Filgo the Hobbit
Filgo the hobbit was adventurous, as hobbits go. Like most hobbits, as a child he loved to listen to Old Bilbo’s tales of goblins and dragons, trolls and elves. Unlike most hobbits, he never grew out of it.
Bilbo had quite literally disappeared, taking his stories, after his eleventeenth birthday. Not long after, other hobbits vanished as well: Frodo Baggins, Bilbo’s heir; Pippin Took, a friend of Frodo; and Meriadoc Brandybuck, also known as Merry. One or two people claimed to have seen the trio sneaking through the countryside after they left, but no one claimed to know where they were going. Filgo couldn’t help but wonder on what wonderful adventure they had departed.
Matters didn’t improve at all after the invasion of the Shire by the Boss and his Men. The normally tranquil life in the countryside was undone by months of oppression by the foul Big Folk, and Filgo found himself wishing more and more to leave the Shire and be away from the evils that had taken it over.
By Filgo’s age of forty, hobbits were expected to be upstanding citizens whose greatest adventures consisted of visiting a relative on the other side of the Shire. However, even those timid, appropriate, trips were impossible thanks to the travel limitations imposed by the cruel Men that now ruled the Shire.
Even so, news did filter in to the Shire, albeit slowly and in small pieces. Gathering together these little tidbits of information, Filgo learned that a great battle had been fought somewhere to the east. However, he couldn’t learn who had won the battle, or even what armies had been fighting. All of the tales shared one consistent fact, though: hobbits were involved.
He knew of only four hobbits that had left the Shire for more than a week, and those four were still absent.
The next day, when Men had begun felling trees along the main road through the Shire, Filgo had had enough. Currently, living in the Shire was unpleasant at best, and the situation was made worse by the absence of Bilbo and his stories. Frodo had occasionally spun a tale or two of his own, one learned, no doubt, from Bilbo, but he was gone as well.
Into a small backpack he stuffed a change of clothing, a few days’ worth of food, and a fair supply of pipeweed. Into his pockets he put his favorite pipe, some bread and pastries, and a few coins. Picking up his walking stick (modeled after his idol Bilbo’s), he closed his small round door behind him and walked to the east.
It was early in the morning, an hour or two before noon, and he was still a little sleepy. Nevertheless, he made good time and reached the Brandywine Bridge just before sundown.
The bridge was gated and guarded now, but Filgo had little trouble climbing down the bank of the river and back up again on the other side of the gate. He walked another mile before making a small fire, wrapped himself in his comfortable cloak, and drifted slowly to sleep, dreaming of elves.
Everyone had always insisted that Bilbo’s stories were imaginative and fanciful, but never true. How could something as large as a troll exist? And dragons? If there were dragons why hadn’t anyone but Bilbo ever seen one? Bilbo was half-mad, they said, and the vanishing act at his own birthday party proved it.
But Filgo couldn’t help but believe there was some aspect of truth behind the tales. Bilbo seemed so insistent that he had experienced each and every thing he described, and his eyes inevitably took on a wistful gleam whenever he told the stories of his adventures so many years before.
So he had set out on this trip, an adventure of his very own, to see with his own eyes the things Bilbo had described.
Time passed too swiftly for Filgo’s liking. The further east he walked from the Brandywine River, the more interesting things he found. On the first day he began noticing new varieties of trees and animals. During the second day he passed a few Big Folk on the road: not cruel, menacing people like those who had taken over the Shire, but friendly, smiling people who tipped their hats and said hello.
Then he came to Bree! What an exciting place that was! Humans and hobbits living together with a strange combination of customs. There was a wonderful inn called the Prancing Pony where drink, food, and gossip were all consumed in great quantities. When the people there learned he was from the Shire he got a few uneasy glances, but the patrons warmed up to him soon enough. The innkeeper, a portly name by the name of Barliman Butterbur, even provided a room with hobbit-sized beds!
Filgo spent an entire day (and two nights) in Bree, wandering the streets and talking happily with the residents. After his second night, though, he got the distinct impression that some of the people in the town thought it was past time for him to be leaving, although he couldn’t understand why a city so large would be distrustful of strangers. Regardless, no one had ever doubted the existence of Bree, and he knew his goal lay much further to the east. After restocking his supply of food (actually packing much more this time, knowing as he did that it would be a long time before he could purchase more), he left Bree and took the road once more.
Still, the days passed too quickly. After his breakfasts, he was always on the road by noon and never stopped until a couple hours before sundown, but even then he seemed to be making only slow progress. Nevertheless, he continued on his way.
He passed rolling fields that stretched away for miles, thick wooded areas through which he couldn’t see far even in daylight, and rocky areas with very little vegetation.
