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piosenniel 04-29-2007 07:45 PM

Blood Run: A Terror Returns RPG
All Toby’s life, Bree had been such a peaceful place. The Great War had ended, and the King crowned, and the last of the ruffians driven from Breeland, all in the years before his birth. As he had grown up, Bree had flourished, even undergone something of a rebirth, and it was in an age of peace and prosperity that he had started his own family and raised his children; Robbie – or Rob, as he was more often called now – would be ready to start his own family in a few years, and even young Lark was hardly a child now, but blossoming into a young maid. The years went by so quickly, and till now they had gone by with hardly a care.

Of course, there were always the small concerns of daily life; whether most of the ewes would beget healthy lambs in spring, or whether the summer would receive enough rain for the grass to grow thick and green. But Toby was not the worrying sort; Nature takes care of itself, he’d often said.

This wasn’t just the weather or the sheep, though. An unknown menace had been prowling the area at night, killing local livestock. Some simply went missing. Others were ripped apart. Toby had lost four sheep now, within the past two weeks. And just last night, his trusty herding dog Rudy had gone missing. He had found the remains near the edge of his land, barely recognizable as his beloved dog. He had buried him out there, both out of sentimentality and practicality; not only did it seem wrong to simply leave him out there, but Toby also knew that the scent of fresh blood might draw the beast back, and he wasn’t just thinking about the protection of his sheep.

This was about the safety of his family.

Unaccustomed worry lines had creased his face in the past couple weeks. He felt defenseless against this thing, whatever it was - something, or someone, and that was a chilling thought. Long discounted tales from his childhood came to mind, tales about the nameless things that stirred in the Wild. The Wild suddenly seemed a very nearby and menacing place to Toby, who had always considered Bree the safest (if the only) place he knew.

So far, the beast had been content to kill only animals – mostly sheep and pigs, but some cows as well, and now his Rudy, and he had heard tell of a couple cats that had gone missing as well. But who was to say that it might not get a taste for hobbit? No one had ever seen it; would it break in the door? Slip through a window?

Finally, finally now, the mayor had agreed to do something about it. Not that it was much; anyone could hold a meeting to discuss the events. The mayor, Toby thought bitterly, was more fit to head up the social events of the town than to protect it from any real threat. Of course, up until a little while ago, that had been sufficient and Toby had never had much of a complaint. As long as something might happen as a result of the meeting… no, something would happen. Toby would not let the meeting end before a plan of action had been decided on. He himself would head it up if need be. Those town folk, Toby wasn’t sure if they really understood the seriousness of the matter, but there were others who lived out here outside the town walls, others who had the same fears as he, and they would follow him, he knew. They had just as much stake in this as he had – their lives and families to protect.

There had to be something he could do.

~ Firefoot

piosenniel 04-29-2007 07:46 PM

Mayor Hershman of Bree – a tall, willowy man with a large nose and a genuine smile – stood on a small platform at the front of the fair-sized hall. The room before him was filled with worried, excited, and angry townsfolk. He knew he had waited too long to call this meeting, and he knew that still this was not quite what the people were looking for. At times like these, people wanted action. But no one knew what was going on…did they expect him to know any better?

The people stood clumped together, and voices at various level echoed around the hall. Mayor Hershman did his best to look stately, but he found it uncomfortably warm in the town hall, though it was barely spring. The five elder “counselors” that aided him in his duties were seated behind him. Hershman glanced at them, searching their faces for something. Did the people really look to him and these men to help them? They were old men, including himself!

After the mayor felt he had watched enough people – men, women, and entire families – enter the town hall, he gave a nod to one of the counselors, who called the room to order and relative quiet with a booming voice and the ringing of what was little more than a cowbell. It worked well enough. Mayor Hershman wasn’t exactly soft-spoken, anyway.

“Breelanders,” he began, loudly but not as if he were shouting, “our livestock, our pets, and perhaps even ourselves and our families are in danger.” Of course a new set of murmurs and voices not so soft ran through the crowd, but no one was shocked by the mayor’s statement. Everyone knew it was true, everyone knew it was on all of their minds, and everyone knew Hershman never wasted any time skirting an issue – at least once he got down to it.

“I am just as lost as you – no, I know of no one, either, who has seen this…this menace…and though I know that no matter what we’re up against, that we’re going to fight it with all we’ve got-” he paused, and there were a few shouts; not all the hearts in Bree had grown soft, even in this time of peace. But very few of them had actually faced any enemies before. It was Bree…nothing ever happened in Bree…

And yet, Hershman thought he remembered a story…no, those were never true.

“But before we can do a thing to stop…whatever, or, heaven forbid, whoever is threatening us, we have to figure out what we’re up against.” He paused to clear his throat, and this time there was mostly silence. Anyone in this hall could have come up with that thought, he knew. “Now, I know we all have what it takes to protect our land and our loved ones, but in this fearful time, I am calling for a group of Defenders of Bree…to be led by Toby Mugwort, a strong-hearted Breelander since birth.”

The shepherd had already proved to be a loud and dynamic voice in this matter, particularly with what he had already lost to this invisible threat. And the world knew that Hobbits could do great things. Allowing the duty that he hoped many would feel sink in, Mayor Hershman slowly scanned the room, making sure not to really look at anyone in particular, but taking in familiar faces. “Who else will answer the call?” The town hall was suddenly filled with a greater clatter than had been heard in Bree in many years.

~ Durelin

piosenniel 04-29-2007 07:50 PM

Crystal Heart's post

Eric came into the town meeting a little late. He lowered the hood of his green cloak and looked around. Indeed everyone was here to talk about the situation that had rocked the town. He folded his arms and listened to them speak.

What had been happening as of late highly worried him. His sisters were still young and they didn't understand threats. Though he had been trying to drill it into their heads they still went outside. He feared for their safety. He knew that their mother couldn't lose anyone else. Especially not a daughter. Eric was sure that their mother loved his sisters more than him. He looked too much like his father and since his father's death his mother had distanced herself from him.

He wanted to know what this thing was and how to stop it. For the safety of his family and their town. Too many had died already and they needed to stop whatever was doing it. He listened as they bantered about what should be done. Finally, Eric couldn't handle it any more.

"What we need is a group of our strongest and bravest men to go out and find whatever is killing everything and stop it. The more time we spend arguing about it the more this thing gets away with what it is doing," Eric pointed out.

The mayor looked up at him and gave him a hard stare. One that seemed to penetrate through Eric, but it didn't phase him. He was use to such stares from men of authority. Sometimes they didn't like his outbursts and sometimes he couldn't help but outburst. This was one of those outburst times.

"Indeed, Eric you are correct. Thank you for volunteering to be the first in the group to defend Bree," the mayor replied. Ericop ened his mouth to protest, but quickly closed it. Certainly he hadn't been volunteering himself! Well, he had been the one to think of the idea. He closed his mouth and took a deep breath.

"You are very welcome mayor. I would be glad to go with the noble men that would join me in defending our fair city," Eric replied with a clipped tone. What had he just gotten himself into?

piosenniel 05-22-2007 02:49 AM

Dunwen's post

Normally, Sam Tunnelly liked Big Folk. After all, he'd lived in Bree since he'd been apprenticed at the age of fourteen to the town smith, who was a Man himself. But at this day's town meeting, their sheer size made it hard for a Hobbit, even one as strong as Sam, to get through. Alas, he'd arrived too late to get a seat on one of the benches, so he had to listen as best he could. Seeing over the heads of the crowd would be unlikely for any of the Little Folk; seeing through the press of bodies a matter of luck.

