Title: Barrow Downer
Rating: All Audiences
Genre: Alternate Universe/humor/horror
Plot: On the Barrow Downs, Frodo confronts a horror he reeeeeally didn't expect.
Note: The poetry and some of the action is all bastardized Tolkien.




“Cold be hand and heart and bone,
and cold be sleep under stone,
never more to rest on downy bed,
never moving til the Day is dead.
Then through black wind the stars shall gleam,
and they shall walk through paths unseen.
Ever thirsting for the taste of blood.
and turning their victim’s lives to crud.”


Having regained consciousness, Frodo crouched like a frightened mole on the floor of the Barrow Wight’s tomb, horrified by the bizarre incantation from nowhere, and even more frightened at the sight of his friends. Merry, Sam and Pippin were laid out as if dead on a mound of golden treasure, arms crossed on their chests, and dressed in robes of the purest white. An eerie glow lit their faces and he could see that cold silver circlets were on their brows, silver rings on their fingers and sharp daggers gleamed at their sides. Across their three necks was laid one long naked sword.

Frodo, still in his simple Hobbit homespun, was inclined to wonder why he didn’t rate a makeover when the sight of a glowing hand creeping on its thin fingers towards his friends slapped the jealousy right out of him. The Barrow Wight. Beyond all reason a rage of bravery overtook him and he seized a short sword he found beside him. “Get away! Getawaygetawaygetawaygetaway!!” He slashed down and hacked the horror in two. He heard a shriek and the unnatural glow vanished as part of the inner end of the chamber fell in with a crash. A thin ray of moonlight shone through. In the dark there was a snarling noise.

Frodo stumbled and fell across Merry. Merry’s skin felt cold. “Merry! Sam! Get up!” Frodo threw the long sword off their necks and they began to stir feebly. “Get up, Pippin! We’ve got to get out!”

“Wha…? Frodo? My neck…I feel so strange…” Merry mumbled. Frodo began to slap them with the flat of his blade. “OW! Stop that!”

“Get up! We can't afford to delay for a moment!” Frodo bolted for the hole in the cavern and wormed his way out into the night, Sam, Pippin and Merry lurching unsteadily behind him. He helped them as best he could and they began to recover some coordination. Frodo led the way, running hell bent for leather away from the Barrow Wight’s tomb, but as he ran he seemed to hear icy, mocking laughter following him from the black hole in the ground. His friends ran beside him, looking like ghosts trailing white death shrouds behind them and the moonlight glinted off the silver of their jewelry and the pale skin of their faces.

Finally they stopped in a small wood of fir trees and Frodo threw himself on the ground, panting. His friends stood over him and Frodo saw, with great annoyance, that they weren’t winded at all. He regained his breath and listened to the wind blow through their pale robes as he began to calm down at last. Finally he held up an arm, silently asking for a hand up, and Sam took it, pulling Frodo to his feet with unusual strength. “Why, Sam!” Frodo exclaimed, catching his servant’s hand. “Your skin is still ice cold.”

“Aye, it is, sir.” Sam’s spread both hands hopefully towards Frodo and gave a little sigh of pleasure when his master obligingly tried to rub some heat back into them. Merry and Pippin watched, envious, as if they were red-headed stepchildren being denied a special treat. “Thank you, Master Frodo, your skin is so, so nice and warm.” Sam smiled. Merry and Pippin smiled, Pippin sucking on his bottom lip and Merry beginning to breathe quickly. Frodo looked at him and Merry held him with his eyes as he reached up slowly and drew off his circlet, the thick curls of his hair catching at the band of silver. He flipped it away into the darkness and smiled some more.

Frodo, poor, dear, doomed Frodo, smiled back pleasantly as he forced himself to look away. Were his friends behaving strangely? “Hold fast a moment and I’ll see if I can start a fire with the tinderbox in my pack. Heaven knows what happened to your supplies but I’m not about to go back and find out.” He shrugged out of his pack and began to dig through it. “And you’re all too pale. We shouldn't delay but...I think a little food will do us all some good after the horrible fright we just had…something…”

“Something nice and hot,” purred Sam. “A nice hot…drink…”

“Oh, yes,” sighed Merry. “Something warm…soothing…thick and rich…”

“Merry?” sighed Pippin, rubbing the knuckles of his right hand back and forth across his lips as he watched Frodo ransack his pack more and more frantically.

