Hi again, everybody. Hope you like this chapter. Quite a varied mix of emotions going through this one even though the characters are all the same. And after this one, we finally start getting to the real main chunk of the story.
To Be a King
Chapter 56:- Beneath the Trees
It had been a very long ride for Merry and Pippin ever since they had left Gandalf and Shoutmon behind. While they were seated quite comfortably in the branches above Treebeard's head and were very glad that they didn't have to walk themselves, it did seem to them like the journey was taking forever.
Perhaps that was because Treebeard move so slowly that it barely seemed like they were going anywhere. Which didn't particularly make sense to them when they thought about it because Treebeard's massive strides, which were probably each the equivalent of at least ten paces for a Man or an Elf, easily made up for his lack of actual speed. But their ride was so steady and paced that sometimes felt as if they were sitting in the branches of a regular tree that wasn't going anywhere.
And there was also the fact that Treebeard enjoyed reciting long poems, which he also did very slowly. Merry and Pippin appreciated a good verse as much as the next Hobbit, but they preferred much more lively songs and jigs to this. But they appreciated Treebeard's attempts to keep them entertained and applauded whenever he finally finished a poem. It wasn't his fault that he lived at a much slower pace than them. It wasn't surprising really given how long-lived trees were. And apparently Ents were immortal, like Elves. They did not die unless killed.
But there was another aspect of their journey which did keep Merry and Pippin much more alert and interested, and that was the massive alligator-like Digimon rolling along behind them. Deckerdramon cleared a path through the forest as if he was actually pushing the trees down. Instead, all of them moved out of his way, the ground rupturing around their trunks as their roots hauled them to one side. None of them wanted to get in his way and none of them dared to attack him either.
It was a surreal effect for both of the Hobbits to watch. And Deckerdramon took every obstacle in his non-existent stride by rolling right over it. If there was a boulder, he crushed it into rubble. If there was a hillock, the tank tracks on his feet rolled over it without the rest of his body even being disturbed. If there was a tree-root… he probably would have rolled over that too, but there were no tree roots.
And they were fascinated with everything Deckerdramon had to tell about his own world. It seemed like a dream to them, but insisted that every word he spoke was true.
"I would have no reason to lie to you, little Hobbits," Deckerdramon laughed when Pippin called him on it. "The Digital World is fantastic enough on its own without having to make it more so through fibs and untruths."
"To think, Pippin," Merry said. "Of the tales that we shall have to tell when we do finally return to the Shire. We'll make the tales of Master Bilbo himself pale in comparison."
"And I always loved Master Bilbo's stories," Pippin agreed. "It'll almost be a shame to beat them."
Unlike the Hobbits though, Deckerdramon found each of Treebeard's poems to be highly entertaining and insisted on more, which was partly for his own enjoyment and partly because he could see the Hobbits were starting to fall asleep and he knew that they needed the rest.
"How much… how much further do we have to go?" Merry asked, trying hard to stifle a yawn and keep his eyes open. "For that matter, where are we going?"
"We go to my home. Or one of my homes. As, hoom, guardian of the forest, I have many dwellings but for the sake of our journey, we travel deep into the forest," Treebeard replied. "There are matters of grave importance that I must see to. But never fear, little Shirelings. You are under my protection. And I shall see that no harm comes to you."
"Much appreciated," Pippin rubbed his eyes, trying to stop his head from lolling to the side.
"You know, young Hobbits," Deckerdramon voiced his opinion. "You need not try so hard to stay awake. As I understand it, your last few days have been extremely trying. Held captive by Orcs and dragged across the open plains. That is great cause for rest, I believe."
"Bararoom," Treebeard agreed. "How remiss of me. Deckerdramon is right. Rest now, Hobbits. I will ensure that you do not fall from my branches."
Merry and Pippin were grateful that they had been given permission. They were both so tired that they were both sound asleep within ten seconds – a sleep that was deep even for a Hobbit. They had had almost none for three days now, as being tied to the back of a running Uruk-Hai had hardly made a comfortable bed. Treebeard and Deckerdramon continued to speak in low voices, but the Hobbits were practically dead to the world.
