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97
Worth Two in the Hand

Once upon a time, Elena Tiriel asked for stories about a character interacting with my favorite part of the natural world.


~~~

Along the bend of the river, a bent brown figure comes striding, gliding through the morning mists, a bay mare brown as he in his wake.

To the Carrock he goes, mounting the steps swift as a mountain goat, 'til he reaches the top with the rising sun, and stands there, leaning on his staff, in the slanting golden rays. Over the dark heights of Mirkwood, morning creeps, banishing shadows but for one, which swarms into being, it seems, in a chittering, cawing cascade.

Up they shoot into the sky birds of all sizes, fletched in every color, and then dive down to wing all about the Carrock, and the wizard who stands there, head tipped back as from bearded old lips the hundred songs of birds sing forth. Round him they swirl, once, twice, and then! Shrieking assent, they disperse, like an explosion of feathers.

Radagast watches as they vanish back into the forest eaves, or streak south and west towards the Gap. He breathes deeply, glances up at the eagle circling high overhead. It dips its wings in salute and sails north towards the mountains.

Content, he turns east to the morning and the Shadow, whence cowed and ruined creatures come ever more plentifully to harry them. But if Sauron will send his slaves with their mad eyes, they shall not go uncontested. Every bird in Wilderland who cares for free air and a welcoming branch to perch upon shall lend wings and their sweet throats to watch and warn, even as Gandalf had asked.

The winds sweep in from the forests, alive with song and chatter, and he smiles grimly. Fear not, my brother, he thinks across the leagues to Gandalf, the word is spreading.

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