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For Aliana and Rhapsody for their birthdays, for the Fourth, and for Jess.
“They’re gone?” Will Whitfoot asked his wife Mina for about the fifth time since he’d been carried back to his home from the Lockholes.
She smiled, and he could see too easily in the light of the late autumn day that she’d developed worry lines on her face since he’d been seized by Lotho’s Big Men. “When Frodo Baggins, Merry Brandybuck, Pippin Took, and that Sam Gamgee got back from wherever it is they went the first thing as they did was to raise the Shire. And if the Big Men haven’t gone running!"
Will shook his head. Freedom returned!
He’d come to Gondor as a soldier of Harad following the standard of the Scarlet Serpent. He’d been cut down by the grey-clad horseman who’d carried the black standard that yet sparkled in the unexpected glory of the Sun. He’d awakened in a healers’ tent in a hastily erected stockade built upon the Pelennor, his right arm gone. His officer had found him there and had ordered one of his fellows to kill him as one now useless to fight. The healers protected him, and his former officer had been banished elsewhere.
What could he do with his freedom?
He sighed as he awoke, the scent of new growth all about him. When he’d known such an awakening before he’d thought he’d died, that his willing sacrifice of himself had won the freedom of Middle-Earth from Sauron’s would-be domination. But he found he was still living, still prone to pain and grief, tempers and melancholy, still hearing the echoes of the Ring in the back of his mind and the secrecy of his heart.
Well, he was still stubbornly alive and mortal, although no longer within Middle-Earth.
But at last, from the horrors of the Ring he was free!
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