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  1. #26
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Sunny SoCal, USA
    I look forward to reading about the rescue of young Violet! This has been most enjoyable.

    RIP ELENDILMIR • Jingle Jangle
    : LAERLIN (Bio + Drawings) • LAERWEN • OLORIEL • AETHELIND (Bio + Drawing) • NETHAEL

  2. #27

    Chapter Thirteen: The Battle of Narrowcleeve, Part One – 18 Rethe, 3016 TA

    It was well after the setting of the afternoon sun and the night had long gathered about the sleepy village of Stock when the Bounders (plus a rather grumbling dwarf) made their way from the inn. They turned from the darkened village and down the Stock Road for some distance until it brought them to the small stony bridge that crossed the Stock Brook.

    The hobbits seemed watchful but cheery, laughing and talking to one another, as they went along the road. Brimbur plodded along in the front of the group, trying to look grim and proper and, most importantly, not the least bit worried.

    ‘So then, it’s to Farmer Maggot’s farm, it is?’ said Winecup curiously as the stony bridge slowly came into view.

    The dwarf did not answer, but only shook his head laggardly as he continued on past the bridge towards Woody End. She slowed to glance back as the bridge slowly faded away behind them and then quickened her pace as the others drew out ahead.

    ‘Dwarves shouldn’t mind the night so much,’ said Riesenbread, feeling inclined to chuckle, as Winecup caught up with the rest of the party. ‘They can’t tell the day from the night in a mine!’

    Gennyrose held back a snickering grin and nodded. ‘Still no trouble at the concert,’ she said, answering thoughtfully. ‘That’s good…’

    Brimbur did not speak, and hardly did he seem aware of the chattering and bantering of the hobbits. He, in fact, was quite beside himself. He had only just escaped the clutches of the foul ruffians that very day and now the prospect of returning to Narrowcleeve shivered his very bones. He shook his head and began to mutter very quietly.

    ‘Fool…what were you thinking? This is not the work for a dwarf, but for Bounders. Drew them a map is what you should have done…’

    Presently, Riesenbread plucked his cap from his head and shook his short hair. ‘Dozens of them?’ he said turning his head to Winecup. He was speaking, of course, of the dwarf’s dreadful tale of the ruffians he had uncovered within Narrowcleeve.

    ‘That’s what the dwarf said,’ answered Winecup with a slow nod of her chin.

    ‘That’s a lot!’ said Riesenbread.

    Brimbur remained silent, his gaze fixed on the rise coming into view of the shimmering moon ahead. He grew very sullen and his pace slowed; his legs became more unwilling with every step. Slowly, the ground began to rise ahead and it was not long when they reached the summit and the sounds of rushing water could be heard in the darkness.

    There, Brimbur halted suddenly and then began to creep ever so wearily towards a muddy embankment beside the road. Wincecup watched him slowly reach the top and shook her head. 'Guess we're not going to talk to Farmer Maggot after all…’ she muttered and scampered after the dwarf. As the hobbit came to stand beside the dwarf, he pointed a shaky hand ahead and spoke with barely a whisper.

    ‘There…’ he said with a grimace.

    Wincecup looked out over the ford and was astonished to see three dirty and ill-favoured Men lounging on the far bank of the river. They stood laughing in the light of torches set atop tall poles struck into the soft muddy earth along the bank. Her eyes darted to follow the path that lead further up the slope that was lit by more torch poles.

    ‘Look!’ she whispered as the others climbed the embankment and looked out. ‘Brigands…several of them…standing there in the light.’

    ‘Well I’ll be…’ said Pandrae dumbfounded at the sight.

    Gennyrose gazed at one of the Men, who clutched a nasty-looking club of wood in one hand. ‘Hmmm…they do look brigandy…’

    Brimbur nodded and crouched low to the ground, fearing the wind that now blew up would carry their voices across the water. ‘Dozens there were, before I thinned their numbers greatly,’ he said slowly watching the ruffians with dark distrustful eyes. ‘Yet there are still more…’

    'I'd say they are on our side of the Bounds,’ spoke Winecup as she patted the hilt of her short blade tucked into her belt.

    'We can't be attacking people on mere suspicions,’ frowned Riesenbread and then glanced at Wincecup with distaste.

    ‘Why not?’ gasped Brimbur as he turned suddenly to the hobbit with wide disbelief spreading across his face.

    'We should try talkin' to them first,’ answered Gennyrose, agreeing with Riesenbread. 'Maybe they have a perfectly reasonable reason for bein' here.'

    Riesenbread straightened his tunic and cap then took a step down the embankment. 'I'll just go up and ask iffen they know anything about a missing lass.' When the hobbit reached the water’s edge, he held his small shield over his head and began to wade across the ford.

    At once Brimbur started forward with a hiss and a curse. ‘Wait! What are you doing, you fool? They are brigands!’ But Riesenbread could not hear the dwarf over the splashing water and soon he had reached the far bank. Winecup gazed up at the dwarf and shook her head with a long sigh. She lifted the hem of her cloak and waded across the water after Riesenbread.

    ‘We’ll look after ya, master dwarf,’ said Gennyrose as she patted Brimbur’s shoulder with a warm smile. 'No harm will come to ya when you got Bounders around.' The hobbit turned to nod at Pandrae and the two swiftly followed Winecup across the ford.

    For a moment, Brimbur stood unmoving as the last hobbit reached the other side of the river. Then, he gathered what little courage he could muster and darted across the river after them. He had just reached the bank when, much to his surprise and alarm, Riesenbread strode towards the Men and called out to them.

    The Men turned with befuddled disbelief at the sight of the Bounders; one of them, a squint-eyed and sallow-faced fellow, licked his lips evilly and let out a snarling chuckle. With a shout, and with a long blade held now in his hands, the ruffian made a rush forward towards the river bank. He aimed a savage blow at Riesenbread, who stood in his way.

    Brimbur choked back a cry as he watched the ruffian’s blade fall, only to smote the hobbit’s shield with a resounding thud. Riesenbread stumbled back a step under the heavy blow as he flashed out his sword and came at the Man. The others too drew their swords also and ran up to follow.

    The air was suddenly filled with the hoarse shouts of the ruffians, and the shrill voices of the hobbits. There came suddenly a clash and ring of blows; Brimbur looked on with growing horror as Winecup sprang ahead; she deftly ducked under the clumsy blow of a ruffian’s club and stabbed upwards with her sword from over his shield. The ruffian cried out, then staggered back before collapsing to the ground.

    Meanwhile, Riesenbread and Gennyrose attacked the tall sword-wielding ruffian together. They darted to one side then the other, stabbing forward with their short blades as the ruffian desperately tried to drive them back. There came a groan and the man fell dead.

    Suddenly it grew very quiet; the fight was over as swiftly as it began. The dwarf, who was still standing in the relative safety of the river bank, glanced about with disbelief; Pandrae, was standing over the body of the third ruffian; she looked up at him and winked.

    'Well, so much for talkin' to 'em,’ said Gennyrose. 'I guess that answers that.'

    ‘That was rude!’ exclaimed Riesenbread as he turned to walk back towards the bank to clean his blade in the rushing water.

    ‘Ah, very good!’ uttered Brimbur finally, trying to sound confident. He pointed up the rising slope. 'Somewhere up there we must find Miss Violet! But I fear there may be more ruffians ahead!'

    At that, Pandrae started and pointed up the slope as well. ‘Indeed, here comes a patrol now.’ All eyes turned as Gennyrose cried out. 'One comin' this way!'

    A large heavy figure suddenly appeared against the flickering light of the torches ahead. He snarled and took a step forward, then stopped, for he caught the gleam of swords in the hobbits’ hands. The Man flinched and shuffled a bit, and turned as if to dart back up the slope from where he came.

    Winecup bent down to the ground, her eyes darting back and forth in the dim light. She reached down to take up a nice stone in her hand and then stood up. She drew back her arm and the stone went whistling through the air. The stone struck the ruffian squarely on the head and he toppled over senseless to the ground. Winecup turned to grin at the others and called them forward.

    ‘Now see here, mister,’ said Gennyrose as she nudged the unmoving ruffian with her toe. Riesenbread chuckled as he knelt down to begin tying up the unconscious Man. Satisfied that the ruffian was of no further danger, the hobbits drew together with hushed voices.

    ‘Hmm…he’s not talkin’ either,’ said Gennyrose as she nudged the ruffian once more for good measure.

    ‘What now, little masters?’ asked Brimbur very quietly, his eyes darting about nervously.

    'We should find out why they're here,’ answered Gennyrose with a frown on her fair face. ‘I doubt iffen they came all this way an' set up a camp jus' to take Violet prisoner.'

    'Good point Miss Genny, said Pandrae.

    Riesenbread glanced about then shook his head. 'We don't even know if Violet is here. Maybe somebody should take a look ahead, quiet like…’ He then looked up at the dwarf. ‘Mr. Brimbur, how far did you get?’

    Brimbur swallowed softly and leaned forward to whisper. 'I battled my way a bit further until the futility of it reached my thoughts. I turned and fought my way back down and crossed the river to seek aid.' He then glanced about the ground and frowned. 'They must have cleared all the bodies of their companions I felled earlier today...’

    ‘Probably wise to do, master dwarf,’ said Pandrae with a smile.

    Riesenbread sighed and turned to the others. 'I say we get to the top of that slope up there where we can have a look about.' The others followed his gaze up the slope as Brimbur cleared his throat and whispered aloud.

    ‘Very good, then!’ he said softly. ‘And I shall remain here to guard our rear in case of ambush!’

    The hobbits turned to look at the dwarf, who was smiling now very brightly back at them. 'Bes' not stay here alone, master Dwarf,’ said Gennyrose quietly and not without concern.

    Suddenly, Riesenbread spoke. ‘Wait here a bit, I will be back,’ he said quietly. The others turned to gaze at the hobbit with surprise, Brimbur most of all. He tightened his belt and then trotted up the slope with the soft patter of hobbit feet. Soon he melted into the gloom and all fell silent for a time.

    Winecup slid a short javelin from her back and tested it balance in her hands. ’If anyone else comes down, I’m throwing,’ she said grimly after some time.

    ‘Of course!’ whispered Brimbur with a nod. ‘And I shall keep careful watch so as we are not ambushed…my eyes are as keen as an Orc at night!'

    ‘Orcs are keen?’ asked Pandrae with a curious look at the others then at the dwarf. She then shook her head slowly. ‘Mr. Brimbur, surely not…’

    Brimbur was about to answer with a sharp retort, when he fell deathly silent. He hissed as the sounds of footsteps could be heard clipping down the slope towards them. At once he feared another ruffian patrol was making its way down from the camp above. He took a hesitant step back. Presently, Riesenbread came into the view, scuttling out of the darkness with a dash to rejoin the others.

    ‘I saw her!’ he gasped with a belaboured breath as he came to a halt. ‘You were right, Mr. Dwarf. She’s in a camp ahead, and she’s caged!’ All at once, the others began to speak.

    ‘Caged?’ gasped Pandrae with a cry. ‘Gracious!’

    ‘Not gracious…outrageous!’ exclaimed Winecup sternly.

    Gennyrose did not speak but only lowered her head down with dismay. Brimbur looked at the hobbits each in turn and then cleared his throat with a long sigh. ‘A cage,’ he muttered softly. ‘Dear me, that is most unfortunate…well, at least we tried…’ He then turned as if to begin striding back down the slope towards the ford.

    His voice died away as he turned back to see the hobbits staring at him. Winecup shook her head at the dwarf and Gennyrose smiled. He stammered something and was about to speak when Riesenbread leaned up on his tiptoes and looked over the dwarf’s shoulder. Brimbur gazed curiously at him for a moment.

    ‘Duck, Mr’ Dwarf!’ shouted the hobbit suddenly as a dirty surly-looking ruffian suddenly leapt from the darkness behind the dwarf. His grimy face leered as he came at the dwarf and a knife flashed in his hand. The ruffian stabbed downwards; Brimbur staggered and nearly fell over with a cry. But the blade turned on the mail-coat hidden beneath the dwarf’s leather crimson tunic and sprang back. The hobbits leapt at the Man with shouts and cries and hewed him down before he could turn and flee back into the gloom.

    Brimbur groaned and clutched his side as he gazed down at the body of the ruffian with unbridled disbelief. ‘Did he hurt you?’ said Riesenbread concernedly. The dwarf blinked once, then twice, and shook his head slowly.

    ‘Ah, that fellow surprised me!’ he said finally and wiped the damp from his sweaty brow. ‘I had not the time to draw my blade…thankfully my fine mail turned his stroke!' He then took a deep uneasy breath and slid his sword from his belt.

    ‘Now what?’ he asked with a shaky voice and tried to quell the tremor welling in his hand.

    ‘I say we charge the camp,’ answered Winecup suddenly as she glanced up towards the unseen camp ahead. Pandrae rolled he eyes as Gennyrose chuckled.

    Riesenbread glowered at Winecup and shook his head. 'Wouldn't want to explain to your kin what happened to you in Bounder company.'

    ‘We need a plan,’ said Gennyrose, the smile now falling from her face.

    Winecup nodded. 'We can't keep our presence a secret for much longer. We are sitting targets sitting here.'

    'Well, I say we sets up an ambush,’ countered Riesenbread.

    ...to be continued

  3. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Laire View Post
    I look forward to reading about the rescue of young Violet! This has been most enjoyable.
    Thank you Laire! I am very glad you are enjoying the story

    Adventuring with the Bounders proved more fun that I dared hope for. Towards the end, Riesenbread was worried they had not rped very well, which I swiftly denounced as heresy - all four players did splendidly in having to deal with Brimbur and his gentle idiosyncrasies. They took charge right away, and even added a few humourous moments, especially about how Gennyrose took it upon herself to watch over the poor dwarf...

    The surprise attack by the lone ruffian was a complete surprise - we had fallen into rping what to do next and we all failed to notice as he approached. I thought for sure Brimbur was going to be slain and his story closed but he survives, thanks to some swift hobbit blades!

    But they have not yet found Violet...are there more ruffians ahead, and can they find her and bring her out safely?

  4. #29

    Chapter Fourteen: The Battle of Narrowcleeve, Part Two – 18 Rethe, 3016 TA

    All eyes turned to Gennyrose, who was glancing up towards the top of the slope and the unseen camp. Finally, she cleared her throat and turned to the others. 'Winecup, head to the left. Pandrae, the right,’ she said with a much confidence as the hobbit could muster. ‘Riesenbread, you got the middle. I will follow, after you go through the gate, that is.’

    Brimbur looked at the hobbits with sudden disbelief as Winecup and Pandrae nodded silently and began creeping silently up the slope. The others huddled together in the darkness, watching the hobbits as they neared the top and passed from view. The seconds seemed to drag on.

    Then Gennyrose tipped her head to Reisenbread and together the hobbits climbed up the slope. At length they too vanished from sight in the gloom at the top. For several long and tense moments, Brimbur glanced about uneasily; he suddenly found it was not to his liking to be left alone there, and after a short bout of indecision, he hastily trotted upwards to follow Pandrae on the right.

    At the top and to the right of the wooden palisade, he came onto a thicket of thorny brush; the dwarf glanced about and then plunged into the brush. Instantly, he began to struggle to push through the thickets for they were tough and wiry and clung to his tunic and cloak like grasping hands.

    Finally, he came out of the thickets on the other side and looked up; what greeted him was a camp that stank and was full of filth and disorder. In its center was a crackling fire over which was roasting a haunch of meat on a spit. About the fire stood tents, waggons, carts and stacks of crates and boxes stuffed with many plundered and ill-gotten goods.

    At that moment, he heard a ruckus and spotted Winecup and Pandrae. They were facing three ruffians who were pressing on them on all sides, but being held at bay by the hobbits’ short blades. Brimbur was about to step forward when there came sudden shouts to the left, as Gennyrose and Riesenbread came bursting through the gate. One ruffian glanced over his shoulder and turned to flee but was felled by a swift stroke from Winecup.

    Much to Brimbur’s astonishment, they other ruffians did not lay down their arms or surrender. They were trapped, now surrounded by four very determined Bounders; the ruffians seemed very desperate and now attacked fiercely, concerned more on slaughter than flight or surrender.

    With howls of rage, the two ruffians threw themselves at the hobbits, hewing and hacking with every stroke. And yet the Bounders did not waver, but gave ground on one side while charging upon the other. This way and that the ruffians turned to hew down the hobbits who sprang forward to stab with their shorts blades before leaping back swiftly and out of reach of their foes weapons.

    At last it was over, and three bodies lay silent and unmoving on the ground. ‘Good work, Bounders!’ cried Gennyrose as she slid her sword back into her belt. She then looked towards Riesenbread who was holding his arm gingerly. A quick parry had saved him from a nasty blow, but his swift action was rewarded with a clumsy dagger that grazed his arm before he silenced the ruffian with a sturdy thrust of his own blade.

    ‘You ok, Riesenbread?’ asked Gennyrose quietly and with some concern.

    The hobbit nodded slowly as he sat down next to the fire to tend to his wound. ‘I’m certain the bleeding will stop shortly,’ said Riesenbread.

    Meanwhile, Winecup had strode up to the fire and was looking at the spit above the flames. ‘This is good mutton,’ he said as he tore a piece and tossed in into his waiting mouth. Gennyrose looked at the hobbit and sighed before turning to help Risenbread wrap a fresh strip of linen around his arm.

