March 25, 2017 by jorthusbooks
Hello, before I return to Jorthus or undernoticed artists, or even rambling creative thoughts, I thought I would present a portion of a fan-fiction story I began many years ago. I had read some Fanfic, but had never tried it. I heard that it is a good writing exercise and a way to get the creative juices flowing when stuck on one’s own work. I gave it a try.
Now, I must say upfront that THE RACES, NAMES, OR PLACES MENTIONED ARE NOT MY OWN. (I elaborated on some concepts presented in two of my favorite bodies of work, THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and DRAGONLANCE CHRONICLES.) That said, there may be some spoilers to those who may have never read the books or watched the movies/cartoons. But, mainly, this was just for fun.
Again, a disclaimer: I do not own, nor did I create, these characters. I wrote this as homage to my favorite writers, J. R. R. Tolkien as well as Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.
It seemed that weeks, or months, had passed since his arrival here. It was difficult to trace time. Daylight came and went with no real sense of urgency. Here he was just beginning to understand the concept of eternity.
Existence carried on much like it did in life in this Resting Place, as it was referred to by its inhabitants. One could sleep if tired, or eat if hungry. Though the need was not as strong as it had been in the previous life. Here one did things out of habit rather than necessity. Food and drink were delicious and would fill the stomach, but there was never a point of real hunger. Only the enjoyment of taste and smell would drive one to partake of the bounteous harvest of this peaceful land. And of course, the mere love of eating is all the motivation a hobbit needs to eat his fill.
The Resting Place, a spirit realm that reaches to all of creation, was the mingling of many races from many worlds in peace and harmony. Here to rest, to recover from pains of both mind and soul. The physical pains were left behind on other planes. This was a place of healing and learning, if one was willing to heal or learn. Some residents in this land of glory were still clinging to old ways and seemed loathe to give them up.
This realm was extraordinary. It was a reality, in form and feel like the physical realities that the inhabitants had left behind, but clearer and brighter. Only spirits dwelt here, but not as a ghost or haunt might in the physical worlds; here all things were spirit so that when one reached out to touch a tree, it was actually the spiritual form of a tree and therefore tactile to one. The clothes and manners of those dwelling here were the forms chosen by them from their memories. They had homes that suited them and lands that were pleasing to them. They dwelt in happiness and contentment, for the most part.
The only discontent here is what they brought with them and would not release. That is why most were still here. Some spirits learned to move on to other realms, to find other greater places to dwell. Some remained here out of fear, some remained out of ignorance, and some remained out of loyalty to those that were not ready to move on.
Those that feared what was beyond this realm, quailed and shrank from learning how to move beyond. Those that did not wish to move on out of loyalty were allowed to visit both realms, and those that did not learn how to move on, were allowed to stay as long as it would take to learn.
But, some here stayed out of shame. They are those that could not or would not let go of their hurts. They did not feel that they should move on. The light beyond gave them little comfort, mainly guilt. They had a choice to make. To let go of their pain and move forward into the light of the Realm Beyond, or to fade into the comfort of the shadows and stay here forever. Or worse, to slip into the darkness where no hand or light could touch them.
On this particular day, the sun shone through the round window of a hobbit hole. Not an extravagant hole, a modest hole. Tastefully decorated, and just the right size for a single, male hobbit. The hall branched off onto a study, a bath, a bedroom, a sitting room with a large fireplace, and most importantly, a well-stocked kitchen.
Frodo Baggins sat quietly in the patch of sunlight that streamed in his sitting room window. He had been reading one of the books from his shelves. Books he had remembered from his youth in Bag End. As his desire to read the story he had picked out dulled, the words on the pages had dimmed to nothing. Now, he sat with a book of blank pages lying open and forgotten on his lap, staring out the window into the meadows and forests beyond.
He had wandered that countryside when he had first arrived, as most souls do. Exploring with an insatiable curiosity and undisguised wonder over the beauty and glory of these lands. But, over time, he had grown weary of the same sights and paths. He had settled into this little home and began to study other things. Things closer to himself. Things about himself. Things, he was not altogether comfortable about dealing with alone. Avoidance had been his next tactic to pass the time. He tried to occupy his mind with other things so that it would not stray onto paths of the soul that he rather not tread. He wrote stories. He read stories. He took short and frequent walks, baked large amounts of food, and even learned how to do his own gardening. He gave many dinner parties and had tea with Sam and Rosie every day that the weather allowed. Which was practically every day.
