Charlotte Knightly gets thrown into the world of Elves, Dwarfs, Wizards, Orcs, Hobbits and Men.
“Frodo, we must keep moving. You heard what Gandalf said.”
The young woman opens her eyes to find three faces which looked like children’s looking down at her. She sits up, backing away from them. “Who are you?” she asks. They share glances before one of them answers. “We’re hobbits.” The woman frowns. “Hobbits? Tolkien’s creatures? That’s not possible...,” she thinks back at what she last did then looks at the four boys again. “I’m dreaming. I drank too much whilst watching Lord of the Rings and passed out now I am in the company of Frodo, Sam, Pippin, and Merry. That’s reasonable.” She mumbles to herself.
“You know who we are?” asks one of them, who thanks to the movies the girl could pick out. Frodo Baggins. “Why shouldn’t I? You are the Ring bearer in Lord of the Rings and these are your merry band of friends.” She says studying each one of them. All of a sudden, the air around them becomes tense. Frodo looks on down the wooded road. Scattered leaves rise into the air whirling down the road as if blown by an invisible wind. The girl hears the sound of horse hooves. Frodo’s eyes widen. “Get off the road!” he yells at his friends. The girl watches as they run to the bank and hide beneath a mossy log. The girl decides it best if she hide too. Just because this was, a dream did not mean she could not get hurt.
She hides behind a rather big tree across from where Frodo and his friends were hiding. She closes her eyes as she hears the sound of hooves closing in. It suddenly stops. A ringwraith steps into view, hooded and faceless. The huge black horse snarls. The girl closes her eyes, trying to remember what happened in the movies but soon she finds out that she was having trouble. She holds her breath as she sticks her head out, just in time to see the ringwraith pause near the hobbit’s hiding place. The horse snarls once again. The girl watches as the ringwraith stands still as though it was listening for any noise.
All of a sudden, the girl pulls back as Merry tosses the bags of mushrooms across the road. The wraith pulls back and darts to the other side of the road. The girl closes her eyes as she feels the terryfing feeling of the wraith approaching. She knew the hobbits probably have already made a run for it. Moreover, since this was her dream shouldn’t she already been running? She exhales before opening her eyes and making a run for it, not daring to look back. She hears the wraith get on its horse, following her. The girl slips and goes sliding through the mud; all of a sudden, she hits something soft. “Ow!” she hears someone yelp. “Are you following us?” she notices the four hobbits. Pippin brushes himself off. “Shhh.” She puts a finger over her lips telling them to be quiet. The Hobbits exchange glances. The girl hears the sound of horse hooves again. “Duck.” She says crouching underneath a bush and peering out. She sees the wraith looking out into the open land.
Once it was gone, she looks back at the terrified hobbits. “Where are you heading?” she asks, already knowing the answer but deciding to be polite and ask them anyway. The Hobbits just stare at her. The girl sighs. “Look, I have no idea how I got here but I swear that I will not hurt any of you nor let anyone hurt you.” She says. The Hobbits look at each other before Frodo says something. “Sam and I need to get out of the Shire. We must get to Bree.” Says Frodo. The girl bites her bottom lip starring blankly at him. “Buckleberry Ferry.” Says Merry. “Follow me.”
They break cover and start to run through the woods following Merry. All of a sudden, a wraith bursts out of the trees towards them. “Run!” yells the girl. The Hobbits all run for it, the girl right behind them. “There’s another one! Frodo this way!” yells Merry. Black hooded wraiths on horses come towards them. All of a sudden, the girl trips over a root, twisting her ankle. She groans in pain rolling over on her back. The wraiths just ride past her towards the Hobbits. The girl stands up and runs towards them, ignoring the pain in her ankle.
Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin run towards the wide placid Brandywine River and the ferry, Frodo falling behind. Merry, Pippin and Sam get there first. “Sam get the ropes.” Says Merry. The three hobbits tumble onto the ferry. The girl picks up her speed. “Frodo!” yells Sam. The four wraiths surround Frodo who was looking for a way out. “Frodo, run!” yells the girl catching up to him. Frodo sees an opening and takes it, the girl not far behind. They race across the Wooden Wharf, followed by the ringwraiths. Frodo leaps onto the ferry into the arms of his friends. The girl stops at the edge of the wharf looking down at the water.
The hobbits look at her. She looks back to see the wraiths nearing. “Shit, shit, shit.” She closes her eyes before diving into the water knowing the fear the wraiths and the horses have of the water. The girl swims up to the top looking at the wraiths. She smirks in satisfaction. “See ya sucker.” She swims to the ferry and the hobbits help her up. “They are afraid of the water. We’re safe.” She says lying down on the ferry and closing her eyes. “For now.” She mumbles. Knowing what would happen next was a curse but also a gift. She could protect Frodo because she knew what would come next... sometimes.
After they cross the Brandywine River, they began to walk the woods again. It begins to pour rain. The girl groans. “Great.” She says looking over at the hobbits. Merry and Pippin were getting soaking wet like her and Sam and Frodo were still getting wet but they have put their hoods on. As they keep walking, Merry sees the lights of Bree. “This way.” They walk towards the great hedge surrounding the town. They approach the gatehouse. The girl knocks on it. “Come one.” Mutters Frodo. The girl wraps her arms around herself freezing, looking wildly around making sure the wraiths were not near by.
“What do you want?” says a raspy voice. The girl turns back around to find a soaking wet surly gatekeeper looking through the gate door at them. “We’re headed for the Prancing Pony.” Answers Frodo. The gatekeeper opens the door covering them in the light coming from the lantern in his hands. “Hobbits and a girl! Four Hobbits and what is more, out of the Shire by your talk. What business brings you to Bree?” asks the gatekeeper. The girl whips around hearing the shrieks of the wraiths. She scans the woods with her eyes but sees nothing. She shudders before looking back at the gatekeeper and the hobbits. To their relief the gatekeeper steps aside letting them in.
“Alright, alright. I mean no offense sir. It's my job to ask questions after nightfall. There's talk of strange folk abroad. Can’t be too careful.” Says the gatekeeper as they walk in. The girl walks behind the hobbits shuddering at how cold she was and on top of that soaking wet. They finally reach the Prancing Pony. The girl opens the door for the hobbits and they walk in. “Excuse me.” Says Frodo. The bartender looks at the girl then down at the hobbits. “Good evening, little masters and miss. If you're seeking accommodation, we've got some nice, cozy Hobbit sized rooms available, Mr...Ah...”
“Underhill...my name's Underhill.” Says Frodo. The bartender looks them over. “Underhill? Hmmmm.” Frodo looks at his friends before looking back at the bartender. “We're friends of Gandalf the Grey can you tell him we've arrived? “Says Frodo. The bartender frowns. Gandalf...Gandalf. Oh, yes! I remember elderly chap, big grey beard, pointy hat?” he asks in recognition. Frodo sighs in relief. The girl scans the bar, her eyes falling on the stranger smoking his pipe, hood up, covering his face. She smiles. “Aragorn.”
“Not seen him for six months.” Says the bartender. Frodo turns to Sam, Merry, and Pippin. “What do we do now?” asks Sam worried. The girl looks down at them. “Why don’t we take a breather for a second okay?” she says walking over to a table and sitting down. The hobbits follow her lead. “We never were introduced properly. My name is Charlotte Knightly. But you may call me Charlie.” She says. Frodo nods as Sam nervously looks around the bar. Merry goes off to the bar. “Sam, he'll be here. He'll come.” Says Frodo to his nervous friend. Charlotte wished that was true but thanks to the movies in her world she knew very well that he was not going to come.
