3. Henneth Annûn
“Hard to say, Mr. Frodo,” said Sam dubiously, finishing off breakfast. “We were blindfolded coming and going, and I wouldn’t even know where to start.”
“Well,” said Frodo, “Folks were here for weeks before we even woke up. Somebody must have done some exploring. Let’s talk to Aragorn.”
Frodo and Sam left their pavilion and made their way to a cluster of tents where the remaining injured were still being treated. They found Aragorn just exiting one of the tents, smiling broadly.
“Good news?” asked Frodo.
“The best, Frodo. I believe everyone will be well enough so that we may leave in a few days’ time.” He smiled at his friends. “How may I help you?”
“We want to find Captain Faramir’s cave, where we stayed when we met him. It has to be around here somewhere.”
Aragorn frowned. “There are no Rangers of Faramir’s company here who might be able to tell us the location. Do you remember where it is?”
“Well,” Frodo thought for a minute. “Faramir called the place Henneth Annûn, ‘fairest of the falls of Ithilien’.”
“Henneth Annûn is many miles from here, Frodo, the stream that flows through this valley has its source there. But I know of no cave in that area.”
“It’s well hidden, Aragorn, a truly amazing place. Do you wish to join us in our search?” Frodo motioned to the tent. “Perhaps you are not as much needed here as before!”
Aragorn laughed. “Perhaps not!” He grew serious. “Are you two feeling well enough? Walking on grass is one thing, but….”
“Our feet are still a wee bit tender sir,” said Sam, “But we’ll be fine, won’t we, Mr. Frodo?”
“We’re coming too!” Suddenly Merry and Pippin were at their side, looking expectant.
“That has an ominously familiar sound to it,” laughed Frodo. He looked up at Aragorn “Well?”
“I wouldn’t miss it. If these noble knights of Gondor and the Mark have no pressing duties today we will atempt to find this mysterious cave.”
“This is astonishing. I would never have guessed this was here.” Aragorn looked about in amazement.
Frodo walked slowly through the deserted cave behind the waterfall, lost in memories. He looked up. “Do the Rangers of the North have places such as this?”
”We do, Frodo, but not this well hidden. A few huts, a low cavern by Lake Evendim north of the Shire. Nothing like this. Faramir chose a good refuge.” Aragorn looked thoughtfully at the hobbits. “Odd that all four of you have met the Steward of Gondor while I have not.”
“We’ll put in a good word for you, Strider,” said Pippin with a grin. “I’m sure he’ll let you into the city if we vouch for you!”
“Peregrin, it is a *very* long way down to that pool below the falls. Do not tempt me!”
Frodo sighed and sat on one of the dusty beds. “That *was* a long walk, Aragorn, you were right. Perhaps we can rest for a bit before starting back.”
“Good idea, Frodo. You too, Sam,” said Aragorn, taking a stack of wood out of Sam’s arms and guiding him firmly over to one of the other beds. “Sit. Merry and Pippin would be more than happy to get a fire going, wouldn’t you?”
“I’ll do it. I don’t know where Pippin’s got to,” said Merry.
“I found wine!” called a voice from a dark corner. Pippin appeared juggling several bottles and a stack of cups.
“That’s wonderful wine,” Frodo said wistfully. “Remember, Sam?”
“I surely do, Mr. Frodo.”
“I’m not sure this is such a good idea,“ Aragorn sighed. “Oh well.” He pulled one of the table’s wooden benches over near the beds, and sat down as Pippin found a rock and proceeded to break off the tops of the bottles.
(Several hours later)
“I found this on one of the tables, Strider,” said Merry, nearly dropping Aragorn Faramir’s silver goblet. “Don’t use that cup anymore, you should use this one.”
“Thank you Merry, but I think I’ve had enough wine already. Any more might----“
“Fit for a king!” proclaimed Pippin, seeing the silver goblet. “King Strider! Or, well, King Aragorn, I guess.” He frowned. “Is that right?”
“Elessar, most likely,” Aragorn corrected gently. “Pippin, you’re looking a bit green. Should you be----“
“You have a lot of names, Strider,” interrupted Sam. He was beaming happily at everyone, his sore feet long forgotten. Frodo lay sound asleep on one of the beds, a smile on his face. “Do you even know how many names you have?”
“Of course, Sam. Because of the lineage, and the need for secrecy, there were several---“
“Tell me all of them, Strider,” Pippin said, “And I’ll make up a song for you.”
“Pippin, if you sing one more song I’m going to toss you off the cliff and explain things to Frodo later.” Aragorn looked as severe as he could manage. “I understand he has plenty of other cousins about the Shire, I doubt he’ll miss one here or there.”
“Hah! Just try it, and I’ll tell everyone how you kidnapped the Ring-bearer and got him drunk and told him he had to call you Your Majesty.”
“I never said that!” Aragorn frowned. “Did I?” He stood up. “I think Frodo and Sam have rested long enough. We should start back to camp.”
“We can’t,” said Merry calmly.
“It’s getting dark out. It would be too dangerous to try those narrow, slippery paths at night. What kind of Ranger are you, anyway?”
“You mean we have to spend the night here?” Pippin looked scared. “Is it okay if I sing some more? I feel better when I sing.”
“Oh,” groaned Aragorn, sinking back onto the bench and holding his head in his hands. “This can’t be happening.”