    Just then, Brimbur’s ears perked and he turned with a curious look at one of the covered waggons to one side of the camp. From within there came furtive sounds and a muffled cough. Ever so slowly the dwarf crept up to the waggon and placed an unsteady hand upon the door handle. He then flung the door open and sprang back with fearful eyes.

    Much to his surprise, what he found inside was not a ruffian (which he certainly expected), but a young hobbit lass seated in a dank and dark cell. With a start the hobbit leapt to her feet, crying, ‘Why you filthy…!’ The stern look of defiance swiftly melted away to be replaced with startled glances of confusion. Her eyes wandered from the bemused dwarf standing there to the Bounders over his shoulder a few steps. Gennyroe and Pandrae walked up and waved their hands in the air with smiles on their faces. Winecup too waved as he cut a long strip of mutton from the spit and bit into it.

    ‘Oh! You’re not one of the ruffians!’ said the hobbit in the waggon with a chuckling laugh.

    ‘Indeed!’ said Brimbur loudly, now that his initial fear and apprehension had melted away. ‘We have come to rescue you from the clutches of these mannish ruffians! I am Brimbur at your most pleasurable service!' He bowed very low and proper to the hobbit and then waved a hand at his companions.

    ‘And here are members of the glorious Bounders who have come to aid me in finding you, Miss Violet!’

    ‘Thank you for rescuing me!’ sobbed Violet as tears welled in her soft eyes. ‘Please help me get out of here! I’ve had more than enough of this brigand hospitality!’

    ‘Come out of there now,’ said Brimbur as he reached forward to help the hobbit down. ‘We must a make a run for it, before the ruffians discover our presence here.’

    Yet the young hobbit did not take the offered hand but instead leapt out of the waggon with furry feet. ‘Now, I’m getting out of here!’ she said as she dashed through the gate as the others stood blinking with astonishment. Then the hobbits began to cry and shout as one.

    ‘Where is she going?’ said Risenbread as his eyes followed the young hobbit. ‘Wait!’

    ‘Crazy girl,’ muttered Winecup as he bent to help Risenbread to his feet.

    ‘Goodness, wait for us!’ shouted Gennyrose as she leapt after the hobbit. ‘She must have missed dinner…an’ supper,’ she said as she reached the gate and turned back to the others with a hasty glance, who scampered up to her. All eyes now turned to watch the seemingly half-crazy Violet spring down the slope with all possible haste.

    'She'll get us all killed!' muttered Winecup as he sprinted through the gate, with the other Bounders swiftly behind him. Only Brimbur remained, hesitating at the palisade gate. Above the clouds were torn and drifting and sparkling stars peered out; and a keen wind from the west began to blow. He sighed long and loud and then began to trot after his companions, his legs feeling as heavy as tree trunks.

    The hobbits were just catching up to the impertinent young Violet, when there came a hubbub of hoarse voices and a great din and hurrying feet ahead. At once there sprang from the shadows three ruffians. ‘Patrol!’ cried Riesenbread as he flashed out his sword and leapt forward.

    The ruffians grinned evilly and took a step forward, only to freeze in place as the other Bounders quickly took positions besides Riesenbread. They were accustomed to dealing with normal Shire-folk and were taken aback by the bright weapons in the Bounders’ hands and their fierce faces that shone in the flickering light of the torch-poles. One of the Men turned a quick eye down the slope towards the ford but was met with a sharp retort from the others.

    With a rousing cry, the ruffians rallied their faltering courage and hurled themselves upon the hobbits. The fight was brief but fierce; Winecup felled one brigand with a swift stroke of his blade even as the Man hefted his heavy club to dash it upon the hobbit’s furry head. Another ruffian took a wild swing at Pandrae before throwing the weapon at her and turned to flee; the stout hobbit only ducked chased after him into the shadows. There came a croaking cry and then a thud.

    Lastly, Riesenbread and Gennyrose faced the remaining brigand; this fellow was tall and vicious-looking, and seemed not dismayed by the fall of his companions. He darted to one side and brought down his wooden club onto Gennyrose. She cried out in pain and stumbled back as the blow struck her shield. The ruffian laughed aloud and snickered as took a quick step towards her, raising his club for a final killing blow.

    But then Riesenbread shouted and sprang forward and drove the brigand back with swift blows and stabs. He bent to help Gennyrose to her feet and then they faced the ruffian as one and soon the Man lay silent on the ground at their feet.

    Gennyrose turned to the rash young Violet with a quiet word of admonishment as the others bent over the fallen forms of the ruffians. After a quick gaze about, the Bounders began to make their way stealthily down the slope once more. Brimbur looked about uneasily and trotted after Violet. Soon the Bounders fell from view further down the sloping path as the dwarf came to stand beside Violet, who had come to a halt some steps away.

    All seemed at once ominously silent; Brimbur held back a stifled cough as smoke filled his face from a nearby flickering torch. He looked down at Violet with a hesitant glance. Suddenly, from further down the path came cries and the clash of blades. The Bounders had made their way to the ford and were even now attacking the last ruffians that stood in their way.

    Brimbur muttered something under his beard and the shuddered, trying to force his legs to take a step. He was about to speak when the dwarf stopped short as he heard footsteps approaching. As the footsteps drew nearer, a figure came into view from the deep shadows of a tall tree ahead. When the figure was near enough to spot the dwarf and hobbit, it stopped and looked at them.

    It was a brigand, of course, and she stared at them with a leer as a wicked-looking sword flashed in her hands. Brimbur took up his own sword in a shaky hand and raised it for the coming blow. But it was Violet who struck first, crying aloud as she flung herself at the brigand.

    Brimbur cried out as the thrust of the hobbit’s dagger went wide and she was driven back by cruel strokes of the brigand. Just then, Brimbur stumbled blindly forward with a cry of dismay, and stabbed the ruffian from behind. The ruffian cried aloud and whirled round to face the now much frightened dwarf. She snickered and took a step forward, bent upon laying the dwarf down with a single blow.

    Brimbur stumbled back, holding his word out in front of him, and glanced about feverishly for a way out. The ruffian rose tall over the dwarf and drew back her sword with an evil grin. Suddenly there came a shout as a short figure came between them; it was Gennyrose, her blade in one hand and her shield clutched tightly in the other.

    The brigand snarled and hewed at the Bounder with a double-handed stroke; but Gennyrose turned the blow aside with her shield and slashed the ruffian’s legs above the knee. There erupted a groan and a curse and the ruffian toppled over, as Gennyrose stabbed upwards with her blade.

    Brimbur stood with amazement as Gennyrose winked and smiled at him. He returned a weak smile and then the two scrambled after Violet, who had already trotted further down the path. As they reached the ford, they found the others Bounders waiting for them, where several ruffians lay upon the ground. Without a pause, Violet ran down to the bank and began splashing across the river to the other side.

    Brimbur and the others soon followed after her. As Violet reached the far bank, she clambered up and then turned to shout at them. ‘Thanks! I think I can get back on my own now. Please tell Mat I'm all right!’ And with that the hobbit trotted down the road and soon disappeared into the gloom.

    Brimbur staggered out of the water and collapsed onto the bank, his breath now coming in deep, labourous pants. ‘What a foolish girl…’ he said as he watched the hobbit fall from view down the lane. Gennyrose waved goodbye to the fleeting Violet as the others stopped to catch their breath. Then she turned to the dwarf and tipped her green cap to him.

    'Well, you were right, Master Dwarf,’ she said happily. ‘I thank you lettin' us know 'bout this.'

    ‘Yes,’ added Winecup. ‘And I owe you an apology,’ he said with a deep bow to the dwarf. 'I am Winecup Bunce, at your service.’

    ‘And to yours and your family’s!’ replied Brimbur with surprise and bowed very low in return. ‘But how so, master Winecup?’

    'You are a good dwarf,’ said the hobbit with a look at Brimbur. ‘This was Bounder business . . . you need not have concerned yourself. But I'm glad you did. I was suspicious of you....and rude.’ The hobbit tipped his cap from his head with a wave of his arm, adding. 'My apologies.'

    The dwarf’s face turned crimson and he muttered something under his breath, before clearing his voice. ‘Oh, bother! Of course you were not, master Winecup! I am gladdened to have lent my sword to yours in ridding these fine hills of those ill Men!’

  5. #30

    Chapter Fifteen: Bree at Last – 19 Rethe, 3016 TA

    And so the companions turned from Narrowcleeve and made their way down the lane, passing the small stony bridge over the Stock Brook, and came back at last to the Golden Perch. All were very tired and weary from the ordeal in the ruffian camp, but their hearts were lifted and joyous was their voices.

    Yet there was little time for celebration or merriment; word was needed to be brought to the Chief of the Bounders at the Addernotch Station of the discovery of the brigand camp. And of course, Brimbur regretfully had to turn his attention to the long road ahead.

    In the end, the time came for the saddened dwarf to say goodbye to his new friends. Once seated comfortably in the safety and warmth of the inn, the companions relaxed with a few cherished drinks. Brimbur took up his mug of Old Withywindle and raised it high above his head.

    'To the stoutest of hobbit Bounders ever to be found in this beloved Shire!' he declared with a loud cry.
    'Drink up friends....to a mission well accomplished!’ answered Winecup with a shout.

    Brimbur blushed slightly and he stood up from his chair rather clumsily. For a moment, his words stuck in his throat and he wiped his eyes. ‘Confounded dust!’ he muttered softly. This brought a round of smiles from the hobbits as the dwarf cleared his throat and spoke.

    ‘Goodbye Gennyrose! May the memory of our victory never falter!’ he said with a cracking voice, bowing to each in turn. ‘And farewell good Winecup! Take care Riesenbread! May the hair on your toes never shorten! Goodbye Pandrae!’

    The hobbits tipped their caps to the dwarf who turned to stride to the round door of the inn. There he stopped as Winecup called after him. 'Sir Dwarf, I wish you well on your travels!’

    Brimbur did not look back but tilted his head to one side. 'And fare well you all on your journeys from here, little masters!'

    Then he swung open the door and stepped outside. For a long moment Brimbur stood on the steps and his shoulder sagged and shuddered. Then, his lifted his head, sniffed the cool pre-dawn air, and gazed up at the darkened sky dotted with the last faint stars.

    ‘Ah, to the long road once more!’ he said cheerfully.

    Tightening his pack, Brimbur strolled towards the gate and then turned back to the inn as he passed under the arch. ‘Take care, Golden Perch!’ he said with a wave of his hand. He stepped out onto the road outside the gate and paused silently for a moment. He began to stride down the long slope towards the Brandywine Bridge and, in a soft voice, he began to sing.

    '...The world was young, the mountains green, No stain yet on the Moon was seen, No words were laid on stream or stone, When Durin woke and walked alone...'

    Soon, he reached the bottom of the slope and ahead the bridge loomed into view. Brimbur trotted up and stepped onto the bridge with a heavy boot step. 'Ah good stone...this cannot be of Shire craft, most certainly the work of my kinfolk!'

    With swift feet, Brimbur hastened across the bridge and down the road on the far banks of the river. There the road began to wind eastwards, past the crossroads that led off to Buckland to the south. But soon, the land along the riverbanks gave way and now the road ran past skirts of dark trees. The ground to either side went rolling upwards under the shadows of the thickening forests.

    There Brimbur paused silently to gaze out at the forbidding stands of trees that now seemed to stretch their branches over the road like clutching hands. He dared a single breath and then stepped hesitantly forward. As the trees passed overhead, Brimbur’s sharp eyes began to catch fleeting glimpses of dark shapes scuttling between the tree-trunks to either side of the road. There were queer sounds too; grunts and scuffling in the undergrowth and over the many leaves that littered the grass beneath the trees.

    As the trees grew thicker about the road, Brimbur looked up warily at an occasional slender beam of moonlight slipped through the boughs of the many trees, illuminating their tangled branches and leaves with a silvery hue. More to his rising dread, Brimbur instinctively drew tight his cloak and looked nervously at a pair of red eyes that seemed at once to stare at him from the deep shadows of the trees.

    'Is there no end to this accursed forest?' he said muttering in a low voice and hastened his step until the eyes disappeared behind him.

    When he had walked for about an hour or more, Brimbur found that the forest was beginning to thin and soon the trees fell back to stretches of grasslands and meadows. Brimbur sighed loud and loud at the sight and quickened his pace to hurry out of the forest altogether.

    The night was still clear, cool and starry as the forest fell back behind the thankful dwarf, but the first hints of dawn began to grow with a soft light far to the east. The road soon began to pass odd and ancient-looking structures of crumbling stone or the fringes of small coppices along its path. Once or twice the sound of a distant beast came to the dwarf’s ears, which only hastened his footsteps further along than before.

    Finally, the sun broke over the distant horizon and the night sprang back with the coming dawn. The cool air now grew warm in the bright light and wind turned westerly with a gentle inviting breeze. Brimbur began to yawn, and his stomach growled with displeasure. He halted along the road to wipe the damp from his brow and looked about. He spied a nice little spot just ahead and trotted along, the grumbling in his stomach growing ever louder.

    Within moments, the dwarf was seated in a warm breeze under the shade of a tall and leafy ash tree. He took from his pack some cold chicken, a delicious apple and some bread and munched contently on a brief but well-deserved breakfast. When he was done, Brimbur leaned back into the grass and closed his eyes. There he lay, listening to the rhythmic murmur of the gentle wind through the bough of the ash tree for a long time, and began to whistle a soft tune. Moment passed and the whistling soon turned to silence and then to peaceful snoring as Brimbur drifted off into a deep sleep.

    The afternoon had long passed and night had fallen when Brimbur came at last to the Greenway Crossing and drew near to the village of Bree. The road led on towards a deep ditch with a tall hedge on the far side, and then passed through a sturdy wooden gate that stood open.

    Brimbur sighed thankfully at the sight of the gate and plodded a few steps and stopped to gaze up at the structure. 'Hmm, shoddy, simply shoddy,’ he muttered with much disdain and a shake of his beard. ‘Why a hobbit with a simple carpentry hammer could batter this gate down.'

    He was still muttering to himself when something stirred in the deepening shadows of the hedge. Brimbur sprang back in alarm as a formless shape stepped from the shadows beside the gate. It was a watchman, of course, but the sudden sight of him frightened the dwarf terribly.

    ‘Now, now!’ cried Brimbur shaking a fist at the Man as his breath came slowly back. ‘Don’t you be going round frightening weary travelers and visitors like that!’

    The watchman said nothing, but stared at the dwarf for a moment and then stepped back. Still grumbling and muttering softly, Brimbur passed through the gate and onto a brick lane that swept forward past a stable and up a gentle rise lined with tall houses and buildings of wood and stone.

    Just beyond the stable Brimbur spied another watchman standing guard at a crossroads. The Man kept a watchful eye on the passersby as he swatted at a pesky fly about his head. Brimbur adjusted his belt round his waist and strode up to the tall Man.

    ‘Well met, my good friend!’ he said with a cheerful voice and a deep bow. ‘I am Brimbur, of the Blue Mountains! There seems a good deal of you…watchmen I mean…about this town. Is there some war or strife afflicting your folk?’

    The watchman looked down at the dwarf and then swatted once more at the buzzing fly. ‘The constables been busy as bees in a hive, what with all the strangers coming and going,’ he said with growing irritation.

    ‘Strangers?’ grumbled Brimbur and his eyes grew dark; images of the foul ruffians atop Narrowcleeve suddenly crept unwanted into his thoughts. He was about to speak when there came soft steps behind him.

    The dwarf turned to find a red-haired woman standing there; she was clad, as if for battle, in a tunic of white leathers and a sword was hung at her side. Brimbur looked sidelong at the newcomer and then back to the watchman. 'Well I must be good sir,’ he said hesitantly, still glancing back at the woman. ‘But before I go, can you point me to the nearest inn?'

    The watchman did not answer, but the strange woman did. 'The watchers don't say much,’ she said in a clear voice. Brimbur turned round and planted his feet wide. ‘And who might you be?’ he said swiftly and gruffly.

    ‘Brenna,’ she answered softly. ‘I noticed you were deep in conversation with the watcher here. You’re new here?’

    Brimbur looked about nervously at the many horses riding and racing along the street. He shifted and stepped under the eaves of a tall building for good measure. 'Oh he seems a good enough chap; very friendly as Mannish folk go,’ he said finally. 'As to your query, indeed I am. Master Brimbur they call me, and from the Blue Mountains I hail from.'

    'You're looking for the inn, I may have overheard'

    'I am,’ replied the dwarf as he tugged at his short reddish beard. ‘My throat is parched from the dusty road and my stomach desires something a bit more sweetly that cram.'

    'I can't promise much better at the Pony, but we we're just headed that way, if you'd like to join us.'

    'The Pony?’ answered Brimbur as a frown spread across his face. ‘Nay, I have no need for stabling, thank you; only a nice inn with good food and hopefully better drinks!'

    'The Pony is, of course, the Inn,’ said Brenna calmly. ‘However it might not be better than a stable.'

    Again Brimbur scowled. ‘That is an odd name for an inn…I have heard Bree-man are quite peculiar, I only hope that does not extend to their lodging and food!'

    'It is as good as any you will find here in Bree-land.’

    Now the dwarf’s face drew thoughtful and he looked about before speaking further. Finally he spoke. 'By chance, you have not seen others of my folk here about of late? I lost two of my companions and have received no word of them since. They are Harkil and Rurir - the later is not well known to me but Harkil is a good and valiant companion; why he and I stood beside one another as we battled the dreaded wolf chieftain of Waymeet!'

    Brenna looked down at the dwarf and then shook her head slowly, 'I’m afraid it’s hard to take note of the comings and goings here in town, as frequent as they are, even for somebody as unique as a dwarf. But that’s quite a story.’

