Well, there we were then – the old man trussed up like a pig and tied to my friend Khorum – see we tied him there because we couldn’t find a rock big enough near the path in the darkness to make sure that the old coot – bless his soul – wouldn’t run off half-cocked again. Well, as I see it, nothing makes a more solid replacement for a rock than Khorum. He’s a true friend and I’ve often remarked that he’s got the soul of the mountain in him.
Well it proved to be true, because through the night the only thing that moved that mountainous dwarf was his own lengthy nasal rumblings. And wouldn’t you know it? When the merchant woke up, he was right as rain.
Well with our employer up and moving we were able to head on down the trail a bit more – and mostly without incident – I’ll tell you something though, the Mirkwood isn’t a place I’d like to call home – bless those beautiful elves for their tenacity, calling a place like that their home… you can see why they get on edge at times, I think everything in those woods was trying to poison, bite, stab, snatch, or otherwise inconvenience me and my friends. In fact the only good things in those foul woods were our new elf friends. Don’t you pay any heed to what Khorum and Bifur say, they’re just sour grapes because of some old score between the dwarves and elves… but I say, they helped us out a great deal on our journey, so elves are ok in my book.
Where was I? Oh, right the Mirkwood was trying to get us all. I heard that Radagast and his talk a big deal about the woods being alive, and in my time near the East Blight, I believe it… but the Mirkwood, she’s something else. I remember we were all there, camped one night out on the trail after a particularly grueling slog – and I mean we’re exhausted – and I was having this great dream about running alongside Bill and going on this wild hunt, right? And what wakes me up out of it but my good dwarf causing all sorts of commotion.
Khorum had gotten it into his head that there was some great big pile of treasure there in the Mirkwood – I told him it was just in his dream, but his eyes had this green glaze to ‘em. Never seen it before – like he was still there in his dream. There was this big stone well just off the path a ways – and you know Hunter (yeah the grim fellow with the hood that’s the one), he told us “NEVER go off the path.” And I trust him, you know – sure, he can be a bit of an asshole at times – but he is OUR asshole, and more often than not, he’s also correct – which is a trait you like to see in a friend and a guide.
Well I told Khorum it’s best to stay well away from any old well that just happened to be alongside this pathway – you see, anything else that we came across (that wasn’t obviously there from the elves) had really tried its level best to kill us dead. He wasn’t having any of it though.
“Dog, there’s gold down there in the bottom of that well – and if you don’t move out of the way, I’ll strike you down for it!” That’s what he said, so help me.
Well, that’s no way for a friend to talk to another, and I was about to let that raggedy dwarf get what was coming to him – but how would my mother think of me if I just let my friend get eaten up by some wild well there in the Mirkwood? So I wrestled with him a while, but don’t let anyone tell you that dwarfs are slow – because they ain’t slow at all when they think gold is nearby.
Well he gave me the slip and he hopped right down into the bottom of that well – splashing around in the dead leaves and muck as happy as a hog, talking about what riches he had found. I didn’t have the heart – or the time – to tell him he was just mucking around in a bunch of dead leaves because right then, that well – it came right to life.
I hadn’t seen anything like that before – and I hope I never do again – it’s enough to make me want to stick to stream water from now on. That well came a sprouting out all sorts of roots and tentacles and all sorts of things that just don’t happen outside of Mirkwood. Well, it was a real big ruckus – and Khorum and his brother, they got whooped up a bit by that beast of a thing … but finally we were able to put that critter down and save our friend, despite the rocks in his head.
That wasn’t even the end of the troubles that we saw on our way home – I don’t know if you lot here at the Inn got a taste of that big storm that passed through a few weeks ago, but we sure did. And I tell you one thing, in the middle of the elf path through Mirkwood is the last place you want to be when the bottom falls out of those big rain clouds. It came down in buckets, without a care in the world for the canopy above us. It was miserable – and I ain’t ashamed to say that I was one poor wet Dog in the rain. The only one of us with any sort of joy in their hearts that day was Bill – Bill loves the right, see? Happy as a pig in shit when he gets to run and swim. But the rest of us? Well, it was hard going. And our old man was really running on his last leg – well we couldn’t keep going forward, but we couldn’t stay there (unless one of us learned how to breath underwater real quick).
Well, lucky for us, Hunter has the sharpest pair of eyes I ever saw on a man. And he calls out to us that he’s spotted a big old tree that we could use for shelter. Only, when we get to that tree, it turns out it has a door and everything. Well, we didn’t see a welcome mat… but we didn’t see an un-welcome mat either, so we took our chances and got out of the rain.
And inside wouldn’t you know it? There was a fresh fire with meat on the spit above it. That was enough to convince us to stay. Now we knew that this place was probably someone’s home because trees very rarely have meat cooking inside of them most days. So we did our best to be good guests and Khorum even laid out some gold for the meat we took.
Well we hardly had any time to enjoy the vittles before the owner of the house returned none-too-pleased about his newfound guests. Well, that’s understandable since Bill was the best smelling one of us at the time – and we had just eaten his dinner and trapsed a bunch of rain water all over his floor. But I think he liked me, he had the look of Woodsman himself, and he calmed down after a while and he even gave me that axe head that I showed you earlier – called it “Wolf Biter” and told me to keep it. Well, that was a thing.
We said our goodbyes because I think we had worn out our welcome and then we made our way out to the other end of the Mirkwood without too much more trouble. Hunter said he saw the elves watching us as we left the Forest Gate – and I didn’t see any elves, but I trust him. And that’s how we made our way here!