Some town meetings attracted only a scant number of people of either size, but this one was about the rash of mangled animal corpses that had shown up all over the Breeland and it was packed. Sam's own Dad, a farmer on the outskirts of town, had sent word only yesterday that they'd lost one of their two milk cows and that a barn cat had been found torn to bits. Losing the cow was a hard blow for the family, as the extra dairy goods had brought a small but steady income to the farm. But the cat was scarier, for they seldom strayed far from the barn, and the barn was an easy walk from the door of their burrow. According to the neighboring farmer who'd brought word to Sam, his Dad wasn't letting his mother or two younger sisters step outside unless he or his oldest son, Sam's brother Frodo, was with them.

Many others were as frightened as his father, he learned as he listened carefully to the talk in his immediate vicinity. Sam recognized several voices. He stood up to his full four feet when he heard his old friend Eric Wadell speaking. Sam approved of Eric's suggestion for a group of Breelandrs to find the thing and stop it. He frowned at the mayor's high-handedness in telling Eric he had to be one of the searchers, though. He'd bet a gold piece that Eric hadn't intended to go on the hunt. His friend had a mother and sisters to support, after all.

As talk went on in the meeting, Sam had a small debate with himself. He didn't like the idea of going out and looking for some unknown and bloodthirsty thing, but there were others, Big and Little, who volunteered to join Eric in doing just that. He thought of his Dad's fears for their womenfolk. It occured to him that he was probably the strongest hobbit in Bree and at only 34 years old, he had no one depending on him for support. He'd learned some woodcraft as a boy hunting with bow and arrow. And if one of his best friends was going --

"Hi!" The burly hobbit jumped and waved his hand to get the mayor's attention. "I'll go, too." He cleared his throat and added, "Sam Tunnelly, journeyman smith," somewhat unnecessarily, as he was known to most of Bree.

'Well, I've put my toes in the fire now,' he thought unhappily, as the meeting went on around him. 'I hope they don't get eaten along with the rest of me.'

piosenniel 05-22-2007 02:51 AM

Dimturiel's post

The Town Hall had never been so crowded, thought Erling. Nor had the faces of the people there shown so much concern. Anxiety was not something those of Bree usually felt. The lands had been quiet ever since Erling could remember, and they were becoming even quieter with every year that passed. Fewer were now the tales of troubled times, and only the old ones remembered such days. the world seemed to have become peaceful and sleepy.

Yet now something was happening, something hard to explain, and harder still to accept. The malice-whatever that consisted of, for they had no idea-had descened upon them without so much as the most insignificant sign to herald its presence. It had managed to elude all vigillance, to pass all that they have considered unpassable by such evils, and it crept in their midst to strike with a suddeness that had nearly made them helpless. Who had been prepared for something like this? Who could have foretold its coming?

Who could tell now who had been the first farmer that, going one morning to inspect his flock, had discovered one or two sheep missing or had found their body lying in a pool of blood? And even then, who had paid much attention to such incident that, however unusual and gruesome foretold nothing at the time? And yet, as the days went by, these happenings became more and more frequent, and it was clear that the danger was greater than they had first thought it to be. None could ignore it now.

Erling was among those who had suffered from the terror, although their animals had been attacked more recently than those of other villagers. He remembered that he had just gone with his father to look at the sheep when they saw that two of them were missing. That was how it all started. Yet no, he thought. It had not begun with the sheep. There had been a stray dog near Erling's farm. The boy would sometimes cast food at it. It was by no means a friendly creature-it could actually be quite ferocious when provoked,-but it tolerated Erling and seemed even to be quite fond of him. Late into the night, Erling could hear its barking, and it seemed in a way comforting, as if it were a proof that the world and everything familiar in it were still there. One night, however, Erling woke up and realised he could hear nothing. There was no barking. And then he knew something had happened. He had not seen the dog since.

True, things had become quite serious, and that meeting from the Town Hall was proof of that. Erling had gone there at the bidding of his father.He would not have gone otherwise, unable to see how his presence might improve the situation.

But as he was listening to the Mayor's talk of a group that would try and put a stop to what was happening he suddenly felt excited. There would be intresting stories to be told after all that was over, he thought. But it was not only that. There was also something else, something he could not quite understand.

Till the end of his days, Erling was unable to understand what had possessed him then. He had often wonderer what had really happened there, but he could never get a satisfactory answer. All he knew was that he suddenly found himself getting up and heading towards where the mayor stood.

"I wish to go, too." he anounced, loud enough so that everyone heard him. "I...I wish to be of some use."

He paused looking around him. The others seemed to have accepted his expressed intention of being one of the "Defenders", as the Mayor called them. He, however, began to feel a little puzzled. He leaned against the wall, a baffled expression in his eyes.

"What have I done now?" he muttered to himself.

piosenniel 05-22-2007 02:52 AM

Forest Elf's post

Grimbeorn sat there, his ears working and listening as he took in every word that was said. He was alert and aware or everything going on around him. He could see fear for the welfare of the ones these people held close to their hearts; he could see their fear and worry about where this creature or, this being was going to take its next meal from. Keeping his face guarded so as not to show any of his feelings, as he had done before at events in any town, city, or hall’s meetings. It was a habit he had, one that he knew he should quit, but found that he liked being at these meetings with such a look, even though at this guarded look could send people wondering if he was the one behind this. He could always say that he had merely gotten here yesterday, as he had, but he doubted that anyone would believe him on that.

As he listened to the argument, he felt that it was very pointless. After a few men had volunteered he stood. Looking at the mayor he stated, loudly, “I have traveled for many days to get here, after word of the killings got to my ear. I did not come all this way to simply sit around listening to arguments and plans, I came here to help find out what…this, this thing is that’s killing these livestock and few pets and put an end to these killings that have been ruining the lives of these peoples!” Then, he after realizing what he had said, he thought he may have appeared a bit wilder and dangerous with making that statement. He didn’t wish to pose as a threat to anyone but that thing that was taking the livestock. He lowered his head a little to hide his scars, thankful that his hair was long enough to conceal it away in shadows, so that he might not appear as frightening.

piosenniel 05-22-2007 02:54 AM

mormegil's post

Kuric was rather well traveled, even by dwarf standards and had seen many places in Middle-earth and visited a large amount of areas both civilized and uncivilized. He was and adventurer and treasure hunter and loved to be on the move. Little had slowed him down, after a 5 year respite back at home; if it could truly be called home for he spent such little time there, in Erebor Kuric decided it was time to go seek adventure once again.

After the great war of the ring, in which Kuric proudly fought along side his people, Middle-earth had found peace for many years, and while this was good for most, it was horrible for Kuric. He felt bored and needed some adventure. North was the desired course for him. Perhaps he could find adventure outside the realm of King Ellesar.

Kuric had intended to head to the northern reaches of Eriador to seek out trolls, orcs, or other foul creatures. While on his way he took a brief reprieve in Bree and was familiar with the area as he had stayed here on previous occasions. While familiar with many he was not overly friendly with many, though some of the hardy men became Kuric’s drinking mates and they had many good nights at the Prancing Pony. Kuric was ready to set off once again when he heard of strange happenings, Kuric was excited that adventure found him in the least likely place and anticipation coursed through him and he figured he might as well see this out. He knew that this small and rather pathetic, little establishment would need the veteran leadership and experience of an old campaigner such as him. He would whip this rag tag crew into shape and get to the cause of this mystery. He decided he would attend the meeting and give his aid.

