"Come on Pippin" Emrys called, she and the Hobbits were nearing the gates of Bree, and it would be an understatement to say that they weren't exhausted. She swore she could drop dead any moment. She looked over her shoulder and saw the youngest out of the Hobbits struggling to keep up with their quick strides. Emrys could see the gates ahead, it was pouring down with rain, and she pulled her cloak tighter around herself. It was cold and wet; she cringed when her boots sank into the mud.
"Emrys-"she heard Merry shout over the rain, causing her to stop she looked over her shoulder and saw Pippin face down, the Hobbit had tripped over.
"Really Pippin steady there-"she laughed. Pippin scowled at her "You should really watch where you're going-argh-"Emrys had laughed too soon and tripped over her own feet. Pippin had just got onto his hairy feet where there was a loud SPLAT. All four Hobbits laughed loudly where they saw Emrys face down in a puddle.
"Ok…ok" she grumbled
"Come on Emrys you should watch where you're going" Pippin teased. She wiped the dirty water off of her face and scrambled onto her feet.
"Ha ha" she huffed and pulled the hood of her cloak back on. "I've got a sword so you better be quiet" she glowered at Pippin. "Come on" Emrys ushered the group forward till they reached the gates of Bree.
She ushered them behind them and peered from around a tree, wanting to make sure the area was clear. She didn't want the black riders to surprise them again. Emrys kept her eyes on the dirt covered road. "Come on. Stay close" she hushed them and darted forward. Frodo and the others were right on her heels.
Emrys straightened her hood and raised a pale fist. The rain was still pouring down but not only that the wind blew hard. She pounded hard against the wooden gate and waited. The little window swung open revealing the weathered face of the gate keeper.
"Hello" the raven head greeted the old man.
"Isn't she chipper?" Pippin whispered to Merry. But the slightly taller Hobbit hissed at him to be quiet.
"What do you want?" the old man croak.
"Well…there are lots of things that people want…and I prefer to have a warm bath-"she bumbled but immediately stopped when the gatekeeper was about to close the little hatch. "Wait apologies, I tend to rant when I get nervous…I think it's a condition, a bad one that hasn't been diagnose-"
"Emrys" Frodo hissed gaining the wrinkly old man's attraction; she followed his gaze and didn't miss the frightened looks on Frodo's face. She shifted so that she was blocking the man's view.
"We're heading to the Inn the Prancing Pony." Emrys said over the roaring wind. The rain pelted her face.
The man pulled open the creaky gate and stumbled out, she ushered the others back. "Hobbits? Four Hobbits-"
"What of it?" Emrys gripped onto her sword standing protectively in front of them, from the corner of her eye she could see Pippin clinging on to the hem of her cloak.
"I meant no harm missy." The old man raised his hand the other clutched onto a lit lantern. "They're out of the Shire that's quite a trip for them. What business do you have in Bree?" he questioned them.
Emrys licked her lips, not sure what to say, Frodo seeing her predicament decided to intervene "We wish to stay at the Inn, our business is our own."
"Alright, young sir I meant no offence" the old man exclaimed stepping aside, "It's my job to ask questions-"Emrys literally shoved all the Hobbits through the gate and then followed behind. She heard the gate creaking shut behind her. The old man kept talking "After dark, there's strange folk from aboard can't be too careful."
"Well thank you anyway" Emrys smiled "by any chance which direction is the Inn?" she asked.
"Right down there missy, take a right and then a left. Can't miss" she waved at him and they hurried off in that direction. "Good thinking Frodo back there" she grinned and clapped him on the back, but gasped when she set him careening toward the ground.
"Oh Valar so sorry-"she went to help him up, but tripped and fell on top of the Hobbit causing him to squeak.
