A Selection of Journal Entries by Adellwise Fairford I met two men in Michel Delving today. I have never seen men in Michel Delving (I asked Da, and he said he hasn't seen them there since he and Ma were young), and I was quite surprised to see them. From the looks others were giving them, I'm sure they were surprised as well. I finished my purchases from the market, and with a treat or two to take home for Iridacia and Forten, and... out of curiosity I decided to watch them. I'm sure Ma would disapprove, but they were quite the sight--Two great, big men in armor and with swords and all manner of oddity about them. I sat down at the hill, where they stood smoking pipes at the bottom and speaking in hushed tones, and I watched them. I suppose, in hindsight, I was rather obvious about my interest. One of them, the tallest of the two (and I use that term broadly, as they were both quite tall) snuffed out his pipe and came to me smiling widely and kindly. They greeted me like proper folk, they did. I'd never seen a thing like that. And then one of them, his name I think was Wulgan, asked if I had ever sought adventure. Now, I've never been one to lie. I was completely honest when I told him that I was quite the adventurer! I have even been out of the Shire once, when I was younger and Uncle took Iridacia and I with him to Combe to get some of Missy's special fertilizer. (I had seen men from afar then.) They said I was a 'special little halfling' and they wondered if I might like to come with them on an adventure. I... do not hold a great deal of trust in men, but the offer was so enticing and they seemed so kind, that I agreed to meet them in one of the private rooms of the Bird and Baby at once. We settled down round the table, drinks in hand, which the quiet one, Taliun I believe, graciously paid for. I cannot describe accurately how I felt, or why I was so quick to trust these strangers. I think it was due in part to the older man. He reminded me so much of Uncle, with his quiet smile and the ease with which he carried himself, not hurried but most assured, as if he knew his place in the world and nothing could go wrong from it. Strange, that I should see Uncle so clearly in a Man. I did not feel at ease with Taliun. He was quiet, and held a smirk and a tenseness to his body that drew to the weapons at his side. I fear him, but I do not fear Wulgan. They asked me if I felt drawn from the Shire, and to be honest I have. I have always dreamed of places outside this land. There are many tales I've heard from Gaffer Bruckbog, of a tall and fair and eternal people and of brave men and battles on sprawling lands and of dwarves in distant mountains who have never seen the light of day. I answered that I had desired such a thing, and the kindly man smiled and said he saw a gift in me, a gift each of his company possessed. I don't know what he meant by that, but it sounded so important and grand! He spoke of lost treasures and long journeys—journeys that I might go on should I like. I agreed in the end, and quickly might I add, much to the ire of Forten when I returned to the Farm. They walked with me back to the market, and there they helped me purchase what they thought I might need for the journey. There was not a selection as they would have liked in the marketplace, but I don’t think we were lacking, necessarily. Tufael’s company had stopped in Michel Delving just a few days earlier, and Wulgan found a suitable uniform among the wares still left behind and urged me to read up on survival in the wilds. I do worry about the wilds, but I know that Mister Whitburrow has quite a few books on the woods and the creatures that inhabit them. It cannot be much worse than what I have read in his library! Wulgan asked if I had ever used a sword before. I told him I hadn't, of course, but I had some experience with tools and knives from my work. He laughed—I am not sure why—and handed me one of the blades from a rack on the wall of the vending hall and asked me to show him what I could do. Taliun seemed to finally show some life, as he began to laugh loudly when I fought my great imaginary foe and for a moment Wulgan looked frightened, though I suspect that had more to do with my aim than any ferocity on my part (though I would like to imagine it did). We came to an end of our time soon after. They told me that if I still desired to embark with them, I should meet them in Bree as soon as I might, and they exited the hall and I could see them mount great horses through the window and ride to the east toward Waymeet. I have only told Forten of this. Upon returning, I acted as normal until I could get him alone. Iridacia left to shuffle through her sweets in the garden, and our parents in the sitting room, and Forten and I stole away to the warmth of the kitchen. He listened with attention, though I could not miss the agitation that passed through his normally peaceful features. He didn't speak until I was finished and had showed him the gifts from Wulgan and Taliun. He agreed that I was right not to tell the others, at least. Ma and Da might go into a panic, and with Da's health as it is, I can scarcely imagine a good outcome. And Sis would be quick to tell them, I know, or ask to come along. That's not to say Forten didn't threaten just that (the telling of my parents, not coming along). "Like old mad Baggins," he said, and I was at once offended and inspired. "Perhaps I am!" I said. "And perhaps we are!" He did not like the inclusion, I could tell by the way his face reddened. "No, no! I will not be roped into this one! I see what you are trying!" He is not so easily swayed as he was when we were children, and that has much to do with the fire, which I have known for years must have dried the last drop of adventurous blood in his veins. But he did agree not to tell anyone, and I should like to think the extra greens he spirited away at supper time were for me and my journey. I think I shall begin preparing tomorrow.