Total Immersion: The Road Goes Ever On - A Hobbit's Tale
My last story, Total Immersion -The Quest for Moria has finally drawn to a close, and very succesfully I might add. I had a great deal of fun on the long journey and, as I have mentioned before, I had plans to return to the original story of Ingion. However, though the story of Nuri was very enjoyable, I did not wish to follow it up with a similar dour and grim story. Instead, I opted for the telling of a hobbit's tale. Thus this story idea was born.
TOTAL IMMERSION RULES
1. Travel: I will only travel on foot or by regular mounts and absolutely no swift travel horses or map recall use. Except when in a quest, lair, dungeon, combat, etc, I will walk everywhere - I will allow myself to run for short periods of time, however, when undergoing general overland travel.
2. Chat / Speech: I will always stay in rp character at all times during Chat. I will chat in OOC when it is necessary however, since there are times I might want to talk to someone out of game.
3. Food and Rest: I will follow the LOTRO day/night cycle closely and force myself to rest at a safe location such as an inn or in a town if such an inn is not available. The day/night cycles are:
I must rest during the night cycles of Evening, Midnight, Late Watches and Foredawn each day (or at least camp/rest for four cycles each day/evening). I can hang around an inn, for example, and rp a bit with other players, but no going out into town to shop or craft, etc. This is to simulate my character actually resting. During the rest time I must eat a meal of some kind - perferably hobbit food. I should also try to rest at least once during the day, to sit and enjoy a bit of a second breakfast or perhaps a cup of tea.
If I am away from a town or settlement, things will become more tricky. I will attempt to find a safe spot to camp for the evening - this means halting my journey and actually sit my toon down for rest.
5. Promoting Realism: This rule is a catch-all for such things as no jumping off high cliffs, swimming with armour on, jumping around while I am moving, jumping every fence I come across, etc.
6. My Tale: As always, I will keep a log here on this thread of my travels. I will not partake in any quest that is not detailed in the general story line. This will probably limit my level advancement considerably. For sake of the adventure, I will be using the Shire calendar during the story:
7.RPing a Hobbit: Theodoras Took is your typical, sensible hobbit, not a hero or adventurer, and I am going to play him as such. I completed the Hobbit intro then went through his gear and sold off almost all his stuff - he after all only a hobbit. Of all the gear, I kept for him a woven cloak, a padded shirt, quilted legging and a honed dagger. In keeping with rping a hobbit, I will not use such gear as shoulder guards, helms, gloves or, heaven forbid, shoes or boots. Once Theodoras has "grown" so to speak, I may reward him with some special armour or a sword, very much like how Bilbo found Sting or was given his mithril shirt by Thorin Oakenshield.
The most important aspect in rping a hobbit will be during quests. Theodoras is not Bandobras "Bullroarer" Took and he is certainly NOT a warrior. Thus, should quests call for combat, I will need to seek the aid of other, non-hobbit players to aid him in completing the quests. Theodoras will be able to help in the combats, but he will certainly not be charging into a wolf lair all by himself! This also means no random slaying of mobs during his travels.
8. Death and Defeat: Since I love a challenge, I will add in a final rule, even more restrictive than with my first Total Immersion story. Theodoras cannot be defeated by any means during the story - should this occur, he will be considered truly dead. To track this, I will periodically post screenshots of the Survival titles as I recieve them, beginning with "The Wary", which you gain when reaching level 5 without being defeated in battle. This is followed by the Undefeated (level 10th), the Indomitable (level 14th), the Unscathed (level 17th) and finally with the Undying (level 20th).
Theodoras Took, known to his closest friends as simply Theo, was born on June 9th, 1268 of the Shire Reckoning (2968 TA). His father, Isengar, of a respectable Took family in Tuckburough, was a spirited but decent Hobbit who pased much of his Tookishness to his only son. His mother, Peony Bolger of the Budgeford Bolgers, moved from her family home to reside in a modest but pleasant smial built by her husband for his new bride.
As a young Hobbit, Theo was eager and bright-eyed, not to mention a bit of a rascal, who (in his mother's eyes) foolishly spent his childhood days wandering afar in the fields and dales of the Greenhills Country around Tuckburough. His meandering over his beloved Shire brought out a rare flash of something not very Hobbit-like in the young Theodoras. He often enjoyed tales of all sorts that he could bend an ear to, and spoke to strangers that sometimes passed through the Shire for the lands beyond. Theodoras even thought he had seen an Elf once in the woods far east of Tuckburough and this only heightened his restlessness and eagerness for all things new and especially of the wide world beyond the borders of the Shire.
When Theodoras was only entering his tweens (a Hobbit's coming of age at thirty-three, after having gone through the irresponsible age between childhood and 33), his mother succumed to fever and died. His father, Isengar, heartbroken over the loss of his wife, soon fell ill with grief and died a year later. Theodoras was taken in by relatives on his mother's side to live in Budgeford.
Re: Total Immersion: The Road Goes Ever On - A Hobbit's Tale
Chapter One: To Join the Bounders – 25 Winterfilth, 1417 SR
Chapter Two: Michel Delving – 25 Winterfilth, 1417 SR
Chapter Three: The Founding Writ– 26 Winterfilth, 1417 SR
Chapter Four: A Hobbit in Need – 26 Winterfilth, 1417 SR
Chapter Five: The Black Rider: Part One – 27 to 30 Winterfilth, 1417 SR
Chapter Six: The Black Rider: Part Two– 27 to 30 Winterfilth, 1417 SR
Chapter Seven: The Veiled Menace – 1 to 3 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Chapter Eight: The Menace Confronted – 1 to 3 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Chapter Nine: New Neighbours – 4 to 6 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Chapter Ten: The Yale-Height – 6 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Chapter Eleven: The Warg of Budgeford – 7 to 8 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Chapter Twelve: A Grand Adventure – 16 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Chapter Thirteen: Dangers in the Bree-fields – 17 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Chapter Fourteen: The Old Forest-Part One – 18 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Chapter Fifteen: The Old Forest-Part Two – 19 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Chapter Sixteen: The Old Forest-Part Three – 19 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Chapter Seventeen: Bree at Last – 20-22 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Chapter Eighteen: A Dwarf in Need – 22 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Chapter Nineteen: A Boar's Den– 22 to 23 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Chapter Twenty: A Blade for a Life – 23 to 24 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Chapter Twenty-one: A Penny Short – 25 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Chapter Twenty-two: A Company of Dwarves – 26 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Chapter Twenty-three: Barrow-spiders – 27 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Chapter Twenty-four: Gwigon’s Lair – 27 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Chapter Twenty-five: A Ring Wandered Away – 28 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Chapter Twenty-six: Shield-brother – 29 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Chapter Twenty-seven: Home at Last – 29 Blotmath to 1 Foreyule, 1417 SR
Chapter Twenty-eight: Old Friends - 4 Solmath, 1418 SR
Chapter Twenty-nine: An Unexpected Hobbit - 5 Solmath, 1418 SR
Chapter Thirty: The Rushock Bog - 5 Solmath, 1418 SR
Chapter Thirty-one: Friends and Enemies - 6 Solmath, 1418 SR
Chapter Thirty-two: The Dwarves of Needlehole - 7 Solmath, 1418 SR
Chapter Thirty-three: A Gift for the North – 7 Solmath, 1418 SR
Chapter Thirty-four: A Gift for the North, Part Two – 7 Solmath, 1418 SR
Chapter Thirty-five: An Unlooked-for Nuisance – 8 Solmath, 1418 SR
Chapter Thirty-six: Bree at Last – 9 Solmath, 1418 SR
Chapter Thirty-seven: The Brandywood – 10 Solmath, 1418 SR
DOWNLOADABLE BOOK LIST
Book I - Chapters 1 to 11 (PDF Form)
Book II - Chapters 12 to 20 (PDF Form)
Book II - Chapters 21 to 27 (PDF Form)
Re: Total Immersion: The Raod Goes Ever On - A Hobbit's Tale
Ahh. Refreshing to see someone play a hobbit truer to there typical nature. Will be interested in seeing how long this fellow manages to stay amongst the living.
Re: Total Immersion: The Raod Goes Ever On - A Hobbit's Tale
Yes, Sigvardr, you are entirely correct. I will play Theodoras as a typical hobbit, despite his tookish side. For this story to work (and for Theodoras to survive to the end) I am going to call upon the members of Crickhollow to aid me, so that Theo does not perish. There are a number of quests in The Shire that do not require combat, but even then with those that do, I will need assistance.
Originally Posted by Sigvardr
So, if there are any wandering Dwarves, Men or Elves, and you are interested in helping me out with this, don't be surprised if a young brash, and perhaps very foolish hobbit, comes up and strikes up a conversation!
Chapter 1: To Join the Bounders – 25 Winterfilth, 1417 SR
It was a brisk evening in the lateness of autumn when there came the most astonishing piece of news in the sleepy village of Budgeford in the Shire. So shocking was the news that, for a time in Budgeford, all other matters, both small and large were entirely forgotten or put aside. It was the news that young theodoras Took was going away to join the Bounders that was generating so much talk and excitement in the tiny village along the banks of the Water.
The exact reason for what was generally considered a very rash decision on the part of the young hobbit was greatly debated from Budgeford to the Floating Log in at Frogmorton. Hobbits, for the most part, love to gossip and this was no exception. Some folk with looser tongues suggested that Theodoras was really, in fact, moving away to live with his relatives in Tookland, where his father was from. Still others fancied a more dark and sinister agenda for the surprising news. However, the general prevailing opinion was that young Theodoras had finally succumbed to that trait that seemed all too often to curse members of the Took clan.
As a matter of fact, Theodoras did possess a dash of the Old Took in him, though he would have never admitted it, even to himself. It had been some time (over thirty years to be precise) since the unfortunate and untimely passing first of his beloved mother, Peony Bolger, followed rather sadly a year later by his grieving father, Isengar Took. And yet, by all accounts, Theodoras had been left well enough off among his Bolger relatives and family in Budgeford.
By all accounts, Theodoras had been little affected by the tragic passing of his parents, and had become a neat-banded and clever young hobbit, and generally far from rash for the most part. As with most hobbits, he seemed of the sensible sort, tending to his fields in Budgeford as soon as he became of age. But there seemed something rather unusual about him that slowly began to emerge as he passed his “coming of age”.
Surprisingly, Theodoras remained unattached, as they say in the Shire, even after his turning of age at thirty-three. Some folk around Budgeford thought it rather odd, and there was much speculation on the matter in hushed conversation. But the true reason for this was not too far off from what most folk thought.
For the most part, Theodoras clung tightly to an unreasoned desire to remain free to go wherever and whenever when the chance came, or he had made up his courage, though that time had seemed never to arrive for the young hobbit. He would endlessly pester strangers who now passed through the Shire more and more frequently.
Theodoras especially loved talk of hobbits that had occasionally “gone-off” as they say. There were at least two of his distant uncles on the Took side that had done so. Much was the gossip surrounding Hildifons Took who was said to have “gone off on a journey and never returned”, and of Isengar Took (the youngest of the Old Took’s twelve children), who tale say “to have gone off to sea in his youth”. And of course there were always the stories of Bilbo Baggins, a distant relative on his mother’s side.
Thus was the talk for a week or more until one evening, towards the end of Winterfilth, Theodoras suddenly announced that he was to set off the next morning. ‘I must be going,’ he said matter-of-factly. ‘I shall go to Michel Delving to speak with the Second Shirriff. I have asked Bingo Bulger to tend my fields during my absence.’
In fact, it was soon discovered that Theodoras had made quite a lot of arrangements already for his sudden departure. He had packed most of his belongings at his aunt’s house and placed much of his belongings into storage.
The following morning, Theodoras rose with the dawn to enjoy an early breakfast. He then walked out to the porch where he had placed his pack and walking stickand turned to bid his aunt goodbye.
‘To Michel Delving of course!’ he said to his aunt’s tearful inquiry on the porch. ‘I am unsure how long it is going to take me to get there. A pony would make the journey much faster I would think, and less tiring. But I think that I would rather enjoy the walk.’
And so he shouldered his pack then gripped his long walking stick one hand. He kissed his aunt one last time upon the check and began to make his way down from the village splashing rather noisily across the shallow ford of the Water to climb the path beyond. At the top of the slight hill, he struck the main road – the Great East Road. There Theodoras paused to look down the road, first left then to the right.
Theodoras suddenly and waved a hand in silent farewell behind him, then shouldered his pack more tightly upon his back and turned to begin walking at a leisurely pace to the west. Soon Budgeford was soon far behind him and the roof of the last farmhouse along the banks of the river sunk out of view.
With an occasion humming, the young hobbit passed quietly past fields and along hedges or low stone wall that bordered the road in many places. He had walked only for about a half an hour when there came a break in the low stone wall that ran along the side of the road. To the left, and down into a shallow bowl of sorts, sat the small marshy village of Frogmorton.
With a whistle and a light step, Theodoras strode down a muddy lane than led away from the East Road and into the village. And the bottom of the path he found a hobbit, whistling softly to himself, standing beside a mossy fence that ran around a small marshy pond.
‘Good day!’ said Theodoras with a smile as he approached. ‘A wonderful day for a stroll, wouldn’t you agree?’
‘Weclome to Frogmorton,’ answered the hobbit in turn. ‘Mind you step…the ground is muddy.’
‘Indeed it is!’ exclaimed Theodoras glancing down at his toes wiggling in the mud. ‘But I do not mind,’ he added with a laugh.
‘The Floating Log is a fine inn,’ said the other hobbit matter-of-factly pointing over his shoulder. ‘Follow the dry paths to the north to reach it.’