"Ha-"Pippin laughed but slipped and landed on his bottom. Emrys rolled over and laid down on her back
"That's what you get for laughing" Emrys teased him Sam and Merry carried on walking, since they were in from of their companions they didn't see what happened. "Frodo you-"
"I'm fine" Frodo exclaimed as she picked him up and set him on his feet. She brushed the mud off and pushed Frodo forward
"Come on they're leaving us behind" Emrys uttered and literally dragged the ring bearer with her. "Hey-"she called out to Merry and Sam "wait up." The other two Hobbits stopped.
"There you are." Sam said.
"I know, Frodo fell clumsy Hobbit right?" Emrys grinned ignoring the look the raven head Hobbit had shot her.
Merry frowned "Where's Pippin?" he asked not seeing his cousin.
A look of confusion came on to her face "Pippin?...-"her eyes widened in realisation "Pippin. Oh…stay here and do not move-"she went to run off but stopped "ok move. You lot are in the middle of the road." They watched as the scattered brain raven head ran off.
"Was Gandalf thinking properly when he asked her to look after us?" Sam said aloud.
"Of course. Emrys…is just Emrys" Frodo defended her, plus she was one of the only big folks that he knew. "Look there they are…and they're both covered in mud."
There was some mud caked onto Emrys's cheek and Pippin's face was dolloped in it. "Ok let's move on." She instructed and ushered them forward.
Emrys looked over her shoulder thinking she heard a cry but nothing was there. She heard a loud neigh and gasped when a horse and a carriage came around the corner. She pushed them against the stone wall so they wouldn't be flattened.
She pushed her way through the crowd, making sure to keep all four Hobbits close together. She didn't blame them for their startled gasps. She gritted her teeth when a heavy set man shouldered her causing her to stagger.
Emrys needed to get them inside and quick "Watch where you're going-"she saw a large man bark at Frodo, the Hobbit was overwhelmed and accidentally knocked into someone.
"Why don't you?" she snapped narrowing her bright blue eyes at him, she stepped up to him
"Tell your idiotic little friend to watch his clumsy hairy feet-"the man spat.
Emrys glared at him "Hey you're the larger person so shouldn't you be able to see someone coming towards you?" she snapped "Apologise to him" she sneered.
"Emrys-"Frodo exclaimed, him and the others were frightened there was a lot of those large folks around. She ignored him and scowled at the man
The man laughed in her face. Causing her anger to spike "I said apologise-"she ordered a crowd was gathering around them. Pippin clutched onto Merry, these men easily towered over them and Emrys.
"Emrys come on" Sam pleaded; he grabbed her sleeve causing her to look down at him. Emrys sighed knowing that they were scared and weren't big on confrontation.
"Fine-"Emrys shot him a glare and shoved pass him, and urged them forward. Her eyes took in the sign 'The Prancing Pony.'
Frodo opened the door and they all staggered in, water dripped onto the floor boards and he attracted the Inn Keepers attention. Emrys pulled her hood of her cloak down and shook her soaking wet hair.
"What?" she frowned at his tone and saw Merry nervously smiling, she looked in the direction of where he was smiling at, her mouth form an 'O' shape. "Oh-erm…bad weather…"she smiled sheepishly. When she had shaken out her wet hair she had sprayed the brunette haired man. He grimaced and wiped some of the sprayed mud off of his face. "Sorry."
The man who was named Butterbur shook his head "No matter missy, so what can I do for you and the young masters." Emrys liked the man already; unlike the gatekeeper this one seems to radiate warmth. "If you're looking for accommodations we've got some nice cosy Hobbits sides room, as well as the regular ones" he aimed the last part at Emrys. The Hobbits room are fitted for everything…Mr…-"he was looking at Frodo more than the others since the raven head Hobbit had waved him over.
"Erm…Underhill" Frodo lied, she let out quiet sigh of relief he remembered to drop the name Baggins as Gandalf had instructed. "My name is Underhill"
"Underhill…aye…and you missy?" he looked at Emrys.
