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Antane's Anthology  by Antane

Help from Above

6 October S.R. 1421 while on the way to the Undying Lands...

Frodo let a small moan as the ship gently rocked under him. The weather had been mild enough for him to sleep on a cot on the deck, though Bilbo had retired long before to their room below. Even though none of the stars were familiar to him, he still felt comforted by them as he remembered what his Sam had said so long before about the stars seeming Elvish. But he could not see them in the present darkness he woke in now, or seemed to wake. He reached for his shoulder where the pain flared and in his broken heart and torn soul. Even here it hurts, he thought in a haze of torment and near despair. Why did he leave if even here it was going to hurt? The fragile hope he had so carefully guarded within as though one would a flickering flame from the smallest contrary breeze was now whipped about by a gust and went out but for the barest smoldering. He did not know whether he had the strength to kindle it anew, but what choice did he have? There was no turning aside now. The only way lay forward...even as he felt backward into darkness. He lay curled on his side, unable to stop the tears from falling as all else faded but his agony. Even here.

For a long while he traveled alone in thick, swirling mist, seeing all too clearly the pale king and his sword. The Ring-bearer clutched at his shoulder as he felt the blade pierce him anew. He didnít know whether he screamed aloud or just in his mind, but someone else came to him then, a gentle touch that wiped at his tears. He opened his eyes and could sense a brightness through the haze. He tried to focus on it, to pull it inside himself and shield himself if he could, for it did not feel evil to him as the pale radiance of those who also surrounded him but who now strangely began to fade before this other clean and pure light, but he had no strength to do other than simply stare at it and that was almost too much effort at first. But then the evil light faded all together and he felt stronger as the clean light then began to penetrate him. He felt then rain on his cheek, gently falling drops he realized were tears mingling with his, blessing them. He felt the otherís pain, and first grieved that he must have caused it, but then felt strangely comforted by it, as though he had found another soul that suffered as well and he did not have to pretend it didnít hurt. He lay there for a long while, as that hand tenderly wiped at his tears and let her own fall on his curls and cheek. The gentlest stroke touched his fingers where his shoulder was gripped and drew them away so her tears fell there also. The pain faded. Frodo could only lay there in wonder.

Who are you?

The presence did not answer, only continued to weep and stroke. The Ring-bearer realized he did not need an answer but just to lie cradled in that pain and love. It felt as vast as his own, then he realized it was even larger and he wondered how it could be borne. Perhaps only the same way he had borne his own and labored to continue to do so. Though the weight of that had been enough to crush himself before she had come, it felt lighter now in her presence for he was not carrying it all himself. He lost himself in both her pain and her love, somehow knowing his way back to himself lay in a maze in which her light lit only the way before his feet.

Another came later and he felt her presence also, a softer light, a love and touch more like his motherís had been. He felt wrapped in that second presence as around a warm, comforting blanket and he began to sink into healing slumber, instead of the swirling mist he had woken to find himself in. The Lord of Waters rocked him back to sleep. He slept under the light of stars that was his hope kindled anew as the spouse of the one who held him sent him dreams of the land he was to come to.

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