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Disclaimer: All characters are property of Tolkien Estates and New Line Cinema. This story was written for purely entertainment purposes and is product of the author’s own insanity.
~Chapter Two: The Hunt is On ~
The three hunters plunged into the dry eaves of Fanghorn forest. Brittle leaves and fallen twigs thickly carpeted the wood, and the footsteps of the hunters (save Legolas, for he walked lightly as was the way of the Elves) crackled and snapped among the trees.
To the delight of the trio, the hobbit tracks were fairly recent and visible.
“What make you of this strange track, Aragorn?” Legolas knelt down gracefully to examine Treebeard’s imprint. “Aragorn?”
“Hmmm?” Aragorn, who had been pondering several excuses to present Eomer regarding the missing Rohirrim horses, snapped out of his revere.
“These strange tracks,” repeated the Elf. “What make you of them?”
Aragorn carefully stepped over a fallen log and knelt down beside the archer. He gently brushed aside a few leaves and traced the Ent’s prints with his finger. The Ranger furrowed his brow.
“Truthfully,” he admitted, “I know not.”
Gimli, never one to stay silent for very long, broke in.
“It is obvious what these tracks are,” exclaimed the Dwarf.
Legolas gave his friend a withering, albeit non-threatening, glare. “Then by all means, Master Tracker, please enlighten us.”
Gimli squatted down beside the two and pointed to the track. “That,” he stated triumphantly, “is the point of a walking stick. One of the hobbits simply found an old stick from this stuffy forest and put it to good use. And there you have it: mystery solved.”
Legolas rolled his eyes. “That imprint was not made by a stick. And,” he added quickly before Gimli could voice his protest, “as an experienced Elf of the wood, far older than you, my young friend, I believe you should trust my judgment on this.”
“Legolas is right,” said Aragorn as he sat back on his heels and massaged his temples in frustration. “The stride is far too short to keep up with that of a hobbit.”
The Ranger winced as he stood up, both knees popping. “Come, the sooner we find them, the sooner we shall solve this mystery.”
* * *
Merry awoke with an enraged shout. Waking to Treebeard’s high-pitched voice was akin to having a mosquito buzzing directly in one’s ear. Merry reacted accordingly: jerking his body into a defensive posture, he snapped his head away from the whining voice and flailed his hands near his ear with a yell.
Mosquitoes have the infuriating ability to avoid such reactions. Treebeard was not a mosquito. He was a daisy.
Merry’s backhand sent the flower sailing through the air, shrieking all the while.
“EEEEEEEEE—UFFFF!!!” The Ent screamed as he was introduced face-first to an oak tree.
Pippin, startled from his slumber, thought they were under attack by some deadly creature of the forest. His cry of terror was soon added to those of Merry and Treebeard. The entire forest winced.
* * *
Gimli had been eyeing the forest suspiciously and ran straight into Legolas’s back when the Elf stopped abruptly.
“What in the name of--” sputtered the Dwarf. Legolas’s bow was much more deadly when used for shooting, but suddenly finding oneself walking right into it was quite painful as well. It tended to have some unpleasant pointy sections.
“Shhh!” hissed the Elf, his hand raised. “Listen! Can you not hear that?” He swiftly unstrapped the bow from his back and grabbed an arrow.
An eerie chorus of screams broke through the stillness of the forest.
“Someone is under attack,” muttered Aragorn as he tensed and drew his sword.
Three pairs of eyes locked. No words were needed to express what each was thinking.
With a great shout, the hunters crashed through the ancient eaves towards the terrified yells.
* * *
In Merry’s opinion, it was as though he were waking to a nightmare. Yesterday had been terrible, and from the start of things, today would be no better.
The previous day, it had taken them five hours to travel to Treebeard’s “house.” It had been a bare patch of dirt at the edge of the forest clearing and was approximately twenty feet from where they met Treebeard. The Ent, as the hobbits soon discovered, was unable to travel very far or very long. He would hop in two-inch leaps for about three minutes and then collapse out of pure exhaustion. After resting for half an hour, they would proceed onward for another three minutes. It was maddening, and Merry would have surely cracked had it not been for Pippin’s unfaltering patience with the creature.
To make matters worse, the Ent had also regaled them with tales of the lost Entwives (“I wonder why they ran away…” Merry had muttered under his breath) and sang what he called “The Song of Treebeard.”
‘I am Treebeard
I am the greatest.
I am Treebeard
I am the greatest.
I am Treebeard…’
Merry and Pippin had been horrified when they realized the song only contained two stanzas.
Treebeard informed the two that Elves had taught Ents how to speak, and Pippin made a mental note to reprimand Legolas for his kindred’s idiocy.
Needless to say, Merry did not feel inclined to apologize to the Ent after smacking him into the tree. The normally congenial hobbit had reached his limit.
“Merry,” implored Pippin, “please. Just say you’re sorry.”
“Fine,” Merry snapped. “I’m sorry.”
Pippin sighed in relief.
“Sorry I didn’t do that sooner!”
That did it. All hell broke loose as hobbit and Ent lunged at each other.
* * *
At that precise moment, the three hunters burst through the trees.
* * *
In later years, Aragorn was still unable to recall what raced through his mind at the scene before him.
There was Merry, shouting furiously as he tried to fight of Pippin’s desperate hold. Around the struggling duo, there hopped a screaming… flower?
Gimli, Legolas, and Aragorn lowered axe, bow, and sword (respectively). Legolas blinked. Gimli scratched his beard. And Aragorn, for the first time in his life, was at a complete and utter loss.
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