2. Out of the Downs
had gone out but the lamps were still burning though
the door now stood open with the pale morning sunlight
Disintangling himself from a cocoon of blankets he
padded to the door and looked outside. Lightfoot was
sitting on a fallen megalith combing her long black
"Good morning." he glanced upward at the grey
clouds scudding across the sky. "Looks like rain."
"Not till later." the Woman answered. "You may be
able to make Bree first." pointed. "The road is about
five miles that way and Bree some twelve miles beyond
that." glanced sidelong at the Hobbit. "I know you
were told to stay off the road but I wouldn't advise
wandering far from it. The Wild holds many dangers but
the road is guarded."
By whom? Frodo wondered.
A couple of hours walk from the shelter brought
them to the narrow valley where the Hobbits had been
ambushed by Wights. The only trace of the night's
struggle was three mounds of bone and shredded white
cloth, each transfixed by a black arrow.
Lightfoot calmly collected her arrows then knelt down
to cut a large square in the turf with her knife and
peel back the grass. She gathered up the bones
and piled them on the bare earth. Then took a
large glass or crystal from her coak and used it to
focus the sun's rays and set the bones and their cloth
"Sunfire cleanses." she explained to the watching
Hobbits. Then staring into the leaping flames, pale
and translucent in the daylight, she softly chanted
a few staves in a language Frodo recognized - though
he could understand no more than a word or two.
Bilbo had taught him the common Elvish and a few
phrases of High Elvish. The latter tongue was seldom
spoken on this side of the sundering sea yet it was
the language of Lightfoot's song, Frodo was sure of
it. What kind of Woman was this? certainly no wife or
maiden of Bree!
Turning away from the fire she led them almost due
north and would allow no halt until they had passed
through a dike and hedge defining the limits of the
Downs. Only then did she let the weary and footsore
Hobbits light a fire and cook themselves a combined
lunch and tea.
"Are the dike and hedge to keep the Barrow Wights
in?" Merry asked through a mouthful of bread and
"No. Long ago they marked the border between the
Kingdoms of Cardolan and Arthedain." Lightfoot smiled
grimly. "Wights cannot be contained by so simple a
The Hobbits shivered and asked no more questions.
The sun was invisible behind a veil of rain heavy
clouds but Frodo guessed it was well after noon by the
time they reached the road.
"Well, here we are at last." he said. "I don't suppose
we can have lost any more than a day or two by my
"It may have served to put your pursuers off the
trail." Lightfoot pointed out and Frodo looked at her
They been careful to say nothing about the Black
Riders but clearly she knew about them. And how much
"The trees alongside the road will give you cover."
she continued. "Better hurry while the light lasts."
"You're not going to Bree?" Pippin asked.
"No. My home lies farther east and north of here."
Frodo bowed. "We thank you, Lady, for all your
"You are very welcome." she replied briskly. "Now
be off with you! some one in Bree may be anxious."
Yes, Gandalf. Frodo couldn't wait to see him. He'd
know what to do next - and maybe even who or what
The Woman watched the four Hobbits slip silently
away through the trees screening the road. They did
not look back and so did not see the tall Man, cloaked
and hooded in green, materialize seemingly out of
nowhere, to stand beside her.
"Where did you find them?"
"In the Downs, about to be captured by Wights." she
gave him a slanting, sidelong glance. "It was
fortunate I happened upon them in time."
His return look held both tightly leashed annoyance
and resignation. As if she'd scored a point in some
long standing argument.
"Any word of Gandalf?" Lightfoot asked, concern
Her companion shook his head grimly. "No. I will
take them to Rivendell, our Uncle will know what to
"The Nine are abroad. Be wary, Aragorn."
"I will. Go home to your children, Aranel." He
melted back into the shadows under the trees,
following the Hobbits.
Turning Lightfoot crossed the road and struck
northeast into the Wilds on the other side.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.