He tried to limit the time he was allowed to sit alone and think about the things that had passed, or what could have come to pass. When the dark moods came upon him, he would retreat into his comfortable little hole and hide from the queries of others. They wanted to help him feel “better”, but could not. Only he could do that, though he did not know how. At these times, he felt restless, though venturing out seemed impossible. He wanted company, but all those he knew would know too much about his troubles. He felt lost and alone, and the brighter the day shone outside his house, the darker the shadows seemed inside.
He was in one of those moods now. The books had lost their appeal. The meadow seemed too bright, a brightness that would expose his darkness to all that saw him. He wanted to hide. He wanted to escape. He wanted something. Something else. Something that was not in this small, close hole and something that he had yet to find outside.
Slamming the blank book closed, Frodo kicked his footstool aside and went to the bookshelf to replace the book. As he slipped the book into place his eyes fell on his hand. Though spirit matter, his third finger was still missing. He had thought it odd at first. When he had asked about it, some spirits had suggested that perhaps a strong power had separated the finger even at the essence level of being and that the matter would regrow with time. That had confused him. Although the ring had been on the finger at the moment of separation, Gollum had thrown the digit away. It would have been burned to nothing in Mount Doom.
Perhaps as I should have been…
Sam had suggested that he had grown accustomed to not having it and the spiritual form was simply adjusting to that perception. That was too kind and, Frodo felt, too easy an explanation. It was easy enough to hear those around him say that he was forgiven for any wrongs, for they only knew as much as he had told them. It was easy for them to say that the missing finger did not mean anything, for they did not know what was in his heart. They had not been in his mind at the moment it had been lost. They did not know, could not know.
But, there was one here in this realm that would know. The Master of this Realm could see into his heart and lay bare his mind. He would know. He did know. Although Frodo had not faced Him yet, he felt that perhaps he had already been judged. Some dark part of his heart whispered to him that the finger was gone forever to be a reminder of what he had done.
How can I forgive myself …
His musings were cut short by a noise at his door. It was not a knock. It sounded as if someone were trying to pry open his door lock. Curiosity stirred inside him for the first time in months. He moved to the door and placed his hand on the center knob just as the thing swung open. He jumped out of the way with a startled cry. He was not sure what to expect on the other side, but the form that met his eyes took him by surprise.
There, crouched in the center of his doorway was a Halfling. But not in form nor dress, a hobbit such as himself. This being was slender, slightly taller in height than Frodo himself, dressed in an outrageous colored tunic, leggings, and boots with a fur vest. His ears had small points, similar to an elf’s and a wide, child-like excitement in his brown eyes. He had chestnut colored skin that wrinkled as he smiled up at the astonished hobbit, and his long, brown hair was tied up in a topknot that overflowed down his back.
At the sight of Frodo, the figure leaped up with one hand extended and introduced himself in a frenetic, high-pitched voice.
“Hello! Pleased to meet you. I’m Tasslehoff Burrfoot. Your door is fascinating. Too bad it wasn’t locked. Nobody locks their doors anymore. It’s terribly frustrating. I heard there were other halflings about, ones that I’m not related to and came looking. There seem to be a lot of doors in the ground around here. Do you all live underground? Is it hard to keep the grass roots from dropping dirt on your head? Are there any tree roots in there? Do you live alone? Are there a lot of others like you? What do they call your kind? I’m a kender. We come from Krynn. It’s not around here, but we seem to end up here anyway. Where are you from? Which world, I mean. There are so many. I’ve met a lot of fascinating people around here, wherever ‘Here’ is. Why do your feet look like that?”
This strange individual had barely stopped to breathe in his excited speech and had shook Frodo’s hand and pushed past him to explore the hobbit’s hole uninvited. Frodo was momentarily at a loss for what to do or say. He stood by the open door with his mouth agape, watching the kender manhandle just about every item in his home.
“Oh, I…uh, who are you? And why are you here?” he stammered, as he closed his front door.
The strange little fellow waltzed up to him again and smiling, shook his hand again. He spoke very slowly and with exaggerated clarity.
“I’m sor-ry. I did-n’t kn-ow that you were fee-ble-mind-ed.”
Frodo almost laughed at this but felt a little insulted as well. He pulled his hand out of the other’s grip. “I’m not feebleminded! You just took me by surprise is all.”
“Well, then. I’m Tasslehoff Burrfoot. I’m a kender from Krynn. I died, I guess. And after spending some time with my friend Flint, he’s a dwarf, we came here with the rest of my friends. Except Fizban wasn’t around at the time, which kind of disappointed me. But, he’ll probably get around to it later seeing as he’s busy being a god on Krynn and all.”