Sitting through the meeting Kuric was happy to hear that the mayor didn't pull any punches and was honest with the townfolk. As a whole, meetings bored him and this was no exception too many people talking and not enough decisions. After hearing Grimbeorn speak up about his experience and the need the town would need of his aid, Kuric could take it no more. He stood abruptly, chuckled loudly and stated matter of factly " Bah! You need a dwarfs help in this and I've got nothing better ta do at the time so I'll be helping you all out here. After all I've seen a bit more adventure than the lot of ya and if things get rough ye'll have me mace, it has sat idle for too long now and is quenching some blood." Kuric grinned and was rather pleased with himself. He felt he had a way with words and making people feel at ease.

piosenniel 05-22-2007 02:55 AM

Newsman's post

Madoc had always lived a good life. He had a beautiful family, a laid back and easy-going lifestyle, many friends. What more could a hobbit ask for? Yet many a night had found him sitting outside with his pipe looking at the stars and questioning himself. Something had grown inside him, could it be what had caused that hobbit to leave so long ago...what was his name, Bilbo?

That was when it was still safe to be outside at night. Lately things had grown dangerous, something new to people around here. Livestock were turning up dead, and even Toby Mugwort's dog had been killed. His own dog seemed nervous outside.

Madoc had a family to think of, and that was what had driven him to the town meeting. He could barely contain himself with how long the mayor had waited to address this issue. Yet he kept himself in check, and the anger slowly dissapated. The meeting progressed, and the plan of action was announced. Toby was to lead a group to find this "thing". As man and hobbit alike argued over the outcome, and who should join, Madoc stayed quiet in his seat.

Madoc respected Toby quite alot, but he really couldn't see himself doing something this daring. He stood up to go, but was pushed forward in the ruckus, his hand went up and the Mayor called him out. "Madoc Hurnt! Are you volunteering to join this cause?" The old mayor bellowed.

It took a moment for the words to sink in. Madoc stammered a reply. "Well, no...I...well I mean..." Suddenly that feeling that he needed something more took over, and the yearning for adventure rose. "I mean YES, yes I am." What was done was done, this was going to be very interesting.

piosenniel 05-22-2007 02:56 AM

Finduilas' post

Ash thought that it was very unfair that when his father was no longer able to help much, something should start attacking the area. Even though only one or two animals on their farm had been killed, many people around Bree had lost animals. Ash hadn’t wanted to come to the meeting, but Father wasn’t able to, so there was nothing for it. At least Leonora was allowed to come.

Ash wasn’t a coward, but he felt very young as the meeting began, even though he saw that there were many other young men in the group. However, he soon forgot himself in the excitement of the meeting. He saw the threat of this new thing, and he saw no reason why he should not be able to find it. After all, he was an ambitious youth.

‘The poor mayor,” thought Ash, “This must be a hard job.”

When the Mayor called for volunteers, Ash waited till a few people had volunteered, then stood up.

“Sir, Leonora and I would be happy to be of any help to the lands and people of Bree. Count us in.” He said this, not noticing that he had volunteered Leonora, without even thinking. A quick look from her told him his mistake, but he saw that it was to late to take it back. He merely smiled apologetically and sat down.

piosenniel 05-22-2007 02:57 AM

Thinlómien's post

Leanora looked out of the window, watching a crow fly in the sky. She was deep in thought and hardly listened to the Mayor's words. It was not that she wasn't interested - she was - but the Mayor's speech was very dull and there was nothing new for her as the Mayor's daughter, Jinna, had already told her the latest news.

Leanora was thinking about the issue. Many people had lost animals, mostly sheep. Leanora and her brother's friend Jock had lost his dear dog. What kind of beast can it be? Papa had suggested that the killers were ordinary wolves, who had just become more aggressive, but Leanora couln't agree. It wasn't a satisfactory explanation. Old stories of hill trolls and even more horrible beats of the wilderness kept danicng in her head.

Suddenly Leanora noticed Ash springing up. "Sir, Leanora and I would be happy to be of any help to the lands and people of Bree. Count us in", he said in a steady voice. Leanora cast a quizzical look at him. He sat down and smiled his apologetic smile. Leanora rolled her eyes. Ash never asks my opinion because he always thinks he can assume what I think, Leanora thought, a bit grumpily. Ash looked at her. "Lea?" he asked, looking slightly worried. He seemed to wonder if he had mistaken her feelings about the matter. "It seems we're going, then", she said and grinned. How could her brother have even slightly doubted her love for adventures?

piosenniel 05-22-2007 02:59 AM

Farael's post

“You should go to this Town Meeting son, it will be good for you” Grumbled Robby, thinking of what his father had told him earlier that day. “Oh, your dad is right Rob” had said his mother “it won’t be long before you realize your tweens are over and you are a gentlehobbit. You can’t grow up overnight son”.

Well, how was he ever going to grow up if he kept being told what to do by his parents? As they said themselves, he was almost out of his tweens! Regardless, here he was, looking desperately for any of his friends to talk to. He did not find any of his usual friends, but instead, he saw beautiful Rose Overhill. She was Timmy’s (or rather Timothy Underhil, Robby’s best friend) cousin’s twice removed on his mother’s side, which among hobbits is close enough to be considered a “relative”. As such, she was invited to Timmy’s birthday parties, where she did an excellent job of ignoring Robby Twofoot. Not to be discouraged by such minor setbacks, Robby kept on approaching her, until she finally agreed that he was not that bad a hobbit. Yet in spite of young Twofoot’s best efforts to impress her, she only regarded him as an acquaintance.

As he slowly made his way towards her in the crowded room, the mayor of Bree started talking about this frightful menace that was haunting the farms. Robby had, as the son of a farmer himself, heard plenty about it, but he did not concern himself much with it. None of his sheep had been attacked, and so he considered himself safe, and perhaps a little lucky. Still, knowing it would not do to start a conversation while the major was speaking, he stopped walking and pretended to pay attention to what Mayor Hershman was saying. Truth was, he was still looking at Miss Overhill, hoping to catch her eye.

Mayor Hershman, meanwhile, rambled on and on about this menace, and what they would do about it. It seemed that Farmer Mugwort would lead a group of men and hobbits to find out what this monster was, and deal with it accordingly. It sounded like an adventure something that only those crazy folks from The Shire seemed bent on doing. He had heard many stories about “Mad Baggins” and his endless treasure, and then his son Frodo, along with Mayor Gamgee, had killed some sorcerer or another (personally, he always liked better the story of Master Peregrin Took and Meriadoc Brandybuck, two great and memorable hobbits who had fought alongside kings… and talking trees). But that was work for the Shire folk and not good , decent hobbits of Bree.

A few hands were raised, volunteers who would follow Farmer Mugwort on his search for this “menace”. And then, the unthinkable happened. Rose Overhill finally noticed him being there, and acknowledged him with a smile. Not only that, she walked over to him, and in a voice that sounded as harps playing in sweet harmony told Robby “Robby Twofoot! I did not expect to find you here. I thought you would be trampling around with your friends, too busy with your games and jests to be concerned by the troubles of others”

-“Why, of course Miss Overhill, I am no longer a lad of twenty five summers.” Answered Robby, hoping to sound more confident than how he truly felt. “As a matter of fact, I was thinking I should perhaps volunteer to join Farmer Mugwort and the others. It is time I do something other than looking after my daddy’s… that is, my father’s cattle.”