"Such fragile creatures they are," Treebeard noted. "Yet such courage they possess. I could snap either one in hand easier than the branch of a sapling, but they have been through trials that no-one so small should have had to endure."
"You would be surprised," Deckerdramon replied. "I often find that it is the small ones who have the biggest passion and courage of us all. It is all very well for the big and the strong, such as we, who can use muscle and brute force to solve our problems. But for the young and the frail to enter a fight takes far more guts. And it is often the physically weaker that have the better insight to solve a problem. That is what our Generals proved to us back in our own war."
"War, you say, in such a casual tone," Treebeard said. "War is brewing for all the outside world as the forces of darkness spread into their lands. Ever the fights of Dark Lords have never truly reached the Ents. It is not our fight. And it is not your fight either. Yet you say that you would join the war against evil here without a moment of hesitation?"
"I would if the people who I am fighting for deserve to be fought for," Deckerdramon stated firmly. "And if the people I must fight for are anything remotely like these two Hobbits then I would wade in without even having to think about it, with all the strength and power at my disposal."
Treebeard was silent for a moment. "And what if, by some unforeseen circumstance, you could return to your home now? If you could leave this world and this war behind, today. With all of your companions? You would not do it?"
"Most certainly not," Deckerdramon replied. "Even without the stain that would leave on Xros Heart's record, I would not."
"Hrrummm," Treebeard muttered. "It has been a long, long time since any Ent has fought in the wars of Men. I get the feeling that we have been forgotten by most of the world. Men care not for the forest. Once, most all of Middle Earth was the stomping grounds of the Ents, with trees extending from the great sea to as far east as they could grow. Now… the plains and grasses are most of what rules the lands. The Ents were long ago brushed aside."
"Is that any reason to abandon them entirely?" Deckerdramon pointed out. "As I have seen, humans are a very mixed bunch. Often compassionate, often cruel. But it is the good in their hearts that I would fight for, regardless of the past."
Treebeard said nothing more for quite some time – so long that Deckerdramon wondered if he had forgotten what they were talking about. But eventually he said, "It is not for me alone to decide what course the Ents should take. The forest has no ruler, and nor do the Ents. We must decide together as to what we do next."
The Hobbits slept right through the rest of the day, and were still snoozing after nightfall when they finally reached Treebeard's stopping point – a small clearing in the forest next to a couple of large basins of water that was filled with liquid trickling down over the rocks above it. As Treebeard's huge wooden hands plucked the Hobbits gently from their perches and slowly lowered them to the ground, on beds of leaves the Hobbits barely stirred. Pippin rolled over slightly and smacked his lips, but that was about all.
"The little Shirelings have earned their rest," Treebeard breathed as he straightened up again, turning to watch Deckerdramon widen the clearing as he entered it the trees pulling back around him. "Yet I have much to do still this night. I must spread the word across the Forest and do what Gandalf said is required of me. The Forest is waking faster than I would have thought. Perhaps a part of that is due to your own presence, Master Deckerdramon."
"Do you think one of the trees will attempt to smother them again?" Deckerdramon asked.
"I will not deny the possibility," Treebeard relented.
"Then I shall stay and watch them. And I should warn the trees in the vicinity now that while I have every intention of leaving you be, messing with the Halflings would be a grave mistake of your part."
A few groans and twitches answered his words, but the forest made no other move.
"I shall away," Treebeard strode slowly off the way he had come. "It is time. Yes… it is time. For something I had thought might never occur again. It will soon be time for the Entmoot."
Deckerdramon watched him go, before settled down onto his belly, his legs folding in on themselves as he settled himself down for his own rest. But he had no intention of sleeping. He laid his head on the ground, swivelling one of his red eyes downwards to watch the sleeping Hobbits.
Nothing attacked them during the night.
Nothing would have even dared.
When Merry finally awoke the next morning, the Sun had already been up several hours and the only reason he woke up was because the Sun finally hit his eyelids through the leafy canopy. He blinked and sat up, and the first thing he saw was an enormous red eye staring down at him.
"GAH!" he yelled and scrambled to his feet, but didn't quite manage to get upright and fell backwards again.
