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Winter Wolves

Animals of Middle-earthSummary: The winter of 2911 brought more than just a lot of snow to the Shire. Other, more dangerous things found their way across its borders.

Third Age 2911, two weeks before Yule:

Glorfindel brought his horse to a halt and pulled back his hood for a better view as he scanned the surrounding area. The snow was still falling but not as heavily as it had earlier in the day. A shroud of white blanketed everything and a light mist rose from the bracken, wreathing the area with a ghostly veil. The Weather Hills and Amon Sûl, which should have been visible to him, were lost in the snow and mist.

“Remind you of anything?” The words were in Quenya.

Glorfindel looked to see one of his companions stopping next to him, pulling his own hood back. He gave Thandir a wry smile. “If you’re referring to the Helcaraxë, I’m afraid I don’t see the resemblance, save for the snow.”

Thandir snorted, his breath coming out in a puff of white. “It’s only been a little more than a yén since the Long Winter.”

Glorfindel nodded. “Long enough for most Mortals to forget. Yet, I don’t recall it being so bitterly cold as now, just heaps and heaps of snow.” He glanced back to where the rest of the patrol was spread out on what should have been the Great East Road but was now only a deep field of white. “I think we would’ve made better time if we’d come on foot. The horses are tiring quickly from plowing through these drifts.”

“You know full well that the Dúnedain would not be able to keep up with us otherwise,” Thandir retorted with a light laugh. “This way we’re all on an equal footing.”

Glorfindel gave him a sunny look. “Four feet, to be exact.” He shook his head, his golden braids with their gems and beads entwined glittering and flashing even without the sun. “Amon Sûl should be no more than a league away. We’ll give the horses a rest and walk them for a short while.”

Thandir nodded and called out to the rest of their party and soon the Elves were dismounting and walking the horses. It was difficult going with the drifts but they managed, the horses snorting and breathing out white plumes as they struggled through snow that was sometimes hock high. Glorfindel and Thandir walked side-by-side, their horses trailing.

“What do you think we will find?” Thandir asked. “Argonui’s report was rather vague.”

Glorfindel shrugged. “We’ll know when we reach Amon Sûl. Argonui’s son is heading the Dúnedain patrol. He would not have called for help without cause.”

Thandir nodded. “Arador is no fool, even for a Mortal.” He cast a sly grin at Glorfindel, who smiled back.

They continued walking for about a half an hour or so before Glorfindel called out the order to remount and soon they were making better time. By now the snow had finally stopped and the temperature rose a bit, though the clouds remained, hiding Anor from their view. Eventually, the mist dissipated enough that the Elves could see the ruins of the tower on Amon Sûl in the far distance.

“Ah, someone’s built a fire for us,” Thandir said, pointing to where they could see the yellow flames rising from the ruins, acting almost as a beacon.

Glorfindel grinned. “I very much doubt they built the fire with you in mind, my friend.”

Thandir shrugged. “It will be welcome nonetheless.”

Another hour or so saw them at the foot of the mount known as Weathertop in the Common Tongue. Dúnedain sentries hailed them, urging them to climb the hill to where Lord Arador was holding court. Glorfindel ordered his people to set up camp, then he and Thandir made their way to the top of the mount where they found Arador and his son, Arathorn, sitting near the fire, mugs of tea in their hands as they pored over a map that lay on a flat rock, the Ranger captains looking on. All the Mortals looked up as the Elves reached them and rose as one.

“A star shines on the hour of our meeting, my lords. Welcome,” Arador said, giving them a slight bow, one that was echoed by the other Men.

Glorfindel glanced up at the leaden sky then at the Mortals and chuckled. “And if you can see any stars, my Lord Arador, your eyesight is better than mine.”

Arador smiled and gestured for them to join him by the fire, the other Men shuffling about to give them room. Glorfindel and Thandir greeted Arathorn warmly, for he had only recently left the safety of Imladris after having been fostered there for a time, learning what the Elves would teach him. Arador then named the captains who were there. “You made good time,” he said as mugs of tea were handed to the Elves. “We didn’t expect you for another day or three.”

