard for a moment, before he cautiously reached out to touch the wooden staff.
His hand was only an inch away from the staff when a deep voice suddenly grumbled, "Do not even think of touching it, fool of a Took."
"Haaaa!" Pippin yelled and in his surprise fell back onto his behind. "Gandalf!"
"Aye, that is my name." Gandalf grumbled and after a moment he added, "Well, one of my names, at least."
With a jaw-breaking yawn that was hidden by his grey beard, Gandalf rose to his feet and towered over the young Hobbit. "Never, ever, touch my staff, Peregrin Took, unless I tell you that you can."
"Aye, Gandalf." Meekly bowing his head, Pippin waited until the wizard had made his way over to where Boromir and Gimli sat, before he hastily joined Frodo, Sam and Merry.
Slapping Pippin over the head, Merry admonished him, "Why do you always have to look, Pip? Really, one day you will get us into real trouble." Pippin had the grace to blush.
Half an hour later Aragorn and Legolas returned and the Fellowship broke camp soon after. The day was cold, but they all knew that the coming night would be even colder. The sooner they reached the caves, the better.
This left Aragorn with a problem; how was he going to tell Legolas that they would rest in a cave system that night? He knew that Gandalf would not tell Legolas… he had asked him. And he could not delegate that task to someone else, for surely Legolas would take on that piercing stare that turned everyone to ice as soon as he heard the good news. No, the only person who could tell the elf was Aragorn, and that fact made him decidedly grumpy.
When midday turned into afternoon and Aragorn had still found no way to tell his friend, he decided that maybe a good start was half the battle.
Turning, Legolas raised a questioning eyebrow and made his way over to his friend. "Aye?"
Taking a deep breath, Aragorn said, "Legolas, Gandalf and I, well that is mainly Gandalf, have decided that it might be best to rest for a day or two before we try to climb Caradhras."
"That seems wise, Aragorn." Legolas gave him a questioning look. "Anything else you wanted to tell me?"
"Oh, you know, with the coldness in the air and the possibility of snow or rain, it might be best to seek adequate shelter." Aragorn retorted, unconsciously taking a step away from his friend.
"I see." Narrowing his eyes, Legolas asked, "And where might we find such adequate shelter?"
"Now, Gandalf says there are some outcroppings ahead."
"Ledges in the mountain side." Aragorn said, taking another step to the side.
"Ledges?" Legolas advanced slowly on his friend, head tilted to the side.
"Yes, deep out carvings."
"Uhm well, some might call them caves, but-"
"Caves?" Legolas's eyebrow rose even higher at that.
Legolas and Aragorn stood stock still for a second; nothing stirred, nothing moved. Then, suddenly, both started at a dead run down the path, Legolas only a few steps behind Aragorn, yelling something in Sindarin that the Hobbits did not understand, but that made Gandalf chuckle.
Afternoon turned into evening and the sun set early behind the mountains, bathing the world in a gloomy light. Tightening his cloak around his shoulders to stave off the cold, Aragorn rubbed his head ruefully. "You could have warned me about the low-hanging branch, Legolas."
"Why should I? Did you warn me that we would seek rest in caves, Aragorn? An eye for an eye, I say." Grinning cheerfully, Legolas passed by his friend and sidled up to Gandalf, chattering softly with the wizard.
"There is nothing wrong with caves." Gimli grumbled under his beard, but loud enough for everyone to hear. "Why, I have even heard that the Wood-elves themselves live in c-"
Aragorn clasped a hand over Gimli's mouth and whispered in his ear, "If you value your life, Gimli, don't say it."
Once the hand was removed from his mouth, Gimli huffed, but said nothing more on the matter. From the look Legolas shot him over his shoulder, Gimli decided that sometimes silence was golden.
It was already dark when they reached the caves, so Gandalf set a stone atop his staff to grant them light until Boromir had kindled a fire. In the light of the flickering flames they could see that the cave system reached further into the mountains than they had thought, so Boromir and Aragorn took up torches and began to investigate them. They returned a short while later, declaring that there were signs of inhabitation, but that they had nothing to fear as long as they did not venture too deep into the caves.
As soon as the warriors declared the cave safe, the Hobbits set out to prepare dinner, lamenting about the lack of mushrooms and tomatoes and claiming that the fish they had caught the day before would not be enough to feed them all. In the end, only a stern look from Gandalf silenced their complaining.
Later that night after dinner, when Aragorn and Boromir had left the cave to patrol the perimeter and Gandalf and Legolas were conversing quietly at the entrance –Legolas because he wanted to see the stars and Gandalf because he wanted to smoke and Legolas had altogether refused to stay in a smoky cave-, Pippin's eyes once more took on that strange shimmer.
Before the youngest Hobbit could say or do anything, Merry pointed a finger at him in warning. "Do not even think about it, Pip."
"But Merry! I only want to-"
"Look, we know Pippin." Frodo said and rolled his eyes. "What is it this time, Pippin?"
Shrugging, Pippin gestured at the cave. "There might be trolls in there, you know. Or orcs. Boromir and Strider said they found signs of habitation. Imagine if something lives in there and comes out tonight to eat us. We simply have to make sure." And in his thoughts he added 'We have to make sure that nothing comes out and eats our food.'
