sgniR eht fo droL
by Mithostwen and her brother
Author's Note: If, for some reason, you didn't read the summary, there's something I need to explain in order for this story to make any degree of sense. It's another version of LOTR in which every character is the complete opposite of their canon personality--or rather, it's one chapter of that alternate story, beginning after Frodo is wounded on Weathertop.
Disclaimer: Middle-earth, the basic plot, and the characters' names are not ours. The characters themselves bear such little resemblance to Tolkien's that I almost feel like I don't need to write this disclaimer, but just to be on the safe side: no, we did not create them, nor do we claim any credit, or make any money from writing this. It's just fun.
Also, this is a one-shot, so don't count on more updates. My brother and I wrote this years ago, and it's hard to jump back into a story that's lain dormant for so long. Now, without further ado, enjoy.
"He needs Elvish medicine!" Peregrin the Purple declared. "This is beyond even my skill to heal." Then, speaking some unintelligible words in an ancient language none of the others (least of all Merry) understood, he lit his wizards' staff aglow.
Aragorn stumbled back in the sudden blaze of light, holding his hands over his eyes, and then commenced running in terrified circles.
Merry, the cave troll, let out a grumpy-sounding bellow, and started bashing nearby shrubs. He came dangerously close to bashing the Ranger's head as well, but luck was on Aragorn's side.
Sam, sitting off to the side and trying not to look like he was too happy that Frodo was about to die, said nothing, continuing to wait for his opportunity to finish his arch-enemy off. He'd been out to kill the hobbit ever since he stopped paying Sam for his gardening services.
Frodo, having been attacked by the Nazgûl on Weathertop five minutes ago, was of course wheezing and gasping, lying on the muddy ground. For the first time since Bilbo had put it on at the party, he actually wasn't thinking about the Ring.
"Aragorn, stop that! Your cowardice isn't doing anyone any good! Now go find some athelas before he dies," Peregrin commanded the frantic human, who abruptly obeyed, only because he was more afraid of the wizard than anything else at the moment.
"And Merry, make yourself useful and keep an eye on Sam there. He has an evil look in his eye."
The troll picked up a large chunk of tree and stood facing Sam, holding it threateningly like a club. Needless to say, Sam decided Frodo's death could probably wait a little bit longer.
Peregrin shook his head. How had he chosen such a horrible group to accompany Frodo? And how had he chosen the single most easily-corruptible hobbit to be the Ringbearer? No one's luck should ever be that awful.
Ah, well. There was nothing he could do about it now. Maybe when they reached Rivendell, they could assemble a better company…
Aragorn's sudden scream pierced the night, and had he not heard it so many times over the course of their short journey, Peregrin might have mistaken it for one of the Nazgûl.
"Oh, what is it now?"
He started off toward the sound, only to stop short when he saw it was some random and perfectly harmless Elf on a black horse. The Elf dragged a screaming Aragorn at his side.
"Is this yours?" the newcomer asked mildly.
"Yes, I'm afraid so. Aragorn, stop that now, or I'll—"
But that was all he needed to say. Aragorn abruptly fell silent, watching them all with wide eyes. The Elf let him fall to the ground, and the Ranger actually looked relieved.
"We have a wounded halfling who must be taken to Rivendell," Peregrin informed the Elf quickly. "Can you carry him?"
"Of course. For a rather hefty fee, that is."
Peregrin rolled his eyes. Elves. He supposed he should be used to it by now. Lord Elrond's infamous "hospitality" was legendary.
"Fine. I have no money at the moment, but you can take all of Aragorn's."
"What!?" the Ranger shrieked, but at the look from Peregrin, grudgingly handed over a small bag of coins.
"Not good enough," the Elf sniffed.
"Give him the ring of Barahir too," Peregrin said. "And the shards of Narsil. I'm afraid we have nothing else of value."
"Yes I do!" Aragorn protested. "This high-tech, futuristic, small, handheld smoke-spewing weapon!" He pulled out a pistol, holding it up for the Elf to see.