Deckerdramon laughed. "Your friend had much the same reaction," he said. "I suppose all this must still be so strange to you so it's little surprise by appearance would alarm you in your waking moments. But you need not fear. You are quite safe in my company."
Merry blew a breath of relief as he sat up. "Phew," he said. "For a moment there, I wondered if a Dragon had found me. I remember Bilbo's stories about the massive eye of that Golden Dragon he saw."
"Well if a Dragon does come and tries to attack you, rest assured I will bring it crashing to the ground or die trying."
"I don't know about you, Merry," Pippin said from where he was sitting by one of the basins and drinking out of a stone bowl that was about four times as big as his own head. "But I feel a lot safer than I have in a long time. Ever since we left Rivendell really. It's like we've got our own personal wall to hide behind, except this wall moves around when we do. Quite handy, don't you think?"
"And the wall provides us with entertaining conversation," Merry said as he got up and stretched. "What more could you ask for besides that if you have to be far from home and in a strange land."
"Happy to be of service," Deckerdramon chortled.
"Where's Treebeard?" Merry asked.
"He left during the night on business but I believe he shall return soon," Deckerdramon replied. "You must have been tired though. You slept for near on twenty-four hours straight. But I suppose you had quite a bit of sleep to catch up on after your experiences. It's a shame you couldn't meet Cutemon before we left. He might have been able to do something about that cut over your eye."
Merry pressed his hand against the wound he'd sustained from being repeatedly bashed against the jagged back of the Uruk-Hai's helmet, which he'd manage to clean up quite nicely in a stream yesterday.
"Well, you never know. It might leave a scar. Something to show the folks back home."
"Not the most glamorous story in the world though, is it?" Pippin asked, taking another sip from his bowl. "I'd prefer to go home with no scars at all. More to the point, I'd prefer to go home so that I can get back to my regular meals. Oh, how I miss the beer they brew back at the Green Dragon Inn. And the cheesecakes. What I wouldn't do for a slice of cheesecake right now."
Merry's stomach growled at him. "You should probably stop that, Pippin," he suggested. "You're just going to make us both upset. There won't be any cheesecake in this forest. And probably none in our stomachs for a long time to come."
"But you know what I miss more?" Pippin asked. "Old Toby."
Merry inhaled slowly through his nose, almost instinctively, trying to smell the pipeweed that Pippin had just mentioned. He still had his pipe – one of the few things the Uruks had not taken away from him. But it was no use to him without the weed.
"And you know what else?" Pippin was apparently on a roll now. "I miss a good old-fashioned grrooohh."
Merry frowned. "What? What did you say? And… what's happened to you?"
"Hmm?" Pippin asked. "What are you talking about? Hrrrom." He added, his voice suddenly going much deeper for that brief word, but he didn't even seem to notice it.
There was a slight groaning from the trees around them in response, and Merry put two and two together. "Those are the kind of words Treebeard says sometimes. You're talking the same language as the trees. And… you look different somehow. I can't quite tell why but you do."
"Almost sounds to me like the mere mention of Old Toby is going to your head, Merry," Pippin placed down his bowl and stood up, making Merry's eyes widen. "There's nothing different about…"
"Yes, there is. You've gotten taller."
Pippin blinked. "What?"
"You've grown," Merry protested, looking highly affronted as he stepped up next to Pippin and found that his head only came up to his fellow Hobbit's eyes. "Overnight! You were a couple of inches shorter than me yesterday."
"What are you talking about?" Pippin waved him away. "Merry, how long have we been best friends? Are you telling me that all that time you thought you were actually taller than me?"
"Yes, I have, because I was," Merry insisted. "Granted not by much, but still, this isn't right."
"Don't worry, Merry. I've never made fun of you for being shorter than me before, I'm not going to start now."
Deckerdramon cleared his throat and said, "I am afraid that I must concur with your friend, Peregrin. I can vouch for his claim that yesterday, he was taller than you were."
"What? That's absurd," Pippin said. Although, even as he said it, his body seemed to lengthen slightly and Merry was alarmed to find he now only came up to Pippin's nose.
