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Chapter Five

John stirred. He became aware that he was wet. Not just wet, soaked. He was a human sponge, filled completely with water. Cold water, too. He shivered and sat up.

The sun shone brilliantly, belying the fact that there had been a storm. Water shone on every blade of grass, encrusting the landscape with shimmering diamonds. Emerald green mixed with crystal and a royal blue sky to shame any human creation. A rainbow graced the west. Birds twittered and sang in the trees at the top of the ridge, interweaving their melodies into a glorious natural symphony. The sun was warm and gentle, a mother singing to her earthly child.

There was not a sign of habitation. The valley was untouched, empty of humans or any other race. Every feature, every tree, every curve of every hill was exactly as John remembered it - only without its Hobbit inhabitants. John sighed. He was chilled, inside and out. They had gone. Gone where? West, perhaps. They had gone and left the world to humanity, just like the Elves had gone before them. And he was the only person who knew. What good could he do? Humans would go on with their selfish, arrogant, war-like ways, never knowing or dreaming that there was something else, something more. He remembered Galadriel and his dreams. Why had he been sent here? Only to see something, know it to be unattainable, and watch it taken from him? What was the purpose?

Johnís gaze fell on the Red Book of Westmarch. It lay on the grass, dry, where it had been protected from the rain by his body. And then he understood. He had been sent to tell the story.

Wearily, John stood, picking up the book. He took one last wistful look at the valley before turning away and trudging back to the world of humans.

Days later, the young man sat at a table in the cabin. He had eaten and changed clothes. No trace of his experience remained upon him, save perhaps an expression on his face or a light in his eyes. The red book lay open on the table, to the side. A blank piece of paper lay before him.

The young man picked up a pen and began to write.

THE DOWNFALL OF THE LORD OF THE RINGS AND THE RETURN OF THE KING

(as seen by the Little People; being memoirs of Bilbo and Frodo of the Shire, supplemented by the accounts of their friends and the learning of the Wise.)

Together with extracts from Books of Lore translated by Bilbo in Rivendell.

Translated by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien.

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