Frodo saw his eyes begin to wander onto the shelves again and decided to keep the kender’s ramblings on track. “You died on Krynn, you say. Where is Krynn?” he asked conversationally.
“I don’t really know. It had three moons and was far from here, I think.”
He stopped to think hard on the subject and this allowed Frodo a moment to get his bearings on this intrusion. The fellow did not seem to be hostile and neither did he seem to be in a hurry to leave, so Frodo decided to find out as much as he could about him. He had heard mention of other “little folk” in this realm, but after extensive wanderings and never seeing any halflings other than hobbits, he had given up the search. Now, out of the blue pops this kender.
“I’m sorry, I do not mean to be rude. My name is Frodo Baggins. I’m a hobbit. That’s the name for halflings in Middle-earth. That is from where I hail.” He tried to be polite for he had no idea what kind of temperament a kender might have if insulted. Had he known a kender’s temper, he would have counted himself lucky that he had chosen the course of diplomacy instead of ordering the creature out of his home.
Tasslehoff came back to the present with a snap. “Baggins! I’ve heard that one before.”
“You have?” Frodo was astonished and intrigued. A faint cloud of paranoia slithered under his heart as well. What was being said about him?
“Yes, I met a Baggins fellow just yesterday. Is it a common name?”
“Well, no, not as common as some. Did you meet Bilbo?”
“Yes, that was his name. Slightly older than you. Likes to talk about dragons. He walked with me for quite a while, then said he was hungry and went home. If I’d known that he lived in a hole, I would have gone with him. I’ve never met anyone that lived in a hole before. Well, no one that intentionally lived in one, anyways. We were so busy talking and walking that I didn’t really see how odd his feet were. Do all hobbits have feet like that?”
Frodo smiled, his suspicions gone. “Yes, I believe they do. Are there other…kender? I had thought that I had explored this land well enough, but I’ve never seen one of your kind before.”
“Well, that doesn’t surprise me!” Tasslehoff said knowingly as he plopped into Frodo’s favorite chair and placed his colorful boots on the ottoman. “We kender rarely stay in one spot. Besides, something that I’ve noticed about this place is that if you don’t expect to see something or someone or somewheres, then you probably won’t. It’s kinda like the Abyss in that way. You have to Think about going somewhere new before you can get there. Me, I’m always looking for someplace new, so I usually find it.”
Frodo found himself being pulled into this conversation as he sat on a small, wooden chair near his fireplace. This lively visitor had certainly gotten his mind off his troubles. Now, his interest peaked, he was anxious to learn more of these other halflings and this other world.
“Abyss?” he queried as he started to brew some tea out of habit. The kettle hung from a small hook in the front of the hearth so the tea-water stayed warm. “What is the Abyss?”
Tasslehoff seemed astonished. “You’ve never heard of the Abyss? Well, let me tell you about the time….”
The kender went off on a long and rambling tale of a land of the dead that he had visited by accident where dwelt, at that time, a dark goddess of great beauty and power. He told of gnomes and mages and a time-traveling device. There seemed to be no end to the kender’s ability to talk. One tale seemed to blend into another and Frodo felt that he might need to take notes in order to keep things straight. Little did he know that with Tasslehoff, repetition of a tale was par for the course. Though, the tales often varied with the mood.
The time passed so quickly listening to the kender, that when Tasslehoff finally came to a halt in order to put a sweetcake that Frodo had given him into his mouth, the hobbit was shocked to see the window behind Tasslehoff was dark. Frodo jumped up, “Oh, It’s night. I’m terribly sorry, I didn’t notice the time. I’ve kept you far too late, Tasslehoff.”
“Call me Tas, all my friends do.” He hopped up as well, though he seemed confused as to why he was being ushered to the door. “Am I late for something?”
Frodo was taken aback. “Oh, I assumed that you would want to be home by dark.”
“Oh, no. I don’t really have a home. I’m staying with my cousin, Gintilli*, for right now because she’s new here. Her place is huge because she hasn’t decided whether she’s staying or not, yet. She takes care of her half-sister, who doesn’t go anywhere, so she made a big house so she could explore without leaving it. But, I don’t have to be there all the time. I’m trying to get Gintilli to leave with me, but she feels bad about leaving her sister alone.”
“So, you are not expected somewhere for the night?” Frodo asked cautiously.
