Sunday, 2nd of Afteryule, Year 1418 Shire-reckoning
The Prancing Pony, Bree-town
|The Prancing Pony|
Ah... once more I must beg the Reader's pardon! We hobbits have a way of prattling on about our deeds at table, so I've been told. I ought to be recounting my adventure from yestereve, as I promised, and I should probably provide some explanation as to exactly how it is I came to be writing this journal in the first place. Very well then...
As I had recorded yesterday, I had gotten into the habit of journeying out here to Bree to stay at the Pony now and then when my duties permitted it. There's no better place for songs and tales than the Common Room of the Pony, if you've a mind for such things. Strange as news from Bree isn't a byword in the Shire for no reason, after all.
Anyway, I rode past the Greenway Crossing just at dusk yesterday and proceeded past grumpy old Harry Goatleaf at the West Gate just as I have done many times before. I made my way up the street to Bree-hill and lodged my pony in the stables with Bob, just as before. I went inside and found Butterbur seeing to his patrons, just as before, and I paid him eight silver pennies for a dinner, bed, and breakfast, just as before. Then Barliman directed me back to my usual room and bade me good night, just as always before. I put my Bounder's cap and travel pack on the pegs near the door, turned the corner and headed back to the same parlour I always frequent when I visit the Pony.
But the room was already occupied! In the soft light of the setting Sun slanting in through the darkening windows there stood before me a Woman, two Elves (one male and one female), and a rather seedy-looking Dwarf (I realize that doesn't give the Reader much of a mental image as all Dwarves could be described in like manner, but I will get to some details momentarily). There was a bright fire burning in the corner and a single candle lit upon a fully laden table. I stood there, quite embarrassed and (most likely) openly gaping at this strange assembly when the Sun's last light vanished from the windows. The whole room suddenly took on a very brooding and conspiratorial feel.
Naturally, I quickly apologized for my intrusion. I suppose Old Butterbur had simply forgotten (not an uncommon occurrence with that Man) that he had already placed other folk into my usual parlour, so I was just about to scarper back to the landlord when the she-Elf (who seemed to be leading the discussions at that time) asked me to stay since they were expecting me. That, of course, couldn't possibly be so, as I had no idea who these wanderers might be. But I must admit my curiosity got the better of me: there had to be some sort of fascinating tale behind such an odd gathering! So, against my better judgment, I lingered long enough to introduce myself and explain that I was simply passing by and had no business with them whatsoever. I was merely a guest at the Inn because I enjoyed hearing the stories that get bandied about there and I might try my hand at putting one or two of them to music, perhaps. At that, the Woman asked if I might play them a little something. I cannot deny I was a bit flattered: no one ever asks a Bounder to play them a little something. The next thing I knew I was off at a trot to retrieve my lute (which was by my pack near the door, you remember). When I came back I strummed and sung out a few verses of the Walking Song. It's quite popular in the Shire and must be older than the hills, since no one seems to know who wrote the tune and new verses are always popping into it as folk make them up. My performance appeared to please them all very much, except the she-Elf (who is named Gaelira), who sternly said they must be getting back to their business.
And it seemed a very dark and dangerous business indeed! I was rooted to the spot as she spoke of gathering shadows all across the North and the rumors of war rising out of the East... things no sensible hobbit would ever get themselves involved in. But I was transfixed as I heard of heroic freedom fighters, noble deeds, and vile goblins. Why, even the Shire itself could be threatened from such beasts! I had half a mind to get back to warn the Master of Buckland as fast as my pony could carry me and the other half of my mind wanted to bolt in terror for whatever room Barliman had set me up in and lock the door tight!
But then... Gaelira said she was on an errand from Elrond. Elrond! The Halfelven master of Rivendell! His name enters into many of the tales I've heard from Elves, Men, and Dwarves, and there is always some great story woven about any matter in which he has a hand. It seems he has two sons, Elladan and another I did not catch the name of, and that this Elladan chap was recruiting adventurers from across Eriador to aid in pushing back the fell things pushing in on decent folk. Apparently, the motley crew before me were among those who had answered this call, and were preparing to do their part on behalf of the free inhabitants of the North, beginning in the Bree-land, from what I gathered. Fascinated as I was, I didn't even realize right away that Gaelira was expecting me to join their Company and, before I knew what I was doing, I had agreed!
I don't know why I did it... neither brave nor foolish, I think. Now that I've had some time to reflect on that moment, I suppose it just felt right, if that makes any sense. I mean, I can't tell you the number of times I've heard from travellers at the bounds -- and even from hobbits during my patrols -- complain about the state of things, how it's always getting worse, and how "someone ought to do something about it!" But no one ever does, it seems, and things just keep right on worsening. Maybe I had it in the back of my head that I could be that someone to do something about it all, but I must say it sounds like a great lot of nonsense writing it all down now. I also think part of me wants to leave the Shire behind me, at least for a while. After everything I've gone through there's not much for me there right now and, though I still want to somehow reclaim my Dad's land, doing so is well beyond my ability at present. Perhaps some way will reveal itself through this new path I've chosen, although I can't see how it would.
But I'm getting off track again... I should relate what else happened during and after that strange meeting and tell you, dear Reader, what little I currently know of my new Companions.