13. The Edge of the Earth
Scaldo wanted to faint and die. He had never, never, never seen such a sight as this. All the world's pastries on one table could not produce the same overwhelming, stupendous awe
The earth, the stuff Scaldo walked on, simply ended, and water – icky, nasty, terrible, rotten, fearsome, crooked, wet stuff – replaced it, on and on forever. How could there be so much water that it fills the distance as land does? Impossible!
Scaldo swooned, whimpering, "We're not going to walk on that, are we?"
The Dwarf had already turned aside and gone exactly where Scaldo did not want to go. Closer. The roar of the Brandywine river had been terrible; this was absolutely atrocious. It rolled in and gulped out, but as much as it swallowed, it was never appeased. Now Scaldo knew his worst-death-imaginable, that is, to be eaten by the big water, spat back out, and eaten again. Besides, it stunk like a mix of sweaty feet and rotting pork.
They came onto an odd walk, made of silty ground that looked like crushed rock, alongside the churning water. It felt smooth and pleasant between Scaldo's toes, for a while, then it started to bake his feet like pancakes on a stove. Scaldo did not moan, because he knew the Dwarf would only shurrup him. Sometimes his feet got lost in the silt stuff and the greater part of his body tilted perilously. This is all just fine for the Dwarf! he thought. His boots plough right through these evil grains.
Suddenly, the Dwarf stopped and came near to a flat end, since Scaldo just saved himself from tumbling over. They turned their backs from the big water.
"'Ere we are."
Scaldo looked around and saw only silt stuff, big rocks, and red cranky-looking spiders.
From his hood, boot, beard, or sleeve (Scaldo could not figure) the Dwarf produced a crooked knife, and the Dwarf stuck it into a stone. Click. The Dwarf pushed open the stone as easily as though it was a door. (As it was). The inside was dark and a puff of dankness flowed out.
"Squeeze yerself in." The Dwarf meant for Scaldo to go first. The hobbit did not like that idea.
In he squeezed, though, and with a pop and swishing of loose rocks he fell forwards into the doorway. Scaldo landed rather crushingly into darkness. He heard a thud beside him that could only be dwarf boots, and a crash that could only be the door being kicked closed. Now they were in the utterest of darknesses.
Abruptly the Dwarf produced a light, and the place was made clear as the shadows scrambled from the fire. Dampish stone encompassed the area, tunneling off to where Scaldo did not want to know. The stone was actually smooth and arched, almost to perfection by some skilled stoneworkers. Why anyone would waste time on such a project, Scaldo Chubb could not fathom.
The Dwarf stomped in what might be called a trot. He called back, "Tighten that door!"
Scaldo tried, but it was so heavy and he did not want to leave the circle of torchlight for a moment. He got it as tight as he could, and since he was no trotter, he traddled after Dwarf.
The tunnel seemed to never end. At times, Scaldo thought he saw openings at the sides, yet did not dare to look too close else something look back.
On and on and on. The dank smell, the torch smoke, the echoing of footfalls. It was unworldly to suddenly stop at a round, wooden door, painted sky blue at that.
Dwarf did not knock. He kicked open the door. At the intensity of light that met his eyes, Scaldo covered them.
"Just in time! Stop letting the air out!" said a voice. (It was not not a voice.)
Scaldo removed his fists and squeaked. A cozy room with a table, bed, and real, true cookware met his sight, and brandishing a ladle in the middle of the room was a wrinkled hobbit.
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.