The Ered Luin dwarves suddenly realize Lord Bifur has been gone for A Long Time. He must have found lots of gold that he is selfishly keeping for himself. They decide to go and make him share.
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There's a camp out here, not far beyond the road. A camp that has been here so long that it's starting to become a small town of waggons. Who knew that Breelands could be so profitable?
And perhaps this is the reason they're out here instead of in the town. A dwarf with a short, bushy beard is swinging an enormous axe, whirling about with the weight of it. Said dwarf stops in the afternoon sunshine and pauses to look at something in the haft, which glints in black gems.
Oskar sits in the sun and gloats - surprisingly cheerful for the usually grouchy cook - but perhaps his own very fat pouch of jewels and gold accounts for this. "Watch where yer swinging that thing," he says, almost mildly.
"It's a fine thing, isn't it?" Fas says boastfully to Oskar without looking at him, running a hand down the thick haft of it. "Better than even old Lord Bifur's, I'd say, wouldn't you?"
"I wouldn't know," Oskar says dourly. "Been so long since I seen him, I fergot what he looks like even." He hefts his gold-bag weighing it in the palm of a hand with a contented expression on his face, before tossing it idly to the other hand to see how it sits there.
"That's Longbeards for you," Fas says with a bit of wicked pleasure. "Letting their lordly folk run off and never even bothering to see how they're up to. Never would happen with my folk, I tell you that. Didn't he even save that old Longbeard mountain for you from the dragon?" Fas just laughs, then fingers the blade of the axe. "I'll bet five hundred years go by before this one dulls!" the boast is added on.
Oskar rolls his eyes. At least one of them rolls - the other is long gone the empty socket hidden behind a black patch. It gives him a singularly wicked look. "Don't mean nothing to me one way or th'other," he says, "If the lord wishes to take a trip." He fingers his bag, and a cunning look comes into his eyes... "Wonder if he's getting rich out there. Tisn't like him to be gone so long."
Fas sets the end of the battle-axe on the ground and thumbs the jewel at the tip. "Rich out there?" comes the contemplative reply. "Never been out there myself. What's out there? On the way to that Mountain? Must be more cities..." A gleam comes to the dwarf's black eyes.
[Glorfindel(#30248)] "None of us are likely to find out sitting around here much longer," comes a third voice, gravelly and gruff. The stout head and shoulders of its owner pop up over the edge of a cart in some disarray, in between the idle rustlings of whatever his labor may be. "I'd just as soon see what's there, and th' sooner the better!"
"Cities, aye. Elves." This last is said with a distasteful twist of the mouth. "Dratted slippery folk..." Oskar mutters, before he is arrested mid-sentence by another voice. Slowly, he turns towards the speaker. "We ought," he says. "Dratted Bifur, scooping up all the loot for hisself and not sharing none with us!"
"And let's don't forget our cousins in Erebor," Fas adds with gleeful insistance. "Keeping all of that eastern trade for themselves there. Why, didn't Bifur and Thorin and the lot of them find riches on the WAY to the Lonely Mountain that first time? Surely there's some left!" She starts laughing, deep and rough.
[Glorfindel(#30248)] "Aye," Korin grunts his assent. "The search for riches makes up for th' elves, though. I dare someone to tell me they aren't easier to stomach when my pockets're full." With a covetous grin barely visible amidst the thick black hair of his beard, the miner jingles whatever odds and ends rest in his pouch.
"Rather rude of them!" pipes up someone who has been edging closer and closer. This must be a young dwarf - Pipper son of Popper is his name - and his voice is yet a bit high, and his beard is somewhat scraggly.
Oskar grins, a rare sight. "And my stomach," he adds to Korin's assessment. "Never could face a lot of them lily-livered elves with an empty stomach. A hot meal, that's the ticket."
"Let's go try it, then!" Fas says, stamping a foot in a glad way. "I'll bet those elves got more gold than anyone except us! What do you say, Pip?" Fas asks the young one in the eager, condescending voice of an adult not much used to children.
