17. The End of the World
The sun had vanished from the sky. It grew dark as night, the air chilled, animals screeched, bats flew out of cover, stars popped out into the sky when they should not... It was the End of the World at the Edge of the Earth. Scaldo wept silently as the dwarves ran in circles, screaming.
No more of that, Scaldo Chubb, he said to himself and blew his nose on his sleeve. Come up with a plan to escape. Hmm. Yes, I know, I'll sneak away. Pleased by his cleverness, he began to sneak away. He figured he could hide somewhere till the world was done being ended.
It was abnormal to see, out of the chaos, old Hildifons Took, humming to himself. He walked up the hill onto the stone and called:
"Want the sun back?"
"Ugh! Secret stealer magician! You dare insult us?"
"I do, in fact. I want an answer."
"Give it back! Give it back!"
"Only if we make a trade."
"No! No trade, yeh dirty, bloody-"
"Fine, then, no sun."
"Awright, awright! What do yeh want?"
A groan of disappointment rose and fell. Scaldo was seized by a dozen hands and rolled toward Hildifons, who hummed for a moment in the otherwise tense silent.
"Wait... wait... there you go!"
Suddenly the darkness began a retreat and a warmth and glow rolled over the land. The hobbits departed in swiftness, so far as hobbits go.
"Amazing! Splendid! How did you do that? Real wizard magic?"
"Yes and no," said Hildifons. "I will tell you a secret. I did not do anything. I knew this would happen and I was counting on your and their coming on this day."
"You... you..." Scaldo huffed to keep in step with the older one, also annoyed though he did not understand what Hildifons was talking about.
"Before you get indigent, let me explain myself. It is true that I owe my first wanderings to the advice of a wizard but you can learn no more magic from them than from an acorn! Of more relevance to you, I knew your mother and father, as I would often return at least to the Shire's borders, and your father was, as you would say, queer, by traversing among strangers..."
"My parents did not mingle with outsiders and Tooks..."
Hildifons held up a palm. "Let me finish. Faldo kept me well supplied with weed and I will be forever grateful. On my journeys, I met the Dwarf and he eventually gave me use of the Tunnels below us. How he claimed it from the other dwarves, I don't know, so don't' ask. I found many records written in dwarf tongue, that the Dwarf was only too gleeful to teach me. He was as interested as I was in some of them. For example, many efficient, if forgotten, methods of cultivation and ways to predict good planting and harvest times by means of the stars, and such, were recorded. The Dwarf sold this knowledge at a high price to Faldo Chubb, who saw their worth. But, for all his success in growing the South Farthing's finest pipeweed, Faldo... failed to repay the Dwarf fully. That was not the worst of his troubles. The Dwarf's kinsmen, you met them back there, found the trade of dwarven knowledge contemptible; besides, they did not like the Dwarf. They swore vengeance on the Dwarf and your family. Myself as well, yet they fear me for my magic." Hildifons chuckled.
"I was at Grandma Chubb's that summer." Memory was starting to stir and Scaldo was thoughtful.
"Yes. When I learned they were going to blast their fury on you, I asked the Dwarf to bring you here, which Chamsar almost ruined, by the twenty-third of September so I could use the sun as a bargaining tool. Quite a funny coincidence. I found its prediction in the secret records. Couldn't pass it up! Of course, rain would have bothered it a bit..."
"Umm, won't they want me again?"
"Not as long as I'm around. I traded for you, and they, at least, keep their bargains."
Scaldo studied the wrinkled hobbit, estimating his remaining life span.
"Worry not. I can teach you all my magic tricks, and they will be too afraid to bother with you again. Or they may all die before they do bother. Who can tell?"
"Who are they?"
"Renegade dwarves, rejected by dwarves with decency. They plunder what they believe belongs rightly to the dwarves. Mind you, not all dwarves have such terrible language."
For a moment they were silent, until Scaldo found that his troubles were over, and there here was nothing left to worry over or to stop him from doing as he pleased.
"Going home would be messy... but I do so want to."
"I could, couldn't I? I could bring the Dwarf back with me, to clear my name. He framed me, you know."
Hildifons coughed and looked less confident. "Oh dear. That might be a problem. He and Chamsar are killing each other."
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.