Welcome to Duffley - Part 1

Time for a new start in a new land. After years of service in the Rangers, fighting in the North to drive the forces of Angmar back, I have been reassigned to a small Ranger contingent in a valley outside of Bree that requested aid with some dire problem they were facing. "A threat from Angmar of unparalleled proportions" the letter said. This is to be a permanent posting. Service until death. 

Honestly, I cannot say I am unhappy with my Commander's decision to assign me here. Though still far away, Bree is closer to Imladris, my father Hravan's home. Ada is a kind man who prefers the company of animals and devoted his life to healing them. Naturally, the elves, and a small wizard called Radagast, took an interest in my Ada many years ago. Now that Ada is getting old, old for a Dunedain, Lord Elrond has offered him a home amongst the Elves. Bree-land is still a two to three days ride from Imladris, but closer than Annúminas. 

Having left the Housing Broker and given directions to the small valley I am to call home, I headed to my newly procured house in Duffley. It was my good luck the house came fully furnished. It was the previous owner's bad luck, I am afraid. The broker, who is a shameless gossip, told me the woman was murdered by bandits on the road. Her husband killed himself upon hearing of her death, so the house was empty and the woman's only asset not donated. 2 Broadford Street in the valley of Duffley. Sounds pleasant enough, I suppose.

Riding my beloved horse Harper and followed by my two friends; Hagman, an overly friendly hound dog, and Harris, a golden owl that has declared me her friend, I rode through the gates of Duffley. To be frank, this was not at all what I expected. The valley was more like a small forest with a few houses dotted here and there. There were so many animals wandering freely and appeared to be unafraid of me as I rode through. Not even Hagman's barking could disway them from their daily goings. The Valley feels peaceful. Not unlike Imladris, only less Elvish magic. More like a sanctuary for all living things. 

Upon arriving at what the Broker described as a "sweet little house in the valley" I realized the Broker was not only a gossip, but prone to exaggeration. What I saw before me was not a "sweet little house" in some quaint valley. It was a grand manor home with a dozen bedrooms, a full stables, and a training area complete with melee grounds and archery range. There was even a spot for me to fletch my arrows. A river circles the house which looks perfect for swimming. A well-tended garden of flowers and herbs, a great deal I have noticed are poisonous, sits on the side of the house. It would be perfect were it not for the huge size of the home. I was expecting a cottage or a hunting lodge. Not a manor fit for a Gondorian noble. Shame I am just a Ranger from Eilenach and not some snooty noble. 

After getting settled, I took Hagman for a walk around the valley. My walk was dual purpose; one, to get more familiar with my new surroundings, and two, to find the home of my new Commander and report in. Hagman happily ran into every garden to find a new friend to play with. The valley seemed rather empty at first, but I noticed the further along I walked that it was merely quiet. The inhabitants we did see were few in number, but friendly folk. An old woman running an orphanage. An older couple renovating a manor house with a large pack of dogs. Hagman was quite pleased. A quiet, female sellsword and her musician brother. Simple, but kind the lot of them.

As Hagman and I were walking along we made it to the top of a hill where a house, if you could call it that, much larger than mine stood. Two stories tall with a stables, more animals than I could count, and an alarming number of wolves that seemed to wander the garden as if it was there home. Hagman bolted into the garden and ran right up to a bearded man with a green hooded cloak. I raced after him with many apologies on my breath until my words caught in my throat as I got a good look at the man. 

My heart began to race as I saw the face of the man I had visions of since I was very small. A rare gift among the Dunedain, Lord Elrond tells me, but a useful one. My visions began when I was five years old and I started dreaming of a lad who must have been about twenty years of age, if he were a day. Ada took me to Lord Elrond to help me with my "troubling" dreams. Every night I dreamt of this mystery man. I had dreams of other things that, more often than not, came true. After being tutored by Lord Elrond himself to interpret and control my visions, I have come to find them less troublesome. They only come when I am asleep now, but I still dream of that mystery man. Much to my disbelief, that man was standing before me and petting Hagman like he was greeting an old friend. 

At that moment words failed me. My heart was in my throat and I thought I was going mad. Yet, here he stood. The man I had seen grow as I grew. The man who haunted my dreams. He was real and petting my dog. Hagman was wiggling and licking the man who seemed to not mind at all. He waved off my apologies, didnt seem concerned about my hood and mask, and even offered to give me directions to the person I was seeking. The surprises kept coming. The man from my dreams, the man standing before me Hagman was literally drooling on, was my new Commander, Aranoll, Master of Beasts. Named such, because of his talent at taming any beast he met.

The Valar have an odd sense of humor.