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From Darkness to Hope
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He couldn't see for all the darkness surrounding him. A chill permeated his entire being. He couldn't open his eyes due to the oppressiveness of the air; it was like a weight on his eyelids. His ears felt like they were stuffed with cotton. He couldn't the presence of any living thing around him. He couldn't even feel what it is he lay upon. He could barely hear the sound of his own breathing.

'Where is this place?" He thought confusedly. The last thing he remembered was sleeping on a nice, soft featherbed, and listening to beautiful singing as he drifted off into slumber.

But no, wait. Didn't something happen after that? He struggled to remember, but no memory would pierce his fogged brain. Sighing, he gave it up for a bad job, and thought maybe he would just drift off to sleep again.

But something wasn't right. There was a presence of some sort ... a malignant presence; he was pretty sure, and not altogether living. Sweat broke out on his brow, and he started shivering as the cold of the chamber in which he lay started to make itself apparent.

Then he remembered that he had been accompanied by others. Where were they? Were they safe, or were they lying injured, or worse? He tried to struggle, but his muscles refused to move at all. It was as if he were paralyzed. Slowly, he tried to open his eyes. It was ever so hard, but finally he had them opened wide. He tried to move his head from side to side, but nothing happened. He could sense some light glowing around him, with a greenish tinge. Fear threatened to overwhelm him, but he stoically set himself against it. He would not give in to panic. If he were to die, he would not die shriveled in fear. He would make some show of courage, however small.

Suddenly, a horrible sound started emanating from all around him. Some might call it singing, although such singing he had never heard before, and hoped to never hear again. The words were distressing, and caused much despair in his wavering heart.

Cold be hand and heart and bone,

and cold be asleep under stone:

never more to wake on stony bed,

never, till the Sun fails and the Moon is dead.

In the black wind the stars shall die,

and still on gold here let them lie,

till the dark lord lifts his hand

over dead sea and withered land.*

He could finally lift his head, just a little, and what he saw chilled him to the bone. Near him lay his three companions, looking as still as death. No movement could be seen from their chests, and he almost gave in to total despair. What if they were all dead? Whatever would he tell their families, if he ever got out of this himself, which seemed more and more unlikely as the minutes ticked by?

Stifling a sob, he almost missed the scraping sound coming from behind him. Twisting his head, he saw a hand coming out the gloom, walking on its fingers toward his nearest companion. A strange desire to escape came over him; they were probably dead anyway, why not just run away and save himself? But it was not in him to do so. He would never forsake his friends. So he screwed up his courage, reached for the knife lying by his side, and hacked the hand off the arm at the wrist. A scream permeated the chamber, and the arm withdrew back into the darkness.

His memory shone through, and he sang for the one who could save them.

Ho! Tom Bombadil, Tom Bombadillo!

By water, wood and hill, by the reed and willow,

By fire, sun and moon, harken now and hear us!

Come, Tom Bombadil, for our need is near us!*

Sighing with relief, Frodo heard the answering song sighing softly through the walls of the chamber. Suddenly light shone through, and Frodo could see the faces of his companions. They no longer looked as deathly white as before, and he could see their chests rising and falling. Scampering up, he assisted Tom in bringing them all out into the blessed light of day. Frodo knelt down and stroked their faces, tears of relief sliding down his cheeks. Raising his head, he gave Tom a teary smile of gratitude, then sat back to wait for his friends to wake up.

Tom woke them with a song, and they were all very disoriented and confused. For the first time, Frodo sensed the utter danger that would be following them on this trip. They hadn't even made it to Bree yet, and who knew how far this journey would end up taking them. The utterly evil presence that existed in the barrow chamber was something totally alien to a hobbit's existence. How would they ever be able to cope with the trials that lay ahead?

Well, better to face those dangers with friends than without. Resolutely setting all his fears aside, Frodo joined in his companions' frolicking in the warm, green grass. Who knew how many more carefree moments remained to them? Danger would come, as danger would. Right now, he reveled in the presence of his dearest friends, who would always stick with him through thick and thin.

*From Chapter 8, "Fog on the Barrow Downs", from The Fellowship of the Ring.


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