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Journey out of Darkness
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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51
Something for Radagast

Dearest Ada Greenjade,

It was so wonderful what you did for Radagast! If only I could see! Yes, you drew it for me, and it looks wonderful, very like the design I made for you two years ago, but I would love to see it in reality. Well, when I finish school I am coming out there and that’s an end of it. I must see all! Do you not think it queer that I named the land, but have yet to see it? And when will you hoist your flag???????

Well, I am back from Edoras! Isn’t it nice of Lady Eowyn to take me along when she visits her brother? Elfwine is getting so big, hard to believe he is 5 years old now! I wish he could have a little brother or sister, but I fear it is not to be. He is a good boy most of the time. He has a friend he talks to a good deal, but one cannot see him. It is a little green horse boy, he says. Half boy and half horse. I asked him “How do you know he is green if you cannot see him?” and he replied, “I am the only one who can see him. He will show himself to no other. That’s how I know.” His mum doesn’t like it when he talks like that, but his dad says he will grow out of it. Nurse Grynhild finds it supremely amusing and so do I. I read him some of the tales in the book Prince Faramir made for Elboron. He liked them very much. Perhaps I can copy the book for him.

I cannot believe this is my last term! Wasn’t it wonderful of them to let me attend this school for the whole five years, instead of just three? I do not know what I will do when I’ve finished, however. If only you would let me and Nana come to Calador to live...I do not think the orcs would really do us harm, do you? After all, you have been there for four years now and none have made any serious trouble yet? On the other hand I can scarcely think of leaving my lovely friends behind, perhaps never to see them again, and our dear cottage, and Nana’s school, and our neighbors, and the rest of it.

But it is so strange that all my friends are so much taller than I now. They have the bodies of young women, almost, while mine is still childlike. It makes me feel left out when they talk about “their womanhood” (I think you know what I mean!). Meleth says I will not get mine for a good many years yet. Gilglin says I should be glad of it, she gets sick every time hers comes on and everyone knows she has it and it is horribly embarrassing. But I cannot feel very glad somehow. Others have remarked about how queer it is that I do not grow also. And I must wonder, they will marry, have children, and get old while I am yet a lass! They will not likely live to see me a bride, either. It frightens me at times to think of it.

Oh and speaking of brides, Ruan has a fellow now. I do not think him half as handsome as Bergil, but I did not tell her so. I still remember how pretty Mikala looked at her wedding a year and a half ago, even though her gown was not nearly so fine as Nana’s. I wonder when she will have a child? Little Gandalf is 8 now, and not allowed to play with Prince Eldarion so much any more. His mum says it isn’t fitting. I don’t see why not. Little Gandalf might be his Sam someday, one never knows, does one? I think I shall tell her so. Or do you think that would be too cheeky of me? Perhaps I will tell Ruan instead, and she will tell her mum. Prince Eldarion is 10 now, almost as tall as I. He is getting so he won’t mind so much any more, and likes to go off and have adventures and get into mischief. I’m sure it must worry his mother a good deal. Little Luthien is more beautiful than ever. She will be 7 soon. Her nurse says she is spoiled to death, but I cannot agree. I consider her adorable, and wish Nana might give me a little sister like her someday. Do you think it may happen any time soon, and what if it does???????????

I am starting to like Osgiliath. It seems to be coming to life, although the rebuilding is still going on. Sometimes we will take a walk through it, along with Mistress Haldaraina, looking at the sights as she tells us of its history. There are many more people than there were before, and it seems they smile and laugh more, and there are musicians playing gay music on the street corners and wearing funny colored clothes, and some give little plays or recite poetry, just like in Minas Tirith. I wonder if any of this was the Queen’s doing? I did suggest to her that they ought to have such things going on. And now there are! Well, the other day, we were out there on one of those walks, and an old man was singing a song I know. It was that one that goes

Knowest thou the country far and green
Where golden fruits bloom near the snow-white shore
Where the grey rain curtain turns to silver glass
There I would dwell with thee forever more.

Hast thou seen the marble palace fair
With glittering lights and statues by the door
That seem to say, Poor child, what have they done to thee?
‘Tis there that I would dwell with thee forever more.

