Book 8: Act 1 - The Troubles of Men

It is the year 2946 of the Third Age, and the lands east of the Misty Mountains are astir. From the cloud-shrouded peaks above the High Pass to the spider-infested gloom of the forest of Mirkwood, paths long-deserted are trodden once again. Busy merchants carry their wares to new markets, messengers bring tidings from foreign realms, and kings send forth armed men to extend their influence and the rule of law. Some say that a new age of freedom has begun, a time for adventure and great deeds to reclaim glories lost in long centuries of oppression and decline.

But adventures are not really things that people go out and look for. They are dangerous and rarely end well. While it is true that a handful of valiant individuals set out to make their mark on the world, for others it seems that adventure chooses them, as though it is the path they are fated to tread. They are restless warriors, curious scholars and wanderers, always eager to seek what was lost or explore what was forgotten. Ordinary people call them adventurers, and when they return successful, they call them heroes. But if they fail, no one will even remember their names...

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Book 8: Act 1 - The Troubles of Men

Post by Vardaen » Fri Aug 30, 2019 2:26 pm

Image They still throve on the trade that came up the great river from the South and was carted past the falls to their town; but in the great days of old, when Dale in the North was rich and prosperous, they had been wealthy and powerful, and there had been fleets of boats on the waters, and some were filled with gold and some with warriors in armour, and there had been wars and deeds which were now only a legend. The rotting piles of a greater town could still be seen along the shores when the waters sank in a drought.

But men remembered little of all that...



April 1st, 2950, The Third Age

...many things have changed in the northern regions of Wilderland since you returned home. Seven years might seem to pass as quick as a heartbeat to the long-lived Elves, but innumerable deeds can be accomplished by industrious Men and Dwarves. I trust my cousin Balin to tell you about all the important matters, and I am sure Gandalf will complete the account with tidings of his own. But I didn’t forget how much you love maps, so I resolved to send you one depicting the marvellous city on the Long Lake as it appears today. It was drawn by my brother Óin and I have added some useful notes.

As you will certainly remember, soon after the fall of Smaug and the subsequent destruction of their city, the Lake-men set upon the task of building a new town for themselves. Under the direction of the old Master, they chose a suitable spot higher up the shores of the Long Lake, to the north, to stay well away from the place where the Dragon fell. They worked long and laboriously, sparing no effort to build a city they designed to be more fair and large even than before. To achieve this aim, they received great help from Bard the Dragonslayer, who presented the Lake-people with much gold from the hoard of Smaug, and from the Elvenking, who sent many skilled Elves to aid in the reconstruction.

The new Lake-town rises from the waters of the Long Lake, as the Lake-towns that preceded it. Many wains and carts cross its slender bridge every day, and the surface of the lake itself teems with barges and boats in every month of the year, whether heading for the market-place of Esgaroth, or on their way to the South, North or West. Trade has indeed resumed and it is more prosperous than ever, with much wealth going up and down the river. Many folks from nearby lands have come to live here, and a forest of trees has been felled to build the stilts needed to support its wooden houses, streets and quays. The city now encompasses a larger area than the one that was once enclosed within the town that Smaug destroyed, and it has been divided into seven main districts - erroneously called ‘quarters’ by the Lake-people, still used to their smaller home.

You might wonder how it is that I know so much about Esgaroth. This is easily explained: the Kingdom under the Mountain has many interests in this town, and in the coming and going of goods, and I have been personally assigned by King Dáin to oversee our dealings here. This task makes for a very dull occupation, especially for someone who is used to adventuring, or at least to handle hammers and forge-bellows in place of silver pens!

Fortunately, I have taken up residence in a house that I daresay you would find to your liking: it is large and comfortable, and when the weather is clear I enjoy a good view of the Lonely Mountain, beyond the low hills at the far end of the lake. It is found in the best quarter of the city, a spot where the stench of the Long Marshes rarely arrives, as it is turned away by a fresh northerly breeze before it can reach the noses of those who are so fortunate to live here.

It is not by chance that the town-hall is found in this district too, a larger and more magnificent great house than the one you visited, and ruled by a far more pleasant Master of Esgaroth (the old Master having gone to a bitter end, as Balin will certainly tell you...). You might remember him as the former captain of the guard, the first Man of the Lake we met when we first set foot on the bridge to the old Lake-town. He has made quite a splendid career, this one, and I am required to visit him on a regular basis on official errands. We have become quite fond of each other’s company, and it is partly on his behalf that I am asking you if it would be possible to purchase from you a barrel of pipe-weed from the Southfarthing (Longbottom leaf, if at all possible, a particular favourite discovered when I used to pass through the Shire in our wandering days...). Talk of tolls, portage and customs duties is a taxing endeavour, and we have almost drained my supply...