"Oh…erm my name? you want to know my name it's erm…"she fumbled. She thought it be best not to tell him her real name since she wasn't sure if Gandalf had wanted her to but having trouble improvising on the spot her eyes landed on something behind the Innkeeper "Barrel my name is Barrel-"she ignored the incredulous looks from the four Hobbits and the look that the Innkeeper was shooting her. "Erm…we're friends of Gandalf the Grey" she cleared her throat "can you tell him we arrive?" she asked him. Emrys propped her elbows up on the wooden countertop.
"Gandalf?" Butterbar questioned. "…Gandalf?"
Emrys nodded "He's not hard to forget" she uttered "old man…kind of grumpy? Has a beard" she carried him on. From where she was standing she could see that the tavern was littered with people and was slightly busy, which made sense since it was pouring down with rain outside.
Butterbar's eyes widened in recognition "Oh…yes I remember the elderly chap with the grey beard. He had a pointy hat-"she grinned and nodded "not see him since six months.-"this cause the raven head woman and her four Hobbit companions to frown.
"Thanks-"she looked down at the Hobbits and they all put their heads together "What should we do now?" Sam asked.
Emrys bit her bottom lip; they came all this way so they couldn't turn back. "We wait here" she declared "nothing else to do and the weather is terrible." She added "It'll be fun" she attempted to encourage them and cringed when she heard drunken men laughing loudly.
"Fun you say?" Merry gulped,
Emrys plastered a smile onto her face "Yes…eww" she gagged seeing a man throwing up right in front of them. She told Butterbar that they'll take the Hobbit room for the night, and she decided to bunk with them.
"So Barrel?" Pippin sniggered as Emrys pushed them to a table that located to the side of the room.
"Pippin?" she said
"Shut up" with that she slapped him upside the head.
Emrys looked over her shoulder and saw the four Hobbits were settled at the table, she was waiting for the barman to return with her and her friends' drinks. She had gotten them five half pints of ale.
She played with her red scarf and shifted from one foot to the other.
"Thank you" she smiled at the barman when he handed her a tray of drinks. She held onto it tightly and took a step back she turned on her heel but immediately bumped into someone.
"Sor-"her voice trailed off seeing it was the same man who had insulted Frodo outside.
"Second time you crossed me." The man sneered
"The second time you got in my way" she sniped "and you owe my friend an apology still."
Emrys took a side step but the broad man blocked her, "I believe we got off on the wrong foot…I'll apologise to your friend and look pass how you disrespected me-"her eyes bugged out, did this man have too many mushrooms? "If you do something for me." He shot her a lecherous grin and her skin crawled when he stroked her cheek.
"Something?" she asked in confusion not getting what he was hinting at.
"Yes something-"she stumbled back a step when his hand trailed down the side of her throat her eyes flashed gold and there was a stunned silence and then a roar of laughter. Emrys and the man looked down at the same time, and she guffawed loudly, his belt had snapped causing his breeches to drop around his ankles.
"Oh…you're a bit eager aren't you?" Emrys snickered "and …kind of small-"she added. Causing the surrounding men all to laugh harder, the mountain of the man growled and grabbed Emrys by her red scarf and pulled her forward
"Why you little-"she squeaked when he raised his fists, she clenched her eyes shut expecting a painful blow, she heard startled gasps and frowned when nothing happen. She opened one eye and saw that the man did have his hand raised in a fist but there was another hand holding his wrist, Emrys opened both eyes and saw that a complete stranger intervened.
"That's not very nice-"the stranger had a cloak on and his hood shielded his face. "Not very nice at all." He growled.
"Well that little wench was asking for it-"the yellowed tooth man snarled.
"Hey-"Emrys snapped offended "I don't recall asking to be harassed by a pig of man-"she spat. The tall man cursed and went to launch himself towards her. But the hooded man shoved her behind him and punched the man instantly knocking him out. Emrys's jaw dropped…she was not expecting that at all.
"Get back to your friends" the hooded man whispered and walked off.
