I'm afraid if you cut it this close too many times Theo won't last much longer, which would be a shame since it's a charming story. Looking forward to more.
I'm afraid if you cut it this close too many times Theo won't last much longer, which would be a shame since it's a charming story. Looking forward to more.
The way to a woman's heart is through her stomach
Well mate, this definitely is an impressive way to immerse yourself! The story kept me amused and tense both! I almost wanted to click to the last post to see if the courageous but thread-bare Hobbit was going to live to post another chapter! If you happen to spot an ex-Bounder named Zincfinger passing by when you need a helping hand, give a holler! He might appear vaguely disreputable, but his word is good and his sword is keen! Best of luck, mate!
[FONT="Book Antiqua"][COLOR="Yellow"]Every Dwarf-foe is like a mighty oak; one day, there will be an axe at its foot.[/COLOR][/FONT]
Milo Bolger was very pleased when Theodoras returned to where the farmer was keeping a vigil at his home near the ruins. Noon was fast approaching and the sun rose high into the sky as Milo stood patiently listening to Theodoras’ tale in growing interest.
The farmer clapped his hands with delight at hearing of the battle with the wolves and he pressed Theodoras not only about the wolves but also about the strange Elf, Falagil. For his part, Theodoras related the entire story, leaving nothing out right up to his parting words with the Elf.
‘And so, there you are!’ ended Theodoras after a time. ‘Two were slain but I fear that many more remain in that hollow. It shall take more than a single hobbit Bounder and a wandering Elf to clear that den out.’
Milo looked at the young hobbit with quite a new respect and then gave Theodoras a queer look as he stood in thoughtful silence for a time. Finally, Milo laughed and clapped Theodoras on the back.
'Very good, Theodoras, very good!,’ he exclaimed loudly. ‘You have been a tremendous help. There's something queer about these wolves, and I've only begun to fill in the pieces.’
The farmer’s mood suddenly turned grim and he now spoke in a low voice.
'A few nights ago, we heard a great ruckus. There were wolves fighting among themselves out at the old ruins! Nary a hobbit dared stray out of their holes all night. Soon after the racket died down, a good number of wolves charged through the town -- right down the middle of the street, if you believe it -- and disappeared off to the west.’
‘Wolves in Budgeford?’ cried Theodoras in amazement and horror. ‘This is the first I’ve heard of it!’
Milo nodded apologetically. 'My wife, Linda, was caught outside when the wolves came through. None of them so much as looked at her! If you go back to Budgeford and talk to Linda, she might be able to figure out what's going on.’
'These wolves have got me worried something terrible...someone's likely to get et!'
It was now Theodoras’ turn to fall silent. He glanced back at the ruins for some time and then spoke.
‘I suppose I should return to Budgeford and speak with Linda,’ he said hesitantly. ‘But all this talk of wolves has me quite spooked.’
Theodoras tipped his cap to the farmer and swiftly made his way back up the lane from the Bolger farm. There he found Linda Bolger waiting as Theodoras had instructed, the look of apprehension and fear still heavy on her face.
‘I have returned as I promised,’ said Theodoras breathlessly. ‘You were right in coming to Budgeford with the alarming news. But I must ask you about the night not long ago when you saw the wolves ran through the village.’
'Milo told you about the wolves passing through Budgeford? I thought he might,’ she answered with relief. ‘Well, I was a short way out of town when I saw a huge wolf standing on a hilltop. It seemed to be digging in the soil of the hill with its great paws. Then it leaped down the hill and was gone.'
'I started on my way home as fast as I could, but as I neared the edge of Budgeford, at least a dozen wolves came running right through the middle of town! I thought I was done for, but they just ran on, like I wasn't there at all!’
'I think it might have something to do with the wolf I saw on the hilltop. It was the Yale-height, I'm sure of it. That's to the south-east of here, way down across Stock Road, not far northeast of Woodhall. The wolf was standing by the three pillars atop the hill. You might find something there.'
‘Hmm,’ replied Theodoras thoughtfully. ‘That is a strange tale, Linda. It would be best then if I visit the Yale-height and have a look around. Just to be safe, mind you…’
The hobbit bid the goodwife goodbye and turned to walk down the lane. Within a few minutes he had crossed the Water and climbed the sloping embankment on the far side to stand on the Great East Road. There Theodoras paused for a time, looking out over the landscape to the south. The land to the south rolled down away from the road towards a stretch of open farmland. Small clumps of trees stood beyond that melted away to a hazy woodland of green.
Above the canopy of tree there loomed the heights of a tall hill that afforded a magnificent view of the surrounding area. Crowning the hilltop could be glimpsed three tall ancient pillars of crumbling stone. To the hobbit, the pillars appeared ominous and he very much did not like the sight of them one bit. Glancing once more at the hill, Theodoras stepped off the road and plunged down the slope to the south.
As he reached the edge of the nearest field bordered by a low wooden fence, his stomach gave a low but loud rumbling sound. ‘I must say!’ laughed Theodoras despite himself. ‘With all this wolf business I have nearly forgot that I have not eaten since...well dawn!’
Still chuckling, the hobbit tossed his pack down and settled into the grass beside the fence. He drew out some hard biscuits and fried mushrooms and sat munching contently in the grass for some time. When he was finished, he gave no more thought than to lie back in the grass and watched the clouds go gently by overhead.
Perhaps a half-an-hour had passed before Theodoras groaned loudly and sat up, blinking in the bright sunlight. He climbed to his feet, shouldered his pack once more and, with a swing of his walking stick, he set off across the field.
The hobbit went along very quietly over the fields and along the fences. The sun was now very hot again, but clouds could be seen to the west. It looked like rain, thought Theodoras, if the wind fell. He struck a path across the open farmland, clambering over a fence or two until he stood at the edge of the tree line beyond.
Glancing once more cautiously at the hill far above, the hobbit pressed on, pushing through the trees and underbrush until he found himself standing in the deep shade of a tall growth of young oaks, mixed with rowan and elm. There he stopped, crouching low beside the thick trunk of an oak and peered out towards the rising slopes of the hill. It was fear of wolves that brought the hobbit hesitation but, much to his bewilderment, it was not the frightful sounds of the baying of wolves that came to his ears. Rather, there came the strange and unmistakable sound of low droning coming down from the hill. It was as if a thousand bee hives were placed all about the hill above.
Theodoras was pondering this strange noise when suddenly he caught a flurry of movement to one side. From a nearby patch of brush there rose into the air what appeared to be a midge-fly. But much to the poor hobbit’s horror, this one was one of gigantic proportions. A pair of segmented antennae rose from its elongated head that ended in a stinger-like proboscis. A collection of thin segmented legs hung below in the air beneath its long narrow body.
Within warning, the giant midge-fly came straight at the horrified hobbit, who flung forward with his stick to fend the beats off. The fly flittered in the air, darting its narrow head trying to sting the poor hobbit like a spider would do to a fly. The beast buzzed angrily in the air as it danced about avoiding the heavy blows of Theodoras stick.
Suddenly, the great midge-fly floated back out of reach of the flailing stick. Without thinking, Theodoras reached down to his belt and swept out his knife. With a grim look upon his face, the hobbit grasped the stick tightly in one hand and the knife in the other. Then, before the midge-fly could react, he came at it and sunk the short blade deeply into its long body.
The midge-fly beat the air with its flimsy wings and danced madly about in pain. Very surprised by his strike, Theodoras leapt to one side, pummeling it with his stick before killing it with another stroke of his knife. It fell to the ground, flinging its legs in horrible jerks and then curled up into a ball.
Heaving with great gasps of air, Thedoras stumbled back and sat down abruptly onto the ground. As his breath returned, the hobbit looked back at the giant midge-fly lying dead in front of him and shuddered. His legs were quite shaky as he climbed unsteadily to his feet and sheathed his knife.
For some time, Theodoras stood in the shadows of the trees wondering what to do next. The hill above seemed grim and ominous and the sounds of droning came loudly from further up the summit. Here or there atop the hill he could glimpse the flittering shapes of more giant midge-flies.
After a bit of a struggle, he made up his mind and began to creep as cleverly as he could, picking his way up the slope along the edge of a sheer cliff falling away to the ground far below. Once or twice, he paused suddenly and crouched low to the ground as a giant midge-fly flitted fearfully too close to him. But, whether it was luck or his cleverness at quietness, they soon wandered off to another part of the hill.
For long agonizing minutes, he picked his way stealthily upwards until at last he reached the summit. There, Theodoras found himself crouching in the deep shadows cast by the ancient pillars at the top. He was just praising his cleverness at avoiding the midge-flies when he noticed something glimmering in the grass to one side. Casting a careful eye about, he bent down to lift a round object from the tall grass. It was a large collar it seemed, inscribed with evil-looking runes.
Gingerly placing the strange collar in his pack, Theodoras turned to crept silently back down the hill. Just as he turned, Theodoras heard a scrapping sound. He whirled round to see a giant midge-fly gazing down from the limbs of a nearby tree with wide faceted eyes. Theodoras’ heart leapt into his mouth and he let out a cry as the monster’s wings came to life and it took to the air with a loud droning.
Without a thought, the hobbit turned to leap down the hill like a frightened coney. But in his panic, the sounds of his flight drew more of the midge-flies to his presence and soon, Theodoras found himself fleeing for his life from a trio of the beasts. Very much frightened, the hobbit crashed through the brush, the thorns tearing at his arms and cape as he fled.
He dared not glance over his shoulder, but Theodoras could clearly hear the midge-flies in pursuit right behind him, their droning now rising to a frenzied crescendo. On and down he ran until he thought his chest would burst. He did not stop when he reached the base of the hill. Rather, he sped through the trees and ran across the open fields beyond. But slowly, one by one, the flies gave up their pursuit and turned round to flutter back towards the hill.
Though they had given up, poor Theodoras did not halt his flight until he had reached the road and down the slope towards the Water. Splashing across the ford, he scrambled to the far bank and collapsed onto the lane leading up to Budgeford. There he laid for some time, his breath coming in great wheezing gasps.
I t was some time before Theodoras opened his eyes and sat up. He looked back across the Water and then climbed to his feet, rustling his pack to assure himself the collar was still there. Within a few minutes he was once more standing beside Linda Bolger, a strange light burning in the young hobbit’s eyes.
‘You were correct about the hill,’ said Theodoras as he drew out the strange collar and lifted it up. ‘I found this there. I think that perhaps this is what that huge wolf was searching for!’
'You found this in the dirt on that hilltop?’ exclaimed Linda in wonderment. ‘This is a collar, Theodoras! Who could possibly be strong enough to put a collar on a wolf like the one I saw that night, much less want to? And how strong must the wolf been to remove it? I can't read the letters that are inscribed on the collar, but they sure look unpleasant to me.'
‘Nor can I make sense of the letters,’ answered Theodoras. ‘Something terrible is afoot I think.’
'They say that Elves sometimes pass through the Shire,’ replied Linda thoughtfully. ‘On their way to the White Towers or to the Sea, or so the old tales go, if you care for such things.’
'My husband says he spoke with an Elf camped in the forest near Woodhall, to the south-west. They say Elves know a lot about old writing and such. Perhaps, if my Milo wasn't seeing things that weren't there, that Elf might be able to read the letters. Woodhall is south of Budgeford, and the Elf was supposedly camped on the hill overlooking the town.’
'I hope he'll be able to help. I don't mind saying that I'm simply terrified of the wolves.'
The trip to the Yale-height is a prefect example of how difficult this story is. I did manage to climb to the summit without a fight using SNEAK. It wasn't until I went to colect the collar that the skill went away and I suddenly drew the attention of a nearby harvest-fly. Since I knew that the entire hill was infested with them, I naturally ran, knowing full well that by doing so I would draw agrro from more. I could only hope that I would be able to outrun them!
It was late in the morning when Theodoras found himself standing on the Stock Road. The sun shone bright in a clear blue sky and a gentle breeze whistled through the trees lining the road ahead. The Stock Road ran west from the village of Stock, entering the woodlands of Woody End, then across the Green Hill Country and beyond all the way to Tuckburough.
The road had run perhaps a mile or more after it turned away from Stock, first south along the banks of the sleepy Stock Brook, then swung round to the west in a straight line. In fact, Theodoras now stood on the very edge of Woody End, a broad and densely wooded upland region of the Eastfarthing that lay between the GreenHill Country on the west and the Marish on the east. At this point, a side lane bent right from the Stock Road through a wood of ancient oak-trees and towards the sleepy village of Woodhall.
Theodoras paused to groan softly and slid his pack to the ground then looked up into the bright sky, sniffing the warm autumn air. ‘Thank heavens!’ said Theodoras as he shook his mud-tired feet. ‘I have nearly had enough of today’s walk. I would very much like nothing else but a cold beer and perhaps a bit to eat!’
The hobbit trussed up his pack and set off down the lane from the main road. A few yards further on there was a turning to the left. He proceeded forward until he reached a neat and well-tended hedge pierced by a low stone arch gateway. The lane passed under the arch and through the tiny village before sweeping up a gentle hill on the far side to meet the road once more. Set back from the road on both sides was a collection of modest but homey smials.