‘Ah,’ laughed Theodoras with a chuckle. ‘But inns make for long delays, as they say. I would, but it’s a fine day and the sun is shining bright. Perfect day for walking. And I have still far to go before the day is done if I am to reach Michel Delving by nightfall.’
‘But I must be going on my way,’ said Theodoras as he turned to walk back up the muddy lane to the raod. ‘But perhaps I will visit your inn upon my return to Budgeford I hear the beer is quite good!’
Once on the road again, Theodoras was soon walking along, whistling a tune as he went. The morning was slowly passing and the sun climbed high into the clear sky overhead. He had not gone far when the road began to fall away to the west, skirting past the Green Hills to the south.
The road ahead went rolling down into a gentle vale where the By-water Road runs up from Hobbiton to meet the East Road. A single narrow lane turned from the main road to plunge into the village of By-water below. Beside the start of the narrow lane stood alone hobbit, grasping a small bow of wood and a single feather stuck into his cap. Seemingly not much older than Theodoras himself, the Bounder adjusted his tunic and tried to look rather stern and important as the hobbit approached.
‘Hullo, good sir!’ said Theodoras with a smile. He stopped beside the Bounder and slid his pack to the ground at his feet and took in a deep breath of the warm autumn air. ‘Are you a Bounder, may I ask?’
The other hobbit nodded as he spoke. ‘We Bounders keep an eye on things here in Hobbiton,’ said the shirriff with an air of authority. ‘Keeping the peace is an important duty, and the Bounders only accept the stoutest of hobbits.’
‘But come,’ said Theodoras with a laugh. ‘Why all the fuss?’
There have been strange folk about in the Shire, no mistake,’ answered the Bounder in a low tone. ‘There are wolves – and worse! – beyond our borders!’
‘That is true,’ replied Theodoras. ‘And I myself am going to Michel Delving to sign on as a Bounder myself! I hope to win a Shirriff feather for myself!’
Chapter Two: Michel Delving – 25 Winterfilth, 1417 SR
Theodoras said his goodbyes to the young Bounder as his thoughts turned to lunchtime, which was even now slowly passing away. Fortunately, he had planned ahead for the journey to Michel Delving and had packed some cold roasted pork (dried and salted but just right), hard biscuits (rich but regrettably no butter) and fried mushrooms (quite possibly his favorite) for such a rest stop.
He looked about until he spied a rather comfortable-looking bank along the side of the road, beneath some thinly-clad trees. There, he tossed down his pack and sat in the green-brown grass to enjoy a pleasant lunch.
Finally, with a hefty groan, Theodoras set the food aside and splashed his face and hands with a bit of water from his flask and wrapped the remains of his meal then stuffed it back into his pack. Now, much content, the young hobbit lifted his pack to his shoulders and reached for his walking stick and once more began to follow the road to the west.
The woods and steep embankments of the hills that hugged the road to either side soon gave way to rolling hills and wide open expanses of fields and farms. Ahead the road dipped slowly into a wide space of green dotted by the occasional tree or bush. Straddling the road not too distant was a collection of wagons and tents, giving the appearance of a vast encampment of sorts.
This was Waymeet, of course, a hub of sorts of roadways. From the north came the road that led away to the Rushock Bog and, so they say, to Ered Luin, the Blue Mountains. To the south ran a single narrow lane that led through the Delving Fields and past the Southfarthing Gate.
Gladdened by the sight, Theodoras rushed down the road and into Waymeet. He slowed to a brisk walk as he turned his head this way or that, marveling at the collection of cooks, merchants, and traders gathered along the road. Then there came the sound of several strange and deep-sounding voices to his ears. He turned and with a sharp intake of breath he stopped.
It was a pair of odd-looking dwarves standing beside a stack of crates and kegs. They were speaking with a hobbit that was perched atop a low wooden table, his legs dangling over the side, which sat right in the grass along the side of the road. The dwarves were clad in simple tunics of leather, bound at the waist with wide belts. Their thick beards hung low over their chests and wore thick-booted boots upon their feet.
For a moment, the young hobbit forgot entirely about his journey, and of Michel Delving. Excitedly, he left the road and strode up to the strangers with haste. Then he stopped, a wide grin spreading across his face.
‘Gracious me!’ he exclaimed loudly looking a t the dwarves in wonderment. ‘I have seen some of your folk about the Shire in the past, travelling along the roads as you sometimes do, but I have never had the pleasure to speak with one…until now that is!’
The Hobbit seated atop the low table lifted his small clay pipe to his lips and then leaned back on one arm, blowing a grayish ring of smoke into the air. He then looked at the new arrival and motioned towards the dwarves.
‘My fellows here are bringing goods from the Blue Mountains, by way of Needlehole,’ he said.
‘Indeed,’ answered the dwarf with the brownish-red beard. ‘We are carrying a shipment of ore bound for Bree.’
‘Aye,’ agreed the other dwarf. ‘But as much as we enjoy out stops through Waymeet, we tend to get a late start the day after.’
The first dwarf laughed aloud. ‘The locals are always willing to share a drink, that’s why we always bring an extra keg! By my beard, I believe some of these hobbits could drink their weight in beer!’
Theodoras said nothing at first, looking at the dwarves in astonished joy. Then, he cleared his throat and spoke.
‘I must say, to have the opportunity to meet such dwarves as you gentlemen, very splendid indeed! But I must be off…a shame too, for I would love to toast you both and hear of your travels.’
Theodoras waved goodbye and turned round to return to the road, his mind still fixed on thoughts of the strange dwarves. Once on the road, he climbed out of the vale and soon Waymeet slowly disappeared from view behind him.
The sun was now hot again, but clouds were beginning to come up from the West, It looked likely to turn to rain, if the wind fell, thought Theodoras rather gloomily. He hastened down the road and then passed through a narrow cleft cut between two low hills.
On the far side of the cleft, the road began to dip down and flowed into a wide valley, surrounded by steep hills and cliffs. Saddling the road to one side was a row of smails, each with round windows facing the lane and roofed with turfs of natural grass. But there were a few houses as well, built of wood, stone or brick, like those specially favored by farmers, millers, blacksmiths, carpenters and hobbits of that sort.
On the far side of the houses and smials rose a large hill atop which sat a large, and rather un-hobbit-like thought Theodoras, house of stone and brick. This of course, was Michel Delving, the chief township of the Shire, and the seat of the Mayoral and of the Bounders. The large strange house atop the hill was called the Mathom-house; a museum of sorts for anything that hobbits had no immediate need or use for. These unwanted items were called mathoms, as hobbit holes tended to become rather cluttered with mathoms of all kinds would be brought here.
Theodoras strolled down the lane and into the town, stopping once or twice to greet a passing hobbit. He soon found his way to the Town Hole, where there was a large gathering of hobbits milling about. Off to one side, he spotted a stout-looking hobbit wearing a cap with a feather sticking from its brim.
Theodoras strode up to the hobbit and coughed politely before speaking.
‘Hullo there! I am looking for Second Shirriff Bodo Bunce. Might you be he, sir?’
The official-looking hobbit nodded politely, looking the young hobbit over.
Theodoras shuffled uncomfortable on his feet and then stammered. ‘I am Theodoras Took. I have been sent by Wilimar Bolger to join the Bounders!’ he said trying to sound brave and determined as best he could.
‘So you were sent my way, were you?’ answered the shirriff. ‘Well, I’ve heard good things about you and I’d be glad to have you helping us out. Welcome, well met, well hired!’
‘Thank you!’ relied Theodoras with a bright smile.
‘Help out as many Shire-folk as you can and you’ll rise through the ranks. Our cares may seem of small importance to others – the delivery of the mail, the tasting of fine foods, the lighting of fireworks – but you and I know they are worth protecting. These peaceful ways are threatened, and danger can be found even throughout the Shire. Aid our people with their daily concerns, but if you travel to more distant villages, such as Needlehole, Overhill or Brockenboring…bring a weapon with you, Bounder. Life is dangerous on the borders of the Shire, and the further you get from Michel Delving and Hobbiton, the more likely you are to see combat.’
Re: Total Immersion: The Raod Goes Ever On - A Hobbit's Tale
And so the great adventure begins! As promised, I have recieved my first Survival title, shown below:
Chapter 3: The Founding Writ– 26 Winterfilth, 1417 SR
‘Welcome to the Bird and Baby, can I help you?’ said the merry hobbit behind the low counter of the inn, beaming a wide grin.
‘Yes a beer, if you please my good sir,’ answered Theodoras as he reached into his pocket for a few copper coins. Setting the coins atop the bar, he raised the foaming mug and took a healthy gulp, then wiped the foam from his mouth.
‘Ah,’ said Theodoras contently. ‘That will surely wet the dust of the road from my throat!’
‘Indeed sir!’ replied the proprietor proudly. ‘It’s Blagrove Brown, a beer for the telling of tall tales!’
Theodoras laughed then turned to look out over the common room of the inn. In typical hobbit fashion, the common room was a wide cosy parlour; there was a bit of bright fire burning to one end in a fine stone hearth, and in front of it was arraigned some comfortable chairs. Elsewhere the room was taken up by long low wooden tables, occupied by a few hobbits here or there. Nearer the bar, there sat a pair of hobbits enjoying a spot of dinner.
Theodoras called to the innkeeper for supper then took a seat at the table beside the small round short-haired and red-faced hobbit. Just as he sat down, the innkeeper came trotting over and with a twinkling the table was laid as a fine smell rose up from the many plates and bowls. Hot soup, cold meats, new loaves, plenty of fresh butter, cheese and fresh fruits, all the good solid plain food dear to a hobbit’s heart, was set out before Theodoras. Then, without another word, the young hobbit began to eat.
It was some time before Theodoras once and for all pushed his plate away and sat back in his chair, groaning rather contently. He took up his mug and turned to listen to the conversation of the other hobbits seated at the table.
‘The crops need just a touch more rain this season,’ said the short-haired hobbit. The other hobbit, a rosy-cheeked lass with flowing red hair, nodded in agreement with a shake of her head.
‘Indeed!’ added Theodoras with a smile. ‘Why I was just saying to my aunt back in Budgeford that our fields could do with a bit more rain. It’s been quite a dry season!’
The hobbits turned to glance at Theodoras, as if they had just seen him for the first time. He sat up in his chair somewhat nervously, smoothing out his vest and adjusted his Bounder’s cap squarely upon his head.
‘But farming is not for me now, ‘he stammered. ‘I have come all the way from Budgeford to join the Bounders!’
‘A strong back and a bit of land will serve you with a better living than those weapons,’ answered the hobbit, glancing down at the knife slung from Theodoras’ belt with disapproval.
Theodoras murmured a hasty reply then got up from the chair rather hastily, knocking it over with a loud bang.
‘Well, I had better turn in soon and make an early start of it,’ he said nervously with a feeble grin. He nodded politely then fled with some speed to his room, stopping only to close the door swiftly behind him. He took a seat on the bed and sighed aloud.
‘Theodoras Took, you certainly went and put your foot into it!’ he said softly to himself. ‘You made yourself look like a buffoon. A Bounder indeed!’
Then with a chuckle, he got up from the bed and lovingly placed his feathered cap upon the stand and laid his pack and walking stick beside the door. Soon he was curled up beneath the thick warm blankets and was soon fast asleep.
The morning dawned rather cool and pale. Theodoras sat up in the bed and yawned, then glanced out through the round window. Away eastwards, the sun was just beginning to rise red out of wisps of mist that flowed down the hills around the town. The autumn trees were touched with red and gold, and seemed to rise rootless from the thick morning mist.
Throwing the blankets off, the hobbit rolled from the bed and rang for the innkeeper. Seated at the small table in the room, Theodoras quietly enjoyed a small breakfast then called for a wash basin and towels. The water that was soon brought for him was icy cold, and he sputtered as he bathed his hands and face. By the time his breakfast was over, and his pack was trussed up once more, it was nearly eight-o-clock at least, and the day was beginning to turn even finer and hotter than the last.
Finally, he reached for his feather cap and placed it upon his head, then grapped for his walking stick. With a bounce in his step, Theodoras strode out into the common room and bade the innkeeper goodbye as he made his way out the front door and onto the lane outside.
The hobbit strolled along the lane down from the inn at a leisurely pace, whistling as he went. He tipped his cap to a few passersby and slowly made his way down the lane until he began to climb a path that led up from the town to the Mathom-house.
At the top of the hill there sat a large house of wood and stone. Broad stone steps led up from the path to a splendidly roofed porch and many round latticed windows looked out over the town below. A beautiful round brown door stood closed under the eaves of the porch. Standing at the foot of the stairs was a distinguished and rather important-looking hobbit, much older than Theodoras, with grey hair and dressed in a fine waistcoat of green.
Theodoras nodded politely to the older hobbit and the spoke aloud.
‘Good morning to you sir!’ he said happily. ‘And a fine morning it is turning out to be!’ He smoothed out his feather in his cap and tried to look equally important and official. ‘Bounder Theodoras Took, at your service!’
‘Ah, yes, good day to you,’ answered the hobbit with a nod of his head. ‘I was wondering if you could do me a favour?’
‘Of course!’ said Theodoras. ‘A Bounder would be glad to lend whatever assistance he may give. What is it that you need of me?’
‘I have just received word that Adelard Took has found a copy of the original writ penned by the old King,’ replied the older hobbit as he scratched his head. ‘This writ granted the Fallowhide brothers, Marcho and Blanco, the lands that became the Shire. It is a most exceptional find! True, I already have a copy of the document, but it is in very poor shape. If this copy is in better condition, it would be a marvelous addition to the Mathom-house!’