After a week his stock of food began to run dangerously low. There was still clean water to be found periodically, but even by limiting himself to five meals a day it would have been impossible for him to carry enough food for an extended trip.
So, he was forced to eliminate one of his breakfasts and depend on only four meager meals to get him through his journey. He did find some berry patches along the road on occasion, and plucked each of them clean before moving along. Still, the berries from only a half-dozen plants were hardly enough to satisfy his appetite, so he also set snares at night to catch rabbits to stew for the next day’s supper.
Many days into his journey, he sat one night stewing a prize of three fat hares by a warm little blaze made on the top of a small hill just to the side of the road. He had intended to save the catch for the next evening’s supper, but his hunger overpowered him and he decided he should eat them immediately to avoid the risk of starvation during the night. While he waited for his meal to cook, he thought about his adventure. It had already been two weeks, and he hadn’t seen a sign of elves, goblins, dragons, or even dwarves! Reluctantly, he admitted to himself that Old Bilbo had misled him, just as everyone had said. Surely if there were such things as trolls and talking spiders he would have met one by now!
He ate his light supper morosely, and decided that in the morning he would change direction and begin to work his way back home. He knew he would be mocked for believing enough in Bilbo’s stories to actually go look for proof of them, but he resigned himself to the ridicule.
Polishing off the last of his stew, he heard a dull thumping sound, like someone dropping rocks onto soft earth, at the base of his hill. A low, booming voice, somehow a whisper but painfully loud at the same time, reached his ears.
“I think it’s up here. Someone’s cooking.”
An equally loud whisper responded to the first. “I smell it. Let’s sneak up there and see what it is!”
Filgo wondered how any creature making that much noise could dream of sneaking up on a rock, let alone a living creature, as the thumping sounds came slowly up the hill. He wondered who in the world would be out in the dark like that. But he hadn’t talked to anyone in more than a week, and he was feeling a little lonely.
What appeared to be the trunk of a small tree stepped into the firelight, accompanied by another of the thumps. A second tree arrived next to the first. Then two more. Filgo thought it was odd that the trees wore shoes, even though the shoes were crudely made of animal furs. He allowed his eyes to work their way up the trunks, and was shocked to discover that each pair joined together and continued upward, almost like a person’s legs attached at the waist!
Raising his eyes even further, he realized that there was even more fur covering these parts as well. Still higher up, he saw angular jaws, broken yellow teeth, long bulbous noses, and large round eyes overshadowed by deep brows. These were not trees at all!
Filgo reviewed all of Old Bilbo’s stories in his mind as fast as he could, and finally came up with a solution. The ancient hobbit was right all along! These were trolls. They DID exist!
He smiled as he looked the trolls over more carefully, glad that he had the opportunity to see the stories in the flesh. For some reason, they were both staring at him. One of them was carrying a massive tree branch, wielded like a club. The other one carried only a large sack.
The troll with the sack bent to look at him, and Filgo returned the gaze, still smiling. Suddenly, the troll pulled the sack down over Filgo’s head and yanked it (and Filgo) back into the air. Filgo thought the bag smelled putrid, and wondered why the trolls hadn’t thought to wash it recently.
The troll with the branch spoke, not in a whisper this time but rather in an excited, thunderous voice that nearly ruptured Filgo’s eardrums. “Did you see that? Can you believe it?” He jumped into the air and the entire top of the hill shuddered when he landed, sending embers from Filgo’s fire into the air.
“I did! I caught it too, Bob!” The other troll’s voice was even louder, and Filgo clasped his hands to his ears to ease the pain. “It’s a hobbit!”
Bob shook his head ponderously back and forth. “I can’t believe it! They DO exist! Fred, we should tell your cousin Bill. He never believed in hobbits!”
“I haven’t heard from Bill since he ran off with those two lowlifes Bert and Tom. They said they had some great plan to get rich by robbing people on the road. I don’t even know where they are right now.”
The two trolls began walking back to their cave, miles to the north. Fred spoke again. “I’m glad it made that fire for us, or we never would have found it.”
Bob nodded in agreement. “Yeah, and I’m glad he was cooking. Otherwise I would have thought it was one of those nasty little Rangers and left.”
Inside the sack, Filgo passed out from the volume of their voices. This was probably lucky for him, for he was never aware of the next exchange between the trolls, or indeed, anything at all after that.
“Fred, do you think they really taste like chicken?”
“I don’t know Bob, but I hope so. I’ve never had a chicken this big before. There’s enough for both of us to have a good bite!”
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DISCLAIMER: The following material is based on the Arda presented by MUME rather than Tolkein. As a result, there may be large differences between the two. Please forgive the author his (rather extravagant) poetic license.
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