The shrill wind swept against the straw walls of a small shack. Inside, curled up by the warm fire, Milrog dreamt of the visions of the most spectacular places in the whole of Middle Earth. He counted the greatest five on his thin, weary, fingers. “The most famousest of all,” he told himself knowledgeably, “would must be the great city, of the realm of Gondor. Fine place it was. Seven giant white walls protecting the great tower, incredible. But what now was its name? Minas something I suppose, all the great cities are. Now, what was it? Minas Tarinth? Nay not so, that don’t sound quite right. Minas Tirint? Blast! If only I had spent more time in my studies at school.”
Indeed, I do not blame this unfortunate man, and neither should you. Sent from the kingdom of Gondor itself, from the great white city that we all know is rightfully called Minas Tirith. But he, being the greatest mapmaker to be found, was sent out with multitudes of parchment and little else but a pocketful of golden coins to map the entire Middle Earth from top to bottom. The new changes of the fifth age made King Ellessar III quite uneasy. So, Gondor would have an entire new set of maps.
In the dust, Milrog began to trace pictures of Númenor, the downfallen. He muttered quietly to himself such things as, “had I been livin’ in that land of Numenor, I’d be followed by a host of soldiers, swords in hand. Blasted King is it that will give me such an important job and let me alone to die lonesomely without so much as a funeral. I might as well just never go back to that ungrateful rascal.”
But this, Milrog knew could not be done. He had sold his life to the wicked king, for indeed he was wicked compared to the olden days of Numenor, when Elendil reigned high, or even the olden days of Gondor, when his son Isildur set foot upon the lands west of Mordor and claimed them for his own. And though the old mapmaker didn’t know it, not so much longer ago, there lived a great king. Indeed he was a king that cared about all others, a king that desired no throne but for the safety of his own people, King Ellessar I.
More than once had this king waged war on the blessed lands of Rohan. More than twice had he given way for the orcs to cross into the doomful Southern Mirkwood to torment the elves who he so did hate. Milrog himself was quite distraught and jealous of their immortal lives. But he was such wiser than the king, for he knew that if ever he found the fountain of eternal youth, or the fruit of life, or the well of lost wishes, he would not take its benefits on himself. Instead he would sell it to the king, who would greedily buy it in a half-moment, and thus would Milrog get back his own life.
Ten years ere this day that Milrog held strong in such a small cottage, his wife and children had been stolen by the dreaded orc remnant. And these the king took to himself and slaughtered the only as many orcs as need be slaughtered, he took the children and the beautiful woman and he lusted for her. But knowing well that these belonged to the great mapmaker of Gondor, Milrog he chose instead to sell them back to Milrog, for his own life. The unfortunate Milrog did just what you or I would have done, and took the conditions in a moment, for his unconditional love of children and wife.
And so, on an errand for the king, whose word only could get him lodgings this day, even in this musty old place they call Archet, he mapped out the Archet Inn, with its weathered tower and curious looking rooms. But in Rivendell, he was turned out. The very last elves of Middle Earth trusted not in the affairs on Men, and so him only as an evil come to their doorstep. If he had any joy at all, it was in the knowledge of his wise planning. He had beat winter to the Misty Mountains, and he had climbed the treacherous Caradhras and mapped it dry.
But Milrog did look forward to seeing his children again. They must be all grown up by the time he gets home. Little Broglir, his son and heir, and curious Carolina, whose laughter was the only joy in the great, crumbling city of Minas Tirith. Carolina had been mighty prized by the King, even when she was only four years; her beauty was surpassing of age.
And his wife, oh! how she must long to see him. Lorinden was her name, and the graying hair that flowed over her shoulders would be quite a sight to see after fifteen years. He loved her more than anything. For that had he given his life to the wicked king, and was glad of it to this day. Never had he the desire to go back and let them be in his lustful grip.
With that thought in mind, Milrog took a deep breath into a sleep by the dying fire. Tomorrow he would be up early by the sunlight to continue to map the little town. When this was achieved and his bill for the Inn paid, he would continue on to the town of Bree, which he heard was still over the years quite hospitable and traditional. It was the old town that had been mighty complimented by King Ellessar I, the last good king of the days. But never did Milrog suspect that his late journey to Bree the next morning would bring new omens, new thoughts, new desires, and a quest that could rip out his heart with passion.
The next morning went splendidly. Milrog got up early, mapped out Archet, and set out for Bree-Hill. He found on his journey that the Chetwoods, which surrounded the town of Archet, had grown all over the great hill, making the legendary town nearly invisible. But Milrog fought his way through the forest and when finally he came to the first wooden lodge, he found it deserted. He forced open the front door and found the inside burnt down, and mice ran into the fireplace at his presence.
From the large pack he held on his back, he dug out a lantern. Turning the brass knob, he found silhouetted against the emitting light, a long-dead skeleton wrapped up in few garments, an arrow piercing what was once his eye. Milrog covered his mouth and backed away. A knife was tightly clutched in the hand of the wretched thing, and this Milrog took up to examine. Wiping away dust and grime, it showed very particular signs of elven make. The leather handle was loose after so being so long unused, and it fell to the ground revealing untainted mithril blade. So precious was this that Milrog pocketed it immediately, hardly even taking notice of the ancient writing on the blade, Gud Daedheloth.
When he stepped into the light outside, he turned off the lantern and packed it back in again. When finally he was ready to go, he shouldered the pack and headed off into the direction of what should have been Bree. What was in the shack had only bothered him for a moment; it wasn’t the first time he had seen a skeleton. But it brooded something evil in his mind, something wasn’t right. The elvish writing could not be read. The King Ellessar III had banned all writing of such kind in Gondor, and he burned all Elven manuscripts in the records. This the elven remnant at Rivendell greatly despised, for they had entitlement to such things. Those few lingering elves kept the language to themselves, and shared it with none.
Suddenly, a bright light shown on him, it made him gasp and cover his eyes for a moment. The trees had cleared away to show what was left of Bree, it was a miserable sight. Only burnt houses and dry wells, clearly the work of orcs. But Milrog only bowed his head, fell to his knees, and wept.