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[page 33] The Road {Title art: The words "The Road" are hand drawn in stylized font. They are inked in red.} GOES ON AND ON THE STORY OF FURTHER GENERATIONS OF HOBBITS, MEN, WIZARDS, ELVES, DWARVES, ETC. IN MIDDLE EARTH Following the passage of the Third Age, the condition of Middle Earth was fairly quiet. But, as the Fourth Age wore on, trouble was agin @again@ cited in a northern region of Middle Earth: Monlored, a newly settled region above the Northern Waste. Several large cities had been built and a road, New Northway Road, which was an extension of The Greenway at Fornost. This area had proven to be very fertile, and is attracted many travelers. The evil of Sauron had once again appeared in Middle Earth, but this time in the form of the wicked wizard Aragroth of Edoras. Aragroth had gone to Monlored before there had been too much travel in the lands above the Northern Waste. After he had been there for some ten years, the actual settling began. From the many settlements sprang up large cities and kingdoms. Withthe founding of Monlored, it was decided that this region wastoo far away from the King at Gondor, and in very few years, it was soon named the Kingdom of Fargraith, under the rule of King Arendil the Young, who took the throne when only twenty-one. Many races journied here, and among the many travelers were: Merric, son of Meriedoc 'The Magnificent' and Estella Bolger; the daughter and three sons of Samwise Gamgee and Rose Cotton, Rose, Bamfast, Bilbo, and Tolman (Tom); Glimno, Gimli's son; and a man called Hartfeld, a far distant relative of Bard the Bowman, slayer of Smaug. Though the man, the dwarf, and the five hobbits had not yet met, they were destined to meet in the times that followed. Now, on with the story! [page 34] "Not a very pleasant day to start off on the journey," thought Merric, as he turned and entered the door of Bag End, and smiled at the elderly master Samwise. To say that he was the exact image of his father, Meriadoc 'the Magnificent,' was the only truth. A stout and adventuresome lad who had high hopes of becoming as widely known as his famous father, Merric had planned long and hard this journey that he and his companions: Rose, Hamfast, Bilbo, and Tom Gardner (the sons and daughter of Samwise Gamgee) would soon be leaving on. "Not too very good looking outside, I'll wager," laughed the old Sam. "But, I won't let you youngsters back down another time. And don't try to change my mind; I may be getting olde @old@, but my judgement is still good, and it tells me that if you don't go now, you'll never leave. So, let's get that wagon moving!" [page 35] "You're right, as usual." smiled Merric. "Here, let me help you out the door. Come on you all, get moving and stop the sad good-bye's @good-byes@; we'll be back to visit your folks in another year two." The four men piled the baggage into the small wagon and hitched the ponies to it, while young Rose and her mother and father watched on. Soon all was ready and the last farewells were said. "Now, you take care of my little girl and boys, Merric," cried the old hobbit, "or I'll have your hide. Alright, now off with all of you and not another word from any of you." Following in the footsteps of their famous fathers (figuratively, not literally), they waved good-bye to the elder hobbits and turned their eyes toward the road ahead. It was the morning of September the 25th, 1480; almost exactly 62 years after their fathers had left Hobbiton on a journey to the War of the Rings. The five hobbits were sitting in the wagon they had purchased to ride in at least to Fornost and further if the road was good. Merric and Rose sat up front at the reigns, and the other three sat in the back with the baggage. "I suppose we won't see Hobbiton again for quite a while," sighed Merric, the oldest hobbit there. "Oh, I do hope we can return soon," cried Rose. "I just couldn't bear not seeing dear old mother and father again." She had never been outside of the Shire in her entire life, and the others would rather have left her behind, for fear that she might get hurt along the way, but she had insisted that she would rather die than be left behind (she had inherited a bit of her father's stubborness @stubbornness@). "Ah, now, don't you start crying all over," grubled @grumbled@ her younger brother Hamfast. I knew should have left her behind; you just can't depend on women when you're on a journey, and that's the truth!" "And who are you to tell me what I'm capable of doing, my little brother dear?" retorted Rose. "All right you two, we don't need to start off with a quarrel," stated Merric. "I told your father that I'd look after you all, [page 36] and I mean to keep my promise. She wanted to come along for her own reasons, so let her be, Hamfast." He had been fond of Rose ever since he met her at one of Master Samwise's birthday parties, but he had never told anyone of his fondness towards her. Feeling this way, he had never really objected to her coming along, for he felt that if anything happened he could take care of her. As they rode on, they became a bit gaier @gayer@, and Bilbo, who was a bit like his namesake, Bilbo Baggins, when it came to poetry, stood up on a pile of baggage and spouted off a bit of traveling poetry: "The road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with eager feet, Until it joins some larger way Where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say." "Boy," said, Tom, the youngest hobbit, "when Dad named you after old Mr. Bilbo, he wasn't kidding. That was one of his, wasn't it?” "It is as far as I know, Tom" replied Bilbo, who was now sitting in a rather thoughtful mood among the many bundles and bags. "Sometimes I rather wish I could have met the old fellow. He would have been quite an amusing old chap, I bet." "There you go again," laughed Hamfast, "speculating about those old timers. Never did understand what interested you when it comes to those fellows. "Oh, you never would, Hamfast," replied Bilbo. "You're too interested in newer things. This subject would never interest you, I'm afraid." They had been on the road for about an hour now, and the sun was rising rather high in the sky. Though it had taken their fathers much longer, they were already much nearer the Brandywine Bridge then their fathers were at the same time. A gust of wind rustled the leaves in the trees along the side of the road, and [page 37] many leaves fell to the ground in front of them. It was going to be a very cold winter this year. "We really shouldn't have waited so long to start," said Merric, "We're bound to hit some pretty cold weather, mostly when we reach Fornost. It's always cold in the winter up there, I hear." "You're right, Merric. A cousin of mine once said that they even have blizzards up there once in a while. I hope we don't hit one while we're up there." "I do hope you all brought some warm clothes, said Rose. "I never can tell with you men; you always think you're smart enough to withstand anything, but it usually turns out you can't." "That's just what a woman would think," retorted Hamfast, "of course we brought warm clothing; we really aren't as dumb as some people think." "There you go arguing," cried Merric. "Can't you two stop acting like brother and sister and grow up a little? Yes, Rose, I checked all the bags before we left, and we all have enough warm clothes to last us through any blizzard. That is second in importance only to food." "Speaking of food," shouted Tom, who liked food as much as the next hobbit, "isn't it about time we stopped for a bit of lunch? I don't think I could wait another second. Really!" [page 38] "Always thinking of your stomach, right, Tom?" laughed Bilbo. "Well, I guess we can stop here," said Merric, and he pulled the reigns toward a small clearing in the woods next to the road. "At least it's sunny here; that wind can get quite cold at times. It'll send a chill through a body that would freeze water!" "I'll get the cooking kit out," said Rose. "You men start a fire; we're having some hot stew. Rabbit, I think." After the fire was started, and the stew was on, the men got out their pipes and sat down for a smoke, while Rose prepared the lunch. The smoke from the fire, and the smoke from their pipes quietly rose to the tops of the trees that bordered the road, and then blew away over the road. All in all, it was a very peaceful place. The hobbits were content, and their minds were on pleasant thoughts, until Rose cried out: "Help, one of you, the fire has spread! It's going to catch onto one of those trees. Oh, do help me!" To Be Continued, by Dabble Cole