After they had rested for the remainder of the day and the night, they rose at first light to continue travelling. They gathered their gear, slung their packs on the backs, held their bed-staves in the hands and continued onward to Bree-land. They walked long that day, stopping rarely for a bite of the nutritious and rejuvenating lembas of Lorien. They traveled through marsh and forest, plain and hill that day, and risked walking through the night by lantern light.
When they were weary during the night, they rested in the marshes on a large flat rock. They did not light a fire not knowing what it would bring. They had a meal of meat and bread, as their supplies were growing thin and slept uneasily. When they awoke, it was mid-morning, and the sun was high.
“We need to get back on the road to cross the river we are coming to, the Nen-I-Sul. Once over, the we can take the East road to Bree or cut though the woods, a path of harder terrain but shorter distance.” Letholes told them. “I know this area, I tracked wolves with the Dúnedain here. Let me lead to Bree, Jedgron. Trust me.”
“I always do, my brother. I yield the lead to you.” Jedgron replied as he ruffled Letholes’ hair.
Letholes grinned at him. He pointed to the north.
“The Road is that way,” he said with confidence, and he led them on. It was an hour before they reached the Road and another hour still before they came within sight of the river. It was then that they heard a hurried horn call and the beating of drums from the west.
“That is no elven horn, or even one of men. That is a Dwarven horn, indeed and only orcs use war drums. We must be wary.” Faihran whispered.
They drew their weapons, and saw that Letholes’ and Faihran’s knives were glowing blue. Determined now that they were in for a fight, they steeled themselves and continued on. Soon they heard hurried footsteps coming from the west. Before long, a Dwarf came running around the bend in the Road. He saw them, gasped, and stood still.
“Who are you?” the Dwarf asked in Westron. “Will you aid me? Minions of the Necromancer have taken the bridge, orcs and men! Twenty of them! My party was killed, only I survived. Aid me Elves, For my sake and yours. Nisur at your service!”
“Orcs and men? Curse them. Was that your horn we heard, stout Dwarf?” Faihran asked him.
“Yes it was mine. Aid me!” He removed his warmasked helm. As soon as he had, the three elves laughed heartily for a short while. The Dwarf was bald and had no beard!
“Laugh at the beard and the head! I could have expected no more from Elves.”
Insulted, he drew his battle-axe. Jedgron fitted an arrow on his bow, but did not bend it. He still laughed, even as the Dwarf put his helmet back on.
Just then, an orkish scout ran around the corner. He saw them, turned around, and beat his drum once. Jedgron shot him before the second beat was counted then cursed under his breath.
“Get ready, they’ll be coming”, Letholes said. “Come Nisur! Stand with us! Either we fight together or we fall!”
Before long, the orcs and men charged around the corner. Jedgron blew his horn and Nisur gave a fierce cry.
“Baruk Khazad! Khazad ai-menu!” the Dwarf yelled in his own tongue. Jedgron shot three men down as they froze in their tracks to cast evil spells, buy four men and twelve orcs remained. Letholes, Faihran and Nisur ran at them, giving fierce battle cries. The men started to recite spells, but one fell headless as the Dwarf reached him in time. Two were interrupted as the sons of Glorfindel attacked them, and Jedgron shot the last. The orcs jumped at the four, three to each elf and the Dwarf.
Letholes killed the evil follower of Sauron and turned to face the orcs rushing him. One lunged at him and soon fell with a knife in his chest. A second soon fell as the elf dodge his attack and slew him in one move. The third was kicked and stabbed twice, once with an elf-blade coming from above and one from the side. Finished with his work, Letholes ran to aid the others at once, seeing their struggles. The Dwarf rendered one immobile as he cut the legs out from under it. He swung his axe at the second only to have it blocked, and was knocked over. It was then that Letholes came to his aid. The elf cut the throat of the orc that knocked Nisur over with both knives and Nisur stood and easily killed the third while he was distracted. Nisur then took care of the living yet unmoving orc, putting his great dwarven axe into its back.