“Oh, no! I can stay all night if I want. Don’t worry about me. I don’t really get tired much anymore, so I can talk all night and all day! In fact, that’s why Flint went to visit some gully dwarves he’d met a few months back. He said that I needed the rest. Though, I thought it strange at the time, since Flint can’t stand gully dwarves. But, I’m not a bit tired. So, I went exploring.”
Tas settled back into the sitting room and began eating again. Frodo was not entirely sure how he felt about the prospect of Tasslehoff staying all night in his home. He was not properly prepared for a guest. He did not wish to be a bad host, but he was not really ready to be a host in the first place. At least, not to an overnight, and possibly indefinite, guest. He had enjoyed the kender’s company and his tales were new and fascinating. The kender, himself, was cheery and talkative, albeit a little intrusive and blunt at times, but Frodo was flustered, nonetheless, at this sudden turn of events. He hurried to the kitchen to check his cupboard for proper meals. He could not let a houseguest go hungry. Then he looked for fresh linens and inquired about the kender’s sleeping and bathing needs.
“I’m fine.” Tas grinned. “I’ll just stay awake. And I bathed before I left the house.”
Though, from his description of who he had visited in the last few days, there was no telling when he had “left the house”.
Tasslehoff watched Frodo bustle about the house for a while, then decided to follow him in case he went anywhere interesting.
“You don’t need to make all this fuss over me!” Tas chimed in behind Frodo, who seemed startled to find Tas there. “I just came to visit. The food is delicious though. Do you make it yourself? Gintilli and I usually just ‘think’ stuff up. Did you know that you can do that here? Just think about something hard enough and it shows up. Like magic. Though, I daresay the cooked stuff you gave me did taste better than the food we got. Maybe we didn’t think about the flavor of the food hard enough. Do you have anything to drink around here?”
“Yes, of course. I have some ale and some mead.” Frodo led him to the kitchen where the two settled for a while. Frodo started a fire in the small fireplace where he heated his pots. Tasslehoff took one sip of the offered ale and began another tale of his world that told of an inn that was renown for the best ale in the land. The Inn of the Last Home, it was called, and it was in the town of Solace where he had lived for a long time with his dwarf friend, Flint, and a half-elf named Tanis.
Frodo listened intently, spellbound by the kender’s enthusiasm and descriptive tales. Krynn was a world of dragons that talked, some good and some evil. Humans, elves, gnomes, dwarves, and kenders fighting draconians, dark mages, and minotaur. He told of his adventures with his closest friends, Flint and Tanis, along with a pair of brothers, Caramon and Raistlin, a knight named Sturm, and an elf maid called Laurana.
They had saved their world from the dark goddess by blocking her from entering the physical plane of Krynn and killed the bad dragons with ancient weapons called Dragonlances. He talked about the love between Tanis, the half-elf and the young, beautiful Laurana that was a scandal among the elves, and of the sultry relationship Tanis shared with a captivating human woman named Kitiara, who was a half-sister to the twins Caramon and Raistlin. He even went off on a tale about a wooly mammoth that he encountered as well as sharing a few stories that he knew of the adventures of his Uncle Trapspringer.
Frodo learned quite a few things out about Kender during all this talk as well. They love to tell tales, they get sidetracked easily, and they seem to have no concept of personal property. He listened and asked questions until he found himself fighting to keep his eyes open. He was in the habit of getting a good night’s sleep, though he did find that he was not as tired or sleepy here as he had been in life. The need for sleep seemed to rise out of habit rather than necessity, as many things did in this realm. As he realized how weary he was, he also looked around to find that they had eaten nearly everything he had had in his larder. He had not really been aware of time passing as he listened to Tasslehoff’s tales but they had been sitting for quite some time. Looking into the sitting room, he saw that the sun was shining into the room. How long had they been talking, he wondered.
Tasslehoff was about to launch into another tale when a knock came at the door. Frodo jumped up with a hasty, “Excuse me” and went to the front door. He noticed that his legs did feel a bit odd. Not as though as they had been asleep, like they would have if he had sat for an extremely long time in Middle-earth, but like he simply had to get used to walking on them again.
As he reached for the doorknob with his right hand, he stopped cold. For a brief moment, he thought that he had seen his missing finger. His heart skipped a beat. Then it was gone again, as if he had imagined it. He began to ponder this odd phenomenon, when the knock came again and jogged him back to the moment.
He opened the door, and there stood Samwise Gamgee. He looked a bit worried, wringing his hands and shuffling from side to side as Sam used to do when he was upset. As soon as he laid eyes on Frodo, he seemed to relax.
“Oh, there you are, Mr. Frodo. I thought something had happened to you,” he said with an exhale of relief.
