Disclaimer and Author’s Note: All the major characters—except one—and places originated with Tolkien, and are used without permission etc. etc. All dialogue and character interpretations are mine, however.

This is actually the first fan-fic I ever wrote (although with much revision between there and here—fortunately for you!) and the idea came while reading Return of the Shadow and mourning the loss of a certain character. So, I turned him loose to meet his alter ego and learn just what it was he had protected with his life. I give you…

Forgotten Heroes
Isaiah 9:2-5

Chapter I : Ghosts in Ithilian

Free! The word rang through the crowd, and they stared at the man on the horse. Free. Some of them didn’t even know what it meant, but it struck a chord deep inside each one of them. Hidden deep in the centre, a big man turned to his companion. Men in black armour were working through and unfastening leg chains, and were getting near the pair of them.

“What we do now, Trotter?” His voice was deep, soothing, but his speech slow, as if he had to search for each word before he used it.

The figure at the man’s side was ridiculously small next to the bulk of the speaker, almost childlike, though the worn face and grey curls attested to age. One hand ran through his tangled hair as Trotter considered. “They say the King set us free—I want to see this King.” A secret desire rose in his heart, but he couldn’t speak of it yet. Not here.

“Can you do that?”

“I’m going to,” said Trotter. “And then, I…” he stopped as the shackles were loosed, and he almost tumbled over, but his companion reached down a steadying hand. “Strange. It’s like a great weight has fallen away.”

The big man’s eyes were shining. “Yes,” he said, and hefted the iron fetter. “Heavy. Gone now.” He threw the chain to the ground. “Let’s go. If we free, as they say, then no one stop us.” The man on the horse was still speaking, but they didn’t hear him. They moved through the crowd, which didn’t even see them go. Unconsciously, they moved side by side, still shackled by the habits forced upon them by years of being chained.

Habit took them to the slave hovels, where they looked at the piles of filth that claimed to be shelter from the elements. “Not much to look at, are they?” said Trotter.

“No. Not look at them any longer.”

Trotter started. “Yes. Yes! Goodbye to orc whips, and chains and curses, and pain!” He began to walk away, but turned around when he saw that his companion wasn’t next to him. “Aren’t you coming, Big Jim?”

“You want me to?” There was an almost pathetic look of hope on the man’s dark face.

“I don’t know what I’d do without you,” said Trotter.

Big Jim covered the distance between them in one step. “North,” he said. “Imagine, they have a King in the north, and he set us free—what a word!”

They worked their way north, ears strained for every strange sound. They still expected to hear the harsh bark of an orc, “Hey, you, work, you miser’ble maggots! Come back, an’ taste what we’ve got fer you!” Big Jim watched his small friend with anxious eyes. Trotter kept them alive, with his knowledge of what was edible, and the little they found seemed a feast after slave rations. Even so, every so often, the little fellow would sway, and Big Jim would quietly sit down. Reflex brought Trotter down as well, and there they would rest until the pain passed.

They were an unlikely pair: the big man with his sun-browned skin, black hair and huge matted beard, whose age could not be determined, but he seemed young, except for his brown eyes which had seen too much. The child-like figure with a worn but smooth face, grey curls, who should have been young, but was instead the older by far of the two. Their clothes were dirty rags, the man was barefoot, but Trotter wore wooden shoes. They were both lean to the point of emancipation.

In a grove of ilex trees, Big Jim stared. “Mûmak!” The skeleton towered above them, white in the sun, but a few strands of flesh still hung from the mammoth carcass.

“And look,” said Trotter. “Soldiers.”

They approached cautiously, afraid of an ambush, although the fading stench and bleached bones said that these men had been dead for a long time. They searched the bodies, and found a set of flint and tinder. That night, Trotter built a fire to keep off the spring chill.

Staring into the fire, Big Jim broached a question that had been bothering him for a long time. “Trotter, are you a hobbit?”

Hobbit…what do you know of hobbits? Shire…tell us of shire, worm! …Hobbit…shire… Baggins! Leering orcs, whips, red hot iron, pain, blinding pain, orcs, shire, hobbits, Baggins, pain…And always, standing just above, a black robed figure.

He didn’t know he was screaming until the light faded from before his eyes and, instead of the phantom figures, he saw the anxious eyes of Big Jim. The night was dark, and the wind was cold. Big Jim was running, the small, quivering body of his friend clasped in his arms.

“I’m sorry,” murmured Big Jim, over and over.

“For what?” asked Trotter, struggling to sit. Without slacking pace, Trotter was transferred from the man’s arms to his broad back, where he hugged the big man’s shoulders and repeated his question.

“For waking ghosts,” said Big Jim. “I should have known they would be there, with soldiers and mûmak.”

“Yes,” said Trotter, and shivered. “But you didn’t know, and neither did I. The fire called them.”

“It won’t do it again,” said the man. “When I kicked out fire and ran, I left stones behind.”

“Just as well,” said Trotter.

“I’m sorry,” said Big Jim.

“You should know, though,” said Trotter. “I am a hobbit.”

One big hand reached up, and covered the small one. “They won’t hurt you again, I won’t let them.”

“Thank you.” Trotter remembered the many times the man had done what he could, fettered as he was, and born down by the weight of many orcs who delighted in kicking and biting and whipping whenever there was the slightest provocation. They both bore many scars, of whip, of teeth, and of other instruments of torture.

Chapter II : Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters…

Minas Tirith loomed up before them, towering above the plain, white and gleaming in the sun. Busy figures worked at patching gaping black patches in the walls. The two stared at it. “I never saw anything like it,” said Big Jim.

