Orc Gone Good - Piece Twenty
`We are near Beorn's home,' said Gordon. `These are the bee pastures, so I think.'
`Tell me, what are these flowers?' asked York-ie.
`Well, there mostly clover,' said Rulldon, breaking his long silence that came from his hunger. `These here are cockscomb clover, and these are honey- no, no, these are purple clover, and those over there are honey-smelling clover.'
All the patches had the same kind of flower together with bees hovering about their heads. The company dipped under a few more hills before a belt of tall ancient oaks were seen away to the far hills of the pasture, and as the company's eyes wandered they saw a high thorn-hedge through which you could neither see nor scramble.
`Now I will take five of you with me into his house. Rulldon, you shall come, and Bordon too. Dok will come, Gurwick, and Keiwick will also join Me.' said Gordon. Keiwick stared at him with confused eyes, however he said nothing.
`The rest of you must stay away from sight of the hedges,' said Gordon. `So you must backtrack a little ways. York-ie, you must understand why you cannot come.'
`I understands,' He said.
`Lets go.' The six walked to the large Oaks and stood under their long shadows, then they passed the hedge to find a tall, broad wooden gate that creaked when they pushed on it. Inside were gardens, and to the southern edge of the hedge was straw made bee hives lined in many rows with bell shaped tops. Bees buzzed and crawled about the hives, keeping quite busy. The Dwarves slowly moved through the gate; they peered intently at the low wooden houses with unshaped logs. Standing under the shadow of one of these buildings was a horse and pony well groomed with white hair; they stared at the six with intelligent faces and wide eyes until they galloped away, around the corner of a log building and out of sight.
`I do hope this Beorn is friendly,' Sniffed Dok.
`I do too,' said Bordon. `I've heard by the gossip of townsfolk from past journeys that he is quite friendly with Dwarves; yet I've also heard in stories told by my father, that he eats both Orcs and Dwarves. Father use to call him "Big Fellow", and that was all I knew him by. I have heard nothing else of this Beorn; I still think of him a father use to describe. Do you remember brother?'
`Eah, I remember,' said Gordon. `Those stories kept me awake at night, and made me never want to set foot outside the halls.
`Then it's a good thing you heeded your fathers words, for I would have skinned ya and set your coat out to dry,' Growled a voice. The Dwarves looked startled at a tall figure standing barely under the rim of a building. He leaned on his axe with muscles in his arms rolling and knotting, like two sacks of potatoes.
`Who are you?' he shouted with a boom.
`I am Gordon son of Fordon, and this is Bordon son of Fordon,' said Gordon as he bowed low beside Bordon.
`I am Rulldon, son of Donli, at your service,' He bowed with his beard whipping the ground.
`I am Dok, son of Roni, at your service.'
`Please! I do not want your service, only your names!' Hollered the man, interrupting.
`I am Keiwick, son of Keiwick.'
`And I am Gurwick, son of Gorwick.'
The man grumbled. `You Dwarves are too slow; I simply needed your name, not all of your relations. Now then, what do you want?'
Gordon stepped forward. `We have been on a long, perilous journey, and we are in dire needs of supplies. If my company does not have food and blankets, then we may die of hunger or cold before our mission is complete.'
`Good gracious, how much can six Dwarves eat? You are quite fat so you have not been starving too long.' The man said.
`We six here are not all the company,' said Gordon. ` There are forty-one others over the hills thata way,' he waved his hand eastward.
`Forty-one! And you expect me to give you food for forty-one Dwarves!' shouted the man as he leaned off his axe and grabs the long wooden hilt.
`I do not expect anything from you,' said Gordon. `However, I do ask for your help. We struck ill fate involving Goblins and a Troll on the Misty Mountains. We lost all but the clothes on our backs.'
`Oh yes, tell me of this tale.'
`It is a long tale that would take weary hours to tell' Gordon sighs.
`Then I suspect you must sit down.' Said the man gruffly. He waved for the Dwarves to follow him; leading them into a courtyard with four walls of which were made up of the house, and in the center of the courtyard was a large trunk with lopped branches beside it. The man stretched out his bare arm and placed his axe against the left wall.