While seeing the three orcs that charged him and Jedgron, Faihran realized that Jedgron’s bow strength would not be useful in this combat. Jedgron also knew this, and with the friendship that the two had built up over the years, and the battles that they have fought together, they realized what they would do. Faihran jumped in front of all six orcs, parrying and dodging as best he could, not risking a hit of his own. Jedgron took one step back, drew his bow, and took out three of the orcs with arrows. Now that it was down to three vs. two, Jedgron hung his bow on his back and drew his knife.
Faihran took on two of them without much trouble. He lifted his long elven knives and stuck them into one of the attacker’s back. Then, with a quick spin, he ripped them out and put them through the other orc’s head.
Jedgron, with only one more to take on, calmly awaited his opponent’s arrival. When the orc approached him, he raised his sword and looked like he was going to take out the Elf. However, Jedgron was just too quick for him. When he raised his sword, Jedgron kicked him, and had his knife in the orc’s chest before it hit the ground. It was over.
Jedgron walked over to Faihran and after shared grins and compliments on the battle, said, “Let’s keep the Dwarf. He’s good.”
“Yes, let’s keep him. Burn the corpses and let’s get going.” Faihran replied.
Jedgron then recovered his arrows and put them in the quiver on his back, and nodded to Faihran.
“Let’s go Nisur, join us! We could use your axe and your stout heart!” Jedgron said to the entire group.
“Gladly, good elves. Fine knife work, I might say. What are your names?”
“Jedgron Peredhil Cúthalion, son of Elrohir,” said the half-elf as he bowed low.
“Faihran Lauredhel at your service!” said Faihran as he bowed low. “And this is my brother Letholes Lauredhel. We are the sons of Glorfindel” Letholes bowed low.
“Well met, master elves. Let us go to Bree, and rest at the Prancing Pony! I’ll treat you to Dwarven hospitality!” Nisur replied.
“Yes I have been there many a time, we shall go” said Letholes.
“Hey, here are some deadly things!” cried Faihran as he searched the orc’s bodies. He held up a fang-shaped knife that he gave to his brother. “Think of a stab to the back with this!”
All four laughed, and they marched on to Bree, leaving the bodies in a bonfire. It was dusk when they came to the Southgate of Bree, and from there they went to the famous Inn of the Prancing Pony.
When they came to Bree, they expected to find Gandalf the Grey, a Wizard of great power. As they entered the inn, they shook the dust off their clothes and walked to the counter, where a fat, bearded man was serving drinks to the locals. He was Barliman Butterbur, the owner and proprietor of the inn.
“Hail, Barliman!” said Nisur, who was staying at the inn at the time.
“Ah, Master Nisur. How have you been? Would you like me to add a fee to your bill for a shave?” Barliman replied to him. Nisur muttered something about axes and heads under his breath and walked to his room.
“What can I do for you Elves? I see the master Letholes is in your company” he nodded to Letholes.
“We can ask no more than a room, and food, if this is an inn.” Jedgron said to him. “Have you seen Gandalf recently?”
“Yes, he left for the Shire just a few days ago. He should be in Frogmorton by now.”
“Well, we will stay here a night or two then.” Jedgron answered. “Do you have a spare room with three beds large enough for us?”
“Yes, we do. It’s used by the rangers when they stay here, but none are here at the moment. Here’s the key.” Barliman gave them the key to the room. “Upstairs, fifth door on the right.” He told them.
The scouts thanked him and went to the room. It was large, with a bed along each wall and a small fireplace next to the door. Letholes removed his cloak, pack and shield and placed them on his bed. He removed the horn and water skin from his belt, not needing them at the moment.
“Not a bad room, but a bit drafty” he said aloud. “Light the fire Jedgron.” He stood up and shut the window, while Jedgron started a fire in the brick hearth. Faihran dropped his pack onto the floor and kicked it under the bed. He removed his traveling gear from his belt, and took off his shield. He left his sheathes on, though, being wary of the strangers that came through Bree. Jedgron did the same with his pack, shield, bow, and quiver, choosing to keep his cloak on and horn and sheath at his belt with his pouch.
“Let’s go get a good meal, friends. I’m hungry for some good food.” Jedgron said to them. They nodded and left the room. Jedgron locked the door on the way out, being cautious of thieves. He went to Nisur’s door and knocked on it.
“Nisur! Come and join us in a meal. Forget what was said by Barley, and give us the promised hospitality you pledged.” He called to him.
