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Uncomfortably Numb

by Ulfban on Jan 12, 2017 at 07:17 PM}
Bree was a dizzying place. Little Ulfa and her mother had moved into town a few months ago but still the child had found no peers to play with. Certainly there were other children her age, but the noise and the bustle of Bree was overwhelming for her and she was never quite able to bring herself to play tag in the streets, or kick the can in the courtyards.
Her mother, though, was back home again. Old friends, familiar haunts, and the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood were around every corner. It pained her to see her only daughter having trouble fitting in. At first she tried to help little Ulfa make friends and taught her the games of her own childhood. It was all for naught. Her odd girl would rather slip away into quiet corners or climb one of the few trees in town. Realizing that Ulfa may have her features but possessed more than a bit of her fathers spirit, her mother took her down to the South Gate to the hunters lodge.
The gruff men and women who frequented the place bothered her mother but she had heard from her husband that the odd hobbit who lived there was trustworthy. Mr Took turned out to be as cheerful and happy to meet Ulfa and her mother as her mother was relieved to find someone in Bree Town who knew her husband.
It wasn't long before the young girl was bringing home fish, rabbits, or grouse every day to help feed her family. Her mother had taken a job waitressing but it didn't put as much food on the table as they had been used to. Her father would stop by every month or so for a weekend, but always he went back to their little home in the far chetwood. Little by little though, his visits became less frequent. He was always tired and haggard, happy to see his family, yes, but exhausted from his trials in the wilderness. His wife tried everything she could think of to keep him from going back out, but he always did.
Meanwhile little Ulfa had taken the name the dwarf brothers gave her after the attack, Ulfban, and begun ranging further and further afield. In winter she would run a trap line, selling the furs to house her mother. She kept what meat they needed and sold the rest. Her skills as a hunter grew to the point she was engaged to bring in wild boar, or bear meat for feasts and holidays. Her favorite past time was fishing. Nothing was more relaxing than dozing on a grassy bank while your worm wriggled about on the end of the line.
One day, unable to bear the noise and of town, Ulfban asked her mother "shall we go visit father? I haven't seen him all season and it might be a nice surprise for him." Her mother refused. In her heart she knew he was dead, but she couldn't bear to tell her little girl that. "You go ahead honey, I have to work."
Ulfban knew there was no changing her mind so simply shrugged and paused to give her mother a kiss and a hug before heading out the door. Ten days later she paused to look in horror on the home she hadn't seen in six years.
It was destroyed. Not one stone remained upon another. Hurrying through the woods she came upon the remains of the little building she had been raised in and wept bitter tears for the savage destruction of all her childhood memories, for the years she spent living here were her favorite. There the burned remains of her parents bed. Here the melted ruins of a glass window, something her mother had been so proud to have. And there, the twisted, ruined, metal bracings the dwarf brothers had put on the door just before she left. A caution to protect her father.
After a good, hard, cry the young woman raised up and took control of herself. She cast about for clues, tracks, anything to tell the tale of what had happened here. But found nothing. The attack had been months ago and winters wrath had ruined all remaining evidence.
Quickly she retreated to the small cave her father had hidden them in after the first attack. There were a few things, old and mouldy, covered in dust. The knives her father had given her and her mother the night of the Guaredain attack, still bright in their sheaths. A few bits of rusted metal and weather ruined leather. Ulfban collapsed into tears. Her father was gone.
She spent a week scouring the land round about. But winter had done its work. There was nothing remaining to show her the truth. Finally, in a last, desperate attempt to learn something, she scratched a simple note onto a small bit of parchment. In truth she carried it to start fires with, but today it had a more urgent task. Urgent but patient, "What happened here? What happened to my Father ~U."
Catefully folding it over on itself she placed the note in her tinder box and tied an oiled leather about it. Burying it underneath what remained of her ancestral hearth she carefully scratched a large ~U into the stone she covered it with. Hoping that was enough Ulfban turned towards Bree...
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