Rose seemed to be truly impressed, and so with a tingling in his stomach that may have been caused the proximity of Miss Overhill (or perhaps the fact that his father would positively disown him for being so reckless) Robby Twofoot raised his hand to catch Mayor Hershman’s eye and volunteered himself. After all, they were just going to find out what this “thing” may be… there was no reason to be worried about it, a couple of days camping under the stars and looking at what Robby expected to be some pawprints from one animal or another. No reason to be worried at all.

piosenniel 05-22-2007 03:01 AM

Durelin's post - Parkun Felderth

This is a joke, Parkun thought as he scanned the people around him, a very large crowd by Bree’s standards. He smirked as he observed the mayor and the elder council of the town, wondering why everyone stood and listened to such frail hands and failing minds. White hair did not equate with wisdom.

These town meetings frustrated him to no end, and the more typical ones put him quickly to sleep, but there were appearances to consider. His father was the innkeeper of the Prancing Pony, and as the son of such a man, he had to be just as an upstanding townsperson. And what well-to-do person did not go to the town meetings?

“I know we all have what it takes to protect our land and our loved ones,” the mayor boomed, and Parkun suppressed a snort. “But in this fearful time, I am calling for a group of Defenders of Bree…” the young man began to really listen at the phrase ‘group of defenders’, “to be led by Toby Mugwort, a strong-hearted Breelander since birth.”

A group of defenders led by…a Hobbit? Parkun thought with wonder. This town was even more of a joke than he thought. A Hobbit couldn’t stand up even to whatever petty criminals or common beasts were causing a scare. When men began volunteering to be a part of the group, Kun believed they might have a chance. But then a woman was volunteered, and then a Dwarf – of all people – who sounded very full of himself, and then even more Hobbits.

What a motley crew. And the safety of the town was in their hands? Hah, Parkun laughed to himself, we’re lucky they’re not up against much. Perhaps they were quite lucky, as well. If they were already granted the lofty title of ‘Defenders of Bree’, before they had accomplished anything, this group was surely all set up for grand treatment by the other townsfolk.

Just when the mayor, and all the others present, seemed to think they had a good number of ‘Defenders’, Parkun lifted up his hand with only an awkward nod to Master Hershman, thinking that maybe it was time the innkeeper’s second eldest made some sort of name for himself.

piosenniel 05-22-2007 03:02 AM

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Firefoot 05-22-2007 08:30 PM

"Very well, then," the mayor concluded. "Unless there are any other volunteers...?" None were forthcoming. "The general meeting is dismissed, but I believe that Toby would like to have a few words with the Defenders," he said, casting a questioning look at Toby who was standing near the front of the room. Toby affirmed this statement with a nod, and the mayor continued, "If those of you could meet right up here."

The Defenders, such as they were, made their way to the front where Toby was waiting, appraising the group of which he had been placed in charge. He was grateful that Madoc had volunteered; he was a stout hobbit whose situation was similar to Toby's own. As for the rest of the lot, Toby wasn't as sure. Many of them were so young - Toby was more familiar with their fathers than them; his children might be friends with this lot. And one of them was a young woman! Toby would never have let his wife or any of his daughters volunteer for this perilous venture. He hoped that these young folk really did understand the gravity of their plight and didn't just see the whole affair as a great 'adventure.'

Then there were those two strangers whom Toby had never seen before, one of them that Dwarf who had made some fuss about his mace being thirsty for bloodshed. What sort of talk was that? At this point, Toby was almost willing to believe that one of them had somehow been behind all these killings, and had only joined the Defenders to cover it up. But he supposed that was tomfoolery; surely no person had ripped apart his sheep and dog like that! Or so he hoped.

"Now, then," he said, clearing his throat as the last of the Defenders gathered around. "I suppose most of you have a fair idea of this creature's methods...?" There was some nodding. "I'd like to start by having you all share your experiences and propose any ideas you have on what might be behind it."

Forest Elf 05-24-2007 11:44 AM

Grimbeorn, in seeing that no one was too excited to speak up, he said, “I have had a few experiences with creatures before. Would…was there any sign of footprints in the ground around the killings? Or were the grounds just bare? If it were a creature…surely it would have left foot prints.”

Grimbeorn’s face was still in shadow, he wasn’t sure what these folk would think of him when they saw his scar. He didn’t want to appear frightening to them…and he certainly didn’t want to become a suspect. He gently fingered his sword hilt, reminding himself that he hadn’t practiced much in the past week or so. That would also mean he’d have to get some target practice in as well.

Farael 05-24-2007 01:27 PM

“Footprints? I would not know my good Sir, my father’s cattle has been safe from this… thing. We have some ferocious dogs guarding our sheep, and that seems to suffice. Surely this nuisance is nothing more than that, some wild animal or another.” Answered Robby, feeling uncomfortable by the sense of gloom in the group around him.

“Now, I dare say the big folk among us will laugh at me and call me too much of a hobbit, if that was ever possible, but I believe that a little food would do us no harm. I see no reason to be so grim, let us sit around the table and discuss what to do next! Although… I suppose talking about dead animals, bloodied carcasses and the like would certainly ruin our appetite. Not to mention that, as my Pa’ says, bad news at the table makes for worse news after. We would not want to start our trip with an indigestion! No sir, that will not do at all. Perhaps we should all leave food for after we have discussed this grim business?” offered the hobbit, forgetting not only that he had been the one to propose food in the first place, but also that he had not given anyone else a chance to talk.

Feeling his verbosity abate, Robby crossed his arms and tried to look as serious as he could manage. “Well, then I would say that those of us who have had trouble with whatever we are after should speak up first. There is no point in having this hobbit speaking his lungs out if he knows little that can help us right now.”

Durelin 05-24-2007 06:36 PM

When the Town Hall had been cleared of all but the freshly named "Defenders of Bree", it suddenly seemed much larger. The walls loomed down on Parkun, and the floorboards glared up at him. "And why are you here?" they taunted, though he found the glances of any of the others in the group to be worse: more questioning, more accusing. But accusing of what? Did they really look at each other and think that maybe, just maybe the 'it' everyone was afraid of was right there in front of their noses?

Perhaps they was possible.

The silence at first, after Toby did his best to initiate whatever planning they were going to do, made Parkun wonder how long it would take before they all scared themselves out of being "Defenders", but when one of the men finally spoke, sensibility seemed to suddenly return. Of course, he had little to pose other than a question regarding footprints. Kun had not heard of any signs of what was behind the attacks at all - he had heard from some naive children and crazy old men that it was a spirit, a shadow. Some creature leftover from the war, when sorcery was real...

One of the Hobbits of the group broke in, and Parkun had to resist cradling his head in his hand as the halfling rambled. How reliably typical, he thought bitterly. The young man only half listened to what the Hobbit said, but one word in particular hooked his attention: 'trip'.

Parkun opened his mouth to interject, but the Hobbit was not finished. Waiting until the shorter being had actually acknowledged that he was 'speaking his lungs out', the strawberry-blonde asked bluntly, "Our trip?"

mormegil 05-25-2007 11:53 PM

“It be trolls I tell ya” blurted Kuric abruptly. All of this talk about this being a simple creature had made him boil over, for he truly wanted it to be more, and he was irritated at how naďve and simple these folk were. “Yep this is the work of trolls or I don’t have a beard.” To emphasize the point Kuric stroked his beard slowly and thoughtfully. “Perhaps it a werewolf though, I’ve heard of ‘em up in these parts in times past. Times have changed and not all for the better, I say. Used to be that a dwarf could come up north here and find some good excitement, problem is now that this new king has tamed most of the wild, but it looks like he missed a something. I’ve seen more than the lot of you put together ‘ave seen and I’ve been through these parts in the old days back when things weren’t so safe and calm” Kuric’s face was giddy with anticipation, hoping that it truly was a troll or some other evil creature. “I tell you lot this much, this ain’t no simple task before ya now. I’m a bit concerned fer ya ta be honest, meaning no disrespect, of course, but I’d rather not have a hobbit leadin’ us and that’d be why I stepped in. Ye’ll need some old campaigner for the leader here and I’m the person fer the job.” Kuric looked at the rag-tag group before him, completely confident that no further discussion would be needed.

