The Middle Earth setting and its original characters are the property of J.R.R.Tolkien. No copyright infringement is intended by this non-commercial fan fiction.

I

My father gave me no trinket before he left, nothing to remember him by. He barely even looked back. He took his axe and his shield and set off with that strange fire in his eyes. The power that drew him away was stronger than his love for his family. It was the same with all of them, every man of weapon-bearing age in every house and cottage. A dark line of bodies marching away towards the sunset, leaving the women and the children and the old men. I must have been too young to hear that call. I did not understand it.

My mother wept, but not for long. The fields had to be ploughed, the cows milked, the sheep sheared. Farming folk cannot afford great mourning. Some highborn lady sitting on some white pinnacle might sing a lament to the sound of the lute. My mother put on my father's boots and harnessed the oxen. My brothers and sisters kept asking when Father would come home. I am the eldest. I knew.

My father was a quiet man. He told no stories, and I will never know now if he would have had any to tell. He made toys for the little ones: crudely carved animals and little blocks of wood painted as houses. Whenever he entered a room where my mother was, he would seek her eyes, and whatever she was doing, she would seek his. In the spring time, he would rub the new blades of grass between his fingers and hold them under our noses for us to smell.

But he marched off, in boots studded with iron, towards that shadowy country that filled the sky with ash and gloom. A great evil lived there, they say now, and we would have done better to fear it. The proud men of Gondor do not seem so threatening after all.

And now it is spring again. The great shadow is gone. They say there is a new king in the West, wise and just. If his wisdom is great enough, he may bring peace. Though I do not know if there is wisdom in this world that could make the barren lands flourish again. But justice? What justice could there be for our people of widows and orphans? Was it a judgement on us that our men fell under the shadow?

There is a new king in the West, and the world is sighing with relief. The sun is brighter and the sky bluer than I have seen them in my lifetime. With the shadow gone, creatures of light are pouring into our lands, sweetly singing birds, silvery fish and graceful deer. Already the fields are lush with the blades of the growing wheat. My father will not return.