martes, 28 de octubre de 2008

The Hope of the North: Dwarves 12

‘So, where are we going?’
Fróin, Himli and Gimfur turned around to look at Oi. They were just outside of the Mountain, with the light already growing strong. They were not leaving in secret or anything like that, but neither did they want to stir curiosity. As far as the population of Erebor would know, they had been sent on just another errand by King Dáin. Nothing out of the ordinary. However, to avoid questions from anyone they might bump into, they had exited via one of the service gates. And there they were, packs on their backs, ready to go. But to go where? Oi had asked the question quite matter-of-factly, as anyone else might. The other three dwarves looked at each other. Dáin had told them to treat Oi as an equal, and no-one had a problem with that, but it would take a couple of days of getting used to, to hear Oi address them without all the usual ceremony. Finally Himli gave him an answer: ‘Well, what do you think, boy? To find those rings, wherever they are.’
Gimfur intervened in his usual neutral tone. ‘Actually, the question is not an idle one. We have a very specific task, but nothing else to go on. The rings are very small, and Middle-earth is big indeed. And I have only seen the north and west.’
Fróin leaned on his walking stick. ‘Before the rings, we have to find Bilbo the halfling, who is in Rivendell with Elrond. Dáin said we are to take him with us.’
Himli interrupted. ‘Exactly. So our course lies west for many days, even weeks. That is straightforward enough.’
Fróin looked at him. ‘I remember what Dáin said about Bilbo. But he also said to be careful with whoever we find.’
Gimfur adjusted his pack better. ‘Yes, yes, our task is straightforward indeed. We must search as many places as we can, being seen by as few people as possible. Then, if we actually meet anyone, we have to get as much information as we are able to from them about our legendary treasure, without them surmising that we are in fact going after it. In particular, we have to go through many lands of men and elves, whom we have to consider possible allies but not actual partners, looking for their help without offering much in return.’
Now Fróin turned to face him. ‘That sounds like a bleak outlook on things.’
Gimfur smiled. ‘Bleak? Oh, no. We Luinians don’t do bleak. We say it as it is, if we say it at all. But the lad’s question still stands. Rivendell is the destination for now, but before that, there are many things to determine. Are we going through Lake-town or not? If we don’t, we might look suspicious. If we do, we’ll find people. From them, we might find answers, but we are also likely to find questions. Can we find the ones without risking the others? And the same applies to the rest of the trip. Are we going to aim for populated areas or avoid them? And then, are we going to wait until we pick Bilbo up to start to actually look for the rings, or are we going to do a little searching of our own on the way?’
Himli scratched his head under his cap. ‘Confound it all, master Gimfur. Why didn’t you ask all these questions yesterday?’
Gimfur smiled again. Oi was beginning to think that Gimfur, in his head, was several leagues ahead of them already. ‘Oh, no, no. Had we started with questions, we would be in there still. And then, Dáin thinks he runs a tight ship, but rumours find their way out, like everywhere else. Before we had known it, we would have had to contend with more interested parties than we could have shaken an ax at. No, sir. Give me an open road and a definite purpose at the end of it any day. I’m glad Dáin took a resolution so soon.’
Fróin nodded. ‘There is wisdom in what you say. I was raring to go ever since I heard the news from the rider’s mouth. The truth is that having many meetings and reunions at this point wouldn’t have helped us much. We will have to take most of our decisions on the spot, based on what we learn on the way, and weeks of preparations would have been in vain.’ He laughed heartily. ‘I mean, look at us! We have barely put our feet out of the Mountain and we are already at a loss! Nice work so far.’
Gimfur palmed Oi’s shoulder. ‘Ha ha. See what you’ve done, lad? Now I see what they mean when they say that words can be stronger than swords. The resolve of four grown-up people, stalled with just an innocent question.’
Oi blushed. ‘I am sorry, sires. It wasn’t my intention.’
The others all replied at the same time, palming his shoulders too. ‘Oh, of course.’ ‘Hey, don’t worry.’ ‘Come on, we know that.’
Oi thanked them and felt more reassured. But now, to the others, he seemed even amused when he asked again with a smile: ‘So, where are we going?’

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