“Fine, go ahead without me. I’ll be down soon.” The Dwarf yelled back to him. Jedgron shrugged and went down to eat.
Once in the main room of the Inn, the three went to the owner and asked him for their meals.
“Barley, could I get a plate of duck and a bowl of stew with it? And a pint of ale too.” Letholes asked.
“And I the same, with an extra bottle.” Added Faihran.
“I’ll have the same as Faihran, except with venison rather than duck.” Jedgron said.
“Easy, my good elves! I’ll prepare your meals and call you up when they’re ready.” Barliman answered, chuckling.
They went into the Common Room and sat down at a table next to the fireplace, in a corner of the room. Jedgron put his feet up and got his pipe from his pouch. He put some pipe-weed into it and lit it. He held it between his teeth by the tip and puffed. Faihran leaned back and surveyed the room. It was filled with drunken Bree-landers and even a few hobbits. Just then, a Ranger walked in. The room went quiet as he strode in. Jedgron looked at him hard, and smiled. He stood.
“Arahad! Come and join us! This is surely a merry meeting!” Jedgron cried aloud in elven fashion, the tongue of Sindarin. The Ranger peered at him, realized who it was who had called to him, and strode over, grinning.
“Jedgron! How do you come here? It has been many years since the Scouts have ridden this far west from Imladris.” Arahad, captain of the Dúnedain answered.
“Yes, Jedgron and I usually stick to the paths east of the Mitheithel,” Faihran answered, smiling at Arahad.
“You remember the Faihran and Letholes, the sons of Glorfindel, do you not?” Jedgron asked Arahad.
“Of course. We have traveled much with Faihran, and Letholes is always seen traveling the paths of the west,” Arahad answered. “May I join you?”
“Surely!” Jedgron said.
“What brings you to Bree?”
“We came seeking Gandalf at Elrond’s bidding,” replied Letholes.
“Aha. I passed him coming back from fornost. He had just left Bree, but that was nigh on two days ago. If you go seeking him, may I join you? I could aid you in your search.”
“Surely, old friend!” Jedgron said, “We’ve ordered some food, and I’ll tell Barley you’ve arrived. I’ll just request another bed for our room.”
“That won’t be necessary, sir” said Barliman as he came up to them with their food. “Is the Dwarf in your party? His room has two beds.”
“I wouldn’t mind staying with a Dwarf” replied Arahad. “Could I get the usual Barley?”
“Surely. Nob, come here!” shouted Barliman.
A hobbit came up to them.
“Yes sir?” he asked Barliman.
“Go get two bowls of stew and a bottle of ale for Master Arahad here. Fetch little Barley while you’re at it, too. Have him bring the food.”
“Right away sir!” squeaked the hobbit as he ran off.
“Little Barley?” asked Faihran, puzzled.
“My son. All of the men in my family are named Barliman. Been that way since my great-grandfather came to Bree and built the Pony.” He explained. “Will be that way forever, too.”
“Thank you, good Barliman.” Faihran answered. Barliman bowed to them and talked for a while until the child Butterbur came with Arahad’s food.
“A Dwarf told me to tell you that he won’t be eating tonight. He’s gone to bed he says.” The little Butterbur told them.
“Thanks, lad.” Arahad said to him. He smiled and the four finished their meals then talked into the night about journeys and other things, among them being the Shire. Once they were tired, they finished their beers and pipes and went to bed. Jedgron left a few silver coins to Barliman and hurried up the stairs behind them.
“One of you pays next time.” He said with a grin on his face. Arahad waved goodnight to them and went to he and Nisur’s room, and the Scouts went to theirs. Jedgron immediately jumped into his bed, but Faihran tended to the fire while Letholes closed the door. He said goodnight to the other two as he lay in his bed. Jedgron soon went to sleep and Letholes thereafter.
Faihran, however, could not sleep. Through his mind he was thinking all about what had happened, and what was yet to come. He pondered over the rare, but still quite deadly dangers of the shire, and the safety of his friends. After deciding that he would have to sleep, he looked at his brother, his best friend, smiled, and relaxed. He then went to sleep.
