Shepherds of the Trees, Guides of the Little Folk

Just a bit of fan fiction set in Middle-Earth...seems to be a bit of a theme of mine at the moment...set in the Second Age, so quite some time before The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, around the time of the Downfall of Numenor. Oh, and I almost forgot, it's got Entwives in it!

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2. An important proposition

   "So if you are Entwives, are there Enthusbands as well?" Olo asked as they made their way across fields and forests.

   "Just Ents, they are called, Little Person," Flaxhair responded with amusement. Then her face grew darker. "The Ents prefer the great and mighty creations of Yavanna - the strong, towering trees, the dense forests, the wild, uncultivated green things. We Entwives are more inclined towards the smaller things - the fruit trees, the grasses, the grains and vegetables and bushes. So the Ents live many miles away, in the great Forests of the North and West, while we have long since wandered here, to the open plains and vast fields of the Brown Lands. We prefer it here. There is space for you to breathe," she explained, and demonstrated this by taking in a large breath, and then expelling it in a huge sigh of satisfaction.

   "Well, do you ever meet with them?" asked Olo.

   "We used to," Flaxhair replied. "But I have not seen an Ent for many, many years now..." she trailed off. "I think we are too different in temperament to ever really live together. The Ents would never feel comfortable out of their forests, away from their great flocks of large trees, but on the other hand, we could never bring ourselves to leave the open spaces of Arda....so, I doubt that there will ever be much interaction between us. We are both so deeply attached to the land that we do not really have any room to be attached to each other..." Her voice was melancholy and Olo sensed a great sadness in it. "Still, that is the way of things," she continued. "Yavanna's children must be protected and if that is the price we must pay, then so it must be," she concluded resignedly.

   Olo was silent for some time, taking in all that the Entwife had said. Eventually, he spoke again: "You are so attached to these crops, the vegetables and grains and grasses...How can you bear to see them cut up and ground and cooked? Does it not sadden you?"

   "The plants and trees and bushes are Yavanna's gift to Iluvatar's children - the elves and men and, I assume, Little People," she explained in answer to Olo's confused expression. "They were always intended to be used for food and the other necessities of life...The Ents and Entwives were not made guardians over them to protect them from this fate - it is the natural course of things; they fulfil the purpose of their creation when they are used with wisdom and prudence. We were made Shepherds of the trees and Guardians of the bushes and shrubs and crops to ensure that they are not abused, that the greed and the corruption of Iluvatar's children, or Aule's dwarves, or any other creatures whose lust for industry may drive them to destroy the green things of this world. Ah," she said suddenly. "We have arrived."

   Just at that moment, she stepped into a vast field, full of row upon row of vegetables and large areas of grains. It was the most food Olo had ever seen gathered together in one place.

   "This is...amazing," he said once he had partially recovered from the shock. "It's beautiful."

   "They are rather lovely, aren't they?" Flaxhair said with a proud smile on her face. "Berries and nuts have their uses, but when it comes to proper sustenance, they are not nearly as useful as what you see set before you. Please, take all you need. I have no use for them but to watch them grow."

   With a notable sense of awe, Olo began digging up carrots, sprouts, potatoes, beetroots and all the other vegetables conceivable from the vast array he saw spread before him, tasting some as he went. Then he caught sight of the fruit trees and raced over to them, throwing apples, pears and plums into his basket and, when that became full, stuffing them into his pockets. Flaxhair smiled amusedly at his evident sense of wonder. When he had filled his basket, pockets and belly to full capacity, he lay down under an apple tree and sighed contentedly. Life was very good that morning.

   After a while, he propped himself up on an elbow and looked at Flaxhair with a serious,thoughtful look on his face. "Could you help us?" he asked earnestly. "Could you show us how to grow these things, teach us how to cultivate them and make food in this way?"

   Flaxhair stood silently staring into the distance for some time, fully considering Olo's request. "It would depend on the willingness of your people to accept me and my people," she said at last. "They must be willing to follow our guidance and adapt to new ways. And we cannot do it here. I have long felt a growing evil spreading into these lands, seeping into the earth and corrupting the soil. I would be glad to be rid of it, to wander to new lands with better earth and cleaner soil, and if your people would truly learn of us, it would be better done in a land free from the grasp of the Darkness that slowly begins to sweep this land. It would require great change, a great adjustment on the part of your people, a very different lifestyle...But if they will make the change, I assure you they shall never regret it. True happiness and peace is found in the green things of this world, Little Person. A life lived in harmony with the turning of the seasons, where the trees and bushes and crops in the fields are central to your existence, is one where true joy and peace can always be found, one which is in true harmony with the marvelous creation of Iluvatar. The Children of Yavanna have ever been the most stalwart disturbers of the Kingdom of Morgoth, for they are the only things he cannot bend to his will. They grow and bear fruit and shed leaves and grow leaves all in accordance with nothing but the will of Iluvatar - they recognise no master except Eru, the One, and by His word their seasons are governed. That is why they cannot be ruled by the forces of darkness, not by Morgoth himself nor his lieutenant Sauron who now walks Middle Earth in his stead, deceiving and betraying. Yavanna's children cannot be deceived or governed by him. That is why the Dark Powers have always sought so earnestly to destroy them instead, because they cannot be corrupted from the service of Iluvatar, and because they represent a beauty and an innocence that may be destroyed and stripped from the world, but can never be corrupted to ugliness. Bind yourself to the green things of the world, Little Person Olo, keep them at the centre of your heart, and you may rest assured that the powers of evil will never have you to be their servant. Though you journey into the very heart of fire and darkness, the memory of them will sustain you and strengthen you, giving you hope that there is yet beauty and goodness in this world that cannot be marred by evil's ever-lengthening shadow, no matter how violently and hatefully it rages." Flaxhair's voice had grown gradually more sombre as she spoke, but she suddenly shoook herself and smiled at Olo. "If I can persuade the Entwives to guide you, and if you can persuade your people to accept our guidance, then I believe this arrangement will prove beneficial to both our peoples. But come," she continued. "The day is growing old; your people will be missing you."

   Grinning broadly at Flaxhair's acceptance of his proposal, Olo stepped onto her open palm and together they made their return home.  

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