‘The old King you say?’ exclaimed Theodoras with excitement. ‘That is interesting news!’
‘Would you go to Tookland and speak with Adelard about this find? I believe you can find him in the Great Smials in Tuckburough.’
‘Why of course, I would be only too happy to make my way to Tookland!’ said Theodoras, so excited he was to finally be able to do a bit of Boundering. ‘I have relatives there, on my father’s side, which still dwells there. I have always wanted to pay them a visit!’
Theodoras turned to walk back down the hill, and then called over his shoulder. ‘I will return as soon as I lay my hands on the writ. Look for me very soon, Keeper Foxtail!’ Then, Theodoras hastened anxiously down the hill and through the market square to the edge of town. Soon, he was passing from the town with a spring in his step.
The morning indeed was turning out to a fine one at that. The morning sun rose and swiftly the early dawn mists melted away to reveal a clear blue sky overhead. Theodoras whistled a soft tune as he went, and he at once began to feel that being a Bounder was altogether not that bad. The narrow lane that led up from the town rolled up through a shallow ravine and then began to swing round to the south.
There, Theodoras stopped to glance first down the lane, then across the fields to the east. To the south, the lane wound onwards until it was lost behind many trees, while to the east, he saw the lower lands of the Delving Fields laid out before him, dotted with scattered clumps of trees. Far off to the east rose a tall hill atop which Theodoras could see the town of Tuckborough.
‘South is not good,’ said Theodoras much to himself. ‘And backwards will not do. So forward it will have to be!’
He stepped off the road and scrambled down a shallow rocky slope and then went forward round the many fields and along low fieldstone walls that ringed them. Once or twice, he halted to take a drink from his water-bottle and wipe the sweat from his forehead. Soon, he had passed through the fields altogether and came upon a dusty lane that swept left to right directly on his path.
It was the Southfarthing Road, remembered Theodoras thoughtfully. It climbed up from Waymeet to the north and wound slowly through the Delving Fields towards the Southfarthing Gate to the south. On the further side of the road, the land dipped and drew away where there stood a stand of tall trees.
He looked once more down the road in either direction and then plunged over the embankment and into the forest beyond. From the road, Theodoras could still spot the tall hill of Tuckburough but it soon disappeared from view in the folds of the rolling hills ahead and the thick canopy of the trees.
Theodoras skipped along under the boughs of the trees that rustled their dry leaves in the autumn breeze that suddenly swept up from the north. The forest, it turned out, was not vast, and soon the trees swiftly began to thin out until he was standing at the base of Tuckburough Hill that rose majestically overhead.
For a moment, Theodoras looked up the steep hill uncomfortably. ‘I have come out onto the wrong side of the hill!’ he exclaimed loudly. ‘The road winds up from the north into Tuckborough, but it would take me an hour or more to make my way round.’
Finally, he tightened his pack around his shoulders and began to scramble up the steep slope with some difficulty. He was quite out of breath and damp from sweat when he reached the summit. There, he found looming before him stood a high hedge that ran round the top of the hill. Thankfully, his climb up the hill led him directly to a dusty path that led round the hill to the north.
Rather pleased with his luck, Theodoras began to follow the path as it rolled round the high banks of the hill, past several smials dug into the hillside. Finally, after a time, the road wound round and soon passed through a low gateway of stone between a break in the high hedge.
Thedoras stamped the dust from his feet and then passed under the low arch. Beyond was a lane that swept to the left and right. Without hesitation, Theodoras turned to make his way down the lane to the right and soon he was standing before the Great Smials.
The Great Smials was a magnificent dwelling, first excavated by Isemgrim II, the tenth Thain of the Shire, grandfather to the famous Bandobras “Bullroarer” Took (and eight times remove as they say to Theodoras on his father’s side). Deep and many-tunnelled, here was the home for many a generation of Tooks.
Theodoras hastened up the steps and pushed the large round door open and stepped inside. The interior seemed very dark in contrast to the bright sunlight outside, and for a moment, Theodoras could see little in the gloomy hall that stretched out before him. As his eyes slowly adjusted to the dim interior, there came the sound of a hobbit voice nearby.
‘Oh dear…oh dear,’ fretted the voice. Theodoras stepped further into the darkened hall and spotted an elderly hobbit standing to one side. He strode up and tipped his hat, and then spoke. ‘Whatever is the matter?’ he asked inquisitively.
The elderly hobbit wrung his hands with worry and looked about the hall nervously, then at Theodoras.
‘I am Bounder Theodoras Took,’ exclaimed the younger hobbit. ‘I have been sent from Michel Delving to retrieve a copy of the Founding Writ from Adelard Took.’
'Oh dear!’ replied the hobbit rather nervously. ‘You are here for the Founding Writ? Please don't let Paladin know, but I don't have it!’
‘Now see here, sir!’ announced Theodoras, trying to sound very authoritative. ‘I have been sent by none other than Keeper Brombard Foxtail to fetch this writ!’
'A local farmer, Belco Brockhouse, has it, and he won't give it up,’ answered the hobbit rather apologetically. ‘His home is north of here, up the hill and to the right of the path, and he says he won't give up the Writ until he gets a hand with his crops. Honestly! At my age, I can't help with farm labour! I'm sorry to say that if you want the Writ, you'll have to speak to him and perhaps lend a hand. The cheek of some hobbits!'
‘Hmm,’ said Theodoras thoughtfully. ‘He won’t hand it over, you say? Perhaps he will think otherwise if paid a visit by a Bounder!’
Chapter Four: A Hobbit in Need – 26 Winterfilth, 1417 SR
‘My pig, Old Sally, has run off again,’ said Belco Brockhouse quite matter-of-factly once Theodoras had made his way down from the Great Smials to pay the farmer a visit at his farm. ‘Sometimes I think that pig is more trouble than she’s worth. Always running off, eating like a horse, and scared o’ her own shadow! If I weren’t so fond o’ her, I would have made sausage out of her years ago!’
‘That is all well and good,’ replied Theodoras, sounding rather irritated at the farmer to whom he had instantly disliked. ‘I am not here about a wayward pig, but to recover a copy of the Founding Writ for Keeper Foxtail.’
But the farmer continued with his speech, seeming to barely notice poor young Theodoras entirely. ‘Usually, when she runs off, it’s down to the woods south-east o’ here, by the big willow. If you find her, approach her carefully, and bring her back to the barn here.’
‘If you please!’ retorted Theodoras , disliking the farmer now, even more than before. ‘I have no business running about the Tookland to fetch some wayward pig, no matter how prized she may be! I am only here to recover your copy of the Founding Writ!’
Belco did not answer, but simply crossed his arms and snorted at the young Bounder with contempt. It was obvious to Theodoras that the farmer had no intentions of handing over the writ until he had received some payment in kind, and that being for someone to go and fetch his pig. At that someone, groaned Theodoras silently, would have to be himself.
The young hobbit shook his head and finally threw his arms into the air in defeat. ‘Very well,’ he said quite disapproving of the whole matter. ‘It seems that I have little choice then!’ He snapped his fingers at the farmer and then turned to stomp off.
‘Be careful though,’ called out Belco after the young hobbit. ‘She spooks easily, so if she sees anything while you are bringing her back, she might run off, and this time for good!’
Theodoras returned to the lane and made his way back through Tuckburough and then down a dusty lane that led from the village towards the east. He followed the lane for only a short way until he stepped off to climb a short embankment. On the far side of the slope lay a wide hollow, flanked by tall cliffs on the far side. In its center sat a shallow depression filled with water and from there rose a large towering willow tree.
Theodoras paused to look out over the hollow, scanning for any signs of Old Sally, and then whistled loudly into the air before calling out.
One or two inquisitive conies stopped to sniff the air and watch the hobbit with interest. But they soon turned their bushy tails and fled into the thick brush nearby. ‘Now where could that pig have wandered off to?’ muttered Theodoras aloud.
He tightened his pack about his shoulders and scrambled down into the hollow, calling out now and then for the pig as he went. Theodoras went round the tree and then along the base of the tall cliffs beyond until he had made his way to the far side.
Suddenly, there came a rustling sound from the nearby brush. The hobbit froze , stepping back in alarm and placed a shaky hand upon the hilt of his small knife at his belt. The rustling was soon followed by a low grunt as a rather large and plump sow crawled out of the brush, her snout caked with mud and dirt.
‘There you are, Sally!’ cried Theodoras aloud with a laugh of relief. ‘Digging for grubs and bulbs I see! If you eat any more, I’ll not be able to fit you back into your pen!’
The young hobbit crouched low to the ground and extended an empty hand towards the pig. Old Sally cautiously snorted at the hobbit and sniffed the air with uncertainty. Then she let out an even louder grunt and trotted over to Theodoras, now satisfied that he meant her no harm.
Theodoras reached out to scratch the pig behind one ear then stood up. ‘Come on girl, time to get you back home!’
Old Sally looked up at the young hobbit and sniffed the air before turning to waddle down the slope and towards the lane beyond the large willow.
‘Wait!’ cried the hobbit as he sprinted forward to catch up with the pig. But the pig did not go far when she suddenly halted with a grunt of alarm and raised her clumsy head to sniff the air. Theodoras caught up with her and put a reassuring hand upon her head.
‘What is it, girl?’
Again the pig snorted aloud, now sounding very frightened and even began to tremble. The hobbit glanced about with growing alarm and drew out his tiny knife from his belt. He looked down at the rather ineffective weapon and shivered.
Suddenly, there came into view ahead several rather large shrews. They paused to rise up on their hind legs and looked as menacing at the hobbit and pig as much as a shrew ever could. Now, to you or I, an ordinary shrew would be of little concern, but these shrews were quite large (in comparison to a small hobbit, that is), almost the size of a small dog, and they filled the poor hobbit with dreadful fright.
‘Oh no!’ cried the young hobbit as the shrews hissed and came straight on. Old Sally let out a frightened snort and turned scurry back down into the hollow. Theodoras held out his knife with a shaky hand, nearly dropping it in his nervousness, trying desperately to ward off the shrews that began to snap at his feet and cloak. He threw a hasty glance over one shoulder just in time to see Old Sally disappear through some nearby brush.
Theodoras turned his attention back to the shrews and kicked at one that came uncomfortably close, sending it sprawling into the dirt. He then cried out in pain as another sank its needle-like teeth into his ankle. He shook the shrew off with a flick of his leg and then turned round to flee across the hollow as fast as his furry feet could carry him. For a moment, the shrews looked at the brush where Old Sally had disappeared into, and then back to the fleeing hobbit. With a victorious sniff of the air, the shrews turned to scamper back into the thickets from where they had come.
Poor young Theodoras did not halt his flight until he had run up and out of the hollow and to the safety of a tall tree along the side of the lane. There he stopped, his breath coming in deep gasps and glanced around the bough of the tree in fear and alarm. He then collapsed onto the ground to sit with his back against the thick trunk of the tall tree.
He had been sitting there beneath the tree for some time, uncertain what to do next when there came the sound of hoofs on the lane some way distant to the east. Quickly Theodoras clambered to his feet and stepped deeper and fearfully into the long shadows of the oak-tree.
The sounds of hoofs drew nearer as Theodoras peered round the tree, now even more frightened than his encounter with the shrews. At that moment, there came a deep rolling sound like mingled song and laughter that rose into the fair sunny air. As the hobbit watched from behind the tree, a chestnut-colored pony trotted into view.
Atop the pony sat a hunched rider wrapped entirely in a great brownish cloak and hood so that only a long nose stuck out from the folds. There the rider and mount halted, before the stranger leapt down from the horse with a cheerful laugh.
The rider swept aside the wrappings to reveal that is was a dwarf no less, with a dark brown beard tucked into a thin belt about his waist. A pair of very blue eyes peered down with some mirth on the very visibly frightened hobbit. The dwarf strode forward, leading his pony behind him.
‘Hemni, of the Blue Mountains, at your service!’ he laughed with a low bow.
Theodras hesitantly came round the tree, too surprised to do little else. ‘Um…and yours,’ he gasped in reply, stopping hesitantly a few feet from the strange dwarf.
‘Now, who might you be little one?’ asked the dwarf rather inquisitively as he turned to stroke the long neck of his pony.
Theodoras looked over his shoulder and back across the field then back to the dwarf. ‘I...um…am Theodoras Took,’ he replied after taking a deep breath.
‘And why do you sit here alone in the grass looking so glum?’ asked the amused dwarf.
Theodoras scratched his head then spoke. ‘I am afraid that I have gone and done it but good this time,’ he replied sorrowfully. ‘I thought it would be grand to run off from Budegford to join the Bounders, but I fear that there is simply not enough of Bullroarer in me.’
The dwarf laughed aloud once more at the hobbit, his eyes twinkling in the light.
‘I thought it would be rather wonderful to be Bounder,’ admitted Theodoras with a bit of shame. ‘I imagined there would be no harm in it, and maybe a bit of fun too! But I am not Bullroarer, and farming and pipeweed should be what my mind is on, not mixing up with other people’s business. But now I’ve gone and landed myself in a bit of a pickle.’
‘Indeed?’ chuckled the dwarf. ‘You seem to be a harmless fellow…perhaps I could be of assistance?’
‘Well, you see…’ the hobbit started, eyeing the dwarf with some suspicion. ‘It’s Old Sally, Belco Brockhouse’s favorite pig. She’s gone run off into the fields over there and he has asked me to go and fetch her back to the farm. He promised to give me the Founding Writ he had if I did so.’
