After working in the mess hall for many months and playing a show every night at the Pony, Humpadink decided it was time to move on. Something in him just was not satisfied with the life of a minstrel in Bree.
We was not, even in the least bit, ungrateful for the chances that he had. it was just that although he had met many people and learned much of the men of Bree and the heritage of it’s hospitality. And he had made good money cooking and cleaning in the mess hall and catering a few parties and feasts for the townsfolk.
His notoriety for his work was increasing and he was getting more calls for singing and storytelling at the Pony. No, he couldn’t deny that the life he had built in Bree in only a few months had become quite comfortable. But just as he had done in the Shire, he grew uncomfortable, the days seemed long and the same, thought there were many friends and good times, there seemed to be a call, like something greater was somewhere else. A feeling as if he was resisting, working hard to continue to do nothing.
At length he decided to move on. to head east, more adventure would make for even greater fireside stories. H cooked up some trail food and packed for the road. he decided Rivendell was his destination. He had heard and sang many things about The Valley, but he felt as if he should see it with his own eyes to truly know what it was like.
He left out the south Bree gate at dawn, The air was crisp and cool against his face and the traveling was good, He took the longer road south along the boarder of the Marshes and avoided the swamp there. He stopped for a morning snack and marveled at the ruins in the swamp there, as the mists dissipated in the late morning sun. Before long he continued, he was about half way and he aimed to be at the Forsaken Inn before nightfall.
The rest of the road went smoothly though there was some many warning about the dangers of the southern road from the men of Bree there did not seem to many things amiss.
About dinnertime The forsaken inn came into view. Though it really was more of a barn with a broken roof, Humpadink felt that it was still better than sleeping under the open sky. He found the people welcoming enough once he started playing music. Though no one spoke and the light of the fire barley reached the edge of the hearth, the music seemed to warm the place and brighten the hearts and faces.
The Night wore on and though for the larger part of the evening one could see the stars through the roof, the late watches brought veiled stars and an unsettling chill. Humpadink stayed the night in one of the rooms, complimentary in exchange for his performance. He tried as hard as he could but he could not fall asleep. it didn’t seem to make a difference how many covers he was laying in, he could not get warm. And the whole night he felt as if there was something in the room. He slept with the room dimly lit by a candle. Every time his eyelids dropped e felt thought he heard a whisper, indistinct and breathy, distant, yet in his ear at the same time.
The night wore on like this, a moment came where Humpadink closed his eyes completely for one moment until a deep whisper seemed to brush over him as a icy wind and the light blew out. He felt frozen solid, he tried to move but he felt numb. He stayed still, it was the only thing he could do. After what felt like hours, he slowly turned his head to face the middle of the room. The darkness was deep, he couldn’t see his own hand in front of his face.
He thought it was curious that anyone would stay at this inn at all, and that he was a fool to think this was a better place to stay than the wild or a barn. At least the barn would have been warmer, warmer, he felt even if it was raining. He shifted his weight slowly. First, so he lay on his back but this made him feel too exposed, he turned again. peering deep into the darkness expecting to see something staring back at him in the dark.
He decided to try to re-light his candle but as he reached for it he noticed that it was not there. The nightstand was also gone. The floor felt far away he reached down to his pack and reached further but his hand came up wet. Alarmed and discuted he decided to try to stand up and find a light. e lay there for one minute longer building up his courage and preparing himself for what he is about to see.
he straitened out and slowly swung his legs out over the abyss where the floor should have been. He sat up and leaned over to look where he would land. with a deep but silent breath he leaned forward.