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Jabit walked east down the riverside path until reaching a sign pointing north, Paetok. A brief sigh left him as he turned north onto the narrow path which led him into a dense forest. Leaving the Raehl behind him was a difficult task, the old Wisebeard’s words seemed so comforting yet the symbol pressed into that glass vial worried Jabit. And the hobbits in the tavern also seemed worried about the fated family. What about the young Wisebeard? His mother hadn’t mentioned a second hobbit, was he too in danger?

The sound of the river faded in minutes and crickets began there chants as night time was underway. The Messenger’s jovial whistling ceased when he gazed at the half moon above. He realized he wasn’t even tired this night, or even the night before. He had been traveling the south for two days, but it wasn't until now that he even questioned his lack of sleep. Perhaps his mission kept him alert. Even now after the vial had been delivered he felt an uneasiness deep within. He would have to ignore the lack of rest for now, it was to his benefit if he wanted to reach his home before the storm laid waste to the land.

He stuck to the path for awhile before moving a few yards into the forest to keep away from highwaymen. But the beasts which roamed the forests at night also concerned him. He had no weapons to protect himself, his small size was all he could depend on. Nearly an hour had passed, and the crackling of thunder in the distance was no good sign.

The road to the left of him was familiar. Judging by warped trees every now and then he could tell Paetok was close. If he could stay on course, he could be in the warmth of his home in another hour or so. He wanted this journey to be over, it would be the last time he traveled without his caravan. The memories of his home were faint, which struck him as odd. For a moment he questioned how long he had been traveling the southlands. How long has it been since he had seen his mother? Days and nights seemed like ages. He hoped this next leg of his travel would be easier than the first. But that hope was tested when the sounds of metal clashing echoed through the forest.

What sounded like swords clanging and the smell of food gave him no idea as to what was unfolding ahead. He lowered his figure to the ground and crept from tree to tree. As he moved north through bushes and trees the sounds of battle and the scent of cooked meat grew heavy. his stubby fingers held the rigid bark of a tall oak tree as he slowly peeked his head out. In a brief clearing waves of fire danced within a circle of stones, a rotisserie was propped above it. Three tents stood feet from the fire. It was a camp for sure.

On the rotisserie a skinned bore was still cooking and next to it were two men fighting. Each of them wore fur pelts over their shoulders, and piecemeal armor of leather and iron. As their swords collided Jabit realized another man was behind the fire sitting on a broken log. He too had a pelt upon his shoulders, but his armor was lacking and beside him was a longbow. The contents of his wineskin soaked the ground below as he laughed at the combatants.

The End

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