"Fork it over," the Elf demanded, obviously curious.
"Wait. I ought to look at it first, to make sure it won't go off when you touch it. Highly dangerous, this weapon," Peregrin cut in.
"Nonsense. It can't be that dangerous," the Elf scoffed, snatching the gun from Aragorn's hand.
Unfortunately, his finger must have touched the trigger in the process, because an instant later, he was gurgling weakly and falling from his saddle. The gunshot's echoes faded, and everyone stared blankly at the fallen elf for a long moment.
"Well, I suppose that solves the problem of the hefty fee," Peregrin said at last. "As Frodo's life is in jeopardy, and he won't be needing the horse any longer…"
"Auuuuugh!" Merry cried suddenly. Peregrin whiled around, hardly surprised to see Sam brandishing a sword and making straight for Frodo.
Peregrin shot a blast of lightning at the gardener, effectively knocking him out. That ought to prevent any further attempts on Frodo's life for at least an hour. It really was getting rather tiresome. He was amazed he had never thought of trying magic on Sam before.
"Aragorn! You can come back now! Tie Frodo onto the horse; there's no time to lose!"
The Ranger reluctantly came crawling back from his hiding place in a nearby bush and did as he was told.
Peregrin then turned to the task of figuring out who could bring the wounded hobbit to Rivendell. Merry's weight would crush the horse, Sam would stab his master just as soon as they were out of sight, and Aragorn was a terrible coward, almost useless when Peregrin wasn't around… But there was no way he was leaving the three of them alone either, so it looked as if there was really no choice.
He sighed wearily and turned to the Ranger once again.
"Aragorn, I have a very important job for you—"
"Every time you say that, I have to do something dangerous!" Isildur's heir wailed pitifully.
"I need you to bring Frodo to Rivendell. You're the only one who can do it, for rather obvious reasons."
Terrified as he was, Aragorn couldn't dispute that logic. However, that didn't mean he was giving in either.
"Maybe another Elf will show up. I don't mind giving up all my most prized possessions, really."
It was sad how hopeful he sounded.
"No," Peregrin said, as gently as he could under the circumstances. "There shouldn't even have been one Elf out here. There is no other way. And besides, this horse came from Rivendell. It will know the way to go; all you have to do is make sure Frodo doesn't fall off its back."
"Can't I just tie him to it with a lot of knots?"
Peregrin finally lost his temper.
"No! I'm not asking much; you'll actually be riding away from danger! Can't you put aside your idiotic fears for once?"
"Away from danger, you said?"
Peregrin had to suppress a grin. He had him now.
"Yes. Rivendell must be the safest place in the whole world. Unlike these woods here."
The Ranger thought it over.
"All right. I suppose I could do it. For the good of the quest, you know. I am the future king after all. Can't have your subjects dying off."
Peregrin rolled his eyes. For a coward, Aragorn had an awfully big ego.
The Ranger mounted the horse, and after giving a heroic-looking salute, rode off into the forest with Frodo.
Only after they were gone did Peregrin realize Aragorn had forgotten his gun, the only weapon he would have the guts to use if they came across any more Nazgûl…
Ten minutes later:
"Oh no! My high-tech, futuristic, small, handheld smoke-spewing weapon! Where is it!?"
Frodo moaned quietly in response. Or maybe he was simply disturbed by the yelling in his ear.
Aragorn searched frantically for his pistol, trying hard not to have a heart attack, until he finally remembered a certain Elf demanding payment for the very job he had been tricked into.
"Oh me, oh no, oh me…"
This was not his idea of fun. It wasn't even his idea of tolerable. This, he told himself forty-three times, was the most terrifying experience of his life.
Not that he hadn't said that about other things, but this time he really, really meant it.
He was being pursued by all nine of those horrible Nazgûl, on a potentially dangerous running animal moving at high speed. And there was no one to save him, aside from the delirious injured hobbit he was carrying. Not very promising.
