Sterday, 1st of Afteryule, Year 1418 Shire-reckoning
The Prancing Pony, Bree-town
I think Old Butterbur's mind must be going soft: I hand him perfectly good coin for a bite and a bed, and instead he sends me straight into the midst of... Well, I hope the Reader can forgive me! I am starting my tale in the middle, and as anyone knows (myself not least) starting a tale in the middle just will not do! I shall endeavor to record what befell me in a proper and logical sequence, but I suppose first some exposition is in order.
My name is Padryc Pemberton. I am the son of the late and once-notable Padferth Pemberton the Second of the Southfarthing in the Shire, and we trace our ancestry back to some of the earliest Harfoot settlers of this part of the world. I grew up working my father's tobacco farm which produced large quantities of Longbottom Leaf. I must say I lived in happiness and contentment until my old Dad suddenly took ill and rapidly declined in health. No one seemed able to identify or treat my father's ailments, so preparations were made for the drawing up of his will, by which I was to inherit everything (my dear mother having passed away some years before). Incredibly, Father died just before the seventh and final witness was able to reach our farm to sign the document, and so all of the fields and livestock were put up at auction where the Sackville-Bagginses surprised the whole countryside by buying the entire estate at an incredibly high price. For anyone unfamiliar with Hobbit legalities on the subject of bequeathment, a properly executed will must include, among other things, the signatures of seven witnesses in red ink. And so I lost my entire inheritance over this small matter. I don't think anything like it has ever happened in the Shire before -- if only my Dad could have held out one more day...
In any case, having been driven from my home, I moved to the poor and transient community of Waymeet and tried to adjust to my new life. I took up with the Bounders and learned some measure of woodcraft as well as a great deal of news from the outside world. The news was mostly of the dark, bad sort and spoke of enemies new and old pressing in from all sides, but of much greater liking to my mind were the tales! Travelling Dwarves, Men, and even a few Elves (when I chanced to meet them in a wood at night, which was seldom) would often impart stories to me the like of which I had never heard before. I must admit they fired my imagination and filled me with a longing to see the Wide World and uncover its mysteries, but I also knew I had no money, no home, and no friends in all the broad, empty lands of the North.
Over time, I began to be bored by the quiet fields and nosy people of the Shire, to say nothing of being required as a Bounder to aid in solving their tedious, petulant disputes. Also, the injustice that was my misfortune in losing Dad's farm was galling me, and so I took to travelling further and further from the heart of the Shire in the course of my duties. Eventually, I found myself servicing Buckland (I found the inhabitants of that land rather more to my liking), and even journeyed out as far as Bree when the mood took me. I always heard the best tales there in the Common Room of the Prancing Pony, and returned whenever I could manage it. I even learned the lute from old Burt Ninetails and tried my hand at song-writing (though, honestly, I was never terribly good at it). My greatest desire is to somehow earn enough money to buy back my father's farm and return to the life that had been taken from me, though how I am ever going to do that is quite beyond my ability to discover. On my latest excursion to Bree, however, Fate must have intervened in a most unusual way -- in the form of a strange Company I chanced to encounter in a back room of the Prancing Pony...