"What's happening?" he demanded. "You must be… three-foot-eight now."
"Haven't I been for a long time?" Pippin asked, innocently reaching for the bowl the he had put nearby. Merry's eyes followed his hand and suddenly he made the connection. Pippin had been shorter than him when they went to sleep and if all he'd done since waking up was drink the water…
And he remembered what people said about the Old Forest. Folk used to say there was something in the water that made the trees grow tall…
He grabbed a large stone cup so big it twice as tall as a vase and immediately started guzzling the water inside. Pippin yelped. "Merry don't!" he cried. "Don't drink it!"
Laughing and gurgling as he downed water so much it sloshed down either side of his face, Merry darted out of Pippin's reach, the other Hobbit in hot pursuit. Deckerdramon watched in amusement as the two ran around the clearing, Pippin trying to pry the vase-cup out of Merry's hands while Merry did an excellent job of keeping it away and downing more at the same time.
"No, you shouldn't have any! Tell him Deckerdramon!"
"If you can drink it, I can drink it!"
"But it could be hazardous to your health!"
"Some people say that smoking pipe-weed can be that too!"
"Nonsense, but this water is different! No, stop drinking it!"
Merry just laughed, and for the first time in a while he actually felt merry. His name hadn't seemed to apply to him for some time now, but it was as if they were two tweens running around the Shire and getting into trouble again.
Except this time there was height difference at stake.
"Hoom, hom," said a voice that announced the return of Treebeard. "Hold fast, Master Peregrin," he said as he ambled into the clearing. "Allow Master Meriadoc to take all the Ent-draught that he desires. It is all I have to offer you and you must both keep your strength up."
"Ent-draught?" Pippin asked, while Merry took advantage of his lapse to chug down as much of the water as possible. "Isn't it just water?"
"Water with a few trace minerals inside that we get from the rocks and the ground around here," Treebeard informed him as he stepped over to the basin, delicately picking up the large bowl in one hand and filling with a scoop, lifting it up close to his own face. "We Ents do not eat solid food as you do. We gain all the sustenance that we need through our Ent-draughts. And we have, hoom, two different kinds. One for nourishment, as Master Meriadoc is now drinking. And one for refreshment." And he placed the bowl to his wooden lips and drained it in a couple of gulps… making the moss of his beard slightly soggy.
"So… you don't have anything else?" Pippin asked. "No bread and butter? No cheese? No fish? No chicken? No nothing like that? How have you survived all these years with just water?"
"One of the many ways in which we differ," Treebeard hummed as Merry lowered the jug, gasping for breath. The Hobbit looked over at Pippin and was pleased to note that he was suddenly level with the top of his hairline again. But more of the stuff was needed so he lifted the jug back to his face again.
"Now that you mention it though," Pippin touched his stomach. "I do feel quite full. Perhaps the stuff works after all. But I am a little thirsty… which is weird since all I did was drink water."
"You drank from the nourishment draught," Treebeard explained. "Come, refresh yourself with the other. And what of you, Deckerdramon. I fear I have little to offer you for nourishment."
"You will not need to worry about me," Deckerdramon chuckled. "I don't eat or drink often, and when I do I do not need much. I still have plenty of reserves to go on from the feast I had but a few days ago."
Treebeard nodded and turned back to watch the Hobbits. It didn't take them long to have their fill of the draughts, and Pippin was rather disgruntled to note that Merry was now as tall as him again when they'd finished. He'd been hoping to get away with it, but at least he was no longer shorter. He wondered how tall they both were now.
"It is a historic day," Treebeard rumbled as he stepped over and picked the Hobbits up. "I believe that this is the first time in the history of my kind that anyone but Ents have drunk Ent-draught."
"We take it as a high honour then," Merry grinned, stashing away the little water pouch filled with draught that he had filled without Pippin noticing earlier. "But where are we going now?"
"We must walk," Treebeard placed them in his branches once again. "We have another journey to make now, at Gandalf's bequest. I hope I can meet up with Finglas and Fladrif once more."
"Who?" Pippin asked.
"Hoom, hrooom, old friends of mine," Treebeard said. "Very… very… old friends."