Remember that one? It had been such a long time since I heard it. Yet I remembered all the words, and I sang it with him. I cannot imagine where he heard it. Everyone grew very quiet and listened. Some gave us money, and I tried to give it all to him, but he would only take half. So I bought some sweets for the girls. I will so miss them when I am finished! What will I do? I suppose I will go home to my pretty room, and help Nana about the house, and write to you, and play with Pippin, and all those other things. Once I thought I would like naught better. But that was before I knew what it was to have friends, and learn things, and be as other girls, and I can scarcely remember what my life was like before then…

Nor can I, thought Greenjade as he sat beneath the tree reading the letters...the letters from home. Or was it home?

His stint in the army long over, he now lived in the settlement on the plain formerly known as Gorgoroth, recently renamed Calenlad, so called for the abundance of trees, which were quite tall now. The town, now called Elvea, had grown considerably, and there were a great many more establishments on the main road...of which one of them was Greenjade’s carpentry shop.

Two years previous, Radagast had made a shocking announcement.

“I have been giving it a good deal of thought,” the Wizard said one morning as he was sitting to breakfast with Greenjade, Sméagol, Gimli and the twins, “and I know what I must do now. I am certain you all will be horrified when I tell you.”

“You’re going to take a Dunlending wife?” Elladan said.

Gimli nearly choked on his eggs.

Greenjade frowned. He had a feeling he knew what Radagast was going to say.

“You not leaves us?” Sméagol said laying down his fork abruptly.

“But for a while, and not to go far,” Radagast said. “I shall go live amongst the orcs.”

General consternation all around, then Elladan laughed aloud.

“Quite the joker these days, Istari, are you not?” he said. No one else laughed.

“I assure you I am not joking,” Radagast said somberly. “I feel that the Powers wish it of me. It is not something I can ignore. I have been out there several times, as you know already. They are a pitiable lot, and need someone to see to them and teach them some self-sufficiency. I think if I do not do this, someday they will grow desperate, and things could get very nasty. I ask none of you to come with me, although if you wish to, I would much appreciate it. I can use any help I can get. Dringon is coming along; I discussed it with him yesterday.”

“I hope you think none the less of me if I remain behind,” Greenjade said. “I saw all the orcs in Gaergath’s coven I ever care to see. And I seriously doubt I would wield any sort of positive influence over them.”

“Nay, Greenjade, I would have you stay here, and hold down the fort until I return,” Radagast said.

“What of Nilde?” Greenjade glanced down at the dog at Radagast’s feet. “Will you take her with you, or leave her here?”

Sméagol stared at the Wizard with very round eyes.

“I shall leave her with Sméagol,” Radagast said. “I know he will take excellent care of her, right, Sméagol?”

The small fellow nodded, looking dolefully at Radagast.

“You are truly serious,” Elrohir said. “And you think you can exercise a benevolent influence over those filthy...creatures?”

“I have been bringing them supplies for the past two years,” Radagast said, “as some of you well know. Bread, butter, cheese, honey, seeds for growing vegetables and fruits. And there have been no incidents. I do not think I need fear them now.”

“Somehow I doubt that honey has sweetened their dispositions any,” Elladan remarked. “Once an orc, always an orc, I should say. I can see them roasting you over a nice coal-fire or boiling you in a pot.”

Sméagol gasped. “Brown Master not goes,” he said. Radagast cleared his throat.

“Orcs do not cook their food,” he said. “And if they wanted to eat me, they had every opportunity to do so before this.”

“You took Dringon with you,” Elladan pointed out.

“Even Dringon would not have been sufficient against the lot of them,” Radagast said. “I have found the bones of small creatures lying about their colony, and I dare say that is the sort of fare they live upon. I think they can do better, and I mean to teach them if I can. I shall set out tomorrow. As I have said, anyone who wishes to come with me, you have until tomorrow to get your affairs in order.”

He would hear no more protests. He asked Greenjade and the twins to see to things while he was gone.