Soon enough Emrys was finishing off her ale and held her chin in her hand, her hair was dry and she had wiped the dirt off of her cheek, so she wasn't as grimy looking as before.
"Here Pip-"she handed him some bread, her, Sam and Pippin were all sharing a bowl of soup whilst Merry had gone off to the bar to get something to drink.
"We're wasting our time" Sam muttered he was sitting beside Frodo and diagonally across from Emrys.
She sighed at the portly Hobbit's attitude. "Sam he'll be here."
"Yes he will" she hadn't lost faith in Gandalf, truth was she was beginning to get worried for the elderly man, something or someone must be holding him up.
Emrys was brought out of her musings when she saw Merry approaching him, she quirked an eyebrow seeing the large mug he was holding. He hopped onto the seat beside her and Pippin.
"What's that?" Pippin asked the question she was thinking.
"This my friend is a pint" Merry said gleefully.
Emrys rubbed her temples, knowing Hobbits and pints may not mix well. "It comes in pints?" Pippin asked.
"No Pip-"Emrys called out but he was already on his face.
"I'm getting one" he darted off before she could grab him.
"Ergh…Hobbits are so irritating." She huffed and looked up seeing Merry, Sam and Frodo all looking at her, she blushed a look of amusements flashed across their features "no offence" she hastily added. She dipped her fingers into Merry's pint collect the froth, for her this was the best part. "Hey-"
"Hi-"she grinned at the tallest Hobbit.
"You took some-"she licked the froth off of her fingers.
"Hmm…and it's tasty. Go on. But don't have too much. I don't fancy carrying you out of here…and Gandalf would think I can't take care of you lot. If you're drunk" Emrys bit into her piece of bread. She kept an eye on Pippin so didn't hear what Frodo and Sam were speaking about.
"That man over there….I don't know whether he is looking at you or Emrys" Sam whispered to Frodo.
"Huh?" Emrys looked over to them, once she saw that Pippin was settled at the bar and the men who he was with didn't look like they mean any harm. She relaxed somewhat. "Man-"she followed Frodo's gaze and sighed when she could make out what the pair of Hobbits were staring out. Emrys leant back slightly, there was a whole group of men blocked her view but from Frodo's and Sam's position they could see the stranger had a perfect view of them,
"I just want to see-"she said and leant further back, her eyes widened comically when she leant far too back and ended up on the floor.
Frodo swore he saw the stranger's lips twitch in amusement but his face was hidden by shadows. Emrys jumped onto her feet and acted as if nothing happened. She caught sight of the man, and saw him smoking a long stemmed pipe; he was already shrouded in mystery.
"Excuse me-"Frodo caught Butterbar's attention as he strolled pass them with a meal and two mugs of ales. "That man in the corner who is he?"
Butterbar leant down beside them and replied in a hush whisper "He's one of them rangers, dangerous folks they are wondering the wilds. What he's right name is I never know, but round here he is known as Strider."
Emrys licked her lips "Strider" she breathed, and swore for a second that his eyes met hers. She shook her head and grabbed the bread roll dipping it into the still warm soup.
"So Emrys" Merry grinned "fancy having a bet?"
Emrys returned his grin "What type of bet?"
"I bet you, that Pippin by the end of this evening will be drunk"
Emrys snorted "That is obvious. My bet is that I bet I can make Sam smile-"
"Now that is impossible-"they snickered
"Hey-"Sam threw the bread row at them, and laughed when it bounced off of Emrys's head, causing Emrys to pick up another roll of bread and chuck it out Sam. The hobbit ducked and her eyes widened when she accidentally hit the back of a large man's head.
"Sorry?" she offered but her attention immediately shifted when Frodo jumped out of his seat, her eyes followed him and she saw that he was running towards Pippin.