Pipper, far too eager himself (for glory, for adventure, for wealth, for anything that gets him still farther away from home) to resent Fas' tone of voice, grins widely. "I say we go!"
[Glorfindel(#30248)] Korin disappears once more behind clutter of packs and crates, his continued rustling punctuated by a loud "Ha!" after a moment. When he rounds the wagon, it is with a new burden of bundled tools upon his back. "Right!" he echoes Fas and Pipper, bright eyes twinkling from his weathered face as he claps a broad-palmed hand on his pack. "Shouldn't be so hard."
"Let's leave tomorrow!" Fas sets the axe leaning up against Korin's wagon and dusts off her hands. A glance up at Korin and a grin. "Or today! We only need a bit of flour and pipeweed for stores, I'd say. We can buy up what Bree has today and be off! No more hobbits!"
Oskar shrugs sardonically. "Surely not," he says, sarcasm heavy in his voice. "After all, there's only orcs and trolls and mountains to contend with, not to mention wolves and bears." But there is a greedy glint in his eyes as well.
[Broddur(#25187)] A new figure stomps into view, squat and broad like all his kind. This one clearly appreciates at least some of the wares Bree has to offer, for a long-stemmed pipe is stuck in his mouth and he puffs on it occasionally. At the sight of the impromptu gathering he raises a bushy eyebrow and removes the pipe for long enough to enquire, "Off somewhere in a hurry, cousins?" His tone may be just a /little/ suspicious.
"Aye!" Fas answers Broddur, pointing out to the east. "Where's that Lord Bifur? That's what we're asking. Have you been asking yourself that?"
Pipper's grin turns larger, more predatory. He nods eagerly to Fas' question, though it wasn't directed at him. "We're going to go find gold!" he tells Broddur. (orcs? Psht. Trolls? Who's worried about them? Oskar's just an old grouch.)
[Glorfindel(#30248)] The miner Korin nods a greeting to Broddur as he joins their company. At a mention of orcs and trolls, he lets loose a bellowing laugh that dissolves into muttering as he slings his sack of tools to the ground to ferret out his axe. The words "axe fodder" are barely able to be made out, so muffled are they by Korin's beard.
"Trolls," Oskar says with exaggerated impatience, his words clearly directed at the youngster, though he addresses the air in general, "are twelve feet high, have skin made of stone, and like to eat people for breakfast." His gloomy predictions are strangely belied by his air of utter competence, and complete lack of fear.
[Broddur(#25187)] The raised brow drops suddenly, and snaps to join its partner in a frown. The newcomer, Broddur, peers at Fas suspiciously. "Can't say as I have. Cosied up under the Mountain with all the best food and the best ale, I shouldn't wonder. While we're stuck wandering these Mahal-forsaken lands with nary a welcome in sight. Some little blighter asked me today if I was here to dig ditches. Ditches!"
Pipper and Korin get a bemused, "Huh?" while Oskar's remark is answered by, "Since when did that ever stop anyone?"
"Ditches?!" Fas repeats with outrage for Broddur. "Who asked you for digging ditches? Horrible rotten little beast! As if you weren't good enough for even coal!" She bangs her fist against the wagon-side and narrows eyes at Oskar. "We're made of stone too!" she says stoutly.
Pipper eyes Korin with admiration and sidles a step closer to him. "I've got an axe," he volunteers. "I sharpen it every day!"
[Glorfindel(#30248)] "Do you now?" Korin bellows to Pipper, lifting his axe such that its haft rests on one stone-built shoulder as he puffs up his chest with pride. "I hope you know how to use it well, lad!"
Oskar eyes Broddur, then shakes his head at the lot of them. "Never stopped no-one," he says. "I was just saying. Tisn't no waltz across the Shire, here, and I been there and back again to tell of it."
