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Tales from Tol Eressëa  by shirebound

There and Back Again, Part 2

He woke up with a horrible start, and found that part of his dream was true.  ‘Over Hill and Under Hill’, The Hobbit

He found himself wondering at times, especially in the Autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams. ‘The Shadow of the Past’, The Fellowship of the Ring

“Olórin,” Eärmir murmured, bowing.

Gandalf looked down at Frodo and Bilbo and winked slightly, then bowed in turn.

“We are most grateful for your kindness in allowing us to take ship with you,” Gandalf said gravely.

“I am honored, sir,” the awestruck elf said.  He greeted various folk from Rivendell, then gave his full attention to Elrond, Frodo, and Bilbo.  “The son of Eärendil and Lady Elwing is most welcome, as are the Ringbearers. I bid you welcome on board Telperion.”  The pride in his small ship’s sleek hull and sparkling deck was obvious as he motioned for everyone to board.  A small crowd had gathered at Avallónë’s busy dock to see them off, and those who had not yet met the Ringbearers murmured softly at the sight of their small forms.

Frodo helped Bilbo up the ramp, walking slowly, excited at the chance to see the entire coastline of Tol Eressëa.  It had only been a few weeks (as far as he could tell) since expressing the desire, and was grateful that plans had been made so quickly.  Elves had all eternity to dream and plan, but mortals didn’t have that luxury.  He settled Bilbo onto one of the large cushions on the deck, where all the activity could easily be seen, then stood breathing in the salty perfume he had already grown to love.  It was a beautiful day with gentle winds that ruffled his curls, and sea birds soared and cried out overhead bound on errands and journeys of their own.  Sunlight reflecting on the water glittered with sparks of gold and silver.

The cry of “Cast off!” startled Frodo out of his reverie, and he wondered how long he had been wool-gathering.  It was so easy, here, to let one’s thoughts drift.  Part of his healing, he was realizing, was simply the gift of time... time to think, to sort through feelings and memories, to regain a sense of who he was, and who he was not.

Telperion was skillfully guided away from the dock, then one gleaming white sail after another was hauled aloft by the small crew.  Suddenly the ship was nearly dancing on the waves, heading north, and Frodo whooped with delight.  He heard Bilbo behind him, in conversation with one of the crew, and was so grateful that his uncle was still eager to experience new things and could enjoy their time together.  Ships of various sizes and designs filled the seas, their sails decorated with swans, stars, or emblems of an Elf’s House and lineage.

Eärmir and his crew were lighthearted and skilled, and sang almost constantly as they went about their tasks.  They served their guests meals of fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, and sweet cakes, and had prepared rooms belowdeck for sleeping; but after the first evening's supper, both Frodo and Bilbo chose to stay on deck, watching the stars overhead from the comfort of the soft cushions they shared before they were rocked into slumber by the gentle swell.


On the third day, Frodo was waiting at the rail with Bilbo, Gandalf, and Elrond when the small ship rounded the tip of the island and faced into the west.  Just then, the Elves burst into a song of praise for the Valar.  Far across the Bay of Eldamar, there suddenly loomed a range of mountains higher and longer than the hobbits had ever seen, or imagined.  Frodo gasped in amazement, and Bilbo just stared, dumbfounded.  The massive peaks stretched as far north and south as they could see, and the lands that lay beyond them were hidden from view.

The only break in the massive, steep-walled peaks was the deep cleft of the legendary Calacirya.  Above it soared a snow-covered peak, the top of which could not be discerned by either of the hobbits.

“Behold the Pelóri, my friends,” Gandalf said softly, motioning to the steep walls of rock, “and Taniquetil, whereupon rests the dwelling of Manwë and Varda.  You are gazing upon the highest mountains in Arda.”

“At last,” Bilbo exulted. “Real mountains, Gandalf!” He suddenly began to weep with joy, and Frodo put his arm around his uncle. There were no mountains anywhere more magnificent than these, and he rejoiced that Bilbo had lived long enough to see them.  But he, himself, was filled with a vague disquiet.