"How old are you exactly, Treebeard?" Deckerdramon asked as he slowly rolled around to follow Treebeard through the forest once more. "Just a curious question."
"Ah, the years mean little to an Ent," Treebeard replied. "The exact number of them that have passed since my birth have long since escaped me and I have never tried to count them again. But I know that I am one of the first Ents ever to walk this Middle Earth. Ents came into existence at the same time as the Elves, and I was there to open my eyes for the first time that day."
"You've been around as long as all the Elves?" Merry breathed. "But Elrond told me that none of the Elves that live in Middle Earth today are among those that were born first. That must make you… the oldest living thing in all of Middle Earth! At least the oldest thing born in Middle Earth."
"Oldest, yes. I suppose I am," Treebeard nodded solemnly. "It had been a long life I have led. Every Ent today had lived a long life, but I more than most. There are only two Ents remaining today who share my claim – who were also there on the day Ents first appeared. Finglas and Fladrif are their names. In your tongue that would make them called Leaflock and Skinbark, just as I am Fangorn but also Treebeard."
"And we're going to see them?" Pippin asked.
"And others besides. I have sent the word out to many of my kind. We are convening for the Entmoot – a gathering we have no had for over an age now. And I fear that over the years, we have declined further still. We are small in number in comparison to ancient times. The trees around us become increasingly unmanageable with our numbers, and I fear that without the protection of myself or Deckerdramon, they would harm you Hobbits if they could. Even though you have done nothing, they regard all small two-legged beings in the same light."
"But if you're immortal and nobody ever comes in here, how can there be so few of you?" Pippin asked. "Surely there should be lots of you if you don't die like Elves do."
"Die, we do not," Treebeard remarked. "But we can cease to be Ents. Many of us, when we grow older, we become increasingly Treeish. The years fade by and Ents will grow increasingly sleepy, and often take root and go still, becoming one with the Trees rather than shepherding them. I fear greatly that the same fate may soon await Leaflock. He too is growing tired. Soon it may only be myself and Skinbark who remain of the original Ents."
"And what of your young?" Deckerdramon asked. "While I do not need to know the details, do you not produce infants like most creatures do? You must have done, if there are only three of you left from the beginning but more than three of you?"
"Yes, I would quite like to see an Ent child," Merry agreed.
"Then you may be in for a long wait, Master Merry," Treebeard murmured, a wistful and heart-rending tone of melancholy appearing in his voice. "It has been many thousands of years since Entings played beneath these or any trees?"
"Why?" Merry frowned. "Has nobody tried to do anything about that?"
"Many a time," Treebeard said mournfully. "But there is nought any Ent can do without an Entwife. And the Entwives have been lost to us for years."
"Entwives… you mean girl Ents?" Pippin frowned. "You mean that the only Ents left in the world are boys?"
"All the Ents remaining in this forest are boys," Treebeard confirmed. "As to the world, I do not know. The Entwives may have all perished, or they may have simply been lost to us forever, but we have not been able to find them since the Second Age. The Entwives loved trees just as we Ents did, but they also like to build gardens filled with flowers and all manner of plants besides. So they left the forest to make those gardens out on the plains and beautiful things they were to behold too. We Ents would frequently visit them out there, and they would visit us in turn. Among them was my own beloved… Fimbrethil was her name, and smooth was her bark. Soft were her leaves. But I have not seen her for… a terribly long time."
"What happened?" Pippin asked, afraid to know the answer.
"There came the time," Treebeard murmured. "When we Ents took our turn to visit the gardens of the Entwives. But when we arrived, we found nothing but ash… and ruin. The gardens destroyed, burnt to the ground and everything they had worked so hard to build… hammered into the dirt. And there was no sign of the Entwives. No sign of my beloved Fimbrethil, or any of the others. But we suspect the hand of Orcs involved. The hordes of Sauron perhaps. Since that day, we have made many searches for our beloved Entwives. But we have never found them."
"But that's… that's terrible," Merry choked out. "Surely that can't have… all died, could they?"