Hemni looked down at the hobbit with amusement spreading across his face. ‘Go on,’ he said with a slight laughing cough.
‘The only problem is that she spooks easily and some rather testy shrews chased her off. I myself had to make a run for it.’ The hobbit lifted up the tattered and torn hem of his cloak with one hand and frowned.
‘I am making my way through the Shire,’ explained the dwarf with a broad smile. ‘But I would be honoured to lend a hand with your dilemma.’
‘Oh yes!’ answered Theodoras as he clapped his hands together excitedly. ‘That would be wonderful if you could!’
‘And where is this pig you say?’ asked the dwarf looking about.
‘I imagine that Old Sally crept back into the thickets where I first found her…back over the hollow here.’
Theodoras turned to point towards the old willow in the distance. ‘No doubt she is still there, but I don’t know what to do about the shrews…they seem to be riled up something awful!’
‘Let us take a look Mister Took,’ replied the dwarf. ‘I have nothing to fear from some wild creatures!’
Nervously, Theodoras nodded and then scuttled from the tree and back across the hollow, with the dwarf striding confidently behind him. The pair passed by the tall willow and there the hobbit paused, glancing about in nervousness. He then climbed up the far slope towards the thickets and halted some distance from them.
Theodoras cupped his hands to his mouth and called out in a hushed tone. But his attention was drawn in the opposite direction, further up the hill. Indeed, something did answer his call, but it was not the pig, rather it was a large bristle-haired boar. The young hobbit’s cry died in his throat as he fell backwards towards the dwarf.
The dwarf only chuckled at the sight of the wild boar, and his beard shook with laughter. ‘Tis only a boar, my friend. I have faced far worse in my travels.’
‘Maybe we can sneak around it,’ said Theodras with barely a whisper, not liking the sight of the boar at all. ‘I found Sally on the far slope over there.’
The dwarf laughed once more and then strode up the slope in the direction the hobbit had pointed. Theodoras quickly followed, never taking his eyes off the boar until it fell from view behind them. Soon they had reached the top of the slope. There, the hobbit paused and again called out in a low voice.
‘Sally, come on girl!’
Moments passed with silence, then there came a rustling from the brush as Old Sally trotted out. The pig stopped and raised her snout to sniff and test the air, glazing at the strange dwarf with obvious suspicion.
The hobbit stepped cautiously forward and laid a hand gently onto Sally’s head, then scratched her ears. The pig grunted and nuzzled up against Theodoras’ legs, still glancing at the dwarf with distrust.
‘A prized pig indeed!’ laughed Hemni aloud. ‘Well, let us get her back home then!’
Theodoras nodded and called for Old Sally; the pig grunted and then fell in behind the hobbit. ‘Keep an eye out for those shrews!’ warned Theodoras with all seriousness. At just that moment the familiar sound of skittering came loudly from the thick brush ahead.
‘See!’ cried out Theodoras in panic. ‘They’ve come back!’
Suddenly three small furry shaped bolted from the brush, scurrying across the open space towards the trio. Old Sally raised her head and squealed aloud then began to back up awkwardly. Theodoras too began to fall back, clutching at his knife at this belt. Just in time too, for one of the large shrews came straight at him, snapping its tiny teeth at his heels. The other two were not far behind the first.
‘Eek!’ cried the hobbit in terror. ‘They’ve got me, Hemni! Help!’
Then there came a hearty laugh from the dwarf, entirely not what the poor frightened hobbit had expected. The dwarf strode up, a large and hefty club of stout wood in one hand. Hemni drew back the club and laid a heavy blow onto the nearest shrew; the shrew turned just in time to watch the club fall before it was crushed beneath its weight.
‘Mighty fearful beats certainly do stalk your Shire, Master Took!’ he said loudly with a chuckle. The dwarf then turned to the other shrew, swinging round with his club, sending it flying into the nearby brush with a single blow.
But Theodoras was far too busy dealing with the furious shrew trying to bite his ankles and feet to notice the humour. He danced to one side then the other, trying to avoid the snapping teeth, kicking at the shrew as best he could. Suddenly, and much to his own surprise, Theodoras stabbed down with his knife. He cried out in joy and a little fear as the shrew as the knife sunk into its back and it crumbled into a heap upon the grass.
Then the hobbit sank to the grass as well, a bit shaky and overwhelmed. Hemni glanced about and strode up to the hobbit, placing a hand on Theodoras’ head.
‘We will make a true warrior out of you yet, Master Took!’ he laughed with a grin. The dwarf extended a hand and helped the still shaking hobbit to his feet. Theodoras looked about and sighed in relief as he watched Old Sally trot over to nuzzle her snout into his side.
‘Oh, thank heavens!’ he said. He sheathed his knife and patted the pig upon her head. ‘You have been just about enough trouble for one day! Let us get you back home!’ The hobbit threw a nervous gaze about and then turned to walk back down the slope.
They plodded on and out of the hollow and began to follow the dusty lane back towards Tuckburough. It was already getting long into the afternoon as they approached the gate and the sun was even now beginning to sink low the western skies. They had gone only a short way before Theodoras motioned towards the roof of a smial on the far side of a patch of well-tended field of turnips and pipeweed.
‘That is Belco’s farm, explained Theodoras with relief. ‘We can make our way round the front by the lane.’
‘Well, let us have a look at this farm then,’ replied the dwarf. ‘If he a relative of yours perhaps?’
‘Oh dear me no!’ exclaimed the hobbit. He is one of the Brockhouses, but I am of the Tooks, on my father’s side, of course.’
‘You never explained your agreement with this farmer. Will he be honorable with your agreement made earlier?’
‘Belco is a stick in the mud, that is for sure,’ answered Theodoras. ‘But not to worry, he should honor our agreement.’
‘I he does not, I shall shake him upside down by his furry feet until he shrieks!’ Theodoras glanced at the dwarf with concern but it quickly melted away as the dwarf laughed and winked at the hobbit.
‘Um…no…’ stammered the hobbit. ‘We won’t be needing any of that!’
‘Ah, I see,’ laughed the dwarf. ‘Well, the offer still stands,’ he added with a grin.
Soon, the pair had made their way round the fields and to the front of the house. There sat Belco, smoking from a large wooden pipe. He watched the two closely as they made their way up from the lane. Old Sally let out a loud snort and trotted across the grass and towards her pen.
Theodoras stopped a few feet from the farmer and watched as Old Sally disappeared into the pen.
‘I found Old Sally,’ he said with a sigh. ‘And it’s Master Hemni you should be thanking for that! Now, about that Founding Writ, if you please…’
As if on cue, the dwarf bowed low before the farmer, saying, ‘Hail and well met, Master Brockhouse!’
Belco drew a deep breath on his pipe and looked inquisitively at the dwarf, then at Theodoras.
‘Aye,’ he said after a pause. ‘I suppose you’ve done enough for me…although I am going to miss the extra help around the farm. And Old Sally seems to have taken a liking to you…’
The farmer reached into his vest and drew out a scroll tied around the middle with a bit of twine.
‘Here’s that copy of the writ I found in my mum’s things. Take it over to keeper Foxtail at the Mathom-house in Michel Delving. And make sure you don’t let that Adelard Took have it…I don’t want it near his collection!’
Then , without even so much as a nod or word, Belco turned round and walked into his house, shutting the large round door quite loudly.
‘Well, I say!’ said Theodoras with a start. He then shrugged and turned to the dwarf with a smile.
‘Thank you again, Master Hemni!’ he said ‘I can never thank you enough!’
‘I am always at your service,’ grinned the dwarf with a low bow.
‘If you ever are passing through the Shire again, don’t hesitate to stop!’ bowed the hobbit in return. ‘Any time, of course!’
‘Until we meet again, my little friend. Goodbye for now and good luck!’
Chapter Five: The Black Rider: Part One – 27 to 30 Winterfilth, 1417 SR
Surprisingly, Theodoras’ return generated little excitement within the tiny village of Budgeford. The overwhelming belief was that, after running off with mad ideas of adventure, the young hobbit would soon find the entire business of adventures was altogether unpleasant and, with typical hobbit-sensibility, regret his rather hasty decision and return home.
Theodoras did return home, as many folk had suspected he would do, but altogether not in the fashion they would have anticipated. When he had arrived home late in the afternoon of the twenty-seventh, Theodoras made his way up from the ford of the Water. He strode up to his aunt’s house, hung his Bounder’s cap and cloak upon a peg in the foyer and went straight away to work in the small field beside the house.
The folk of Budgeford took this as a fair omen and were at first comforted by it, thinking that perhaps Theodoras had come to his senses and forgotten all that nonsense of adventure and returned to settle down. But they soon discovered, quite to the contrary, that this was not to be the case at all.
Theodoras at once began to carry on in (what most folk thought of as) a very preposterous and un-hobbit like fashion the following day. As soon as the morning dawned, and following a hearty breakfast, Theodoras clasped his cloak about his shoulders and set his Bounder’s cap atop his head, and then made his way round the village. In his walk about the village, the young hobbit made it a point to talk to all he met, telling of his little adventure to whomever would stop and listen. He was rather animated in the re-telling of the search for Old Sally and of his meeting with the dwarf, Hemni, leaving out not one scrap of the entire tale.
But there was one hobbit within Budgeford who seemed none too put off by the change in the young hobbit. Odovacar Bolger was very polite to Theodras, even going so far as to listen politely to his story, repeated several times, of course, though Odovacar thought little if any of the tale was true. And yet, he remained rather polite to the young hobbit, entertaining the youngster by hearing the tale for the third time that every day.
In fact, Odovacar was very pleased at Theodoras’ return and was more than grateful that Budgeford now had as their own a Bounder in their midst, for there was much that had begun to trouble Odovacar of late. And Theodoras’ return seemed to have come at the most fortuitous time for Odovacar.
Most sensible hobbits have little to do with affairs beyond their own and tended to shun anything not of their own immediate concern. But to even the most ordinary hobbit there now came to their ears many strange tales and of discomforting news happening in the world beyond the sheltered borders of the Shire. Strange dwarves and Men from far away were now being seen on the roads of the Shire in unusual numbers and they told of unsettling things. There was talk of war and of Orcs multiplying in the mountains once more. Trolls were said to now stalk the lands in greater numbers and of ominous creatures that bore no name but were even more terrible than any nightmare could envision.
It was the morning of the second day following his return to Budgeford when Theodoras received word at his home that farmer Odovacar Bulger wished to speak with him. Theodoras was intrigued by the summons, and immediately went to foyer to don his cloak and cap and went out into the bright morning sun. He made his way down the dusty lane and up to the highest row of smials overlooking the river below, greeting all who he encountered with a broad smile and a pleasant hello. Along the top row of smials, Theodoras found Odovacar Bolger seated in front of his home, enjoying the cheerful morning air. Theodoras waved as he strode down the path that led from the lane until he was standing beside the farmer.
‘Good morning, Odovacar Bolger!’ he said politely, removing his cap to brush his thick hair from his eyes. ‘I got word that you wished to speak with me and it sounded rather urgent.’
Odovacar nodded and then glanced about as if looking for some hidden eaves-dropper nearby. He then climbed out of his chair and spoke in a low whispered tone.
'I have to tell you, I've a real problem!’ he said wringing his hands with worry. ‘The hands say they've seen one of those black-cloaked Big Folk that have been riding to and fro lurking around my pig sties by night.’
‘A black rider!’ exclaimed Theodoras with a start. He had heard the stories about the Shire of these mysterious riders, all cloaked in black, and the very thought of one sent a shiver down his back. They had been sighted all over the Shire of late, asking peculiar questions and generally frightening a great many folk.
Odovacar nodded again as he continued. 'I've been thinking about selling this farm to Lotho Sackville-Baggins, and this Black Rider business makes me want to sell out all the more. I'm just happy Lotho still wants to buy, considering all the queer Outsiders coming through the Shire.’
‘Selling your farm?’ said Theodoras with surprise. ‘You can’t be serious! That is rather unfortunate, but what could this possibly have to do with me?’
‘Well,’ replied Odovacar cautiously. ‘I'm still not sure what's going on. It may be the hands are just scared of shadows. I want you to find out for me. Please go to the sties south of here by the stream at night, and see what there is to see, if anything.'
‘Hmm,’ said Theodoras thoughtfully, looking down at the grass. ‘I am unsure as to what I could do in this matter, but I will do what I can.’
Theodoras tipped his cap to the farmer, walked back to the lane and down to his house below the hill. There he sat in the parlour, pondering Odovacar’s words until long into the afternoon and the shadows of the dying day lengthened. He enjoyed a small dinner in the kitchen, then entered the foyer to put on his cap and throw his short cloak about his shoulders and stepped out into the chilled night air.
Twilight had long passed as the young hobbit crept quietly down the hill through the silent and sleepy village. The west wind was rustling though the bare autumn trees and stars had already begun to come out in the darkened sky overhead. As the hobbit made his way down the hill towards the river, the stars grew thicker and brighter and the moon soon broke over the horizon and climbed into the night sky.
After some time, he found his way to the pig pens overlooking the water, and Theodoras sat down in the tall grass growing along the wooden fence. A feeling of growing disquiet began to creep over him as he peered cautiously over the fence and onto the darkened muddy pens. Yet, for a time, there was little to see or hear. The sound of crickets floated over the area, mingled with the sleepy grunts of the pigs. The occasional hoot of an owl could be heard some distance off every now or then.
It was just before midnight and Theodoras was beginning to nod slowly off, when there came a soft furtive sound from the darkness about the pens. He started up, and looked out into the darkness. As he watched in silence and apprehension, a figure emerged from the gloom on the far side of the pen. It was no Big Folk, as he first imagined it would be, but a short figure wrapped in a long flowing black cape, his face shadowed and invisible in the folds of the deep hood.
