1 Return

Quickbeam felt Fangorn was changed. He had returned only a short while before, but still it was unfamiliar, unlike the forest he had known in his youth. There was no longer a mystery behind it to Quickbeam. It was simply home, the forest of the Ents. It was still beautiful, but it was not the home he had left behind.

Treebeard knew better, however, and he saw it quite keenly when Quickbeam returned to Fangorn. Quickbeam was still the same hasty Ent, still moving and acting on feelings and instinct, rather than slowly thinking his way through things in the usual Entish fashion. But his travels had changed him. He still laughed, but they were not the carefree laughs of his youth, when he had taken so much joy from life in Fangorn. As Treebeard would later put it, "He was still Quickbeam, but now he was sure of it."

When Quickbeam returned to the forest, he sought out the elders, for he expected them to judge him and decide whether he had changed enough to return to Fangorn. He never suspected the elders had sent him away hoping he would discover how he must change on his own. Once again, it was Skinbark who spoke first to him.

"You have returned from a journey." It was more of a statement than question from the elder. "Where have you been?" Skinbark asked.

"I have journeyed among all the great forests that remain in the west. I have visited Lorinand, the Greenwood and all that remains of the forests of Eriador. I have learned much and seen more than I could ever dream of." Quickbeam would have continued, but Treebeard halted him.

"Hoom, still hasty I see, much the same. Yet I sense a shadow on you. You have seen the evil that this world holds, that I do not doubt. You understand then, the place of the Ent? You are not long on Middle- Earth, but like us you have a great duty to the living things." Treebeard told him. Quickbeam cringed inside at still being labeled hasty.

Finally, sleepy Leaflock spoke up. "You have changed much. Not so hesitant now. Hastier perhaps even. But wiser yes, hasty and wise…" the elder seemed to trail off into sleep right in front of him. Quickbeam nodded, realizing that the elder spoke the truth. He was now surer of himself and no longer needed the guidance of his elders. Perhaps that was why they had sent him away? he wondered to himself. Seeing that the elders had finished with him, he moved off into the forest to visit the rowan groves he had missed for so long.

As he slowly walked among his old friends of the forest, Quickbeam became aware of another Ent standing nearby. Turning around, he saw Treebeard standing solemnly, watching the younger Ent whispering to the trees. Quickbeam came and stood near him, silently. Uncharacteristically, it was Treebeard who broke the silence between the two.

"Hrum, we sent you away hoping you might find a place for yourself, but I think instead that we have found ourselves instead." Treebeard told the younger Ent.

"I do not understand. I have not changed so much. I am still the hasty Ent of Fangorn and I do not think I can ever change that. But I thought that was why I was sent away. My hastiness needed to be curbed." Quickbeam said.

"We sent you away so you would better know yourself. Hastiness is a dangerous thing when you do not know your own limits. Hoom, I know some very unhasty Ents who have gotten themselves into some very bad places because they did not know themselves. We hoped this would not happen to you." Treebeard explained. He seemed to sigh. "There is nothing wrong with being hasty much of the time, as long as one is not too hasty all of the time. Even I can be roused, Hom." With that, he left the Quickbeam to himself.

Quickbeam stayed in Fangorn, though he sometimes strayed beyond it's borders, for he still had a bit of an adventurous spirit inside him. But never again would he go to Eriador or the Greenwood, for he knew evil dwelt there. In Fangorn he tended the rowan trees and walked among the dark branches of the ancient forest, a single peculiar Ent with a very hasty attitude.

He would still thus be known thousands of years later, when two young hobbits would find themselves in Fangorn, after fleeing from a band of Orcs on the plains of Rohan. But that is another story, for another time, one that I will not seek to tell.