The Road Less Traveled: Part 1 – A Trip Through the Brandywood

Anabel Sagewood had just eaten a meager breakfast of cheese and bread. She stood by her fireplace smoking some Roper’s Twist pipeweed while she awaited the foredawn. Today she was going on a trip that she had been looking forward to for sometime. She only hoped that no one would try to rope her into a job or a quest while she traveled through Bree.

She saddled up her horse, Greasewood and made ready to leave her home in the south of Bree-land.

She made her way through the neighborhood and down the Old East Road that ran along the south end of the Midgewater Marshes. Dawn began to break behind her as she walked west toward Bree-town.

On the road, she came across the captain, Toman. He was a proud man of Rohan and had assisted herself and the captain at Ost Guruth, Winters, with protecting a trade shipment from the ruined fortress to Bree-town. He was making for Rivendell and so they spoke only briefly.

As she neared the South Gate of Bree-town, a young hobbit-lass approached and greeted her. It is a known fact among those who know Anabel Sagewood that she does not take very well to the other races of Middle-earth. However, of any of the other races besides Man, she takes the best liking to hobbits. In her words, “What’s not to like about a people whose sole interests are eating, drinking and smoking?”.

Sagewood and the hobbit made chat as they strode through the streets of Bree. In those beginning hours of the morning it is quite busy as everyone sets off to do their tasks for the day.

Eventually she made it out of Bree-town and back to the open roads. She exhaled a sigh of relief that none of her typical clients had stopped her to ask of her something. She was well known throughout Bree-land as a hunter of some skill and because of that was frequently asked to to acquire meats and hides from various animals in the surrounding lands.

She took the Greenway north, heading towards the Thornley compound and the Everclear Lakes. As she walked north along the fading road, she remembered when she had first visited the Everclear lakes, years ago.

Today as she rounded the edge of the Everclear Lakes, she noticed a newer structure. It’s quite strange, she thought. It looks like some kind of dock. But… why a dock in such a small lake? She shrugged and continued on, over lush green hills and through tall swaying trees.

Then she came to the Starmere Lake, a deep pool with tiny islands nestled in a valley in the Northern Bree-fields. Ruins dotted the countryside here and she always enjoyed exploring this area. She made her way down the valley’s edge and through the fording where the lake’s tributary river fed into. On Greasewood, she climbed the other side and began to remember another trip she had taken into these hills. One of the men at a camp along the Great East Road had asked her to collect bear meat. The Brandywood was full of them and made for an easy hunt.

After more walking through the thick underbrush and tall pinetrees, Sagewood came to Ost Barandor. It was once a fort or a castle, so she speculated. It was now crumbling apart and pieces of it were strewn across the bottom of the cliff that it sat on.

She peered out from the overlook across the lands below. From on high she could see the farms further east and the Old Forest to the south. It was shaping up to be a very misty morning; perfect for the activity she had planned.

She continued on, urging Greasewood into a gallop. Sometimes she loved nothing more than going for a run through the forests or the meadows of Bree-land, watching the grass and the trees fly swiftly past.

Finally, she arrived at her destination. Girdley Island. It was a little known place to most Bree-landers. The only other people she had encountered here were hobbits of Buckland, out for the occasional summer fishing trip. Today she planned on doing the same.

The mournful weather dissuaded others from seeking this far-flung place, and she loved the peace in that. Sagewood happily took out her fishingpole and began to enjoy the day…

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