The Hobbit Collective sends out its seasoned social sleuth, Avellana Addlefoot, to investigate the appearance of a mysterious group of night-time travellers making their way through the Shire. With the help of a crafty disguise and much sweet-talk, she has learned that the Shire might not be as peaceful as she once thought! She also discovered that our Bounders could certainly use some help...
Greetings, fellow inhabitants of the Shire! Prompted by rumors of suspicious night-time disturbances in our beloved countryside, I decided to don a sneaky disguise and see what information I could gather. Is our peaceful life really at risk? You won’t believe the answer!
To give credit where credit is due, I do have to commend Shire leaders for keeping a well-organized force of Bounders patrolling our borders day and night. True to his duties, this young Bounder (who, as I learned later, goes by the name of Boffin) reacted quickly when I approached him.
“Good work, Bounder!” I thought. And yet, he seemed uneasy about something.
Truth be told, it was a warm night for autumn, and anyone should be happy to spend time under such a clear starry sky. To prove my point, we were soon interrupted by a group of gentlehobbits making their way through the fields.
Mr. Underhill, for that was the lead traveller’s name, introduced himself and his companions, extolling the virtues of an invigorating night-time promenade. However, no sooner had he said this, a chill did indeed come over us all! In fact, some mysterious presence seemed to have us quaking in our boots! I did manage to note, however (because even cowering should not deter a professional reporter from her duties) that Mr. Underhill remained strangely calm throughout this ordeal...
At the prompting of his friend Sam, however, he finally slipped away with his companions, leaving Bounder Boffin and myself to confront the dark shape that was making its way toward us at breakneck speed.
Now I have met some rude hobbits in my lifetime (more on that later), but the behavior of the stranger who accosted us was beyond that of the most unrepentant pie-stealing, ale-watering, mathom-hoarding hobbit. After making some vague threats involving his “master,” he asked repeatedly for directions to the hole of a Mr. Baggins. Was he looking for old mad Bilbo, who disappeared years ago? I certainly wasn’t going to offer up that information without a “please,” and he certainly wasn’t going to utter that word. Well, too bad for him! If he’d asked nicely...
Well, dear readers, you won’t believe how huffy he got when we wouldn’t give him the answer he wanted!
Good riddance it was, when he finally rode away! I hope he wasn’t going to bother Mr. Underhill and company, who were the most polite gentlehobbits I’d met in a long time. Well, nothing to be done now, I thought, as I turned back to our not-so-brave Bounder. Luckily, once he stopped cowering he suggested a quick escape route.
However, I was soon to learn that there was once thing (besides the stranger on his murderous horse) that truly terrified Master Boffin.
Fine, I thought, I’ll clear the spiders out from the path. Anything for a story, my beloved readers!
I think I’ll be investigating the hiring practices of the Bounders’ Committee for one of my next stories...
I decided to guide our brave Bounder to safety (for it certainly seemed as if the tables had turned, and I was now his protector), but the third surprise of the night was upon us.
Enter Mundo Sackville-Baggins, the Shire’s rudest hobbit next to old Lobelia. Claiming a brigand attack, he “asked” Bounder Boffin for assistance.
Mind you, our Bounder friend hadn’t exactly shown himself to be a paragon of protection this evening, and he certainly wasn’t going to start now.
And once again, we encountered strangers looking for a Baggins! Incredible!
We tried to reason with them...
...to no avail.
I did, however, manage to extract some juicy information from them...
... although I would eventually pay for my impertinence.
I awoke much later, in a jail whose location I could not identify. A true reporter at work, dear readers! Once again, my innocent and beguiling semblance paid off, and I was able to learn more about these violent strangers.
However, we were just getting to the juiciest tidbits when we were interrupted by yet another tall foreigner.
Cursing his poor timing, I followed our rescuer out of the jail...
...and was confronted by a shocking scene! The mysterious rider had reappeared, and was in frenzied battle with a man whose strength was obviously faltering.
As usual, our brave Bounder confronted danger in the only way he knew.
And alas, the brave defender fell.
The dark rider, however, seemed distressed by the fire blazing around him. He did, however, provide yet another clue to our mystery as he galloped off.
Who, or what, is Dúnedan? I suspect I’ll be investigating that little scrap of information in the near future. In the meantime, though, it was time to tend to the defender’s wounds.
Sensing my competence (or Boffin’s lack thereof), this Ranger person, Strider, sent me to the nearby town of Archet with Celandine and Mundo. Yes, dear readers, I had been whisked away from my beloved Shire in the course of this adventure! Incredible!
What will happen next? I’ll keep reporting from my current post in Archet, because I’m determined to get to the bottom of the matter! No more idle gossip for this hobbit reporter! I’ve seen the threat to our community, and am willing to risk my second breakfast to eliminate it! In any case, it’s not like the Bounders are going to do it for us...