1. It All Began In Bree
I have never owned, and probably never will own, anything of which I write about in this tale, except for Maire. She belongs to me and no one else. Everything else belongs to the Tolkien Estate, New Line Cinemas, Peter Jackson, etc. Thanks for letting me borrow them; they’ll be in good hands.
Also, this story is movie-verse. I was having a hard time trying to fit another character into such a set story line without totally screwing up the entire thing and movie-verse was the path of least resistance. So I apologize beforehand to all the Tolkien purists who might read this, I’m doing my best.
I’ve never liked the smell of beer. Thankfully, Strider knew this and never drank in my presence. The rest of the parishioners in the Prancing Pony, that was a different story. I couldn’t get away from it there, so Strider took me into a corner booth and sat me down. “Don’t worry Maire; I’ll take care of you. I’ll get you something from Butterbur that’s to your liking.”
“You’re a good man Strider.” All Strider did was smile, nod, and make his way to the bar.
So if I didn’t like the smell, why was I there? Because wherever Strider went, I was by his side. He calls me his comrade-in-arms, his protégé, one of his closest Rangers.
For nearly all of my 35 years on this earth, I have been in the company of the Rangers. Since I was old enough to wield a sword and to understand the healing powers of the earth, I have been groomed and taught the ways of the Wild. I am proud to have been chosen to follow Strider in his wanderings, learning the things he knows and to see the things he sees, even if I have to follow him into the Prancing Pony.
It didn’t take long for Strider to return with a mug of warm cider, which he set before me. “And did you get nothing for yourself,” I asked.
“All I needed I had up at the bar. Now all there is left to do is have a good smoke of my pipe.” I didn’t mind that, I actually enjoyed the aroma that a good pipe-weed gave off. As Strider enjoyed his pipe, I watched the people in the bar, both Men and Hobbits alike.
One group that interested me was a small group of hobbits sitting at a table. Even in Bree, these companions seemed out of place. Quietly I pointed them out to Strider. “Are those the hobbits we seek?”
“I’m not sure Maire, but it’s a possibility. We must wait and see.”
Wait and see we did. It wasn’t long before some commotion came up at the bar; two of the hobbits we were watching had started to almost fight with one another. It wasn’t long until one had lost his footing and when he fell, completely disappeared from sight.
Strider was on edge from the moment the little fellow vanished until he reappeared only a few minutes later. He left me at the table and approached the Hobbit, said some words to him, and nearly threw him up the stairs. When the other three Hobbits saw what was taking place, they followed Strider and the Hobbit up the stairs, more than likely to retrieve their friend. I knew that Strider could handle four Hobbits easily, but they would give him a run for his money; so I followed them as well.
I found them all together in one of the Hobbit rooms Butterbur keeps. Strider was sheathing his sword and saying something about a stout heart when I entered the room. “You can no longer wait for the wizard Frodo,” Strider said with the utmost urgency. “They’re coming.”
Strider saw me in the doorway and looked up. “We need to get them out of here Maire, see if you can get us a room across the way.” The hobbits turned around to see me behind them and then turned back to Strider. He saw the confusion in their eyes and answered. “This is Maire, daughter of Ciara. She is my student; there is no need to fear her.” He again turned to me. “Go quickly Maire, we can’t linger here much longer.”
I was able to get another room, at a price I would have never paid except under these circumstances. It wasn’t long until Strider and I had the four Hobbits under our protection and they were sleeping as peacefully as hobbits could when Black Riders were tracking them.
Strider had set himself to watching the window where as I sat in front of the fire, watching the hobbits sleep. “They seem so childlike Strider,” I said to the silence. “It’s such a wonder.”
“That they are Maire. They are also so innocent to the ways of evil. I’m amazed that Frodo is still able to continue. Hobbits do have strength, even if it’s not always seen.”
Strider turned away from the window to look at me. “Did you ever want a family?”
“The life of a Ranger is a lonely one. I had resigned to the fact that I would have many close and dear friends, but never someone that would walk the Wilds side by side with me. That is a far off dream.”
Strider left his seat and came toward me, his hand extended. I took it as he kneeled next to me. “To every person there is always a soul mate, whether if be Man, Elf, Hobbit, or Dwarf.” I almost had to laugh at that thought, but I let Strider continue. “You will find the one who is destined for you Maire. I’m sure of it.”
“Your confidence is well considered Strider, thank you.”
It was then that Strider and I heard shrieking coming from the Prancing Pony. We knew all too well what that horrible sound came from; it came from the frustration of the Nazgul not slaying their prey.
The sound woke the hobbits and they turned to Strider to answer their questions. Strider explained to them the curse of the Black Riders and their quest to find the One Ring, the ring that Frodo now carried in his pocket.
He was soon able to calm the fears of the hobbits, saying that he and I would keep watch over them until we left Bree in the morning. This seemed to satisfy them and soon they were back to their peaceful state of sleep, all except the youngest called Pippin. He seemed to be the one most on edge. Even with four hobbits in one bed, there was still room enough for me to slip in beside Pippin and give him some comfort. “Don’t worry Pippin, Strider is the best Ranger I know, he won’t let any harm come to you or I. Why don’t you go back to sleep?”
“I will Mistress Maire, don’t worry. Thank you for your concern about me, it’s just so hard being so far away from home with so many bad things following us.”
“I understand Pippin; fear grips all of us at some point. It’s up to us though to face it and defeat it.”
“Have you ever been scared Mistress Maire?”
“On many occasions, little hobbit. Sometimes it was near impossible to conquer it, but I did and you will too. Get some rest Pippin, you’ll need it.”
“And will you be here?”
“I’ll always be here.”
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.