"That is a question I do not know the answer to," Treebeard plodded along a little more slowly than before, lost in the past. "We Ents ventured farther than we ever have before in our searches. I roamed hill and vale, long and hard, searching for Fimbrethil or someone who might know what had become of her. But I never found her. Nor any other Entwife…" He looked down at his gnarled hands. "But I have never been as far as the Shire. I don't suppose you have heard tell of them up there?"
"If I have… I cannot remember it," Pippin bit his lip. "I'm… sorry, Treebeard. I wish I could be of more help."
"It is not something for you to be sorry for, Peregrin," Treebeard said. "In truth… I cannot remember myself. I cannot even remember what Fimbrethil looked like when last I saw her. Even for an Ent, it has been a long time since she disappeared."
Merry frowned, thinking hard about what he should say next. He was remembering again the Old Forest on the borders of his homeland. The only place besides Fangorn he knew about where the trees actually moved around. And he thought of the Ent-draughts that had allowed their growth, and how that compared with the water in the Old Forest that gave consciousness to the trees.
Was there a connection?
Was it possible that there were Entwives living on the borders of the Shire that none of the Hobbits even knew about? Entwives living in the Old Forest?
He had no idea but it sounded plausible. Should he tell Treebeard? The poor old Ent was so sad – surely he should know of Merry's suspicions.
But what if he was wrong? What if there really were no Entwives there? Would it really be fair to get Treebeard's hopes up for the first time in thousands of years, only for them to go back to the Shire and find nothing? Surely such a loss might drive all hope out him. He might give up right there and go Treeish.
So Merry made a decision. If he survived this war and they went back to the Shire, he was going to lead some Brandybucks into the Old Forest and find out the truth about what lay beneath the trees. If there were Entwives there, he would find them. And if he found them, then he would come straight back here to Fangorn and tell Treebeard then. But he didn't, he wouldn't, get Treebeard's hopes up for no reason.
So for now, he held his silence, and let the old Ent grieve.
Fortunately for all of them, the sad atmosphere was promptly broken by a voice hailing them from the trees.
"Fangorn, you old stick," the voice boomed, almost jolting Merry and Pippin from their perches in surprise. "It has been too long since I last saw you."
"I know that voice," Treebeard chuckled. "If it isn't the hasty one."
"As far as I can see, there is little wrong with doing things a little faster," said the voice as a huge, lumbering shape could be seen through the trees, moving towards them. "It gives me far less of a chance that I might start going Treeish, don't you think, Fangorn? But I suppose I just have a different pace to you."
The Hobbits gasped at the Ent that emerged before them. He was even bigger than Treebeard, with thicker limbs and a small forest of branches jutting up out of his head and shoulders and upper back that gave him the look of a rowan tree.
"And I see that the whispers brought to me were true," the Ent said as he stepped towards them, eyeing Merry and Pippin for a moment before he leaned around Treebeard to get a good look at Deckerdramon. "Forgive me for coming to find you rather than making straight for the Entmoot, but I had to see it for myself. Perhaps it is safe to say my curiosity overcame me."
"Such is the way of the young," Treebeard rumbled amusedly. "Masters Merry and Pippin and Deckerdramon, allow me to introduce you to one of the youngest remaining Ents left in the world. This is Bregalad, but in the Common Tongue the translation would be Quickbeam. While most Ents agree with me that taking things slow and steady is the better course, Quickbeam as his name might tell you, has a penchant for hastiness."
"We may live long, but there is no reason that you have to live slow in my opinion," Quickbeam stated.
"It has always seemed to me that a lack of haste for us gives you a sense of purpose for longer when you can find one."
Quickbeam laughed, an almost musical sound in comparison to the gruff, breathy tones that the Ents usually used. "You may have a point, Fangorn," he conceded. "But we can argue the merits of speed another time."
"Then let me make the introductions the other way," Treebeard said. "These two are the Hobbits, Meriadoc and Peregrin and this is Digimon known as Deckerdramon."
"Well this must truly be a first," Quickbeam stepped closer to examine the Hobbits first. "Two different kinds of creature that no Ent has heard of before this, coming together in this forest at the same time? I may be young for an Ent, but I know that that has no happened before."