Just beyond the gateway, Theodoras noticed a pair of hobbits standing in a wide lot of well-tended green grass beside the lane that led through the village. He paid them no mind at first as he strolled lazily down the lane. But he had taken only a few more steps when the sounds of their talk reached his ears.
‘I always love seeing Elves near here!’ exclaimed the rosy-cheeked hobbit lass. ‘Some folk in the Shire are frightened of the Elves, but not me.’
Theodoras stopped suddenly and hurried over to the two hobbits in a rush. ‘Pardon me, but did you say Elves?’ he blurted out breathlessly.
The two hobbits turned to look at Theodoras with bemused curiosity. ‘Woodhall is a quiet place, but you see Elves in yon woods occasionally,’ said the hobbit lass with a warm smile.
‘How wonderful!’ said Theodoras. ‘That is good tidings for me.’
‘Elves are mysterious folk and you can’t deny that,’ said the other hobbit with a frown. ‘I’d just as soon keep the Shire for hobbits, if you know what I mean. I don’t know if I trust the Elves that have been coming through here lately.’
‘But this is wonderful news!’ answered Theodoras, at once forgetting the desire for a sip of cold beer. With a hasty nod, Theodoras bid the hobbit good day and hurried up the lane on the far side of the village. There, the woods off the lane was noticeably denser, the trees younger and more thick. At the top of the slope, the lane met the Stock Road once more which swept off to the west and soon disappeared beyond many stands of hazel. To the right a green ride rose up sharply away from the road to a wide hill. The hill was bordered on three sides by thick trees but the nearest side fell sharply away towards Woodhall below.
Theodoras turned from the road to begin scampering up the green slope, Nearing the top, he stopped suddenly as, from somewhere beyond the trees that crowned the summit, there came a clear and fair voice that rose in the bright air.
‘An Elf!’ said Theodoras in an excited whisper. Excited, he scurried up and pushed through the brush to stand on the edge of a shallow hollow at the top. There stood a tall Elf, his eyes closed as he sang softly and his hair seemed to shimmer in the light of the bright sun. As Theodoras stepped into the hollow, the Elf stooped his singing, turned to look at the astonished hobbit and then laughed aloud.
'Welcome, Hobbit, I am Orthir of Rivendell. It is not often that I entertain guests at this place.’
‘Well isn’t this wonderful!’ exclaimed the hobbit. ‘You are the second Elf that I have had the pleasure of meeting in the Shire!’ Theodoras hurried over to stand beside the tall Elf, and looked up at the ageless elf-face in wonder. ‘I daresay I do wish that I had come seeking you in merrier times,’ he stammered. ‘But I must beg your pardon for my hastiness and ask that you take a look at a strange collar I found.’
‘What is this that you would have me examine’ asked the Elf with a gentle smile. Theodoras reached inside his pack and drew out the evil-looking collar. The Elf’s voice fell to a whisper as he gazed upon the collar and his face grew grim.
'These are evil letters, my friend, but I will read them if it brings understanding. The runes inscribed on the collar identify this creature as a great chieftain of wolves, a Warg of Angmar named Laugfût. If Laugfût has broken free of his collar, it is likely he thinks to serve himself rather than his former masters. I do not doubt that the Warg was sent forth on some evil errand, but now it seeks to cause some evil on its own behalf.'
‘Dear me!’ said the hobbit with a shiver.
'Even apart from his masters in Angmar, this Warg, Laugfût, is too dangerous to remain unhindered in this land. He has certainly asserted himself as the leader of the local wolf-pack, which means he has become an even greater threat. You should gather allies and seek him out among his pack. Put an end to this threat as quickly as possible. When the deed is done, you should speak with the hobbit, Linda Bolger.’
‘When the deed is done?’ exclaimed the hobbit with much surprise. ‘But I am no warrior! True I faced one or two of the wolves but this business is altogether different!’
Orthir gazed down at the hobbit with a careful smile. 'Laugfût will be a dangerous foe, but he cannot be allowed to remain so close to so many peaceful hobbits. He has already brought great fear to this land, and it is only the beginning of the harm he may cause.'
Theodoras let out a long groan of despair and sat down glumly on the ground, feeling quite unhappy and wishing he had never heard of Elves, wargs, or strange inscribed collars. In fact, he was altogether regretting ever making the decision of joining the Bounders at all.
Orthir did not speak as Theodoras sat in silence for some time, feeling altogether quite wretched. Finally, after a time the hobbit stood up, bracing his hands on his hips in a wide stance before the Elf.
‘Now see here,’ he said sternly as if he was scolding a young mischievous hobbit. ‘I know nothing of wargs and collars, or of this Angmar place, wherever that may be. I had come here in hopes that I might persuade you to deal with this Laugfût, but I see that I was mistaken.’
The Elf said nothing but continued to gaze down on the hobbit with humored respect.
‘But you are correct, said the hobbit with a long sigh. ‘This is Shire business and Shire business is best left for Shire folk.’ Theodoras looked up at the Elf once more. ‘I daresay I might even know of a certain person that might lend me hand,’ he added with a smile as he place one finger to the side of his nose.
Orthir smiled once more at the hobbit then turned round to stand silently to the side of the hollow, seeming to give Theodoras no more notice. Theodoras sat down in the grass beside the campfire and ate in silence. As he did, the sun began to dip low in the western sky and the shadows of the tall trees grew long. By the time he was finished with his meal, the sky had darkened and a single star began to shine in the dim sky.
Theodoras wrapped himself in his cloak as drowsiness crept over him. As the dusk drew on, a light mist arose round the hill and away eastwards a pale gold light came up, where the yellow moon rose to climb round and slowly into the sky.
He rubbed his eyes and shivered, glancing sleepily at the tall elf standing motionless in the dark gloom. Theodoras watched Orthir for some time until he felt sleep washing over him and then rolled over to one side, and fell at once into a dream-like slumber.
In the morning, Theodoras woke refreshed. He was lying in the damp grass, deep and soft, still wrapped in his thick cape. After a hasty breakfast, Theodoras bade Orthir goodbye and set out to climb from the heights of the hill until he was standing on the Stock Road. The morning soon faded as he passed through Stock and within a couple of hours, the hobbit had once more crossed the ford of the Water into Budgeford. Here, Theodoras quickened his pace, climbing up the hill and down a narrow lane until he had reached the Bolger farm.
But Theodoras did not make his way to the farmhouse, but instead went round towards the trees beyond. Overhead the sun soon disappeared behind a bank of ragged clouds as the hobbit began to scour the trees and brush. As he searched, the leaves of the trees blew upwards in sudden gusts, and spots of rain began to fall. Then the wind died away and the rain came down steadily.
As the hobbit beat the thick underbrush, the rain pattered and trickled all about him. The rain was still falling at intervals when he finally made his way to stand beside the crumbling wall overlooking the wolf den.
Suddenly, he stiffened and looked into the deep shadows further down the wall. There he could see a dark shape standing motionless in the gloom and for a moment, Theodoras half-turned to flee back from the wall in fright. Then there came a clear soft laugh as the shape stepped from the shadows. It was Falagil, of course and the hobbit let out a sigh of relief at the sight of the Elf.
‘Good heavens!’ exclaimed the hobbit. ‘You gave me quite a start! I thought you were one of those wolves. But what are you doing here?’
‘Not a wolf,’ said Falagil with a smile. ‘As for your question, I was concerned about these wolves after our meeting and decided to remain to keep an eye on them.’
‘That is good news then,’ said Theodoras. ‘I had hoped that I might find you still about here. I am afraid that the wolf problem is worse than I thought. It seems that the wolves have been led here by Laugfût, a Warg of Angmar, or so Orthir told me.’
‘A wolf of Angmar?’ That is ill tidings,’ said Falagil.
‘Whatever is Angmar, if you don’t mind me asking,’ added the hobbit.
The Elf grew grim at this and she did not answer right away. ‘Angmar is a fell place in the far north. From its city of Carn Dûm, the dreaded Witch-king of old wrought ruin and destruction to the kingdom of Arnor. Much evil has come from that place.’
‘But what could this warg want in the Shire?’ asked Theodoras.
‘I know not,’ replied the Elf grimly. ‘But whatever the reason it cannot be for good. I am glad then that I did not depart. This warg cannot be allowed to wander free like this.’
‘I was hoping you would see it that way,’ smiled the hobbit. ‘I do wish to slay this beast, or at least see it run off. My blood boils to think what misery it has already brought to the Shire.’
‘Then we shall both confront this evil of Angmar together, my little friend.’
Falagil loosened her sword and then unslung her bow. With a glance back at the hobbit, she sprang forward to the edge of the hollow below. There she paused and looked down at the wolf den, peering to one side then another until her eyes rested upon the shape of a great wolf-chieftain in the wolves’ midst. There was the sound of a sharp twang as Falagil let loose an arrow that struck the great warg on its broad shoulders. Letting forth a pained howl, the warg snapped at the arrow until it broke and then turned its dark gaze up the slope. With a maddening snarl, the beast leapt straight up from the hollow; but it was not alone, for Laugfût was soon followed by a pair of the smaller greyer wolves that fell into behind it.
Falagil bent her bow once more and let loose an arrow. One of the wolves let out a hideous yelp as it crashed to the ground, an arrow piercing its throat. Theodoras rushed to take a stand beside the Elf, his hands shaking in fear as he fought the urge to turn and run.
Up the slope flew the two remaining wolves. The smaller wolf sprang forward, snapping its jaws once then twice at the Elf. Unheeded by the danger, Falagil danced lightly to one side letting her bow fall to the ground. Her sword rang out as she stepped forward to pass the blade through the beast’s throat. The wolf shuddered and tried in vain to snap at the Elf as she withdrew the blade. But it yelped once more as Theodoras stabbed out with his knife. The wolf let out a long wail and then fell to the ground.
Now the great warg turned it gaze first to the hobbit then Falagil, its dark eyes filled with malice and hatred. The warg pawed at the dirt and lifted its head to let out a mournful howl.
‘Come Hound of Angmar!’ cried the Elf in a clear voice. Then Falagil called out in words that Theodroras could not understand. She at once seemed to grow, rising up from the grass like some ancient elf-queen of old. The words seemed to wash over the great beast and, to Theodoras’ astonishment, the warg began to give ground, first wavering before backing away with heavy unwilling steps.
Falagil sprang forward, her sword flickering with a blue flame as she brought up her blade and plunged it down upon the warg. The warg shuddered and howled in great pain then snapped out with its great jaws. But Falagil leapt back out of reach, her pale golden hair falling loose about her shoulders.
Heartened by this, Theodoras laughed aloud and swept out with his tiny knife, lancing the great beast along its flank with a deep wound. The warg snarled and turned to the hobbit, who now found himself staring straight into the beast’s eyes at only arm’s length away. The warg crouched low as if the steel itself for a leap and Theodoras fell backwards. Just as the warg snapped forward, there was another cry.
The jaws snapped empty air as Falagil moved to leapt in front of the hobbit. The warg brought itself up, just as the Elf drew back her gleaming sword. With a cry she hewed the head from its shoulders and the beast crashed to the ground.
I had begun to format my Moria story over to pdf form, and did manage to finish the first book. However, the work is slow going, since there are over 70 chapters in all and the work on the new story has absorbed a good deal of my time.
However, this time around, I began formatting each chapter for my hobbit story as soon as I posted it on the forum. So, I am pleased to offer the first book in pdf form of the tale. You can find it here, just below the Chapters List. The first Book contains Chapters 1 through 11.
Last edited by Brucha; Apr 12 2012 at 02:53 PM.
Upon his return from the Bolger farm and the battle with the wolves, Theodoras soon found (much to his delight) he had become quite a local celebrity. For a week or more, he was pestered with many questions by the inquisitive Budgeford folk. Of course, some were quite skeptical of the entire affair but one look into the young hobbit’s steely eyes brought immediate and stuttered apologies and thanks of appreciation from even the most distrustful and unbelieving of folk.
Flush with so much praise, Theodoras became very pleased with himself and never grew tired of telling the tale to anyone who would listen. They wanted to know all about this adventure of his, and Theodoras told and retold the tale, and soon the tale grew longer with each telling. The folk in Budgeford were particularly interested in the telling of the defeat of the great warg and shuddered or gasped at his description of the battle.
‘And then with a great rush, the foul beast charged us, bent no doubt upon eating us both whole!’ explained Theodoras. ‘But it was the Elf, Falagil, and her elven-blade that won the day in the end. With a single stroke of her blade, she hewed the head from the warg and we were triumphant!’
‘What about the other wolves?’ they asked apprehensively. ‘Surely the wolf den is still filled with the beasts?’
‘Quite so! The den was filled with the mangy beasts. I was filled with fright I can assure you when I lain eyes on their numbers. What could I do, armed with only a little knife? Their howling froze the very marrow of my bones and the sight of their dark cruel eyes was nearly too much for me. But that is past, I think, now that Laugfût is no more. The wolf pack is leaderless, though they may still pose a threat to those who venture too close to their den.’
