If “The Lord of the Rings” Had Been Written By a Game Developer
By Erik Even
Frodo Baggins of the Shire stooped over in Farmer Maggot’s field and harvested another mushroom cap. As long as he moved slowly, and did not creep into their line of sight, the farmer’s mean old hounds, Grip, Fang and Wolf, would remain asleep under a nearby willow tree.
The hobbit stowed the newly-purloined mushroom cap and started off in search of another. He had been sneaking about for hours, collecting as many of the fungi as he could find. When he returned to Bag End, he would be able to trade the mushroom caps for another Vial of Galadriel.
Locating another mushroom cap near the same pond where Frodo once harvested Watcher in the Water Scales, the halfling attempted to put the tiny toadstool in his bag. But alas! His inventory was full, and there was no room!
Frodo pawed through his collection of rabbit skins, warg’s teeth, caskets of Longbottom Leaf, Lesser Elven Rings, Second Age Blades, Evenstar Necklaces, Balrog’s Claws and Gollum Dung, looking for something he could discard. But a noise drew the hobbit’s attention to the east.
Someone was coming over the ridge, from the direction of the Stock-brook. Frodo armed himself, brandishing Andúril in his own field of view, to the lower right. But the blade did not glow, for the newcomer was no enemy.
“Why, it’s old Gandalf,” Frodo said to himself. The hobbit had not seen the wizard for almost six months, since that night at Bag End when the wizened conjurer had revealed to Frodo the terrifying secret of his uncle’s Ring.
“Confound it, you miserable little creature!” the wizard yelled, advancing on Frodo with his gray robes billowing around him. “I have been across Eriador and back looking for you! When I could not find you at Rivendell, Glorfindel, Aragorn and I searched The Wild for months! When I heard you had never arrived at Crickhollow, I feared the worst!”
Leaning heavily on his old staff, the wizard peered, exasperated, down at the hobbit. “What are you doing still in the Shire?”
“Collecting mushroom caps and athelas leaves,” the hobbit replied. “If I collect enough athelas leaves, I can trade them in at Michel Delving for Mithril Vests. And then I turn in the Mithril Vests to the dwarf at the North Farthing Stone, and he —“
“Athelas leaves? Mithril Vests?” the wizard burst out, huffing and puffing. “What is this nonsense? Did you hear nothing I told you? Sauron seeks the One Ring! The Nine are abroad, searching for ‘Shire’ and ‘Baggins!’ We agreed that you would flee The Shire by September!”
“Yes, but I could not leave The Shire with nothing but the waistcoat on my back,” Frodo replied. “By training in the art of tanning and making leather breeches, I was able to earn enough gold to buy this excellent Dwarf Helm from Fatty Bolger —“
But Gandalf was no longer listening, his attention drawn to Frodo’s shining blade. “By the Holy Silmarils! Is that the blade of Isuldur reforged? How –?”
“Silmarils?” Frodo asked, rummaging through his sack. “I have four or five of those here. Barliman Butterbur trades them for Miruvor Vials when you go to the Prancing Pony to heal.”
“Frodo!” Gandalf cried, as the old man rose up suddenly proud and strong like an Elf king of old. “The armies of Mordor stand at the gates of Minas Tirith! Rohan has fallen, and Erebor is is besieged! The hour is late, and the Ring must be destr—is that really a Silmaril?”
The Halfling held aloft the holy jewel, which gave off the clear white light of a thousand stars.
“Sure,” Frodo said. “I’ll trade it for your staff.”