"Indeed it has not," Treebeard agreed. "Not since the Elves taught us how to speak and taught us the great lists of all the living creatures that walk this world has that been the case. And yet, now there are two that don't belong to the great lists here. It is quite fascinating. Perhaps the lists need updating."
"I would say more than perhaps," Quickbeam stepped past Treebeard there and faced Deckerdramon next. "But as to you, are you certain that you are no Dragon. I have never before seen a Dragon but I have heard their descriptions and you are the closest to it that I have ever come across."
Deckerdramon laughed. "No Dragon, I assure you. I may be a draconic Digimon but that is all I am. Well met, Quickbeam. I am sure that we will get along splendidly."
"I hope so," Quickbeam laughed. "For mighty as the strength of an Ent is, I might fear for my life if I tried to take you on. There are few who the trees would fall back for in the way they have for you. Pit me against a Troll any day, but against the likes of you I think I shall avoid confrontation."
"I've seen Trolls before," Pippin said. "Well… one Troll but it was very big and incredibly strong. The only other ones I saw were already turned to stone. But do you really think that you can take them on, Treebeard?"
"We have done so in the past," Treebeard replied, bristling at the mere mention of the giant beasts. "Trolls are mockeries of Ents. You may know that Orcs and Goblins are more than merely the creations of the first Dark Lord Morgoth, upstart that he was. I was already able to speak and was happy with Fimbrethil when Morgoth first rose out of the darkness. But I digress. You may know that all forms of Orcs came from Elves, held prisoner by Morgoth and so viciously warped and mutilated that they became the savages we know them as today."
"I had been aware of that, yes," Merry nodded. "And the thought still makes my stomach churn."
"As it should," Treebeard harrumphed. "But Trolls are the same, except they are a twisted version of my own people. Robbed of their care for the forests and reduced in intelligence, bent to serve evil. But like Orcs, Trolls lost some of their strength under the lash of Morgoth. Any Ent is a match for any Troll, I can assure you. We could bludgeon them over before they could lay so much as a finger on them."
"Sounds like the great Fangorn is getting incensed," Quickbeam remarked. "If he found himself facing a Troll, he would agree with me that haste makes for the better option."
Deckerdramon laughed and reared onto his hind legs, towering over Treebeard and Quickbeam alike and causing the trees around him to tilt themselves in an alarming way to avoid him touching their branches. "If that is the case then should any Troll threaten our company, I would gladly crush them."
"And I believe that you could do it," Quickbeam tapped on the metal plating of Deckerdramon's belly with one thick, wooden hand, before the Digimon lowered himself to the ground. "But perhaps we should make… further tracks, should we not, Fangorn?" Quickbeam's sap-coloured eyes twinkled with slight amusement, and Treebeard was well aware he had been about to say 'make haste.'
"We should," Treebeard agreed, turning and continuing along the path. "It is still a fair distance yet to the site of the Entmoot."
"Hold on tight, little Halfling creatures," Quickbeam remarked as he strode past Treebeard for several long steps, then paused and looked back as Treebeard neither slowed nor picked up his pace. "Ah yes, I suppose I can travel at your speed for now, Fangorn. I would much like to get to know your new companions before we arrive and begin more serious discussion."
"What are you going to discuss?" asked Pippin.
"We are going to discuss whether or not we should do something that Ents have never before done," Treebeard stated. "Yet Gandalf has insisted that we at least talk of it, for it is a matter that will soon be put to all in Middle Earth. We must decide if the Ents will go to war."
Merry and Pippin looked at each other, feeling slight grins pressing across their faces. If Ents were stronger than Trolls, and they joined the fight against Sauron… they could only imagine what a force the walking trees might be.
Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, there were a couple of other Digimon that were currently trying to make heads or tails of their situation, but only seemed to be coming up with the sides of the coin.
"What are we supposed to do now?"
"I swear if you ask me that one more time, I am going to blow up in your face."
"Why, because you don't have an answer? Well I don't have an answer either or I wouldn't be asking the question. I would be posing a suggestion."
"Don't get technical. You know as well as I do that neither of us is going to actually come up with an answer. We can only really hope that we find something helpful eventually."