“Look for me in about six months,” he said. “I will return with a full report, and if I feel I am making headway, I shall go back for another six months.”

“We will ride out there from time to time and check up on you,” Elladan said. “Won’t we, brother?”

Elrohir was silent for a long moment. Then he spoke.

“I think I should go with him,” he said.

There was ghastly silence. Elladan rose from his chair, then sat down again heavily.

“I think it is the only way I will ever rid myself of this accumulation inside of me,” Elrohir explained. “Two years we have been here and it has still not gone. If anything, it has grown greater. Perhaps if I force myself to abide among them for a time, something will happen. I do not ask you to come with me, brother. If you cannot see it, I do understand, and shall not hold it against you. I think you should stay here, in fact, and run things with Greenjade and the others. You will be the only healer here save for Erik, and he is but a man, and can only do so much. Is this all right with you, Radagast?”

The Wizard was still staring at him in stunned disbelief. Greenjade found himself smiling in wonder.

“Of course it is all right, my dear lad,” Radagast said after a moment. “But are you sure it is what you wish to do?”

“It is,” Elrohir said, “or say rather, it is what I think I should do. I have this torment inside of me that will not go away. Perhaps the thing that seems least likely, will be the thing that will prove most efficacious.”

“I cannot picture it,” Elladan said, plunging a distracted hand into his hair and raking his fingers through the dark masses. “You are going off to live amongst orcs, just like that? The fiercest orc-slayer in all of Middle-earth? Surely you are not going to tell them who you are?”

“Not unless they ask,” Elrohir said simply. “Perhaps if there is but one of me, they will not know me for the orc-slayer.”

Elladan sank back, just staring at his brother with stricken eyes.

“I think you are both asking for trouble,” Gimli spoke up. “’Tis as Elladan said: Once an orc, always an orc. But you are determined to do this, I see. Well. I shall be going along with you then. I may not get about as quick as I once did, but I can swing an axe with the best of ‘em yet. Nay, not to worry—I mean for chopping wood, and such as that. And I can dig, and hoe, and gut a hog and clean a fish, as ever any whole man ever did, can I not? I’m goin’ with ye, laddie, whether ye will or no.”

“Then come along,” Radagast said, “and get your things together. We’ll ride out first thing tomorrow after breakfast.”

The following morning, as Radagast hitched Brego to the wagon, Dringon appeared with eight other men. Sméagol managed to coax Nilde inside the hut, where Radagast stroked her for a few minutes, with tears in his eyes.

“Wait for my return, sweet lass,” he said softly into her fur. “There will come a day when we will be together for all time, until age and death take you from me. You are to be a mother again soon, what? Perhaps the pups will keep your mind occupied until my mission is fulfilled.”

But after he closed the door behind him, she barked and howled and cried so hard, it was unbearable, and at last, Radagast came back, and she dashed out to him and would not be torn away from him.

So Sméagol ended up going too.

“Now I have seen everything,” Greenjade said shaking his head as he watched the wagon go, followed by Dringon on his huge steed, Elrohir on his bay, and the lesser men on their horses and donkeys or on foot.

So Elladan and Greenjade had the hut to themselves. For about five weeks, that is, when Elrohir returned, saying he simply was unable to live among orcs.

“I feel a failure,” he said as he stabled his horse, “but what is one to do? The stink of them alone is enough to float a horseshoe. Radagast must have a cast-iron stomach. When I spoke of it, he said he could adjust his senses to such situations. But he did not hold it against me when I said I would leave. Rather, he told me, ‘If you cannot feel pity, and naught but revulsion, then you should go. They will sense it, and it will anger them.’ In truth, I did pity them, strange to tell. But not enough to stay.”

“I cannot tell you how good it is to have you back again,” Elladan said with a slight tremor in his voice as he embraced his twin, “although I must absolutely insist you wash your clothes as soon as possible. The smell clings to them yet. I do not see how I made it without you all this time. This is the longest I have ever been separated from you, brother.”

“I am glad also,” Greenjade said with twinkling eyes. “You’ve no idea how hard Elladan can be to live with, apart from you.”

Elladan chuckled ruefully. “He is right, I fear. I dare say I was impossible.”