"Oh me, oh my…"
He kicked the horse to move faster, apologizing profusely in case it got angry at him. He had been bucked off too many times before, meaning once in the distant past.
He could hear the thunder of hoof beats behind him continuing to grow louder, but he didn't dare look.
But there it was up ahead: the river. It was just barely in sight now. He kept his eyes fixed on the distant stretch of water, trying to forget that he was being chased, and maybe even that he existed, because if he didn't exist, nobody would ever try to kill him again. Or would they? That would be just his luck.
They were almost there. Only a few more minutes of riding for his life, and he would be in the safest place in Middle-earth… He sincerely hoped Peregrin hadn't made that part up to convince him to go. Only a few more minutes, with the Ringwraiths gaining on them every step of the way…
One of them passed him.
Aragorn tried to hide behind Frodo, with little or no success. The black rider screamed, and started swinging left to cut them off. Aragorn started flailing his arms frantically, as if trying to swat it away, and the Ringwraith hesitated for a moment in confusion. With that, the Elf's horse took its chance to dart past the foul creature, and raced on at a dead gallop.
Aragorn clung to its neck for dear life, nearly squishing Frodo flat, and almost choking the poor horse. He kept his eyes squeezed shut for the rest of the ride, until he heard hooves splashing in water. Then he finally looked down, and saw that they were crossing the river.
He hugged the horse through Frodo, though this was barely distinguishable from his death-grip, and abruptly fainted. The last thing he saw was the blurred shape of nine small white rabbits on horseback, coming towards him…
Frodo awoke in a small mud hut several hours later, and for one brief instant had no idea where he was. Then he remembered Uncle Bilbo's stories of Rivendell, the world-renowned mud hole in a not-very-well-hidden valley, and some pieces of memory clicked together.
His hand flew to the chain around his neck, and a decidedly sinister smile crept onto his face as he discovered the Ring was still there.
"Yesss… it'sss mine…"
(why shouldn't it give everyone a lisp?)
He stroked it lovingly for ten full minutes before he was interrupted by a familiar voice from outside.
"Frodo, are you there?" He instantly recognized the trying-to-sound-subtle-and-failing-miserably-at-it voice of Sam.
"Of course not!" he replied at once.
He heard Sam's footsteps moving away through the sloshing mud.
If only everyone who was after him was that stupid.
Finally realizing that Sam's presence meant his companions were probably all here, Frodo decided he had better find a way to escape before they tried to take his beloved Ring. Holding it tightly in his hand, he poked his head around the opening in the mud wall that could be loosely classified as a door.
There was no one in sight. Grinning evilly, he started off toward the valley's mouth.
However, he only made it halfway around his hut before he bumped into a massive crowd of strangers, who had evidently been waiting for him.
"My dear hobbit, where do you think you're going?" came Peregrin's familiar voice, and Frodo realized this must be some kind of conspiracy.
"It is none of your business!" he snapped, clutching the Ring tighter.
"Oh? I thought you'd like an escort as you set out for Mordor. That's all. Of course, if you wish to die, I'd be happy to call them off."
Frodo didn't fail to notice that the wizard was holding his staff pointed straight at him, and that this probably wasn't the casual mistake it appeared.
"Fine," he said. After all, he had the ability to turn invisible. It shouldn't be too hard to give them the slip.
"So. I'll introduce everyone. Here we have Gimli, the Dwarf."
"Elf! I'm an Elf! Are you blind!?" the Dwarf cried, pointing viciously at the stilts on which he was balanced. He had also cut off his beard and glued some pointed leaves to his helmet, which apparently were supposed to resemble Elf-ears.
"Yes. Of course," Peregrin said, trying not to look disgusted. "Gimli the Elf. And next we have Boromir, son of the Steward of Gondor. He rode a rather long way to be here, and actually… he might as well have stayed in Gondor and met you there, now that I think about it, but alas, he is already here, so we will not reject his nobly offered assistance."