The folk of Budgeford looked upon young Theodoras with a new sense of respect. They were spell-bound by all this seemingly casual talk of facing warg-chieftains, ravaging wolves and elf-maidens armed with shining elf-blades.
Of all the folk of Budgeford, it was Milo and Linda Bolger that praised the young Bounder the most. Linda Bolger was beside herself with joy at the news when Theodoras returned with his tale.
'You slew that great, evil-looking wolf? That is wonderful! I hope you will accept this small token of my gratitude -- it's not much, but I am certain that you have saved Budgeford and the Shire from a terrible fate!'
So grateful was the hobbit goodwife that Theodoras found it impossible to refuse the gift of some mathoms of the Bolger home. Milo also spoke very highly of the young Bounder when hearing the news of the defeat of the great warg.
‘Capital job, Theodoras! You have struck a real blow against those no-good wolves, and one they won't soon forget!’
The talk of the wargs and of the battle (which some folk had begun to refer to as the Battle of the Bridgefields), was not forgotten for a long time. Tales of young Theodoras’s exploits were discussed in Budgeford longer than the true events could be recalled. But much to Theodoras’ credit, his new-found status with the tiny village changed him little. Perhaps there now was a new spring in his step or carried himself with a new air of confidence, but he remained the soft-spoken and carefree hobbit that he always was.
Theodoras soon went back to his ordinary life before running off to join the Bounders. He spent much of his days in peace tending to his small garden behind his home or cooking (which was one of his favorite pastimes, besides eating said products of his hobby). And so the year drew on as the shadows grew a bit longer each day with the passing of autumn and the approach of winter.
The only other source of excitement came not long after Theodoras had returned from the Bridgefields. He had awoken one fine morning to find his aunt in quite a flutter. It seemed that her prized pony, Clover, had vanished in the night and she was beside herself with grief and worry. A quick look outside uncovered that the door to the small stable out back had been left unlatched and the pony had run off.
Theodoras spent a good part of the following day scouring the Bridgefields for the wayward pony but nary was a horse hair found. In the end, Theodoras found it to be his rather unpleasant duty to inform his aunt that in all likelihood the pony had ran afoul with the wolves beyond the Bolger farm and fell prey to the wild beasts.
Theodoras tried to console his aunt as best he could and even suggested that they could replace Clover, but a quick inventory of the family finances (kept rather unsecured in an old jar above the stove in the kitchen) revealed a sum of less than 80 silver in all. There was certainly one or two stout ponies that be purchased around Budgeford, but not without a steep price of well over several hundred silver each.
One morning less than a week after Clover’s disappearance, Theodoras was sitting in the parlour enjoying some blueberry muffins that he had just baked earlier, when there came a ring at the door. It was Postmaster Bolger bearing a letter. The postman handed over the letter and bid the young hobbit good morning before returning to his daily rounds.
The letter was well-creased and somewhat stained as if it had come from beyond the Shire. Intrigued by the letter, Theodoras returned to the parlour and sat in the warm sun beside the window and examined the strange letter.
The front of the letter was inscribed in a spidery script and was addressed plainly enough to: “A Mister Theodoras Took, Budgeford, the Shire”. After examining the envelope for some time, he broke the seal and unfolded two sheets of paper inside.
While performing his duties here at Hengstaer Farms, my stable hand, Cam, found the beast of burden. I wanted to assure you that the horse is alive and well. I also wanted to send along an offer to you.
Take the time to read the attached letter, there are directions to the farm from Bree and an offer that I think you may find appealing.
Thank you for taking good care with my goods.
Theodoras read the letter in silence then set it aside to begin reading the attached page.
Directions to Hengstacer Farms:
From the West-gate of Bree, travel north along the Greenway until you pass Thornley's farm on your left and an old ruined fort on your right. There is a thin trail, beaten by the hooves of Hengstacer horses and ponies that leads up the hill beside those ruins. Follow that trail to the east and north and you will find your way to Hengstacer Farms.
Theodoras slid the letters back inside the envelope, which he set on the table, and fell into deep thought. Clover was indeed his aunt’s favorite pony, and her disappearance came as quite a loss to the elderly hobbit. He was delighted to hear that old Clover was safe and sound and found refuge, but he had never heard of this farm spoken of in the letter. Indeed, Theodoras was not entirely sure just how far the town of Bree lay from the borders of the Shire for few if any hobbits ever went there.
These thoughts he wrestled with all that day and into the next until finally Theodoras had come to a rather unusual decision. That evening, while sitting down to a nice supper, Theodoras broke the silence at the dinner table to make an astounding announcement to his aunt.
‘We can be thankful that old Clover is safe and that she did not fall victim to those nasty wolves,’ he said matter-of-factly. ‘But we cannot afford the purchase of a new pony, even if one could be found to replace her. Therefore, I had decided to set off tomorrow to find this farm and bring her back home.’
One can imagine his aunt’s fright at the news but Theodoras was resolved in the decision and in the end she could do little but wish him the best and set off the kitchen to prepare some food for the long journey.
Theodoras went off to bed early that evening and awoke some time after midnight. The comfy smial was dark and quiet as he stole through the home to take some tea in the parlour. After a small breakfast, he stole to the foyer where there sat his pack and stick and his cap and cape hanging on pegs beside the door. In the dark, the hobbit strapped up his pack and donned his cap and cape, then stepped outside, shutting the round door quietly behind him.
The sky outside was clear and the stars twinkled bright against the backdrop of the darkened sky. He slid his trusty little dagger into his belt and set off. Even as the tiny village slept, Theodoras made his way down the hill and passed over the ford of the Water. The lateness of the night was clear, cool and starry as he climbed the far bank towards the Great East Road. At the top, he paused to tighten his pack and set off down the road as it wound eastwards, climbing away from the Water.
With his sturdy walking stick in one hand, Theodoras trotted down the road. The thinly-clad trees along the sides of the road swayed in a chilled breeze above his head as the road rolled away to the east into the darkness, passing low fences and hedges and fields that lined the lane.
Perhaps an hour had passed as the hobbit approached the outskirts of Stock. But for one or two dim lights shining behind thick curtains, it seemed the entire village was still asleep. As he neared the Golden Perch Inn, Theodoras passed by a rather sleepy and disinterested Bounder who sat dozing beside the road.
Theodoras followed the road as it bent round the inn until it began to fall away towards the Brandywine River to the east and north. Soon the sleepy village twinkled in the distance over his shoulder and soon disappeared altogether in the darkness. As he went forward, a golden hue began to fill the eastern sky and the wind was turning back towards the east.
The road continued to wind down from Stock and quickly led to the river. Mists were beginning to gather about the road and the water that now came into view was dark with a few curling wisps of grey upon its lazy surface. The Brandywine flowed slow and broad beneath a massive stone bridge; lamps twinkled at intervals along the bridge as it spanned the water in a low arch.
Beyond it the road continued onwards and out of the ragged mists loomed a large hedge pierced by a sturdy closed gate of wood. This of course was the Buckland Gate, also called the North-gate by some folk that guarded the approaches of the High Hay, or simply “the Hedge”. Beyond the gate, the great east Road swept further on to the east into the gloom.
Long ago, the Buckland lay mostly unprotected from the wild to the east, but towards the Brandywine they had planted a great hedge-row that ran from the Brandywine Bridge all the way round in a big looping circle to Haysend, where the Withywindle River flowed out of the Old Forest. Beyond the hedge to the south the hobbit could clearly see a low hill rising out of the stray strands of pre-dawn mist and atop the hill there shone many round hobbit- windows. These of course were the lights of Brandy Hall, the ancient home of the Brandybucks.
Long ago, the Brandybucks had crossed the River (the original boundary of the Shire on this side), attracted to the high bank and the drier rolling ground behind. Brandy Hall was a sprawling matter that had grown and grown with the expanding family until it occupied the whole of the low hill. It had three large front doors, several back doors, and many more windows of the round variety that all hobbits love.
The later descendants were forced to begin building around Brandy Hall when there was no more room left atop the hill, and this led to the settlement of the remained of Buckland over the generations. A great deal of the land on the west side of the river still belonged to the family, almost as far as Woodhall in fact. But most of the Brandybucks still lived in Buckland proper.
The Shire-folk of course, held the Bucklanders with an air of superiority and suspicion, and were thought of as little more than foreigners. They told many tales of the folk beyond the River. As a matter of fact, the Bucklanders were hobbits, and not really very different from their cousins on the other side of the River – except that they were quite fond of boats which was considered very unhobbit-like and unnatural to the Shire-folk.
Theodoras made his way down from the bridge and as he neared the hedge, he spotted a lone hobbit seated upon a stool beside the open gate. The hobbit’s eyes fluttered open at the sound of footsteps and he leapt up from his seat with alarm. The startled hobbit watchman swept up a brightly-lit lantern and stood braced as if fearing an attack. It was only after the light from the lantern fell upon Theodoras’ face that the hobbit relaxed his guard; yet the hobbit eyed Theodoras suspiciously as he passed through the gate and down the lane beyond.
There was a black look in the sky as the sun was thin as it broke over the distant horizon to the east. Theodoras feared it might be rain, but those thoughts were soon forgotten as he made his way from the gate.
Not far down the lane, there came into view ahead a hobbit woman with tightly-bound red hair from a home along the side of the road. The homestead was surrounded by a hedge, not nearly as grand as the High Hay, and was entered by a single low archway to the home inside.
The hobbit woman paused and looked at Theodoras with great interest. When he had come within a few paces of the home, she raised a hand and spoke in a friendly voice.
'Are you looking for work? Well, it's not much, but maybe you can do me a favour. I enquired about notes on the Old Forest from Farmer Maggot, and I still have not received them. Perhaps you would be willing to go to his farm and ask him where they maybe?’
The young hobbit’s first inclination was to say no, for he did not wish for any delays in what could only be a long journey. But the thoughts of this mysterious farm sprang to his mind as did the regrettable state of his rather light wallet. A bit of extra coins might very well come in handy, he thought.
‘I am Thedoras Took, of Budgeford, and a Bounder as well. I am on my way east of here, but I see that you are in need of assistance. Perhaps I can turn from my journey long enough to lend you a hand.’
'You can find Maggot's farm, Bamfurlong, in the Marish,’ she answered with a nod. ‘That's the Green Hill Country in the Shire across the Brandywine River. Cross the Brandywine Bridge and turn south on the river road. His farm won't be far away. The Bucklebury Ferry would be faster but the Bounders want no one using it for the moment.’
‘Hmm, the Marish,’ answered Theodoras softly. ‘That is on the far side of Stock if I am not mistaken. I reckon I might reach this farm by the afternoon if I hurry.’ He glanced up at the growing but muted daylight then spoke again. ‘Then I agree, miss. Look for me after the noon. With luck it shan’t take me longer than that to return!’
Thedoras turned and hastened back through the hedge gate and over the Brandywine Bridge. Soon, he was making his way through Stock which was only now beginning to awaken. At the Golden Perch Inn, the young hobbit struck down the Stock Road leading south; as he did, tattered clouds began to fill the darkened sky overhead. Soon the first drop of rain began to fall and he was splashing down what had now become a very muddy lane.
The Stock Road rolled down from the village and as it bent west to run towards Woodhall, there came a fork in the lane. Here he found a broad but shallow stream running in a deeply-dug bed with muddy banks overhung with brambles. A low and narrow stone bridge spanned the bubbling brook where the lane continued on the far side.
Theodoras hastened across the small bridge and climbed the far bank, then struck a path along the narrow lane beyond. Now the rain was falling steady from the darkened skies and the wind blew chilled from the west. The young hobbit’s head hung low and his cape was full of water. All of this did little to brighten his mood and he grumbled out loud more than once.
He had not gone far when Theodoras paused to shake the water from his drenched hair and feet. As he looked out over the rain-swept road ahead, there suddenly loomed something out the mists. Atop a gentle rise to the left of the road ahead there rose a crumbling tower of ancient-looking and crumbling stonework. At first glance, the hobbit reckoned that it was certainly not of hobbit-fashion and indeed it looked wholly out of place for the Shire. And yet, the sight of the ruins did not bring the hobbit a felling of ill will.
Theodoras glanced up at the darkened skies and then scrambled up the slippery hillside until he was standing in the shelter of the sheer walls of the tower. He stomped his muddy feet then ran over to stand under the thin canopy of a tall elm tree that grew to one side of the crumbling tower. There, he sat for a time, looking out rather grumpily at the falling rain then opened his pack to eat a cold a cold early lunch.
Finally, after an hour or more, and with no seeming end in sight for the constant rain, Theodoras trussed up his pack once more and made his way back down to the muddy lane. The tower soon melted away behind him and the ground soon became soft and muddy. There were hedges and fences dikes of drainage on both sides and off to the left he could glimpse the Brandywine in the distance.