    'Indeed it is!’ beamed Brimbur with pride. ‘Perhaps once we find this inn of yours, I can relate the full tale to you over a drink of fine wine!'

    Brenna nodded silently and, with the dwarf right behind, she turned and made her way up the lane. The gate soon disappeared behind them as Brimbur’s eyes gazed up at the buildings that now crowded the sides of the road.

    'Ah, Bree...a fine town, if not a bit rustic,’ he said as he walked. ‘Yet that simply adds to its charm! It has been a year or more since I passed through on my way to Ered Luin from the east, and it certainly does not seem to have changed!'

    Brenna turned her head slightly as she walked, and said. 'It never seems to, things stay the same here, I've only just recently arrived back home myself.’

    It was then that Brimbur noticed a second woman following them a few steps back. She too was clad in strange livery akin to Brenna and seemed to keep a watchful eye both on the dwarf and upon Brenna as she went. A vague fear welled up into his mind and the dwarf quickened his pace to walk abreast with Brenna.

    'Who might be the other woman following us?’ he whispered, glancing back at the second woman.

    'My horse-maiden, Ceirea,’ she answered softly and without turning her head to look down at the dwarf.

    'Horse-maiden?' scoffs the dwarf with some surprise. ‘Are you a stabler by trade?

    'Well, no, not quite.’

  6. #31
    Ah, so Bree at last! Brimbur has made it roughly half the distance his long road will carry him to Esteldin. And what luck to run right into some random role playing right after entering the gates!

    Now the difficulty is greatly increased for the story. Brimbur is still only 9th level, though I am planning to run some quests before heading out for Trestlebridge. In fact, I have in store a very special quest chain in Bree for this part of the adventure that will suit Brimbur quite nicely!

  7. #32
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Out of curiosity, when do you normally play Brimbur? I'd be most interested in helping him out in the North Downs and such, seeing as I am both questing and RPing there currently.

    Also, fantastic time reading about Brimbur's adventures with the Bounders, although I can't say he's quite lived up to us Dwarves' reputation as warriors. :P

  8. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Tharonin View Post
    Out of curiosity, when do you normally play Brimbur? I'd be most interested in helping him out in the North Downs and such, seeing as I am both questing and RPing there currently.

    Also, fantastic time reading about Brimbur's adventures with the Bounders, although I can't say he's quite lived up to us Dwarves' reputation as warriors. :P
    I most often play in the evenings, but sometimes will log in during the day over the weekend. Feel free to try to bump into Brimbur any time!

    Lived up to dwarven warrior reputations? Surely you have not heard the tales spoken in but a whisper about Brimbur! Why, did you not know of the hard-won battle against a terrible wolf in the Shire? Or the victorious Battle of Narrowcleeve?

  9. #34

    Chapter Sixteen: The Prancing Pony – 19 Rethe, 3016 TA

    It was very dark and glimmering stars shone from the black sky when Brenna and the dwarf came to the inn. Brimbur found they had passed into a large, cobble-stone courtyard surrounded by a low wall. Along one stood a large building facing a stone fountain and, on 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 courtyard and there was a short flight of steps which went up to a single wooden door. Beneath the archway there was hung a stout wooden signboard that was decorated with a rotund white pony.

    'Here we are. Shall we go in and find you a drink?' said Brenna softly as she turned to gaze down at the dwarf.

    Brimbur looked first at the sign above the door. 'The Prancing Pony...mannish folk do love their horses!' He then turned to the woman. ‘Yes we most certainly should!' he added wagging his beard.

    The dwarf climbed the steps and stepped through the door. He halted as he passed the threshold and blinked for the interior was dim and gazed about the room. A narrow hallway led away from the front door to his right and ahead there opened a large meeting-room lit by a pair of large glowing hearths and many hanging lanterns. 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.

    At others spots, he saw a few Breelanders (both Man and Hobbit) seated at long low tables busy with hushed conversation. Towards the back of the large room someone began singing a merry little tune, mingled with scattered bursts of cheerful laughter and clapping.

    With a grinning smile, Brimbur made his way through the hall until he found a quiet seat at a round table. ‘Ah, here we are,’ he said. ‘A very nice spot, wouldn’t you agree?’

    ‘Yes,’ answered Brenna softly as she took a seat, her companion taking a stance behind her. ‘I’ve never noticed this corner, in fact.’

    Brimbur sat down across the table with a loud groan into the chair. He then glanced about and turned his eyes to Brenna. 'About that drink...' he said curiously.

    With that the strange shield-maiden stepped up and bowed to Brenna. 'A drink, m'lady? And your friend?'

    'Wine it will be, and not some soured sort, but a good red vintage if you please!' answered the dwarf with a grin. Ceirea bowed low once more and then turned to walk through the crowded room. For a time the two seated at the table fell silent and the singing of the hobbit minstrel nearby echoes round them.

    '... the silly old hound would not speak, save but to bully or brag, yet when he'd spy his master's toes all a-woolly....'

    It was then that Brimbur spotted yet another strange fellow that had taken a stand behind Brenna as Ceirea had done. He looked at the swarthy man with watchful eyes, and then leaned forward to whisper to Brenna.

    'That man behind you...is he with you?'

    'Yes,’ she said simply as she turned her head over her shoulder. ’I’m sure you'll understand a sense of caution in a town like this.’

    ‘Are you some lord or chieftain of Men then?' asked Brimbur slowly, cocking his head to one side.

    'No, certainly not anybody of that high standard.’

    Brimbur was about to ask another question when Cierea returned and set down a large pitcher of sweet wine and mugs atop the table. At once all further questions were forgotten and the dwarf eagerly poured a mug for himself and took a long drink. Finally, Brenna broke the silence.

    'What brings a dwarf like you to town tonight, if you don't mind my asking?'

    'Ah, now that is a long tale indeed!’ answered the dwarf as he wiped the wine from his beard. ‘I am journeying to the town of Esteldín, said to be in the far reaches of the North Downs, or so I am told. I seek a master craftsman there, who I desire to teach me his wisdom and lore of crafting.'

    'Yes, I’m quite familiar as a matter of fact. You've come from the Shire, you said?' she then asked politely.

    ‘No, not I, though I passed through the cherished lands of the hobbits to reach here. From Thorin's Hall I began and through the Shire my road has lead me. Many a day now it has been since I left my beloved halls.'

    'I've heard of your halls, in stories only. I'll hear another tonight; tell me about your adventure in the Shire' she said in a low voice.

    'Oh and great must be those tales!' said Brimbur with joy. He reached forward to fill his mug with wine from the pitcher atop the table. 'Ah yes, my tale!' he said finally. He sat up in his chair and cleared his throat with a long smile.

    'A terrible and frightful business it was,’ he began at length. ‘You see a hobbit, Miss Dora was her name, had the misfortune of being run off her very own farm by ravenous wolves! She was desperate for aid and, being a true and rightful Son of Durin, how could I not?' he said gently and with a wink in his eye.

    Brenna set down her mug and leaned in closer, intrigued by the tale. Brimbur took a sip of his wine and then rubbed his short reddish beard before speaking further.

    'The first task was to retrieve her beloved chickens from her farm. I did so willingly yet there at the farm waiting many ferocious and hungry wolves. Long I battled them 'till my blade grew crimson with their foul blood!'

    'Alone, were you?' asked Brenna softly.

    'I was unfortunately,’ sighed the dwarf solemnly. ‘When all the beasts were slain or scattered like the wind, I collected the chickens are flew back to poor young Dora. Ah, but her joy at the return of her precious chickens was enough for the suffering of my wounds, I must say!'

    'I'm sure she gave you something for the trouble, perhaps for your belly?'

    'A few simply coins that I accepted only to not offend her, of course!’ said the dwarf grinning. ‘Yet, this is where the tale grows most dark, for Dora was far too afraid to return to her farm whilst the wolves still prowled the fields about. She pleaded with me to venture into their den and slay the lot of them - this I did without a second thought, because to see this gentle hobbit so pained and in fear shook my heart!'

    The dwarf then shuddered, remembering the dreadful wolf den 'The wolf den was a bastion of dark and forbidding gloom - and filled with their foul stench! There I found them and with my trusted blade, I scattered and slew all that crossed me, until the last fled back over the hills never to return!'

    'Of course, here I believed the end of my trials,’ he said, sitting back in his chair and sticking out his beard. ‘But it was not to be so! When I returned to young Dora, she had the most terrible news! A suitor or sorts, a young hobbit master, had begun to fancy her. His love for Miss Dora was such that he took it upon himself to seek out the chieftain of the wolves and slay it himself!'

    Brimbur looked quickly at Brenna. 'Dora was beside herself with fright of what could happen, and so she begged me to pursue the foolish hobbit and deal once and for all with this dreadful wolf lord. After a long search, I did find the hobbit, and only in the nick of time, I might add. You see, he had planned to lay a trap for the beast, yet the cunning beast had stalked him in turn! When I arrived at the hobbit's camp, we spoke only briefly when the first howl rent the air...'

    'From a near rise there came into view a fierce wolf shape, dark and sinister, in the deep shadows of the growing dusk. A shuddering howl broke from the beast as it leapt down into our midst! With no thought of my own safety, I pushed the hobbit back and faced the beast, my trusted blade held in hand.'

    The dwarf rubbed his arm as if remembering a long unhealed wound. 'The wolf nipped with the sharpest of fangs even as I hewed its scarred hide. Long we battled until my arm sagged and my eyes dimmed from the great wounds. Just when I believed all was lost, I found my opening and hewed the head from the beast!'

    Brimbur fell silent and took his mug to drain it. 'Never have I faced such a foe and lived! I heard that some of the hobbit folk round Waymeet had begun to call me Fur-cutter...such nonsense of course!'

    'I can only wish a fantastic story like that, were only a story,’ said Brenna when the dwarf did not speak again. 'Instead, I hear tales similar, but often with darker endings.'

    There suddenly came rousing clapping and voices rose nearby. Brimbur turned to glance about as the voices rang out as one.

    ‘Ha, ha ha! A great tale!’ said one voice.

    ‘I must learn that song! What a great fit for parties!' added another.

    ‘A delightful tale!' cries still another.

    Brimbur blushed and stammered then smiled wide at the cheers from the other patrons in the inn, thinking it was for his tale and not the minstrel atop the stand. He muttered something and fidgeted in his chair. Just then, Brenna rose from the table and stiffly bowed low to the dwarf.

    'An exceptional tale, I’m sure it will be shared from the Shire to Esteldín,’ she said.

    Brimbur stood up abruptly, knocking over the mugs atop the table to bow before the tall woman. ‘Are you leaving so soon, master Brenna?'

    'There are darker things than wolves, good Dwarf,’ she said grimly with a slight nod of her head. ‘And we've come a long way to see that the fine Bree-landers never know it. Perhaps we'll meet in Esteldín, safe travels.’

    'Fare well then on your journey, master Brenna,’ said Brimbur with a wave. ‘And may Durin protect you wherever you go!'

    He sat down onto his chair and watched the trio pass through the crowded hall and disappeared from sight. He leaned back in the chair with a long sigh. 'Ah, yes the road had been very long...' he said softly and turned to gaze out at the folk about him and sipped on his wine.

  10. #35

    Chapter Seventeen: Turtles for the Soup – 20 Rethe, 3016 TA

    Brimbur awoke sleepily the next morning and clambered out of bed with a long groan. He stood beside the bed in the dim light, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, and turned to pull back the curtains on the window. He pushed open the window to look out on the dawning morning; it was cool, bright and clean under a washed sky of gentle blue hues. The dwarf sniffed the air and began to get dressed.

    When his boots were firmed pulled onto his stout feet, Brimbur stood up once more and looked about the room. He found atop a wooden round table beside the bed a large hand-bell, a basin of clean water and a towel or two. The dwarf lifted the bell and began to ring it vigourously and loudly.

    Momentarily, there was a knock at the door; Brimbur opened it to find a cheerful-looking hobbit standing hovering at the door, looking up at his bearded face with curious interest. The dwarf laughed and smiled broadly as he turned to begin splashing water on his face.

    ‘Ah, good!’ he said with a sputtering voice.. ‘I will be needing breakfast, young master; but I do not take kindly to being seated atop the edge of a bed while enjoying a fine meal! Be a good lad and show me to a more suitable room and then fetch me some breakfast!’

    Brimbur wiped his face with a towel, then reached for his cloak and swept round his shoulders. He was soon led down the short hallway and through an archway into a small but cosy parlour. There was a bright fire burning in the hearth, and some very comfortable chairs seated round a long table. The dwarf pulled back a chair and sat down with a plop atop it.

    ‘Now about breakfast,’ he muttered hungrily. ‘I think some bacon, bread…some pads of butter mind you…and some cheese if you please?’ the hobbit stood bobbing at the archway before he nodded swiftly and scampered off down the hall.

    ‘And don’t you be forgetting some ale!’ cried Brimbur after the hobbit. It was not long when the hobbit came bustling back with a tray full of plates and pitchers. The dwarf began to plunge into the fine food set atop the table as the hobbit stood hovering nearby before turning round and disappeared.

    When he could not take another bite, Brimbur groaned loudly, pushed his chair back from the table and set his booted feet atop the corner of the table. There he sat contentedly for long moments, his stomach gratefully full. After a time, he took out his pouch and pipe; he leaned back into the chair and began sending from his lips thin wisps of smoke into the air.

    He smoked in silence, his eyes nearly closed and sung softly to himself. At last the dwarf sat up, stamped out his pipe on a plate, and slowly climbed to his feet. He took up a napkin, wrapped up a few remaining pieces of bacon and cheese, and then slid it into his pocket. Brimbur strode to the archway and glanced down the hall before making his way into the common room. It was quiet and empty, unlike the night before. He looked up with a smile to see the innkeeper behind the bar.

    ‘It grows far too stuffy here, master Butterbur,’ he said as he walked over to the bar. ‘I think I shall take a walk outside and clear my head.’

    Brimbur was not sleepy or tired, but terribly bored; he decided now that breakfast was taken care of, to go out and explore the town. He bowed to the fat innkeeper and passed through the front door. Outside, the sun was now climbing and the morning getting on and the last of the dawn mists were floating away in the stiffening breeze.

    He set out first down the lane from the inn, passing through the Market Gate and down into the Market Square. One or two curious of the Bree-folk stared at him (rudely as well, thought Brimbur) as he passed, but his face was courteous and joyous, and he bowed to all he met.

    He occasionally laughed aloud at some mirthful thing, or sang a gentle tune as he walked, heedless of the many glances that brought him. There was much coming and going; he swiftly and nervously stepped under the eaves of a tall building beside the lane more than once as a wain, some drawn creeping by oxen, or others swifter and led by horses, came rattling up the lane with haste.

    Now and again a horseman came galloping up the lane, passing him with a sudden breeze, and giving the poor dwarf an awful scare.. Most he saw were Men of Bree, but his keen eyes caught sight of hobbit-folk as well, that lived in Bree. To the dwarf, they seemed rather odd; they were brown-skinned, as if from long days in the fields under a heavy sun, darker-haired, and a good deal broader than any hobbit he had met within the Shire.

    And so Brimbur munched on the morsels that had saved from breakfast as he made his way down from the hill. He came at last by the winding lane, past many side roads and alley and arches and merchant stalls, to the Woodsmens’ Gate. As he drew near the gate, there was much sound of running and galloping and bustling, and Brimbur thought he heard horns or trumpets blowing.

    As he passed under the gate, he spotted something nailed to one of the wooden posts. He paused and turned with straining eyes to a sheet of paper hanging from the post. The writing on the bill was scrawled with a messy hand, as if the author had many such notices to prepare and could not mask his impatience with the task. It reads simply:

    Greetings to you, friend!

    Have the delicious smells emanating on a hungry day from Mandrake's Finest Stews and Sauces caused you to desire that meal-time was nearer? If so, you know the high quality of Sig Mandrake's preparations and know what is at stake, should they be hindered.

    Sig Mandrake has a need for interested parties to help him with the preparation of such a stew. Speak with him at his shop here in Bree, east of the Mud-gate, for the details.

    Brimbur read the bill in silence, the read it again before tearing it from the attached nail and stuffing into his pocket. He then glanced about and started back up towards the hill. He soon found his way back to the Market Square.

    In the square market-booths were set up and there was some coming and going of people. There he found grocer to whom he asked his question. 'Say, good fellow, might you tell me where to find the Mud Gate?’ asked the dwarf with a low bow.

    The provisioner said nothing but only shook his head mildly as he lifted up a basket of wrinkled and sour-looking apples. ‘No, no…’said Brimbur with some bother. ‘I am in need of no such provisions this day!’

    Brimbur looked up at the food monger and sighed as the provisioner went on crying his food stuffs to sell. He turned away with heavy boot steps and back down the long lane from the rising hill. It was not long when the dwarf reached the bottom of the hill and there halted along the lane; here, the lane turned left and right around a tall building of stone that stood beyond a wide grassy yard fenced in with a low stone wall. He turned his head this way and that, uncertain where to go.

    'Now let me see...that way is off to the South Gate if I am not mistaken,’ he said muttering softly as he turned his head to glance east. ‘But the Mud Gate...silly name for such a fine thing! Where would one find it?'

    Presently, a tall dark-haired woman came striding up the lane from the east. She paused, a slight look of bemusement on her face, and listened as the dwarf muttered to himself. She then walked up to him and spoke.

    ‘Excuse me? Are you lost?’

