Thank you so much for your reviews! And to the one reader who made a fan art for this story and got it onto Wall Street Journal, I give you a huge thank you! I hope that this will be illustrated and published someday, and maybe even become a CGI animated movie (or movieS, I don't know). Thank you everyone! ;P

The Lord of the Whiskers

Chapter 8; A Few Days in Purrendell

A bright light suddenly flares in Furodo's eyes. He squeezes them shut, gasping. His fur begins to stand on end.

"Where am I?" he whimpers, evidently very frightened. A voice, familiar to Furodo, cuts through the swirl of sound.

"You are in the house of Elrump, and it is ten o'clock in the morning on October the twenty-fourth, if you want to know." The voice is so recognizable... low, aged, and slightly comical. Furodo should surely know this voice!

Furodo's eyes flicker open. He is curled up on a soft, luxurious cat bed next to an open window. Dappled sunlight plays on richly carved timbers, and the sound of a nearby waterfall drifts through the vista of fir trees. The young Munchkin cat looks up to see an long-furred gray Persian cat, softly puffing his pipe, which he holds in the tip of his tail.

"Gandalfur!" Furodo mews in weak relief. Gandalfur smiles kindly.

"Yes, I'm here. And you're lucky to be here, too. A few more hours and you would have been beyond our aid. You have some strength in you, my dear Munchkin." Furodo pulls himself to his paws, having a good, long stretch before sitting on his hind legs. He curls his tail around his front paws and looks at Gandalfur questioningly.

"What happened, Gandalfur?" he meows. "Why didn't you meet us?"

"I'm sorry, Furodo," the Persian cat confesses. "I was delayed."

Sarucat stands proudly over Gandalfur, and gloats. The shabby gray Persian yowls in pain.

"Get up! So much for the power of the Whisker or embrace your own destruction!" Sarucat hisses. With the power of his staff, Sarucat raises Gandalfur from the ground, then sends him crashing to the floor. He yowls again in greater pain.

"There is only one Lord of the Whisker..." Gandalfur whispers, forcing himself to stay strong. "Only one who can bend it to his will... and he does not share power." Suddenly, Gandalfur lurches to his paws and throws himself off the tower, as if to rid himself of this living hell. Sarucat watches Gandalfur fly away from Isencat... on the back of a giant Eagle.

"So you have chosen death," the White Persian hisses silently, chills filling the air with his voice. He continues to watch as Gwaihir the Eagle soars majestically over the mountains, carrying Gandalfur towards the first rays of dawn.

"Gandalfur! What is it?" Furodo mews, staring into the Persian's blue-gray eyes. Gandalfur snaps out of his memory and returns his attention to Furodo.

"Nothing, Furodo..." he says in a faraway voice, as if he is still remembering that night.

Both of the cats almost jump out of their fur as Samwhisker bursts into the room and bounds to Furodo's cat bedside. He is overjoyed, and Furodo can almost see the first glimpses of tears in his eyes.

"Furodo! Furodo! Bless you, you're awake!" he meows happily, rubbing his side on Furodo's side, as all felines do in greeting.

"Sam has hardly left your side," Gandalfur says, watching the two.

"We were worried about you- weren't we, Mr. Gandalfur?" Sam meows. Gandalfur nods.

"By the skills of Lord Elrump, you're beginning to mend." At the moment that the Persian mews this, Elrump, the Lord of the High Self-colored, steps up to Furodo's bedside. His face is neither old nor young, though in it is written the memory of many things both glad and sorrowful.

"Welcome to Purrendell, Furodo Furrins," he meows softly. Furodo's tail twitches, and he looks at Elrump in awe.

It is day in Purrendell, a small cluster of elegant Self-colored buildings sitting in a Shangri-la like valley below towering cliffs and snow capped mountains. Quite a beautiful place to live, actually.

"You have found your way to the last homely house east of the sea. The Self-colored of Imladris have dwelt within this valley for three thousand years, though few of my kin now remain," Elrump meows, his voice filling the air like mist. Furodo looks out from the balcony of his bedroom, a faraway look in his deep blue eyes.

Not too long later, Furodo and Sam pad together on the beautiful stone halls. Suddenly, the voices of Furry and Pawpin are heard as they bound up to Furodo and throw their paws around him.

"Furodo! Furodo!" Furry mews excitedly. After the excitement of meeting him again, Sam looks past Furodo, smiling. Furodo turns, following Sam's gaze, and sees a bent figure, sitting alone on a bench in the warm late morning sun. His eyes suddenly fill with joy and tears as he realizes who the figure is.

"Pawbo!" he exclaims, rushing towards his uncle. Pawbo Furrins breaks into a broad grin and holds out his paws to embrace his nephew. Pawbo has aged significantly since we last saw him; his fur is shabbier, his whiskers droop more, and his body is so much more frail.

"Hello, Furodo, my lad!" he mews kindly. Furodo continues to say his uncle's name over and over again, rubbing the side of his head on Pawbo's body.

Later, Furodo is turning the neatly inscribed title page of a red leather bound journal:

"'There and Back Again: a Munchkin's Tale" by Pawbo Furrins," he reads. Pawbo smiles proudly. He is sitting with Furodo on a terrace overlooking a waterfall. Furodo looks at page after page of beautiful pawwriting, with intricate maps and drawings of the places he visited on his adventures.

"This is wonderful..." Furodo says distantly, as if he is going on the adventure by simply reading it.

"I meant to go back..." Pawbo mews. "...wander the paths of Mirkwood, visit Laketown, see the Lonely Mountain again... but age, it seems, has finally caught up with me." Furodo turns a page. There before him is a map of the Tuna Can. All of a sudden, the young Munchkin feels very homesick.

"I miss the Tuna Can... I spent all my childhood pretending I was off somewhere else... off with you, on one of your adventures..." He looks at Pawbo, and the old Munchkin knows that he feels all wistful inside. "...But my own adventure... turned out to be quite different," he mews. "I'm not like you, Pawbo."

"My dear boy..." Pawbo whispers, staring into Furodo's eyes sympathetically, understanding his melancholia.

Sam busily tries to stuff more things into his already full and overflowing pack... pots and pans, blankets, cooking utensils, provisions, clothes.

"No, what have I forgotten?" he mumbles to himself.

"Packed already?" Sam looks up, startled, and sees Furodo watching him silently, his face calm and expressionless.

"No harm in being prepared," Sam says. Furodo quietly strolls over to the edge of the balcony.

"I thought you wanted to see the Self-colored, Sam?"

"I do..."

"More than anything?"

"I did. It's just... we did what Gandalfur wanted, didn't we? We got the Whisker this far, to Purrendell... and I thought... seeing as how you're on the mend, we'd be off soon. Off home." Furodo thinks about this for a minute. Home... right now, Furodo wants to go home more than he wants to see the Self-colored. He's tired of this adventure... he just wants to go home.

"You're right, Sam." Furodo looks up at his friend. "...We did what we set out to do." He opens his paw, and the Whisker sits in its center.

"The Whisker will be safe in Purrendell. I am ready to go home."

End Chapter 8