"So until then we're just supposed to bounce around in some random direction and hope for the best, huh?"
"I know for a fact that you do not have a better idea."
"…You're right, I don't. Man I almost miss being in those pits. At least in there we had an idea of what we were meant to do."
"And what we were meant to do was get the heck out of those pits. I am just glad that that particular goal has been completed."
"Yeah, me too I guess. But this forest is almost as creepy as those pits were. Which is just weird because there's no mangled looking creatures swinging steel around in here."
"Yeah… I know what you mean. That was one creepy night we had out here."
If you hadn't worked it out or remembered who was talking, it was the two Bombmon that had escaped from the pits of Isengard and fled towards the nearest shelter. Or at least what they had thought was shelter. But the forest didn't feel particularly sheltering. It almost felt as though there was something watching them at literally all times, which was actually a lot worse than down in the pits where nobody was watching them but they had to make sure it stayed that way.
The Bombmon had no destination in mind, no clue where they were, no idea which way they were heading. They didn't even know which direction was the way back to Isengard – they had somewhat lost their bearings during the darkness of the night. And now they were frustrated hopping along in what they fervently hoped was a straight line, convincing themselves that the forest had to end at some point. And wherever it did, they would make sure they didn't come back into it.
"Your fuse is getting shorter," one of them remarked to the other quickly.
"Sorry," the Bombmon in question quickly stopped and concentrated enough to stop the short fuse sticking out the top of his head from burning itself out – a Bombmon exploded by shortening its fuse and it grew a new one every time it let off the attack. "That happens sometimes when I get nervous."
A groan nearby caused them both to spin around and huddle together a little – two tiny, legless, armless Digimon alone in the darkness.
"What was that?" one of them asked.
"I dunno, but whatever it is, we should probably… your fuse is shortening again! WAIT!"
The Bombmon hurled himself away from his companion as he blew up, blowing a portion of the earth beneath him into the air and sending up a small plume of smoke in the process. There was an immediate reaction around them as all the trees suddenly leant backwards and the moaning, groaning noise crescendoed rapidly. The other Bombmon looked around fearfully and hopped back to the crater, finding his partner sitting looking dazed and trying to clear his mind as his fuse grew back.
"Try not to do that again," the Bombmon hissed. "I think you made the whole forest mad."
The other Bombmon would have said that was crazy if he couldn't hear the rumbling complaints coming from all around him. "Maybe we should get out of here before we attract an army of Cherrymon or something," he said. "I'll try and keep my fuse long."
"You do that." And the two Bombmon continued hopping away, a little faster this time and trying to ignore the groans of the trees.
But many miles away, both Treebeard and Quickbeam stopped in their tracks as they heard a slight mumbling from around them. Merry and Pippin frowned and looked around them at the trees, while Deckerdramon rolled up to the Ents and asked, "What is it? What is wrong?"
"It appears…" mumbled Treebeard, "That there are yet more… interesting intruders into our forest. Not Orcs, the trees say. But another thing like they have never encountered before too."
Deckerdramon's eye swivelled around him as if searching the horizon for said intruder. "You don't think it could be…"
"Another Digimon perhaps," Treebeard finished for him. "It may be best to find out. Perhaps, Bregalad, we can make use of your… hastiness on this day," the older Ent turned to the larger one. "Would you care to investigate? We will continue on to the Entmoot and you can meet us there. If there is any Ent who can catch us up, it would be you."
"I am already gone, Fangorn," Quickbeam turned around and started marching south-west, following the mumbles of the trees.
"Perhaps I should go with him," Deckerdramon said. "If it is another Digimon…"
"Bregalad will make the journey much faster on his own," Treebeard assured him. "If it is another Digimon then he will let them know you are here, and bring them to the Entmoot. Now, let us go. We still have quite a distance to cover."
Hehehehehehehe, well there you have it. Some of that stuff we learned about the Ents was accounted for in the extended version of the movie, but there were some other parts that were not and I thought they would be very interesting to add. Quickbeam is also an Ent from the books for those of you who are not familiar with him.
Until next time then. Bye!
Coming up:- Chapter 57 : The King of the Golden Hall