“Well, not quite impossible,” Greenjade said with a wink. “Just highly…improbable.”

“What are the chances of Sméagol coming back?” Elladan said. “We are all miserable cooks.”

“I am glad to be back also,” Elrohir said. “Apart from the feeling of failure, it is a vast relief. As for Sméagol, I do not think there is a chance of him returning without Nilde…who, by the way, had a fine litter a few days ago. The pups appear to be part wolf. There were six of them.”

“I am trying to imagine orcs with puppies,” Elladan said as they went into the hut. “’Tis not a thing I can wrap my mind around easily. I should think pups would make tasty snacks for orcs. Were there wargs there?”

“Nay, not a one…thanks be to Eru,” Elrohir said. “I scarcely think Radagast would have allowed Nilde anywhere near a warg, nor our horses either. I doubt he’d have gone at all.”

“So, what news?” Greenjade said. “How is Radagast’s project coming along?”

“Better than I expected,” Elrohir said. “The orcs were living in a cave. There were some Uruks--I counted nine of them. They lived in a building of stone which must have been part of an outpost of Sauron’s once. It was in sorry condition as you may imagine, but we helped fix it up into some semblance of habitability. And of course, we planted fruit and nut trees, of which there were already a few, but they looked rather dismal. And pines and sumacs to form a windbreak. Then we set to work planting a regular garden and making an irrigation ditch. There’s a stream there, which is reasonably drinkable, and some forestry a bit out from the colony. We built some shelters for ourselves out there, where there’s a bit of bluff jutting out. The orcs don’t like to come out there at night, for there’s a wind blowing about that sounds rather doleful and eerie in the trees. Some of the Men weren’t so fond of it themselves. Sometimes Radagast and I would sing to try to take their minds off it.”

“Sounds hopeful,” Elladan said.

“Aye,” Greenjade agreed. “He is the Tamer of Beasts, after all. If he could tame me and Sméagol, perhaps he could do something with orcs.”

Elrohir looked at them with haunted eyes for a moment, then stared down at the floor.

“What is it, brother?” Elladan asked him reaching out a hand to him.

“I think I saw someone I knew,” Elrohir said barely above a whisper. “Amongst the orcs, I mean. A friend…from long ago. Very long ago.”

“You don’t say?” exclaimed Elladan. “Who was it?”

“You had orc friends?” Greenjade said before remembering what Radagast had told him, that orcs had once been Elves.

“It was before he became an orc,” Elrohir said softly. “Útiradion, his name was. Of course, he does not use that name now, but I am sure it was he, although he did not recognize me, or pretended he did not. Do you recall him, brother?”

Elladan thought for a moment, then shook his head. “How long ago was it?”

“When we were little more than lads. He was much older than we, a rebellious sort of chap, a trifle reckless—more than a trifle, indeed. Light hair, I think. Aye, very light hair, and a gaze that was hard to forget, which is how I recognized him, I think. He would talk strangely at times, about wanting to know things, the dark arts, the World Beyond, the Shadow, things of that sort. Wanted to find the lost seeing-stones. Never mentioned his parents, nor a sweetheart, any of it. He was hard to like, exactly, but I admired him in a fearful sort of way. Father disapproved of him. Said he was headed for trouble. I remember he touched me once in a way I didn’t like, but when I told him to stop, he did, then laughed, saying I lacked an adventurous spirit. He said he felt he was ‘destined’ for something, he was not sure what, but he could feel something ‘calling’ to him at times.”

“I do remember him now,” Elladan said. “You are sure it was he?”

“That was myself once,” Greenjade said almost inaudibly. “You are describing what I would have been, had I been an Elf. I would have ended up an orc.”

“It nearly did me in, seeing him like that,” Elrohir said nodding. “I can scarcely get him out of my mind. Perhaps we all have a bit of Útiradion in us, and could easily go astray as he did, and you and Sméagol. Indeed, it is easier to do so than to stay on the right path. Easier to go down than up. I know this all too well, and am climbing still, and wondering if when I get to the top, I will have the will to let go of my burden.”