"I am not so noble as he makes me sound," Boromir corrected the wizard modestly. "I'm just glad to be of service, Master Hobbit. If there is any way I can save you, or protect your Ring from thieves, even through a pointless death, so be it." He bowed to Frodo.
"And this is… Legolas, the prince of Mirkwood. He, um, volunteered back when he was alive, so…"
Peregrin indicated a very ugly dead Elf who was sprawled in the mud off to the side. (Dead is the opposite of immortal, right?) Frodo shot Peregrin a skeptical look.
"Well, who were we to deny him his final wish? He'll be strapped to Sam's pony's back the whole time, so he won't slow us down or anything." Peregrin cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Oh all right. To tell the truth, Lord Elrond chose the members of your company, not me. At any rate, the last four are Aragorn, Meriadoc, myself, and Samwise. Oh! I almost forgot Gandalf. Gandy, come forward. Don't be shy."
A small toddler stepped out from behind Boromir, sucking his thumb.
Frodo would have been more shocked and confused by this, but he was still trying to understand something else Peregrin had said.
"Sam is coming!?"
Sam cackled maliciously, sharpening the edge of his sword.
"Yes, I tried to talk Elrond out of it, but he just kept dancing around and refused to listen," Peregrin admitted wearily. "At least you'll have more people to watch your back this time."
No sooner than the words left Peregrin's mouth, Merry raised a large boulder above his head and hurled it at the wizard's back.
If he hadn't bellowed deafeningly right before this, like he always did, he might actually have succeeded in killing him.
As it was, Peregrin brought up his staff and deflected the large projectile with a bubble-like magical shield, and it glanced harmlessly off to the side. Well, almost. It hit Legolas, but as he was already dead, this still counts as not having harmed anyone.
"That's it! I've had it with this troll! Every time my back is turned, I have to fight off another boulder! I'm going to—"
"Cheerio! What seems to be the problem, my good friends?" called Elrond, dancing up the row of mud huts toward the group with a ridiculously huge smile.
"This will never work!" Peregrin shouted in his face. "You couldn't have chosen a worse Fellowship of the Ring if you had tried!"
"Oh? You have a complaint? You haven't even seen them in action yet."
"So far, all the 'action' has consisted of attempts on my life by this troll, and I have good reason to fear Frodo will be next! You cannot send his worst enemy with him and expect it to end well!"
A vein bulged from the wizard's forehead. He didn't usually get so easily upset, but the strain of traveling with Frodo, Sam, Merry and Aragorn for several days straight had pushed him dangerously close to the edges of insanity.
"But Boromir has said he'll watch Frodo's back. Problem solved. Anything else?"
"Yes! This Elf is dead! And this Dwarf is bloody awful at using stilts, yet insists they're his legs, and refuses to leave them behind! Gandalf is only three years old, and Aragorn, no offense, is an insufferable coward! There isn't anyone in this group, other than myself and possibly Boromir, who I would even consider sending along! And that includes Frodo as well!"
"What!?" Frodo demanded. "You just want the Preciousss for yourself!"
"What!?" Gimli demanded. "You think these are stilts?!"
"What!?" Boromir demanded. "You really think that highly of little old me?"
"What!?" Aragorn demanded. "I'm not an insuff—oh, wait. Yes I am."
"What!?" Sam demanded. "You forgot to include me in your rant?!"
"Wha?" asked Gandalf innocently, and then popped his thumb back in his mouth.
"Auuuuuugh!!" Merry bellowed, stomping the nearest seventeen mud huts flat.
Legolas's hair blew around a little in the breeze.
Elrond's permanent smile faltered for a moment, but then he clapped Peregrin on the back and said, "You see? They believe in themselves! And majority always rules! That's my policy! It makes everyone happy, you see. Now, off with you! You've a lovely little stroll ahead of you, and I don't want to keep you any longer."
"Lovely little stroll indeed," Peregrin muttered under his breath. This was going to be one long, painful journey. He had a bad feeling that even if any of them made it to Mordor, it would be in the same shape as Legolas. "Come along, everyone, let's get this over with."