After a short distance, he reached a point along the wet lane where it veered off to the west and away from the river. The thick clouds now hung low over the land and the air had become chilly as thin strands of mist began crawling over the fields. Ahead Theodoras saw the thatched roofs of a large house and farm buildings of brick and wood surrounded by a low stone wall.
Theodoras passed through a small gate in the wall and into the yard beyond. Suddenly, a large hound came round a nearby building and ran past him, barking quite loudly. Then, with a flick of its tail, the hound scampered off to the other side of the yard. Just then, Theodoras caught the sounds of several voices in the direction that the hound had gone.
Hurrying round the large house, Theodoras found a pair of hobbits standing in the yard, looking out over the fields to the east. The first was a broad, older hobbit with a round red face and the other a youthful hobbit that shared the older hobbit’s reddish hair.
The thick-set fellow turned to the sounds of Theodoras’ approach and scowled. ‘What now?’ he growled. ‘More blasted strangers? Get off my…’
‘Pardon me,’ Theodoras blurted out as he raised his hands. ‘I do mean to trespass by I have been sent by Celandine Brandybuck to speak with a certain farmer Maggot concerning some notes she asked about.’
The farmer relaxed a bit but continued to give the young hobbit a cautious stare. ‘Oh, Celandine Brandybuck sent you? Well, then, I should at least speak fair to you.’
‘I sent them on a while ago with my son, Rollo, his friend Doderic, and Wilimac Brandybuck – one of my farmhands. My sons wrote those notes because so few other hobbits around here know the forest at all. He probably stopped off at the inn in Newbury just inside the Hay Gate of Buckland.’
‘Lately all three of them are busy carousing rather than doing their duties. If you look of them there, I am certain you can coax the notes from them. 'Rollo is usually more responsible, it's those Brandybucks that get him into trouble. I bet they are still dawdling outside the inn in Newbury, fools that they are.'
Fantastic work on this and on your Moria story, Brucha! I spend most of my time on Silverlode, since that's where my kin is, but I think I might start a toon or two on Crickhollow in order to help Theo on his journey. Would you mind if I friended him and contacted him through the post once I get my characters set up?
Theodoras stood silently beneath the boughs of a leafy oak growing tall along the side of the road and threw a cheerless glance out onto the steadily falling rain. It was quite dark despite the lateness of the morning. The great elm bent and swayed in the brisk wind and dark grey clouds filled the skies overhead.
‘It must be well after Elevensies,’ thought Theodoras quite miserably to himself as he shook the water from his bedraggled hair. Everything seemed gloomy and dreary, for the rain had continued unabated all through the night. The young hobbit stood looking rather unhappily at the falling rain, and began to regret getting mixed up in this famer Maggot business altogether.
It all began with the request from Celandine Brandybuck. She had implored the young hobbit to pay a visit to farmer Maggot’s across the Brandywine River in the Marish to fetch some notes regarding the Old Forest. The ferry at Newbury was out of traffic, and Theodoras was forced to make his way round to the Buckland Bridge and then overland all the way to the Maggot farm on foot.
Much to Theodoras’ regret, farmer Maggot had already sent them along to Buckland with his son, Rolo Maggot by the time he arrived . Being only a hobbit just out of his tweens, it seemed that young Rollo had made the journey across the river with his friends, Doderic and Wilimac Brandybuck, and by all likelihood the trio had become sidetracked with a visit to the inn in Newbury.
After a hard trek back through Stock and across the Brandywine Bridge for the third time that very day, Theodoras arrived back in Buckland as dusk neared to speak with Wilimac Brandybuck. Theodoras found Wilimac beside the wrecked remains of a wagon along the side of the lane not far inside the Buckland Gate.
Theodoras was greatly puzzled by this, even more so to find the hobbit alone and Doderic nor Rollo nowhere in sight. Certainly, Wilimac’s tale did little to bring Theodoras any sort of comfort.
'Some man from around Bree came to Maggot's demanding food and got run off by the dogs,’ explained Wilimac quite nervously. ‘But as we -- Rollo, Doderic, and I -- crossed the bridge we were waylaid by Big Folk just like him on the bridge! They made us take everything from our waggon and put it on theirs, then they headed off east along the Great East Road; but not before giving a good licking to Mister Maggot's own waggon. Now look at her, all in tatters.’
‘That is rather unfortunate,’ snorted Theodoras. He did not mean to sound so uncaring but it was nearly dusk when he had arrived back in Buckland from the Maggot farm and was eager to complete the business of tracking down the notes for Celandine Brandybuck. ‘But what could this possibly have to do with the notes I was informed you have?’
'I know I was lucky to get away with my hide, but…’ he glanced at Theodoras with an apologetic look in his eyes. ‘Without that produce being delivered my hide will be worth nothing after Maggot gets done with it. Doderic and Rollo ran off after the waggon and found that the brigands' camp is between here and Adso's Camp on the north side of the road. I would appreciate it if you could get the produce back.'
‘Brigands?’ exclaimed Theodoras aghast. ‘Whatever do you think I could do about this?’
Wilimac said nothing more but looked at the young hobbit with pleading eyes. Finally, Theodoras sighed aloud. ‘I suppose I could take a look at this camp, but I am no warrior. I am sure that you could find someone more suitable for storming a brigands’ camp than I. But I won’t refuse.’
Theodoras almost laughed aloud at saying that, for he had found himself answering many questions of late with that exact same response.
So, the next morning, Theodoras awoke to dark ugly skies overhead and rain still falling outside. Somewhere behind the thick dark clouds the sun had risen as Theodoras prepared to depart from Newbury.
As soon as he was packed, and finished a small breakfast, Theodoras set out from the Buckland Gate in a steady downfall of rain. From the gate, the road climbed slowly but steadily up from the Brandywine River for some time in a lazy zigzag sort of a way. Along the windswept and muddy road he marched on, skirting the eaves of thick stands of oak and elm that lined the road. Under their boughs it was very dark and Theodoras shuddered at the sight of shapeless forms that could be glimpsed now or then under the deep shadows of the forest.
After a time, the ground began to level off and the road lay straight ahead for some distance. Behind him, the dark forest melted away to pass through more pleasant grasslands sprinkled with scattered stands of tall trees. The morning passed quietly as Theodoras marched on, with only the sounds of pitter pat of the rain at it hit the muddy road.
And this was what brought the poor hobbit to be standing under the boughs of that large elm tree, quite beside himself for agreeing to pursuing the brigands at all. He groaned loudly as the leaned against the tree, his shoulder dropping slightly. He had half a mind to turn back and return to the safety (and relative dryness) of Buckland when something caught the hobbit’s attention.
Looking up, Theodoras fancied that he caught a glimpse of a reddish glow spring up through the trees on the other side of the road to the north and east. He wiped the rain from his eyes and strained to look out into the distance. For a long moment, he stood silently and then he drew in a sharp breath. It was indeed the glow of campfires and for a moment Theodoras imagined that he caught the glimpse of a wooden palisade through the trees.
For all his years afterwards, Theodoras could never imagine what possessed him to throw all caution to the winds and scamper off into those trees. Before he had a second thought, the young hobbit had splashed across the muddy road to plunge into the deep shadows of the many oak and elm trees on the other side.
For some distance, Theodoras scurried along over the thick blanket of wet leaves, while all about him the rain continued to patter and trickle down from the trees above. But his lack of caution soon began to wane and was replaced by a growing sense of apprehension. Theodoras now slowed his pace and began to scramble from tree to tree, pausing each time to look about to the growing glow ahead.
Through the thinning trees ahead, he now could see a wide clearing at the foot of a sheer cliff that rose upwards. Built in the clearing there could be seen two round enclosures of wooden palisades. Theodoras crept up as silent as a field mouse and crouched beside the thick trunk of an ancient oak tree and peered ahead.
Wisps of rising smoke circled up from the interior of the closest encampment and it was there that the reddish glow came from. But as Theodoras pondered this, therenow came into view from round the right side of the nearest palisade a squint-eyed and swarthy fellow, looking very grim and ill-favoured. For a moment the figure paused and in the dim glow of the campfire light Theodoras could see the darkened and evil-looking face of a rough-clad Man.
At once, Theodoras was overtaken by the unwavering desire to turn back to the distant road as quickly as he could. He began to shake uncontrollably with fright as he looked into the face of the tall unkempt Man. But even as the wish to flee washed over him, Theodoras found he was rooted in place by overwhelming fear. For a long time, he stood there hesitantly in the shadows of the tall oak.
All manner of unwelcome thoughts now came unwittingly into the young hobbit’s mind as he began to imagine what these Men would do if they laid hands on a hobbit in the wilds all alone. Certainly they would rob him, he thought dreadfully, or worse. And the worst is what Theodoras did not wish to contemplate one bit at that moment.
But just then something rather unhobbit-like began to take over young Theodoras. He reckoned that the best course of action would be to return to Buckland and warn the inhabitants of the brigand camp so close to their borders. But his thoughts turned to the notion that perhaps poor young Doderic and Rollo had been taken prisoner of these foul Men simply made his blood boil. And now he found that the fear gripping his heart was being replaced by a deep sense of fierceness.
Many years later, Theodoras looked back upon his decision to press forward and laugh at his foolishness but, at that moment, he did not laugh nor smile. It was noticeably darker now and a light mist rose up among the thinning trees around the clearing. Nothing could be heard above the seething rain and the chilled breeze through the shaking leaves of the trees.
Suddenly, his heart leapt for he saw that luck was with him. As he watched from the safety of the edge of the clearing Theodoras noticed that several of the swarthy brigands were positioned outside the enclosure on watch and that they marched a constant patrol from an entry through the palisade on the far side to the one nearest his hiding spot. But much to the hobbit’s delight, there were none posted at the entrance itself.
So, for long painful minutes, Theodoras watched with growing apprehension and excitement as the brigands outside marched to and fro until they had all turned round to make their way to the far side of the encampment. At that very moment, Theodoras sprang forward as quietly as he could manage and scurried across the open ground towards the gate. With a quick glance about, the hobbit slipped nimbly through the gateway as the swarthy Men disappeared from view.
Once inside, the fear now returned to Theodoras as he laid eyes on the interior of the compound. There were others inside, some occasionally wandered about but the rest were seated round a large crackling fire in the center of the camp. They were roasting bacon and bread on spits over the fire and enjoying beer and wine from large kegs nearby (no doubt, thought Theodoras, stolen from unwary travelers along the road).
He was dreadfully frightened at this sight, but Theodoras had the sense to scurry from the gateway to crouch low behind a one of the rough-hide tents and out of sight. The poor hobbit had no thought of a fight, even if these ill-looking Men did not so outnumber him. His little knife, the only weapon he had, would be of no use to their stout bows and long blades.
Instead, he remained hidden in the shadows of the tent and watched the Men in silence. A minute or two passed and there suddenly came the sounds of footsteps. Theodoras held his breath and froze, as he watched one of the Men at the fire climb to his feet. With a groan the Man took an unsteady drunken step away from the fire and right towards where the frightened hobbit was hidden.
A new fear now gripped poor Theodoras as he watched with horror as the unkempt Man came closer and closer with each step. The hobbit glanced over to the gateway and debated whether to make a run for it before the Man got one step closer. But the man did not seem to notice the hobbit and instead paused a few paces away to yawn loudly. Just then he turned back with drunken eyes as his companions called out for him to take a seat beside the fire once more.
Theodoras let out a silent sigh of relief as he watched the brigand turn away. Just then, he looked down and noticed a large ruffled bag lying in the dirt beside the tent. He bent down, glancing back at the group round the fire as the smell of fresh mushrooms rose from the bag.
Intrigued, Theodoras opened the flap of the bag to reveal a variety of farm produce including some delicious-looking mushroom s stuffed into the large canvas bag. ‘This must be Maggot’s goods!’ he thought quite pleased with himself. With a careful eye still cast over to the group seated around the campfire, Theodoras closed the bag up and lifted it off the ground and over his shoulder with a silent groan.
Swiftly, Theodoras turned and rounded the back side of the tent towards the open gateway. There he paused for a moment and looked out. Then, with a deep breath, he began to run, scuttling as fast as his short legs would carry him. With a surprising burst of speed, the young hobbit crossed the open clearing and to the line of trees. Without looking back, he passed the large elm and ran deep into the thickening trees beyond.
This was no doubt not one of my better ideas, that being to sneak into a brigand's camp all alone. I was quite intimidated when I saw the brigands since all of them where colored either orange or red. Even one, I thought, could probably defeat poor Theodoras with ease. But, I put faith in Theodoras and his skill as a world-renown burglar and, in the end, I was correct in my assumption. He easily evaded the patrolling brigands outside and snuck into the camp to steal back the produce under the very watchful noses of the brigands inside!
Excellent work, Master Burglar! In other news, watch the post for a letter from one Eoleof, former officer in the Muster of Westfold, or his acquaintance Bogir, late a woodsman of Dale. Both have heard of your family's plight from Éogar, and would be more than happy to offer their assistance. Bogir has heard many tales of the inestimable Master Baggins from the Dwarves of Erebor, and Eoleof was always fascinated by his grandmother's tales of the Holbytlan, so both would also like to take the opportunity to get to know one of that race better.
