I caressed it in my hands. Slowly rubbing it, feeling the wood grain and the exquisite metal. I whispered, haltingly.
“My valuable… my valuablesss”
With a start I came to my senses and dropped the hammer I had been holding so close to my chest. I said aloud to myself, “What would Uncle Bile-Oh say? This is not the way of our race. We don’t work metal, we chill out and smoke stuff.” I shivered inwardly at the joy I had felt at the thought of using the hammer and shaping iron.
The usual older thoughts kept coming back to plague me. All around me I saw the quaint homely artifacts that filled up the home of a hobbit. The scrolls, the weed pipes, the golden thingamabobs. But that’s just it, wasn’t it? They did not feel quaint and homely to me. They felt alien and strange. Ever since I was small, the differences were always there. Subtle at first, glaring later.
I stepped out into the corridor where the ornamental mirror decorated the earthen wall. I peered at the portly figure looking back at me.
Round girth, clothed in traditional homespun hobbit clothing. Orange beard, rough and wiry, so long that it had to be tucked into the thin leather belt. A receding hairline, something very few hobbits had at the tender age of 61. Thin beady eyes, forever darting.
I ran a hand through the sparse hair on my head. The reflection in the mirror pushed his stubby, short fingers through his hair. No smile lit his face either.
I walked away from the mirror, towards the table, where my uncle had laid out the transcription I had to do for the day. I picked up the quill and dipped it in the inkpot. Slowly, laboriously, I began to trace out the text that my uncle had left behind, into the delicate vellum of the book that he was compiling. It was boring work, but it tended to take my mind off things.
While working my way through the word ‘Moron-Gothic’, my attention was distracted by a muffled crash. A great rumbling resounded, and the whole house started to shake with the impact. I couldn’t understand what was going on. Had a dragon landed on the ground above us? Uncle Bile-Oh had always told me to stay below ground if that ever happened.
I looked at the quill in my hands, and all of a sudden I was reminded of the futility of it all. I threw it down and with a twinkling in my eye, I climbed the ladder leading out of the house.
At the very top, I lifted the small iron hatch just a few inches so I could see what was going on outside. There was no dragon that I could see, though there seemed to be an awful lot of fire. The trees seemed like someone had cut them down real fast and then forgotten to take the lumber along. I’d probably have to clear that out too. I sighed, disappointed.
I looked around again. I could see one dressed like a prince running into the clearing, while on the far side, what seemed like an elf with no sense of shame whatsoever and some kind of creepy goblin in shiny flimsy armor. The armor caught my attention. Though it liked it was made of metal, it flowed and rippled like cloth. Like an instinct, I wanted to examine it, to see if it was the legend of … but now, I told myself, that legend has nothing to do with me.
In the meanwhile, the prince had displayed his usual gallantry. After having cloaked the elf (stupid princely modesty), he had challenged the goblin to battle. I braced myself and poked my head through the hatch with the standard hobbit greeting,
“Oye, what’s all this then?”