The short figure made its way slowly through the muddy pen, seeming not to notice the crouching form of the hobbit nearby. Theodoras listened with a growing sense of fear as the strange figure began muttering to itself in a sinister voice.
‘The Bolgers are doomed!’ said the voice with great malice. ‘These sties are mine! First Bolger then the whole Eastfarthing! Tomorrow the Shire!’ The dark figure paused and began to laugh.’ Ba-ha-ha-ha…fear my wrath, Bolgers of Budgeford! I bring terror to the sties of Budgeford. Odovacar! I’m coming for you! Ha ha ha!’
Theodoras held his breath, hardly daring to breath, as the overwhelming desire to get up and flee back up the hill washed over him. But he found that his legs felt very heavy and he was rooted in place by debilitating terror. With growing horror, he watched helplessly as the sinister figure made its way through the pen, it’s horrible laugher still lingering in the chilled air.
But just as the will to turn and flee returned the poor little hobbit, something peculiar caught Theodoras’ attention. Though swathed in black, the stranger did not wear boots, as many of the Big Folk often do, but rather was walking barefoot through the muddy pens. Theodoras almost laughed out aloud with relief as realization set in that it was none other than a hobbit after all.
The fear that had taken over the young hobbit now swiftly departed and, as he looked back to the shadowy figure, it seemed rather less threatening and mysterious than before. Bolstered by this new revelation, Theodras clamboured to his feet and climbed over the fence and into the pen, determined to confront the hobbit and find out what was going on.
‘Cower before me!’ said the cloaked hobbit as Theodoras crept up from behind. ‘You will face my wrath! Boooooooo!’
Just then, Theodoras reached out to place a hand on the stranger’s shoulder. ‘Now see here!’ he said sternly and loudly as he spun the hobbit round to face him. ‘What is going on?’
‘Er…’ gasped the strange hobbit as the hood fell away to reveal the face of a young hobbit, framed up by curly brown hair. ’I have to go!’ cried the hobbit with surprise and wriggled free of Theodoras’ grasp. ‘So long!’ he cried out as he ran off into the gloom, leaving Theodoras standing there perplexed and so surprised that he did not even give chase.
Despite the lateness of the hour, and after the strange young hobbit had disappeared into the darkness, Theodoras swiftly made his way back up the hill and to Odovacar’s home. Once on the porch, he reached out a hand and knocked loudly upon the round wooden door. A moment passed and then he knocked twice more.
Through a curtained window beside the door, the soft glow of a lamp could be seen within and a grumble could be heard. Just then, the door swung open to reveal a sleepy-eyed Odovarcar standing there in his bedclothes, looking none too happy to have just been awoken from a deep slumber.
‘Forgive my intrusion, Odovacar,’ said Theodoras swiftly, tipping his hat as he spoke. ‘But I thought you would like word of what I found down in your pens tonight!’
Quickly, Theodoras related what he witnessed and of his encounter with the strange young hobbit. Odovacar wiped the sleep from his eyes and listened with growing interest until Theodoras had finished his tale.
'What?’ he exclaimed with much surprise. ‘A hobbit in a black cloak? My fool work-hands can't tell a Man from a hobbit? Something queer is going on, and I want to know what....'
By now, the commotion in front of the farmer’s home had awoken others nearby as hobbits stepped out of their darkened homes to see what all the ruckus was all about. Some looked on with sheepish groans, while others cursed poor Theodoras for waking up the entire village with his nonsense. But not all were so inclined to blame young Theodoras and one in particular pulled Odovacar aside and spoke in hushed tones. When they were finished, Odovacar motioned for Theodoras.
'Cam Puddifoot just told me that one of his hands spotted that so-called Black Rider heading off to the east -- on foot, mind you,’ he said pointing off beyond his home. ‘No horse in sight, not even a pony. Cam says he was seen running through some fields of his, being chased by some wolves. It's bad enough we have to deal with unwanted nuisances like these "Black Riders", but now we have to worry about wolves, too?’
‘Oh dear,’ said Theodoras, entirely not liking the talk of wolves at all.
'If this fellow gets himself eaten by wolves, I'll never know what's going on here, so you'd best do something about it. Head off to Cam Puddifoot's fields, east of Budgeford, and look for any signs of that "Black Rider".'
Chapter Six: The Black Rider: Part Two – 27 to 30 Winterfilth, 1417 SR
Theodoras awoke suddenly. The room was black as pitch, so much so that he had to fumble blindly to find the candle next to the bed. It was half-past five and the sun had not even begun to peek over the far horizon. The hobbit got up silently to make his way to the kitchen and began to prepare a small breakfast. Theodoras was still yawning as he pushed himself away from the tiny table in the morning nook and went to the foyer to fetch his pack and cap.
Just as the sun began to rise, Theodoras stole quietly out of the house. He stepped out the front door and made his way along the lane that led away to the east. The lane soon veered round to the north and round the summit of the hill. Here, the hobbit paused a moment before turning from the lane to begin to cut across several fields to the east. Everything was quiet, but far-away there came the sound of a rooster crowing the coming of the dawn. The grass was grey and damp with dew and felt cold on the hobbit’s toes.
Theodoras followed a wooden fence bordering a small field for some distance then descended down a gentle hill that went sloping gently down towards the Brandywine River far off to the east. Lying in front of his path was a short stretch of grass and beyond could be seen a series of more fields. Atop the slope rising to the north from the fields there stood a moss-covered and crumbling wall of ancient stone.
‘This must be Cam Puddifoot's fields,’ thought Theodoras to himself.
There he paused, not entirely sure what he was here to look for. Certainly, there was no sign of the mysteriously cloaked hobbit from last evening. Theodoras stood there enjoying the warming sun on his face as he pondered what to do next. Finally, he looked about and tightened his pack about his shoulders.
A quiet as a mouse, Theodoras started gently down the grassy slope towards the nearest patch of tiled field when he suddenly heard the first howl. Within moments, there came another howling and then another, first far off and then uncomfortably close by. Theodoras fought to quell a desperate urge to turn and flee back up the slope as the howls faded into distant echoes into the cool morning air.
He stopped for a moment, his breath sticking in his throat, steeling his resolve to take a step forward. Then, with great effort, Theodoras began to slowly continue forward until he had reached the fence that bordered the field. Crouching low beside the wooden fence, the nervous hobbit peered into the field beyond.
Must to his dismay, he soon discovered the source of the frightening howling. Prancing about in the tilled dirt of the empty field were a half a dozen or so lean and hungry-looking wolves. This was nearly too much a sight for the poor young hobbit, and he once again fought the overwhelming urge to run.
‘Wolves!’ he cried softly and shook like a fragile leaf. ‘What on earth will I do?’
But just then, Theodoras had a bit of luck. As he peered over the fence with growing apprehension, he spotted something dark lying in the dirt a short distance into the field. It appeared to be a black cloak of sorts.
Quickly, he formulated a plan. Theodoras loosened his knife in its sheath and tightened his pack then stepped carefully through a gap in the fence. With all the stealth he could muster, the hobbit crept forward, darting through the deep shadows cast by the looming trees along the edges of the field. His heart beat so loudly in his chest that he at once feared that even the wolves nearby could even hear it.
Step by painful step, he crept up to the dark shape lying in the dirt until at last he was kneeling beside it. It was indeed a black cloak, hobbit-sized by the look of it but now soiled and ruined. Theodoras smiled, quite bemused and proud of himself for sneaking underneath the very noses of the wolves. He reached out to gather up the cloak and then began to turn round to creep back to the fence when he froze.
A wolf had trotted very close to where the hobbit was crouched and it now lifted its nose into the air to sniff several times. Then it turned towards the frightened hobbit and fixed its slanted eyes upon him with a quivering snarl.
Before Theodoras could even cry out, the wolf shot straight at him, clamping its jaws down upon the hem of the cloak. Very much surprised by this, Theodoras took a hesitant step back, straining to wrench the cloak from the wolf’s powerful jaws. For long, unending seconds, the two fought over the cloak; first Theodoras grasped the cloak in both hands and dug his heels into the soft earth, only to be suddenly pulled forward, almost letting go of the cloak altogether.
Without even thinking, Theodoras wrapped the cloak around one hand and fumbled for his knife with the other. The tiny blade flashed in the bright sunlight as the hobbit slashed forward blindly. The wolf let forth a yelp as the knife bit into its snout and it released the cape, nearly making the hobbit tumble backwards and onto the ground.
For a second, Theodoras blinked twice at the wolf as it shook its head in pain. Then, not waiting to see what the wolf was to do next, he turned round and ran back up the slope. With great gasps of breath and fear, Theodoras ran, with the wolf snapping at his heels. Up the long slope he ran until he thought his heart would burst, not daring to look over his shoulder.
It was not until he had run clear back to the edge of the village and had reached the dusty lane did the poor hobbit stop. He collapsed to the ground, and fearfully looked back over the field. There he lay for several moments until his breath returned once more and the paralyzing fear slowly left him as the realization set in that the wolf had given up its pursuit.
Theodoras climbed to his feet and chuckled aloud, now very pleased with his cleverness. He threw the tattered cloak over one shoulder and pranced down the lane. He made his way back down the lane until he found himself in front of Odovacar’s home. He strode up to the door and knocked loudly.
Within moments, the door popped open to reveal the rosy face of Odovacar. The hobbit blinked once in confusion as Theodoras lifted up the ruined cloak then slapped his thigh with a resounding laugh.
‘Ha! That’s a hobbit-sized cloak all right. It must have got snagged when he was running away.’
‘But I could not find any trace of the fellow,’ groaned Theodoras. ‘There were wolves all about in the fields over there.’
‘Don’t worry about losing his trail,’ answered Odovacar confidently. ‘We’ll soon have him!’
Just then, Odovacar whistled loudly and moments later a large hound trotted round the house to stand beside the farmer.
‘Never fear! My hound, Veronica, will track down that "Black Rider" with just a sniff of his cloak. She's the best hunter in the Four Farthings! Maggot can talk up his Grip, Fang, and Wolf all he likes, but I'll stake Veronica against the pack of 'em! You just follow Veronica wherever she leads, and you'll see! She'll find that trespasser!'
Odovacar lowered the cloak to the hound and it sniffed curiously at it for some time. Then with a loud yip, the hound bolted up excitedly and began to lumber down the lane with great speed. Quite surprised, Theodoras reached for the cloak and then gave chase, waving at the farmer as he ran after the disappearing hound.
Veronica went down the lane towards the ford, stopping once or twice to sniff the air and then to paw anxiously at the dirt before continuing onwards. Suddenly, the hound paused, sniffing the air once more and then turned from the lane to dash across a nearby lawn. There, in front of a modest smial stood a dark-haired hobbit in a simple dress and apron.
Veronica sprang towards the hobbit excitedly, and then reared up to plant its large forepaws onto the startled hobbit.
‘Down, Veronica!’ scolded the surprised hobbit girl. ‘What’s gotten into you?’
The hound barked loudly twice more and then dropped back to all fours before bouncing back up the lane the way it had come.
Theodoras straightened his Bounder’s cap atop his head and strode forward. He tipped his cap politely as he spoke.
‘Ah! I have caught you, you prankster! Black Rider indeed!’
For a moment, the hobbit stared at Theodoras; then her eyes grew as big as saucers as he lifted up the tattered black cloak.
'What? What Black Rider? Me? Of all the absurd...! Oh, this black cloak...yes, I have seen it before. I sewed it!’
‘And wore it about the pig pens last night as well!’ answered Theodoras. ‘Don’t deny it because I saw you there!’
Greta Fallowhide shook her head furiously as her hands began to shake somewhat.
'I sewed that cloak for my good-for-nothing nephew, Fogo. Little thanks I got from him, too. If you want to speak with him, he's likely at The Golden Perch in Stock, cadging drinks. I wondered what that cloak was for. He acted so mysteriously about it. I'll take it back, thank you very much and you go have a word with Fogo.'
I will go have a word with this Fogo,’ sputtered Theodoras, handing over the tattered cloak with a scowl. He turned from the hobbit and walked back to the lane leading down to the ford. There he stopped and glanced up at the sun. ‘It is nearly noon-time,’ he said quietly. ‘And I have not had anything since breakfast!’
Despite his growling stomach, Theodoras set out immediately for Stock. He reasoned that, with luck, he could reach the Golden Perch no later than the afternoon and perhaps then he could enjoy a good supper there. He waded across the ford in the cool water and then climbed the far bank to the Great East Road. Theodoras munched on a few bland but filling hard biscuits as he walked.
The East Road went rolling up and down, following the river for some distance before it turned aside to wind through fields stretching off to the south. It was not long until he spotted the first outlying houses and barns of the village of Stock. Gladdened by this sight, the hobbit hurried along the road until he had passed through the hedge-gate of the Golden Perch and straight up to the front door.
Stepping through the beautiful round door, Theodoras entered the inn. He paused to look about the quiet inn for a moment. The common room was nearly empty but for two or three hobbits, but he immediately recognized one of them as the mischievous hobbit from the night before in the pig pens.
Theodoras strode up to the hobbit and cleared his throat loudly. ‘Fogo Fallohide?’ he said with as much an air of authority as he could muster.
The younger hobbit turned to look intuitively at Theodoras with a raised eyebrow, and lifted his mug to his mouth the blow the frothing foam from the top.
‘I am Bounder Theodoras Took,’ he continued. ‘The game is up! Greta Fallohide has told me all about your little scheme!’