“Now what we need to do is get busy, and this hobbit had some sense in thinking about some food first. I’m saying we need some ale and we need it quick. Nothing puts me in the mood for a hunt quite like some good ol’ ale” Kuric chuckled at himself. Looking to Toby Kuric said, “Now what are ya waiting for lad, run along and get us some ale.” With that Kuric gave a dismissive wave of his hand.

Dimturiel 05-26-2007 05:24 AM

All the others had left, and only the new “Defenders” were now in the town hall. Erling could hardly believe that he was actually one of them. Surely he had gone too far this time. But there was no question of backing up now, lest he should be despised to the end of his days and remembered only as a coward. And that was not a thought that one like Erling could bear.

But for now it seemed that there were many just as uncomfortable as him. He looked at the group with interest and curiosity. Perhaps they had stories to tell. The old dwarf at least surely had, and maybe the other stranger too. Perhaps, when they were not too busy with their “defending” job, he would ask them to share some of his experiences with him.

But what exactly would they do as “Defenders”, Erling had no idea. Maybe the others had, although, by the looks of it, many were as baffled as he, if not more. Toby Mugwort had asked them for some suggestions, but that had lead only to an awkward silence, which was thankfully broken by Grimbeorn’s question about footprints. It was a sensible question, only it did not help much as no traces of the creature had been seen. A chill went suddenly down Erling’s spine, as he understood what that fact meant. Why were there no footprints? Surely all creatures left marks behind them. All living creatures, that was. Then what…?

Kuric’s talk about trolls awoke Erling from his musings. At first he listened with the greatest attention and also with a slight-or more than slight, if he wanted to be fair- apprehension. But soon enough all this turned to annoyance as he noticed the arrogance of the old dwarf, and the way he considered himself above the others. Those of Bree were not perhaps brave warriors, few actually could boast of knowing how to wield a sword or the likes, but they were all stout and bold at need. And need was great then. Their lives were at stake.

And as for Kuric’s treatment of Toby Mugwort, Erling had to try hard to restrain himself from saying some not very soft words to the “old campaigner” as he so arrogantly called himself. Master Mugwort was one of the most respected personages in Bree, and there were few who did not speak highly of him. What was that old dwarf unfamiliar with the ways of Bree doing by bossing one of the most highly-regarded folk in town? Erling thought that he might as well tell him-if not in the not very kind words he had first wanted to say-how things stood.

“Well, master Kuric,” he began. “Meaning no disrespect to you and not doubting your bravery and good intentions, but I think you should ask us how we feel about it before calling yourself our leader. See, you may know much about war and evil creatures, but we know little of you. And it is hard, master Kuric, really hard for us to put ourselves in the hands of a stranger we have never seen before. And you too, should try learning some things about us. For one thing, for you all this is a hunt, a way of amusing yourself, but for us…well, our families are at stake, and we find this business by no means amusing.”

Perhaps he had said too much, Erling thought. Perhaps now he had earned himself an enemy, and even among those who were forced to act together with him. But what had been said could hardly be unsaid now. And he thought he had been in the right. After all, it had been about the honor of his town and its people.

Firefoot 05-26-2007 08:48 AM

Lad? Lad? Toby had to be one of the oldest in the group! Kuric's pompous manner and arrogant tone had nearly set Toby's easy-going temper over the edge. Just who did this Dwarf think he was, anyhow?

He was grateful when Erling stepped in with a mild word of reproof to the Dwarf, as it gave Toby a few seconds to take a few deep breaths and compose a dignified response. He nodded his approval at Erling's statements and addressed Kuric rather stiffly.

"You will get your own ale, if that's what pleases you. We are all equals in this group and no one, least of all you, an outsider to this town, has the right to order anyone else around - particularly for something so mundane as ale!

"Now, you joined this group of Defenders knowing full well that the mayor had appointed me as leader to this group and if you had a problem with it you should have addressed him then. As it is, I daresay that if the mayor had wanted only someone skilled in battle for a leader, he might have chosen you, but clearly that is not the only quality such a leader requires. I also daresay I know a sight more about these killings than you do. Now," he said in an effort to refocus the meeting, addressing the whole group in a tone that was nearly even, "I've lost four sheep and a dog to whatever this is, though I can't say I remember seeing any tracks," he added with a nod to Grimbeorn; this outsider, at least, had a decent sense of respect! "The unusual thing about these killings is there doesn't seem to be any pattern to it; some of the sheep disappear, some are ripped to shreds - and never a sound in the night. If it were some ordinary creature I'd expect to be woken by snarls and cries... and whatever it is, no one's ever seen it. What we need, maybe, is a map... to figure out where it might be hiding during the day. Parkun, does your father keep one around here, perhaps...?"

Durelin 05-27-2007 11:06 AM

Parkun was too annoyed that no one even noted his question to pay much attention to anyone else. Kuric’s first words were difficult to ignore, as he suddenly burst out something about trolls of all things. Trolls, creatures of legend...who was this Dwarf? Just the fact that he was a Dwarf was odd enough to the young man - not that he had not seen at least one or two before – but his greying hair and wrinkled face made Parkun wonder how many years this being had walked Middle-earth.

At least one too many, he thought, as Kuric boisterously rambled on. At the Dwarf's final words, an order to Master Mugwort, the young man had to suppress a laugh. Something wasn’t quite normal in this stranger’s head, to say the least. Erling responded to the Dwarf in his characteristically mild way, but Parkun thought Kuric might challenge even Erling’s patience with just a little time.

What would happen if they really offended this old Dwarf? He seemed to usually be at least a bit high strung, and sensibility probably wasn’t something he understood. If they pushed him over the edge in even the slightest…

Could he…? Parkun wondered. Trolls, indeed. Had Kuric arrived around the same time the attacks had started? The young man couldn’t remember when he had first seen the Dwarf in his father’s inn. He’s crazy enough, perhaps. That, at least, Parkun knew.

“Parkun, does your father keep one around here, perhaps...?”

The young Master Felderth jumped slightly when he heard his name and was dragged from his thoughts. Keep one…one what? He wracked his brain for anything he might have heard, and as a result he simply stared dumfounded at Farmer Mugwort for a moment or two until the word came to him: map.

“Oh, yes, he and his maps…” Parkun paused and glanced around him, feeling a little uneasy. If he went to get one of the maps, it would take him nearly an hour to just convince his father to let him bring it to the town hall. “Err…well, seeing as some have voiced a desire for food and drink…perhaps we should head over to my father’s inn, where we can see all of his maps?” More time could easily be wasted there, as well.

Finduilas 05-29-2007 09:47 AM

Ash was sorry to see that there was already contention among the Defenders. He disagreed with the dwarf, and was glad that Toby said something, but he hoped that Kuric wouldn't get insulted by his being put into place. After all, they all needed to work together, and there was no way to tell how long they would have to bear with each other.

Ash hoped that people would agree with Parkun, for he believed that food would improve the humor of the group, even though that sounded like a hobbitish idea. But even though he agreed, he didn't want to say so, seeing as there were enough opinions voiced, without him saying anything. So he waited silently, and desperatly hoped that tempers wouldn't flare.

