The two of them moved through the cozy tunnels of the hobbit hole. The wood floors were polished, and the walls were made of a smooth eggshell painted plaster trimmed with cherry molding. Ornate throw rugs stretched through the hallways and the ticking of a grandfather clock resonated softly. He moved behind his small niece, her arms clenched tight to the books as she strolled past cabinets of porcelain nick-nacks and colorful indoor plants. She stopped at a wooden door, old blue paint flaking and chipping off of the oak beneath. An iron ring was fastened for a handle, Barris leaned his weight against it and shoved the door open. The room was nearly vacant aside from some spare household tools and a wooden trunk occupying the corner. Barris walked to the opposite side of the room and placed his crate on the dusty floor. Marigold followed suit before snatching a book from the pile curiously.
“Oooh! Can I read this one?” She said as she moved her face closer to it.
“There’s more than that Marie, you can look at them when we’re done.” Barris replied.
Marigold jumped up from the floor and followed him outside. They spent another hour moving the precious books from his caravan to the old storage room. The sun was shining above the trees and the garden hill was fully awake. The savory smell of home fries and freshly seasoned eggs filled the hobbit hole of Gilly Greeneburrow. Barris placed the last of the books on the floor and moved to the only free corner of the room. His niece was looking through the texts quietly when Barris spoke.
“Did you find the one you wish to read?”
“Yep! Most of them are empty or boring so it didn’t take long. I wanna read this one.” She said while holding out an old ragged leather book. Barris looked at the cover from across the room, in deep red ink it read: Sacred Lands, By The Fourth Valorhorn. The old carpenter heard the name before — Valorhorn — and quickly gestured to see it. Marigold saw the perplexed look upon her uncle’s face, even through the thick brown beard he wore. She handed it to him, and he flipped it’s cover open.
“You know this one Uncle Barris? Looks like someone was reading it so it must be good!” She laughed, but Barris was unnervingly serious, he turned the pages until he reached where the red ribbon marker was placed. The silence grew as he read on, paragraphs of texts finally led him to two revealing words, uncharted lands.
“Balamor…” Barris whispered
The clock in the other room began to ring and Barris slowly handed the book back to his niece.
“You okay uncle?” She said over the sound of the clock.
The seventh bell struck and the ticking resumed,
“Breakfast!” Gilly’s voice yelled out from the kitchen.
Barris turned to Marigold and motioned her to the kitchen.
“I’m alright, let’s go eat.”