The younger hobbit grinned and chuckled. ‘Ah well, I guess you've found out my little secrets. We thought it would be so much fun!’
‘Fun?’ admonished Theodoras with a frown. ‘Your little prank scared half the village! And what do you mean by ‘we”?’
'See,’ answered Fogo, still smiling, obviously entertained by the whole matter. ‘I met this fellow a few days ago, while I was drinking, called himself "The Chief" he did. He said he was an old friend of Odo's, wanted to play a little joke on him. Told me to get black cloak and gave me some money to haunt Odovacar's farm by night.’
‘And what you did was give quite a fright to a great deal of folk with your little joke!’ exclaimed Theodoras.
'Well now!’ replied Fogo lifting up one hand. ‘Surely you don't think I meant any harm! I never! That Chief fellow? I haven't seen him since, come to think of it. At least I got some spare money for beer out of it. Oh, yes...I promise not to do it again. Those wolves almost got me! I won't be running around at night anymore, that's for sure!'
‘I have half a mind to giving you a good switching!’ uttered Theodoras angrily. But he shook his head and took a deep breath. ‘Well, I suppose that the fright of the wolves will serve as good a punishment as any. Don’t let me catch you around the pens anymore!’
Re: Total Immersion: The Road Goes Ever On - A Hobbit's Tale
Well, trying to play a toon as a traditional hobbit it proving to be quite a challenge! I thought it would rather clever of me, since Theodoras is a Burglar, to sneak under the very nose of the wolves and steal away with the cloak using the SNEAK skill. It was working fine until one came too close to me and noticed poor Theodoras. I ended up not fighting the wolf, but rather took a couple of hits while trying use the skill, Riddle. After being reduced to half my morale, the Riddle was finally used successfuly and the wolf became Dazed, allowing me to grab for the cloak (which took about ten agonzing seconds watching the stauts bar slowly fill up) and then turned and ran for my life.
Oh well, lesson learned, but he managed to escape and stay alive and that is all that matters!
Chapter Seven: The Veiled Menace – 1 to 3 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Theodoras was just sitting down to a pleasant breakfast in the breakfast nook of his aunt’s smial when there came a ring of the front door bell. Taking a sip from his tea, the hobbit pushed away from the table and made his way to the front door. It was Postmaster Bolger, in the midst of his morning postal route through the tiny village. Theodoras bid the postman a good morning as Bolger reached into his bag to produce an envelope before turning back to the lane without a word.
Theodoras shut the door and made his way back to the breakfast table, turning over the envelope several times to peer inquisitively at the writing. Sitting back down, the hobbit held up the envelope into the bright sunlight shining through the nearby window. The front of envelope was simply addressed to a: Mr. Theodoras Took, Budgeford, in the Shire. There was no return address or sender save the words The Prancing Pony, Bree was written in the upper left hand corner.
Intrigued, the hobbit slit open the top with a butter knife and found inside a single sheet of paper scribbled with a hasty script. As he began to read, Theodoras entirely forgot his breakfast as it sat atop the table getting quite disagreeably cold.
My Dear Sir!
While passing the evening at the Prancing Pony, I spoke to a dwarf called Hemni, who was journeying east along the road. He told me of his lively encounter with you and that you might soon be headed into the Eastfarthing, or beyond. Strange as news from Bree, as you Shire-hobbits say! I have never heard of Shire-folk wandering from home before. I have business that will soon take me to Hobbiton, and if I may be of any service to you, kindly inform me.
Best of luck in your travels,
Theodoras sat sipping upon his tea and nibbled on some spice cake as he read, then re-read, the letter before sitting back in the chair in deep thought. After a time, he got up and went into the study to sit at the desk. He reached for a single page of blank paper and began writing a response.
To Mister Halman Mayweed,
As I read your letter over breakfast this morning, I was overjoyed to hear that Master Hemni had reached Bree in safety. I must say that I have never met anyone from Bree!
But do make it a point to pay a visit to my home at your convenience. Perhaps around tea-time would be good?
Theodoras was just folding the letter into an envelope and addressing it when there came a tremendous ring at the door. He ran to the door and found a young hobbit lad standing on the stoop, a recognizable fellow no more than twenty or so from down the hill. The young hobbit held out a small scrap of paper and then waited patiently as Theodoras read it. It was from Wilimar Bolger, requesting for Theodoras to come by his home.
Theodoras reached into his pocket and gave the lad a few pennies then closed the door to return to his now very cold and unappetizing breakfast. He managed a few morsels before giving up altogether and tidied up, for his thoughts had turned away from breakfast to Mr. Bolger’s summons.
When he had finished cleaning up in the kitchen, Theodoras walked to the foyer to fetch his cap and cap, and then strode out the front door into the bright morning air. Indeed it was a fine morning, thought Theodoras; the sun shone warm in the blue sky overhead and a soft breeze softly rattled the naked autumn trees. Whistling as he went, Theodoras made his way down the lane towards the back side of the hill until he had come to Wilimar Bolger’s home.
He walked up and knocked upon the door before taking a step back. Presently, the door opened to reveal Wilimar Bolger standing there. Instantly, Theodoras sensed there was something wrong. The hobbit appeared nervous and ashen, a worried look spreading across his normally cheery face.
‘Whatever is the matter, Mr. Bolger?’ said Theodoras, gazing at the hobbit with alarm.
‘I am in desperate need of your help!’ answered Wilimar. ‘Look...look what I found stuck in my door this morning!’ In his hands the hobbit held up a rather curious arrow.
'Look at this! It is such a strange arrow,’ cried Wilimar. ‘The head is certainly of hobbit-make, although very, very old. The arrow's shaft though bears a resemblance to those made by Big Folk. Why would someone do this? What does this mean?’
‘Hmm,’ said Theodoras. ‘Perhaps it is another of those foolish hobbit lad’s pranks again. Confond him, I will certainly give him a good switching for this!’
'It looks like the arrow came from somewhere directly north of here,’ said Wilimar, pointing off to the north across the fields. ‘Near the hedge-gate leading to the Greenfields. I'm too frightened to go over there -- who knows what is lurking there -- but could you go there for me and see what you can find?'
‘Of course I will Mister Bolger,’ beamed Theodoras. ‘I would not give this too much thought, Wilimar. I believe that young Fogo Fallowhide is up to his tricks again. I will see to this matter right away!’
Theodoras turned with a tip of his cap and made his way from Wilimar’s home to the lane that led north towards the hedge-gate and the Bridgefields beyond. From the hill, the lane wound up following a steep cliff to the left side until it at once came to a high hedge and a small gateway. The hedge ran for only a short distance, hemmed in by the cliffs on one side and a gentle hill on the other.
Scratching his head for a moment, Theodoras stepped off the lane and strode along the hedge to the right. Near the end, in a small depression, he found the remains of a recent campsite. More intriguing was a pack, stout wooden bow and a torn and ripped journal that lay undisturbed in the dirt.
Theodoras reached down and picked up the ruined journal. He carefully began to turn the pages, only to find that many of the pages were torn out and missing, and what remained had been rendered wholly unreadable. Placing the journal into his pack, the hobbit scoured the ground more carefully about the campsite until he was certain there was nothing more to uncover. Then he turned to begin making his way back to Wilimar’s home.
'So you found this journal near the hedge-gate, did you?’ replied Wilimar upon Theodoras’ return. ‘Well, hopefully it contains some clues as to who loosed that arrow into my door, and perhaps it will tell if he means me any harm!'
Wilimar eagerly took the journal and began skimming the few remaining torn pages. But only after a short time, he began to scowl.
'Oh dear, this isn't good, not good at all,’ he said with disappointment. ‘Many of the leaves of the journal are missing, as if it were shaken and torn by a beast. Look here, see the teeth marks? Goodness, those teeth marks might be from a wolf! I wonder if some of the beasts took the pages, perhaps to line their dens? Yes, yes, I know it sounds strange, but I've heard a tale or two of them doing such things.’
‘Wolves!’ muttered Theodoras, not liking the sound of that one bit.
'If you could, slay a few of the wolves east of here and see if they have any of the journal leaves. I seem to be missing about three leaves all told. Once I have all the pages, I should be able to see what the author of the journal was up to!'
‘Me?’ exclaimed Theodoras with a start. ‘But I am not wolf-hunter! I only just escaped the clutches of one of those brutes recently and I do not relish facing more again!’
His voice trailed off as Theodoras looked up at the pleading face of WIlimar. He took a deep breath and scowled.
‘Very well,’ he said dejectedly. ‘I will go and see what I can do but I expect that I shall end up in the belly of some hungry wolf!’
It was not long before Theodoras had made his way up from the village and into the grasslands and tilled fields to the east. There he paused, shutting his eyes tightly for some time, not daring to take a step further. His eyes fluttered open and he continued to shake like a leaf, feeling quite miserable uncertain if he could continue.
Then, much to his own surprise, Theodoras shook his head and scolded himself loudly.
‘Wolf or no wolf,’ he exclaimed, trying to sound confident, though his voice broke as he spoke. ‘A promise is a promise, Theodoras Took. It simply will not do to return to Wilimar empty-handed!’
He had just quelled the uncontrollable fear in his belly and was about to take a step forward when the soft, furtive sounds of patted feet reached his ears. Instantly, he began to tremble in fear again and took a hesitant step backwards as a lean, grayish form slowly crept from the tall grass on the far side of the glade.
The very sight of the wolf froze the poor hobbit’s blood and he could feel his heart right down to his toes. He reached to draw out his tiny knife with a very shaky hand, holding it out in front of him. With a terrifying snarl, the wolf lunged forward at the frightened hobbit. The beast charged Theodoras, snapping forward with its powerful jaws, and the hobbit screamed out in pain as he felt the teeth rip into his breeches.
In a second the wolf would have torn him apart, but in a panic, Theodoras lashed out blindly with his knife, gashing open its shoulder. The wolf yelped as it released the hobbit, and sprang backwards and out of reach, stopping to snarl at the hobbit with dark eyes.
Theodoras threw a hasty glance over one shoulder, thinking to bolt for a nearby tree he could climb. But there were few trees nearby, and those that were had no limbs low enough for him to catch a hold of. He turned back to face the wolf as it snarled and sprang towards him with a great leap. Suddenly there came a sharp twang of a bow as it was loosened. The beats let out a terrible yelp as it crashed to the ground right at the astonished hobbit’s feet.
Theodoras looked up in amazement just in time to see a figure step from behind a tree on the far side of the glade. The figure was swathed in a great cloak and its face was hidden by a deep hood and cowl. For a moment, Theodoras fancied that a whitish light shone from the stranger’s raiment and he caught a glimmer much like sparkling stars from the deep hood. Then, before Theodoras could take a step or call out, the stranger disappeared from view in a flash.
The hobbit crept cautiously up to the unmoving wolf and let out s sigh of relief. He glanced once more back in the direction of the strange figure and then spotted something lying half-hidden in the tall grass. He carefully strode up and parted the grass with one hand to reveal a bed make from matted down grass. Mixed up with the bedding were several leafs of torn paper.
Praising his good fortune, Theodoras collected the scraps of paper and placed them into his pack. Turning a fearful eye about for more wolves, he went back up and out of the fields until he had reached his home. He did not begin to feel entirely himself until he was able to sit down to enjoy a bit of tea and a slice of mushroom pie he had baked only that morning. After a time, the fear and trepidation of the battle with the wolf slowly disappeared and Theodoras began to feel much better.
Re: Total Immersion: The Road Goes Ever On - A Hobbit's Tale
Well, Theodoras has tested his mettle so to speak for the first time against a wolf and came out unscathed! Not exactly a wolf hunter to be sure, but...
I am still unsure who the nice elf (at least I think it was an elf because I only got a brief glimspe of the toon before he/she disappeared without a word) was that appeared during the fight with the wolf and killed it for me. Suffice to say that with shoddy gear that Theodoras has, even a single Shire wolf is a very dangerous foe for this poor hobbit!
Hopefully the mysterious savior will make themselves known so that I may properly thank them!
Chapter Eight: The Menace Confronted – 1 to 3 Blotmath, 1417 SR
'Marvelous, you've found them all,’ said Wilimar overjoyed at Theodoras’s return with the missing journal pages. ‘Thank you! Now to see what this means....’
Wilimar began to skim the torn pages feverishly, turning each page over rapidly as he read the hastily-written script on each one. Finally, after a short time, he turned over the final tattered page and glanced at Theodoras with a look of alarm and dismay.
'Goodness, this is interesting...and distressing!’ he said finally. ‘I will need a moment more to read this, but it would appear the author of this journal was a man named "Callum." And the tale it tells is an astonishing one! As hard as it is to believe, it would seem a distant ancestor of mine slew one of his in a great battle! And, oh dear...he means to revenge himself upon me....’
‘That is ill-news, Wilimar!’ exclaimed Theodoras loudly. ‘Can you uncover more details from the tattered pages of the journal?’
The elder hobbit did not answer, but instead had begun to pour over the journal once more without speaking. At last, WIlimar closed the journal and looked up.
'Goodness, the author of this journal, Callum, has a dark past!’ he said. ‘It would seem the death of his ancestor to my ancestor at that great battle was a black mark on his family. They bore that mark for centuries. After a string of bad luck, which Callum blames on this mark, he decided to try and erase it by killing a descendant of the one who killed his ancestor. After years of tracking, he found the Shire...and me! The arrowhead that killed his ancestor was the one shot into my door.’
A sense of dread fell upon Theodoras. ‘Whatever can we do?’ muttered the young hobbit fearfully as he looked about uneasily, half-expecting to see a shadowy figure to emerge into view.