    Brimbur whirled round with surprise at the voice and flinched slightly back. When he saw the gentle face of the woman, he took a deep breath and relaxed. 'Why...lost! Certainly not!’ he said with much indignation. ‘I am in the fine Mannish town of Bree. But if you mean in a more general way of being lost, then I am afraid I must say yes.'

    'Oh? Is that so?’ the woman answered with a slight smile on her lips. ‘What is the matter?'

    Brimbur tugged at his beard and looked about. 'Well I am in search of a shop, Mandrake's Finest Stews and Sauces. It is said to be found east of the Mud Gate, nearer the southwestern fountain. Yet I have found no mud around here, and certainly gate made of mud, if you pardon my expression!'

    ‘Mandrake's shop?’ said the woman as she chuckled softly into her hand. ‘I know where that is; it is indeed by Mud Gate, which is not a gate made of mud at all, but an archway that leads to the western alleyway... erm, you may hear locals call it Beggar's Alley. I can show you where it is, if you wish?’

    'Alleyway? Beggar's Alley?' said the dwarf, his eyes twitching as they glanced about nervously. 'You don’t suppose there are ruffians or ill-favoured fellow about there, do you? I have had my fill of such folk, I must say!'

    'Well, not everyone there is, no. But worry not; the shop itself is not in Beggar's Alley. It is some several meters away from Mud Gate. You should be all right.'

    'Well, for such a generous offer, I must properly introduce myself,’ exclaimed the dwarf with a low bow. ‘I am Brimbur, at your most pleasurable service!'

    The woman tipped her head. ‘Laerlin, daughter of Maendir; well met, Master Brimbur.’

    'At yours and your family's, dear Laerlin!' answered the dwarf bowing still lower. ‘Now, come, how about this shop…’

    ‘Very well, then,’ said Laerlin as she smiled wide. ‘You were going the right way: I will walk with you.’

    Brimbur frowns and glances over his shoulder. 'I was?’ said Brimbur with a frown and look of befuddlement. ‘Ah, but of course I was!’ he added swiftly. ‘My nose is the keenest in all of Thorin's Hall!

    ‘Of that I am sure,’ said Laerlin with a chuckle and a nod. She turned and began walking down the lane to the right. Brimbur glanced about and then hurried after her.

    'I am very eager to speak with this fellow there...his notice spoke of some wonderful stews...' said the dwarf as his quick steps brought him next to the tall woman.

    'Stew? Oh, that sounds most delicious.’

    'Indeed!’ said the dwarf hungrily. ‘And when we arrive, we shall see if this stew is as good as people say!'

    'Have you been in Bree-town long, Master Brimbur?' asked Laerlin as they walked along the lane slowly and without hurry.

    Brimbur sneezed loudly as they nearer a small stable beside the lane ahead. 'Hrmph! Horses! I never did like those foul beasts!' he said, as he took in a long breath before beginning to cough and choke a bit. The sound of whinnying and stomping of hooves went up into the air as they reached the stable ahead.

    'Not long,’ answered the dwarf when he caught his breath once more. ‘In fact I only just now arrived a few days ago.'

    The stable soon fell behind them and they came to a portion of the lane that wound down a slight slope and was lined with neat green hedges chest-high. Brimbur paused and looked about as Laerlin pointed to a wooden fence and archway leading up to a wooden door in the side of a low building.

    'This is the shop? I must say it does little to encourage me here by the sight of it...' said Brimbur quietly.

    ‘Yes, this is it,’ said Laerlin. ‘And just down there is Mud Gate, and the alley,’ she added gesturing down the path.

    Brimbur looked about with a grateful sigh. 'At least no ruffians or alleyways...then we shall not venture there!
    Leave it to the mannish folk to deal with all the mud!'

    ‘Best left to the Watch,’ said Laerlin with a nod.

    Brimbur strode under the low wooden arch and climbed the short steps to the door. There he hesitated and then grasped the door knob and swung it open before stepping inside. He had taken only a single step within when there came the snarling ire of an unseen hound from the gloom within. He froze and squinted as his eyes grew accustomed to the gloom.

    Slowly, he could make out a narrow foyer; on the other side climbed several low steps to an archway that led further into a widening room beyond. There on the steps lay a russet-furred hound, which lifted his head and barked loudly at the dwarf.

    Brimbur looked down at the large hound worriedly and then, with careful eyes, stepped quickly over the reclining hound and into the room beyond. There he found a nice cozy little space, lit by a smoky hearth to one side. Barrels and shelves of cooking supplies lined the simple unadorned walls. Next to the hearth stood a man, his face was framed by short-cropped burnt-orange hair; he looked up at the dwarf and paused his sweeping.

    'Greetings young master!’ said the dwarf as he bowed deeply and spoke very rapidly. ‘Might you be Sig Mandrake?'

    'You are here about the turtle soup, I presume?’ said the shop keeper as he set aside his broom and brushed the dust from his apron. ‘I have had callers all day! Perhaps I prepared too many of those notices. My hobbit-friend has been very eager about posting them, I must say.’

    'Indeed I am!’ answered the dwarf with a bobbing nod of his head. ‘What may I ask troubles you in this?'

    'I have come into possession of an order for a large batch of turtle soup. Normally this would not be a problem, but the desired recipe is most specific about the sort of turtles that can be used. Not just nay turtle will do. They must be tiny turtles, and these are found only at very specific locations.’

    'I cannot say I have had the pleasure of a turtle soup...’ said Brimbur slowly. ‘Yet I am most eager to try a taste!'

    'You wish to join the ranks of the many, many adventurers who have agreed to help me with this? Good, I suppose. Tiny turtles, like those I need, can be found south of Bree, along the northern bank of Halecatch Lake.'

    'Me? An adventurer?’ said Brimbur with a laugh. ‘Heavens no! I am none other than the most loyal and steadfast companion of Lord Glóin! Adventurer indeed!' Then he began tugging at his short beard and finally looked up at the shop keeper.

    'So you are in need of said turtles for the pot and kettle? The Halecatch Lake? Very good master Sig! I will set out to collect the savage turtles and let no foe dare stop me in my search, or else they shall face the bite of my blade!'

    With a last bow, Brimbur turned to stride back to the steps, tip toeing carefully over the hound. Laerlin rose to her feet with one last pat on the hound’s shaggy head. 'So, he does not have any stew ready, does he?' she asked.

    Brimbur glanced down suspiciously at the hound and then up at his companion. 'Well, well, turtles in the soup indeed! This Sig fellow is in need of turtles for the pot as it were…and he has asked me to go find them for him!'

    ‘Did he?’ said Laerlin with a raised brow. ‘And you are going to go catch them?’

    'Catch them I will! I daresay this Sig fellow may offer a fair price for them as well.'

    'Well, if you are in need of coin, it should be worth the effort, I suppose...’ answered Laerlin thoughtfully. ‘And possibly amusing. Do you know where the lake is?'

    Brimbur tugged at his beard with a sheepish grin. 'I do, or at the least the name of it...how about you accompany me? Two sets of hands will scoop up turtles must swifter than one.’

    ‘I have time,’ said Laerlin with a faint smile. ‘I will show you where it is, so you are not stuck wandering all the land south of Bree.’

    'Most excellent then!’ cried the dwarf happily. ‘But the morning draws late and lunch is calling. Perhaps we can return to the inn for a bit of food and set out at dawn?'

    ‘If you so wish,’ said Laerlin with a smile as she nodded towards the door.

  11. #36
    Brimbur has reached the glorious level of 10!

    It won't be long before the tales of his wonderful deeds will stand triumphant beside those of many of his illustrious forefathers!

  12. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Brucha View Post
    Brimbur has reached the glorious level of 10!

    It won't be long before the tales of his wonderful deeds will stand triumphant beside those of many of his illustrious forefathers!

  13. #38

    Chapter Eighteen: Turtle Hunting – 21 to 22 Rethe, 3016 TA

    In the morning, Brimbur rose late; he did not leave his room straight away but lounged for a long time, first in his bed, then swung open the beautiful round windows and glanced outside. The morning that followed the dismal rain the day before was clear again, with a warm sun and a wind that was turning towards the South. The dwarf breathed in the fine air and then sat at the single round table where he began to tend lovingly to his fine cloak and tunic of crimson leather.

    It was close on eleven when he finally called for one of the hobbit porters, who came scuttling down the hall when Brimbur opened the door to his room and bellowed out. ‘I dare say a bit of breakfast is in order, and a mug or two of mulled ale sounds pleasant as well,’ he said to the puffing, flushed hobbit bobbing at the door. ‘And tell old Butterbur to prepare some lunch in a haversack if you please.’

    Brimbur then turned to take his leave of the anxious hobbit, but not before calling over his shoulder. ‘And don’t you be forgetting my mulled ale!’ he shouted as he shut the door loudly. The dwarf began to dress, and then stood before the mirror above the wardrobe next to the door. He smiled broadly at his reflection, only once frowning at a slight wrinkle on his tunic, and then popped the door open and made his way down into the common room.

    He found the room below quiet and fairly empty; there came to his ears only a few muted and low voices of the few guests seated here or there in small pairs or trios. The many lamps hung from the rafters shone bright in the dim room, half-hidden by the seemingly perpetual cloud of thick smoke wafting around the rafters overhead.

    Brimbur took a seat at a small table before the hot embers of the hearth nearer the back of the common room, and looked about at the few hobbits and Bree-men seated about the room; his eyes squinted to spy several of the swarthy, ill-savoury Men he had spotted before. They seemed sullen and had few words with others nearby, and what words they spoke came harsh and ireful.

    Presently, Butterbur brought over a tray of food and Brimbur sat there warming himself in the warmth of the fire and ate his meal with relish, before leaning back in his chair to drink a bit of mulled wine in silence.

    He had all but forgotten the shifty fellows when a chorus of voices, sounding very harsh and incensed, rang out. The dwarf sat up at once in his chair and looked about. ‘I will see you outside, and we will settle this!’ said a cruel voice that sounded cross and demanding. Brimbur turned his head, trying to spot the location of the voice; but his gaze was interrupted when his eyes fell upon a strange and ominous-looking figure, half-veiled in the dim light, leaning up against one of the wooden supports to one side. The figure’s face was hidden from view by a deep hood, but it was obvious that it seemed to be watching him very intently.

    Brimbur shifted in his chair uncomfortably and glanced about just as the figure chuckled softly from beneath its dark hood. Suddenly the dwarf started in the chair as the figure strode towards the table with swift steps. ‘Master Barliman mentioned something about a travelling Dwarf being here. Good to see you again, Master Brimbur,’ said the stranger as it threw back the hood to reveal a fair face framed by dark hair.

    ‘Laerlin!’ cried the dwarf with a scolding look on his face. Yet he was rather relieved by her arrival, believing some ruffian or Ne'er-do-well had chosen this time for bringing mischief to him. ‘I awoke yesterday only to find you gone!’ he added with exasperation.

    ‘There was an emergency I had to see to,’ said Laerlin softly. 'I am a healer by profession, you see.'

    Brimbur scoffed a bit at that with some disbelief, then smiled and stood up from his chair. 'No matter! I did as master Mandrake asked and went hunting turtles for his pot. Yet the weather turned rather foul and rain fell until I was thoroughly soaked. The rain soured my mood and even more for the turtles I was hunting. Nasty beasts there were, gnashing teeth and talons all!’ The dwarf lifted up one arm in the dim night. ‘I took a bite or scratch before I collected enough in my sack to bring back to him!'

    'I am sorry that I missed your outing; by the time I returned to the inn, Master Barliman said you were gone. I am glad that this turtle collecting went well, though, and that you were able to find the lake on your own.'

    'I am afraid that was not enough for the soup-maker!’ answered the dwarf tugging at his beard. ‘Sig Mandrake informed me that a hobbit, Grobo be his name, is keeping a sack of turtles in his basement away in Staddle. He asked me to fetch them and return.'

    ‘Do you know where Staddle is?’ asked Laerlin with a faint smile and a raise of her brow.

    'No, I am afraid! But it surely is not far...' said Brimbur with a shrug. 'All this business about turtles...' He reached to munch the last piece of bacon from the plate on the table. 'Well, what would you say to aiding me in finding this Staddle?'

    Laerlin glanced over her shoulder towards the window. ‘Barring anymore emergencies, I suppose I could show you where Staddle is - if you do wish for my company.’

    'I do wish that,’ said Brimbur rapidly as he nodded vigourously with a wag of his crimson beard. 'But keep your blade sharp and your eyes keen! These turtles are fierce and take none too kindly to be placed into a pot of any size above a fire!'

    ‘Of course, of course,’ answered the tall woman with a bemused smirk on her face.

    'Well let us get this foolish business attended to!' said the dwarf finally as he stooped to lift his pack to his shoulders and began striding towards the front of the inn. 'Reduced to turtle-hunting...me...the loyal and steadfast companion of Lord Glóin himself!'

    Outside, the two companions found the morning long past and a fine day was brewing; the sun floated among some billowing clouds and the air was warm and pleasant. Brimbur shifted his pack on his shoulders and looked about expectantly. Laerlin followed the dwarf’s gaze and smiled.

    'Ah, Staddle is southward, and then east at the second bend, Master Brimbur,’ she said with a nod to the lane running south from the courtyard of the inn.

    Brimbur took a deep breath and smiled in return. Thank goodness there is no rain! South, you say. Very well, lead on!’ He then began to walk off with his smiling companion down the narrow lane that ran south from the inn towards the Market Square. Once or twice they stepped to the side of the lane to allow a swiftly-galloping horseman pass and Brimbur looked up at the occasional face that peered from the windows of the building to either side.

    ‘Is this Staddle a dangerous place?’ asked the dwarf after some silence.

    ‘Not at all,’ answered Laerlin with a shake of her head. ‘Mainly hobbits reside there.’

    'Oh, hobbits!’ laughed Brimbur. ‘Ah, I am very fond of the Shire-folk! Excellent cooks they are, but rather excitable little chaps. Yet they can be very clever and stout in a pinch! I no doubt found this to be ever true in the battle with those ruffians!’

    'They are not exactly like the folks of the Shire, but they are still a good people, ‘said Laerlin softly. ‘Excitable I suppose is a good word.'

    It was not long when they reached the Market Square and there, Laerlin turned up a sloping lane to the east even narrower than the main lane. Tall buildings of wood and fieldstone clustered to either side as the lane climbed higher up. Suddenly, as they reached the top, there loomed up at the top a stout gate of wood stretching across the lane ahead. Laerlin led the dwarf through the gate and, as the hedge-row fell behind them, the road began to bend away eastwards to run down towards a woody country. Soon they could see some of the houses and hobbit-holes in a shallow hollow beside the banks of a clear pond ahead.

    As the companions made their way down the sloping lane, they came upon a wide circular commons where there stood a few rustic-looking smials, a nice roofed gazebo, and even a small forge and open-air oven. There Laerlin halted and pointed down into the commons below. ‘We may try asking someone here in the marketplace about Grobo’s home,’ she said plainly.

    ‘Here?’ stammered the dwarf, very put out of his stride by the sight. ‘That is a marketplace?’

    ‘It's not much, I suppose, but Staddle is a rather small town,’ she answered with a shrug. ‘Village square may be a better term.’

    Brimbur looked sidelong at the tall woman and then skeptically at the commons with deep suspicion. ‘Well, Sig did mention about Grobo’s house being on the eastern side of the village…’

    Laerlin clears her throat. ‘That is where most of the hobbit holes are,’ said Laerlin.

    You say, 'We shall see, now won't we!’ answered the dwarf loudly and not with much hope. ‘Perhaps up that lane over there?'

    Laerlin followed the outstretched arm of the dwarf to where there could be seen a narrow dirt lane, lined with trees and wooden fences, that wound away from the commons into the east. Without waiting for a reply, the dwarf strode through the commons; only when his boots touched the dusty lane did he pause to peer back at Laerlin. He whistled loudly and waves his arm for her to follow.

    The walk through the outskirts of Staddle was, much to the dwarf’s astonishment, not unpleasant and he was thoroughly enjoying it. The sun was shining but not too hot and the wind blew soft and cool. The trees lining the lane were leafy and full of colour, and all seemed rather peaceful and wholesome.

    For some time, they passed one or two smials or fields before they came to a fork in the lane, leading south down into a cluster of trees and north along a slope past a stand of brush. Here Brimbur paused once more, and wiped the damp from his brow. ‘By all that Durin holds dead…a crossroads as it were and not even a signpost for directions!’

    ‘You can try asking that hobbit lady over there where Grobo lives,’ she said, pointing towards a short hobbit miss standing in front of her beautiful smial. But Brimbur did not step form the lane to approach the hobbit. Instead, he cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted aloud with a deep, booming voice that startled the birds into flight from the nearby trees.

    'Say you there! Yes you! Where might I find Grobo Dogwort's farm?' The hobbit miss looked up with astonishment as the dwarf hurried over towards her with breathless words.

    ‘Yes, yes, I am sorry for the loss of your Bodo...’ he said hurriedly, waving his hand as the hobbit tried to speak. ‘I have more pressing matters than lost Bodos, whatever they may be. I must find master Dogwort's farm. Can you help us?’

    Soon Brimbur came rushing back as swiftly as he had left and groaned aloud with a shake of his head. 'Poor lass, lost her Bodo, whatever that may be...probably a barn cat...'

    ‘Or a family member, you never know,’ said Laerlin quietly as she hid a rising smirk upon her widening face.