[Broddur(#25187)] Broddur's expressive brows shoot up again at Fas's outburst, though only a little. "Nowt wrong with coal," he growls. "Need it to run the furnaces. Though solid iron's more to my taste - there's good money in that. Anyhows, what's trolls got to do with old Bifur, eh? You reckon he's met one?" His sceptical gaze shifts to Oskar.
The exchange between young Pipper and Korin is listened to with a snort that might be amusement.
"Come off, Korin," Fas grumbles. "No beardling is going into a battle. If his master comes asking who's encouraging him, I'll be giving him your name!"
Fas's attention turns to Broddur. "I don't know. How long he's been gone now? Long time, great lord like that. Probably doing nothing, but I thought he'd meant to come back, didn't you hear that?"
Pipper tries to make his voice deeper, and thrusts out his chest - it might make his beard seem thicker. "I am too coming!" he insists. "I've been practicing and practicing!"
"Long enough," Oskar interrupts. He stands up abruptly. "Well, then, if we're going, let's be off. What's all this standing about chitter-chattering?"
[Glorfindel(#30248)] "Bah!" Korin grunts to Fas, swatting the air in front of him dismissively. "There's nothing t'asking. You'll not get me for this one." Brow furrowed and face twisted in a frown, the miner sits back heavily on a crate, whipping a cloth from his belt to polish his weapon with a grumpy expression.
[Broddur(#25187)] "A battle?" Broddur's dark eyes light up, though he harrumphs to hide his enthusiasm, and soon his features are as dour as ever. His brows furrow at Fas's question as he tries to think. "Dunno. Weeks ... months ... eh ..." The reckoning trails off into an embarrassed silence. "Come to that, how long have we been stuck in this mousehole of a place? Thought we were wintering here, not wasting the whole summer. If it's moving on you're after, I'm game." He nods to Oskar, firmly and emphatically (though he shows no signs of instant decamping).
"Well of course you're coming!" Fas rolls her eyes at the other adults at Pipper's protest. "You'll just be staying inside of a wagon I think."
"Aye, we need to get a move on if we're getting far before winter comes. LADS!" Fas hollers at the camp. "Dig your wheels out of the rut! We're moving!" A few dwarves look curiously over, but there isn't much bustle starting up with the order coming from a firebeard and a woman at that.
Pipper puts up an outraged protest. "I'm NOT!" he shouts, and then blushes fiery red. Way to sound mature, there, kid.
Oskar watches Fas sardonically a slight smirk on his face as no one really pays her much attention.
[Broddur(#25187)] Broddur snorts at Pipper's enthusiasm, swiping his hand across his nose to hide his face for a moment. "Someone should leave that youngster behind in Bree," is his own surly assessment. "Eh, suppose I'd better get to packing my wagon." He looks down at the pipe he's holding, places it in his mouth and tries to take another puff, only to grumble, "Darn thing's gone out."
"What, leave him behind with the hobbits?" Fas barks a bit of laughter. "He's grow up warped. FINE!" she shouts at the camp in general. "I'll go on my own then!" She starts down the road, but nobody seems to believe her enough to follow. Surely Broddur will explain to the lads.
Pipper ducks his head in embarrassment, then lifts it stubbornly. He will /not/ be left behind! A dash for his axe, and he sets off down the road after Fas.
Oskar watches them both, a grin growing on his face minute by minute - finally, he starts to pack up his own belongings dismantle his fire-pit, hitch up his wagon.
[Broddur(#25187)] Broddur, though, is gazing after Fas with his mouth open (just as well the pipe wasn't in there, he'd surely have lost it). "What? She's going all the way to the Mountain ... without her wagon? And /with/ the youngling? Heh, there's no accounting for tastes."
His own contribution to rousing the camp is rather less enthusiastic, simply a mumbled, "Sounds like we'll be moving on. Never hurts to do some packing, eh lads?" Without waiting for a response, he wanders off toward his own wagon, emptying his pipe as he goes.
Located in: Ered-Luin