Vivien looked at their three guests through narrowed eyes, and thought deeply.
“Is this the place to take them through a bit of our story, or should it be done in a more appropriate setting? They look nice, comfortable and don’t seem to have the slightest desire to move. Maybe, something should be done.”
“Do you think so?”, answered Merlin. No words were spoken aloud, but his mind was in perfect communion with Vivien’s. Centuries of life together, along with their already enhanced magical abilities had helped them perfect their communication with each other. Emotion balanced emotion, and thoughts flowed effortlessly between their minds. There was often no need for the spoken word.
“Yes”, answered Vivien. “We must. If they are to have any understanding at all, then we must expose them to our faces elsewhere. You know where.”
“I know”, he answered.
“Sleep, my dears”, said Vivien to the three of them, and her gaze bade them to sleep. “You are tired, and rest will do you good.”
Poison Ivy nodded off, and she was followed by Frodo and Sam. They slept through the evening and the night, and when they woke up the next morning, they felt refreshed and full of energy.
“It’s time for us to go on a little journey”, said Vivien, after they had breakfasted. “Maybe, we should step outside, and see the world without. Sit on the bench awhile, and then we can see where our desires lead us. Maybe, we will just sit and contemplate nature. Who knows what surprises are in store?”
“So soon?”, blurted Sam. He cast a longing glance at the piles of food, and his face became glum. He had been feeling happy, appetite sated, and he had no desire to leave the comfortable home they found themselves ensconced in.
“Yes, my dear”, said Vivien sweetly, but firmly. “The weather is good; the birds are chirping. Now is the time.”
The Hobbits sighed, and as they exited, they looked back. With a gasp, they realized that Merlin’s home was built into a large oak tree, with a huge, magnificent trunk.
They sat on the bench, the two Hobbits on either side of Poison Ivy, and Merlin and Vivien flanking the three of them. The bench, which had seemed narrow and small, magically accommodated all of them with ease.
Within minutes, their world was turned upside down, and with a shock of surprise they found themselves being twisted in what seemed like a whirling vortex. They were stretched, twisted down to a cellular level. Twisting, screaming, shouting, howling, they found themselves being whirled around and around. They were in the grip of a force that seemed to be full of madness and energy, sometimes gentle, at other times spiteful; and, an ancient, mad laughter rang in their ears.
Then, when they could take it no more, they found themselves being flung onto a cold, hard surface. Rising slowly, they found themselves enveloped in a cold darkness. The three of them clutched each other, and clung together, shivering with fear.
“Welcome”, said a voice. Squinting in the dark, they perceived the forms of Merlin and Vivien, dressed in black, shimmering gowns.
“Welcome”, said Merlin. “You seem surprised, and a little fearful.”
Silence fell around them like a dark cloak, broken only by the sound of that ancient, insane, mad laughter.