In addition, it's always better to have a companion when wandering the wilds of Middle-Earth. The roads from Dale and Rohan are long, and friendships have been few and far between for both Men. Look for them in the Prancing Pony, if ever you find yourself in Bree!
Last edited by Cala_Romello; Apr 17 2012 at 10:32 PM.
The Éored of the West-Mark ~ Lore-accurate Rohirric Kinship on Landroval
It was well after dusk by the time Theodoras had made his way carefully back to Buckland, carrying the heavy sack of produce slung over one shoulder. He was glad to see the Hedge-gate come into view even as the sun dipped low in the sky and finally disappeared beneath the horizon in the west. Theodoras hurried through the gate and along the lane beyond where he soon found Wilimac Brandybuck, still standing beside the wrecked remains of his wagon.
Theodoras set down the heavy sack with a groan at WIlimac’s feet and let out a tired sigh. ‘I have returned as I promised,’ said Theodoras with a clever smile. ‘You were correct in your assumptions about those brigands! There is an entire encampment of those foul Men a mile or more down the road from Buckland Gate.’
The young hobbit wiped his brow with his sleeve and then smiled knowingly at Wilimac.
‘However, they don’t seem to be the cleverest of fellows and I managed to sneak into the camp unseen and made off with the stolen farm-goods before they even knew I was there!’
'You found the produce?’ answered Wilimac with wide eyes. ‘I cannot thank you enough. I had thought it lost...but now I have other concerns. Rollo and Doderic...oh no.'
‘Whatever do you mean?’ asked Theodoras cautiously.
'I'm worried about Rollo,’ replied Wilimac. ‘After he and Doderic got back from looking for the brigands, they headed down towards Brandy Hall to speak with Saradoc, Doderic's Uncle. They were none too happy and wanted to speak their minds on the job the Bounders are doing.’
‘I cannot agree more,’ offered Theodoras. ‘Having these brigands so close to the Shire is not good!’
Wilimac nodded as he continued. 'Now it's just possible he ran off with his friend Doderic on some lark. I wonder if you'd do me another favour and go over to Brandy Hall to look for Rollo? Brandy Hall is at the centre of Buckland, south of the Buckland Gate. Hopefully Doderic's uncle Saradoc, the Master of Brandy Hall, will likely know where those boys have run off to.'
Theodoras sighed as he looked at the other hobbit with displeasure. ‘I have been made quite late already dealing with you folk,’ he said sternly. ‘All I wish is to retrieve those notes for Celandine Brandybuck and be on my way!’
‘But I shan’t refuse,’ added Theodoras after a pause. ‘At the very least I should warn the Master of Brandy Hall of the brigand camp!’
With that, Theodoras tipped his cap and stepped back onto the darkened lane. At the far end of the lane, perhaps a mile or more to the south, he came to the rising hill of Brandy Hall. He wearily climbed the lane as it wound up to the summit of the hill to pass through a low and well-kept hedge to a brick courtyard beyond. There stood a fine smial on the far side, build directly into the top of the hill. A short flight of low circular stone steps climbed up from the courtyard to a sheltered porch, where there stood a hobbit bearing an air of great importance.
‘Saradoc Brandybuck, I presume?’ announced Theodoras as he neared the bottom of the wide steps. ‘I am Theodoras Took, of Budgeford. Forgive my intrusion at this late hour, but I am seeking word of the whereabouts of a certain hobbit lad by the name of Rollo Maggot and his companion, Doderic Brandybuck. Your nephew if I am not mistaken.’
Saradoc nodded silently as he looked down from the porch for a moment. Then he spoke. 'It's strange you should be asking after Rollo, especially at this moment. The tweens came to see me, upset by the lack of effort the Bounders are doing here in Buckland with regard to the strange Big Folk moving about.’
‘Ah,’ replied Theodoras. ‘So you have been informed of the brigands then?’
'I told them the Bounders were doing all they could to keep that unsavoury lot out of Buckland, but the pair were adamant about being heard and kept yammering on about the Old Forest. I warned them to stay clear of the forest because Toly, our wood-cutter, said that things there are queerer than ever.’
'Tweens can be foolish, and I fear that the pair have been more foolish than normal. Doderic knows his way to Bald Hill and not much further. If you're going to be looking for Rollo, you'd best start with Doderic, and you might as well tell him that I'm waiting for him, too!'
‘The Old Forest?’ blurted out Theodoras with alarm. ‘Whatever would bring them to venture into that dark place?’ Even in his sheltered life in Budgeford, Theodoras head heard the tales of the Old Forest. Many were the stories of the fell place, of how the very forest was said to be alive. More disturbing were the tales that the forest had at one time even attacked the Hedge until the folk of Buckland retaliated by burning the ground all along the forest-side of the Hedge until the attacks ceased.
The very thought of braving the Old Forest frightened the young hobbit and all manner of goblin and spirit sprang into his mind. ‘I would very much like to make sure that the two are safe,’ he said stuttering. ‘But perhaps a group of Bounders is better suited for this task?’
Theodoras fell into a deep silence for a time and then looked up at Saradoc once more. ‘But it seems that it will be up to me to see that these two are found and brought back safe and sound. However, I would be rather more inclined to enter that place with the warm sun upon my face – if you could be so kind as to find me lodging for the evening, I will set out at dawn to look for them.’
Saradoc placed a small brass key into Theodoras’ hand and gestured down the hill towards the bottom. Tipping his cap, Theodoras turned to pass down the lane until at length he came to a small smial far down from the crown of the hill. It had a simple round door and round windows facing the lane, and a narrow roof of turf. It was reached by a narrow green path and surrounded by a circle of green lawn lined with close bushes.
Theodoras stepped to the door and inserted the small key. With his free hand he swung the door open as a dim light streamed out into the night outside. With one glance over his shoulder, Theodoras crept softly inside and shut the door behind him. He now found himself standing in a wide hall dug back into the side of the hill from which several doors opened. A single lamp burning a low flame sat atop a stand beside the door.
The hobbit set down his pack and walking stick, hung up his cap and cape on pegs, and then made his way quietly down the hall until he came to a small kitchen near the far end. The kitchen was nearly dark but for the soft glow from hours-old coals in the fireplace. Theodoras walked across to the hearth and threw some logs onto the fire from the bin beside it, then turned to rummage through the cupboards. Within minutes the hearth was crackling with a cheerful fire as Theodoras prepared a small but welcome supper. When all was ready, he sat down at a small table near the fire and ate in silence. Finally, when he had finished, Theodoras pushed back from the table and drew his chair closer to the fire.
The young hobbit stretched his legs towards the warmth of the hearth and yawned. As he sat content and quite full, his head began to droop to his chest and his eyelids grew heavy. Before long, Theodoras’ eyes closed altogether and he was sound asleep.
Theodoras awoke with a start and looked about. For a moment, he did not know just exactly where he was. The fire in the hearth had died to a glowing pile of coals and the kitchen was once more plunged into a deep gloom. The hobbit rubbed his eyes and yawned loudly.
Theodoras climbed out of the chair and drew some water into a shallow pan atop the table, then proceeded to splash his face and hands with the chilled water. He then reached for a small brass kettle and filled it with fresh water before placing it directly into the coals to boil, while placing a few logs around it.
Soon, he was seated beside the fire once more enjoying a nice bit of tea and some biscuits (with a rather small amount of butter, he thought) he found in the larder. When he had drained his cup, Theodoras quickly washed up and made his way to foyer to collect his things.
It was still very dark outside as he stepped out, locking the round door behind him. There was not the slightest hint of dawn in the skies to the east and sparkling stars shone bright against the blackness overhead. All about the hill it was quiet and few if any lights were visible behind the shaded round windows of the many smials of Brandy Hall.
Shouldering his pack, Theodoras made his way to the lane and up the hill until he had come to the courtyard at the very top. He made his way up the broad steps of the porch and placed the small key under the door mat. He had the notion to leave a note thanking Master Brandybuck for the lodging when, just at that moment, he heard the sounds of heavy footsteps approaching up the lane to the courtyard.
Very startled, Theodoras placed his hand on the hilt of his small knife and crouched low in the deep shadows of the wide porch. A thought came unwilling into his mind that the brigands had discovered his bit of burglary and were even now coming to retrieve their ill-gotten spoils. The young hobbit began to shiver slightly and peered into the gloom towards the gateway that led into the courtyard with growing alarm.
The sound of the heavy footfalls grew closer and suddenly a dark cloaked shape loomed from out of the darkness of the gateway. The face of the stranger could not be seen beneath the thick cowls of a deep hood and cloak, but Theodoras could clearly see that it was no hobbit, as the figure bent low to pass through the low gate. The cloaked figure paused for a moment, casting its invisible gaze slowly about the courtyard in a wide sweep.
The hairs on the back of Theodoras’ neck stood up and he let out a small uncontrollable squeak. Almost immediately, the figure turned its head towards the top of the stairs in silence. Theodoras placed his hand tightly onto his mouth and held his breath.
But the figure did not draw a weapon nor attack, as the frightened hobbit thought next, but rather swept back its thick cloak to raise a gloved hand into the air, then waved. Both astonished and still quite frightened, Theodoras drew a sharp breath almost like a whistle.
The hobbit stiffened as the stranger lowered its arm to draw back its thick hood to reveal the face of a dark-haired woman. Then she smiled warmly at the hobbit and spoke aloud in a kind gentle voice.
‘Greetings, Master Hobbit! Is this the famed Brandy Hall?’
‘Bless me! Brandy Hall?’ replied the hobbit with relief as he came from behind the porch pillar. ‘Indeed it is! I feared that you were one of those brigands, but I see that is not so! Nonetheless, I have seen a great many of your folk, Men I mean, all about Buckland of late.’
‘Aye,’ replied the woman grimly. ‘There is much unrest in the air…many are taking to the roads.’
‘You don’t say?’ answered Theodoras growing more relaxed. ‘You appear to have only arrived yourself as well.’
‘Dark tidings greet many,’ answered the stranger cryptically. ‘Let us hope the Shire is still a safe place.’
‘Dark tidings?’ murmured the hobbit. ‘That does not sound very pleasing…’
‘No, it is not. The doings of Men have not touched the Shire I reckon. But…’ the stranger paused a moment and looked about. ‘Have you noticed anything amiss?’
‘Amiss?’ answered Theodoras with a nervous laugh. ‘In a matter of speaking. But I forget my manners. I am Theodoras Took, of Budgeford. And who might you be if I may be so bold?’
‘I am Dyre of Dale, renowned with a blade but a friend of hobbits,’ answered the woman with a wink.
‘A friend of hobbit you say?’ replied Theodoras carefully. ‘Well I am not sure about that, but I am not one to give in to quick judgments of character.’
‘As you should not be,’ said Dyre. ‘Let me explain briefly since I am sure my appearance is strange to you. I came to the Shire seeking information about Baggins. But, alas, I am not the only one it seems. Have you heard of the Dark Riders in the Shire?’
‘You seek old mad Baggins then?’ replied the hobbit inquisitively. ‘I am afraid you have come far too late! Old Baggins ran off several years ago…no one knows what happened to him or if he is even still alive!’
‘So I have heard…’ answered Dyre with a slight nod. ‘I was amazed he was still alive even a few years ago. He is a great friend of my kin of Dale.’
‘You don’t say?’ replied Theodoras. ‘A friend of old Baggins? Well, that comes as no surprise. Old Baggins seemed to have a great many friends from beyond the borders of the Shire. I would think you would have some…well…interesting stories to tell then of old Baggins!’
‘He is a remarkable hobbit,’ replied Dyre with a smile. ‘Not many like him. But tell me, Theo. I am a swordsman by trade and will seek work soon but I always have a need to keep my blade keen. Do you know of anyone that might need a protector?’
Theodoras gazed at Dyre cautiously for a moment before answering. ‘A protector? Are you a sell-sword of sorts?’
‘Aye, you can call it that.’
‘Well I can’t speak for anyone needing a protector…’ answered the hobbit slowly. ‘But I find myself in quite a pickle right about now.’
‘Tell me then of your troubles. I owe the kin of Baggins for what he did for my folk and homeland. If I can replay this with a small favour or my service, I would be pleased.’
‘Well, you see….’ said Theodoras slowly as he scratches his head. ‘It’s young Doderic Brandybuck. It seems that the foolish rascal had run off with Rollo Maggot out into the Old Forest. Now I have gone and promised old Saradoc Brandybuck that I would go into the forest to find them and bring them back safely.’
‘Oh my, that is foolish!’ replied Dyre. ‘But I do not fear trees and ghost stories of that place. Would you like some help in finding them? I have ventured into the Old Forest myself…there are many mysteries there.’
‘I am not sure what tales you have heard of that foul place,’ said Theodoras. ‘But even if a small part of them is true, it is not a place I wish to enter willingly. But perhaps the two of us could venture into the forest to look for them?’
