Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Unsung Hero (12/07/06)
TITLE: There and Back Again: Tommy Bracegirdle’s Ongoing Quest
By Stephen Paynter
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Encouraged, I rode down into the wooded valley ahead. I hoped soon to meet Frodo, and give him his handkerchief. Sadly, my getting lost finding Rivendell meant I was too late. He'd recently joined a fellowship heading for Mordor.
As soon as my supplies could be replenished, and I could tear myself away from the achingly beautiful Arwen and Elrond's well-laden tables, I was back in the saddle, heading east towards the Misty Mountains. On leaving Rivendell, however, I met a most ill-favoured creature skulking about.
"Oh look, it's another hateful hobbit, my precious," he hissed.
I, of course, not wanting to judge a book by its cover, was perfectly polite. "My dear sir," said I, "are you then familiar with hobbits? What families have you had the pleasure to meet? Tooks? Brandybucks? Surely not Bracegirdles?"
"No precious, not Tooks, nor Brandybucks, nor Bracegirdles. Baggins. It is Bagginses we have met. Oh yesss."
"Really? Was it Bilbo, years ago? Or Frodo, the ring-bearer, who passed this way just last week?"
Well, I won't recount all our conversation. Suffice it to say we found we had a common desire to meet up with Frodo. In this way I too became a member of a fellowship.
We followed Frodo into the mountains. where, unfortunately, we ran into some rather bad weather. I'm pleased to say that I was able to dig my companion out of more than one avalanche. When we again picked up Frodo's trail, we dutifully followed it until we reached Moria. Sadly, the entrance was quite impassable. My fellow traveller fortunately knew of another way in. It was small, but my recent frugal diet meant I could squeeze in after him.
Now, the mines of Moria may be a jewel in the crown of the dwarves and one of the wonders of Middle Earth, but in my experience, they are just dark. Indeed, it was so dark that if it hadn't been for the glow from my companion's bulbous eyes, I'm sure I'd have stubbed my poor toes even more often than I did. Alas, even this benefit was soon lost to me, as cruel misfortune parted us when he caught a whiff of someone or other, and hurried off hissing to himself.
Alone in the dark, I plodded on for days. I'm afraid my spirits began to sink. Indeed, I had even begun to wonder whether a handkerchief was worth all this trouble, when a nice steady drumming started up. The rhythm was just right for walking.
I was marching along perfectly happily when I turned a corner and had quite a fright. There before me was an exceedingly large gentleman with his head on fire, who otherwise was darker than the blackest shadows of that dark place. However, before I could work out whether to be afraid or to rush forward to offer to extinguish him, I heard a voice I recognised.
"You shall not pass!"
It was Gandalf! I was so excited to hear him that I rushed forward calling out his name.
The fiery-headed creature turned in surprise at my squeaking, and, I'm rather afraid to say, lost his balance at that point. He then fell into this chasm. In trying to save himself, tragically he pulled Gandalf in after him. Furthermore, the bridge collapsed. I suppose it was all my fault.
Alone again in the dark, I sat and took stock of my situation, nibbling a little of my bread from Rivendell. There really did seem nothing for it but to climb down to the bottom of this chasm and up the other side, not a prospect I exactly relished. Still it is hard to be too downhearted with elven bread to eat. It reminded me of feasts in Rivendell at which the elves were composing songs about the fellowship and the doughty ring-bearing hobbit. I wondered briefly if they would ever compose songs about me, but quickly realised they wouldn't. Delivering a handkerchief is not the stuff of epic ballads, I fear.
With obvious indebtedness to J.R.R. Tolkienâ€™s "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings".
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