"Frodo-"she called and stood up
"Hey Missy I would like an apology-"the man she hit yelled. But she wasn't listening and rushed forward just as Frodo fell. Her heart stopped when she saw the Ring flying in the air. It was as if it was in slow motion she watched as it landed on Frodo's finger. Emrys clutched her head in pain feeling the dark magic. Her eyes snapped opened the spot where Frodo had been but saw that he had vanished.
"Emrys-"Merry grabbed her arm worriedly; she shook her head and looked around where on earth was Frodo?
"Hey I want an apology or some form of payment-"he leered at her.
"Oh shut up" Emrys snapped more than annoyed as well worried. Both Merry and Sam gasped when she drew her fist back and punched him hard in the face.
"You little wench-"the man had obviously drunk his weight in ale so his aim was off. Emrys side stepped him and he barrelled into the next group of men. She grabbed Merry and Sam and just saw a swish of a cloak on the stairs. Frodo. She pushed them through the crowd.
"Come on Frodo needs us. Pippin" she shouted and gripped onto her sword, she sprinted up the stairs and rushed down the narrow corridor, she raised her finger to her lips indicating for the three Hobbits behind her to be silent. She heard voices coming from the room on her right, she glanced over her shoulder and nodded, she pulled out her sword, they would have to be stealthy, but that flew out of the window when Merry stepped on the creaky floorboard, she briefly wondered where did he get the candles from but decided not to ask..
Emrys kicked the door open "Let him go Longshanks or I'll have you" Sam shouted.
"Really?" Emrys questioned and swung her sword, it collided with this Strider person's one.
"Stop-"the man shouted, he wasn't attacking her he was blocking her. "I am no enemy-"
"A likely story-"Emrys yelled and swung again, but he sidestepped her causing her to stumble forwards, the Hobbits huddled against the side of the room not really knowing what to do.
"Stop I do not wish to hurt you-"the man shouted he avoided another hit, he swung his sword harder than he had before and forced her sword out of her hands. Leaving her unarmed
"Now-"Strider started "I mean no harm-"
"Says the man who snatched my Hobbit-"
"Be quiet Frodo-"she snapped and narrowed her eyes at the man,
"Look-"Emrys didn't bother listening to what he was saying instead she surprised him by stomping hard on his foot. The man yelped in pain she shoved him backwards causing him to go down like a tonne of bricks.
"Run-"Emrys shouted and ran pass Strider "Go-"
"No!" Strider yelled and resorted to something else. He grabbed her ankle and pulled her down hard. But he positioned her in a way so that he took the brunt of her fall. She yelped feeling his hands clamped down on her hips. And rolled them over so that she was pinned beneath him.
"Calm-"he murmured softly, they were both breathing heavily, Emrys eyes met his grey ones. "I mean no harm to you or your friends-"his breath fanned over her, she could smell the essence of what he smoked earlier. "You can no longer wait for the wizard Gandalf-"he pushed himself off of her. And held out his hand to her, she eyed it for a moment "they are coming and you will need my help." He said "You can't do this alone"
Emrys looked over to the Hobbits and hated to admit to herself that Strider was right, she had barely even got them to Bree.
"Fine." She said and took his hand. Emrys felt the small shocks travel up her arm, and met his eyes. She wondered if he felt the same thing.
Emrys sighed she had made a pallet on the floor, as the Hobbits slept in the large bed. They had changed rooms and very reluctantly agreed to go into Strider's room. She peered through her thick lashes and saw the man sitting in a wooden chair; he looked as if he was fast asleep.
Valar he was handsome you would have to be blind not to think so, it didn't help that she made a blundering fool of herself. She clenched her saw fist and sighed. Sleep was not coming to her, her mind was filled up with too much worry, her eyes landed back on to Strider, she hadn't been around a man for a while…well that was not completely true, but she hadn't been around one who was attractive as Strider. She had the urge to run her fingers through his thick dark hair but then mentally slapped herself.
Emrys sighed and slipped on her boots, and walked over to the window.
"You know it's rude to stare-"a voice murmured causing her to yelp and jump. Emrys faced him and saw that he was in fact wide awake.