“We would’ve been here two days ago if we’d left the horses behind,” Glorfindel said with a sniff. “Thandir, however, didn’t think it would be proper.”

Thandir’s response was to smack Glorfindel upside his head, giving them a sound of disgust. “That’s it, blame me, as usual. There are times I think I should’ve just left you in that blizzard.”

Glorfindel’s response was to stick his tongue out at Thandir, much to the amazement of the Mortals.

Arador chuckled at the byplay. “Yes, well, getting back to the subject at hand....”

Glorfindel turned to the Man with a frown. “Your lord father was less than forthcoming with the reason he asked Elrond for help.”

“That’s because he didn’t know any real details,” Arador replied. “When I sent the message to him, even I knew very little, only that there are rumors of fell things moving southward out of the wilds.”

Glorfindel nodded. “We noticed a larger than usual incursion of trolls coming down out of the Ettenmoors. Elrond’s sons are dealing with that situation even now.”

Arador nodded, frowning, then he pushed the map toward Glorfindel, pointing to a particular spot. “We’ve heard rumors of something coming down through the Emyn Uial.”

“But only rumors,” Thandir said.

Arador shrugged, but it was Arathorn who spoke. “Several of the Dúnedain patrols out of Fornost reported seeing creatures unknown to them, making their way southward. Some appear harmless enough. There’s one report of a large deer-like animal with wide antlers. They spotted a whole herd of them.”

Glorfindel nodded. “Yes. If they are what I think they are, they’re harmless enough. That they have migrated this far south, though, means that the conditions further north are even worse than they are here and while the daererais, as we called them, are harmless enough, those for whom they are lawful prey are not.”

The Dúnedain nodded, their expressions grim, or, Glorfindel reflected irreverently, grimmer than usual. “There is also this,” Arathorn said, leaning towards the map, tracing a line with his forefinger. “The Baranduin has frozen over.”

Both Glorfindel and Thandir gasped at the implications of that statement. Glorfindel shot a look at Arador. “Is this true? How far south?”

“At least as far south as Sarn Ford,” Arador answered with a grimace. “There are ice floes on the river beyond that. I have no doubt if this winter continues, much of the rest of the river will freeze, but it’s definitely frozen enough where it borders the Shire.”

“Never have I known the Baranduin to freeze over,” Thandir said in a worried voice, “not even during the Long Winter.”

Glorfindel nodded. None of the Mortals here were old enough to remember that particularly harsh winter. Indeed, the present Chieftain of the Dúnedain had been only a babe in swaddling clothes at the time. He did not think that there were too many greybeards left among the Dúnedain who would remember. “And that is why you asked for our help,” he said after a moment.

Arador nodded. “Our patrols are spread rather thinly. I have most of my men patrolling the road between Fornost and Bree. There are many predators that are coming out of the wild and not all of them are on four feet.” He gave them a grimace of disgust and the Elves nodded. “Also, it is in my mind that while my men can handle most predators, both two- and four-legged, other, more fell creatures may be coming southward and I would have your aid, my lord, for it is known that the Elves have powers that we Mortals do not.”

“True enough,” Glorfindel said, “but I would not discount yourselves too easily. I am assuming you wish us to help you guard the Shire.”

“Yes. The Shirefolk are a peaceful people, simple in their ways, and I very much doubt they will be able to defend themselves against whatever may find its way past their borders.”

Glorfindel smiled, remembering a certain band of Periain who’d helped Arador’s ancestors flee the forces of Angmar, holding off the Witch-King’s might well enough. “They may surprise you,” he said quietly. “Very well, Lord Arador. I and my people will join yours in patrolling the Shire.” He glanced at the sky, still leaden with clouds. “Anor still rules the skies above though we cannot see her, yet I deem it would be useless to set out now.”

“We can send out a couple of scouts,” Thandir suggested. “If they do not take their horses they can reach Bree by tomorrow night.”

“It’s over thirty leagues to Bree!” exclaimed Arathorn and the other Mortals looked equally nonplused. “And the road is nearly impassible.”

