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Merry bent over and palmed one of the flat stones lying on the shore. Looking around him, he measured its weight. Admiring the wispy clouds meandering across the brilliant blue sky above him, he mindlessly tossed the stone lightly and caught it.
The sound of the falls muted and became the never ceasing song of the mill wheel at home, dragging his thoughts back to the games he played as a child. He remembered his father teaching him to skip stones; explaining about the luck one would earn depending on the number of times the stone skipped before finally sinking. Merry once had a stone skip eight times... He had three cousins born that day. Now every year on the anniversary of that astounding skip, he got a small pile of mathom and more cake than even his hobbit stomach could happily handle. The luck that skip earned had lasted a lifetime!
A smile lit his face as he stood there. Before he left the shire he and Pippin had skipped for luck on their journey, Merry’s stone skipped a right respectable six times. Now he stood here, rejoicing in the friends he had made, the folk he had met; recalling all of the wonderous sights he had beheld on this journey, some so glorious they stole his breath... others dark enough to make him shiver now despite the warmth of the sun. But the stories he had! He could almost count the drinks they would earn him, night after night, at the Golden Perch... Life just didn’t get better than this moment.
Once more the stone he had not stopped tossing landed in his hand. Without further thought he wrapped his finger around the back edge of the stone, reached his arm behind him and snapped it forward thrusting with his whole body, flicking his wrist for the perfect spin... one... two... plop. His face fell with the sinking stone. Suddenly he remembered the still water at the gates of Moria. He had only managed a three skip there.
Once again the roar of the falls entered his consciousness and he looked into the water of Nen Hithoel, before helping with the meal preparations.
It was going to be a long day.
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