"You was awake?" she asked
"Yes…and you stare at people when they are sleeping. That is a worrisome trait-"Strider murmured, she could tell that he was smirking.
"I was not staring" she lied.
"Yes you were-"
"No I was not." Emrys snapped "You…you clot-pole" she exclaimed. Instead of being offended and leaving her alone he was immensely amused and chuckled.
She stiffened when he stood up next to her, "I annoy you" it wasn't a question more like a statement.
"Yes." Emrys once again surprised him by her retort. She brushed her fallen curls off of her face and gasped when he grabbed her hand. "What are-"
"Cold meat should help with the swelling" Strider murmured, running his thumb across her swollen and bruised knuckles. "This is a first time I heard of a woman staring a brawl in a tavern-"
Emrys eyed him and swore he was teasing her. "Well I'm not an ordinary woman."
"Oh I know" he took another step closer to her. Emrys pulled her hand away from his; he canted his head to the side.
"You don't trust me with your friends-"
"I do not know you, so why would I trust you? Mister Strider. You say you're a friend of Gandalf yet he has never spoken of you" Emrys uttered softly.
"Well at the moment I am the best option you have" Strider said, "but Gandalf spoke of you…and shared a few tales with me."
Emrys nodded and looked out of the window, her eyes widened catching sight of the Ringwraiths, and those foul creatures were in the room they would have occupied. Her mouth dropped open when she saw them raising their swords, before she could let out a shout or a scream but Strider clapped his large hand over her mouth.
"Ssh" he hissed into her ear. She felt his body behind hers, he held her against him and they watched as the Ringwraiths shrieked and stabbed at empty pillow cases. Emrys could feel his warm breath against the nape of her neck. When the attack in the Prancing Pony ended, Strider let her go.
"What are they?"
Emrys jumped and saw that Frodo and the other Hobbits were awake.
"They were once men, great kings of men" Strider explained "they Sauron the deceiver gave them Nine Rings of Power. Blinded by their greed they took them without question." Emrys leant back against the cool window.
"One by one falling into darkness and now they are slaves to his will They are the Nazgul, Ringwraiths, neither living or dead. At all times they feel the presence of the ring...drawn to the power of the one…they will never stop hunting you." She looked over her shoulder and saw the Ringwraiths mounting their horses.
"So Emrys" Strider uttered "Are you and your friends coming with me?"
Emrys pressed her lips together; there was no other answer besides one. They would be safest with Strider and as he had said before, he knew Gandalf. So that settled it.
"Yes. We're going to be leaving Bree." Emrys announced with a nod. "But for now we may as well rest" she uttered moving back over to her pallet. The Ringwraiths had moved on for now, so all they had to do was wait till dawn came and they would go.
She pulled the raggedy blanket over herself. And rested her head on her balled up cloak she was using as a pillow.
"Oh Emrys?" Strider called, she could hear the small fire crackling, and she sighed loudly and looked up at him
"Don't stare at me again-"she heard the Hobbits snickering, and grabbed one of her boots and flung it in their direction. "Oww" Pippin yelled.
"Shut up." Emrys snapped "I wasn't staring." The raven head woman ignored their snickers and drifted off to sleep.
AN: Apologies for any grammar or spelling mistakes. Thanks to those who reviewed.
So in this chap-We see Emrys and the Hobbits arriving in Bree, where she ended up offending a gatekeeper. They walk to the Prancing Pony, where she leaves Pippin behind so goes back to him, she meets an unpleasant man who insults Frodo. She and the other arrives at the Inn, where she says her name is Barrel. Emrys gets annoyed by a sleazy man, and uses magic to snap his belt. Before he could hit her someone intervenes. She hears about Strider and tries to spy on him but falls. Emrys throws a bread roll, Frodo gets taken. A brawl starts, she fights Strider. Strider tells the others about Ringwraiths. He says to her she is staring. And she decides to let him guide them.