Perry is rather surprised that Dwarves are coming to the Boskydells, since stereotypical Dwarves just sit around in the mountains and don’t leave unless they’re going off to kill dragons or something.
“And a Man, Mister Perry, two Dwarves and a Man too.”
“And he’s so DREAMY!”
My goodness! thought a stunned Perry. What a piece of news this is! A Man and Dwarves, too! And they’ve come to see me!
“I must put on my best frock and powder my nose!”
They run inside and the infodumping starts in earnest, with a lot of descriptions of the War of the Ring Winter War, which is basically what
The Lord of the Rings The Iron Tower trilogy was all about. It turns out that the last time there were lots of Men in the Shire Bosky, it was because Sauron Modru had sent Minions of Generic Evil to attack the Bosky.
looting, burning, slaying, whelming the Land, nearly ruining the Bosky
Because the Scouring of the Shire wasn’t dramatic enough. We needed a full-scale INVASION.
I’m also not sure how you “whelm” the land. The Wobbits, sure. But not the land itself.
But then came Patrel Rushlock and Danner Bramblethorn, the greatest military heroes of all Warrowdom
- Ah yes, military Pippin and rageaholic Merry. Seriously, that’s basically what they are.
- I’m also not sure why they are considered great military heroes. I guess the standards are pretty low.
- What did they do? Well, they… organized the Wobbits to fight off the bad guys.
- The same Wobbits who got their asses kicked by the same villains they then triumphed over, because… reasons.
- Notably absent is the shoehorned love interest, Merrillee, who was inexplicably turned into a sort of Wobbit Joan of Arc.
greater even than Abagon “Ruckslayer” Fenner
So… a guy who actually successfully kicked ass is a lesser hero than the pair who said “Come on, people! Get up and fight!”
scouring the Boskydells
And the battles were mighty, and touch and go, until at last the Men came
Ah yes, the legendary heroes who have dazzled the world with their world-saving valour… need their asses saved by somebody else.
So a legion drove out the Nazgul Ghuls… and they immediately got their asses kicked by one of Modru’s Hordes. I’m not exactly sure what differentiates the “hordes” from the previous invasion. But the bad guys were eventually defeated by the good guys because… that’s what happened in Lord of the Rings.
And after the War, again Men came, to help rebuild the Seven Dells
I don’t know why. The bad guys were attacking EVERYONE, including the civilization they belonged to, which had the worst damage. Didn’t they have enough to fix back home?
But rarely afterwards was a man seen inside the Thornring, for King Galen in Pellar had declared the Boskydells a Free Realm under the protection of his scepter.
- Which sounds suspiciously like something another king did after another war ended to another land of tiny people.
- And it sounds like the Boskydells WEREN’T previously ruled by the High King.
- But for some reason the High King gets to draft them.
- And maybe it’s my nasty suspicious mind, but I would NOT be happy if a king did that. Yes, he’s offering them protection…
- … but it’s only by establishing that he has authority and power over them.
- It’s sort of like a mob boss’s “protection.”
His edict was that no Man was to dwell in the Land of the Wee Folk.
- … did anyone else WANT to live there?
- And this edict doesn’t make a lot of sense. Aragorn’s edict made sense because some human criminals had actually come to the Shire to help Saruman take it over. It was because humans had actually harmed the hobbits and their society.
- … but the Bosky was attacked by creatures that WEREN’T human.
- It’s like if you had a rat infestation, and said, “We’ll drive out those raccoons!” It would make sense if he decided he would enforce a “no Foul Folk” policy, but instead he discriminates against his own kind… for helping the Wobbits. Because logic is McKernan’s bitch.
- And wow, what a dick. So they don’t get to decide for themselves or anything. What if they WANTED humans to live there?
Oh, at rare times, Men would come to the Bosky as King’s Messengers, bringing word of the King’s doings; at other infrequent times, merchants would come to purchase Downdell leaf, melons, wicker works from Bigfen, or other Wee Folk trade goods. But, by Galen’s edict, no Men came to stay.
