Thursday, November 15, 2012


Far to the north of the town of Bree lies an area known to the Bree-folk as the north downs. It is a land which has largely fallen out of my kindred's reckoning, at least in my own time, resting as it did within the edges of Arnor while the line of kings held and thereafter left under the care of its scattered farmers and the watchful eyes of the Dunedain.

East of the dwarven settlement of Othrikar, far east of the Greenway in the metal-rich hills which line the border to the darker north, i found a cottage, a dwelling of men such as a single family might occupy, crude stonework and a thatched roof like so many others which litter the plains of Eriador in this age. I found it abandoned, its occupants likely having heeded the call to evacuate when the orcs flooded out of Angmar, but their retreat seems to have been unnecessary. No trace of orc-filth mars their calm little hollow. Deer and the occasional bear or lynx wander through the sparse trees and brush as though the world had never known either the cruelty of the wicked or the ambition of the great.

I stand here and wonder at their lives, these sons and daughters of the Atani. I wonder what they know of the struggles in the faraway southlands and at how little i myself know yet. At such a time as this i would forego my scholar's lore. There is game in these hills, and good hearty roots. The hearth my predecessors used for warmth i would welcome as companionship, a friendly play of flames on cloudy nights. Up the hill to the west stands a war beacon, unlit. And why should it be otherwise? There are no marching hordes in sight here, no siege engines, no cries of fear and pain.

There is a patch of bare earth off the southeast wall, large enough for a few herbs to greet the morning light, if i had a mind for it. I walked to Othrikar yesterday. The dwarves knew of the house. Hunter-folk, they say, and had little else to do with them other than the usual trade in furs, tools and sausages. None even knew the men had left, and less of when they would return. Autumn drags on. There is enough time to plant some bulbs before winter.

I could not stay here forever. From the peaks around the cottage, one might make out abandoned farms to the south, overtaken by orcish outrunners. Far to the northeast on a clear day loom the barren cliffsides of the blighted northern mountains. War may ravage these hills as likely as not. The rangers cannot hold for long and this is no Imladris, no holdfast against the darkness; mere chance has spared it thus far. Crebain cross overhead now and again. And what would i do, scion of the elder race, plant cabbages and chop firewood in a thatched hut? Though born in this land, my blood calls to the west.

Yet still. They should not return to a crumbled home and rotted land. The stones may be uncut but they were laid with care. Cabbage and venison is no shameful fare. I can hunt. These Naugrim will not leave yet, stone-sedentary as their hearts hold them, dark times or no.
They had only one task for me, my new neighbours: that if the southern road should darken or the valleys to the east fill with danger, i would climb the hill between us and light the beacon. And why should not a Noldo bring deer-hides to market in Othrikar in place of a man, for a little while?

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