Merry sits down at the table with a very large pint of beer. Pippin looks at it. “What’s that?” asks Pippin. Merry looks at him. “This my friend, is a pint.” He says looking at it with a sparkle in his eyes. “It comes in pints? I'm getting one!” Pippin stands up unsteadily and rushes to the bar. “You've had a whole half already.” Sam calls after him. Charlotte watches Pippin, when she notices that the men at the bar were looking her way. She rolls her eyes in disgust turning away from them. “That fellow's done nothing but stare at you since we've arrived.” Sam tells Frodo. Charlotte and Frodo gaze back at the man sitting in the corner. Charlotte who knew who he was already did not dwell on it, so she turned away. “Excuse me, that man in the corner, who is he?” Frodo asks the bartender who walked past them.
“He's one of them Rangers; they're dangerous folk they are, wandering the wilds. What his right name is, I never heard, but round here he's known as Strider.” Says the bartender walking away. “Strider.” Says Frodo more to himself. All of a sudden, Pippin’s voice comes into the picture. “Baggins? Sure, I know a Baggins. He’s over there...,” says Pippin pointing over to out table. Frodo stands up pushing himself towards the bar. “Frodo Baggins. He's my second cousin once removed, on his mother's side and my third cousin twice removed on his father's side...if you follow me.” Frodo grabs Pippin’s sleeve. “Pippin!” he says. Pippin’s beer spills.
“Steady on, Frodo!” yells Pippin pushing Frodo away who in turn stumble backwards and falls to the floor. In an instant, the Inn goes silent and all the attention goes to Frodo. The ring, in agonizing slow motion hangs up in the air for what was a split second crashed down onto Frodo’s outstretched finger. In an instant Frodo vanishes. The Inn goes silent. Charlotte stands up. “Oh no.” she says. Sam gulps, Pippin looks on realizing his mistake. Merry watches in surprise.
Frodo re-appears back onto the floor and a hand reaches down grabbing Frodo by the caller dragging him away. Charlotte watches. “Come on.” She motions for the hobbits to follow her down the corridor of rooms. The hobbits burst the door open, Sam has his fists raised, Merry with a candlestick and Pippin with a chair. “Let him go or I'll have you, Longshanks!” yells Sam. Strider smiles, sheathing his sword. “You have a stout heart, little Hobbit, but that alone won't save you. You can no longer wait for the Wizard, Frodo. They're coming.” Says Strider. Charlotte closes the door.
As the hobbits sleep, Charlotte joins Strider by the window. “I don’t think I remember being told about you.” He says. Charlotte looks at him. “You wouldn’t have. Technically I am not from around here.” She says. Strider looks at her. “Then what are you doing with them?” he asks. Charlotte sighs. “I don’t know. One minute I was watching Lord of the Rings, and then I am here. I don’t know why.” Strider frowns. “Watching Sauron?” he asks. Charlotte chuckles. “No the movie on which.. Well what your lives are about.” She says. Strider shakes his head. “You know what is going to happen is what it sounds like.” He says. Charlotte looks back at the hobbits. “I do know. I know very well. It can be both a gift and a curse.” She says.
Strider looks back out watching the ringwraiths walk into the Prancing Pony across the road. Charlotte looks back out. “Then you can be of great help to us.” He says. Charlotte looks back at him. “I’d rather not. For I do not know if whatever I try to change will have a different outcome.” She says. Sam sits up and after a few moments Merry and Pippin awake with a start. Charlotte looks back at them, noticing Frodo was awake all along. Shrieks from the prancing pony could be heard.
“What are they?” asks Frodo. Strider looks back at the hobbits. “They were once men.” He looks away. “Great Kings of men. Then Sauron the deceiver gave to them Nine Rings of Power. Blinded by their greed they took them without question, one by one falling into darkness and now they are slaves to his will.” Strider watches as the wraiths gallop down the Bree roads disappearing into the dark night. He looks back at the hobbits. “They are the Nazgul, Ringwraiths, neither living nor dead. At all times, they feel the presence of the ring, drawn to the power of the one. They will never stop hunting you.”