8. The Storm Comes
Once, Shire was the world. I dreamt of what was beyond it, but they were safe dreams, for I never thought they would come true.
Then darkness came as a glimmer of gold, and I followed Mister Frodo into a fairer and darker world than I could ever have imagined. Elves and orcs, towers and forests – I saw much and the more I saw, the more I longed for home.
I came home and the Shire was the world enough for me.
But Frodo needs me. I hear him in my sleep, a whisper I cannot understand but for one thing. He calls my name, again and again.. So I have left the Shire again, stumbling into matters I do not fully understand. There is weed in the garden so to speak and Legolas and Gimli are going to pull it out if they can, that much I know.
I see their grim faces and I know they feel fear. Not a sudden panic, but deep, rooted fear. It clings to their souls, like mould to a tree. Something isn't right. There is foulness in the air, as the Gaffer would say. The sky is not right. Not even Shire will be a shelter when the storm comes.
I feel it, much like Frodo felt the Ring in his mind I think. The storm is brewing.
Two days. Two days of wretched sailing had he endured now.
Sam clung to the side of the boat, his whole stomach desiring to be emptied out in the sea. Waves licked at the boat, as if they were taking a taste before swallowing them all. The water seemed dark to him, bottomless and cold, almost shadowy. A lonely grave, it would be.
Rain and seawater had long since soaked him and he could hardly remember what dry felt like. Nor the sun, for dark clouds seemed to have swallowed it, if it indeed did rise anymore. The coldness or the air made him think it had not.
The boat cut through the waves under the skilful mastering of Legolas even in the bad conditions. There was little solace in that though, for the Elf was steering them into the unknown. Even Legolas did not know the exact path and the stars were not visible to guide him.
“Fear not Sam, Legolas will get us there,” Gimli said comforting as he noticed the state of the hobbit. The Dwarf sounded less than sure though – not that he doubted Legolas; Sam did not think Gimli would ever doubt Legolas nowadays. But none of them knew exactly where 'there' was.
“I have not seen this dark a sky since Sauron shrouded it in darkness,” Legolas suddenly said, his eyes on the horizon.
“Frodo defeated Sauron,” Sam said through clattering teeth. It warmed him for a moment – the joy on Frodo's face as the burden had been lifted from him was enough to light a fire in his heart. All the hardship had been worth it for that shining moment.
“Sauron was the servant,” Legolas replied, his thoughts clearly travelling dark paths. The Elf seemed untouchable, wrapped in his own grief; much like Frodo had been after the Ring had been destroyed. A nightmare that could not be shared, not truly.
“The servant often repeats the follies of the master,” Gimli said calmly. “And an Elf who worries too much may drive the boat crushing against rocks, Master Legolas.”
The two exchanged a look that seemed quite fond despite all. So different in appearance and manner they were still of the same kind; filled with the light of stars, shining for all those who cared to see. Like Frodo.
“If you think so little of my boating skills, why are you not steering this boat?” Legolas countered, and though his expression did not change, a glimmer of humour flashed in his eyes. It was almost enough to remind Sam of the days of the Fellowship; though great darkness had been, great light had been too.
“Because Elven boats were no made for dwarves, my friend. I am not…”
What more Gimli was about to say Sam did not know, for at that moment a giant wave came at the boat and cold water showered them all as the world moved. Sam squeezed shut his eyes, hoping against all hope that that would make the weather improve.
Legolas cursed softly in Elvish (or at least Sam thought the Elf cursed, he did not recognise the words) as the boat rolled. The sea seemed to grow only more hostile as time passed, as if it resented their progress. Or wanted to prevent it.
The hobbit nearly fell over, snapping his eyes open and looking around wildly. It sounded like Frodo calling out in pain!
Gimli and Legolas made no signs of having heard it, both busy keeping the boat afloat. Gimli was empting water back into the sea as best he could, his grimness returned.
The voice came again, seeming to come from the water itself, the shadowy water below him. His hair stood on edge as the voice rolled over him, gripping his spine. A voice out of nightmares.
Only he was awake and there was no warm tea to pour away the feeling of dread. No warm pillow to hide under until morning came, no Rosie to draw comfort from.
'Saaaaaaam, help meeeee…'
The waters reached for him and to his great horror he found he was leaning over the side, stretching out towards the sea. He could not remember having moved, but he must have. For a moment he thought he would fall, he could see his fall mirrored in the water. Then he regained his balance, tipping back into the boat with a small thud.
“Sam?” Gimli paused his bucket filling, looking over at the hobbit.
“I heard Frodo from my nightmare,” Sam whispered. Even now the voice still seemed to echo in his mind as he looked at the dark waters. The nightmares gathered here. Something terrible had happened. This should be a place of joyful dreams and wonder as they drew nearer where Valinor was – or, where it ought to be.
'Sam, Sam, Sam, Saaaaaaaaam...' the voice called again. It was a cry of terror and pain, calling for him. Frodo was in pain.
“The waters surrounding Valinor are like no others,” Legolas said quietly. “We may see and hear any strange things ere this journey comes to an end.”
“But first we must get through that storm,” Gimli replied, pointing to the horizon. A wall of water seemed to be gathering there; so dark it nearly blended with the clouds. The rain whipped sideways over the water in the strong wind, soaking all that came in their path.
A distant thunder rolled over the sky, a warning to turn back, to turn back now.
“We will not,” Sam muttered to himself. Frodo needed him. His gaze fell on the waters again and a strange thought occurred to him. What if it was the sea that was in pain, calling out in a voice it knew he would pay heed?
“We will not,” Legolas repeated, giving Sam a small nod. Not much escaped the ears and attention of the Elf.
And they sailed on, into the storm and the sea of waking nightmares.
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.