“There is naught you can do for Útiradion,” Elladan said. “Perhaps Radagast can help him, I do not know. As Greenjade has well remarked, he is a Tamer of Beasts. Orcs are far lower than beasts. However, Radagast seems to be guided by the Powers. We can but hope. Perhaps they could undergo purification in Mandos, and be sent back in their original form. Ada spoke of that once, long ago. I was outraged at the very thought of it. However, perhaps it would not be such a bad thing after all.”

“I have come away with a differing viewpoint, concerning orcs,” Elrohir said. “But it does not mean I am going back. I think they cannot abide having an Elf there. It is a cruel reminder to them of what they once were, and can only lead to trouble. So I shall not go back.”

Radagast returned at the time he had promised. Sméagol and Gimli came with him, along with Nilde and three of her puppies. They were half grown, and did appear to have a wolvish strain. Yet they were very friendly and playful, and seemingly intelligent. Some of the men had taken the others.

Radagast talked much of the progress that had been made in the orc-colony. There had been one incident, he said. Tommy Pulver had been killed.

“I did not see what happened,” Radagast said, “and so I do not know who picked the fight. It may well have been Tommy. He was ever hot-tempered and belligerent, and I was reluctant to have him come along for that reason, but he insisted, being a willful chap, as it were. None of the other men saw how it started, either. They only saw the fight itself. According to the orcs, Tommy made a belittling joke as to their appearance, and I do not find that hard to believe. But I did not see the fight itself—I was out in the forest collecting mushrooms and pine-knots. I only saw Tommy’s horribly battered body when I returned. He was already dead.”

Radagast sat down heavily on the settle, sighing.

“It was not your fault,” Elladan said. “Orcs will be orcs. And Tommy would be Tommy. I wonder at him going out there in the first place. I dare say he was bored, and looking for adventure, or some such.”

“He was young,” Radagast said. “Not much over twenty. I should never have allowed him to come. But he was both able-bodied and a reckless fool, and I thought the experience might do him good. At least he had no parents, and I am spared the ordeal of explaining the manner of his death to them. We buried him in a pretty spot near the forest, with stones over the grave to keep wild beasts from digging him up.”

“What happened to the orc who killed him?” Greenjade asked.

“The Uruks were going to dispatch him,” Radagast said, “and none too mercifully, I’m guessing. I asked them not to do it. They looked at me as though I were mad, and I gave them a strange blank stare, remembering that some consider madness to be a sign of divinity. They backed off then. I put him to work digging irrigation ditches.”

“Did you by any chance teach them to bathe?” Elladan asked Radagast, then looked a little ashamed of himself.

“I did,” the Wizard said soberly. “Almost the first thing. I told them if they did not bathe, they would not get aught to eat. They hate the water. Yet they did like Sméagol's cooking. And some did enjoy the feeling of having the filth scrubbed off them, although others complained of the itch. That reminds me, I must bring some oil for them to put on their skin after washing, to keep the itch down.”

Radagast stayed for about a week before going back. At the meeting-house in town, he discussed the project at length, and ended up taking more men with him when he went back to the orc-colony. But Dringon and Gimli remained behind, saying they’d had enough of orcs to last them a lifetime.

“We found whips in the Uruks’ barracks,” Dringon said. “And some objects I could only guess the nature of. We burnt the whips when the Uruks’ backs were turned, and the other things we chucked off of a cliffside. The orcs considered us their heroes after that. A great honor, I'm sure. I saw whip scars on some of their backs through the holes in their shirts.”

“The Uruks were none too pleased when they noticed, however,” Gimli said. “They sputtered and roared and used some words even I never heard the like of before. The orcs found it right amusing. Radagast just stood calm and watched them, and Dringon and I stood behind him with axe and hammer, and they quieted down at last.”

“I’m amazed Radagast is still alive,” Greenjade said. “He is a true wonder, our Wizard-friend. We must do something for him.” He looked to the twins. “I have an idea. What think you of this?”

And when Radagast returned six months later, he found a new house standing in place of the two-room hut, and a host of people standing by grinning, awaiting his reaction.



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