'I think I know where you can find him. He describes where he has set his camp, and it sounds like it is west of here, on the far west side of the Frogmoors. You have to stop him!'
‘Me?’ exclaimed Theodoras with much surprise. ‘What could I possibly do against this Callum?’
But the older hobbit did not reply; instead Wilimar turned and hurried back into his home, closing the door loudly behind him. For several moments, Theodoras stood on the doorstep in total surprise, unable to speak.
‘Well!’ he said after a moment. ‘A good day to you too, I must say!’
He hesitantly reached out a hand to knock once more upon the round door determined to have another word with the farmer. But the hobbit paused and stood silently lost in thought. Finally, Theodoras threw up his hands and turned to walk back to the lane that led down from the hill.
At his home once more, Theodoras sat in the parlour nibbling upon a seed cake or two, wondering whatever he was going to do. The young hobbit had half a mind to send a message to Second Shirriff Bodo Bunce in Michel Delving concerning the entire affair. And yet something within him pushed that thought from his mind.
Something very Tookish had been awakened deep within him and the memory of his battle with the wolf in the Bridgefields sprang unwanted into his mind. Though the very thought of searching for a dark shadowy Man in the depths of the Frogmoors made the young hobbit shudder, the confrontation with the wolf had changed young Theodoras. Now there welled up inside him a genuine desire to see this matter through to completion, even if meant braving a journey into the Frogmoors and confronting this Callum fellow all alone.
Before he had even the slightest opportunity to rethink the decision thoroughly, Theodoras had pushed away from the table in the parlour, walked to the foyer to don his cap and cape. With a deep breath, he turned the handle and stepped outside.
Theodoras made his way onto the land and down towards the ford at the Water. There he turned to the west and began to cross the grassy flats that stretched along the river. For a while, the trek along the banks of the Water was quite manageable and the hobbit whistled softly to himself and he went. But it was not long until the land ahead changed for the worse.
The open fields gave way to a low land stretching out from the Water to the north and west, dotted with small clumps of trees and brush separated by wide stagnant pools and scattered mossy patches of earth between them. There, Theodoras paused to look out over the Frogmoors as the sun began to sink low in the sky and the shadows of the trees grew long and thin on the marshy pools.
Hitching his pack tightly around his shoulders, Theodoras stepped carefully forward and scrambled down a mossy and muddy bank then round the edges of a wide still pool. The young hobbit soon found that there were no paths through the marsh and he constantly was forced to circle round the many pools along the muddy flats of ground that wound between them.
Every now or then, Theodoras paused suddenly at the sound of rustling in the nearby brush or a splash as something unseen slid into an occasional pool. He loosened his knife on his belt and gripped his walking stick tighter in the other hand, the sense of fear growing with every step forward.
The going forward soon grew more difficult and the air became stuffy and still. As he made his way round yet another endless pool and up the far muddy bank, he was hot and tired and very muddy himself. From the gentle rise, the hobbit gazed back in the direction of the Water but it was now out of sight beyond the trees and brush to the south. For a moment, a felling of panic welled up in the hobbit as the fear that he had become lost washed over him. He pushed down the growing fear and continued onwards.
Theodoras moved forward to wade across a shallow pool and hurried over a narrow patch of rush-covered and tree-less mostly-dry earth. Beyond climbed a low hill, crowned by several large boulders and rocks that formed a sheltered hollow on its broad summit.
Cautiously and quiet as a mouse, Theodoras crept up the slope and round one of the boulders. As he neared the top, he froze as furtive movement catch his eye to one side. He sprang back in alarm as his eyes fell upon a dark figure lying propped against a nearby boulder. It was Man, his cloak and tunic tattered and drenched in dark blood. A bare sword lay next to him upon the ground.
The Man looked up at the frightened hobbit and then down to the sword next to him. With a groan, he Man sunk lower against the rock and clutched his side in pain.
'So the wretched little man sent you to end my life, did he?’ muttered the stranger with contempt. ‘I suppose it is only right. My life has been accursed because of the mark of dishonour upon my family.’ The stranger’s eyes closed for a moment and fell silent.
Theodoras held out his tiny knife in front of him and fought the immediate urge to turn and run. But the Man did not reach for the sword, but began to cough painfully as his eyes fluttered open again.
'Do as you will. I have not the strength to defend myself, as you can see. When that rat-man found the arrow in his door, he raised an alarm. I was afraid of being found before I was ready, so I fled my hiding place. In my flight, though, I startled a boar, and the vile thing gored me. It is only a matter of time before I succumb to the wound. If you are not going to kill me, at least do me the service of telling that Wilimar that he has nothing to fear from me now. The tired years of my life are nearly spent....'
Thedoras let out a hesitant breath as a sense of relief washed over him.
‘Dear me sir!’ he said with surprise. ‘But you are quite mistaken. I am not here to do you harm, I can assure you!’
Theodoras glanced at Callum with concern and sheathed his knife. ‘Perhaps I can do something to help you…I can’t simply depart and leave you in such a sorry state.’ He then looked about the knoll of the hill before turning back to Callum, who had once more closed his eyes.
‘Let me fetch some fresh wood for the fire and make you as comfortable as I can. Then I shall return to Mister Bolger and see if there is anything we can do for your wounds!’
Thedoras set down his pack and scrambled round the hill to collect branches and loose wood that could be found and then returned to begin building a fire. The Man stared at the hobbit in silence as a cheerful little fire fluttered to life. Finally, Theodoras trussed up his pack and turned to Callum.
‘I have left some extra wood beside the fire,’ he said trying to sound reassuring. ‘Try not to move and I shall return as swiftly as I can.’
He looked once more at the Man and then turned to scramble down from the hillock. Dusk as all about the marsh as he slowly made his way back to the village. The west wind had picked up, whispering through the brush and trees as the landscape fell into a deep gloom of the dying sun. A single star began to twinkle in the sky to the north as Budgeford came into view ahead.
Theodoras hurried up the lane from the Water and soon was standing on the step of Wilimar’s smial. He reached out and knocked loudly upon the door. A moment later, the round door opened slightly to reveal the frightened face of Wilimar within.
‘There is nothing to fear, Mister Bolger,’ said Theodoras raising one hand. ‘But I am in haste and have no time to stand upon you stoop in the growing dark!’
Wilimar nodded and hesitantly swung the door open fully. Theodoras swiftly began to relate his encounter with Callum.
‘I found this Callum fellow as you asked,’ explained Theodoras swiftly. ‘But there seems to be more to this story than meets the eye, as my father always said. This Man did flee to the Frogmoors as you suspected, but he was surprised by a boar and he was gored by the beast. You have nothing to fear from Callum any longer, but I fear that he will soon succumb to his wounds if we do not act swiftly.’
Wilimar fell silent as he contemplated the hobbit’s words. Finally, he spoke.
'Goodness, what a relief! And yet, I can't help but feel badly for this Callum. You see, I have read more of his journal, and his life was a truly pitiable one. The place where he lives, far in the north, seems to be a dark, hard-fought place. Nothing like the Shire, and he's not had much luck. I think he may deserve a bit of charity, if you would help me with this.'
‘Of course!’ exclaimed Theodoras with a smile. ‘I too feel pity for this Callum fellow, and no matter what has transpired, we can’t leave him to die like this!’
'He may not accept charity from me, his sworn enemy,’ said Wilimar thoughtfully. ‘But I think I should try to help this Callum all the same. This wound of his, from the boar, most likely needs to be bandaged. To ward off infection and help the wound to heal, we should soak the bandages in an unguent of...let's see, what would be best?’
Wilimar fell into thought for a moment before continuing. 'Prickly broom, I think. I already have the bandages, but I don't have the broom leaves. Could I ask you to help me once more and gather some prickly broom leaves from the bushes south-east of Budgeford, near to the Water?'
‘Straight away!’ Theodoras found himself answering without a thought. ‘But I should find these herbs swiftly. This poor fellow looked as if in great pain and I fear that he will not survive the night. I will go right away to collect these leaves and return as swiftly as I may!’
The dusk had deepened into night as Theodoras made his way down to the Water to scour the darkened banks for the spiny leaves. It was no more than a half-an-hour when he had returned to Wilimar’s home, stuffing a handful of crumbled prickly leaves into Wilimar’s open hands.
Wilimar led the younger hobbit into the kitchen where he put on a kettle of water and began to prepare some linen bandages. Laying the linen aside, Wilimar turned and threw the leaves into the boiling water followed by the linen bandages. Stirring the unguent several times, Wilimar lifted the bandages into a small container and handed it to Theodoras.
'Please take these bandages to Callum at his campsite on the far west side of the Frogmoors. Tell him he should change the bandages daily. There are enough here for seven days. Hopefully that will be enough to help him heal.’
Theodoras nodded and turned to hurry outside. As he reached the door, Wilimar called out to him.
'Also, let him know that I hold no malice against him...and ask him to do the same for me!'
The hobbit sped down from the hill and turned at the ford to hurry along the bank until he had reached the Frogmoors. In the dark of night, Theodoras found retracing his steps back to the sheltered hollow quite difficult and it was more than an hour until he was standing beside Callum.
The Man appeared to be asleep, his eyes closed, when Theodoras approached. For a moment, the hobbit feared that the Man was no longer with the living. But the hobbit let out a sigh of relief as the Man stirred painfully in his sleep.
Theodoras set down his pack and brought out the pot containing the treated bandages. He knelt beside the Man and cleansed the wound with water from his bottle and then bound the frightful wounds. As the hobbit wrapped the last bandage, the Man stirred from his slumber and his eyes fluttered open.
'Bandages? From the little man?’ said Callum with great surprise as he glanced down at his side. ‘I...and this is not treachery of some sort? I...I am not sure what to say. I have hated this mark against my family for so long, I thought it would finally be erased if the little man was dead...but these are not the actions of an enemy....Should my anger be aimed at those who forced my ancestor into battle? Or should I lay the blame upon Fate and leave my anger behind? I have much to think upon.’
Callum fell silent for a moment and then he opened his eyes again to look gently at the hobbit.
'I thank you. This Wilimar has nothing to fear from me.'
‘I am glad to hear that, Callum!’ said Theodoras joyfully. ‘I must admit that I know little of you Big Folk, and I must confess this business had frightened me quite a bit. But you are a very honourable man! But for now, rest and relax. I will not depart for now. Rather, I will spend the evening here to tend to your wounds until dawn.’
Re: Total Immersion: The Road Goes Ever On - A Hobbit's Tale
My young little intrepid hobbit has reached the next stage in his little story:
I have all but exhausted available quests in the area that do not bear a great deal of danger. Soon, it will be time for his real adventures to begin, and that will require a journey from the Shire.
Re: Total Immersion: The Road Goes Ever On - A Hobbit's Tale
I am amazed and completely charmed by your hobbit, Theo. I have read what you have so far and I will be following this thread. I have read some of the Moria story, though not all of it as I just stumbled upon you and your adventures today. I almost never visit the forums but I am glad I did. Keep it up,
- A new fan
Re: Total Immersion: The Road Goes Ever On - A Hobbit's Tale
Ah, finally a response to my new story! I am very glad that you are enjoying the new story, idlehands79. Playing this new toon is quite a change from the somber and grim story of the quest for Moria, but it is very enjoyable nonetheless.
Originally Posted by idlehands79
I must say that, with the unforgiving restrictions I have placed upon myself, every combat I enter is a very tense and nail-biting experience! Theodoras' equipment is practically non-existent and even his little knife causes only 5-12 points of damage! Faced with opponents (such as a wolf) that has nearly as much Morale as my hobbit (and causes much more than his knife does) makes each fight rather exciting!
Re: Total Immersion: The Road Goes Ever On - A Hobbit's Tale
Great story! Actually read the whole Moria story while I was away from Lotro for real life stuff. You should write a book lol
Re: Total Immersion: The Road Goes Ever On - A Hobbit's Tale
im Glad somebody has taken being a hobbit a big deal. ive read the whole story and i love it. keep up the good work!
im proud to be a hobbit!
Crazy hobbit warden friend
P.s if you ever need help id always love to help a fellow hobbit in need add me in game if you want
Re: Total Immersion: The Road Goes Ever On - A Hobbit's Tale
I've always enjoyed your threads but this adventure certainly takes things to a new level - I fear that if (Aratar forbid) he should fall foul of the threats of Middle Earth there will be much sadness in the forums!
Re: Total Immersion: The Road Goes Ever On - A Hobbit's Tale
This is a great story. I really hope Theo'll make it and find himself some good friends to protect him as adventure takes him onwards! Well done and cudos!
Chapter Nine: New Neighbours – 4 to 6 Blotmath, 1417 SR
Theodoras set a beautiful mushroom pie upon the window sill to cool in the morning air beside the other he had just baked that morning. The hobbit then took a seat beside the open window to sip on his tea and looked out on the growing morning that was promising to be a fine one indeed.
Just after dawn when Theodoras had risen, the sky had been dark with the threat of rain on the horizon and chilled winds blew in from the north for most of the evening. But as dawn broke, the clouds swiftly parted to reveal a blue sky overhead. And so there Theodore sat, enjoying the warm sun through the open window and nibbled on some biscuits as he waited for the pies to cool.
He had just started on his third biscuit (with plenty of butter and honey) when he eyed a familiar face along the lane just in front of the smial. He set down his tea and biscuit to lean out the window for a better look. Much to the hobbit’s surprise, it was none other than Linda Bolger, from over the hill where she resided with her husband, Milo Bolger, on their large sprawling farm to the west of Budgeford.