While all had talked he had observed the other Defenders. He knew many of they himself, or at least had seen them before, and recognized them. But the dwarf, and a strange man, who had fingered his sword as he spoke. Ash hoped that he wouldn't cause any trouble, or prove dangerous.

Newsman 05-30-2007 12:07 PM

Madoc just sat and shook his head. This is the group thats gonna stop this...this...thing? He couldn't help but realize that the contention had obviously come from the Dwarf's comments, both on the nature of the creature as well as his attempt at ordering Toby. With a sigh he filled his pipe and lit it before drawing in a large whiff and puffing it out, staring into the smoke.

A terror of this sort was new to him, and truth be told he was scared out of his wits. After all his family was important to him, and if this menace began targeting people...He shuddered at the thought. As he gazed absentmindedly about the group, his eyes locked on to the man who was half hidden in the shadows. Madoc quickly averted his eyes and turned to the young man next to him.

"Ash isn't it?" A nod from the boy proved him right. "Lad, between you and me, I have a sneaky suspicion that this creature could be right here among us. Now dont get me wrong and all, I'm not the suspicious sort, but one has to cover all the bases."

Before the boy could reply, Madoc addressed the group. "I think Parkun is right you know, never knew a group who could think well on an empty stomach. I say we eat and try to find out what connects these attacks if anything." He was hoping someone else would agree, eating would make things less formal, and give him the time to tell his suspicion to Toby without drawing unneeded attention. Madoc inhaled from his pipe again and waited for things to play out.

Forest Elf 05-30-2007 01:12 PM

Grimbeorn listened to what the others had to say. He thought that Kuric was being too bold for a first meeting, well, that is, unless he isn’t a stranger. Then they’d probably have expected such talk from a dwarf. As for him, he could be considered a stranger easily. Lifting his face slightly, he listened to what the others had to say. He noticed that one of the hobbit’s looked his way, but quickly looked away. Raising his face slightly he looked again at the group which he had joined, consisting of men, hobbits, and a dwarf. I wonder what adventures this group will see…I wonder how many of the have actually faced combat before, he thought to himself.

After the mention of food, his stomach gave a small grumble. Somewhat embarrassed, he said with a slight, embarrassed laugh, “Well, I say that my stomach just gave my answer for me. Yes, let’s go somewhere to eat and try to figure out who or what is responsible for the killings.”

Firefoot 05-30-2007 05:44 PM

"I'd say we have an agreement, then," said Toby, realizing that he would have to be the one to announce a decision or they would all simply stand there talking about food while no one actually had any. "Let's head over to the Prancing Pony."

Toby led the way out of the Town Hall, assuming that the band would all follow. What a troop we must look! he thought. He was thankful that the Inn was only a short walk down the road, since he could still feel the thick tension in the air, only slightly lessened as small pockets of discussion broke out.

It was not long before Toby found Madoc walking beside him. "How've you been, Madoc?" he greeted. Then noticing the thoughtful expression on the other hobbit's face, added, "Something in particular on your mind?"

Crystal Heart 05-31-2007 04:07 PM

Eric sat back and watched all that was happening. When they mentioned food he gave a smile. Yes, he was hungry but he hadn't wanted to admit it just yet. He gave a nod in reply and hung back as the group headed off to the pub. As he hung back he contemplated what he had just gotten himself into. He had volunteered himself for a very dangerous journey. Would his family be angry with him? Probably. He was the man of the family, had been since his father's death. Losing him too would be determental to them all.

He shook away his worried thoughts. This was the first adventure he would be in on in a very long time. He should be looking forward to the adventure and the honor instead of fearing of how everything would end up for his mother and unwed sisters. He had them to take care of after all.

Dunwen 06-01-2007 12:59 AM

Sam brightened at the thought of the fine food and drink at the Prancing Pony. For the first few moments of their walk to the inn, his thoughts dwelt pleasurably on ale, bread and cheese. Shortly, however, they drifted to his companions and what little he knew about most of them.

Toby Mugwort and Madoc Hurnt he knew by sight; both were of an age with his Dad. The youngest hobbit, the Twofoot boy, he knew only slightly better from a few occasions when he and his dad had brought some of their tools to the smithy to be repaired. So far as Sam knew, all three of the other hobbits were solid and steady fellows.

The Men he thought were a mixed bag. For one thing, they included a female, Leonora. Her inclusion had surprised him greatly. Although Sam was aware of her hoydenish girlhood, when she and her twin had indulged in their fair share of hijinks in Bree, it seemed strange to him that a girl would want to leave her home for what could be a very dangerous job. He wondered if the twins were too young to be an asset to the 'Defenders', although he said nothing. Farmer Mugwort had accepted both of them, and he was the leader despite what the dwarf said.

He wasn't quite sure about Master Parkun, either. Sam had observed the innkeeper's second son during some of his periodic visits to the Pony. There wasn't anything he could put his finger on, so to speak, but the lad had run with a wild crowd when he was younger. And he wasn't a particularly friendly type either. Sometimes he acted like he was trying to hide something. Erling, on the other hand, was an outgoing, pleasant sort. Sam knew him from the inn, too. A friendly fellow in his early tweens, he was always hanging on new folk passing through, asking for travelers' tales. Sam liked what he'd seen of him up to now.

He reserved judgement on the strange Man, and the dwarf, who seemed pretty high and mighty going on about trolls and fighting and such. That Grimbeorn at least hadn't tried to boss everyone around.

Catching up to his friend Eric, he murmurred quietly enough so no one could hear, "Quite a group we've got here, haven't we?"

Thinlómien 06-01-2007 04:40 AM

Leanora found herself walking beside Ash, as always. The twins did not talk, they were both deep in thought.

Ash's friend Madoc came to say hello to him. Leanora didn't know the hobbit and in her current mood she left herself out of their company, walking a few paces behind them. She looked around, wonderingly, when she saw a familiar figure running towards them. What is Orin doing here?

Leanora waited for her little brother to come. Meanwhile, the others kept walking: it seemed they hadn't noticed the arrival of the young lad nor Leanora stopping. "Orin, what is it now?" Lea asked, slightly annoyed because of the interferance. The boy pulled a face at his sister. "I wasn't to come to bring you a message. I was to bring it to Master Mugwort." The lad took a few steps to the bigger group, when his sister gripped his shoulder. "Were you?" she asked. Leanora couldn't believe their father would send the ill-mannered lad to bring the news to the respected hobbit gentleman. Orin tried to get free from his sister's grasp, but he couldn't.

"What are you doing? Orin, why are you here?" Ash had noticed his sister was missing and come to them. "Lea, we should be going, the others are over there already", he said, pointing. "I see, maybe we should go", she said and cast a doubtful look at her younger brother, letting him go. He sprinted off. "Mugwort, Mugwort", he shouted, running to the others. Lea and Ash gave each other the all too familiar "oh no"-look and spurted after him.

The lad ran to Toby Mugwort, who was talking to Madoc, and interrupted their discussion. "Mister Mugwort! My Papa wanted you to know that our neighbour's horse has gone missing!"

It took the hobbit a moment to answer, and Leanora - who had just arrived with Ash - decided to interfere: "Excuse him, Master Mugwort", she took a quick breath. "This is my and Ash's brother, Orin. He seems to have news from our father, Renly Winkle. And by 'our neighbour' I trust he means farmer Todd Maple", she finished abruptly.

mormegil 06-02-2007 01:38 AM

Kuric was glad to see the group moving toward the inn. Finally, I can get me some ale this day, thought Kuric. The outburst by the so-called leader of this group was to be expected. Kuric had seen it all before many times. Little people too foolish to know who the real leader is, he thought to himself. It's only a matter of time ‘til he looses it all, audibly chuckling at the thought Kuric postulated At last I'll be there to step in when time comes and I can tell the little hobbit that I warned him.