“No, Sam. I’m fine.” Frodo ushered his old friend inside with an outstretched hand. “Come in, come in and will you please stop calling me, ‘Mister’ Frodo. We are all equals here, you know that.”
“Of course, I know it, but it’s hard to remember it.” Sam tried to explain his reluctance to give up what was a comfortable habit. “I’m just so used to thinking of you, and referring to you like that, Mr. Frodo. If you get my meaning.”
Frodo had tried to break Sam and Rosie of the habit ever since he had seen them again and knew that it was probably futile. They would call him that until they no longer felt the need to do so and there was nothing he could do to change it. He smiled and sighed as he led Sam into his kitchen.
“Well, there is someone I’d like you to meet,” he was saying and then stopped. The kitchen was empty. “Now, where’s he gotten off to?”
“Who, Mr. Frodo?” Sam asked, curious at his friend’s good mood.
“Tasslehoff. I wanted you to meet him. He’s a fascinating fellow, Sam.” Frodo was peeking around corners and behind furniture as if his visitor was playing a game of hide and seek. He had wandered from room to room and after peering inside a wardrobe and finding nothing, he stopped with his hands on his hips. He suddenly noticed Sam staring at him as if he were completely insane.
“He was here a moment ago,” he said in his own defense.
Sam decided to try a new topic. “Not to interrupt, but I came over to see if you were alright. Rosie and me was worried about you, seeing as how you usually come over to tea before dark.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry, Sam. I meant to come over last night, but I met Tas and we started talking and he started telling his tales. I lost track of time. Please give my apologies to Rose.” Frodo halfway gave up his search for the kender, though he wondered where he had gone so quickly.
“Well, we don’t expect you to live your day around us, mind you. But, seeing as how it has been two days, I just thought that I would pop by and see if you were …well…”
Frodo stopped in shock. “Did you say two days?”
“Yes, Mr. Frodo. When we didn’t hear from you. Well, we got worried.”
“Two days?” he repeated to himself in wonder. Then he laughed. A full-hearted laugh.
Sam smiled to see Frodo in such a wonderfully good humor and began to chuckle as well, though he did not know what they were laughing at. It was just good to see Frodo laugh again.
“No wonder I was running out of food,” Frodo wiped a tear from his eye. “We sat and talked for two days! And I didn’t even know it. No wonder I’m so tired.”
He sat down on a nearby bench and held his head in his hands as the laughs became less hysterical, then rubbed his face and scalp to wake himself back up a bit.
“You mean, that you haven’t slept in two nights, Mr. Frodo?” Sam seemed worried again. “That can’t be good for you.”
“I don’t think it really matters that much in this realm, dear Sam. Don’t worry over me. You did that enough in life. But, I do apologize for missing tea, and not giving any notice or explanation. It was just that Tasslehoff talked almost non-stop and all he had to say was so very interesting.”
“If you say so, Mr. Frodo.” Sam sounded as if he was beginning to doubt if this Tasslehoff really existed.
“I’m not crazy, Sam.” Frodo chuckled, he began to doubt that statement himself, though. “I found him trying to pick the lock on my front door. It seems that is a common thing that kender do.”
“Kender?” The tone implied that Sam had heard of them before.
“Yes. Have you heard of them?” Frodo jumped up. “Where have you known that name from?”
Sam looked as if he were caught with something that he should not have had. “Oh, I believe that Gandalf had mentioned that name to me. Just a few days ago.”
“Gandalf?” Frodo contemplated this new information a moment, then shrugged it off. “Well, he did say that he had met quite a few new folk around here. And he did say that if one is not expecting to…”
He got a sudden thought and shouted. “Tasslehoff? Are you still here?!”
This outburst startled Sam, but he was even more startled when a voice from two rooms away answered.
Frodo smiled triumphantly. “Sam, I want you to meet Tasslehoff Burrfoot.”
*Gintilli Dibbertill is a kender created by my best friend for role-playing the DRAGONLANCE role-playing world by Wizards of the Coast. The Player Character claims relation to the Burrfoot clan, though that is unsubstantiated. She and her sister do not appear in any books or movies.
That is the beginning of my fanfic. I hope you enjoyed it. It was fun to write and it filled a need in me to give Frodo a place to deal with feelings over his ordeal and possibly move on to a relationship as the other hobbits had done. Yes, it is a love tale. I had a crush on Frodo ever since seeing the 1978 animated movie The Lord of the Rings.
If you liked it or would like to read more of it, please leave a LIKE or a comment to let me know. Thank you for joining me in this little experiment!