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The Age of Men
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Chapter One

Men hack and burn, hroom, they chop down as many trees as those misbegotten, black-hearted, foul-blooded, turim-bala, hroom, those... *orcs*. They do not leave the proud oak or the beautiful ash to rot on its side, they do not ignore the cry of my charges or spill their blood for naught. Yet they have need of wood, as the Ancient Ones foretold.

Yet this Elessar is not like other Men. What a hasty Ent I am becoming! Yet I knew it as soon as I laid eyes on him. This king of Men has a kind heart, he is fair and merciful to those around him. My trees will do well under his rule. And he says that I may fill this valley, and the lands beyond. The flood-waters that washed away Saruman's filth will soon nourish young roots, I shall see to that. The king is wise indeed, for one so short-lived.

The young one bows before the king. He did not wear that strange bark when last we parted. How quickly these creatures change their skin! The squirrel and the doe and the elm do not change so for long years, but these talkers, so ephemeral, a less wise ent would not recognize them from one meeting to the next. The silver tree on his breast reflects Anor's glory.

Pippin he named himself, and that at least seems the same, though he has added "Knight of Gondor" now. I fear I shall never understand their need for fealty and lords and ties on their lives. Why can they not be their own masters, and have that be enough? But his laughter is still fair as a babbling brook, and his face shines with joy. This is a happy parting, that at least is clear.

Beside him, his kinsman looks on proudly. They have both grown so tall! A tree would not shoot up like that, not for a long count of years. But these are not trees. They are something wholly new and foreign, and that is something I have not seen since He-Who-Comes-in-Might fell from his mighty fortress away to the north. Since before Fimbrethil and the other entwives left us...

Ai, Fimbrethil, Fimbrethil, long may your branches grow! I am weary for the sight of you. Will the song come true at long last?

When wind is in the deadly East, then in the bitter rain
I'll look for thee, and call to thee; I'll come to thee again!
When Winter comes, and singing ends; when darkness falls at last;
When broken is the barren bough, and light and labour past;
I'll look for thee, and wait for thee, until we meet again:
Together we will take the road beneath the bitter rain!
And far away will find a land where both our hearts may rest.

Long has that day been in coming. And long may be there yet to wait -- but perhaps not? The world is changing: I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, I smell it in the air. Deep my roots may reach, but I find that I am not so fond of what I have as I once was, and that I miss that which I have lost more than I have in many a long year.

Hroom, strange indeed! I am becoming like an enting, a bit hasty. I yearn for Fimbrethil, for peace and for that which I have lost. Is it time for me to loose the soil from my roots once more? To take up the search once again. I do not know. Perhaps someday, but not today. Today it is someone else who must begin the long road home. I take the two long strides to where the halflings stand with their company, and feel myself grow gayer as I look upon them.

"Well, my merry folk," I say at last, "will you drink another draught with me before you go?"


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