“I’ve seen this before,” he said quietly.

“How is that possible?” Elrond asked.

“It was but a dream, Lord Elrond,” Frodo said, “or so I thought.”  He was unable to tear his eyes away from the spectacle before them.  “I once dreamed of mountains that I never forgot, and there was never anything to match them even in my travels.  This… this is what I saw…” He fell silent.

Elrond exchanged a look with Gandalf, and slowly shook his head.  That Lord Irmo had gifted Frodo with a glimpse of Aman, years before, filled him with awe and wonder.

Frodo filled his eyes and heart with this rare sight he felt so privileged to witness.  So close, yet so far… he knew that no mortal would ever again set foot on the shores of Aman, yet he was content.  What hobbits could dream of even seeing the West at all?  Only himself and Bilbo… and maybe someday, Sam.

“And here is something else you should not miss,” Gandalf smiled, turning the hobbits about.  They had been so mesmerized by the Pelóri they had forgotten to look back at the island.  But there before them, at last, was the western side of Tol Eressëa.  It appeared wonderfully wild and untamed, with massive cliffs from which thundered waterfalls hundreds of feet high that spilled into the sea.  Brilliant patches of unusual flowers bloomed in unlikely places, and birds darted in and out of the cliffs and small valleys. 

As they sailed slowly through the nearly windless Bay of Eldamar, the Pelóri towering over them, the hobbits were so fascinated by everything they were seeing that they had to be reminded when it was time for meals.  Eärmir felt his heart swell with gladness that he had been chosen as the first mariner to give these small ones such joy in the sight of Valinor, that hallowed land of the Valar.


Telperion sailed south, then southeast… and finally, after many days of wonder and delight for crew and passengers, once again neared Avallónë, where the trip had begun.  Throughout the journey Frodo, Bilbo, and Elrond had pored over Eärmir’s hand-drawn map of the coast, comparing it to what they were seeing. Tol Eressëa was nearly as large as the Shire, and the hobbits enjoyed every moment of the journey encircling it – the first of many Frodo would take, although he did not yet know it. 

On their last afternoon aboard, Elrond and Gandalf sat at luncheon with Frodo around a small table on deck. Bilbo had left the table early for a nap, and lay nearby on one of the cushions.

“I’ve been wondering about those mountains, and why I dreamed about them,” Frodo said after awhile. “Dreams are strange things, aren’t they?”

Elrond gazed at him. “Frodo, I remember that you spoke at the Council of seeing Gandalf in a dream, but I admit to being startled when you spoke of glimpsing the mountains of Aman.”

“He gets that from his Baggins side,” Bilbo called out unexpectedly.

“I thought you were sleeping, Bilbo,” Frodo laughed.

Bilbo opened his eyes. “I may sleep more often than I used to, Frodo lad, but I am occasionally awake and aware.” He sat up, his eyes twinkling with mirth, and turned to Gandalf. “Remember our little 'adventure' with the Dwarves? I dreamed of the goblins’ attack in the cave before it happened; that’s why I woke up just in time to give a yell. Everything was too confusing after that, with being taken prisoner, and stumbling across Gollum and all, so I forgot to tell you about it.”

“Hobbits,” Gandalf laughed. “I will never cease to be surprised by them.”

“Never underestimate my Uncle Bilbo,” Frodo said firmly. “He’s the most remarkable hobbit who ever lived.”

“One of them,” Elrond nodded. “One of them, to be sure.”

Frodo sighed with contentment. “Thank you for arranging all of this, Gandalf,” he said. “I loved seeing what we could of Aman.”

Gandalf smiled gently. “The lands behind the mountains... someday I will return there; but not yet, my dear hobbit. Not yet.”

Frodo smiled back. It was a comfort to be surrounded by familiar faces – Bilbo, Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel, and others from Middle-earth he had come to call friends. And he somehow knew, without asking, that Gandalf would remain close by for as long as hobbits called this island their home.

** END **

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