- So what’s the time limit on staying there?
- And what the hell does the king do about it? If Men aren’t allowed to stay there, he can’t have left a garrison to enforce his laws.
- This sounds
And when King Galen’s son, Gareth, became Monarch, he reaffirmed the edict. And so it was and has been and is even unto this day that the Boskydell is a free Land in which no Men dwell, a Realm under the protection of the Kings in faraway Pellar.
But as scarce to the Dells as Men were, Dwarves were even rarer; though
they were not forbidden entry into the Bosky, none had ever positively been seen by a Seven-Dells Warrow living in Perry’s time. In fact, none had been sighted in such a span of time that they had become creatures of legend. Oh, an occasional Warrow travelling outside the Thornring, to Stonehill, would sometimes think that he had espied a Dwarf, but that was always a glimpse from afar so that afterwards the Warrow couldn’t say absolutely that he’d actually laid eyes on one. Historically speaking, the last agreed-upon sighting of Dwarves within the Bosky itself was when several of them had passed through driving a waggon bearing weapons and armor, it was said to be used in their bitter clashes with the Rucks. And that was way back, nearly two hundred twenty years before the Struggles, before the Winter War, before the Dragon Star—which meant that Dwarves had not been seen in the Boskydells for almost 450 years. Oh, they had been observed elsewhere, trading their Dwarf-crafted goods—just not in the Bosky. But now, if Cotton was right, both Man and Dwarf had returned.
Perry, with Cotton on his heels, rushed down the hall and into the study. The study: in this The Root was peculiar, for it was one of the few Warrow homes to have such a room.
Instead of books, Warrows in general much prefer their gardens and fields and fens and woods. Oh, not to say that most Warrows aren’t educated to
read and write and do their sums—oh no, not at all. Many of the Wee Folk can do these things well before their second-age-name change—much pride being taken by the winner of a spelldown, or by one who can recite from memory the names of all the local heroes, such as naming those of the Struggles. However, although many W’arrows are educated, most would just rather be in their vegetable patch or down at the One-Eyed Crow or Blue Bull or Thirsty Horse or any of the other Bosky taverns, with a pipe and a mug of dark beer, than to be tucked away somewhere with a dusty tome. xeven when they do read books, they prefer those filled with things they already know about—such as the familiar hearth tales containing numerous stories of Warrow cleverness at outwitting Giants, Dragons, Big Folk, and other Outsiders. In any case, books are to be found in the proper places— such as in the libraries at the Cliffs or at the Great Treehouse or at Eastpoint Hall—and not in a private dwelling.
Thus, the study at Trie Root was a curiosity among Warrow homes.
It was a large, spacious room, with burrow-windows opening to the west. The floor was made of oak, but the walls and ceiling were panelled with walnut. There were many comfortable seats inside, and there were two desks and a writing table against three of the walls. There was also a low table in the center of the room, with a lounge and different-sized chairs arranged around it. There were several floor-to-ceiling bookcases with manuscripts and pamphlets and tomes and scrolls jumbled haphazardly upon the shelves. But most striking of all, there were a number of large and small glass cases in which were displayed weapons and armor, flags and pennons, and other items of a iike nature—all of a suitable size to fit Warrows.
It was in this study that Tuckerby’s scriveners had transcribed most of The Raven Book, a journal started by Tuckerby Underbank on his way to join the Thomwalkers at Spindle Ford in the year the Winter War began. Tuck was the most famous Warrow in all history—even more renowned than Danner and
Parrel—actually being the subject of Elven songs: it was Tuckerby who loosed the Red Quarrel and destroyed the Myrkenstone, and with it Modru’s power and Gyphon’s threat. And his journal, The Raven Book —or, as it is more formally known, Sir Tuckerby Underbanks Unfinished Diary and His Accounting of the Winter War —contained his story and the tale of the Dimmendark.