    Brimbur squinted up at his companion, unsure if she was making jest and then looked to the left path. ‘Well, let us try up the lane to the left,’ he muttered and began striding up the short slope. It was already late afternoon and the sun had begun to sink low in the sky. Even now, Brimbur began to ponder what they ought to do – should they go no further in such a hopeless search altogether and camp for the night, or continue on. He was still deep in thought when a large smial, build into the rocky side of a tall cliff wall, came into view.

    The dwarf shook himself from his pondering and looked up. 'Well, now this looks promising,’ he said encouragingly.

    ‘Seems to be a rather large hole,’ said Laerlin a she gazed out over the smial.

    'Indeed, but not a hole as dwarf would think of dwelling in!' laughed Brimbur heartily. Without another word, he strode to the larger of two round doors and knocked loudly with a bang and clatter of his gloved fist. He paused and looked about, then grasped the handle and swung the door open.

    ‘Grobo! Grobo!’ he shouted as he poked his beaded face inside. With one last glance about, he stepped inside. Laerlin soon followed, careful to stoop low under the doorway so as not to bump her head. As she stepped into the foyer within, she watched as the dwarf hurried down the sloping hall, a slight smile dancing on her face, before following after him.

    Below they found a comfortable living room, all proper hobbit-fashion of course. Near the small but crackling hearth stood a much frightened hobbit, who nearly leapt from his skin at the sight of a strange dwarf rushing down into his home. ‘Be you Grobo Dogwort?’ asked Brimbur swiftly as he heaved a breath. ‘I have been sent by Sig Mandrake to collect his turtles for the pot!'

    'Oh my! Are you here about the…the…the turtles?’ said the hobbit as he breathed a sigh of relief, now that he was certain it was not brigands invading his home. ‘Good, good! You have no idea what that means to me! My nephew Benegar collected a bunch of turtles and has apparently been keeping them in my shed. I went in there this morning to fetch some supplies for breakfast, and what do I see? Tu-tu-turtles everywhere! They must have used their horrible little beaks to loosen the tie on the bag, and they have scampered loose!’

    Brimbur’s face began to turn pale as he listened to the hurried words of the shaken hobbit. ‘Turtles everywhere? Horrible little beaks?' he stammered uncomfortably. He then cleared his throat even as his shoulders began to quiver slightly. 'Never fear, master Dogwort! We shall deal with these beasts!' he said, not sounding very convincing. He then turned to look at Laerlin with an imploring look in his eyes. 'Right?'

    ‘I suppose so, yes,’ she said smiling. ‘Terrible menace, turtles…’

    'They are crawling all around the shed!’ stuttered the hobbit as he looked hopefully at the two standing in his living room. ‘Do me a favour and pick up the bag inside the shed, and gather up the turtles! Let me know when you have done it. I am so scared of tu-tu-turtles I cannot stand to do it myself!'

    'Then let us finish this and quickly!' said Brimbur as he turned to stride back up the hall, his legs feeling heavy and unwilling to move. Once outside, he looked towards the smaller round door of the smial at the far end. ‘I guess it's this one,’ he said uncomfortably.

    With heavy unforgiving steps, the dwarf approached the door, took in a deep breath and held it momentarily before opening the door. With another deep breath, he stepped very carefully inside only to halt abruptly as a strange sound reached his ears. It was the oddest of sounds, something like the mingling of noisy breathing or hissing that seemed almost like moaning.

    At once, all manner of spectral visages and apparitions flooded into Brimbur’s thoughts and he imagined frightful wraith-like forms awaiting him within. Brimbur began to shake all over and he choked back a rising cry as he took a hesitant step forward. With the slowest of steps, the dwarf descended into the cellar. What greeted him were not ghosts or other horrible things of the night but a cellar teeming with small, green turtles the size of a small farm dog.

    'By Durin's beard, this cellar is filled with the beasts!' gasped Brimbur, thankful his fear of spirits haunting the cellar was not realized. Yet the sight of the turtles did very little to quell his failing courage. He glanced at Laerlin with fear-filled eyes and then slowly drew his blade from its scabbard; he took only a single step and then leapt back as one of the turtles turned its tiny head up and hissed.

    The dwarf gathered his courage as he wrinkled his nose. ‘The stench here is beyond foul! Let us hurry and scoop these beasts into the sack and get out of here!'

    ‘Right...’ answered Laerlin as she gazed down at him expectantly. Brimbur gazed back at her with disbelief until she nodded her head slowly; she carefully stepped towards the nearest turtle from behind and with a quick flash, took it in her hands and stuffed it into the sack lying near the stairs. Laerlin turned to do the same with another, scowling as the beast snaps and hissed before being slipped into the sack with the other. Soon both dwarf and woman were dancing about the cellar, collecting each turtle and stuffing them into the widening sack.

    Finally, Brimbur plopped the last turtle into the waiting sack and gingerly hefted it over one shoulder with a groan. He looked about and then cried out. 'That be the last of them...now, let us get out of here!’

  14. #39

    Chapter Nineteen: Twice the Turtles – 22 to 23 Rethe, 3016 TA

    'You have asked much of a dwarf of Ered Luin and a Lady of Bree, master Grobo!’ said Brimbur when they returned to the hobbit’s smial with the spoils of their labour. ‘Yet we have captured the foul turtles as you asked!' he swiftly added as he set down a writhing sack at the hobbit’s furry feet.

    'That's the turtle-carrying sack, is it? They are in there?’ exclaimed the hobbit as he looked down at the sack with apprehension. ‘Oh, I can hear them plotting to escape again! The tiny little monsters! Can you imagine how horrible it would be if they grew any larger than this? Oh, I cannot bear it! They are bad enough at this size! I don't know what Benegar was thinking, keeping them in my shed. He knows how I feel about turtles!'

    'Grow larger!’ grumbled the dwarf. ‘Let us hope not!’

    Laerlin stood silent and bemused at the exchange, hiding a growing smile on her lips. Brimbur glanced up at her with a look of confusion, then back to the hobbit. ‘But now about this business, master Grobo?’

    The hobbit looked up from the wriggling sack. 'You know, I haven't seen my nephew Benegar since he left that bag of turtles in my shed. I hope the boy has not gotten himself into some turtle-related mischief! Return that bag of turtles to Sig Mandrake at his shop in Bree and see if he has heard any more news of my nephew.'

    The dwarf nodded grimly, took up the heavy laden sack, and turned round to stomp up the hall and into the bright fresh air outside. 'We must bring these sacks back to Sig Mandrake, my friend,’ he said with a groan as Laerlin followed him from the smial at last. ‘And I hope this nasty turtle business will be at an end then!'

    'Most hopefully,’ chuckled Laerlin softly as the pair began to slow march back to Bree. Brimbur took in a deep breath of the fresh air but stayed silent form some time. It was not until Staddle slowly came into view ahead did the silence break.

    ‘I am not actually from Bree, you know,’ said Laerlin softly. 'Though I certainly have picked up some of the vernacular...'

    'You are not?' laughed the dwarf mirthfully.

    'Indeed, no. I come from the southern lands, Gondor, to be precise.'

    'Ah, Gondor...a fine land indeed!' said the dwarf. 'Yet their folk are far too grim for me!'

    That it is,’ answered Laerlin slowly. ‘Though more of a description I've heard often enough given to my husband, but less to me’

    'Husband?' said Brimbur with a slight quizzical look.

    'Yes. We married back in the spring.'

    'Ah, Spring…a gladdening time and best for such a thing! Sadly my people have few women-folk I am afraid...'

    'It does seem that way; I am sorry.'

    It was well past Dusk and the sun long set over the distant West when the companions found their way to Sig Madrake’s shop and finally back to the Prancing Pony. At once, Brimbur waved off any notion of drink or meal and went straight away to bed. Within the quiet peace of his room, the dwarf slid his fine boots under the bed, and laid down, not bothering to remove his tunic or cloak. He sighed long and shivered a bit before he fell right to sleep.

    So much like a stone did he sleep that Brimbur did not stir once during the night. It was not until there came a soft knock upon the door in the cool hour just before the dawn that he awoke. He sat up, shaking his head groggily, and then staggered over to the door with only his stocking on his feet. 'What is it, by Durin's beard...' he said with some irritation as he opened the door.

    He looked down at the expectant hobbit he now found standing in the hallway with some displeasure. 'Alright, alright! I am awake...' he said stifling back a yawn. He turned towards the darkened window and then back to the hobbit. 'Are you entirely sure it is Late Watches?' he said with disbelief. 'Oh very well! Tell Miss Laerlin I shall be down in a moment...'

    Brimbur turned to sit atop the bed, put on his boots, and stood up once again to make his way down into the common room. Thankfully, it was quiet and empty as he strode through the room, glancing about for sight of his friend. His search was not long and he soon found Laerlin seated at a table, sipping a mug in front of her. But she was not along; beside her stood a tall Man, garbed like a guardsman.

    'There you are! Sneaking about and hiding in the shadows like a sneaky dourhand!' he said stalking towards the pair with a flush in his face as he eyed the tall Man with some suspicion.

    ‘Now, what about this business of finding this lake...Everlark Lake, or Evenleer Lake...oh, whatever it is so named!' said the dwarf exasperatedly.

    ‘And a good morning to you, too, Master Brimbur,’ said Laerlin with a smile. Her eyes then flitted to the man beside her. ‘This is my husband, Darramir.’

    At that, the man nodded to the dwarf, his eyes turning steely and dark. ‘Is there a particular reason you equate my wife to an enemy of your people as a greeting, master dwarf?’

    'Husband...?' said Brimbur rather confused and surprised. He then grumbled a swift and soft apology. 'But of course, your husband!' he said quickly with a deep bow. 'I have heard only the most wonderful of you, good sir! But an enemy? Oh, no, no only a slight humour I can assure you!'

    Darramir, glanced to his wife with a smile then back at the dwarf. ‘Then no offense is taken,’ he said kindly as he leaned back, taking a more relaxed seating. ‘Off to hunt more turtles?’

    ‘Indeed!’ answered the dwarf.

    ‘I suppose you're anxious to go to Everclear, yes?' added Laerlin quickly.

    'Ah, yes Everclear! Yes that is its name!’ stammered Brimbur. ‘And hopefully we shall find this lost hobbit, Benegar Longbottom and discover his delay in returning!'

    'Hopefully nothing sinister causing this delay, then,’ said Darramir simply. ‘I should not wish to keep either of you.'

    ‘Bah, let us hope not!' answered the dwarf but his face dimmed and his voice fell. ‘Sinister?’ he whispered quietly.

    ‘Sometimes there are brigands up in the northern Bree-fields,’ said Laerlin thoughtfully.

    'I promise, master Darramir, that I shall bring good Laerlin back safely,’ said the dwarf as he grew uncomfortable under the Man’s gaze. ‘Even if I must exchange my own life for hers!'

    'I will hold you to that, master dwarf,’ answered Darramir grimly. ‘But I hope such a thing need not come to pass.’

    Brimbur glanced about uncomfortably at the man's words until Laerlin spoke. ‘I am sure nothing of the sort will be necessary,’ she said with a warm smile and rose from the table.

    'Well then its best you find this hobbit with haste just in case he's in a predicament,’ said Darramir with a soft sigh.

    'Indeed! I am the defeater of the foul wolf chieftain of Waymeet! None can stand against me and my trusted blade!' said the dwarf with a wink and a bow. He then turned and nearly stumbled over one of the chairs as it clattered onto the hard floor.

    ‘Are you quite all right?’ said Laerlin smiling as Darramir lifted a brow at the strange dwarf.

    'Oh, yes, yes...’ answered Brimbur as he pushed at the bothersome chair. ‘A bit of sleep still in my eyes I think...'

    ‘Are you sure? Are you feverish?’ answered Laerlin, her eyes narrowing.

    You say, 'No, no, I am very fine!' he muttered. 'It is the air of this town...nasty and smelly beasts they are...'

    ‘"They", Master Brimbur?'

    'Horses of course!' said Brimbur with a long sigh. 'Always staining my fine cloak and tunic wherever I go in this wretched place!'

    Darramir had fallen silent once again and glanced between them, his brow raised. Finally, with a slow shake of his head, he spoke. 'Would you two like a hand in this, perhaps? I have nothing higher on my list then spending time with my wife, and perhaps an extra hand should brigands strike would be of use to you.'

    'That would be most welcome!’ exclaimed the dwarf happily. ‘As they say...three blades held forth are better than one!’

    'Is that what they say? Well, I certainly agree,’ said Darramir as he stood from the table. ‘Shall we, then?’

    Outside the air came cool but fresh from the north and the sun was still some distance off. With Brimbur in the lead, they stole quietly down from the courtyard, along the sloping lane that wound towards the West Gate. It was the dwarf that finally broke the silence as they drew near the gate. 'So, would either of you have a clue as to where we might find this supposed lake?' he said as he waved a gloved hand at the sleepy watchman at the gate.

    ‘It is right by the Thornley farms...the pond we seek is on the way to Starmere,’ said Laerlin as she stepped through the gate at halted.

    ‘A generally safer area in the fields, actually,’ added Darramir with a slight nod. ‘Just stick to the roads.’

    'Ah, yes...roads can be much safer!' said the dwarf. 'You lead, Miss Laerlin and I shall follow to guard our rear!'

    Laerlin looked towards the reddening Eastern sky and then at Brimbur with a smile. With that they tramped off, turning north along the Greenway; Laerlin walked in front with Darramir at her side and last went Brimbur, who looked about cautiously and nervously, wishing the sun would rise a bit swiftly.

    No one took notice of their departure from the gate and they passed quickly up the overgrown and ancient road. It was not long when they left the town behind them; there the road went on along the banks of a bubbling brook for some time. Slowly, to their left, on the far bank of the brook, they could now see a farmstead and fields. But the farm looked abandoned, for the fields were overgrown and not a wisp of smoke rose from the farmhouse.

    As they slowly passed the abandoned farm, Darramir spoke aloud. ‘So what brings you to Bree, master dwarf?’

    'Oh, that is a long tale, and best told near a smoky hearth with a fine drink one's hand!' answered the dwarf, his gazed fixed nervously at the farm across the water. 'Perhaps when we return I can tell you that tale?'

    'Aye, fair enough. Perhaps then, a simpler question, then: how do enjoy the city of men?’

    'Ah, Bree is a fine town....poor craftsmen to be sure, but never the stoutest men to be found elsewhere!' said the dwarf with a laugh. All fell silent once more until Laerlin gestured to the east south across the grasslands to the right.

    That is where the graveyard is. The lakes are to the west,’ she said softly.

    'And may we find brigands there?' said the dwarf nervously as his eyes followed Laerlin’s.

    ‘They do not usually wander here to my knowledge, but it is possible,’ she answered simply with a slight shrug.

    'In the graveyard? No living ones,’ said Darramir with a snort.

    'The lakes, dear,’ chuckled Laerlin softly.

    'So about this lake...’ interrupted Brimbur. ‘Not near the graveyard I hope, but where can we find it?'

    'As I said, westward. Follow me.'

    Laerlin now turned from the road where the brook bent away to the north and west. She led her companions along the banks for some distance until they neared the edge of a wide lake ahead. ‘This is one of the main lakes of Everclear,’ said Laerlin as she halted at the water’s edge.

    Brimbur turns his wary eyes to the wide lake. 'Is that is?' said Brimbur with wary eyes. 'I do hope there is a boat...'

    Darramir looks around. ‘Doesn't seem to be one,’ answered Darramir as he glanced about.

    'No boats?' stammered the dwarf with stark terror.

    'Can you swim, by any chance?' said the tall man as he turned to the frightened dwarf.

    'Perhaps it is shallow enough to wade through?' added Laerlin hopefully.

    'Shallow enough! I shall sink straight to the bottom!' cried Brimbur aloud.

    'So... you do not swim, then?'

    'I swim no more than an Orc looks to Durin as a kinsman!' answered the dwarf hotly.

    ‘Well, we have a barrel over there... If we could find a length of rope, perhaps I could swim to the other side and ferry you across?’

  15. #40

    Chapter Twenty: Murder Most Foul – 23 Rethe, 3016 TA

    Brimbur was sitting in the grass beside the banks of the quiet lake, his pack lying on the ground beside him, whistling softly to himself. He glanced up at the billowing soft clouds overhead as the noon reached its height and then sniffed the cool air. The dwarf was quite dour, despite the beautiful day, and sat there fidgeting and grumbling with a low whisper, as his eyes turned to gaze out over the shimmering water of the lake with a shudder.

    The companions had debated for some time after reaching the lake as the last star twinkling in the dawning sky and the sun rose over the far eastern horizon. All notions of riding a barrel across to the distant island in its center, or an attempt to wade across the obviously deep waters, was too much for the dwarf. He adamantly refused all suggestions, planting his feet wide and vigorously shaking his beard at every turn.

    In the end, mostly at the dwarf’s insistence, Darramir and Laerlin surrendered and agreed to go seeking a boat that could possibly be found along the shore; Brimbur, now thoroughly miserable by the entire affair, sat right down into the grass and refused to budge. He watched with dejected eyes as the two turned and began walking along the banks of the lake and soon disappeared from sight.

    And so, two or more hours had now passed, and there came no return of his companions. The sun rose and crept slowly further west in the bright sky, and the dwarf’s irritation and glum mood grew with every passing minute He first sat for awhile in the grass, then played counting games with the myriad of midges and flies in the air, and finally to pacing back and forth endlessly along the banks of the lake.

