50. A Boating Accident
"Why are we going back here?"
"Stop whining," Aica snapped. "Look, I know what I'm doing."
"What are we doing though?" Ringe asked.
"We're following this river."
"Why are we following the river though?"
Ringe sighed. Aica had dragged him from the warg pits to accompany her on a journey to the north. He wasn't complaining about that, certainly not after the wargs had used him as a chew toy, but he was curious about the purpose.
"We're going into the Shire because there's someone there who needs to die."
That Ringe could understand. He had been worried that it was something else, something worse. "Who are we going to kill?" he asked.
"Some kid named Frodo."
Aica rolled her eyes. "Because he's a threat to Sauron."
"How do you know? Did Sauron tell you?"
"Stop asking questions!" Aica leaned over, almost lost her balance, but managed to smack Ringe on the side of the head.
Sauron had said nothing about Frodo. Sauron did not even know Frodo existed. And if he did, he wouldn't've cared. However, Aica did not content herself to merely spying on Gondor and her enemies. She also kept tabs on the other ringbearers. Including – especially – Khamul. She hadn't seen anything about her trip to the Shire, but she had been eavesdropping on her conversation with Morion the old-fashioned way with an ear to the door. So, there was a future with a guy named Frodo who was important? Well, not anymore.
"This is what we're going to do," she said. "We're going to follow this river, see? And when we see a Halfling we're going to ask him about Frodo. He'll say something about where he lives, we find him, we kill him. End of story."
Ringe nodded. Simple plan, simple solution. It was enough for him to handle.
"There's one!" Aica hissed, spotting a colorfully-dressed Halfling down the road. "Hello, friend!" she yelled.
"Ah, good morning!" the Halfling said, doffing his hat.
"Tell me, friend, where can I find a Halfling named Frodo?"
"Frodo? Do you mean Frodo Baggins?"
"Uhhh…yes." Would've been nice of Khamul to mention Frodo's last name.
"Why, I think his family's gone for a nice boating trip on the Brandywine."
"The river here." The Halfling gestured to the placid river nearby. "Fine day for a bit of boating, I think."
"Where exactly along the river?" Aica asked.
"Up about half a mile, I believe. I passed them not too long ago. I told them to be careful. Neither Drogo nor Primula knows how to swim."
"Oh dear," Aica said. "I hope they're careful."
"They'll be fine," the Halfling said. "Good morning." He walked away, whistling a cheerful tune to himself.
"We'll have to wait until they're off the river," Ringe said.
"Don't be an idiot!" Aica hissed. "All we have to do is push them in! You heard him! They can't swim!"
The ringbearers rode for about a half mile before they came to the remnants of a picnic. There was a bit of food still on the grass, which was flattened as if it had been sat on recently.
"There they are!" Aica chortled, spotting a raft on the river. It bobbed along, hardly moving. On it were two Halflings, both rather fat, and gazing and talking to each other to the exclusion of all else.
"There're only two," Ringe said.
"Yeah, Frodo and Primula."
"I thought the other Halfling said Dro –"
"Shut up, Ringe! You're a complete idiot!"
Ringe sighed. An argument with his sister always ended in disaster. He was certain the Halfling had said 'Drogo' though. Ah well. Aica would realize her mistake eventually.
"Can you swim?" she asked.
"What? What use are you then?"
"Can you?" Ringe asked.
"Not very well," Aica muttered. "But better than you!"
"What are we going to do then? They're out in the middle of the river!"
"It doesn't look very deep," Aica said. "We'll wade out there and pull them in. I want it to look like an accident."
"Like they fell in?"
"Exactly. And because they're so short they won't be able to walk to shore. Then they'll drown."
"All right." Ringe couldn't find fault with that plan, even if it did seem to exclude the entire purpose of why they came to the Shire in the first place.
The two ringbearers jumped off their horses and waded into the water. It was cold for such a fine spring day. Cold even to Aica with her ring-protected skin.
"Oh, hello," Primula said, noticing the ringbearers for the first time. "Are you lost?"
"Bree's thata way," Drogo said, gesturing to the east. "You do have to cross the Brandywine to get there, that's true, but there's a bridge not far away."
"We're not going to Bree," Aica said.
"Should we offer them a ride?" Primula whispered to her husband.
"I don't know…" Drogo muttered.
"You get Primula," Aica hissed to Ringe. Her hand snaked out, grabbing Drogo by the ankle and pulling him off the raft.
"What are you doing?!" Primula shrieked. "He can't swim!"
"And neither can you!"
Ringe grabbed Primula and dragged her into the river. "What now?" he asked Aica, keeping the Halfling's head underwater.
"Make sure she's dead," Aica said. "I don't want either of these two to have a lucky accident."
"I really don't think that's Frodo."
"Shut up! Of course it is! Who else would it be?"
Ringe sighed. Primula had stopped struggling, which made it easier to hold her, but the current seemed to be getting stronger and he had no desire to get washed away.
"There, mine's dead," Aica said, releasing Drogo and walking back toward shore.
"I suppose she is as well," Ringe said, letting Primula go. She wobbled between sinking and floating before bobbing up to the surface, her dead eyes filled with shock.
"Well then, that future's never going to come to pass," Aica said with a grin, surveying the two dead Halflings.
"Never mind. We've got to get back to Minas Morgul before Morion gets any more suspicious than he already is."
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.