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Lord of the Waves

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His eyebrow lifted, arching above the lines carved into his sun-weathered face.

Without turning to look at the man standing beside him, he said, “Go get ‘em, little brother.”

With a grin, Faramir took off running. Boromir watched his brother’s red-gold locks shining in the sun as Faramir hit the waves and began swimming out past the breakers where a provender* of hobbits bobbed in the water, unconcerned about warnings to return to shore.

 

~ Earlier that day….

“Gandalf, what’s a seal? What’s a seal? Gandalf?”

Gandalf continued to ignore Pippin’s question on the ontological status of a seal, as he had ignored most of Pippin’s questions since his (in retrospect, less than stellar) idea to reward the hobbits with an ocean vacation at Seal Beach.

“Don’t worry, Pippin, I’m sure there will be plenty of seals for you to see once we get down to the water,” said Frodo.

“Oh, uhm, about that…” Gandalf cleared his throat. “There aren’t any.”

~A few minutes later, at water’s edge

Hobbits, as everyone knows, are respectful of the power of water. The Brandybucks knew its dangers and its benefits, while others *cough*cough*Samwise Gamgee*cough*cough* saw it as nothing more than wild horses (and that trip down the Anduin did nothing to disabuse him of that notion).

Gandalf sat contentedly on a rock, close to the water but far enough away to keep the hem of his robe nice and dry, grinning and nodding as he pulled on his pipe and watched his friends muster the nerve to set their furry tippy toes into the foaming water as it curled and splashed onto the shore.

Even Sam, once he felt the sand give way under his feet responding to the push and pull of the waves, laughed at the unexpected sensation.

Merry was busy defending himself from the fury of splashing directed at him by the combined efforts of Frodo and Pippin, while Sam contentedly buried his toes time and again in the sand to watch the water wash them clean. Suddenly the water felt bigger, heavier, a living moving thing coming at them. All the hobbits turned to watch a large wave moving in on them. They were frightened when the wave washed over them, tumbling them about, but its power was quickly spent and they laughed, spitting out salt and sand, as the water retreated.

Just about the time the hobbits felt they had figured out this whole water thing, something utterly amazing happened. As a massive wave crested and they waited for the expected crash to come and tumble them about, a man rose from the water and moved toward them, riding some sort of … log. On top of the wave. All along the top of the wave until the man gently allowed himself to topple off into the water.

“Sticklebats! Did you see that?” Merry turned to Frodo in astonishment.

Frodo nodded, staring at the man. Sam had looked up from his sandy toes, mouth open.

“Was that a log, Mr. Frodo?” asked Sam.

Pippin called out to Gandalf. “Hoy, Gandalf! You did not tell me there were mermen riding the waves on … what is that thing?”

Gandalf wandered down to water’s edge, white robes trailing into the surf. “Ah, Pippin. I had hoped you would have the chance to see the riding of a water ranger and so you have. But I had not expected it would be this particular ranger. He is known far and wide as Slider for he slides through the waves on his surfboard. Not a log, Master Took, it is called a surfboard.”

Pippin started up with more questions for Gandalf but a shout from Merry stopped his speaking.

“Pippin! There’s another one!”

And so there was. But this one disdained the use of a board. He rose up out of the water, his long blond hair flowing down his back like the finest, fairest seaweed Ulmo could contrive. Up, up he came.

Frodo gasped. “He has no board!”

Sam said, “He’s just using his feet!”

As one, the four hobbits looked down.

Gandalf strode forward into the water until he was knee deep in the foam. He called out, waving his hand, “Legolas! Slider! Well met, my friends.”

“He knows them,” Pippin whispered to Frodo and Merry. “Gandalf knows mermen.”

“I don’t think they are mermen, Pip,” Frodo said. “But they do seem to have some skills I’ve never heard of, not even with all of Bilbo’s stories.”

Sam was a bit bashful as Gandalf made introductions, but Merry and Pippin barely took notice, focusing so intently on the possibilities that arose in their minds, that hobbits, with their wonderful beautiful brilliantly broad flat feet, might, just might, be able to surf like an elf.

~Catching a wave

Hobbits, as it turns out, can surf. It took some time, quick lessons from Slider and Legolas, but all four hobbits quickly caught on to the trick of balancing on top of a powerful ridge of water, the movement of the wave propelling them forward and suspending them above the sea. They crashed and spluttered, they called out to each other, they yelled to Gandalf to come join them (who simply waved them off) and they surfed.

The Water Rangers, those who guarded the borders by the sea, who watched over swimmers and splashing children, knew the movements of the ocean. They knew when it was calm and safe and they knew when the waves would grow larger, crashing down with such fury that few, if any, could survive.

Boromir had studied the tide charts. Water Rangers all along the coast knew that the ocean was setting up for spectacular waves. They were posting warnings--warnings that novice surfers could easily miss.

The klaxon bell sounded, calling in surfers up and down the coast. Slider caught his final wave and rode his board all the way unto the sand. Legolas simply walked on the sand instead of the wave crest. They settled by Gandalf, waiting for the hobbits to come in.

But the hobbits had no plans of coming in, not when they could smell the enticing scents wafting over the water from the tavern at the end of the pier. When they saw the handsome Water Rangers wave at them, they were delighted and waved back. Boromir watched the gathering swells, far out on the edge of the horizon. The monster waves were coming and the hobbits, unless they came ashore very very soon, would be right in the path.

His eyebrow lifted, arching above the lines carved into his sun-weathered face.

Without turning to look at the man standing beside him, he said, “Go get ‘em, little brother.”

~The Stern Water Ranger

“It’s taters, I know it is.”

“With sausages, if I know my tater stew.”

“Nonsense, that’s bacon. Smoked applewood bacon.”

“Sausage.”

“Bacon.”

“Gandalf said there’d be sausages at Gimli’s for dinner. Didn’t say a thing about bacon, did he?”

“Well, I smell bacon.”

“Sausage.”

“Ba….”

“Gentlehobbits, please!”

The words were spoken harshly and all four quarreling hobbits spun around in the water to look at the Water Ranger glaring at them most sternly. Pippin gulped but Frodo and Merry couldn’t help smiling at the most handsome golden-skinned man currently yelling at them all.

“Gentlehobbits,” he repeated. “You must exit the water immediately. Did you not hear the warning bell?”

“Oh, was that that loud blaring noisy-thing?” asked Pippin, looking around.

The stern Water Ranger just stared for a moment and then said, “Yes. A warning bell. To exit the water.”

“Oh,” said Pippin, “then let’s go to Gimli’s! I’m hungry!”

As one, the four hobbits turned toward the end of the pier, from which the various enticing aromas were coming. Frodo glanced over his shoulder, smiling in invitation for the handsome Water Ranger to join them.

“Stop!” yelled the handsome Water Ranger. “Head for the shore. Now!”

Chastened, and a little frightened, the water-weary hobbits followed the stern Water Ranger, swimming toward the group waiting for them on the shore.

Gandalf welcomed them back to dry land, and the group stood together, watching in awe as the massive waves began to crash. As the water rushed at them, the group retreated, elf and men accepting Gandalf’s invitation to join him and hobbits for dinner at Gimli’s.

 

*pod of whales
clowder of cats
Kindle of kittens
Provender of hobbits