Excerpt from a letter from Glóin, son of Gróin, accompanying a map of Lake-town carried by Balin, son of Fundin, when he went to visit Bilbo Baggins in the Shire, in the autumn of year 2949.
I'm getting us underway, wait for another post please.
"He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom." - Gandalf
J.R.R. Tolkien, Council of Elrond, The Fellowship of the Ring

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Book 8: Act 1 - The Troubles of Men

Post by Vardaen » Fri Aug 30, 2019 2:47 pm

It has been some months since the Battle of the Easterly Inn. Some of the company spent the winter there, some left sooner than others. All agreed to eventually meet up once more in the spring in the far off place of Lake-town. Before he left Finnulf gave each of you instructions on how to find him in Esgaroth, where is family home was in the residential district in the city. What to tell the bridge guards when you came visiting, and generally how to locate him. He had hoped when the weather cleared some, if not all of you, would join him there.

Varuthil's travel would take her last leg from King Thranduil's Halls, while Gerwald and Glirion would leave from it the Inn itself. Of course Dody Brandybuck would not send them empty handed. Lists for supplies, and goods to trade with the men of the Lake were shoved into their hands. "Don't let me down, we need to open new trade and get more people." Agatha and her children had been busy making up what they called 'advert postings' for the pair to take. The parchments were advertisements for the Inn that could be nailed to message boards, handed out to merchants and travels and generally tacked up any place they could to get the word out about the Easterly Inn, now infamous from its battle success.

So it is as the winter is fading, but has not fully let go, that travelers on the road near the mannish town of Esgaroth on the Long Lake seeking their friend and perhaps a bit of peace.
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J.R.R. Tolkien, Council of Elrond, The Fellowship of the Ring

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Book 8: Act 1 - The Troubles of Men

Post by Muskrat » Fri Aug 30, 2019 6:50 pm

Varuthil pauses at a distance to study Laketown, taking in the layout of the town and the movements of its people with cold-eyed curiosity. After satisfying herself, she approaches the gates of Laketown, telling the guards on duty. "Hello. I have been invited a Mannish friend, Finnulf, to visit his house here."

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Book 8: Act 1 - The Troubles of Men

Post by Blubbo_Baggins » Fri Sep 06, 2019 5:29 am

Finn has told his friends where to meet him - at his family home, where he grew up. He himself had not been home for three years, and though he had sent word to his parents by traders a year before, they had still been worrying about him.

When he finally arrived the fresh air off the Lake might have brought tears to Finn's eyes, but that was probably just an excuse to not admit that he had been thinking of the loss of Borir.

He made his way directly home, opening the door without even knocking. Hild followed slowly, waiting at the open door. The shock on his parent's faces made him happy and a bit ashamed, for he knew they were glad to see him, and upset that he had been gone so long.

His father Winaelf hugged him, then chided him that he'd neglected the business (the Wyngard Woods company). As he did so Gudrun came and hugged him as well. Finn reminded Winaelf that he had made a good ally with Ceawin of the Eastern Bight, and would bring him a letter to establish business with his village. Gudrun chided him far more for not returning home, and winked at him after Hild had introduced herself.

Answering about Hild was awkward, as she was not exactly Finn's betrothed; he didn't really know how to share about the oathpact; it was hard to explain. Thankfully his parents did not ask further, being more surprised at his adventures, not believing everything Finn told them. Winaelf most of all seemed skeptical for underneath his outward expressions Finn thought, it seemed, his father was disappointed about his lack of help for the business.

"Indeed Finnulf; things are not going well with the Elves. Both Dale and Laketown's needs have outstripped supply, and so while lumber is worth a lot, our contract will actually run out in a year if something isn't done. So, I hope you're ready to go find this Ceawin soon and get something going."

Finn disappointed them, saying he was not sure, but that he would soon introduce him to his friends, some of whom were also investors in the Inn, and one of whom was an Elf with some standing with the Elves and might help.

His parents were glad to host the companions, and quickly made preparations. Finn didn't know when they'd arrive, but expected them any day.