`Come in!' he said. The Dwarves were lead into a long hall with pillars running between the two walls and a great hole in which a fire burned brightly, with billowing smoke rising up and out of the blackened rafter. At the end of the hall was a low table with round logs pulled close to it. `Now have a seat and tell me your tale,' the man said. `First let me tell you of my name, since you believe I am called "Big Fellow". I am Beorn, and this is my home. Not in favor of Dwarves I think, for you like stonewalls under mountains. Now, begin!'
And so Gordon, with the interruptions of Bordon and Gurwick, told their tale. However, York-ie was not mentioned to Beorn, even though he played a great roll in the adventure; instead, only in this tale and only to Beorn, York-ie was replaced with a Dwarf named Borhum the one who saved their lives on the mountain, and made the canoe to cross the river. Beorn did not like Goblins nor Orcs, and he made that clear enough when he growled at any mention of them. Beorn was very interested in their story, though he grew weary of it when they spoke of walking through the Wilder land. At last, as the sun was beginning to fall, and all the bees outside the window were finishing their business, the story was told.
`My, you've been quite busy now haven't you?' said Beorn. `And now I'm hungry!' Beorn sent out a shrill whistle, and in through the doors came a black ram with a snow-white cloth over its back, and laid over on it was a wooden platter with honey and cream. Behind it came two dogs carrying spoons, knives, forks and butter knives. A pony brought in the plates and bowls on its wide shoulders; all the beasts sat out the meal before the hungry host. The Dwarves wished to find red meat and ale for dinner, though the bread and creams filled their stomachs to the brim, and they very nearly floated away on all the mead they drank. Beorn sat in a large chair at one end of the table, with his long legs far under the table. He told stories of the wild lands that he had traveled in his days. The Dwarves told of gold and mining, though this did not interest Beorn.
Gurwick peered out the window and saw thousands of stars peeping down from the sleek, black sky, and the moon laying low behind the trees. He leaned back and rested his arms on his fattened belly.
Beorn laughed a rolling laugh. `You are good folk indeed. This reminds me of that time, long ago, when a host of fifteen Dwarves lodged in my house, and were in quite the same predicament as you. I prefer six of you rather then fifteen, and an old wizard with a short fellow clinging to his robe. You will sleep here tonight, and I will see to it that your company gets dinner for the night. My ponies will be glad to take cream and bread to them, as long as they do not threaten my dear steeds.'
`They will not threaten, for they have no weapons,' said Gordon.
`Very well,' said Beorn, as he stood high over the Dwarves, casting his long shadow over the table. `Now, you must sleep. My animals will see to you.' Beorn wiped the crumbs from his black beard and walked to the pony that stood so quietly in the shadow. He spoke some odd language, like the speech of animals blended with words. The pony galloped from the hall and was not seen until morning. The ram was sent to fetch some sheets. It spread them over some cots that were folded open on the floor. The beast left again like a shadow in the dark corners, and returned with feather pillows. The ram stayed with the Dwarves until they were well into sleep, and then it walked away with its hooves clicking on the wooden floor.
The other Dwarves of the company did not have such a luxurious dinner, and warm sheets to wrap in. They slept cold on the ground, with the last morsels of food in their stomachs. And as the company laid shivering in the grass, Gonli startled from sleep by the cries of Bonli, who stood watch.
`A small horse approaches! Looks like a pony!' He cried. Gonli ran to meet this rider that drew near, with all the other Dwarves following; though York-ie crawled away into the darkness, and slumped under the grass.
`Aoy!' cried Gonli; He took the single Orc blade that got hot next the fire and held it at his waste. `Who goes there?'
The pony galloped into the firelight and stared cautiously at the short, scruffy looking characters. He bent his neck around to his side and with his teeth he pulled loose the sacks on his back; food fell from the loosely closed bag, and the Dwarves flinched like it was jewels from under the earth.
`There is no rider, though he left behind his sacks,' said Bonli.
`There our sacks now, the rider must have long forsaken this pony,' said Gonli. `Take the sacks and see what's in them, then we will eat a true dinner.'
The pony stepped back into the shadow and watched the Dwarves root through the bags. As he watched intently, a wink of light caught his eye; he looked deep into the night beyond the far side of the fire, and there he saw an Orc slumped over, with his fingers scratching his teeth. The pony galloped away to his master.