“Neither have I,” said Trotter. “Ada talked about it—he was there once.”

“Ada?” asked Big Jim, rolling his tongue around the strange word.


“Oh,” said the man. “I never had one.”

Trotter squeezed his hand, and they watched the stream of people going in and out. The tramping of nearby feet sent them diving under cover, and peering out, they saw a long line of dwarves, each wearing a sturdy hauberk of mail, carrying their tools, and chanting in their own tongue. Near the head of the line, walked a horse, led by an elf and a dwarf, who were talking in the common speech.

“Are those hobbits?” asked Big Jim.

“No,” said Trotter. “Those are dwarves, I think. But why is there an elf with them?”

“An elf? Is that really an elf?” said Big Jim. “Orcs hated elves. Does that mean we like elves?”

Trotter’s eyes were shining as he remembered. “Elves are elves, and keep to themselves” he said, “But… Before, I… knew… elves.”

“You did?”

“They would visit my ada.”

Big Jim looked at his friend with something akin to wonder. But his mind moved on to other things. “We don’t look like them.”

Trotter considered this. Years of dirt and filth covered them, their hair was matted and tangled, and their rags were held together by the dirt and grime. “Well, we could wash.”

“What’s that?” asked Big Jim.

“I’ll show you,” said Trotter.

Near the stream bank, the hobbit found a plant, and carefully dug it up. “What’s that for?” asked Big Jim.

“Washing,” said Trotter, and pried loose the bulbous root.

An hour later, dripping wet, and cleaner than he had ever been in his life, Big Jim stretched out in the sun. “I feel different,” he said. “It’s like when the shackles dropped off, somehow.”

“I think you’re looking for the word ‘clean’,” said Trotter, eyeing the rags with distaste. “I wonder what would happen if we washed these?”

“Fall apart,” said Big Jim, scratching his head. “But putting them on…it’s like touching orc—or them touching you, you know?”

The hobbit nodded, but they pulled them on. Trotter found a twig, and began raking it through his long curls. “Now what are you doing?” asked Big Jim.

“Combing my hair.”

The man watched for a while, and then reached out and took the twig. “Here. Let me—I can see what I’m doing. You can’t, even with stream in front of you.” When the hobbit’s curls had attained some measure of respectability, Trotter returned the favour, combing the big man’s matted beard and long hair, and then pulling it away from his face in elven braids. He then did the same to himself, and they entered the city as the sun began to lower herself in the sky.

No one seemed to notice them, and they wandered the streets, gawking at the street merchants and prosperous citizens going about their business. They watched the workmen on the walls for a long time. “I don’t see anyone with a whip,” said Big Jim in wonder. The foreman yelled orders, and they cringed, but when it became apparent that curses and the lash did not accompany the orders, the man marvelled.

“It happened because of the King,” said Trotter. “The King came—and look at what happened.”

“But how we find the King?” asked Big Jim.

“I don’t know. We look, I guess.” said Trotter.

The smell of hot food led them to where an old woman was hawking her pies to the workmen. She looked up to see two wide-eyed, emaciated and grimy strangers gazing hungrily at the pies.

The sun was going down, the gates were closing, and she wasn’t likely to sell any more. Moved with pity, she took the two largest she could find, and handed them to the pair. Strange how their hands showed signs of recent scrubbing and there was something elf-like about the smaller one. “Here. You
look like you could use a decent meal.”

The big one looked at the food in surprise, and took it with trembling hands, but the smaller one tucked his hands behind his back. “We can’t pay, ma’am.”

The woman motioned to the cart. “They are a gift, but if you really want to help me, there is my cart. It gets heavy for my old bones—if you’ll help me take it back to my house, there will be two more for you.”

Trotter took the warm pastry, and bit in. Big Jim followed his lead. “Thank you, ma’am,” said Trotter.

“’Es, ‘ank oo,” echoed Big Jim, his mouth full, and the juices running down his chin and dripping into his beard.

“Oh, you’re welcome,” said the old woman, smiling at how the man watched the little one out of the corner of his eye and copied his every move.

They finished the pies, and licked their fingers, and then Trotter looked up. “Where do we take the cart?”

“This way,” she said, and watched as they picked up the handles and pulled it after them. Strange how they worked in unison, despite the difference in sizes. “Where are you from?”

There was something wary in the glance they gave each other. “South, ma’am.”

“South? Well, you’re right mannerly. Don’t they feed you well? Is there a famine? You’ll have to see King Elessar if there is, and he’ll take care of you.”

“What is he like, this King Elessar?” asked Trotter.

The old woman smiled. And then launched into a long description of how the king came at the Battle of the Pelannor fields and saved the city; and of his attack on the Black Gate—she smiled happily when she saw her audience’s eyes widen at the mention of the Morannon. She told of his beautiful wife, the lovely Arwen Undomiel, and of the elves and dwarves who came to assist in the rebuilding, and of the hobbits that the king praised highly. And how, ever since the king returned, the white tree blossomed once more and everything was green, and the orcs were vanishing, and travel was safe once more.

The trip to her home passed quickly, and she was almost sorry when she saw the lights gleaming in the windows, for there was so much more to tell. The old woman pressed the pies into their hands. “Thank you so much for your help.”

“You’re welcome, ma’am,” said Trotter. “Thank you—for everything.”

She watched them vanish into the gathering dusk, and wondered. If there was a famine in the south, why had nothing been heard ere to this—for surely it had been going on a long time for them to become so thin! The little one had been so polite, but there was something awkward about them both, an unsureness. What could make them so ill at ease?

Yes, I still like reviews!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email