Intrigued, Theodoras left his pies to cool in the window and walked to the front door to step outside into the bright sunlight. For a moment, he had lost sight of the hobbit goodwife but as he turned his head to look down the lane, Theodoras spotted her walking along another lane that ran along the pig pens further down the hill. Theodoras reached back inside the foyer to fetch his cap and set in upon his head before closing the door tightly.
Theodoras strolled down the hill until he was within a few paces of the hobbit goodwife. He smiled warmly as she turned towards him and he politely tipped his cap to her.
‘Why Mrs. Bolger,’ he said cheerfully. ‘What brings you to Budgeford on such a fine and grand morning?’
Theodoras’ smile faded from his face as he looked upon the wrought look upon Linda’s face. ‘Er…well…’ he sputtered as he shuffled slightly in place. ‘Is there something the matter? You seem rather distraught.’
Linda Bolger wrung her hands in the folds of her worn apron tied about her amble waist and glanced up at Theodoras worriedly.
'Things are not good in Budgeford, Theodoras,’ she answered haltingly. ‘A pack of wolves has made its way into the Shire, and there's talk that there might be more on the way. I'm worried that my farm will soon be attacked, but more than that -- all Shire-folk are threatened by the presence of these wolves.’
There the goodwife paused, a dark look falling across her rosy face.
‘And I saw...,’ she stammered. ‘Well, it's probably not important. Nevermind.’
A look of concern now spread across Theodoras’ face as well and he gently laid a hand upon the goodwife’s arm. ‘Now, now,’ he said in a gentle tone. ‘How about you explain to me all about this matter.’
Linda wiped a tear from her cheek and sniffled as she spoke.
'Anyway, I came into town looking for help, but you should go talk with my husband, Milo, back at our farm. Just head up the hill and cut east across the fields until you see our farm. Milo will probably be out behind the house, keeping an eye on the nearby ruins where the wolves have holed up.'
‘Oh, I see now,’ answered Theodoras. ‘I myself have recently had an encounter with these wolves and it was not a cheerful one at that. But fret not, Mrs Bolger, I shall take a walk right now and speak with Milo. Perhaps there is something I can do to about all of this. You better wait here just in case though.’
He tipped hat and turned to make his way back up the hill to his home. Stepping inside the foyer, the hobbit lifted his knife and sheath form the peg and set in into his belt. He then clasped his cloak about his shoulders and went back through the open door.
The sun shone bright and inviting in the nearly cloudless sky overhead as he made his way round the hill from his home. At the top, Theodoras turned down a dusty narrow path that led past well-tended fields and blossom trees. Soon, there appeared ahead the thatched roof of a large house and farm-buildings made of stout brick and wood. Inside the fenced yard behind the house came the clucking of several chickens and a lone horse stood munching upon long grass beside the single barn.
Theodras strode forward and stepped up to the round green door of the smial to ring the front door bell. For a moment he stood silently, but when there came no answer he turned to peer through a window beside the door. Dark suspicions came swiftly into his mind and he stood there in silence and he began to sweat a bit.
Then a sound came to the hobbit’s ears from round the side of the house. Theodoras drew out his knife and crept quietly from the front door to the side of the house. There, he found Milo Bolger standing silent as a tree, peering off to the east towards a line of crumbling and overgrown walls in the distance.
‘Oh, there you are, Milo!’ he said with a sigh of relief, sliding his knife back into its sheath. ‘You gave me quite a start when no one answered the bell when I rang.’
Theodoras walked up to stand beside Milo, who had yet to take his careful gaze off the ruins in the distance. Theodoras too looked out over the ruins, a sense of foreboding growing slowly in his stomach.
‘I spoke to your wife a bit ago and she informed me of the wolf problem. She implored me to come speak with you about the matter, though I am unsure as to what service I can offer.’
'Any help is welcome, Thedoras,’ replied Milo after a moment. ‘And I think we're going to need it. We hobbits of Budgeford aren't well-suited to dealing with wolves, and the thought of wolves again in the Shire is enough to freeze my blood as solid as the Brandywine during the Fell Winter.’
Of course, Milo was speaking of a winter more than one hundred years ago when the Brandywine froze over and white wolves invaded the Shire. No living hobbit (save perhaps old Mad Baggins) could remember that fell time, but it was not something that even hobbits of the Shire could easily forget.
‘Whatever do you mean “we’re going to need it?” replied Theodoras not liking where the conversation was suddenly going.
'If you can thin the pack a bit, we might have a better chance of keeping them away from the town, answered Milo turning to the other hobbit. ‘You'll find them in those ruins out east of our farm.’
‘Now hold on for one moment!’ blurted out Theodoras, his voice cracking. ‘What can you possibly expect me to do about wolves?’
He glanced up at Milo with a look of pleading, but the farmer had turned to watch the ruins off to the east in silence. Finally, Theodoras groaned and spoke.
‘Alright then,’ he said with a touch of resignation. ‘I shall not refuse. I will go have a look about over there. But I think that it will not be long before you see me fleeing back here in great haste with a wolf or two nipping at my heels!’
Theodoras stepped hesitantly forward and began to cross the meadow between the farm and the distant ruined walls. He had gone only a few steps when Milo called out after him.
'I hope you can manage it, friend -- there are a lot of pigs and hobbits in Budgeford, and I'm afraid these wolves would love to have either or both for dinner!'
Theodoras turned to glance back at the farmer, a look of worry and fear spread across his face. ‘I reckon I will be on the menu first,’ muttered the hobbit. He straightened his cap upon his head and crept across the meadow as quietly as he could until finally he was standing in the deep shadows beside the wall.
Though the young hobbit was not aware of it, the ruined walls had not been constructed by hobbits but rather had been erected in the elder days of the Kingdom of Arnor before its fall so many ages ago. Old farmer Puddifoot has been threatening to pull it down for years now to build walls for his own fields, but some of the richer hobbit families of Michel Delving have prevented him from doing so in the Shire councils, demanding that the wall be preserved for historical purposes. So it sits there still.
But all of this would have meant little to the frightened hobbit as he stood in the shadows trembling something terrible. The memory of his encounter with the wolf in the fields some days ago had come unwittingly into his mind and Theodoras fancied that he could almost feel the hot breath of the wolf upon his cheek once more.
After a bout of indecision, Theodoras grimaced, tightened his belt and then stole along the crumbling wall until reached a breech in the ruins. Here the wall had collapsed long ago, leaving grass-covered broken stone all about the ground.
All of a sudden he heard the most terrible and frightening sound; a long shuddering howl rose into the air from beyond the ruined wall in the distance. It was soon answered by another a good deal closer to him and to the left.
Theodoras froze, his legs becoming all wobbly, and he suddenly wished to be anywhere but there at that very moment. He tried to swallow but the found his throat dry and his breath came in struggled wheezes. It took the poor hobbit several minutes to collect himself before he was able to take a single step forward. When he did, Theodoras crept forward into the deep shadows of the break in the wall only to stop once more with paralyzing fear.
Beyond lay a deep hollow, surrounded by the crumbling wall to the south and west. All about the hollow were many wolves prowling about, growling, sniffling or yelping something awful. Every now or then, one would pause to answer the dreadful howling of another that made the trembling hobbit nearly turn and flee back across the meadow as fast as his furry little feet could carry him.
For several long moments, Theodoras stood in the shadows shivering with fright. ‘Dear me,’ he said to himself. ‘I am not wolf-hunter! What am I doing here?’ The hobbit stood gazing down on the wolf den for what seemed like ages, rooted in place by uncontrollable fear. His heart was racing and a fevered shaking came over his legs.
Just at that moment, a pair of thick-maned wolves trotted into view from the hollow beyond. In his fright, the young hobbit had not seen them as they crept silently up the slope. All of a sudden, the poor hobbit found two sets of dark wolf eyes looking at him with hungered interest, their tongues hanging out in the hot sun.
Theodoras blinked and his eyes went wide with fright. In a panic, the hobbit fell backwards forgetting even to draw his knife as the wolves let forth a terrible howl. He fell to the ground with a thud and Theodoras’ heart leapt into his throat as he frantically began to scramble backwards on all fours away from the nearest wolf. With a snarl, the nearest wolf snapped its head forward even as the hobbit kicked wildly at its snout with all his strength.
Theodoras jumped to his feet and swept out his tiny knife, expecting the wolves to charge him all at once. Surprisingly, the wolves paused and did not come straight at the hapless hobbit with a rush. The first looked up to gaze at the hobbit, bowed its head slightly and trotted a few paces to one side. The other fixed its dark gaze at Theodoras but did not move, as if waiting for invisible signal. The first now stopped to look back at the hobbit once more in an uncanny calm fashion and then prodded forward.
Theodoras cried out as loud and fierce as he could muster, but all that came out was a thin wail. He blindly jabbed out with his knife but the wolf turned and darted off as the second one ran round to the other side, dancing in and out of the hobbit’s reach then back again.
This went on for several agonizing minutes; first one wolf darting one from one side to snap its powerful jaws at the hobbit and then the other. All the while, poor Theodoras pivoted, struggled back a step or two, nearly falling on his knees once as he vainly tried to fend the beasts off. But soon, it became fearfully apparent to the hobbit what was happening. They meant to wear him down and armed with only a tiny knife it would not be long until Theodoras slipped or grew tired.
Just as his legs began to give way beneath him, Theodoras made one last desperate gamble. With a sweep of one leg, he kicked up dirt into the face of one wolf and moved to turn and run. But as he turned he stumbled and fell upon the ground with a thud. Frantically, he rolled over to watch as the nearest wolf went low to the ground, steeling to spring upon the hobbit with a great leap. The beast let out a snarl and leapt forward. But the wolf came crashing to the ground even as it sprang forward, coming to rest right at Theodoras’ feet, a green-fletched arrow stuck in its throat.
The second wolf turned to gaze behind the astonished hobbit and moved to also leap forward but not before another arrow piercing its breast. The beast shuddered then collapsed unmoving upon the ground. For a moment, Theodoras collapsed back into the grass with his eyes tightly shut. There he lay for some time unmoving, gasping and taking in great gulps of the fresh air.
Then, as he lay there unmoving, wondering if he was dead or alive, there came a fair and clear voice that rose into the bright-sunlit air.
‘Hail, master hobbit!’ said the voice. ‘May I be of assistance?’
Theodoras’ eyes fluttered open and he sat up abruptly. There before him stood a tall Elf, the sunlight glimmering in her long golden hair and bright eyes. The hobbit went to say something but he found himself unable to speak. For a moment, the Elf looked down upon the hobbit in silence and then lifted her head and laughed.
Wonderment filled Theodoras’ eyes and he clambered to his feet. ‘Of all things!’ he exclaimed when his voice finally returned. ‘An Elf in the Shire. How wonderful!’
‘I know that hobbits loves food, but wolves make poor dinner,’ said the Elf with a gentle smile.
Theodoras frowned and glanced back at the wolves on the grass. ‘I fear that I am not much of a wolf hunter! Mister Milo Bolger had asked me to try to deal with these wolves but I am afraid they are a bit much for me!’
Theodoras brushed the dirt and grass from his trousers and leaned down to retrieve his knife. ‘But you could not have come at a more fortuitous time! I was nearly lunch for these wolves!’
‘Better you make the meal Master Hobbit than be the meal!’ cried the Elf laughing. ‘But I am glad I came along as I did.’
‘Who are you and why do you wander the Shire?’
‘I am called Falagil,’ answered the Elf. ‘From Falathlorn beyond the western borders of the Shire. I often wander the woodlands of the Shire. But tell me what would force a hobbit to brave a wolf den all alone?’
‘Well, it’s these pesky wolves,’ replied Theodoras. ‘They are terrorizing the Bolger farm and Milo asked me to look into the whole matter. But I suspect that there is more afoot than a few wandering wolves. I should return to Milo with the news.’
‘You are a strange fellow for a hobbit,’ smiled Falagil warmly. ‘And I wish you well and safe travel. But do not lose hope in your quest. I shall be in the area for some time should you need my aid once more.’
‘That is heartening to hear, Falagil,’ said Theodoras bowing low. ‘And if you wish. Please pay me a visit at my home in Budgeford down the path. I should very much like the pleasure of your visit, even if only to see the expression of my neighbors’ faces!’
Re: Total Immersion: The Road Goes Ever On - A Hobbit's Tale
Thank you for reading both the Moria story as well as this one! But I am not sure about a book, but its very kind to say!
Originally Posted by Lanelthan
First, thank you for the kind words and second, most assurendly I would gladly accept any help! I will certainly need all the help I can get! Ha, ha, "PROUD TO BE A HOBBIT", that is great! Btw, so am I!
Originally Posted by Kargerz
Perhaps it is overconfidence, but I believe that I will succeed in this. Alas, we shall have to wait and see!
Originally Posted by Ozeagle
And thank you for the encouragement! I do not think I could continue the stories if I felt that no one found them interesting or engaging to read.
Originally Posted by StarryP
Re: Total Immersion: The Road Goes Ever On - A Hobbit's Tale
My Best Laid Plans...
The above chapter illustrates my difficulty for this story overall. I had contacted Falagil beforehand to enlist her aid in fighting the wolves. For some reason I decided to scout the wolf den out a bit while I waited for her to arrive. Of course, I managed to drew agrro from not one but two wolves just as I did so. I thought about running when I got a Tell from Falagil that she was coming up through Budgeford. So, I decided to stand there, quaffing morale draughts trying to stay alive until she arrived. When she did, she was easily able to slay both wolves with her bow and thus saving Theo from certain death, just as I watched my Morale dip below 100....