Glorfindel ignored him. “Mallor and Celepharn, I think,” he said to Thandir.

Thandir nodded and rose gracefully, striding away from the fire to stand at the edge of the ruins, calling out two names before returning to the fire. In moments, two Elves appeared and Glorfindel quickly apprised them of the situation. Mallor turned to Celepharn. “I’ll carry the wood and you can carry our supplies.”

“You carried the wood last time,” Celepharn protested with a sniff. “I’ll carry it this time.”

“The last time you carried the wood, it got all wet,” Mallor retorted, his eyes gleaming.

“It wouldn’t have gotten wet if you hadn’t pushed me into the damn lake.”

“And a good thing I did, considering you were too slow to avoid the orc’s sword.”

“Well, we wouldn’t have even had to fight the orcs if you’d listen to me in the first place and....”

“Enough!” Glorfindel said quietly, yet his voice rang with authority and the two scouts subsided while the Mortals looked on in bemusement. “You will both carry wood and your own supplies. Now go. We will meet you outside the south gate of Bree four days from now an hour before sunset.”

The two Elves bowed to their captain and set off. Arador gave Glorfindel an amused look. “Do they always argue like that?”

Glorfindel rolled his eyes and Thandir chuckled. “And it’s the same argument every time.”

“So how long ago did the wood get wet?” Arador asked with a knowing smile.

The two Elves looked at each other and shrugged almost as one. “About six hundred years ago?” Glorfindel asked.

“Sounds about right,” Thandir replied.

Most of the Dúnedain gave the Elves nonplused looks, but Arador only chuckled. “That explains it then,” he said and when the two Elves gave him enquiring looks, he went on. “It’s a recent quarrel.”

Both Glorfindel and Thandir threw back their heads and laughed and soon the Mortals were joining them. When they at last calmed down, Arador stood. “May I invite my lords to join me and my son in our tent for dinner?” he asked formally.

The Elves rose as well. Glorfindel, speaking for them both, gave him a polite bow “We would be honored, my Lord Arador.”


The Elves and the Dúnedain reached Bree just as Anor was slipping down the horizon, limning fitful clouds with red and purple light, casting long shadows. This late in the year, the days were short and they had risen from their last camp before dawn. The going had been hard on all but as they neared Bree Hill, the snow on the road was less and the going easier. In fact, by the time they reached the south gate of Bree the road was relatively clear, a good indication that the worthy citizens of the Breeland had been hard at work to keep the road open, at least in and around the town.

Glorfindel and Arador rode at the head of the column with Thandir and Arathorn directly behind. The other Elves and Dúnedain followed in no particular order as they rounded the hill and came near the gate, slowing to a halt. There was no one there and the gate was closed.

“Your scouts appear to be late,” Arador said with a thin smile.

Glorfindel gave him a startled look. “They’ve been following us since the Forsaken Inn,” he replied, pointing to his right where the land rose in folds toward the hill on which Bree sat.

Now it was Arador’s turn to look startled as he scanned the area. “I see them not, nor have any of my men alerted us of their presence.”

“Well, that would defeat the purpose of having scouts now, wouldn’t it?” Thandir called out with a laugh. “You Rangers are very good but we Elves have had three ages to hone our skills.” He looked about and then pointed. “I think Celepharn is that hump over there by the oak and, if I’m not mistaken, Mallor is...”

“Right here, my lords.”

Every Mortal gasped to see a figure practically rising before them out of the gloom, standing not two feet from where Arador and Glorfindel had stopped. He gave them a cheeky grin as the ‘hump’ to which Thandir had pointed moved to reveal Celepharn brushing off the snow from his cloak and sauntering toward them, looking as smug as his partner. Glorfindel looked down at the two scouts with a faint smile of amusement on his face.

“You’re going to have to do a lot better at hiding, you two,” he said to them. “Celepharn still breathes too loud and you, Mallor, left tracks two miles back where the road comes out of the woods.”

Their smiles faded. “Yes, Captain. Sorry, Captain,” they both muttered.