Outside, Kuric trudged through the street quickly making it to the front of the group, subconsciously aware that this would again assert his leadership role. Suddenly there arose a clamor and some small lad claiming that a horse had gone missing.

"I told ye, didn't I! Only a troll would take a horse on, but yer all too daft to believe me." Kuric announced. "Lad, how long ago did the horse go missin'?"

Durelin 06-02-2007 05:16 PM

Glad that they were going to have a change of setting, which would hopefully result in a better atmosphere within the group, but not looking forward to seeing his father, Parkun was torn. His pace was quick, though, as he believed very much in getting things over with. As Farmer Mugwort slowed while speaking with one of the other Hobbits -- Madoc something, he believed -- the young man pulled ahead of him, and soon found himself joined by the Dwarf.

Parkun glanced at Kuric quickly, hoping to not catch the Dwarf's eye, and resisted the urge to look behind him to see if Master Mugwort noticed him. Anything that went on between those two was bound to be interesting since Kuric's odd outburst regarding the leadership. Instead the strawberry-blonde's ears were drawn behind him as he heard a young voice shout about how a horse had gone missing. Then Leanora, the only woman in the group -- why there was any woman at all Parkun would wonder for some time -- explained. Ah, so it's Orin, he thought, still feeling too conscientious to turn around and look.

"I told ye, didn't I!" came a sudden outburst from Kuric. His booming voice made Parkun start, and consequently the young man's face reddened as he hoped beyond hope no one had noticed.

"Only a troll would take a horse on," the Dwarf continued, "but yer all too daft to believe me. Lad, how long ago did the horse go missin'?"

Parkun felt anger flare up inside him at the word "daft". Maybe the others could be called that -- he would concede that -- but that Dwarf was included in 'the others', and Kun was not.

And Kun didn't care when the horse went missing.

"Do trolls bother stealing horses before eating them, Master Kuric?" he asked, ignoring the Dwarf's own question but doing his best to keep any sarcasm out of his voice. He tried to sound almost interested, but he wasn't about to put on too much of a show for the crazy old fool.

mormegil 06-02-2007 10:28 PM

"Do trolls bother stealing horses before eating them, Master Kuric?" stated the young man called Parkun.

Kuric was glad and knew that his plans were coming to fruition for finally here was somebody that showed him the proper respect.

"Aye lad, that they would." Kuric said gravely nodding toward Parkun in agreement, "Trolls are dumb, it is true, but they know enough ta take the creatures out of the area." Raising the tone and authority in his voice he decalred, "Now, if ye'll all just listen ta me we'll get this sorted out quick enough to get home fer dinner tonight."

Beginning to march down the line the defenders had formed Kuric stated "Let's quickly grab some ale and be off." Kuric's glee was barely contained at this statement. Patting his mace almost lovingly Kuric thought, It's been too long my friend but soon, soon. With that though Kuric's mouth formed a toothy smile and he was momentarily lost in thought.

Firefoot 06-03-2007 05:48 AM

"Quite alright. This seems important," Toby responded to Leanora as Kuric started ranting on about trolls again behind him. Suppressing his rising annoyance at the dwarf for a moment, he turned instead to the boy Orin who had run up. "Your neighbor's horse, you say? Hmm... And you came as soon as you heard?"

Orin nodded breathlessly, but added, "But it happened last night." Toby nodded, frowning to himself. A horse... that was a big animal, and likely to make a fuss - unlike his own docile, if rather dim-witted, sheep. "I don't suppose anyone saw what happened?"

"Nope. Just turned up missing," Orin reported.

Toby sighed. "Thank you, lad. And have your pa keep me posted if any other evidence appears."

"Yes, sir!"

Toby returned his attention to the rest of the Defenders just in time to hear Kuric declare: "Now, if ye'll all just listen ta me we'll get this sorted out quick enough to get home fer dinner tonight." And then, the nerve of him! He began to head off toward the inn, clearly expecting the others to follow. "Let's quickly grab some ale and be off."

"And I suppose, Master Dwarf," said Toby sharply, "that you know precisely where we'll all 'be off' to? That you know this land better than any of us who have lived here our whole lives? That you know where trolls would hide - assuming that it is actually trolls, who are rather large and by all accounts none too smart and would have a rather difficult time not to be spotted?"

Farael 06-03-2007 07:00 PM

It seemed that, finally, common sense had prevailed and the “Defenders of Bree” were off to the Inn to grab a bite and look at some maps. Or was it common sense? As much as he was delighted by the prospect of food (and the unavoidable smoking of pipeweed afterwards) he was still concerned by the possibility of an indigestion. It would certainly not do, to face a hungry monster on an upset stomach.

The group was making their way to the Inn at a rather quick pace. It seemed that either Robby was not the only hungry one, or that all of them wanted to find themselves somewhere more private, where they could plan and plot as much as they needed.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a lad ran up to the group and after some talk with Leanora and Ash –it seemed they were relatives of some sort. Probably siblings or cousins, as men do not note their relations as carefully (and excellently) as hobbits do- he informed the group that his neighbour’s horse had gone missing without a trace.

" Just turned up missing," the lad had said.

“How do you “turn up” missing? When you don’t turn up, that’s when you know you are missing!” asked the hobbit, showing what he believed a prime example of hobbit sense.

Farmer Mugwort, either not hearing or choosing to ignore his question, asked some questions of his own at the dwarf. It seemed he agreed with the Dwarf’s idea, or pretended to, that a troll was behind all this trouble. Yet Robby could see that the farmer was not quite impressed by Kuric’s antics. Hoping to calm the situation he interceded.

“Now, now Farmer Mugwort, Master Kuric… while haste is clearly of utmost importance, there is little point in arguing about what to do here on the streets. While it might be a Troll, we do not know that for sure, and if perhaps this… thing we are after is more cunning than one of those giants they may have spies, even in this Bree of ours. Let us not be too hasty.”

Finduilas 06-08-2007 07:34 AM

Noticing that Leanora left his side, Ash looked around him. He uttered a small groan when he saw his younger brother Orin, talking to Lea, and Lea apparently restraining him by his shoulder. He turned and walked up to them and asked, “What are you doing, Orin? Why are you here?” He didn’t wait for Orin to answer, but turned to Leanora and told her they should probably catch up with the group. She agreed, and let go of Orin, who amediately sprinted off towards the group, calling for Mugwort. He and Lea ran after him, hoping he wouldn’t offend anyone before they could intercede and explain.

The news that Orin had brought Mugwort was disturbing. A horse missing. From what Ash knew, that was the largest animal yet to have been stolen.

Yet again, the dwarf tried to assume leadership. Ash was almost more worried about the Defenders than about what they were defending against. If they couldn’t agree in simple conversation, would they ever be able to work together when they started getting solid facts?

Ash felt like rolling his eyes when Robby, a hobbit, pointed out an erroneous statement of Orin’s. When the poor little fellow is repeating an important message, you don’t need to pick on him for his language skills. But one look at Orin told Ash that he wasn’t a poor fellow, and didn’t need any help. Robby didn’t wait for his question to be answered, but turned to the dwarf and Mugwort, and tried to make peace. Ash had to put his hand over Orin’s mouth to keep him from talking back to the hobbit.

