1. Astray on the Road to Bag End
Thorin was annoyed. Not only had his meeting with the Seven Kingdoms gone against him, with not even one dwarf lord being willing to sanction his quest, but now he found himself wandering the streets and lanes of a rustic village -- in the Shire, of all places! -- looking for the residence of a hobbit named Baggins. Yes, he was definitely annoyed.
And lost, it would seem.
"Confound that wizard!" Thorin growled as he stamped about the town square, peering at the side streets which branched off in all directions. Each street was lined with long, low building adorned with round doors, one looking remarkably like another in the dim light of evening. "I wish I had never approached Gandalf about helping with this quest to return to Erebor! By enlisting his aid, I am now forced into this meeting with a hobbit who will no doubt run away in terror at the very mention of a dragon. It is quite impossible that such a one could be the burglar we need for our venture. The people of this country are all cowards! Not one will face me long enough to even let me ask for directions!"
Thorin glowered fiercely at a passing hobbit farmer, who took one look at the dwarf's angry face and scurried off in the opposite direction.
"Confound that Gandalf!" Thorin muttered a second time. "He claimed it would be a simple matter to find this hobbit's home. If it is so simple, then why am I not finding it? Where is it? These dwellings all look alike to me!"
He had calculated his journey from the Blue Mountains properly to arrive in time for the arranged meeting with his fellow dwarves and the wizard, but somehow he had taken a wrong turn where the Old North Road ran through a town with the absurd name of Nobottle, and it had taken him some time to get back on track to the right road and his destination. He reached Hobbiton without further incident but then once again found himself astray and at a loss.
Thorin scanned his surroundings once more, then choosing one of the lanes at random, turned and started walking. But before he had taken more than a few steps, his way was unexpectedly blocked. A female hobbit stood before him, brandishing a stout black umbrella; the frown on her face was fiercely haughty.
"Dwarves!" she scoffed resentfully. "We're overrun with them! But why? That's what I want to know!" She shook her umbrella angrily under Thorin's nose. "What business do you have here, anyway, I'd like to know? Why are there so many of you? You'd better not be making trouble up there at Bag End, wrecking the place with your dwarvish antics! What's he up to now, I wonder, letting the likes of you in the door? Humph!"
Thorin stood his ground in the face of the angry hobbit, but had no opportunity to say a word in his own defense or to question her further about her references to other dwarves, Bag End, or the unnamed hobbit who was "up to something". With a shake of her fist and a final wave of her umbrella, the hobbit stamped off without waiting for an answer. Thorin could hear her shrill complaining recede into the distance as she continued berating him and his kind, even after dismissing him so summarily.
"What was that all about?" Thorin muttered in disgust. "Impertinence! She gave me no opportunity to speak or question her further! She seems to have seen the others; no doubt she could have told me something about the place I seek, if only I could have stayed the flow of her complaining."
"Nay, Master Dwarf!" said a voice behind him. "You'd not be gettin' any answers from her! Not from Lobelia, no, sir!"
Thorin turned sharply to see a middle-aged hobbit leaning against a wall, watching him with an amused expression on his face.
"And why might that be, if I may ask?" Thorin asked, as politely as he could manage despite his growing impatience.
"Well, of course you can ask!" the hobbit replied smugly. "And I'll be glad to tell you. That there was Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, and she's a character and no mistake! She always seems to be angry and complainin' about somethin', if you take my meaning. She'd speak sharply to the king himself, I warrant, if she didn't like the way he looked at her!"
"I see," replied Thorin carefully, trying to hold his rising temper in check. "Baggins, you said her name was? In truth, I seek someone named Baggins...."
"Maybe so," the amused hobbit interrupted, "but it ain't her, I bet. She's a Sackville-Baggins, like I said. She's cousin by marriage to Mister Bilbo Baggins, but she's not exactly fond of him, if you know what I mean! She's got her eye on Bag End, that's for sure and certain, hopin' to get her hands on it some day when Master Bilbo moves on, with her Otho being his heir and all. So she's none too pleased about seein' all them foreign types -- them dwarves, I mean -- makin' their way up to The Hill this evenin' and messin' with the place, as she puts it."
"Can you direct me to this residence of Master Baggins?" Thorin asked, relieved to at last be getting some information about the hobbit Baggins.
"Of course I can," came the answer. "I'm the gardener up at Bag End, ain't I? Holman's the name. Holman Greenhand, at your service!"
Thorin bowed politely to Holman. "Thorin Oakenshield at yours."
"Come on then, Master Thorin," Holman said, happily clapping the dwarf on the arm and ignoring Thorin's glare. "I'll put you on the right track. Wouldn't want you to get lost now, I expect they're all waiting for you up there. I figured that's where you were heading, anyway, seein' as how there's others like you there already. Seems like Master Bilbo's havin' a regular old party tonight. A party for dwarves, that is!"
"Indeed!" replied Thorin, trying hard not to be impatient. "If you would be so kind as to lead the way, Master Holman...."
Thorin had little doubt that Holman Greenhand would lead him truly, yet it was not until he saw the glowing mark upon the door that he was finally certain he had reached his destination. But instead of being relieved at being shown the way, Thorin was irritated that he had been lost in the first place and forced to ask for directions. After his meetings with the cantankerous Lobelia and the garrulous Holman, he was even more annoyed with Hobbits in general, and in no mood to be charitable. He scowled fiercely at the round green door marked with Gandalf's special rune.
"This had better be worth my trouble, Gandalf," he grumbled as he pounded loudly upon the door. "This hobbit of yours had better be worth it!"
"Gandalf! I thought you said this place would be easy to find. I lost my way -- twice!
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.