Glorfindel nodded. “Report,” he said and the two scouts straightened.

“It is as Lord Arador said,” Celepharn replied briskly. “The Baranduin is indeed frozen, frozen deep enough that we crossed it easily and there is evidence that the Periain are ignoring the bridge and simply crossing the ice wither they will since the ferry is not running.”

“Any signs of creatures coming southward?” Glorfindel asked.

Both scouts nodded. “We went as far north as the ruins of Annúminas,” Celepharn replied. “We saw at least one heard of the daererais and signs of other creatures moving out of the Emyn Uial.”

Glorfindel nodded and was about to suggest they continue through Bree and camp at the crossroads where the Great East Road and the Greenway met, when Mallor spoke again, his voice somewhat strained.”There is one other thing, Captain.” When Glorfindel nodded for him to continue, he swallowed, looking nervous, which surprised the Captain of the Guards of Imladris. “When we were making our way back here to meet you we cut through the Old Forest.”

“Did you now? And was there a reason for doing so, other than a need to visit old friends?”

“We were called... or at least, we felt the need to go there,” Mallor said. “We met with Ben-adar who gave us a message for you.”

Glorfindel stiffened slightly, but nodded for the scout to continue. “He told us to tell you that not all wolves are safe to run with.”

Glorfindel’s expression remained impassive, but his eyes flickered with memories and an old longing that had never been completely assuaged. “Thank you,” was all he said, then he turned to Arador. “Let’s see if we can convince the gatekeeper to let us in and make our way to the other side where we can camp for the night.”

Arador nodded, and in minutes they were pounding on the gate. It took a while for them to convince the guards to let them through and by then the sun was long gone and the night lay heavily about them. It began snowing again even as they were passing through the west gate, stopping to set up camp on the other side of the Greenway.


The next few days remained clear as the Rangers and the Elves began patrolling the area north of Buckland, keeping their presence hidden from the Shirefolk as much as possible. Herds of the daererais were seen in the distance, and there were other animals as well, but no sign of any predators, and their absence disturbed Glorfindel more than he let on. Even with the inclusion of the Elves, there were not enough men to patrol every inch of the Baranduin between Lake Nenuial and the Bridge of Stonebows, which was the main bridge leading across the Baranduin into the Shire proper. Arador had left with a small contingent of personal guards for Fornost two days after he and Glorfindel had set up the patrol schedule, leaving Arathorn to lead the Rangers. The young Man was capable enough and Glorfindel had no worries about him, for he’d helped train Arathorn himself, even as he’d trained every Heir of Isildur since Valandil.

The days were long and boring and the nights equally so and Thandir commented once that they may have been dragged out of Imladris on a fool’s errand. Glorfindel’s only comment was to order the Elves to be more vigilant, for he had felt a darkness and a threat growing in his mind, though it was too amorphous for him to pinpoint where it might be coming from.

It was now the fifth day of the patrol and a brumal wind swept out of the northwest, forcing the Rangers to seek what shelter they could, for it was deathly cold and the temperature dropped precipitously even though it was only early afternoon.

“Our good weather seems to be leaving us,” Thandir commented as Glorfindel joined him by a fire after having visited Arathorn at his camp. The Dúnedain had set up camp three miles northeast of the Great East Road where a swell of the land protected them from the worst of the wind. Glorfindel had gone there to ensure that all the Rangers were safe and accounted for before joining Thandir on Girdley Island where the Elves were encamped. Their horses could not easily cross the ice so they were picketed in a dell just to the southeast of the island. The morning patrol had just come in and the afternoon patrol was readying to leave.

Glorfindel nodded. “So it would seem. Anything to report?”

“Mallor believes he’s seen wolf tracks but is unsure. They seem larger than normal but not as large as those of wargs.”

“Wolves tend to avoid inhabited areas,” Glorfindel said with a frown, “but if they’ve been following the herds of daererais... I have been uneasy in my mind these last few days, for we’ve not seen any signs of predators.”

