6 Myrtle Court, Bramblebury, The Shire
Sitting on a wall on the edge of the Greenfields, Lina rubbed her temples and groaned at the memories from the night before. Never again would she drink this much ale at the Plough and Stars. Not even the dances with the good-looking local lads were worth this much pain and suffering.
She hadn’t dared go home after. Ma would surely have launched into one of her patented scoldings. All lazing about, never around to help out, just playing that damn lute and partying, selfish and ungrateful little lass. Her head hurt even more just thinking about it.
Perhaps there was something in Ma’s angry words. Lina pondered on this, frowned and wrinkled her nose. She was in her late tweens, but had given little thought to the future. Showed no interest in the family line of work, found no real pleasure in farming or gardening. She played a mean lute, but was there a living to be made from that, besides the odd mug of free ale? It's all so uncertain, she sighed.
What she was sure of, though, was her love for the Shire. The earthy, solid food. Her friends and family, all playful and good-natured (except Ma, of course). The tall, majestic trees of Binbole Wood, swaying gently in the morning breeze. The soft golden beams of sunlight upon the dewy grass on the Greenfields, waking the locals to another beautiful day. This was home. It just felt right.
Lately, though, slight feelings of wrong had started creeping into the area. Tall people could be seen crossing the Greenfields in the distance. Sometimes weird noises could be heard from the woods. And one night, Lina could have sworn she had seen a furry dog-like creature hiding among the trees. While her friends had laughed, she had remembered the legends of wolves attacking the Shire in times of old. Who could say it would never happen again?
Climbing down from the wall, Lina stumbled on a robust wooden stick lying in the grass. She bent over and picked it up. It felt good in her hand. She tried twacking the air gently with it. Not quite. How about adjusting the grip a bit, holding it up near her ears? That felt better.
She pulled the stick back and launched it into the air. It smashed into the ground near a hole some 25 feet away. A fox that had crawled out to enjoy the first rays of sun did a 180-degree jumping turn and scurried back inside the hole.
Lina couldn’t help but laugh as she went over to pick up the stick. Perhaps if it was a bit slimmer, and with a sharper end? Yes, that could do it. That could help against anything skulking in the woods.
First, though, she had to face Ma’s talking-to. She dropped the stick, picked up her lute from the wall and started walking home, not quite in a straight line. While her head still pounded, and while she dreaded the harsh words that waited for her, she felt better than she had done for quite a while.
Brockenborings, ponies, dogs and lute-playing. And most of all: biscuits!
Lankyshanks running over her with their big horses, damp dark caves full of hideous beasts, bagpipes.
Travel the Shire and learn songs and stories of old.
"Well played!" "Ooh, biscuits!" "Grand!" "Yer rotter!"