Looking For Shadows

Brymborlos leads Greyhoof down the long cobbled road to Buckland as he sweeps his maple-green eyes over the fields and ruins on either side of the road. He sighs, shifts in the saddle. A gust of calm summer wind touches his cheeks and soothes his temper. Greyhoof huffed as his hooves clapped the stones of the road. 

“I know, friend.” Brymborlos groaned, stroking Greyhoof’s mane, “I weary of the trail as well.” 

They had been on the road since early morning. Occasionally, Brymborlos met hunched dwarfs carrying heavy packs or ambling hobbits. Neither case prompted conversation; the hobbits seemed wary, and the dwarfs suspicious. 

As Brymborlos came to a bend in the road, he halted. Greyhoof shuffled slightly, nodding his head. 

The old boy needs a drink, Brymborlos thought. 

He peered down the road and tried to locate the smoke trail of fire. 

Adso’s camp is another mile, I believe, he calculated. 

Brymborlos stirred Greyhoof on, and the rouncey cantered ahead, winding through the grassy patched path. 

When Adso’s camp finally appeared, the sun had fallen behind the tall oaks opening up to the Old Forest to the left. Brymborlos handed his reins to the horse-master and sauntered to the campfire behind Adso’s hut. No one sat by the fire dancing around the three logs laid around it as seats. Brymborlos grunted with exhaustion and settled down before the flames, his back to Adso’s hut. 

Brymborlos welcomed the warm embrace of the fire, its teeth crunch on the kindle and fags feeding it. 

You are waning, he thought bitterly. 

Gradually, the sky became a rich blue, and stars blinked above. Brymborlos enjoyed the haunch of a boar the hunters caught three days back. There were three of them: Foxwrangler, Longapple, and Fairlump. 

“We ‘ad a hard time of it,” muttered Foxwrangler, taking off a slice of the boar’s chest. 

“That boar nearly drew your bowels.” teased Longapple, his jowls jangling with a great laugh. 

Fairlump noisily devoured his haunch, chuckling in between bites. 

Foxwrangler nudged his companion jocularly, ripping off a part of his meat with his teeth. 

Brymborlos listened with little enthusiasm; his mind led him away to other matters. 

Gazgormel, he brooded, stroking his long beard, are you truly returned?

“And what brings you down this way, watcher?” asked Fairlump, eying Brymborlos evenly. 

His comrades watched Brymborlos eagerly, wanting something new to gossip on. 

Brymborlos flinched involuntarily, a clamoring shriek overpowering his thoughts. Looking at Fairlump, the darkness of the night seemed to scourge his grim face of light. Brymborlos answered him:

“Looking for Shadows.”