    With the last once of patience leaving him, Brimbur took one last hardened look around, and then let out a long mournful sigh. 'Well now, it is becoming my unfortunate fate to be forever abandoned it seems!' he said. He turned to the water and looked out gloomily over its still surface. 'I do hate lakes more so than I do horses!' he declared quietly. He stooped and, picking up a small round stone, he cast it far into the deep waters.

    With great reluctance, Brimbur began to unclasp his fine cloak and carefully bundled it into his pack, which he then hung from the branches of a nearby tree. Then, with one further mumbling glance, he trotted with a splash into the water; it was icy cold and that stopped him short at once. The dwarf almost turned to struggle back to the bank, yet something paused him. For a long moment, there he stood, ankle-deep in the cold lake; it was something in the way that Darramir looked at him back at the inn that came into Brimbur’s mind.

    Before he had the chance to consider anything more, Brimbur suddenly plunged deeper into the water with a sputtering cry. But he at once regretted that hasty decision, for he began to flounder in the water as his boots could no longer touch the muddy bottom. With a dreadful, wailing panic, he started flailing his arms about, even as the water began soaking into his tunic and seeping into his boots. It was not long until his boots and tunic grew too sodden and heavy and his flailing about could possibly hold up in the water. Suddenly, the only sight of the dwarf was his nose protruding from the swirling, splashing and tumultuous surface of the lake.

    Then Brimbur’s arms rose from the water with great clumsy sweeps and slowly the tip of his nose inched slowly towards the small, narrow island ahead. Once or twice, his head rose above the surface to take a great choking gasp of air before sliding down again. Finally he staggered onto the shore of the island and collapsed into a dripping heap.

    For a good while, dwarf did not stir until his breath came no longer in sputtering and harsh gasps for air. Finally, he slowly sat up with a grumble, wringing water from his beard and hair. Wiping the last water from his eyes, Brimbur glanced about at the many tiny frogs happily leaping about the muddy isle. He watched the leaping frogs with dismal groans when suddenly, and much to his astonishment, he spotted a hobbit crouched under the eaves of the single tree in the center of the tiny isle.

    Brimbur staggered to his feet and stalked over the dwarf with soggy boots. 'I am far too tired for games! Are you Benegar Longbottom?' he said sternly as he shook his damp beard. ‘I am Brimbur…master Mandrake sent me to come looking for you and, more importantly, of the turtles you were to get for his cooking pot!'

    The hobbit looked up at the angry dwarf and then shook his head hopelessly as he glanced down at the frogs on the ground. ‘Oh dear…it seems that I was mistaken. There are no turtles here. There is something worse!’ Suddenly, the hobbit looked about conspiratorially and then whispered a single frightful word.


    Brimbur's face turned at once white and pale and he followed the hobbit’s stare. 'Murder?' he stuttered with an equal whisper.

    'Well, maybe not murder, but they sounded very serious,’ answered the hobbit with a shrug as if he was quite mistaken. ‘And I'm afraid it won't be long before their plans come to fruition!’

    Brimbur seemed not the slightest convinced by the hobbit's swift retraction and slowly backed up against the tall tree. ‘Murder?’ he exclaimed again fearfully. ‘And who are “they” master hobbit?’

    'I was crouching down in the mud here, looking for turtles, when two shabbily-dressed Men came wading out to the island! They looked like they didn't want to be seen and kept peering over their shoulders back in the direction of Bree. I thought at first they were here to look for turtles at my prime turtle-catching spot, but then they started talking. And their words! Oh my!’

    Brimbur glanced about uneasily, sure that the Men the hobbit spoke of still lurked about. His teeth began to chatter as the hobbit continued his tale.

    'They spoke of a group that has infiltrated Bree and is gathering strength, watching and waiting. And when they are ready, they are planning a surprise for the village, one the Bree-folk will not soon forget! "Quick-wit Culver's sharpening his blade," the seediest looking Man said, "and Twisted Garret has all the rope we'll need." ‘

    'They left after that, but not before discussing the password the infiltrators use to get into their hideout. It's "Another infiltrator is here!" and if you say it to their door-man, you can get inside and stop this before they are ready! Their hideout is in Bree, south of the High Stair, and their door-man stands out front. Stop them, Brimbur!'

    'Sorry, forgive me, the croaking of these incessant frogs are far too loud...did you say me?' said the dwarf incredulously as he looked at the hobbit with growing frustration.

    'I don't know what the infiltrators are planning, Brimbur,’ said Benegar with a bobbing of his head and an apologetic tone in his voice. ‘But we are very fortunate I overheard some of their plans! You need to go to their hideout and use the password to get inside and foil their plans before the preparations are complete!’

    ‘We are very fortunate?’ stammered the dwarf and he began to shake like a withered leaf in a stiff wind. ‘Don’t the townsfolk of Bree have watchmen or the like to deal with such things?’

    The hobbit did not seem to hear the pleading of the dwarf as he went on with his feverish talk. 'The password is "Another infiltrator is here!” Their hideout is in the village of Bree, south of the High Stair.'

    Brimbur looked down into the imploring eyes of the hobbit in silence for some time then swallowed deeply. ‘Oh very well,’ he began, not with much conviction. ‘I have somehow misplaced my friends once again. Perhaps with three of us we might stand against these ruffian together…but alone?’ The dwarf’s voice trailed off to a whisper and then fell deathly silent.

    Within the hour, Brimbur returned once again to the West Gate of Bree; his tunic and boots were thankfully dry from the hot sun of the day but his mood had thoroughly soured. So grim was he that the watchman at the gate rose from his stool to stop the grumbling dwarf as he approached, but swiftly turned his attention to a speck of mud on his boots as the dwarf stomped through without pause.

    'A drink...yes, ale I think, to clear my head...' he muttered and spat as he passed through the arch of the gate and strode up the lane beyond. 'Crazy Bree-folk and even more crazy hobbit-folk to get mixed up with ruffians...'

    Brimbur had survived the crossing and re-crossing of the dreadful lake, but he was at a loss of what to do about this ruffian business. He had lost his friends and now the prospect of venturing into the hideout of these brigands was far too much for the poor dwarf to bear.

    When he finally entered the darkened interior of the Prancing Pony, Brimbur stalked through the crowd and sat heavily and completely dejected onto a stool at a small table. So forlorn he was that the dwarf could hardly mutter the need for a mug of ale from the young hobbit server that came bounding over to the table.

    When he drained the mug after some time, the dwarf glanced about and then stood up from the table, still holding the empty mug in one hand. A plan began to formulate in his mind. He made his way through the common room and out towards the stables near the back of the inn outside. There he began to scoop up some mud and plopped it into the mug.

    Once the mug will filled, Brimbur stalked back into the inn and down the hall to his room. He closed the door behind him with a loud thud and cleared the small table beside the bed. Grumbling and groaning, he unclasped his cloak and hung it by the door and then pulled off his tunic and set it onto the table.

    He looked down at the fine tunic for a long moment, before he began soiling the fabric with handfuls of the disgusting mud. He sobbed once or twice as he smeared the mud all over the tunic until the crimson fabric turned an ugly brownish-maroon shade.

    Brimbur looked down at the soiled tunic, and wiped his eyes, then turned to the small round mirror atop the wardrobe. With a trembling hand and a sob in his throat, he began smudging the mud onto his face and into his beard. He stepped back to look at himself in the mirror, adding a dab of more mud here or there for good measure. Finally he stopped and gave a sneer to his reflection.

    ‘Another infiltrator is here!’ he muttered with the most fearsome snarl he could muster.

  16. #41

    Chapter Twenty-one: The Surprise – 23 Rethe, 3016 TA

    The sun still shone bright but low in the sky when Brimbur tramped off from the inn, anxious and downcast. He nervously glanced up at the many eyes and faces he passed that now seemed unfriendly, watchful and suspicious. He turned from each glimpse or stare, shut his mouth and drew quickly away down the lane. Even to those he passed that seemed more friendly, Brimbur remained sullen and gave few words to anyone, picking up his step with a hurried pace.

    Through the Market Square and down from the hill he went until he reached the crossroads near the South Gate. There he turned west. As Brimbur drew slowly past the stables, he saw a dark –ill-kept house along one side of the lane. In the shadows under the eaves stood an unsavoury man, with a shallow face, bearing a sly almost goblinish look in his slanting eyes.

    At once, the dwarf grew afraid and he darted into the shadows of the building across the lane. 'A brigand if I ever say one, I am sure,' he muttered quietly and gazed at the lone man and of the seedy door at the top of the stairs. He turned to look down the lane very dubiously and took a deep, long breath.

    'Well, this fellow would certainly not dare accosting me here within Bree...I hope...now what was that password...'

    With one last hesitant look about, Brimbur checked his soiled tunic and strode up the steps. He bowed stiffly and nervously to the ill-savoury man, who stared boldly at the nervous dwarf with a sneer on his face. ‘Greetings, friend,’ began the dwarf with an uncertain twitch spreading across his face.

    'Friend? What kind of password is that? I'm not your friend!' spat the surly fellow with snarl.

    At once, the dwarf’s eyes, half-hidden by the caked mud on his face, grew as large a round saucers. 'Ah, forgive me, I was only being polite...' he sputtered aloud, rather flustered. 'Oh the password...'

    Just then, the poor dwarf was speechless; he could not think of the password Benegar had told him. He pinched the inside of his arm, and tugged at his beard and still nothing came to mind. Brimbur began growing very uncomfortable under the dark gaze of the swarthy man. He suddenly blurted out the first ridiculous thing that slipped into his mind. 'The Ghost Bear Roars.' he said aloud as his face turned as bright crimson as his fine tunic.

    'The…the Ghost Bear? How do you know about that?’ answered the ruffian with dark suspicious eyes. ‘I can see you are more experienced than you appear, stranger. None have spoken of the Ghost Bear for many a year. Time was when you could not traverse open field or dale without fear of the sudden, phantom roar of this passage. And then you would turn, certain you were about to be set upon by slavering jaws…only to find yourself alone with your thoughts and trembling. But it is not the password.'

    Brimbur was now quite beside himself and he began to whisper and sputter under the watchful stares of the swarthy man. He glanced about nervously and then stammered aloud. 'Are the infiltrators here?' he said suddenly, not knowing what else to say.

    'What's that? Another infiltrator is here?’ said the man with a curious look at the dwarf. ‘Okay. I don't recognize you, but our group is pretty large by now, so that doesn't surprise me. As many as it takes, am I right?’ He then shrugged slightly as he turned to open the seedy-looking door. 'We might have chosen a better password, I suppose, but at least it's easy to remember.'

    Brimbur shook his beard vigorously in agreement, realizing the password right then and feeling very thankful of the ruffian's poor hearing. 'Of course you should!’ he muttered. ‘We can't be having all sorts coming round. And of course, you are quite right...'

    ‘You have told me the password, so you can go on in. I will show you the way. Lots of people are already inside. I let in Quick-wit Culver, and Twisted Garrett, and a few of the others.’

    ‘Lots you say?' said Brimbur as he gazed fearfully at the door. He then tried to swallow but found his throat as dry as a hot summer day. He stepped unwilling through the door, as if he was entering a troll’s cave. Expecting some foul ambush at any moment, the dwarf began tip-toeing down the hall from the front door, only to come to stop when he spotted another unsavoury man barring the way further along.

    'I haven't seen you around here before. Are you sure you're one of us? This has been a long time coming, and I don't want some outsider spoiling it,’ snarled the man boldly and threateningly.

    'Of course I am...’ stammered Brimbur. ‘The doorman let me within after I provided the proper password...'

    Satisfied, the man only smiled a wide knowing grin. 'Folk won't soon forget what we do here today, not if my name's Quick-wit Culver,’ he said with a wink of his eye. ‘Which it is! You see this blade? I can slide clean through anything I set my mind to, that's how sharp both edges are: the blade and my mind! I've been cutting things all morning, and I'll cut more before the day is through! See if I don't!’

    Brimbur eyed the man's blade at his belt with some trepidation. 'Why, a fine blade to be sure, master Wit...I mean master Culver,' he stumbled with a breathless voice and tried to smile.

    'Go into the main room and see if Garrett is all set up. There isn't much time left.'

    ‘Folk hereabout won't soon forget this day, I'll see to that! Hur! Hur! Hur!’ laughed the ruffian as Brimbur passed through the archway. He stepped cautiously into a long hall lit by a smoky candelabra hung from the low ceiling. He drew back immediately as he saw that the hall was not empty; within there stood no less than six foul-looking men inside. The dwarf smiled weakly at the ruffians are stumbled further inside, shaking quite badly now.

    'I have not yet unpacked my ropes! They will hold, I am certain, but I need more time! There are a lot of things we still need to hoist!’ cried out one of the ruffians aloud. 'Oh, after all this planning, to be undone at the last for a lack of time!’ groaned the man further. ‘I saw how sharp Culver's knife has become! If I don't hurry he might use it on me next!'

    By now, Brimbur had taken a stand near the back of the hall, trying to make himself very small and invisible. His nervously shaking had thankfully disappeared, only to be replaced by numbness in his limbs. He glanced about with wide eyes as he watched the feverish work from the hasty men.

    Just then, Quick-wit Culver came rushing into the room. ‘We're out of time! He's here! He cried out breathlessly. Before anyone could speak or take a step, in strode a tall friendly, smiling man, his head adorned with short-cropped yellow hair. Unlike the others, this fellow did not look the part of a ruffian at all. Brimbur tensed, and drew back a step, thinking it was a laid trap for this poor fellow. He glanced about unsure if to make a run for it or not before the blows came.

    ‘What is going on, friends?’ said the man with curious wonder. Much to the dwarf’s surprise, the ruffians did not rush the poor man, but instead began clapping, hooting and hollering in one voice.


    ‘Surprise, Artie!’

    ‘Happy Birthday!’

    Brimbur, now thoroughly dumbstruck, began to frown as the feeling in his legs began to return. 'A celebration?’ he muttered as he looked on with growing confusion. ‘What kind of ruffians are these?'

    Altogether, the ruffians gathered round Artie, who he looked on with a wide grin on his blushing face. 'Will you look at this? All of my friends have gathered to surprise me with a birthday celebration! I cannot believe it!’

    'Thank you, everyone, thank you!' said Artie choking back a cough in his throat. ‘Thank you so much, my friends!’

    ‘I have been cutting thick slices of crusty bread all morning! Help yourself, Artie!’ laughed Culver aloud as he lifted up a plate of bread hidden under a cloth on a nearby table.

    Twisted Garrett joined in the laughter. ‘I was going to hang up some decorations with my ropes, but I ran out of time!’ he added with a frown.

    Do not trouble yourself, Garrett! I need no decorations,’ said Artie with happy eyes to all in the room. ‘I just need my friends about me!’

    'I almost forgot the main course, Artie!’ cried out Culver. ‘What good are thick slices of crusty bread without anything to dip them into? We all chipped in some coins to purchase a large order of turtle soup from Sig Mandrake's well-known shop. He should be here with the soup any moment now!'

    Suddenly, there came a rush of footsteps from the hallway and Brimbur looked up, astonishment spread across his unbelieving face. For who came hastily into the hall was none other than Sig Mandrake himself. ‘Sig Mandrake?’ said the dwarf aloud with disbelief.

    ‘I am so sorry, everyone! I couldn't do it!’ he cried out shamefully to the others. He then turned to the dwarf with apologetic eyes. ‘I couldn't bring myself to do it, Brimbur!’

    ‘What do you mean?’ answered the dwarf.

    ‘After seeing all of those little turtles, with their tiny shells and their little snapping beaks, I just could not bring myself to turn them into soup!' said Sig. 'I brought them here, tied up in a sack given to be my Grobo's nephew. I left them over by the door. Perhaps we can return them to the wild, and my customers will forgive me for not making good on our deal. I will refund their coin, of course!'

    Before the dwarf could stammer out a reply, Sig cocked his head curiously to one side, as if he was listening. ‘Hmmm...do you hear something?’

    Brimbur turned his head this way and that and, at first, could hear nothing. Everyone grew silent. Then, a sound from the hallway began to grow; at first it was indistinct and hollow but as it grew, it became a hoarse hissing and scampering that drew closer and closer. Suddenly, from the hallway came a rush of tiny turtles, all scuttling about the hall and around everyone’s feet.

    Brimbur gazed down at the turtles with some disdain, and then at Artie Root, as realization slowly set in. 'A birthday party?' he grumbled softly. 'But of course a birthday party!’ he quickly added as a smile came to his face. He rushed forward to congratulate Artie as did the others. ‘And none better master Artie! But I am sorry about the soup…it would have made for a fine breakfast meal!’

    ‘I don't care much for turtle soup, in the first place,’ answered Artie with a warm smile. ‘And look at all those little fellows, running around like they own the place!’

    Brimbur followed his gaze down to the turtles, who now seemed rather peaceful and not altogether frightening or fierce as they once did. Brimbur breathed a quiet sigh of relief.

    'Perhaps they should!’ said Artie with a joyous laugh. ‘I have a spacious home not far from here, and I understand that the mayor has been known to turn a blind eye to the keeping of numerous pets within homes in Bree. I could give these little snapping gentle-turtles a fine home!’

    Brimbur looked dubiously at the turtles and then at Artie but his frown melted fast away. ‘A fine plan indeed, master Artie!’

    'They will stay with me! It's settled! This is the finest birthday of all! I have been surprised by my old friends, and have acquired numerous new friends! dwarf and turtle alike!' laughed Artie as he clasped Brimbur on the shoulder.

    Brimbur blushed brightly. 'I am glad to hear such joy in your words, master Root! I can only say it has been my dutiful pleasure in bringing it about!'