‘Of course!’ answered Dyre with a smile. ‘But fair warning. Night-time in the forest is much scarier than in the daylight, but we cannot leave those two out there to spend the night.’ Dyre paused for a moment before adding grimly. ‘If we do, we very well may on a body retrieval mission by the morrow.’
‘Dear me!’ said Theodoras. ‘Let us hope it does not come to that! Then perhaps we should set out right away. I too am worried about those foolish hobbits having to brave the night while in the forest, especially if the tales are true!’
Last edited by Brucha; Apr 20 2012 at 02:31 PM.
Ah, the Old Forest...still resentful of the encroachment of hobbits and men. Not a good place for even a bounder with a protector. Hopefully Dyre can escort Theo safely.
Brilliant read, just like the old one!
I wonder if I have some old lottery winnings on the server that I could fax you. Would this be allowed for your game? I'll see what I have and if I have it and you can decide if to keep it =)
From the sleepy hill of Brandy Hall, the pair made their way east along a darkened lane even as a dim light began to grow in the distant skies. After a short while, they came to a small brick-lined tunnel in the thick Hedge. It went down a narrow gully and right under the Hedge until it came out some twenty yards on the far side.
Theodoras paused a few paces from the tunnel and shivered slightly as if suddenly chilled. ‘Here is the forest gate,’ he muttered in a low whisper. ‘Beyond lies the Old Forest.’
‘Where do you think they went?’ asked Dyre quietly. ‘Did they have a destination in mind?’
‘Let’s see…’ answered the hobbit thoughtfully. ‘I believe that Doderic sought out Bald Hill, which is said to lie just east of the Bonfire Glade.’
Quietly and cautiously, the pair slipped through the tunnel until they stood just beyond the far exit. Here, a faint path led upwards where the ground rose steadily away from the tunnel. Theodoras glanced about uneasily; the growing light of the coming dawn seemed to dim as they passed through the tunnel and disappeared altogether under the thick canopy of the forest.
Dyre unslung her bow and strode forward to glance down the darkened path. ‘Are you ready? Steel yourself!’
With that, she began to slowly climb the sloping path that led deeper in the woods. Theodoras shivered once more and then skipped after her. As they followed the path for some distance, there were little sound save for very unsettling rustlings of unseen things in the trees just off the path. The hobbit drew his cape tight and looked about nervously at every twig snap and rustle to both sides with growing concern.
For some time, the path led through a wide and fairly open area of the outlying forest edge. But it was not long until the trees drew right up to the edge of the path and closed in all about them. So close and thick were the trees now that only way forward (or backwards to the forest gate) was the faint path ahead. Theodoras paused to glance back over his shoulder to watch the tunnel was fast disappearing behind them in the deepening gloom, and then trotted to catch up with Dyre.
As the path continued to climb upwards to the east, there now came a distant glow through the trees ahead. The light continued to grow further ahead until, at once, the thick canopy of the forest sprang away above and to both sides to reveal a patch of blue sky overhead. They pair now found themselves standing on the western edge of a large clearing, full of rough grass, thick roots and rampant nettles and thistles. Not a single tree grew in the clearing, but the trees along its edges were dark and tall and seemed to enclose it like a solid wall of wood. On the far side of the clearing to the east, south and north could be seen darkened breaks in the tree-wall where faint paths led out and away into the gloom.
‘This is it?’ asked Dyre softly, casting a wary gaze about the clearing.
‘No,’ answered the hobbit meekly. ‘This must be the Bonfire Glade. Here is where the tale say the folk of Buckland came to attack the trees after they laid siege to the Hedge. They cut down hundreds of trees and made a huge bonfire and burned all the ground here. And it has remained so ever since!’
‘I can believe that,’ uttered Dyre. ‘A scar for the Forest…I can feel it’s malice…’
I most definitely do not like the looks of this place one bit,’ replied the hobbit as he shook like a leaf.
‘Let us continue,’ said Dyre after a moment. ‘We must find those two.’
‘The path seems to lead on the far side seems to led off of the east,’ said Theodoras as he pointed across the clearing. ‘That must lead to Bald Hill if I am not mistaken.’
‘Then stay close,’ warned Dyre as he began to make his way carefully through the glade. Soon they reached the far side and passed out of the bright morning sunlight of the clearing and up the path to the east. As they passed out of the glade, the light was swallowed up by the tall darkened trees and they were once again surrounded by the heavy gloom of the forest.
Beyond the clearing, the ground continued to rise steadily to the east and north as the two companions plodded along in an uneasy silence. At times, the path ran wide in some places only to draw back tightly to both sides. Suddenly there came the sound of snapping twigs or branches; Theodoras froze as he reached for Dyre’s cloak.
‘Did you hear that?’ he whispered.
Dyre did not answer, but notched an arrow to her bow, and peered into the darkness ahead. The rustling in the brush off the path became louder and the hobbit fancied he heard the sound of sniffing from out of the darkness. Just then, a dark wolf-shape could be seen stepping onto the path ahead, its eyes shining red in the deep gloom.
‘Look!’ said Thedoras with barely a whisper. ‘A wolf! Not more wolves!’
‘Indeed,’ answered Dyre. ‘A wolf.’
‘You don’t think it eats hobbits, do you?’ replied Theodoras nervously, thoroughly not pleased at the sight of the wolf.
‘Stay here,’ said Dyre quietly as she glanced down at the hobbit. ‘I can handle this beast. Stay back and shout if you need me.’
‘Quick then,’ answered Theodoras hastily, watching the wolf with growing alarm. ‘Do something before it sees us!’
Very cautiously, Dyre crept forward with a low crouch towards the silent form of the wolf. After a few steps, she paused and drew back her bow. There was a sharp twang, and then there came a horrible yell from the wolf as an arrow sank into its shoulder. The wolf let out a shrieking howl of pain as it snapped at the shaft of the arrow. With one swift motion, Dyre drew another arrow and fitted it to her bow, then let fly. The wolf yelped and staggered back before crashing to the ground.
Theodoras sighed in relief as he watched the wolf collapse and took a step towards Dyre. Suddenly, there came another fierce howl from the other side of the path. The hobbit turned round just in time to glimpse a pair of shining eyes in the trees to the left.
‘Dyre!’ cried out the hobbit as he stumbled backwards in fright. ‘It’s a trap!’
With a shuddering snarl, the wolf gathered itself low to the ground and then sprang forward with a great leap. Theodoras fell back another step, nearly falling over as his foot caught on a mossy root. The beast landed just in front of the hobbit and snapped its jaws forward, catching the hem of Theodoras’ cape. In a panic, Theodoras twisted round tearing his cape from the wolf’s grip.
The wolf brought its great head up, a bit of the hobbit’s cape still hanging from its jaws. The beast snarled once more and spat the bit of cloth out then turned its gaze hungrily on the hobbit. Before the wolf could steel itself for another leap, there came a flurry of movement as a darkened form flew past the hobbit.
The wolf instantly forgot about the cornered hobbit and whirled to face Dyre, who now stood between Theodoras and the wild beast, a long blade in one hand and an axe in the other. The wolf raised its snout to let out a long howl and then bared its long fangs at the Dale woman. Undaunted by the snarling beast, Dyre laid at the wolf with a wide sweep of her axe, forcing the wolf to give ground, and then stabbed at it with her sword. The wolf danced about nimbly, as the blows went wild into the air between them.
For a moment, Theodoras looked on with a paralyzing fear, unable to move. The wolf snarled again and snapped forward with its jaws only to be driven back by a flurry of blows from Dyre. A fierce anger suddenly came over the small hobbit and, without thinking, he reached for his tiny knife. With its attention trained on Dyre, the wolf did not notice as Theodoras leapt up from one side.
With a tiny shout, Theodoras slashed forward with his knife, only to watch the tiny blade slice through the air above its head. The wolf turned its dark head towards the small hobbit and then twisted round as the hobbit stabbed forward. It was now the hobbit who was staring into the dark red eyes of the beast, and Theodoras instantly froze.
But before the wolf could fall upon the hapless hobbit, Dyre smote at the beast. She thrust forward with her sword, sinking the blade deep into the back of the wolf. The beast let of a horrible painful yell and turned to face the woman. But she drew out her sword and swept forward with her axe to cleave the head from its shoulders with a single blow.
Thedoras tensed as the wolf crumbled to the ground, half-expecting another attack from out of the trees. But the forest about them now fell silent and dark once more. The hobbit’s hand was still trembling as he slid the knife back into its sheath at his belt. He then turned to gaze into Dyre’s face.
‘Thank heavens you came with me!’ he exclaimed. ‘This is no place for hobbits, and I pray that young Doderic and Rollo have not come to harm.’ Theodoras glanced back down the path towards the Bonfire Glade then in the other direction. ‘East and north? It seems the only path ahead.’
‘I have seen no signs of the hobbits’ passing,’ replied Dyre grimly. ‘Let us keep going.’
The companions took to the path once more in apprehensive silence. Dyre led the way ahead, turning her head to one side then the other, peering into the darkened trees along the path’s edge. Theodoras trailed behind, struggling to keep pace with the long strides of the Dale woman. They had gone no more than a quarter of a mile when the hobbit grasped Dyre’s arm and whispered.
‘What is that?’ he said quietly as he pointed into the gloom ahead.
‘Let us find out,’ answered Dyre cautiously.
Upon the ground they found a great cocoon of sorts that a common house spider would weave, but much denser and far larger than the hobbit had ever seen back in his now much-missed hobbit hole in Budgeford.
‘A huge cocoon!’ said the hobbit with astonishment.
‘My word…’ answered Dyre. ‘It looks quite sticky.’
‘Yuck!’ muttered the hobbit as he reached out on hand to carefully touch the webbing and then shivered slightly. ‘This reminds me of the house spiders back home. But none of them have webbing the size of this!’
Dyre did not answer. She instead rose tall and unslung her bow, casting her gaze wide in the gloom about the path. Theodoras, now thoroughly engrossed in examining the strange cocoon, drew out his knife and began to cut through the thick, sticky webs.
The sticky webs proved quite tough and it was several minutes until the hobbit has finished his task. Theodoras tugged at several strands of stubborn webs now clinging to his hands and peered into the exposed mound.
‘Goodness!’ he exclaimed in astonishment. ‘A treasure trove!’
In the center of the sticky mound Theodoras now gazed upon a small pile of items that he gingerly stirred with the point of his knife. A dim sparkle rose up from a couple of rough, silvery-red stones as well as a few coins of silver and copper. He could also make out the broken and ruined handle of what could have only been a hatchet and a scattering of ancient-looking but beautiful trinkets.
Dyre strode over to stand beside the hobbit and then knelt beside the cocoon. ‘No hobbits though, thankfully.’
‘I daresay that I would not like to meet the spider that wove this! Said Thedoras with a shiver. ‘Wherever did the spider go I wonder?’
Dyre said nothing, but stood up to glance about uneasily.
‘We should take these,’ announced the hobbit as he began to collect the items from the tattered cocoon and placed them into his pack. ‘Perhaps they might be of value!’
‘Then hurry, ‘answered the Dale woman as she threw a sweeping gaze about. ‘We do not want to be here should the owner return.’
Theodoras hoisted his pack to his shoulders and whistled softly. ‘A burglar indeed!’ he answered with a slight smile.
Once more, Dyre took the lead, and began to stride further up the path. They had not gone far when suddenly, the thick forest parted and a nearly treeless slope appeared in front of them, rising far above the treetops of the surrounding forest.
‘Is that the hill?’ asked Dyre quietly.
‘Yes!’ answered Theodoras excitedly. ‘This must be Bald Hill!’
The companions began to scamper up the slope towards the summit, where there now came into view a lone tree at the top. As they climbed, the air began to grow quite warm and breezy and Theodoras smiled at the feeling of the warm sun on his face. Little of the landscape round the hill could be glimpsed as they ascended towards the top except for a seemingly unending view of deep forest in all directions.
Suddenly, Theodoras pointed ahead as they reached the summit. There, beneath the leafy boughs of the lone tree stood a young hobbit gazing out over the forest canopy far below the hill to the south.
‘Doderic!’ cried Theodoras as he ran towards the hobbit. ‘You rascal!’ Whatever are you doing here?’
‘Mr. Brandybuck, you must come with us,’ exclaimed Dyre as she approached the startled hobbit. ‘It is too dangerous to be out here!’
‘Yes!’ added Theodoras. ‘We have been sent by your uncle to find you!’
'Uncle Saradoc is looking for me?’ answered Doderic in surprise at the sight of the companions. ‘That bodes ill. I wish Rollo would hurry along. I cannot leave until he returns. We were chasing a brigand through here -- we saw him sneaking about the gate and thought we'd best do the Bounders' job for them. I confess that I lost my nerve as we crested this hill, and I saw the full extent of the Forest. Rollo is a different sort though, always comfortable to wander through these winding trails.’
‘Wherever did that foolish hobbit run off to then?’ asked Theodoras impatiently.
'There is an abandoned cottage along the Withywindle, south-east of here. He made mention of heading that way, but that seems like hours ago. Perhaps you could find him there and tell him to hurry on back?'