Firefoot 06-09-2007 05:21 PM

While Toby was a little annoyed by Robby’s tone and the way he spoke as if Toby was also convinced the threat was trolls – which he decidedly was not, he recognized the sense in what the younger hobbit said.

“Of course you are right,” said Toby bowing slightly before the dwarf could put in a word of retort. “We won’t be able to accomplish anything out here in the middle of the road.” He raised his voice, addressing the whole company. “We’ve heard the message now, so let’s get on to the inn.” And he led the short distance down the road.

Toby didn’t understand why the dwarf was so insistent about becoming the leader of the Defenders. Without any knowledge whatsoever about any of them, he seemed to have dismissed all of them, and particularly him, as remarkably inept and incapable. I’ll show him – he started to think, then realized that he had nothing to prove to this dwarf, this outsider. The dwarf should have to be the one to prove himself! After all, what did any of them know about him? Only that he had happened to come to the village about the same time as these strange happenings began! All Toby knew was that he was becoming less and less inclined to give the dwarf the benefit of the doubt with every word he spoke.

With these thoughts in mind he approached the door to the Prancing Pony and the whole troupe filed in afterwards. He greeted the innkeeper, an old friend, cheerfully enough for his stormy mood: “Good day to you! We’ve several bodies here in search of an ale or a meal, and I’m going to have to ask whether we might make use of your maps of Breeland.”

“Certainly, Toby. I’ll have those right out for you, and Rowlie will see that you’re all properly fed,” he said, with Rowlie referring to the serving hobbit.

“Thanks,” answered Toby, and went over to join the Defenders who had gathered around one of the largest tables. The maps were brought out in short order, as were the ales, and Toby spread the map out across the table. “Now, what we need to figure out is where this beast might be hiding during the day. Some of you know the area pretty well; any ideas?”

Durelin 06-10-2007 12:14 PM

When they arrived at his father’s inn, Parkun dropped toward the back of the partying, so he would be one of the last to enter. He hoped that if his father was busy dealing with the others he might overlook his son. But the strawberry-blonde had little luck.

Master Felderth gave his boy a grin when he saw him enter, at which Kun dropped his eyes. And after the innkeeper had gotten the maps for Farmer Mugwort, he gave the young man’s hair a good ruffle before leaving the party be.

Parkun stared down at the table, mortified and seething with anger. He felt his face heat up and wished he could hide it, and so he did all he could and avoided eye contact with anyone. Even when Master Mugwort spoke he did not look up and did not really listen as he was too absorbed in his own embarrassment, his anger towards his father, and wondering why he was here.

I had best get more than a few pats on the head out of this, he thought. And there was no way he was splitting any of the glory or the reward with his friends, which was why they had no idea where he was at the moment. Luckily this was nothing really new.

It was a gamble and perhaps a waste of time to be a part of this little group, and it certainly meant a good bit of embarrassment for him, but still…even the embarrassment was worth it if his older brother heard and saw how his father was praising him. But if any of it was to be worth it, things still had to go well, so there was no sense in him just sitting there.

“There are a lot of woods around here,” Parkun spoke up rather quietly, only half hoping his father heard him, “and I know some of them alright, myself.” That was a bit of an exaggeration – he had played in the woods and ventured into some deeper parts of them on dares, but he could hardly navigate through any of them. “There aren’t just beasts who live in them, either,” he added off-handedly, though the statement was meant to be mysterious.

Dimturiel 06-17-2007 05:55 AM

It felt strange to Erling to be sitting at the table in the inn and be talking about dangerous creatures of the wild, talking and not only hearing about them from a report of things that had already happened, distant and therefore safe. It gave him an unpleasant feeling to speak about dangerous and unfamiliar things in that familiar and until then secure spot. Until then it seemed to him that he had looked on the world without Bree as from a safe and impenetrable wall, yet now it seemed that the wall had crumbled and he-or better said, they, the people of that comfortable little town where nothing happened-were left exposed and unprotected to face the perils of that unfriendly world.

Erling inspected the map with interest. Particularly long he looked at the many green patches that lay around Bree. Once, he had lost himself in one of those woods. A strange sensation had taken hold of him then as if…as if there was something there, something unfriendly, wicked even. But he said nothing to the others about that. He was a small lad when that had happened, and very fanciful too, it was likely enough to have been only his imagination playing tricks on him.

“There aren’t just beasts who live in them, either.” Parkun said then, and Erling found himself wanting to ask “How do you know?” However, instead of doing that, he found himself nodding in agreement.

“It seems so.” he said. “And I was just wandering about something. Why do these creatures leave never as much as a footprint? Master Kuric says it’s a troll, but, well, I have heard trolls are not too clever, would they bother to hide their footprints? And could ordinary beasts do that? Who knows what has crept into our forests.”

“But how can you be so sure it comes from the forest?” he found himself thinking, and he shuddered. “Perhaps it comes from your own safe town.” But no, thought Erling, energetically waving his head to drive such dark visions from his mind, it could not be. He did not even know how such a terrifying thought could have come to him. It could not be.

Forest Elf 06-20-2007 08:43 AM

Grimbeorn sat there, off to the side of the table. He looked up at the map's, part of his scar showing, though, he was unaware of that. He ran his finger over the area and then sat down, deep in thought. He didn't become a ranger for nothing. He sighed, he wasn't exactly familiar with this area, and he wouldn't know much about the landscape except for what the maps showed him.

Then a new thought came to mind. "Where have these creatures attacked?" Grimbeorn asked. "Perhaps there could be some sort of pattern? It wouldn't be unheard of...there have been series of attacks that do come in patterns."

Thinlómien 06-20-2007 09:13 AM

No one seemed to answer Grimbeorn. The foreigner looked a bit lost and if wondering whether anyone had heard his question.

Leanora turned to him. "I don't know much", she said and smiled, her eyes skimming the map, "but the latest attack was somewhere around here." She pointed the place where her family and their neighbours lived. Then she frowned. "The mare must have gone missing from the pasture, but... it's a good animal and valuable property. There aren't a lot of horses here in Bree. Old Maple - the farmer, that is - usually keeps an eye on her. I wonder when did she manage to disappear..." Lea realized that she was rambling and stopped, even though the foreigner was nodding politely.

"Um.. Maybe others can tell you more. I would be interested in hearing that too. I mean, hearing things once again might help." Only then did she notice the scar on the young man's face. "What happened to your face?" Before he could reply, she added hastily: "If you don't mind me asking, that is."

Meanwhile, Orin used his sister's conversation with the stranger to his own advantage and without anyone noticing, he slipped in and under the table.

mormegil 06-20-2007 02:31 PM

Mutterings and curses were all that was escaping Kuric's mouth for the moment. So infuriated he was that he refused to help anymore. "Simpletons", he curtly muttered but nobody heard him, "what do they know about hunting in the wild. Only one looks like he has much sense here and he's not even from here either." With that he let out an exasperated sigh and muttered "Hobbits, every time I give 'em a chance to prove themselves ta me, the end up letting me down."

Kuric was aware of the many stares that were coming his way due to him talking to himself but such things never bothered him. Fortunately for Kuric and the others, little if any of what he was saying could be heard as it tended to be rather rude and offensive to Bree and it's inhabitants.

"I'll have to show them in the end why I volunteered, ruddy peasants they are; don't know a warrior and leader when they see one." He coldly spat.

This would go on for quite some time only broken up by his taking long draughts of the ale presented him. He no longer cared for what was being planned, he needed no such plans, "Just show me what to kill" was his motto now.

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