  17. #42

    Chapter Twenty-two: A Dwarf-made Blade – 26 Rethe, 3016 TA

    Brimbur was feeling altogether very small and invisible there in the common room of the Prancing Pony. After his return following the surprise party for Artie Root, he was met with a warm and generous welcome, and there were many eager ears willing to hear the dwarf’s tale of the entire unraveling turtle mystery. Yet, by the fifth of sixth telling that evening, he found only a sad and drunken dwarf lingering on to hear the tale more. And even that listener soon grew weary of the tale as his head fell forward onto his wide chest and the dwarf fell deeply asleep in the chair.

    By the second day, Brimbur had become quite lonesome and wearisome; he spent much of the morning seated gloomily at a table in the inn, sipping a bit of ale or absently nibbling on a fresh cake or two. At noon, he had become quite discouraged and went out to wander aimlessly about the town, falling glummer and glummer as the hours passed.

    Truth be told, Brimbur was bored; beyond bored he was. He was overjoyed and delighted at the telling and re-telling of his turtle hunt, of the suspected gang of ruffians lurking out of sight in Bree, and of course of the surprise birthday party. But now his tales drew no further attention, and he had grown despondent and disheartened.

    Often his thoughts turned to Harkil and the Elves in the Shire, and of the dreaded Wolf of Waymeet. He smiled as he recalled vividly the terrible battle with the wolf chieftain or of the look of joy and happiness on Dora Brownlock’s face when they brought news of their great victory back to the poor hobbit. He remembered the shouts of victory as the terrible wolf finally slipped to the ground never to rise again.

    Brimbur too thought back to the Battle of Narrowcleeve and of his new-found friends among the Bounders. He shivered as he reminisced of their rescue of Violet Underhill from the clutches of the evil ruffians they found on the heights above the Shirebourn River. He grinned and blushed even now as he recalled the kind and flattering words of the hobbit Bounders upon their triumphant return to Stock.

    And so, as noon passed after returning to the inn, Brimbur was seated at a table near the back of the room; he yawned and leaned back in his chair’ believing with certainty that he would perish of misery and boredom. The dwarf glanced about the room with dim hope for some new amusement.

    Things grew interesting when the sounds of a heated discussion suddenly filled the room, followed swiftly by the ring of drawn blades and hoarse shouts in the thick crowd. Up from his chair Brimbur leapt to his feet and rushed over to the gathering crowd on the other side of the room. There he desperately tried to peek over or jostle around the tall figures that stood in the way. Brimbur even poked one or two of the spectators for a better view. But much to his dismay the squabble soon died away, the crowd parted and returned to their seats.

    And so now, driven to the point of desperation, Brimbur set off from the inn at dawn on the third day without purpose or plan. The thoughts that he must return to the road to Esteldín was gnawing at him, and yet the dwarf was fraught with indecision. He dreaded taking to the road alone and desperately held out hope to find one of his lost companions. He had decided he would wait one more day before he reluctantly departed from Bree for good.

    However, despite his simmering gloom, once he was free from the stuff inn, Brimbur’s spirits rose as he made his way from the hill and down the lane towards the West Gate. As he reached the hedgerow, whistling and smiling at the passersby as he went, the watchmen lounging there did not have to look twice at the splendidly-dressed dwarf. Now most familiar with the sight of Brimbur coming and going, they let him pass without question and watched him as he went on through the gate and down the road.

    At the Greenway Crossing, Brimbur turned north as it followed the lazily-bubbling stream. The overgrown road went away to the north and soon he saw that, beyond the hedge-row, the grass fields to one side became dotted with small clumps of trees and brush.

    The sun was growing bright and warm in the sky and the smoky spires of Bree were still visible behind him when Brimbur came to a lonely-looking stone and thatched roof cottage standing to the side of the road ahead. He at first paid it no heed but, as he approached he paused curiously, as a deep grumbling voice reaches his ears. With a quick step, Brimbur slipped off the road and perked his ears, listening with growing interest.

    ‘Like I don’t have enough trouble…’ said the unseen and grumbling voice. ‘Now that sword I just finished has gone off and disappeared.’

    Brimbur brightened as he listened and looked about for the source of the voice. ‘By Durin’s beard, that is dwarf!’ He sprang ahead through the yard of the cottage as the voice trailed off to a low grumpy muttering and soon came upon the sight of a lone dwarf standing beside the raised stone porch. The dwarf was clad in simple raiment of a craftsman, and his long orange beard was plaited into long braids flowing down his chest.

    Brimbur smiled broadly as he spied the grim-looking dwarf standing there. 'Hail and well met my good friend!’ called out Brimbur as he strode up with a warm grin. ‘Whatever could bring such a dour face to such a kinsman on a fine day such as this?'

    'Hail, good dwarf!’ answered the dwarf as he looked up surprised to see another of his kin standing there. ‘I was wondering if you could help me with a bit of a problem. It seems that no sooner did I set my latest blade out to cool, than someone stole it!’

    ‘Stolen?’ gasped Brimbur. He then smoothed out his tunic and smiled once again at the grumbling dwarf. ‘I am Brimbur, loyal companion of master Glóin, if you did not know already. But what about this pilfered sword?'

    'I didn't see who made off with the sword, but I suspect it was one of those Man-smiths working out at Thornley's,’ answered the dwarf grimly. ‘Their craft is nothing like dwarf-craft, and likely their jealousy of my workmanship moved one of them to steal my blade.’

    Brimbur stroked his short beard quietly as he listened to the dwarf's tale. 'Ah yes, the Mannish folk are good enough craftsman as it were, but jealousies do run deep I am afraid. Might you be able to fetch it back?’

    To that, the old dwarf glanced at Brimbur with a queer gleam in his deep eyes. 'If I were to ask them about my blade, they would just ignore me. You though, by the look of you, are a great warrior. If you were to ask them about my blade, they'll be honest with you. How about it, can you find my stolen blade?'

    Brimbur fell silent once more as he wagged his beard and listened impatiently. Then he began to groan as he suddenly understood what the dwarf was suggesting. ‘Why would you a warrior to retrieve a sword,’ he blurted out with a stammer. Yet he rather was flushed with the kind words of the dwarf, and much taken with being called a “great warrior”; he shifted to either foot for a moment and then laughed aloud.

    'But of course I would, how could I not? A kinsman of mine is in trouble and I am duty-bound to offer whatever aid I can. I shall speak with these Mannish smiths straight away - loath will they be to try any devilry with me!'

    A short while later, Brimbur returned to the West Gate. He nodded to the watchmen and strode through the gate and up the lane. Not far past the smelly stables, he came to an open-air smithy straddling both sides of a side lane that swept south from the main road. He quickly walked towards the nearest sweating smith, the rings of hammers to anvil filling the smoky air.

    'You there!’ he cried out as the smith took a glowing piece of metal with his tongs and dipped it sputtering and steaming into a water barrel beside the anvil. ‘What can you tell me of a sword that has gone astray from the most respectable dwarf, Lofar Ironband? His sword was stolen and I have been instructed to seek out the perpetrators.'

    The smith set down his tongs onto the anvil and, wiping the damp from his face, turned to look very sternly down at the dwarf. 'Well, of all the insulting things to say! Those dwarves think that no one can smith as well as them. Well, if being busy means you do quality work, then mine is quality.’

    The smith took up his tongs and glowered down at the dwarf, before drawing out the cooling ore from the barrel. 'Go tell that fool dwarf that I didn't take his sword!'

    ‘Fool dwarf?’ stammered Brimbur as he looked up with astonishment at the smith’s words. ‘I shall tell him, of course, but I warn you, Lofar will not be pleased!’ He eyed the smith one last time suspiciously and then turned away to look for other smiths around the forges.

    He soon spotted two smiths standing together, their hammers rising and falling to the anvil with rhythmic ringing. He stalked over to the pair and planted his legs wide, setting one gloved hand to the hilt of his blade at his belt. 'No, I am in no need of your services this day, but I need information...' he said swiftly with a wave of his other hand as the smith halted his work to begin to speak.

    'A renowned craftsman and one of my kinsmen, Lofar Ironband, has found his prized and new-crafted sword stolen. He suspects smiths about here may be involved,’ he added swiftly with grim glower on his face.

    The smith paused his hammering and looked down at the dwarf with incredulous disbelief. ‘Don't be bothering me with such nonsense,’ he said smartly, his hammer now all but forgotten in his grimy hand. ‘Dwarves always looking down on us, claiming we're jealous. Now they are going to start accusing us of stealing?’

    The smith then shook a fist at the dwarf. 'Shoo, off with you. I don't have to take this sort of nonsense! I'll complain to the mayor, I will.'

    Brimbur’s jaw dropped open and he shook for a moment uncontrollably, quite speechless for words. 'Nonsense? I will not be "shooed off" by the likes of you good sir!' he spat finally, but took a hasty step back from the furious man. He then turned to the other smith who had watched the discussion in grumbling silence.

    'And what say you?’ said Brimbur with a growl, turning to the silence smith. ‘Come tell me the truth! It will be easier once you confess!'

    'Bah,’ laughed the sweating smith, but his face looked rankled and fuming. ‘I don't be needing to steal some dwarf-blade. People like my work...its quality! You tell that Lofar that I didn't steal his fool sword and try to pass it off as my own!'

    Brimbur looked dubiously at the smiths, who now had all their bellies could take of the dwarf, and refused to say another word on the matter. He turned away slowly to return to the main road, now lost in deep thought.

    'No, no they cannot be the culprits; jealous certainly but thieves, very unlikely...' he said murmuring as he reached the road. He stood there for a moment, scratching his head. 'What was it that Lofar said...something about a farm....oh yes he did mention something about Thornley's Farm. I suppose I should visit it and see what I can uncover!'

    Brimbur glanced about as a grumbling went up from his belly. He then laughed heartily. ‘But not quite now, I am afraid! No road will grace these legs until after lunch!’

  18. #43
    I had intended to leave from Bree to finally make my way towards Trestlebridge at long last after the hunt for the dreaded turtles. However, Brimbur has not yet acquired new equipment since leaving Ered Luin. At the very least, I hoped to gain him a new sword for the journey ahead into the North Downs, so I decided to undertake one last quest chain. I also wished to gain him a bit more experience since Brimbur is only 11th level at the moment...

    The role playing in Bree with the NPC smiths brought some laughs and comments from nearby players, some who sent me TELLS explaining they found it interesting and entertaining to say the least

  19. #44
    I have enjoyed this so far, my only question is:

    Does Brimbur accept gifts from other players that he may encounter on his journey ?

  20. #45
    Cool story! I like seeing involvement of other people.

  21. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by Madmanthief View Post
    I have enjoyed this so far, my only question is:

    Does Brimbur accept gifts from other players that he may encounter on his journey ?
    I am glad you are enjoying the tale Gifts are acceptable only if done in an rp setting. So no gifts sent through in-game mail.

    Quote Originally Posted by Danlee View Post
    Cool story! I like seeing involvement of other people.
    Again thank you It is not always possible to do so (with differing schedules and time zones, not to mention my lateness of getting online sometimes), but I do try my best.

  22. #47

    Chapter Twenty-three: The Culprit – 26 Rethe, 3016 TA

    That night, after a well-deserved dinner at the inn, Brimbur made up his mind. He would seek this Thornley’s Farm that very evening and get to the bottom of the stolen sword business. He swallowed the last of his ale and stood up from the table, careful to reach for the last chicken leg from his plate. The sky was cloudy and moonless when he stepped outside; from there he made his way along the sloping lane and down to the West Gate, munching at the chicken leg as he went. He nodded politely to the watchman and strode through the hedge to stand beside the road that swept away towards the crossroads.

    The fields outside the hedge gate were dark with shadows and only the faintest of few stars twinkled through the occasion breaks in the clouds overhead. Yet the air was warm on the dwarf’s face and the sound of bubbling water could be heard towards the crossroads. He sniffed the air that held the faint scent of trees and flowers.
    With a deep sigh, Brimbur stepped forward to stroll down the lane when a voice reaches his ears from back inside the gate behind him. He halted and turned round as the voice was answered by a second.

    ‘That is true...’ said the first voice with a chuckle. ‘Though they'll need to be properly brushed down sooner or later. I might be more tired later on...’

    ‘I can take care of it. I don't mind,’ answered the second voice quickly.

    Presently, two forms came into view under the low archway of the hedge. The dwarf squinted in the dim light and then laughed out loud. 'Why if it isn't Miss Laerlin and Master Darramir of all people!’ he said with a grin. ‘Fancy meeting the two of you here!' He then beckoned them closer and spoke rapidly. 'Now now, don't be strangers. Come give this foolish Son of Durin a proper hello!'

    The closest figure, Darramir, stopped short in front of the smiling dwarf and nodded his head slightly. ‘Ah, master Brimbur. Good to see you.’ Laerlin stood beside her husband and looked down at the dwarf with a smile. ‘Good evening.’

    Brimbur looked at the two and then shook his beard. 'Now what would bring two out into the cool air this evening?'

    ‘We were just wandering aimlessly,’ answered Darramir with a shrug.

    'Wandering?’ said Brimbur with a hint of confusion in his voice. But then his eyes sparkled and he laughed once again. ‘Well this is a most fortuitous meeting then, for I too have come out for such a walk myself...but not a stroll for pleasure I am afraid...'

    ‘For work, then?’ said Darramir with a raise of his brow and glanced at Laerlin.

    The dwarf began to nod his head up and down. 'Indeed. There is much we must discuss later concerning poor master Mandrake and his turtles. But that will have to wait when we can relax at the inn over a fresh mug of ale or two...there is more pressing matters at hand.’

    'Those being?' both Darrarmir and Laerlin said with one voice.

    'It has come to my attention that a kinsman of mine, Lofar Ironband be his name, has fallen victim of a most foul thievery!’ said Brimbur very conspiratorially. ‘He recently crafted a most wonderful blade but it has been stolen. He suspects the rival Mannish merchants of Bree to be the culprits....he has asked me to seek them out and convince the culprits into confessing to the foul crime and to return his cherished blade to him. Naturally how could I not agree to do so!'

    ‘Ah, I see,’ answered Darramir slowly. ‘And he is sure that it was not simple thievery instead of a malicious act by the other craftsmen?'

    Brimbur paused to tug at his beard and then simply shrugged. 'Well outright theft or malicious intent, it’s all the same,’ he said matter-of-factly. ‘I spoke with these smiths in Bree already - nasty and ill tempered they were at the mere suggestion of any impropriety or theft.'

    Brimbur sighed aloud and leaned in closer with a soft voice. ‘Little could I do to force them to tell the truth so I was beside myself of what to do next. Then I recalled Lofar did speak of a last smith at a farm, he named it Thornley's Farm, along the Greenway. I rested and supped following my tussle with the other smiths and am about to pay this smith a visit this very night.'

    Once more Darramir nodded slowly. ‘You can hardly expect a warm reception if you accuse people of stealing, or at least suggest it,’ he said softly.

    'Perhaps you should just ask if they've seen it, instead,’ added Laerlin with a knowing glance at Darrarmir.

    'True words my friends,’ said Brimbur grimly as he shook his beard. ‘Yet a dwarf's word is golden and taken at that - I wish no argument with these smiths, only to retrieve what was lost.’ The dwarf paused for a moment and then looked up with a wide smile. ‘Now, since you wished a stroll in the fine night air, perhaps we can walk together and pay this smith a visit?’

    Darramir did not answer straight away but turned to look at Laerlin, who returned the gaze and smiled. ‘I do not mind if you don't,’ she said.

    Darrarmir murmured softly and nodded. ‘Not at all,’ he answered then turned to the dwarf. ‘Lead on, master dwarf.’

    'Ah, very good then!’ cried out Brimbur as he clapped his hands. ‘The mere sight of three such stout warriors as ourselves will surely bring forth the scandalous truth from this thief!’

    ‘I am not certain I would label myself as such, personally...’ said Laerlin with a cough. ‘But as it is, do lead on.’

    Darramir glances down at himself, and then towards the two of them. ‘I, uh- right,’ he utters quietly.

    'Then let us depart,’ called out the dwarf as he turned to begin walking from the gate. ‘I wish only to reclaim master Lofar's precious blade to see the happiness upon his face! And what a wonderful night for a stroll!'

    Darramir sighed softly and fell in behind the dwarf. At first Laerlin did not follow, but watched the dwarf with a soft smile on her face. The two ahead had already fallen to talking even before they took their fifth step.

    ‘Hopefully this will be a brigand-free night’ said Darramir as he came abreast with the dwarf. ‘Numbers do tend to help with that.’

    ‘Brigands you say?’ muttered Brimbur with a slight quiver in his deep voice, as memories of Narrowcleeve and the ruffians crept into his thoughts.

    She smiled once more and then hastened to catch up with them as they neared the Crossroads ahead. ‘They come…every now and then,’ she said, meaning brigands, as she reached them. ‘But I am certain we'll be fine.’

    Brimbur turned to look at her with mistrust and skepticism and sighed. He looked about and then pointed down the grass-covered road winding away north. 'This is the Greenway,’ he said apprehensively. ‘And along its path we should find this farm, I hope.'

    ‘Farms would be to the north, aye,’ said Darramir as he followed the dwarf’s gaze down the road. ‘And as Laerlin says, we'll be fine.’

    'Of course we will be fine…’ stammered the dwarf with no great sense of reassurance. ‘Why, I braved the crossing of the Misty Mountains with Lord Glóin and came out unscathed!'

    ‘Ah, well, there you go,’ said Darramir, lifted his hand to hide a smile on his lips. He then looked sternly down at the striding dwarf. 'Remember, we don't know that he's a villain.'

