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The 10th Walker
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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1
Chapter 1

The 10th Walker.

It is long since I've done much but walk about my paddock in the warm weather, and stand comfortably in the stable when snow whitens the ground. Every day my master, the Mayor of the Shire, feeds me, and grooms me and takes me on long walks. My sway back is now too weak to carry him, and my muzzle is grey, my steps are slow, and in cold weather I limp a little, but I am still strong enough to carry one or two of the littlest children on my back, which they enjoy, chattering non-stop to my Master or I.

It's been twenty years since the Fellowship journeyed to destroy the Ring of Power. The two legs thought I did not understand, but I did, and of all Middle-Earth's people only Elrond of Rivendell understood that I too knew what would happen if the quest failed. So I went with the Fellowship, to represent all the free animals of Middle-Earth, for many four legged beasts refused to obey the evil of Sauron. That was the main reason I consented to go, but the other smaller reason was love of my master. I would not and did not willingly abandon Sam; I would have to gone to Mordor with him, to carry him and the Ring bearer if I had been allowed.

But fate intervened. Firstly that I was the only pony or horse for sale in Bree that fateful morning. I was loaded heavily for the journey to Rivendell, but I did not mind, for anything was better than being Bill Ferny's pony.

Actually, I enjoyed the first part of the trip, walking pleasantly all day with the bright chatter of the hobbits for company, camping at night when my packs came off and I was free to graze. Sometimes I was given bread, or an apple, and a little of the grain I carried on my back. Sam it was mostly who tended me, hobbling or picketing me for the night, grooming me, checking my feet, and seeing my gear did not rub.

Then Weathertop. I would have helped in defence if I could, but the black horses held me off, and I was hobbled that night. As just a little pony I had no knowledge of illness or injury in two legs, or treatment of such, but even I worried for Frodo, as I could feel his pain and confusion just as I had felt his fear of the thing he carried. I tried to tell them I could bear the Ring, tied by leather to my mane maybe, but the two legs could not hear me. I did not fear that object, it was just a circle of gold. How could it harm a strong pony?

We went on to Rivendell, travelling quickly, I carrying Frodo carefully. The flight to the Ford was terrifying, for I was once again relegated to baggage pony, and I didn't trust the arrogant white Elven stallion that now carried Frodo. But my mistrust was proven wrong when that white horse outran the black horses of the Nazgul.

All welcomed the rest in Rivendell. I grew strong and fat, and argued often with the elf horses who all thought I had no right to have been part of the journey to Rivendell in the company of the Ring Bearer and Isildur's heir. Oh, the look on their well-bred faces when it was I who was chosen to be the baggage pony for the Fellowship, a bit arrogantly I insisted on calling myself the tenth walker.

Wintertime was well advanced when we left Rivendell. The two legs had warm clothing, and nature provided me with a coat of long warm hair, and I didn't feel the cold until the Pass of Caradhras. There the two legs almost froze too, all but the Elf. I stood with the four hobbits; they huddling about me for my body warmth. The elf had flung his cloak over my hindquarters, to stop me shivering. He was nice, the elf. But not as nice as my master.

The snow defeated us, and we turned back towards the route the two legs had feared to take, the Mines of Moria. Once we were clear of the snow, we travelled quickly but were pursued by wolves. A great battle was fought that night, I had stood clear of most of it, but when the wolves had drawn very close, I too had joined the fight, and was able to kill two wolves, one I kicked and the other one had an arrow sticking out it. As it limped by, I reared up and trampled it. Then the wizard had made a great fire, which killed the wolves, and singed most of my mane off. It did feel funny not to have a mane.

Onwards we travelled, and reached the Gates of Moria. A great pool of water was there, and the horrible smell made my nose hurt. No one liked the water, I least of all because I knew something was there, I could sense great danger, and was surprised the two legs didn't.

Long we stood as the wizard tried to find the word to unlock the Gates, and as we waited a great debate grew up concerning me. I was stunned to realise they meant to leave me behind! Not go on, what nonsense, I could go anywhere these two legs could. I could climb stairs, and jump chasms and walk narrow ways! Besides, what if someone was injured again, who would carry him this time? Only I could do that.

The wizard insisted I could not go, and my master wept as he took off my gear. I stood by, having no intention of being left behind. When the doors opened I would run through quickly, and surely once I was there I would have be taken along.

'Mellon', cried the wizard, and the doors opened. I tensed my muscles to run fast so as not be left behind when the many legged thing in the water attacked. It went straight for the Ring bearer, and all attacked it as it swung Frodo in the air. I too reared up and squealed, but it was too much for a pony. To my everlasting shame I fled, leaving my master behind.

As I thought about which way to go now I could no longer follow the Fellowship, I decided to try for Rivendell, or maybe Bree. The remnants of the wolf pack howled loudly on my scent, and I was afraid. Then it came to me, I could lead the wolves away, far from the Gates of Moria. I feared for myself, but I had survived the wolves before. I would do so again.

Author's Note: In the last paragraph I am assuming Bill didn't know the Watcher had thrown the doors shut and ripped up the holly trees to throw across the doors, locking the Fellowship in. He thought the doors stood open, and the wolves could have entered. Also, Bill calls himself a ‘little’ pony, but I think he was probably about 13 hands, a fairly large pony, but still small compared to a full-sized horse.

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