“That has worried me as well,” Thandir admitted. “I cannot believe that those animals that normally hunt the daererais would not follow them southward. We should have seen signs of them by now.”

“The Dúnedain are safely holed up in their camp,” Glorfindel said. “I was able to convince Arathorn that these temperatures are too dangerous for his men to be out in. I told him we will keep watch through the night without their help. To that effect, I want you....”

The sound of howling ripped through the air, startling both Elves.

“Wolves!” Thandir exclaimed as they both ran to the edge of the island. “Mallor was right then, but where are they?”

“Quiet!” Glorfindel commanded, straining to hear with more than his ears. The howling came again, sounding closer, which meant that the wolves were moving and quickly. He looked out across the river to the east bank. There was enough light for him to make out at least two herds of the daererais moving further east towards the Greenway, perhaps a good ten leagues away, but the howling was coming from the south.

“They’ve found different prey,” he called out. “Thandir, take half our people along the west bank. I’ll take the other half down the east bank.”

Thandir did not argue or comment, merely nodding and then calling out names and soon half the Elvish patrol was crossing the river to the west and heading south even as Glorfindel led the rest of the patrol across to the other bank, all of them running lightly over the snow. One or two of the Elves started to veer to where their horses were sheltered, but Glorfindel called them back. “Leave the horses! We’ll make better time without them. Run!”

And run they did. Howling came again and Glorfindel recognized the wolves’ call: they had found prey and were running it to ground. The Elves were at least ten miles from the Bridge of Stonebows and Glorfindel feared they would be too late. He glanced to his right and could make out Thandir and the others keeping pace with him on the other bank. Movement to his left alerted him and he saw the Dúnedain riding toward them.

“Are you insane?” Glorfindel cried out to Arathorn as he and the Elves stopped and waited for the Rangers to near them. “You’ll freeze to death in this cold.”

“Fighting the wolves will keep us warm,” Arathorn retorted.

Before Glorfindel could muster a reply, a horn sounded in the far distance. “What was that?” he exclaimed.

“The Shirefolk,” Arathorn answered. “That’s the Horn of Buckland, or I’m an orc.”

Without waiting, Glorfindel sprinted away and the rest of the Elves followed with the Rangers struggling to keep up. Thandir and his group had not stopped and were now some distance ahead. He was pointing at something and shouting. Glorfindel raced on and came in sight of the bridge. It was brightly lit with a bonfire in the middle of it. Glorfindel nodded in approval. The fire would prevent the wolves from crossing the bridge, but the Shirefolk couldn’t possibly light bonfires all up and down the river. He crossed the Great East Road where it met the bridge and entered Buckland. Again the horn sounded and across the river where lay the village of Stock, he could see many torches as the Shirefolk gathered to meet the wolves. He slowed to a halt, looking about, trying to find where the wolves were.

“There!” Mallor, who had been keeping pace with him, cried out, pointing ahead.

Glorfindel looked and saw three large shapes loping through the snow heading south. They were taller than most wolves he’d seen but not as tall as the hated wargs. Still, one of the Periain could’ve easily ridden them as if they were ponies. Their fur was nearly as white as the snow, making them hard to see, especially now that the afternoon light was waning. In another hour it would be completely dark. He spied four more on the west bank apparently heading for Stock while five others were crossing the ice further south. A dozen at least, but he thought there might be more that he could not see.

He pulled out his sword while others put arrows to strings. Arathorn and the Rangers finally caught up with them but Glorfindel paid them no mind, already sprinting after the three wolves they’d spied. He vaguely heard Arathorn issuing orders for some of his men to cross over to help deal with the wolves on the west side of the river but most of his concentration was on reaching the wolves who were heading for Bucklebury. Movement to his left alerted him to the presence of more wolves and then before he realized it, he was surrounded by at least five. They did not attack him, but ran with him, keeping a safe distance from his reach. Throwing a look over his shoulder he realized that he’d outrun the rest of his patrol. He was alone with the wolves.