As the buccen swiftly entered this place of History, Pern- hurriedly placed the baldric and the silver horn—still wTapped in its polishing cloth—into one of the glass cases. Then he turned to the other W’arTow “Cotton, while I unpack the Raven Book, find Holly and tell her that there’ll likely be guests at The Root tonight: three—perhaps four if the Mayor stays—extra places at the table if you please and beds as well. And, Cotton, have her set a
place for you, too; for you’ve become versed in the tales of the Book and you’ve met these strangers . . . and, well, stick by me; I’d just feel better if I had you at my side ”
Cotton, flustered and pleased that his master wanted him at hand when these Outsiders came to The Root, bolted away to find young Holly Northcolt, youngest dammsel of Jayar and Dot Northcolt.
Jayar, a former postmaster and now a country gentlewarrow, was well known for the cold spring on his land suitable for chilling buttermilk and melons. A no-nonsense buccan with definite opinions, Squire Northcolt had always greatly admired the Ravenbook Scholars; and he was deeply disturbed when he learned that the new curator of The Root—a Mister Peregrin Fairhill, as it were—was not only deeply involved in scholarly pursuits but also was struggling to keep up with the cleaning and dusting and ordering of foodstuff, and no doubt probably starving on his own cooking. And so Jayar overruled Dot’s weeping objections and sent young Holly driving a two-wheeled pony-cart the fifty-one miles north from Thimble to Woody Hollow to “take charge of that Scholar’s welfare.”
Thus it was that one day Perry answered a knock at the door, and there before him stood pretty Holly, suitcase in hand, her dappled pony munching calmly upon the lawn. “I’ve come to manage this burrowhold,” the golden-eyed damman announced matter-of-factly; and though Perry couldn’t recall having advertised for a homekeeper—for in truth, he hadn’t—he welcomed her in glad relief, for he was practically starving on his own cooking, at least he felt so.
And so Holly’s timely appearance enlarged Perry’s “family” to two; and, after she’d had a chance to size up the situation, through her insistence the household grew to three by the hiring of a handywarrow: Cotton. And things got mended and the lawn trimmed, and Cotton provided an eager ear for Mister Perry’s scholarly thoughts and notions.
Hence, thanks to a determined Southdell Squire and his equally determined dammsel, The Root had acquired the gentle hand of a competent young damman to steer it past the shoals of starvation and beyond the reefs of untidyness and into a haven of domesticity.
And while Cotton dashed off in search of this young damman, Perry carefully slipped The Raven Book out of its rich-grained Eld-wood carrying case and placed it on the writing table. Looking around, he could see nothing else to do to get ready; so as soon as Cotton rejoined him, they returned to the stoop to wait for the visitors to arrive from Woody Hollow Hall.
Meanwhile, Holly was hurriedly bustling about inside, preparing for the unexpected guests while muttering to herself: “Gracious! Guests here at The Root! And Cotton said they were a Big Man and two Dwarves! And maybe Mayor Whitlatch, too! I wonder what it is that Dwarves eat? And where in the world can the Big Man sleep? Men being so tall as they are: twice as high as an ordinary Warrow, I hear. Now the Dwarves, though it is said that they are nearly of a proper size, I don’t know what they eat. Perhaps they eat mushrooms, or rabbit stew, or . . .”
Perry and Cotton had just stepped back outside when Mayor Will
Whitlatch, the Third, and the strangers arrived. Taking Perry by the arm, the Mayor turned to the visitors and said, “Master Peregrin Fairhill, may I present Lord Kian of Dael Township, and Mastercrafters Anval Ironfist and Borin Ironfist from the Undermountain Realm of Mineholt North.”
And for the first time ever, Perry set his sapphire-blue Warrow eyes upon Man: How tall they are … I wonder if the ceilings in The Root are high enough; and Dwarf: So broad and sturdy — as strong as the rock they delve.
