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Journey out of Darkness
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“It’s my guess,” Radagast said as he led the donkey along with Serilinn on his back, Sméagol lagging behind playing with Nildë, and Greenjade sitting high on the horse’s back on the Wizard’s other side, “that your mother never meant for things to go as far as they did. I dare say she wished for more powers than she had a right to, she took her chances, and before long, she was out of control. She could not help herself. There was no turning back for her. It’s the way of evil; it’s how certain Elves became orcs.”

“And so…Duathris is in…that place?” Serilinn said very softly. “The dark prison Greenjade and Sméagol were in?”

Radagast was silent, not meeting her eyes. Greenjade looked over at her, wondering once more how she could be so concerned over a mother who had not loved her, who had allowed her to be used in such a horrible manner. Eru only knew what she had been through. He shuddered to think of it.

“The Ringbearer made intercession for them, and for Garland,” she said when no one else spoke. “Is it possible…”

“Nay, child, I do not think we could expect him to intercede for everyone that comes along,” Radagast said gently. “When we get to Valinor…perhaps. We shall see. In the meantime, we must be careful. The further we get from here, the better.”

“Where are we now?” Greenjade asked.

“I’m not absolutely sure. We want to reach the Sarn Ford, which will take us to the North-South Road. If we keep to that, it will lead us to our destination in a matter of weeks. However, this Gaergath may complicate matters. He can go nowhere by day, but he can move very swiftly by night, and may overtake us. Sméagol, would you let Serilinn wear your cloak for a while, just until we get to the mill? She should not be wearing that black thing. And it is not so cool now.”

“May we leave the black one behind?” Serilinn asked as Sméagol doffed his cloak. “I wish never to see it again. It is horrid.”

“Give it to me,” Radagast said. “’Tis better not to leave traces of ourselves in our trail. It is rather horrid, isn’t it. I will burn it for you when we get to the Widdicombs’.”

She pulled the hood of Sméagol’s cloak over her head as she rode along with it bowed. The glory of the morning seemed as a distant memory to her now. Despondency sat on her like the cloak itself. She seemed to be trying to make herself invisible.

“How about another song?” Radagast suggested softly, noting her mood. “Do you know any more?”

She shook her head very slightly. He sighed. Greenjade felt a drop as well. Sméagol lagged a bit behind, shuffling his feet. It was as if everyone’s mood depended on Serilinn. The very sky seemed dimmer.

“Perhaps I can sing one myself,” Radagast said. He began singing what he remembered of Nell’s bird-song, then stopped as he remembered Greenjade.

And he seemed unable to think of another.

Then suddenly Serilinn’s head perked up.

“What is that?” she said, the hood falling back. The others listened, and heard a sound like a soft whimper. Radagast reached out and laid a hand on Baran’s shoulder to stop him. Greenjade reined in the horse. Sméagol paused in his shuffling. Then after a moment the sound was heard again.

“It’s coming from that way,” Radagast said. “Everyone stay here. I will go see what I can see.”

He handed the reins to Sméagol and stepped out cautiously from the road into the brush. For a long moment all that could be heard was the sound he made moving through the trees and dead leaves and pine needles. Then the mysterious crying came again.

“I think it’s coming from over there,” Serilinn said, pointing to the opposite side of the road from where the Wizard had gone.

“May be,” Greenjade said. “Sometimes it’s hard to tell the direction from which sounds come. But I think we had better stay here. This could be a trick. Something to lure us into their trap.”

“They cannot come out in the daytime,” Serilinn said. “The sun kills them, and it is shining brightly now. I will go and see.”

And before anyone could stop her, she had slidden down from the donkey’s back and made her way into the trees. Greenjade, feeling both curious and worried for the girl’s safety, dismounted and hastily looped the reins around the nearest tree, and followed Serilinn into the forest. Sméagol trailed hesitantly after them.

“Here now! Did I not tell you all to stay where you were?” Radagast’s voice rang out behind them. “What is the matter with you?”

“The noise,” Serilinn called to him. “It came from this way, I think.”

Grumbling, Radagast pushed through the green after the others. Serilinn carelessly brushed aside vines and brambles that got in her way, listening for the sound, which rose once more, and she broke into a run, the others stumbling after her as best as they could.

But there was nothing in sight, save for trees and saplings and bushes and more and more brambles, and Radagast said, “I think someone IS trying to lure us. Come, let us go back.”

And then the sound came very close by—a piteous whimper, to be sure, rather like an injured puppy, and Serilinn gave a little squeak.

“Look at THIS!” she exclaimed. The others gathered where she was now kneeling before what appeared a very small sapling.

The whimpering was coming from it.

“No, it’s impossible,” Radagast whispered, squatting down beside here and looking down at the small growth. “It’s impossible, I tell you.”

“What is it?” Greenjade asked, hesitant to go near, as was Sméagol. Nildë came up sniffing. Serilinn looked up with a radiant face.

“It’s one of them,” she said in a hushed voice. “Those…those trees you told of this morning. The ones that walk and talk. It’s an Ent-child. Look, it has a face…and eyes. They’re big and brown. Greenjade, Sméagol, come and see!”

“It IS an Entling, upon my word,” Radagast said. “But it isn’t possible. Or is it? How came it here?”

“It must have gotten lost,” Serilinn said touching its tiny branches with a fingertip. “I wonder where its mummy is. Do you think it can walk? Or is it too small?”