On they ran and Glorfindel dared not stop. He veered toward one of the wolves, thinking to attack it, but it snarled at him and he knew he could not fight them all and backed off. The lights of Bucklebury grew brighter and he could hear the confused din of shouting, screaming and snarling. Several more wolves were already engaged in battle with the Shirefolk. The wolves had easily kept pace with him and he wondered why they did not simply attack him. It was almost as if they were herding him to some particular spot.

He’d been following the road all the way from the bridge, for it had been kept open in spite of the snow and now he passed a lane to his left and Bucklebury was directly ahead. There was a confusion of Periain and wolves running in all directions. He saw at least one wolf lying in the snow, blood staining it red, and several Periain were also still. Directly before him was one large wolf threatening two of the Periain.

“No!” he shouted and raised his sword. The wolves that had been running with him snarled and one tried to block his path, but he swung his sword and the wolf leapt away. He halted before the wolf threatening the Periain and the other wolves circled them, yipping and snapping at the Shirefolk, but nothing more. Glorfindel spared them a glance. They were enough alike in coloring and features that he had no doubt that they were kin to one another. The older of the two held his right arm in a way that alerted Glorfindel to the fact that it was probably broken. The younger one seemed unharmed, but his eyes were wide with fear. Glorfindel lowered his sword and crouched before the wolf that had been threatening them. He did not make eye contact, not quite.

“Peace, my brother-in-fur,” Glorfindel said, exerting as much power as he dared to reveal, mindful of the Periain behind him, “This is no place for you. Your food runs free across the wilds. Why do you hunt here? Leave this place. You and your pack cannot hope to survive if you do not.”

The wolf snarled and its fellows, still circling them, yipped and howled and then went completely still, their tongues hanging out as they panted.

“Go,” Glorfindel commanded, pointing to his left and north. “Take your pack and hunt the daererais. You will find nothing but death here if you remain.”

For a long moment nothing happened. Glorfindel waited quietly for the wolf’s response. He could almost feel the fear radiating from the Periain standing behind him and wished to turn and offer them a word of comfort, but he dared not move. The wolf snarled low in its throat and Glorfindel happened to look up, inadvertently catching the wolf’s eyes and found himself being drawn into its gaze, memories of an earlier time flooding him, a deep longing to cast aside his sword and run with the wolves overtaking him.

“Look out!” a high-pitched voice rang out but before Glorfindel could respond he felt a huge weight dragging him down and he found himself struggling to keep the wolf from ripping out his throat. He heard someone scream and then his attacker gave a yelp of pain, scrabbling off him.

“Go away!” he heard a voice cry out. “Get out of here! Go away!”

Struggling to rise he saw the younger of the two Periain facing down the wolves with nothing but a slingshot in his hand. He suspected the youngster had used it to good effect to drive the wolf off him. He searched for his sword buried in the snow, for it had fallen from his grasp when the wolf attacked him. It lay just out of his reach. Taking a chance, knowing there was little time, he lunged for his sword just as two of the wolves leapt forward to take the Periain down. The youngster screamed and then two arrows came whining through the air, striking the wolves.

“Get down!” Glorfindel shouted, remembering to speak the Common Tongue, even as he reached for his sword. He did not attempt to stand for arrows were flying all around as each unerringly found its mark. The wolves never had a chance to flee and soon all nine were lying dead or dying. Glorfindel looked about and saw that the Periain were huddled together, half-buried in the snow. He stood and greeted Mallor and the other Elves, thanking them for their timely arrival.

“You shouldn’t have run so quickly ahead of us, Captain,” Mallor said in disapproval. “Lord Elrond would have been less than pleased if we’d had to bring your mangled corpse back to Imladris.”

Glorfindel decided to ignore the comment, sheathing his sword. “Check to see if there are more wolves roaming the village,” he said instead. Mallor looked as if he wanted to say something but instead he simply nodded then called out to the others who swiftly made their way through Bucklebury in search of more wolves. Glorfindel was walking over to where the two Periain were still huddled, apparently afraid to move, when Arathorn and his men rode up.

“Now who’s the insane one?” he said in disgust.