“Yes, Pip?” answered Merry, his eyes beginning to reflect the moonlight in a way no Hobbit’s eyes should.

“I’m hungry.” Pippin continued to stare down at his now-trembling cousin.

“EAT THIS!!” Frodo screamed, throwing his pack through the air and catching Pippin dead in the face. Pippin was thrown back and Merry bent to his aid, snickering. With a joyous whoop Sam pounced at his master and Frodo, ducking away just in time, took off running through the trees with Sam directly behind him. “Sam! Stop! What are you doing?!”

“I’m pullin’ weeds! What does it look like I’m doing?!” Sam reached out and snagged his master by the cloak. Frodo broke the clasp and leapt away leaving Sam to fall backwards with a handful of woolen fabric in his hand. Frodo was taller than Sam, taller than most Hobbits, and managed to put a little distance between himself and his crazed servant. All at once into his mind sprang the memory of the rhyme that the powerful Tom Bombadil had taught him should he fall into danger or difficulty within the borders of Tom’s land. Sing the rhyme and Tom would rush to his rescue.

In a small desperate voice Frodo began, “Ho, Tom Bomba…AIGH!” Cold hands tripped him up as even colder hands slammed him in the back and he went sprawling over the bank of a creek bed. The shallow water was freezing and Frodo spluttered as he stood up in it. “No! Get away! Getawaygetawaygetaway!!” Proud of how easily they had cut him off, Pippin and Merry stood on the bank and laughed down at him. Sam unhurriedly stepped out of the trees and joined them, still holding Frodo’s abandoned cloak.

Sam’s eyes glinted hungrily as he held out the cloak as if it were a towel. “Come now, Mr. Frodo. Come out of there before you catch your death.” Merry and Pippin thought that was hilarious and laughed some more. They split apart and began to close in on Frodo in a pincer formation leaving Sam directly in front of the terrified Hobbit. “Come on, Mr. Frodo. Come here,” Sam crooned, shaking the cloak invitingly.

“HO! TOM BOMBADIL!” Frodo shouted. His cousins stopped at the water’s edge. Sam narrowed his eyes at him. “Ho, Tom Bombadil! Tom Bombadillo! By water, wood and hill, by the reed and willow! By fire, sun and moon, hearken now and hear us! Come Tom Bombadil, for our need is near us!”

There was a sudden deep silence. Pippin cocked his head. Then they heard, plain but far away, an answering voice singing.

“Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow,
bright blue his eyes are but his spine is yellow!
None has ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the master,
I ain’t going near those things, you should have run faster! Sorry!”

“Oh, balls…” mumbled Frodo as strong hands clamped onto his arms and dragged him out of the water, Pippin on his left and Merry on his right. They hauled him directly up to Sam who stood gleefully waiting.

“Ah, Frodo, me dear, here…put this on…” Sam threw Frodo’s cloak back around his master’s shoulders and began to refasten the pin. Frodo felt a sharp pain as Sam jabbed him in the neck with it. “Oh, dear! Look what I’ve done!” Sam held up his bloody fingers towards Merry. “The pin slipped!”

“Sam!” Merry exclaimed, “How clumsy of you!” He brought Sam’s fingers to his face and licked them. Frodo whined in his throat and shot away but Pippin caught him around his waist and brought him back. Kicking.

“I don’t think Cousin Frodo is having any fun,” the youngest Hobbit admonished his friends.

“You’re right, Pip, we can’t have that.”

“Getawaygetawaygetawaygetaway!” The three of them tackled Frodo to the ground. Sam tilted Frodo’s head back and battened onto his exposed neck. Merry and Pippin regained Frodo’s arms and tore sharp teeth into the soft skin of his wrists. Their white robes were stained with crimson detailing. Frodo’s pain was intense but it faded quickly as they began to drink. “…getawaygetaway…get…away…oh…please do not…oh please do…oh please…ohhhh….” With Pippin on the left, Merry on the right and Sam on top, Frodo finally realized what the attraction here was.

A little delay never hurt anybody.


End
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