Merry and Frodo shared a dubious look. This was a task for the warriors, and seeing that Boromir and Aragorn were not yet back, they could ask Legolas or Gimli, who was already sound asleep, to have a look. Surely Gimli would love to explore the cave system.
Sighing, Merry gripped Pippin's shoulder. "We should ask Gimli or Legolas to have a look, Pip."
"But Legolas does not like caves and Gimli is sleeping. Just a quick look, please. I won't go far." Pippin pleaded, his voice like that of a small child.
Rolling his eyes, Frodo gave in. "Alright, but you won't go far and you will yell if you find something. Promise!"
Grinning, Pippin nodded vigorously. "I promise." Before either of the other Hobbits could say another word, Pippin raced away into the depths of the cave, needing no torch to see in the darkness. His steps were silent and soon he had vanished into the darkness.
"Master Frodo, do you think this was a good idea?" Sam asked meekly.
"No, Sam. But Pippin has to learn his lessons."
"If you ask me," Merry grumbled, "sometimes I think Pip couldn't give away cheese at a rats' picnic." But Frodo and Sam knew Merry well enough to know that he was already worrying about the young Took.
Squeezing Merry's shoulder, Frodo gave him an encouraging smile. "Do not worry Merry. Pippin has nine lives."
"Eight, if Gandalf finds out. Seven if Strider finds out, too. Six if Legolas learns of this folly. Five if Boromir comes back and sees Pippin missing. Four, if Gimli wakes and finds out that Pippin went without him." Merry murmured and gazed into the dark cave, worry shining in his eyes.
Minutes passed and nothing happened. Half an hour later there came sounds from the entrance and a short while later Aragorn and Boromir returned. Their faces looked positively frozen and they crouched down near the fire and warmed their hands over the flames.
"Found anything, Strider?" Frodo asked, but Aragorn shook his head.
"No, Frodo. There are no signs of the wolves we saw earlier and no signs of other trouble, either. We will be safe tonight." He rubbed his hands together and shook his head to get his long hair out of his eyes. He frowned. "Where is Pippin?"
Suddenly, as if in answer to the question, there came a loud scream from the darkness of the cave. Immediately, Aragorn and Boromir unsheathed their swords, while Legolas strung his bow. Gandalf moved to protect the Hobbits and Gimli, roused from his sleep, gripped the handle of his axe tightly.
Stones crunched, clothing rustled and a moment later a panicked-looking Pippin rushed towards them, face red and eyes huge. He collapsed into Merry's arms, gasping. "Merry, Merry I saw a huge monster."
"Where?" Aragorn asked, his face stern.
"I-In the cave, back there." Pippin, clutching Merry, answered.
"Legolas, stay here and cover us with your bow. Gimli, Boromir, follow me." Aragorn ordered, but before he had taken more than a few steps, the whole cavern echoed with a terrible, roaring sound.
"That is a bear." Legolas said and a moment later he had swung his bow onto his back and grabbed Merry and Pippin, carrying them easily under his arms. "Come, we must leave!" And off he went, running towards the exit of the cave.
Boromir grabbed Sam while Gandalf ushered Frodo out of the cave. Gimli and Aragorn followed quickly and when they were just outside, Aragorn grabbed Bill's reins and tugged the animal after them. They ascended a small slope off the side of the cave, and not a moment too soon.
A huge brown bear charged out of the cave, roaring and growling. He paced right and left, sniffing the air and searching for the intruders. After some long, agonizing minutes the bear returned into the cave and went back to his interrupted sleep.
A sigh of relief left Pippin. "Whew, now that was close."
Eight pairs of eyes glared at him and even Bill seemed to look at him strangely. Huffing, Gandalf grumbled loudly, "Fool of a Took! Curiosity killed the Hobbit, as good old Bilbo used to say sometimes. Take this as a warning, Peregrin Took." And with that Gandalf flopped down on the cold ground, tightening his cloak around his shoulders.
Aragorn sighed. With the bear possibly still awake and alert, there was no way they could get back into the cave. And with the spies of the enemy ever watchful, they could not risk kindling a fire outside. It was going to be a long and cold night.
"Well done, Pip." Merry said sarcastically and sat down close to a tree, seeking shelter from the chilly wind.
"What's done is done, Merry, and we can't help it now." Frodo commented and took a seat beside Merry. Sam joined them, huddling close to Frodo to keep his Master warm during the night.
Looking very sheepish, Pippin looked down at his friends. "Merry, I am sorry. Please. It won't happen again."
Sighing, Merry shook his head. "Come here Pip, sit down."
Smiling, Pippin flopped down next to Merry, and after they had wrapped an armload of blankets around them, the Hobbits fell into a dreamless sleep.
Boromir and Gimli shared the first watch while Gandalf, Legolas and Aragorn sat together, not yet tired, and talked quietly.
"It's cold." Gandalf complained, but Legolas laughed lightly.
"Look at the bright side of it, Gandalf. Now you can smoke without me complaining."
Aragorn chuckled and began to search for his pipe, while Gandalf rolled his eyes. "Ah Legolas, all's well that ends well, huh?"
1. Shamelessly copied from Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, A Journey in the Dark
2. Shamelessly copied from Tolkien, but slightly varied, see above
I know this is not the next chapter of The Roots of Evil, but it was time that it was posted. Do you like it?