I have always held deep within my heart a bit of the wondering spirit.
And spent the majority of my adolescence rootless and wyld as I traveled up and down the great river of wilderland, past the gilded fields and once even all the way down Loriem,
before my mother, fearful that I might take up the adventure’s mantel as she did and thus end up like her father; my grandfather with my head stuck upon some Orcs pike.
Shackled me a lumber mill that she had purchased long before I was born with some of the treasure’s that she’d managed to bring back with her from her youthful adventures.
When I tried to parley for my freedom, arguing that I had no intention of ever crossing that thin line that separates are lands from Mirkwood.
And even if I did, the werewolf has been long dead; at her hand no less. So what further dangers could that fates forgotten forest even posse anymore?
“And even if there are still Orcs and other monsters within those woods,” I recall myself saying. “I am no coward to hide behind walls of stone.
I am a woodsmen! My axe is sharp, my sense keen, and I doubt that there is anything within that ancient forest that could ever cause my hands to shake or my bowls to water.”
This…pronouncement….did not go over much too well with my dear mother,
and she all but dragged me from my floating river palace; a sturdy raft that I had used to float my way down most of that long ancient river.
Before setting her own axe to the ill-fated craft and swearing in grandfather’s name that if I did not return home with her that she’d shave my young beard from my face with that same axe and drag me back home tied upside down upon pole.
As if I was some young buck just recently hunted down and killed before being carried back for the skinning.
I know now that it was my blatant disregard for the trials and terrors of this accursed forest that what set her on edge and that brought the blackness that she usually kept so secreted away from springing forth to harden face and darken her eyes with cold rage.
As a child, my father had need to protect us from that rage, that…
“bit of those blackwood’s…” As my father used to say. “..That just won’t leave your mothers spirit alone.” And had; in those days, cause to push her to heavy drink that seemed only to drive her to even greater fits of maddening rage.
Now as I enter my eighteenth summer, the mere memory of these fits still causes my shoulders to stiffen and my guts to turn with apprehension.
Even though it has been half a score since she suffered from one, not since the day when she gave up the drink.
Which had been preceded by perhaps the worst night of our family’s life.
When, in some delusional state of excess drink, my mother tried to drowned my sister in the lake by our house. When my Father tried to stop her, his beloved wife picked up our families axe…
the very axe that had slain the werewolf of mirkwood itself, and struck at him with it. Nearly taking his arm from his shoulder and instead leaving a very vicious scar across his chest.
That he shall carry from now until the end of his days.
After that she never touched the drink again and her fits of madness ceased, replaced instead by a dispassionate exterior that was as warm and inviting a starving wolves den in the dead of winter.
Perhaps all this was what first drove me from my family’s hearth, set me wondering far from home and, though it shames me to admit, likely would have forever kept me from ever returning.
Had not my casual disregard of the dangers that lay just beyond the forest edge reawakened the valkyrie of furry that had lain dormant within my mother’s soul for over ten years.
I confess that after this most threating of displays, my young, brave adventures heart, fled within an instant and I quickly found myself traveling the sullen road back home.
To take up the profession of lumber jack, and spend my days swing my axe not in combat, but in logging, and woodcutting, and sawing and hauling and hundred other things that I feared would dull my spirits to death.
Even though they two years I spent at this trade did well to hone the child like chubbier from my face and put a ripples of muscle down my front even as tight cords sprang up to wrap themselves about my arms and back.
In time, a part of me came to love to steady, rhythmic routine of day to day labor, and perhaps had not Narvi and his small party come looking for me.
In search in fact for my mother, who they believed might know where Narvi’s own Father had run off to. I might have remained there.
Swinging my axe not men or beasts of the wyld, but only at tree’s, for it was not long after meeting Narvi, that I discovered that my mother had Vanished.
My Father told us that Boulder came to see her, a wail back and that the two had spoken at great length in private, before the old dwarf had left.
And fearing to trigger one of her fits,
he’d asked her nothing of it, but in the morning, after a night where his battle hardened wife had spent lashing uncharacteristic affection upon him.
He found that in the morning that she had gone.
My grandfather’s axe removed from beneath the floor boards from which it had been hidden of so long ago, but strangely not taken with.
Narvi had collected quite a following at this point, a small band consisting of A clever and well-spoken barding of Dale who went by the name of Sigmund.
A beoring who smelt of mead, sweat and honey cakes who was called Garrick,
and an Elf, the first I’d actually ever seen despite all my youthful journeys down the river, who was called Allydial
And who was the proud daughter of Liralen. The original founding members of my mother’s fellowship and fought by grandfathers side when he did defending the town of long lake from raiding party of Orcs.
I knew not why my mother had left, but something inside me said that I had to find her, had to follow her into those dark woods.
For if I didn’t, if I her youngest son did not come after her, that she would most certainly die.
And thus, picking up my Grandfathers axe,
I Joined Narvi’s unlikely fellowship and together the five of us set off after our kin. Without any idea as to what horrors where to be awaiting for us within those black woods.