Lord Kian was a young Man, slender and straight and tall, almost twice the height of Perry. In his right hand he held an ash-wood stave, and he was dressed for an overland walking journey: soft boots, sturdy breeks and jerkin, and a long cloak. His clothing was an elusive grey-green color that blended equally well with leaf, limb, or stone. On his head was a bowman’s hat adorned with a single green feather. And belted over his shoulder was a plain quiver of green-fletched arrows and a curious bow—curious in that it was not a yew-wood longbow, but rather seemed to be made of strangely shaped bone, like long, curved, animal horns set into a silver handle. Kian’s golden hair was cropped at his shoulders, and though his cheeks were clean-shaven, his fair countenance was graced with a well-trimmed yellow moustache which merged ’round the corners of his mouth with an equally well-trimmed yellow beard. At his waist he wore a grey belt with a silver buckle that matched the silver brooch clasping the cloak around his shoulders. The color of this metal seemed somehow to live in the grey of his sharp, piercing eyes. Is this the way all Men are? Silver and gold? Silver-grey eyes neath yellow-gold brow?
In contrast to the tall, fair Lord Kian, Anval and Borin were only three hands or so taller than Perry, but were extraordinarily wide of shoulder, even for Dwarves, seeming at least half again as broad there as the young Man. They were outfitted in dark earthy browns for their journey, but otherwise were dressed little different from Kian. However, instead of a rude stave, they each carried a carved ash-wood staff shod with a black-iron ferrule and topped with a cunningly shaped black-iron stave head: a bear for Anval and a ram for Borin. Strapped across their shoulders by carrying thongs were sturdy Dwarf War-axes, double- bitted, oak-hafted, rune-marked, steel-edged weapons. The Dwarves themselves, though not as fair-skinned as Lord Kian, had light complexions. But their look was dominated by black: Each had a black beard, long and forked as is the fashion of Dwarves. Not only were their beards and hair as black as the roots of a mountain, the color of their eyes was that of the blackest onyx. And unlike Kian’s smiling face, the look upon the Dwarves’ visages was somber, dark, wary. Gracious, I can r tell the one from the other; why, they are as alike as two lumps
of forge coal!
Both Anval and Borin doffed the caps from their raven locks and bowed
stiffly, their black eyes never leaving Perry’s face. Lord Kian, too, bowed, and Perry returned the courtesy to all with a sweeping bow of his own. Mayor Whitlatch, not to be outdone and thoroughly caught up in the ceremony,
bowed to each and every one there in front of The Root—except the two tag-alongs, who were busily bowing to one another on the far side of the hedge.
“And this is my friend and companion, Cotton Buckleburr,” announced Perry, after which there ensued a second round of bowing, including a repeat performance by the Mayor. “I understand you want me—and my Raven Book, too,” continued Perry. “Let us all go inside, and I’ll see what I can do for you.”
Much to Perry’s surprise, Mayor Whitlatch declined: “Oh no, Perry, I’ve got to get back to the Dingle. Lots to do, you know. I have to be getting down to Budgens tonight as well. A Mayor’s work is never done.”
Lord Kian turned to the Mayor. “Long have we journeyed to reach Sir Tuckerby’s Warren. And you have guided us on the final leg so that we may speak with Master Perry … so that we may complete the King’s business. For that we thank you, Mayor. No longer will we keep you from your pressing duties.” Although Lord Kian had not said it in so many words, it was clear that Will Whitlatch was being dismissed.
Realizing that he was free to go, the Mayor, with visible relief, said his farewells and left after again bowing to them all. It is certain that Mayor Whitlatch was to a small degree disappointed, because he knew that he was going to miss one of Holly’s guest meals at The Root; and since Warrows love to eat—as many as five meals a day—and since guest meals are by far the best meals, it was no small sacrifice that the Mayor was making. But on the other side of the balance scales, it was, after all, “King’s business” that was to be discussed, and that was very tricky indeed. It was best that small Warrow Mayors of small Warrow towns keep their noses where they belong, otherwise who knows what might occur. Lawks! Look at what happened the last time Warrows got caught up with the King —why, there was all that business with the Myrkenstone. Oh no, that sort of thing was not going to happen to Will Whitlatch, the Third—even if he did have to miss a grand meal! Will hurried faster and faster down the pathway and was soon out of sight.
“Welcome to The Root,” said Perry, and he turned and opened the oak- pegged door.