The next morning, Jedgron woke to find Letholes and Faihran still sleeping. He snuck out of the room and tiptoed to Arahad’s room.
“Arahad, open the door! It’s Jedgron!” he whispered at the keyhole. The door opened, and there was standing an angry Nisur.
“Why is he in my room?” he asked the half-elf.
“We wished him to be. He is Arahad, a captain of the Dúnedain and friend to us. He has joined our party.” Jedgron answered. Arahad awoke to the sound and got out of bed.
“Let’s go to breakfast, us three, Man, Elf and Dwarf. The others will come later.” He said sleepily. They went downstairs and greeted Barliman.
“Three bowls of hot oat meal, Barliman. And three cups of coffee if you will.” Nisur said to him.
“Right away, Nisur. I beg your forgiveness, my Dwarf. I meant no grave offense, just a little joke.” Barley answered.
“Think nothing of it, if you get us out breakfast soon.” The Dwarf said, grinning. Each took a bowl and a mug and went to a table in the common room. Soon after, the sons of Glorfindel followed with the same breakfast. They ate in silence all planning for the day to come.
“We have heard of Gandalf traveling in the Shire and the North Downs,” said Jedgron, “I think we should start in the Shire.”
“Either that or wait for him to come to us.” Nisur replied.
“That could take long, as he does not come here often. I myself haven’t seen him here in a few months, and Gandalf and I travel together through Eriador often.” Arahad said.
“Then it is settled, we ride to the Shire. Then, possibly, we will get a good stock of pipe-weed. Let us get a horse cart or two! We may travel in leisure on the road, as it is safe and we ride through the night!” Jedgron said. “Barliman!” he cried across the room.
“Yes, master Jedgron?” the innkeeper asked him.
“We need two large carts, with a two-horse team to each. Do you have them?” Faihran said to Barliman. “How much is the bill for with the horses and carts for all of us?”
“Well, I can get the horses and carts. They total will be five gold coins, Lauren in the Sindarin tongue, for the lot of you. It has been an honor keeping you here.”
“Thanks, Barley. We may see you again soon.” Letholes said as he smiled. The five stood up to get their gear. Arahad, Nisur, Jedgron, and Letholes all put a gold coin on the table. Barliman cleared his throat suggestively as Faihran started to walk away. Faihran grinned as he flipped his gold coin onto the table.
“The carts will be ready out front when you’re ready, masters.” Barliman told them. The three thanked him and went to their rooms.
They all got their gear and came back down and went out side. There they found two large carts, each with four large wheels and two packhorses. The carts were five feet wide and ten feet long, with an open roof and a bench in the front. There was a large, high backrest behind the bench, creating a small four-foot wall between the driver and the rest of the cart. The edges of the cart had two-and-a-half foot barrier to keep the passengers or luggage from falling off. Barliman was hitching up the horses as they emerged from the inn.
“Here they are! I hope they serve you well, and I wish you a danger-free journey!” Barliman said to them. He bowed and went inside.
“Wait here, I have an idea.” Jedgron said. He walked southward to a large general store named “The Bazaar” and entered. He emerged ten minutes later with two employees carrying small metal wood stoves with chimneys.
“To keep us warm!” He said. He got a large nail bag and a hammer and pounded four-inch nails through the feet of the stoves. He and Nisur placed them behind the backrests facing away from the drivers. He then hammered the nails through the floor of the carts and made sure they stayed. The other four shook their heads, and placed their packs under the driver benches and drew lots for driving shifts. Nisur and Faihran drew first, and each climbed into a bench. Jedgron threw four sacks of provisions, two barrels of water, and one barrel of ale into Nisur’s cart. The other three climbed into Faihran’s cart and set off. Seeing Nisur being alone, Letholes jumped easily from the back of his cart to the back of Nisur’s and climbed over the backrest.
“Hello, Dwarf”. He said with a friendly smile on his face.
“Hello, Elf”. Nisur replied to him, happy to have someone to talk with. In the other cart, Jedgron, Arahad, and Faihran talked about the days of old, when they would track together through the forests.
We return to the forests again. Our hobbit friend has lost all faith and finds the true meaning of apathy by the end of this chapter. He is taken captive by a band of elves and one human. This chapter suggests that some of his past will be revealed soon.