Greenjade stepped closer and stooped down to examine the entling. He soon saw it did, indeed, have something resembling a face, although he might not have noticed if it had been silent. Now it appeared to be groping with its tiny branches, and whimpering once more.

Sméagol backed up several steps.

“The poor thing,” Serilinn said. “It IS lost. We must find its mother. We cannot just go off and leave it here!”

“I had heard the Entwives had all gone,” Radagast said. “They took an interest in gardening and lesser plants, and drifted away from the Ents, who preferred their woods and mountains. But Sauron’s forces destroyed the Entwives’ gardens during the Second Age, and they have not been seen or heard of in Middle-earth since. But it seems there must be at least one around. Once I would not have believed it possible. But here is evidence right before our eyes!”

Greenjade dearly hoped he had not used a piece of the entling’s mother for carving Serilinn’s doll that morning. Or picked up bits of her for firewood.

Radagast looked all about him. “I see no evidence of her having been here,” he said. “No prints, no broken branches save for those we disturbed ourselves. Obviously this one got here by itself. However, we cannot linger here. We must be going before nightfall, and it is well after noon already.”

“Then we must take it with us,” cried Serilinn looking up at the Wizard with huge bright eyes. “Can I pick it up? It won’t bite me, will it?”

And before he could answer she reached over and very gently put her hands on the body of the entling, just below the face.

“How do I lift it?” she asked. And then it reached two branches and twined them delicately about her upper arms. “Look! It wants me to take it!”

“Be careful, my dear,” Radagast said, rather unnecessarily, for she was laying both hands now in back of it and was ever so gently lifting it, as a mother might have lifted her baby from its crib, and it began softly crying, a frightened sound, rather rusty it seemed, yet not unlike the sound of the wind blowing mournfully through tree-tops..

“There, there,” she said softly, and Greenjade repressed a laugh, remembering Jennie Partridge saying the same to her newborn to soothe it. “It’s all right, I won’t hurt you. Poor little one, where is your mum? If we could but find her! Did she perhaps go off with some bad Ents, and leave you here all alone? I will be your nurse then, and care for you, until she comes for you again. We must go now. Radagast, we CAN take it, can’t we?”

She looked up at him with a face so glowing and happy, Radagast could only gaze at her for a moment. Greenjade had a feeling the Wizard could not possibly say no to this girl, and he grinned to himself.

He understood completely.

“I suppose we must,” Radagast said. “I don’t know what the Widdicombs will make of it—we won’t be able to bring it into the house, for certain. But come along. We must be going. The days are growing ever shorter.”

“Will Baran mind if I hold it while riding?” she said, cradling the Entling close to her, and caressing its face lightly with her fingertips. “If so, I can walk.”

“I hope it won’t be needing a nappy,” Greenjade remarked by way of a joke. Radagast chuckled.

“I doubt Entlings have need for such,” he said. “Here, my dear, let me help you up, since you have your hands full—there. See, Baran does not seem to mind at all. Do you, my lad? That’s a good donkey. Let’s be going now.”

“What does it eat?” Serilinn asked as they resumed their trek, with a worried face. “Do Ent mothers give tree-milk? Or…”

“Ents drink ent-draught, if my memory serves me correctly,” Radagast said. “But for the life of me I don’t know where we’re likely find any of that around here. I suppose just plain water will have to do. And there will be no shortage of that where we’re going. Fortunately the land is wholesome once more, and the water clean.”

The Entling continued to cry while Serilinn rocked it and spoke soothing words to it.

“Is it a male or a female?” she inquired after a moment. Greenjade winced, then grinned at himself. “How can one tell?”

Radagast paused. “Why, I don’t know,” he said. “I have never heard of how to determine the sex of an Ent…seeing as how I had never been required to do so. I have not seen one in a great many years.”

“There is a tiny bump down here where the trunk separates,” she said with shining eyes. “I suppose it is a lad. Are you?” she asked the thing. “Are you a lad or a lass? Can you speak yet, or are you too small? What shall we call you? Do you know of any Ent-names?”

Greenjade wondered if he were dreaming. Radagast appeared to be puzzling over how the entling could possibly have gotten here, and Sméagol seemed to be keeping his distance. Serilinn began singing once more, very softly.

Sleep pretty one, come away with me
Fly over the sea, o’er the bounding waves
Bright stars I will pluck for to weave in your branches
Rainbows I’ll gather to weave your coverlid
Sleep pretty one, come away with me.

Sleep pretty one, come away with me
Thy mother is drifting out upon the storm
Thy father has fallen in the wars far away
Lie close in the arms of your own nurse who loves you
Sleep pretty one, come away with me.

Sleep pretty one, come away with me
We’ll sail on the ship that is lit by a star
We’ll have no fear of the wind and the darkness
The moon and the sun will send friendliest beams
Sleep pretty one, come away with me.

“Meleth used to sing that to me,” she said to the others, who looked not at all surprised. “I changed some of the words, for I could not remember all. Look, it has stopped crying. I think it is going to sleep now. Is it not just sweet! I never thought to have a tree-baby before, did you? I shall call it Eglenbein--'beautiful lost one.'”

She kissed it between the eyes. Greenjade had been thinking, rather absurdly, that it was without a doubt the ugliest child he had ever seen, yet she did not seem to mind in the slightest.

And how grateful he was to it that it had put joy in her where sorrow had been.


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