The family home was not in the same class as that of the Master of the Lake, but it was nevertheless one of the largest homes owned by a merchant family. It had a small servant's quarters, and as Finn's older and younger brothers no longer lived there (one was in Dale, the other lived on the shores of the Lake), plenty of room for everyone.

When they had all arrived (eventually), Finn's family was glad to share with them the delicacies of the Lake like smoked eel and fresh and salted fish, as well as Dwarven ale from Erebor. Much enjoyment was had singing late into the evening.

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Book 8: Act 1 - The Troubles of Men

Post by Othniel » Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:17 pm

Glirion parted ways with his friend Gerwald not far from the borders of Lothlorien. In the Golden Wood, Glirion was received with welcome from the Lord and Lady, his friends, and not least of all his wife Alcarien. To the Lord and Lady, he reported his adventures in Wilderland, speaking gravely of the threat discovered at the Dwimmerhorn.

Sent out once more in the spring, Glirion did not leave empty-handed. Two precious gifts were given him - one from the Lady of the Galadhrim herself; the other from Alcarien. From the Lady, Glirion received a hand-made elven cloak woven from hues of leaf and branch, water and stone in order that he might remain hidden from evil eyes. From Alcarien came a store of lembas - elven waybread similar to cram or the honey-cakes of the Beornings, but fairer and more sustaining. These he guarded against days of want and peril, for they were precious - only to be used at great need.

It is laden with these gifts that Glirion arrives in Lake-Town where the provender offered by Finn was much to the liking of Glirion, who was fond of the bounty of the river...

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Book 8: Act 1 - The Troubles of Men

Post by Vardaen » Thu Sep 12, 2019 4:50 pm

The Guards of the Bridge stand and watch as Varuthil arrives before them. "Finnulf? I am sorry but that is a fair common name, do you know his family?" says one of them. The two guards don't actually seem that worried about Varuthil or their post. The Dragon is dead, the goblins driven back, there is a King Under the Mountain, Dale flourishes, and the elves are allies once more bringing trade to the Esgaroth. "You might ask about in the districts, there are other guards about that may know his name."

The other guard leans on his spear and narrows his eyes as he spies another figure nearing. "Friend of yours?" He points at the second elf, Glirion, nearing the bridge just now.
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Book 8: Act 1 - The Troubles of Men

Post by Muskrat » Thu Sep 12, 2019 6:11 pm

Varuthil says, "No matter. Finnulf has given me directions to his house. I should be able to find my way there." She looks over at the approaching Glirion and says, "Yes, he is a companion in past travels, though I have not seen him for several months now." She waits quietly for his approach and when he gets near, nods her head and says, "It is good to see you, Glirion." There is no enthusiasm or happiness in her voice--but then there usually isn't.

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Book 8: Act 1 - The Troubles of Men

Post by Othniel » Mon Sep 16, 2019 12:39 am

"Mae govannen, Varuthil!" Glirion smiles pleasantly at the sight of the other elf, as he calls out a greeting in return. "It good to see you." As he approaches, the Elf of the Golden Wood stops to bow respectfully before the guards. "Hail and well met, good sirs. I am Glirion of Lorien, and I seek admittance to your fine town."

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Book 8: Act 1 - The Troubles of Men

Post by Vardaen » Mon Sep 16, 2019 6:04 pm

The guards look at one another, they aren't sure where Lorien is. "You are heading to visit with this Finnulf as well? You may enter the town, we are allies once more with the Woodland Realm. Your folk are welcome here." The guards move to the side to allow the two travelers to pass.

It takes far longer than expected to find Finn's house, the streets and quays of Lake-town are confusing and not always intuitive. A dock ends in a pool, or a boat is needed to travel from district to district, but after only some minor trouble the pair arrive at the home of Finn -- or at least they believe so.
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J.R.R. Tolkien, Council of Elrond, The Fellowship of the Ring

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Book 8: Act 1 - The Troubles of Men

Post by Muskrat » Mon Sep 16, 2019 6:53 pm

Varuthil has to bite her tongue to keep herself from correcting the guards and telling them that Lorien was not part of King Thranduil's realm--but while the scholar in her wants them to know the facts, the traveler in her thinks it would only complicate matters and lead to unnecessary suspicion of Glirion. So she nods at them and says, "Thank you," then sets off into town.

When they reach what they think is Finn's house, she knocks on the door. "If we are at the wrong place, the people dwelling here ill have rather a surprise," she says dryly to Glirion. While Lake Town may be allied with the elves of Mirkwood, they cannot be a common sight in the town--and certainly not on people's doorstep.

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