    And so they tightened their pack set out down the road. The air was still warm despite the late hour and the wind blew soft through the thin-clad branches of the tress in scattered fashion in the grass fields beside the road. Overhead the clouds began to break and in patches the stars swung out. Brimbur and Darramir soon fell back into their talk they strolled along.

    ‘Ah, a pleasant land Bree is!’ said the dwarf as he took in the fair air with a deep breath. ‘Not my beloved mountain yet it soothes one's heart!’

    ‘I've certainly found it to be a nice place,’ answered Darramir with a smile. ‘A home if I ever had one.’

    The dwarf was about to speak when he slowed and pointed ahead towards a darkened cottage set just off the road ahead, ‘There is Lofar, awaiting word of my investigation. Unfortunately I cannot return to him until I uncover the foul culprit.’ He growled and looked back at his companions. ‘But happy will I be with the return of his blade and have brought the thief some needed justice!’

    ‘Well I would remind you that as this is Bree-land, any real justice should be left to the watch,’ said Darramir cautiously as he glanced towards Laerlin. She returned a wordless glance back at him and smiled. 'Assuming that it was this metalworker that stole it,’ he added.

    'Bah! The watch?’ muttered the dwarf with contempt and scorn. ‘Foolish sorts with little skill handling nothing more than drunken folk at the inn. 'Why, what a few of my kinsmen could do with Bree!'

    'I would not be so sure about that, master dwarf,’ said Darramir slowly. ‘I've accompanied them on several outings that were far more than that.’

    Brimbur glanced up at the man with dubious trust but said nothing more. He adjusted his pack and strode down the road once again, turning only once to motion the others to follow. Beyond the cottage, where the stream beside the road began to curve off towards the north and west, the grasslands now swept to either side. There they left the road and went over a gentle rise towards a collection of scaffolding, tents, half-finished foundations and worksites. Here or there among all could be seen the merry crackle of campfires where men were seated in small groups.

    Brimbur halted at the top of the rise and gazed out over the worksite. ‘Now this looks promising...’ he said with some hope. ‘Not a farm to be sure, but I see a good deal of forges and smithies there. Perhaps this smith can be found there?’

    ‘This would be worth checking out,’ agreed Darramir.

    ‘Indeed!’ laughed Brimbur, but then his face grew grim as he turned to his companions. ‘You best keep your hand nearer your blades;’ he said ominously as his hand fell to his sword on his belt. ‘These thieves may well not take lightly their discovery!’

    'They're just workers, you know…’ answered Darramir.

    ‘I doubt many of them have ever used a sword,’ said Laerlin softly in agreement with her husband. But the dwarf did not seem to hear them. He straightened his tunic and strode swiftly down from the rise and into the worksite. His eyes darted towards a lone craftsman lying beside a warm fire near the half-finished stone foundation of a barn. At once Brimbur stalked over to him with heavy steps.

    'Wake up you simpleton and tell me where I may find the smiths hereabouts?' he said in a commanding voice as he began to shake the craftsman awake with one gloved hand. The man’s eyes fluttered open to look up at a dwarf standing over him in the flickering light of the fire. He began to stammer something, but Brimbur waved him off with his other hand.

    ‘No, I am not here for work! I seek a smith on an urgent mission,’ said the dwarf aloud in a pressing voice.

    ‘Manners, master dwarf,’ said Darramir softly as he cleared his throat and placed a hand on Brimbur’s shoulder.

    ‘Manners? He is of little use, I am afraid...’ answered the dwarf with scorn. He stepped further into the worksite and looked about with darting eyes. ‘But I do suspect that the culprit lurks here somewhere and loath I am to allow him to go unnoticed!'

    ‘There!’ he suddenly cried aloud as his eyes came to rest upon a red-haired and bearded man standing alone near one of the forges. The man seemed distracted and was wringing his hands ceaselessly as if in the clutches of some great worry. ‘There is a gentleman right over there; he has watched us as we approached with clever eyes. I think he may provide us with some information.'

    ‘Perhaps,’ said Laerlin as she followed the dwarf’s gaze. ‘Perhaps a little more gently this time, Master Brimbur?’ she said quietly. Brimbur nodded and winked at her before heading straight away for the silent man. He stopped in front of the man and planted his legs very wide, looking up into the man’s face with a raised untrusting brow.

    ‘I seek a stolen blade taken most foul from one of my kinsmen,’ he said abruptly. ‘Master Lofar is his name - I have little patience for games and even less for lies. Come now, fess up to your thievery and this shall go more pleasant than it should!'

    The man, who had not noticed the dwarf at all until that very moment, looked down at the angry dwarf with startled surprise, and up towards the others. Darramir offered an apologetic shrug and weak smile as Laerlin covered her face into her open hands.

    'What...a stolen sword? Stolen from a Dwarf?’ stammered the poor man as he began to shake. ‘I don't know what you're talking about...Please, go away, I don't know anything about it...'

    Brimbur growled softly and took a step forward, placing his hand at his sword. ‘No lies now you thief! Out with it!’ he said menacingly. The man began to mop his furrowed brow nervously, then his voice broke and he began to sob.

    'Yes, yes, I admit it!’ he moaned. ‘I took it. Please, don't tell the constable! Please! I did it to save my family! See, a brigand named Nate, he told me that he would hurt my family, unless I made a sword for their captain, Blake. But I didn't have the iron to forge one, and I was desperate to save my family, so I took the dwarf's sword!’

    'So you did steal it? Hah!’ said the dwarf with a snap of his fingers at the man. ‘I knew it to be true!' But his scowl fell away as the mention of brigands. 'A brigand?' he said slowly as his face turned as ashen as the man’s face had done. 'Nate is his name? And your family is in peril because of this ruffian? Most foul indeed!'

    The man nodded sadly as his eyes began to well up. ‘Nate said that before he gave the sword to Blake, he was going to test the blade against the workers at the site of Thornley's silo, just before the graveyard and the boar-hollow. If you find him there, maybe you can convince him to return Lofar's sword and leave my family alone. What do you say?'

    Brimbur raised his hand for silence then turned to his companions. 'Ah now here is a sad tale indeed! Kenton Thistleway is this man’s name. Brigands, the ill lot them all! They have threatened this poor man’s family into committing such thievery by some devious manner. His family!'

    ‘For a sword?’ said Darramir.

    ‘Well, it is a dwarf-make sword. And they are brigands,’ answered Laerlin quietly.

    The dwarf glanced back at Kenton who was wiping the tears from his eyes with a dirty anvil rag, and then back to his companions. 'He spoke of a Nate fellow that took the sword for some ruffian named Blake. Yet Nate wished to test the blade first near a graveyard nearby. Perhaps the scoundrel is still there?'

    ‘Worth a look, I suppose,’ said Darramir with a slight shrug.

    'I suppose it is,’ added Laerlin sadly. ‘Still, be on your guard.’

    ‘This smith here hopes that we may find Nate there and convince him to give us the blade back and thus save his family from harm,’ said the dwarf thoughtfully. ‘Terrible, simply terrible...'

    Darramir nodded grimly at the dwarf. ‘Indeed it is,’ he said quietly. He then looked at Laerlin then at the dwarf. ‘And to convince…,’ he added tapping the pommel of his sword.

    Laerlin groaned as she watched the two and then cleared her throat. ‘Convince, him? She rubbed her brow as if in pain then spoke again. ‘I suppose we should look-- carefully-- then.’
    Last edited by Brucha; Aug 29 2013 at 04:48 PM.

  23. #48
    I require moooooooooore!
    “A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition”

  24. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Takekaze View Post
    I require moooooooooore!
    Ha, ha, Takekaze! I already began work on Brimbur's next chapter today after posting the last one (as well as posting the new chapter for Folcwain's story). I have to say that Brimbur is becoming very enduring to me and, in some ways, he reminds of my old total immersion character, Theodoras, back on Crickhollow. I am surprised I have managed to keep this intrepid dwarf alive so far!

  25. #50

    Chapter Twenty-four: The Broken Blade – 27 Rethe, 3016 TA

    The next morning Brimbur awoke alone at the campsite. The bright campfire had burned down to ashen coals but the morning sun was warm and the wind was soft and gentle in the air. He groaned slightly as he sat up and looked about for his companions, who had disappeared once again.

    ‘Gone again!’ he muttered as he reached for his pack and took out some food. After some time, as he took the last piece of cold bacon with a hearty bite, he sighed and leaned back into the grass. As the sun slowly rose higher into the sky, Brimbur closed his eyes and began whistling softly to himself.

    It was not long when there came the sound of approaching footsteps behind him; he blinked and sat up, turning round to see Darramir and Laerlin suddenly becoming visible from the center of the work site. He jumped to his feet and waved his arms, beckoning them over.

    'Ah, the night was long as I seemed to have overslept as it were!’ said the dwarf cheerfully. ‘I enjoyed a bit of breakfast while you wandered about. I do hope you did the same!’

    ‘Good morning,’ said Laerlin brightly. ‘I asked the foreman if they had any hunters I could borrow a bow and a quiver of arrows from. They want me to leave something with them, so I don't run off with it or something,’ she answered flatly.

    ‘We could leave my coin purse as collateral,’ said Darramir thoughtfully.

    ‘Bah,’ muttered the young dwarf suddenly as he took a step between the two. ‘Leave them a copper or two! I am sure they will never notice an arrow misplaced!' he said confidently.

    Laerlin looked sidelong at the dwarf and then back to her husband. ‘I think they're more worried about the bow itself. Is there a lot in there, Darramir?'

    ‘Just usual spending money. Hardly a savings,’ he said shrugging as he weighed the pouch on one hand.

    ‘I'll use that, then,’ she answered as she reached for the pouch and walked off. Brimbur watched her in silence for a moment and then turned his attention to Darramir.

    'What would be the need for such a bow and arrow?' asked the dwarf.

    ‘We're hunting brigands, aren't we?’ said Darramir as he turned to gaze down at the dwarf.

    Brimbur shivered slightly. 'I hope not!’ he said hastily. ‘We only need to find this Nate fellow and recover my kinsman's stolen blade.'

    ‘And this Nate fellow is a brigand, no?’

    Brimbur glanced up at the man, uncertain if he was mocking him. ‘He is no doubt a simple scoundrel looking for ill-gotten coin by the sale of the blade,’ answered the dwarf guardedly. ‘He will reconsider his choice once we find him...' he continued with a hoarse cough as his voice broke in his throat. Brimbur coughed and once or twice more and stammered before adding.

    'I did not battle trolls in the passes of the Misty Mountains with Lord Glóin and survive were it not for my skill at the blade!’ he said loudly with a growl in his voice. ‘One sight of my steel will make this fellow talk at once!’

    ‘Aye, yes, of course,’ said Darramir with a slight smirk. ‘Should the odds not be in your favor, my steel will be at your back.’

    ‘Then we cannot possible lose!’ laughed the dwarf. Brimbur said nothing more and reached down to inspect his pack, certain that he had overlooked a piece of bacon or perhaps a shriveled apple or two. At that moment, Laerlin returned clutching a bow of wood and a quiver of fletched arrows in her arms.

    ’So your search for a bow went well then?' asked Brimbur as she came to stand in front of them.

    Laerlin nodded. ‘They were satisfied with the collateral.’

    Brimbur returned the nod and reached down to lift his pack to his shoulders. He sighed softly and turned to the others. 'Now to the matter of Nate...’ he said in a very business-like and brusk manner. ‘Kenton spoke that we will find him at an abandoned work-site to the east...’ Then his voice trailed off before he spoke again. ‘Near the graveyard...' he added slowly and shivered.

    ‘It's that way,’ nodded Laerlin slowly and pointed to the east across the road.

    Brimbur followed her gaze, his face turns pale and ashen white. 'But a graveyard...?' he whispered softly.

    'The dead don't walk in this one, friend,’ said Darramir, laying on hand on the trembling dwarf’s shoulder.

    'Very well then!’ said the dwarf, trying to sound grim despite the twitch on his lips. ‘We shall venture there...if the dead do walk, we will deal with them in turn!' Without awaiting a reply, he turned to take a step and nearly fell into the grass as his legs gave way beneath him and he fell to one knee.

    'Perhaps you should lead the way, Laerlin...’ he said meekly as he clambered to his feet once more. ‘I do not know this land…a lot of holes in the grass...'

    ‘Certainly,’ said Laerlin with a hidden smile on her face.

    With Laerlin at the lead, the companions set out, first crossing the Greenway and then into the gentle fields beyond. They struck a path to the east, walking in single file as the sun rose higher in the bright sky. Brimbur’s sour mood soon left him and, after a short while, he no longer stared about for the unwholesome sight of a graveyard full haunted, shimmering figures hiding in the short grass about.

    They had marched for perhaps a half an hour or more when Brimbur stopped a moment and looked ahead. 'Oh look…a work site!' he said ominously as he turned his head to one side as if to listen for a slight moaning he had just imagined floating in the air.

    It indeed was a worksite that now came into view; to one side was stacked a pile of treated wood planks and a half-finished support beams and roof, and even some sawbucks near the center. The dwarf beamed a smile at the others and then took a step forward, glancing about for any sign of a ruffian. But Laerlin placed a hand on his shoulder and shook her head grimly. He turned to look up at her but his voice fell away as a grim look spread across her face.

    ‘Oh, goodness. Something's dead,’ she said softly and wrinkled her nose. Darramir took a stand beside Laerlin, his hand falling to the pommel of his sword, and followed her gaze ahead until it came to rest upon a prone figure on the ground.

    ‘The stench is likely that poor fellow,’ she said with a whisper. The dwarf looked at her with confused eyes and then squinted in the bright sunlight. 'What poor fellow?’ he said turning his head around hastily. ‘Do you mean this Nate?’

    'I don't know if that is Nate,’ answered Laerlin. ‘Did Kenton give you a description of Nate? That could be someone Nate killed, for all you know.'

    Brimbur shrugged and again squinted forward; when his eyes fell upon the unmoving form on the ground, he suddenly recoiled back a step. Darramir drew his blade and took a slow wary step forward. He nudged the figure with his boot and then looked back at the others. ‘No sword here,’ he said simply.

    Darramir turned to walk back when his eyes spotted something in the grass beside the body. He bent down and pointed to something. ‘Ah, wait, there's something here.’

    Brimbur looked about apprehensively and then stepped slowly up to Darrarmir, careful not to brush the corpse with his boots. It was a man, but it was clear that he was quite dead, terribly mauled by some great and wild beast. But in the dead man’s hand was grasped the hilt of a broken sword.

    ‘Poor fellow,’ murmured the dwarf. ‘Yes, quite dead he is...he holds a hilt of a sword in his grasp but nothing more. It seemed to have been snapped off...' He stooped and lifted up the hilt, but the blade was indeed notched and broken off near the bottom.

    ‘Could Kenton have lied to us?' he said as he gingerly slid the hilt into his pack as if it was a venomous snake.

    ‘There is no telling, really,’ said Darramir as he looked mournfully at the man. ‘Little use in looking around for the blade.’

    'Indeed!’ murmured the dwarf nervously. ‘Whatever brought about his demise could suffer us as well...let us return and speak with Kenton straight away!'

    Darramir nodded and sheathed his sword. ‘Let’s get going then,’ he said quietly.

    When they returned to the worksite along the road, Brimbur made his way straight to Kenton the smith. 'We have done as you asked, to found Nate...' he said abruptly as he approached. 'He is no more, felled by some ravenous beast it seems and the blade we found is now broken!'

    'What? The blade broke, and Nate is dead?’ gasped the smith. ‘Oh this is bad...very, very bad. What if Blake comes looking for his sword?’

    ‘Who…who is Blake again?’ asked the dwarf with dark eyes, not liking where this was going.

    ‘I won't have one to give him, and they'll do something terrible to my family!’ cried the smith with a sob. ‘I need a sword to give him! If only I had another blade to give them.’ The smith fell silent and then turned fevered eyes down to the dwarf.

    'Wait, do you think Lofar would make another, if you explained the situation to him?’ he said excitedly. ‘My family is in danger! Could you please ask him?'

    'Why would I wish to convince Lofar, a steadfast kinsman to do that?' spat the dwarf. He gazed up into the smith’s pleading eyes and then sighed aloud. Shaking his head, Brimbur turned to stride towards the others.

    'Terrible...simply terrible....' he said, glancing over his shoulder at the smith.

    'What is?' asked Darramir curiously.

    'You were correct master Darramir,’ said Brimbur as his shoulders sagged slightly. ‘There are foul brigands afoot! Could it be anything but brigands...' he added tugging at his short beard.

    'Marvelous. So what now?' said Darramir.

    The dwarf turned a willful eye to Kenton as he spoke. 'Master Kenton only stole this blade to give to this Blake fellow who had threatened him to do so under pain of harm to Kenton’s family,’ he said slowly. ‘To his family no doubt!'

    'To be fair, giving the blade is the easiest course of action,’ said Darramir thoughtfully.

    'Yes, it is, but it's broken now,’ countered Laerlin grimly.

    ‘I have had my belly filled with enough brigands!’ declared the dwarf. ‘We must first speak with Lofar and determine what he has to say on this matter! I truly wish no strife with brigands!'

    'Well, I suppose we can talk to your kinsman,’ said Laerlin with some hope.

    'Let us hope so!’ answered the dwarf as his eyes brightened. ‘I know nothing of this brigand and Kenton spoke nothing more of the matter. Perhaps Lofar has more that he may tell us.'


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