‘You had better wait here then, Doderic,’ said Theodoras with a sigh. ‘We will find Rolo and bring him back here safely.’ Theodoras turned from the young hobbit and motioned for Dyre.
‘It seems that Rollo pursued the brigand deeper into the forest!’
‘A brigand?’ replied Dyre. ‘Well, I can take care of that, but let us hope that Rollo is alright.’
‘Indeed,’ answered Theodoras. But however will we find this cottage?’
You say, 'indeed! But how ever will we find this cottage?'
Dyre glanced back at Doderic with concern. ‘A cottage? Is it burned down, near the river?’
Yes,’ replied Theodoras with a nod. ‘It lies near the Withywindle, or so says Doderic.’
I passed one yesterday in the forest,’ said Dyre thoughtfully. ‘On my way to the House of Bombadil.’
‘Really?’ answered the hobbit. ‘That is good news then. Can you remember how to get there?’
‘I do,’ said Dyre. ‘It is a long way around though. The forest paths are tricky…they seem to change at a whim.’
‘I do not wish to be in here any longer that is needed,’ frowned Theodoras.
‘Do you have the heart to go one, my friend?’ asked the Dale woman with a look of concern.
‘No,’ answered the hobbit quietly. ‘But I made a promise to return with both of them safely…’
Theodoras fell silent for a moment, and then looked up into Dyre’s eyes. ‘I am willing to search for Rollo if you are.’
Dyre smiled at the courageous hobbit. ‘We must go back then. I remember a path near the entrance to the forest…it leads to the river.’
‘All the way back to the Bonfire Glade?’ muttered the hobbit.
‘The best way I know is to go back and follow the river up,’ said Dyre with a grim nod.
Friend Brucha, I am unsure what happened with your request for Talagand's aid, but rest assured, it will still be given when needed.
The companions slowly made their way back down the path and into the deep forest once more, until at last the hill disappeared behind them. Dyre led the way, her heavy footfalls echoing alarmingly about in the gloom. Theodoras followed behind her, his small hobbit feet barely making a sound on the forest floor as he went.
For some time, they marched down the path from where they had come until they reached the spot where they had been ambushed by the forest wolves. Theodoras slowed his pace to peer round the path and, much to his surprise and puzzlement, the bodies of the wolves were gone and there seemed no trace of the fight remaining. All manner of dark thoughts crept into the hobbit’s mind as the cause of this, but he said nothing, and quickly scurried along to catch up with Dyre along the path ahead.
After a ways, Dyre suddenly stopped along the path and raised one hand in silence. Theodoras glanced about uneasily, expecting some attack as the Dale woman turned to look south into the dense forest beyond. The hobbit followed her gaze where the forest seemed to thin out slightly, allowing passage southwards though there could be seen no discernible path leading off in that direction.
‘We must leave the path here,’ whispered Dyre softly. ‘Through the forest until we reach the Withywindle.’
‘Through there?’ exclaimed the hobbit as he exhaled sharply. ‘Must we do so? I truly do not like this place one bit! But stepping off the path…I like that even less!’
‘To the south,’ nodded Dyre grimly. ‘If that is south…I can see no stars…’
Dyre glanced about and then stepped lightly off the path and began to wind in and out of the trees into gloom. Theodoras followed quickly, glancing about uneasily. The path soon disappeared behind them and the constant gloom seemed to grow even more so. There was not a hint of wind under the dark canopy of forest and the air was still and stuffy.
As they walked, the hobbit’s sharp eyes caught glimpses of shadowy forms that scuttled behind the trees in the gloom about them. There were strange noises too all around them; scuffling and hurrying in the darkness, but what made the noises the hobbit could only guess. More horrible to behold were the great cobwebs that could now been seen; dark dense webs that were tangled in the underbrush or stretched from tree to tree.
Suddenly, Dyre froze and crouched low, peering into the gloom ahead. “What is that?’ she hissed softly.
‘Not more spiders’ webs, I hope,’ muttered Theodoras as he crept up to Dyre.
Dyre notched an arrow to her bow and stood up. ‘Let us check it out.’
Cautiously the two crept forward until a shadowy mass appeared to loom of the darkness ahead. It was a wide and tall pile of split wood-logs, stacked neatly beneath a rough hide tarp. But something caught the hobbit’s attention and he suddenly took a hasty step back.
‘Are…are those roots moving?’ he said in a trembling voice. ‘They’re alive!’
All about the wood-pile there could be seen several writhing and wriggling roots that sprouted from the forest earth. They rose up into the still air and quivered or twitched like slender serpents to slowly dance in the gloom.
‘Aye,’ answered Dyre warily. ‘The very trees are hateful in this place.’
‘Why?’ squeaked the hobbit nervously. ‘I bear them no ill will!’
‘Neither do I’ replied Dyre. ‘But they do not care. Let us tread carefully. Step lightly around the roots, perhaps they will let us pass.’
Dyre stepped forward, taking careful steps among the writhing roots with each deliberate footfall. Theodoras stood for a moment, looking at the unnatural roots with distrust, and then swallowed hard before following. The hobbit flinched uncontrollably at every step and choked back a cry as one of the roots wriggled once or twice against his feet. But soon they had reached the other side of the wood-pile and there Dyre paused once more.
‘Let me get my bearings,’ she said quietly as she looked about. ‘Things look differently at night.’
‘Are we lost?’ whispered the hobbit. ‘Oh, I wish we would have waited until full light!’
‘Rollo may not have that long,’ replied Dyre grimly.
Suddenly, Dyre stiffened and turned her head slightly as if listening to something far off.
‘Do you hear that?’ she said after a moment.
‘No.’ answered the hobbit. ‘What is it?’
‘Running water…I think that is the river ahead.’
The ground now fell away to the south and presently they came to the banks of a river. It flowed fast and strong and very wide to the far bank. And it was dark, or looked so in the deep gloom. The forest trees grew right up to the muddy banks of the river but through the gloom could be seen a faint opening in the trees.
‘The cottage should be up the river a ways,’ declared Dyre as she looked out over the river. ‘It is wet but we should be able to walk along the banks for the most part.’
Dyre slung her bow across her back and stepped carefully into the water, grasping the boughs of a tree that grew near the bank as her boots sank into the muddy bottom of the shallows. With a splash, she began to wade through the shallows in the darkness ahead. Theodoras looked at the water with growing apprehension and then walked to the muddy bank. He breathed deeply and then stepped into the water, letting out a sharp whistle as his toes touched the chilly water. He sputtered as he struggled through the water to follow, but it was not long until he found that he was already thigh-deep up to his trousers. Theodoras stumbled once nor twice in the thick mud and water, but each time Dyre reached out a strong hand to catch him before the hobbit plunged beneath the dark waters.
For some time they went on, following the swift flow of the wateruntil the tress growing along the muddy banks sprang back and there suddenly appeared a small clearing beside the river. Bright sunlight filtered down into the clearing through the hanging boughs of the trees. Theodoras blinked in the bright light and then cried out in surprise.
‘There he is!’
Dyre turned to spot a hobbit standing beside the collapsed ruins of an old cottage in the clearing, a short blade held tightly in one hand. The hobbit did not look up at the newcomers, but kept his gaze fixed to ground at his feet.
‘Here you are, you scoundrel!’ shouted Theodoras as he ran up to the hobbit. ‘I have been looking for you all through this nasty forest!’ But just then Theodoras’ voice died away as he followed Rollo’s gaze to a crumpled form on the ground.
The face of a swarthy Man looked up at the startled hobbit in deathly silence. His cloak was tattered and red with blood, and in one hand the Man still clutched a sword. Rollo continued to look upon the unmoving body, and then began to speak in a halting fashion.
'He...he tried to kill me!’ stuttered Rollo. "I'll gut you like a fish, and then your girl," he said, "Or I'll make certain you never see your lovely again." I didn't mean for this to happen! But he threatened Celandine. I couldn't let him hurt her, could I? All I wanted was to get the notes I wrote her Celandine from him.’
Rollo looked up at Theodoras, tears streaming down his gentle face. 'You can't treat people like that. Good, honest hobbits, we are...didn't want to hurt nobody. I'm going to stay here and give him an honest burial at least. Could you tell Doderic that I'm all right? But please...don't tell him about any of this, will you? Could you take these too...’ Rollo reached into his pack and brought out a handful of rumpled notes before thrusting them into Theodoras’ hand. ‘Show them to Doderic, he'll understand.’
Rollo wiped his cheek and then gazed back down at the silent body once more. 'I just...this doesn't feel the way I thought it would.'
‘Very well,’ answered Theodoras slowly and turned to gaze ay Dyre with concern. ‘Do what you must and make your way back to the forest gate as soon as possible.’
The afternoon had already passed and the shadows of the coming dusk now grew long when the companions reached the forest gate and passed out of the forest.
‘Thank heavens!’ declared the hobbit with a sigh as he strode out of the tunnel and looked out onto Buckland. ‘It is nice to see an open sky once more. I cannot tell you how happy I am to have left that awful place!’
‘I agree,’ answered Dyre, but her voice was filled with concern. ‘But I am not comfortable leaving those hobbits in the forest!’
‘Rollo will bury the brigand’s body and hopefully make his way out safely,’ answered Theodoras. ‘And I hope that Doderic does the same. But our business is done here.’
Dyre nodded then turned her gaze down the lane that led away from the forest gate. ‘Come, walk with me to the stable, my horse is there.’
‘I must thank you ever so much for helping me, but you are departing?’
‘Master Theo, I have to ride out to Michel Delving,’ answered Dyre with a smile. ‘I have business with the Mathom House.’
‘Ah, I see,’ replied the hobbit with a frown. A shame though. I must make my way to Bree to fetch a wayward pony that ran off from our farm.’
‘Bree?’ answered Dyre. ‘I often have business in Bree. Perhaps we shall meet up again once you arrive?’
‘That would be most welcome indeed!’ smiled the hobbit. ‘But I do wish that you could accompany me to Bree. The road there is long.’
Aye, it is long, and not always safe,’ warned the Dale woman carefully. ‘There are many more brigands that have grown very bold of late.’
‘Don’t remind me,’ groaned the hobbit unhappily.
So our intrepid hobbit braved the Old Forest, if only for a day, and came out alive! Of course, there were a couple more combats with wandering wolves, and a bear or two, but I cannot chronicle each combat or else each chapter would be so terribly long!
I also somehow managed to either erase or lose the screenshot I took for this of the story! So unfortunately there are no pics to accompany the latest chapter...
So now its on to Bree finally! The road is quite long when you are walking but I think that the trip should be fairly safe so long as I keep to the road...
Last edited by Brucha; Apr 25 2012 at 04:12 PM.
Bree had perhaps a hundred or so houses built on a tall hillside, and was famously known for a large inn because of the goings and comings on the Road, though those were nowadays much less that what they had once been. It was a village built by Big Folk mainly, and the nearest settlement to the borders of the Shire. Not many folk still lived as far West as that in those days, and the Bree-folk (together with the neighbouring villages of Staddle, Combe and Archet) were an odd and rather isolated peoples, belonging to no one but themselves. Despite that, the Bree-folk were more accustomed to dealing with hobbits, dwarves and the other odd inhabitants of the world than Big Folk were used to.
There were hobbits to be found in Bree as well, or course – some higher up on the slopes of Bree-hill, and many in the villages of Combe and Staddle on the east side near the Chetwood. Though perhaps more rustic in nature than their Shire cousins, they were not certainly an uncivilized lot (which was often said in the Shire) and not held in much account.
The late afternoon was passing fast and the sun had begun to dip low in the sky far to the West when Theodoras came at last to the Greenway-crossing and drew near the village. He found to his amazement that it was surrounded by a deep ditch with a hedge on the inner side. The road led up and passed through a study gate that stood open before passing within.
Theodoras sighed wearily at the sight of the gate for it had been a long and hard march to reach the gates by dusk. Suddenly, there came the heavy beat of hoofs from within the gate. Presently, a tall rider appeared atop a dusky mount, all wrapped in a flowing green cloak and hood. The horse trotted a step or two before the rider spurred it into a full gallop. Theodoras gasped as he threw himself to one side of the road to avoid being trampled.
The hobbit rolled into the green grass beside the road and came up on one elbow to watch as the rider quickly disappeared into the distance. He clamored to his feet and dusted himself off, still looking down the road for a moment. Then, he turned back to the gate; as he slowly approached, a Man stepped from the shadows of the hedge and hailed the hobbit.
‘Welcome to Bree!’ he declared as he watched the hobbit with curiosity.
‘Um..thank you!’ replied the hobbit, unsure as to what to say.
‘Beautiful weather we are having, ain’t it?’ asked the Man as he glanced up into the sky. ‘For the season anyways…’
Then the Man’s demeanor changed and he looked at the hobbit darkly for a moment. Painfully aware, and a bit embarrassed of his rather travel-worn appearance, Theodoras brushed nervously at his dusty cape and trousers.
