Blood and hair.
That’s all that was left of my halfling brethren after we had dispatched of a band of hobbit bandits who threatened the caravan we’d been charged to protect. Stout of heart though they may have been, ultimately there was little left to show of their pluck and resilience. Their dishonor and thieving spirits shamed our race and displeased the One True God of Middle Earth. There was no other choice. We had to see justice through. There was no other option.
Blood and hair. There was nothing left.
Well, there was one thing: One remaining hobbit, one sole survivor of our righteous wrath. The oversized members of our party intimidated him into leading us to his camp, and as we neared the site after a beautiful walk through the forest, we noted its organization and development: Large walls and a trench only surmountable by drawbridge kept us from the inside. We quickly decided on a Trojan horse strategy, relying on my deception. Oh, how loathe I am to lie! Oh, what pain it is to use this gift, this curse! Why must I always live in the shadows? Will none ever know the true Loki? Am I condemned to forever live in the halftruths and mistruths that are the currency of my every action?
The bandits were gullible and proved little sport in the deception. They let me in, revealing a camp with a small armory and several halfling thieves playing cards, drinking, and making merry around a campfire. Shortly, I was escorted to meet Thorag, the camp’s leader.
The path to his tent was winding and long, and as I walked it I felt a faint tremor – in the earth? In my heart? – that left me slightly short of words. We stopped for a moment outside his tent.
“This is it,” the guard said.
“Thank you, my brother,” I replied. The tent’s curtain parted and I walked in.
What a specimen he was, a full six inches taller than most hobbits. His muscles spilled out of his form-fitting hide armor, a perfect picture of a leader of halflings. He was strong, he was fierce, he was just. This, this was a hobbit. This was a hobbit of the finest breed, a hobbit of the first order, a hobbit of the utmost strength and stature and heartiness. His eyes glistened with the submerged magnetism and latent power of our race, a snake hidden in the brush, coiled and ready to strike. His feet bristled with the coarse hair of a halfling well acquainted with the woods. The tremor returned, this time in my stomach.
“What is your business here, good sir?”
Must I lie? Must I hide myself? Must I deceive this brother-friend-lover?
“I am Frodo, of the Shire, friend. I have left all that I know in search of fortune and adventure, and I believe I have information that may be of some aid to you.”
His eyes pierced my very soul, like an Elven arrow to the innermost chambers of my heart. Did he know? Had he seen through me?
“Out with it,” he said gruffly. A leader. Straight to the point. Decisive.
“Your posse was ambushed today by a group of heroes traveling with the caravan. They are few in number, and I know their weaknesses. They have continued now but will return in a fortnight. We are safe for some time, but we must prepare ourselves to end them.”
“Hm,” he said. “A lone bandit. Unusual.”
“I am an unusual halfling, friend. I have heard tell of unimaginable treasures—”
“Well then, stranger, imagine them for me!”
Stranger. He called me stranger. Does he truly see me that way? In any case, how does the One True God of Middle Earth feel about this love? Am I doomed to a life of loneliness?
“Dragon eggs, Thorag. Dragon eggs.” Oh, Thorag. How I hate to lie to you. And how I hate to feel this for you. Forgive me, OTGoME. My mind is telling me no, but my body is telling me, “VERILY, YEA!”
This satisfied his curiosity, and he dismissed me, welcoming me to his band of merry thieves. I proceeded to lull his compatriots into a false sense of security, getting them drunk with ale infinitely weaker than the river swill from the Dirty Goblet. After the Swill Agony, normal ale has barely any effect on me. They – and I, though faking it – fell into slumber, the dim embers of our campfire smoldering as the moon rose.
I stirred. All were asleep but one guard on the top of the wall. I stumbled over to him, and as I slyly feigned inebriation, he cried out to me.
“YOU THERE,” he yelled. “WHAT’RE YOU DOING?!”
“Easy, my brother, easy. I simfla hiccup simply want to obserle the might skayyy,” I stammered.
“You want to…what? Observe the night sky?”
I redoubled my efforts to deceive him, each lie stinging as it left my lips. “I just love the moon, my brother. Let me come see the forest from up there. We people of the forest, we love the forest. I love the forest.”
It worked. He reluctantly allowed me up onto the wall. I threw my arm around him and rested my falsely drunk weight on him, sing-songily rejoicing at the beauty of the midnight woods. The poor fool gazed upon the woods, though I looked only at his neck. It was some small mercy: His last sight was the magnificent forest he called home. A beautiful death for any halfling. Soon enough, my hands met the hilt of my enchanted dagger, and steel did what steel does. It was done.
His blood dropped down the wall and pooled in the trench as I flashed my dagger in the moonlight, catching the adventurers’ eyes with the moon’s reflection. They rushed to the drawbridge and lowered it down as I released the lever. But as they crept in to stealthily do away with the rest of the bandits, one sensed our presence and woke up his brethren.
Fortunately, our surprise was not totally ruined, and Quareen’s mighty bursts dispatched several of the bandits with a brutal onslaught of flame, engulfing my NORMAL-SIZED brethren in a sea of cries and fire. After killing some ten hobbits – who focused their attacks on me, feeling betrayed by a fellow halfling – we were confronted by Thorag himself and his two pet Drakes, Fido and Ralph.
“We could have had something, Frodo!” he cried. Frodo. Even in death, he will not know my real name.
Before I could wipe the first tear from my eye, a banshee Amazon warrior cry curdled the blood of all evil-doers, and the mighty Zylara, who had sensed our need, rushed into the encampment. She leapt headlong into the fray, taking damage but bravely engaging the two drakes and their beautiful hobbit master.
Zylara was soon joined by Damakos, whose incredible strength and accuracy led to a massive, record-breaking attack: Some FORTY-SEVEN life units sapped from Ralph in one fell swoop, one crushing blow.
Smart charging and fierce attacks by the terrible Tromed helped make short work of Ralph, and the group converged upon Thorag.
My heart sunk as he fell to the ground. Goodbye, friend. Goodbye.
And as he fell, his domesticated friend Fido gently licked me with some affection. A new friend. You, Fido, you will be my only reminder of this love that never was. You will be my only reminder of this love that probably never should or could have been. I will rename you when I am so moved.
On Thorag’s person (his beautiful, beautiful person) we found a letter from Brad giving information to Thorag about the caravan’s passage. But before returning to town to give this information to Donoran and get our horses, we conferred about what to do with the new real estate we had acquired. We formed the U Street Development Corporation and Real Estate Holdings, a company that will soon develop this tract of land into a profitable business venture for our party. Passive income streams for the win.
Donoran was pleased with our work, and he rewarded the oversized among us with beautiful horses. The Drake Formerly Known As Fido will be my only steed. Though before Donoran let us go, he asked us to “convince” this brad, a rival businessman, to end his trifling with Donoran’s interests. On to the next phase…