“Never mind me, Arathorn,” Glorfindel said somewhat testily. “See to the Shirefolk.”

Arathorn nodded and began issuing orders and soon the Rangers were following the Elves into Bucklebury. Glorfindel crouched before the two Periain still huddled together. “It’s all right,” he said quietly. “All is well now. Come. Let me see you safely home.”

The two Periain looked up. The older one grimaced at the pain from his broken arm as he moved and Glorfindel helped him to his feet.

“Thank you, Master Elf,” he said. “Thank you for saving us.”

“I am Glorfindel of Rivendell, and you are most welcome. Now, where do you live? I will see you safely to your home.”

“We’re staying at Brandy Hall,” the Perian replied, “visiting my wife’s sister who’s married to the Master.”

Glorfindel nodded as he stood. He smiled at the younger Perian, who simply stood there with his mouth hanging open in awe. “And what is your name, child?” he asked gently. “You were very brave to face down those wolves with naught but a slingshot. Thank you for saving my life.”

The youngster blushed and looked down at his toes. The other Perian put his left arm around the youngster’s shoulders and smiled proudly up at the Elf. “This is my son, Bilbo....”


“Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins?!”

Glorfindel smiled in amusement at the surprised look on Aragorn’s face and nodded. He and the sons of Elrond were sharing a cave with Aragorn and a band of Rangers under his command. The Elves had joined with the Dúnedain patrol earlier that day but a sudden blizzard had forced them all to seek shelter.

“So you knew him even when he was a lad?” Aragorn insisted.

“Not in the sense you mean,” Glorfindel replied. “We met, but that is all. I saw him and his father, Bungo, safely to Brandy Hall and then rejoined your father in cleaning up the mess left by the wolves. Luckily there was little loss of life among the Shirefolk, but even so, it was not a cheerful Yule for any of them that year.”

“How long did you stay there guarding the Shire?” Halbarad asked.

“For another three months until the river unfroze,” Glorfindel said. “We never went back to the Shire or Buckland but stayed to the north and east where we continued patrolling. There were two more incursions of white wolves during the course of that winter but they never made it into the Shire. We were able to stop them before they did.”

“And I thought this winter was bad,” Halbarad said with a chuckle and Aragorn and the other Rangers joined him.

“Nay, this is nothing,” Elladan said. “The Fell Winter truly lived up to its name. Now, while Glorfindel was taking his ease watching the ice on the Baranduin melt, Elrohir and I had a far more interesting time dealing with the trolls that had come out of the Ettenmoors.”

“Oh?” Aragorn said. “I don’t think I remember you ever telling me that particular tale when I was growing up.”

“That’s because both your mother and Elrond forbade them from doing so,” Glorfindel replied. “You were far too young to hear such gruesome details.”

“Well, I’m not so young now,” Aragorn protested.

“True, but let us save that tale for another time. It is late and you are all exhausted. Sleep now and by tomorrow this storm will have passed.”

The wind suddenly howled across the cave’s entrance and the Rangers all started. Glorfindel simply smiled. “Fear not! It is just the wind. There are no wolves out tonight, I promise you. Sleep. Your brothers and I will stand the watches.”

No one bothered to argue and in a short while all the Mortals were fast asleep. Elladan and Elrohir sat quietly talking, but Glorfindel did not join their conversation, for while his body might be sitting by a fire inside a cave, his spirit was elsewhere... running with the wolves.


Words are Sindarin:

Daererais: Plural of daeraras: Great deer, possibly an elk or moose.

Periain: Plural of Perian: Halfing, Hobbit.


1. The Long Winter (November 2758-March 2759 T.A.).

2. The Mortals and their respective ages:

Argonui, 13th Chieftain of the Dúnedain, age 154.

Arador, his son and heir, age 91.

Arathorn II, his grandson, age 38.

Bilbo Baggins, age 21 (13 human years old).

Bungo Baggins, age 65. Bungo’s wife, Belladonna Took, is the sister of Donnamira who is married to Gorbadoc ‘Broadbelt’ Brandybuck, Master of Brandy Hall.

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