You’re not one of them stragglers from the south, are you?’ said the watchman suspiciously.
‘Stragglers?’ replied the hobbit. ‘Heavens no! I am Theodoras Took, from the Shire. I hoped to find lodging at the inn for the evening.’
The watchman stared at the hobbit for a time and then stepped back, letting Theodoras walk through. The hobbit passed through the gate and up along a brick lane that swept up a gentle slope, past a few houses and buildings. He glanced sat them suspiciously as he past, thinking that only giants could possibly live in the large and tall building that seemed to the little hobbit.
Presently, Theodoras found himself standing at the entrance of a large, cobble-stone square surrounded by a low stone wall. Along one side of the square stood a large building facing a stone fountain and one the far side the lane continued on down a slope to the east and south. A low archway led between the two wings of the inn that ran back from the lane and there was a short flight of steps that up to a single wooden door. Beneath the archway there was hung a stout wooden signboard that was decorated with a rotund white pony.
The hobbit climbed the steps and stepped through the door. At first he paused as he stepped inside, for the interior was quite dim and it took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the gloom. A narrow hallway led away from the door to his right and ahead there opened a large meeting-room lit by a pair of large glowing hearths and many hanging candelabras. Directly in front of the door there was a short bar; behind the low bar there stood a short fat man with a bald head and a red face serving drinks to a pair of dwarves.
Theodoras approached the bar slowly, waiting for the innkeeper to notice him, As he stood there, Theodoras turned an ear to the pair of dwarves and they quaffed their tall mugs of beer and spoke in deep voices to one another.
‘My cousin told me this was the place to quench your thirst after traveling the dry and dusty East Road,’ announced one of the dwarves rather loudly.
‘Oh, this is fair,’ replied the other as he took a long sip of his beer. ‘But it can’t compare to the dwarf-stout made with barley from the Blue Mountains!’
‘Ha!’ agreed the first dwarf with a hearty laugh. ‘The Men of Bree call these hobbit-mounds hills. The majesty of the Blue Mountains would steal their breath away.’
Just then, the innkeeper turned and leaned forward to spot the top of the hobbit’s head on the other side of the bar. Theodoras rose up on his toes until his eyes peeked over the bar and cleared his throat.
‘Ahem. Greetings good sir! Might I have you fetch me a tankard of beer if you please?’
The innkeeper reached for a tall mug and began to fill it from a large wooden barrel as Theodoras drew out from his pocket a few coins and placed them atop the bar. Thanking the innkeeper, Theodoras lifted up the mug and turned away from the bar and into the common room beyond.
The crowd in the large common-room was surprisingly quite large. Here or there were seated small groups of Men in twos or threes at long low wooden tables that filled the room. Elsewhere too were a few hobbits seated together at small round tables to one side. Towards the back of the large room someone began singing a merry little tune, mingled with scattered bursts of cheerful laughter and clapping.
Theodoras found a quiet seat at the end of a long table and sat down, gazing out at the crowd of faces all about him. He sipped on his beer as he looked on wonder and even a bit of apprehension, feeling quite out of place among the Big Folk in the wide room.
Theodoras had been sitting in silence for some time when he sat up suddenly in his chair as his gaze fell upon a half-hidden figure passing through the crowd. The figure seemed rather short compared to the tall Men around it, and the hobbit could only glimpse at first the top of a red hood and cloak. Suddenly, the crowd parted slightly and the figure turned to reveal the well-worn but friendly and bright face of a dwarf standing there. Theodoras leapt up from his chair, spilling his drink upon the floor as he did so, and cried out.
‘Hemni! My friend!’
The dwarf turned one way then the other at the shout before spotting Theodoras a few feet away. Hemni laughed aloud as he pushed his way through the crowd and strode up the hobbit with a merry smile spread across his face.
‘Such a pleasure to see you, little one,’ he said brightly. ‘Certainly under better circumstances than chasing a pig around!’
‘Indeed!’ replied the hobbit cheerfully. ‘But old Sally is safe and sound thanks you your help!’
‘Ah, your news makes me glad,’ said the dwarf, his expression changing to a frown. ‘But I didn’t expect to see you so soon!’
‘Well, I did not expect that I would see you so soon either!’ grinned the hobbit. ‘But my aunt’s pony, Clover, seems to have run off. All the way to Bree if you can believe that!’
‘You don’t say?’ answered Hemni with a chuckle. ‘Where are my manners, young one. Let us find a seat and share an ale or two. I am weary from work today and my throat is dry.’
The dwarf led Theodoras towards the back of the common room and took a seat at a small round table in one corner. He turned his head to bellow for the innkeeper in a deep voice and then turned back to his friend.
‘Tell me of this story of yours,’ he said as he placed a few coins in the hand of the innkeeper as a couple of tankards were placed on the table between them.
‘Simple enough really,’ answered the hobbit. ‘A horse trader found Clover wandering nearby and took her in. He then sent me a letter that she had come into their care. I didn’t want to break my aunt’s heart, so I made the decision to make my way from Budgeford in hopes of getting her back!’
‘That was a noble thing to do, Mister Took,’ said the dwarf as he took a long sip of his ale. ‘Would you desire my assistance?’
‘As I said, I had hoped that your business that brought you Bree had delayed you so that I may find you here. I cannot pay you but I hoped that I might ask for your aid once more.’
‘With pleasure, Master Theodoras,’ answered the dwarf with a smile.
‘Excellent!’ beamed the hobbit thankfully and raised his mug in thanks. ‘I hoped you would say that!’
Theodoras leaned back in his chair and fell silent for a time, glancing about the room as he sipped politely on his mug. It was about them when he noticed a strange-looking man standing in the shadows of the nearby wall. Tall and fair did the Man seem, his reddish hair framing a pair of proud and keen eyes that watched the hobbit and dwarf with great interest.
Theodoras grew instantly uncomfortable under the silent gaze of the stranger and was about to whisper to Hemni when the Man strode over to the table. He stopped and bowed low before both of them.
‘Hail and well met, Master Holbytla!’ he said in a proud voice.
‘Hobl-what?’ answered the hobbit as he sat up straight in the chair. ‘I believe you have me mistaken with someone else, sir. My name is Theodoras Took, if you please, and this is Hemni, a dwarf of the Blue Mountains.’
‘Ah, pardon me,’ replied the stranger with another bow. ‘I forget that I am in the North. Holbytla is a word of my tongue. My people from far in the South still tell tales of your race, and that is the name we know them by.’
The stranger smiled as he continued. ‘But where are my manners? I am Eoleof, of Rohan. My countryman, Eogar, had told me of your family’s plight, and I would be delighted to aid you and your companion. If you will have me, of course.’
‘My family’s plight,’ blinked the hobbit in confusion. ‘And who is Eogar?’
‘He recently came to this land to breed horses north of this town. I learned from him that your family has lost a horse, and I would like to help you retrieve it.’
‘Oh!’ answered the hobbit suddenly remembering the letter he had received. ‘Well why didn’t you say so in the first place! But it is not a horse I seek, only a pony, though she is the apple of my aunt’s eye.’
‘Again my apologies,’ said Eoleof bowing once more. ‘My people love all horses, whatever the size, and I loathe seeing a beast separated from a loving owner.’
‘That is wonderful news then, Eoleof! I only just arrived in Bree and planned on departing for the farm at dawn tomorrow. Would you accompany us as a guide?’
'I would be most glad to do so, Master Took! Shall we meet again in the morning?’
‘Certainly!’ exclaimed the hobbit.
‘Until the morrow,’ replied Eoleof with a low bow. ‘Good evening to you both.’
Theodoras watched as Eoleof disappeared into the crowd and then laughed aloud. ‘Well, he seems like a fine fellow!’
The hobbit yawned wide and looked about the room sleepily. ‘I must be far more tired than I thought!’ he said. ‘Off to bed then for this weary and travel-worn hobbit!’
Theodoras awoke rather abruptly, opening his eyes with a flash and glanced about in confusion. The room was very dark and he stumbled out of the bed to throw back the heavy curtains. Outside, the first grey light of the dawn had not yet come and the air was cold and heavy with mist.
Shivering in the chilly air, the hobbit quickly dressed and made his way down to the common room. He soon found that the large crowd from the night before was now gone and much of the room was empty and quiet. He called for breakfast, and some tea, then took a seat at one of the many empty tables.
Theodoras was just finishing his third biscuit (with plenty of butter and honey), when the door to the inn was flung open and bright light streamed into the darkened interior. Theodoras blinked in the brilliant light and watched as a person stepped across the threshold. Suddenly, he called out in surprise.
‘Dyre!’ he shouted clapping his hands together. ‘Of all people! When it rains it pours, as my father used to say!’
Theodoras leapt up from his chair and hurried over to his friend. ‘Whatever are you doing here?’
‘Greetings, Theo,’ answered the Dale woman with a smile. ‘I stay here when I am not working. I have just returned from Trestlebridge. But what has brought you here from the Shire?’
‘Oh, I am still seeking my aunt’s lost pony, of course,’ replied the hobbit. ‘But you are not the first I have meet since arriving. I found an old friend here in Bree last evening – in this very establishment, if you can believe that! And more importantly, I met a Man yesterday from the Hengstacer Farm who offered his services to lead me to the farm.’
‘Then you were successful in your mission, Bounder Theo?’
‘Well,’ answered the hobbit with a sigh. ‘If you mean that I managed to escape the Old Forest in one piece, then yes! But much to your help, I might add! But I do not think that either Rollo or Doderic have learned their lesson.’
‘The young hobbits are fine, then?’ inquired Dyre. ‘All is well?’
‘Yes,’ laughed Theodoras. ‘They are fine, and none the worse for their foolishness.’
‘But what of you, Theo? Are you now becoming a traveler?’
‘Bless me! Let us hope not!’ said the hobbit with a chuckle. ‘I have never been beyond the borders of the Shire before...it’s not entirely what I expected…’
‘I suppose it is not!’ laughed Dyre but her voice sounded grim despite the mirth in her laugh. ‘But Bree-land has its share of dangers.’
‘I hope not,’ replied the hobbit. ‘But anything would be better than the Old Forest!’
‘I agree,’ said Dyre with a stern nod. ‘The Forest is unique in the ancient malice that lives in the very trees. But in Bree there is danger in the form of brigands. I have even heard tales of goblins in the Marsh.’
‘Brigands? And goblins?’ cried Theodoras ‘Let us hope that our paths do not cross with the likes of them!’
‘Do not worry, my friend,’ answered Dyre with a warm smile as she looked down on the hobbit. ‘My sword will be with you.’
‘Then you will come with us then?’ asked the hobbit.
But just then, Dyre turned her head at the sound of a groan and grumbling from the direction of the bar. Theodoras followed her gaze and spotted Hemni standing there, the dwarf’s eyes still filled with sleepiness.
‘Oh, Hemni!’ laughed the hobbit. ‘You sleepy-head. You finally woke up!’
Theodoras turned to look up at Dyre. ‘I am sorry. This is Hemni, a friend from the Shire! And Hemni, this is Dyre…she came to my aid in the Old Forest.’
Dyre bowed before the dwarf as he rubbed his eyes and spoke. ‘At your service, Lady Dyre.’
‘A dwarf from the Shire?’ laughed the Dale woman loudly. ‘That is unusual.’
‘No, no,’ giggled the hobbit. ‘He is not from the Shire. I met him there!’
‘I met Theo in the Shire beside himself about a loose pig,’ answered the dwarf with a frown.
‘Not any loose pig!’ replied the hobbit. ‘It was Old Sally. A very prized pig you must know!’
‘The troubles of the bucolic!’ laughed Dyre.
‘It was quite a legendary battle of the shrews!’ added the dwarf, joining in the laughter.
Dyre’s laughter died as her tone became grim. ‘But I feel that your troubles of late are moving away from runaway livestock, Theo.’
‘Yes, to lost ponies, it seems!’ said Theodoras. My aunt’s pony, Clover, has run off and somehow found her way here to the Bree-lands!’
‘Perhaps stolen?’ asked Dyre.
‘No, nothing like that, ‘replied the hobbit. ‘She broke out of the barn and was found by some horse traders north of Bree. They sent me a letter to inform me that they had taken her in. That is why you found me in Buckland! I had become sidetracked with the search for Rollo and Doderic when we first met.'
'That is quite generous of them, someone who obviously cares about ponies'
'I agree! My aunt was beside herself when she heard that Clover went missing. We were worried that wolves had gotten to her!'
Wow, I just want to say that this story is very wonderfully done! Great to see a reluctantly adventrous hobbit, and how you've tried to stay close to the lore. Keep up the great work.
Elendor MUSH, the original Tolkien themed MUSH:
Theodoras is showing a knack for making friends and considering his talent for finding adventure it’s probably a good thing. I would think finding a pony would be a simple enough task but we will have to wait and see.
The way to a woman's heart is through her stomach
Most adventures start as a simple walk down the road...then things get complicated. Great work, I'm eagerly awaiting the next chapter!
This form's session has expired. You need to reload the page.Reload