Once upon a time, in a world that is far away, existing timelessly far away from our own, there lived a girl. A Human girl who wasn’t entirely human, who’s father was very tall and broad and spent many days away, his skin like leather and his teeth yellow with pipeweed, chipped with chewing on tough and spoiled foods.
Her mother was tall, perhaps not as tall or quite as broad as her very human father, her mothers eyes were big and red like two ripe apples, her body was made of tougher and older things than humans. Her mother had two hands like a man, though longer and sharper, and two feet, though furrier and quicker. Her mother was devil like in her sharp toothed smiles and her wild movements and habits. Her mother woke with the cold and the moon, and when the dark rose she would thrive. The girls mother was something different, something called a changeling.
Not the kind you may have heard of, still unnerving and pretty things that men such as the girls’ father perversely long for, nor are they evil clones that replace stolen children and loved ones.
Changelings in middle earth are faeries. They are fleeting, sneaky, hairy creatures that bring misfortune. They are as wild as the wilds and as strange as the unknown.
So, the girl was born to a man who was sick with love, and the Changeling who he could bring out of the wilds, but he couldn’t take the wild out of. So perhaps, while unfortunate, it was really no surprise that when the babe was born in the very early hours of an unexpected spring frost, the mother wandered out into the forest with the girl clutched to her breast, filled with a primal urge to hunt and hunt for her spawn. It was then that the mother, normally agile and unaffected by the harsh elements, the mother who was still very weakened by the birth, slipped. Ice is normal in the cold, and it is common for one to slip on ice, and fall, and tumble, and hit her head very hard on a rock by a frozen river-bank, and for ones vision to blur as blood escapes her head quickly and heavily.
So when the father discovered his love had fallen to mother nature, his babe asleep and cold, no one thought much of anything when he took the child from the fallow lands and farms, to the closest town, just two days away on horse back. No one was surprised when he quietly handed the bundle of his little girl over to the nice young innkeepers one dark eve and rode off, out of town and the lantern he carried slowly disappearing into the inky night sky, the sound of horse shoes eventually drowned out by the night.
So the child grew up, for 9 years in a town called Bree. Bree is an in-between, sad sort of place for lost people, travelers, and drunkards. It’s muddy and foggy. It is a town of men. But she was not entirely a man. Her eyes were big and brown, and her cheeks were pudgy like any human child, but she was always lanky and had more paws than hands, her teeth sharp and legs quick and tall. The child grew up in the prancing pony, pretending to clean dirtied floors with water and rags and listening with an incurable hunger to stories of travel, adventure, great roads and great lands, and Dwarves and Elves. As soon as the girl could walk, she was running out into the dreary woods just outside of Bree and pretending to fight Dragons and Balrogs. As soon as the girl could talk, she was babbling a million questions to travelers and anyone who would tell her of the world outside. As soon as she learned to read and write from a scribe who was passing through and took a great deal of pity on her, she was writing down tips for traveling and survival from the patrons. As soon as she cut her hair entirely too short to be ladylike, and turned her old blanket into a cloak with the sewing she had unwillingly learned, and guiltily snatched a few coppers from the register, she was on her way at 9 years old.
Of course, she many have gotten robbed a couple times, and stabbed in the arm once, and gotten into fights an uncountable number of times, but she was happy being wild, in her old green cloak and stained grey pants and sturdy brown boots, hickory colored hair falling in messy, thick tufts that stood up every-which-way and only falling a few inches past her ears, awkward enlarged raccoon paws like her mother, she was content with only her bag and unorganized papers and whatever she could find to eat.
And, eventually the creature bought a pair of deer leather gloves with saved up coins, so the villages of men wouldn’t turn her away. And eventually, the creature contentedly went about her days, wandering the world and great east road like all the travelers did and finding wonderful adventures of her own. And maybe, she was happy being known as a strange, tall, young boy who told stories of his great adventures to the children of the people who let him have a bowl of stew and sleep in their cottage for the night. And maybe she was happy.
But of course, that isn’t even the beginning my friends.
Lets see then, where does this start? Ah, yes, about 6 years later, that girl was still on the road, and not planning on leaving its beauty anytime soon. She had seen mountains, oceans, forests, and met all sorts of lovely and not so lovely folk. 6 years later, the girl still had a flat enough chest and still cut her hair and still wore a faded green, big, baggy cloak and her sturdy brown boots, and had a weatherproofed rucksack made out of the same stuff as her trusty gloves, with some coppers, a couple silvers, a journal, and some bread she had picked up that morning from Bree. 6 years later just before dawn, she didn’t plan to meet a thoughtful looking old fellow while her gloves were off and she was washing her paws in the river. He was very curious of her, with a big grey beard, and a big grey hat, and a big gray cloak, and a big old staff and pipe. She was certainly used to unexpectedly meeting new people and making friends, but eventually and always departing to fuel her never-ending wanderlust.
So she walked and talked with an old wizard, and told stories to him, and he told stories just as captivating in return. She walked next to him, chatting merrily for a couple hours as they passed through a pretty green place she had never been before, but it was so very early and no-one was out yet. As the two began walking up hills and winding paths, small and cautious people peered out of the windows and crossed to the other sides of dirt roads when the pair came close.
When they came across a very put together looking home, Gandalf, the wizard, stopped abruptly in front of it. On the bench sat one of the little judgmental creatures, smoking a wooden pipe and looking less peaceful and more bewildered once he took notice of the grey old wizard and the scruffy looking human lad standing at his front gate.
“Good Morning.” The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins was his name, greeted in surprise.
“What do you mean? Do you mean to wish me a good morning, or do you mean it is a good morning whether I want it or not,” Gandalf raised one bushy brow, “ Or perhaps you mean to say you feel good on this particular morning, or you are simply stating it is a morning to be good on, hm?”
“All of them at once, I suppose.” Bilbo replied.
“Can I help you?” Bilbo asked, looking utterly lost already.
“That remains to be seen.” Gandalf said, and paused as if deep in thought.
“I’m looking for someone to share in an adventure.”
The lad glanced at Bilbo, blinked, and grinned big, displaying all his teeth. Very sharp looking.
Bilbo shifted his eyes back to Gandalf, who looked at him with a calculating expression, and narrowed, expectant eyes.