M.E. Chapter 55: A Night on the Anduin

We rowed most of that day. It wasn’t until the sun began to sink that I began to wonder why we hadn’t caught up to the Fellowship.

"We’ve been rowing for how long now?" I asked Katy.

"I don’t know. Six hours maybe." Katy answered.

"And when did the others leave?" I asked again.

"Probably an hour before us." Katy commented.

"They’ve been drifting all day and we’ve been rowing, right?" I asked.

"Uh-huh." Katy said in a disinterested voice.

"Then shouldn’t we have caught up by now?" I asked.

Katy stopped rowing for a moment to ponder this. She began rowing again before answering, "Maybe we would have if we weren’t zigzagging all over the river!" She replied.

I glared at her, "We wouldn’t have zigzagged at all if you would choose a side to row on and stay on it!" I countered.

"And then there was that time we got turned around…" Katy continued ignoring my comment.

"You could have just rowed on the right side, like I said." I continued.

"Then we flipped over." Katy said, "Got stuck in the weeds. Ran into those rocks."

"You’re in front! You’re supposed to be navigating!" I said.

We both sighed dramatically. And sat in silence to ponder the day.

"Katy?" I finally said about ten minutes later.

"Yes, Rachel?" Katy said back.

"I don’t think we were cut out for boating." I said.

"I think you’re right." Katy agreed.

"Maybe tomorrow I should sit in front and you should row in back." I suggested.

"Maybe." Katy agreed.

"Okay, let’s find someplace to stop for tonight." I suggested.

"Let’s." Katy agreed.

"That means we’ll have to row again." I told her.

"Yep." She agreed again.

We sat in silence for another ten minutes. The sky began to grow darker as the sun slipped further beneath the horizon.

"That looks good." I told Katy picking up my oar and starting to steer us off to the right.

"Are you sure we should camp on that side?" Katy asked as she began to steer us over as well.

"Ah, we’ll be fine." I assured her, "Besides, I think we’re still far enough north to avoid any orcs." I said.

Katy shrugged in indifference and we approached the shore. We were within three feet of land when I spoke again.

"Katy, maybe we should camp on the other shore." I suggested.

Katy nodded vigorously, "I think so too."

We both stood warily and quickly turned around in our seats before starting to row back towards the Western shore. It was a lot harder than the trip to this side (presumably because the boat was backwards) but we eventually made it to a small beach on the other side.

I walked back to our ‘Camp’ with an armful of wood. "Here we go." I said.

"Now we can make a fire!" Katy said excitedly letting go of the rope we were using to tie the small boat to shore with. The boat quickly started floating off and Katy grabbed the rope again, trying once more to tie it to a nearby tree.

I arranged the wood nearby to make a fire. Katy’s knot slipped again and she had to pull the boat back as it started to again float downstream. Pulling it a little further on shore this time, she worked on another knot.

Having arranged the wood I decided it was arranged wrong and started moving everything again. The boat slipped free once again and in frustration Katy decided to just pull the boat all the way onshore. Having done that she walked back over to where I was finishing arranging the logs for a second time.

"What if there’s a tide?" I asked Katy without looking up.

"What?" She asked.

"A tide. The water comes up farther and carries our boat off because it’s not tied up." I explained.

Katy thought about the logic of this for a moment, went back to the boat and pulled it farther up on land. "There. Now the tide can’t get it." Katy declared coming back to me.

"So." I began, sitting back from my wood.

"So." Katy agreed.

We both sat back in silence admiring the firewood arrangement.

Finally Katy spoke, "You didn’t bring matches, did you?" She asked.

"Nope." I agreed.

"Neither did I." Katy said.

"Wish Catti was here." I muttered, "She would have matches. Or a lighter."

Katy nodded. We watched our non-existent fire for a while longer. The sun had set and the sky was gray. A mist had set in earlier and the starlight was smothered yet it wasn’t as dark as I would have expected.

Suddenly a "Sploosh" behind us stole our attention away from the imagined flames. I looked at Katy, eyes wide. Katy looked at me, eyes wide. We both slowly turned our heads towards the water.

All we saw was what looked like a log floating lazily down the river. We relaxed and I was about to joke about how silly we were being scared by a log when as we watched part of the log seemed to move on it’s own. A bump on top of it seemed to grow taller and then, to our growing horror, two glowing eyes were slowly revealed as the ‘head’ turned toward us.

Katy gasped and I quickly stood, fumbling to draw my sword. When I finally had it in my hand (it really didn’t take an extremely long time, but it seemed to take forever at the time) and turned to face whatever the creature was, it was already gone. Without a trace.

Katy, who was already up as well looked at me, and I at her. We stood there frozen for a good ten minutes, staring at each other and at the spot where we had seen the log alternately.

"Well." I finally said, "I don’t think I’ll be getting much sleep tonight."

Katy laughed nervously, "Nor I." She said, "What was that anyway?"

"That," I began, "That was just odd."

"Oh, thanks." Katy said sarcastically.

"Yep." I replied, "I try."

Katy rolled her eyes. The night was suddenly darker than either of us would prefer, we couldn’t even see the other side the river. Who knew what was lurking out there.

"Something tells me I should know what that was." I said a moment later when we had warily sat ourselves back down around our wood, "I just can’t seem to place it."

"All I know is it was creepy. But you’re right, I have the same feeling." Katy confirmed.

The night wore on. We exchanged few comments in the ever darkening night but slowly became more at ease. We finally allowed ourselves to dose off about an hour and a half after the incident. It was nearly pitch black and we could barely see each other, but somehow we felt comforted knowing that we wouldn’t be seeing any more midnight visitors. And they wouldn’t see us.

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