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Meanderings by josh m. shepherd: #1: The Hobbit
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The Misty Mountains, home to an adventure.It sounded like a mere change in the wind to those within the Mountain fortress. Then, a loud crash. Were their eyes outside, the landing of a red-golden winged creature would be visible, spouting flame and approaching the Mountain's gate: a dragon. Inhabitants of the fortress had no such foresight; a few were curious about the commotion. Opening the gate, they unwittingly gave entrance to the dragon.

Thousands died by fire; yet some knew a secret way out and rushed there. Five figures, singed and sooty, later emerged from a forest. Two bearded elders and three children had made it out—all five stout and stocky, resembling hobbits, only more burly and fierce. They were Dwarves.

Gandalf thinks about what he hears.Our study of Middle-earth continues with this prologue to a momentous Quest. Thorin Oakenshield, a dwarf, first recounted the tale above to the wizard Gandalf during an unexpected meeting. Dark thoughts had been on the wizard's mind, for whispers of a rising darkness had reached his ears. Gandalf knew that Mount Mordor's Sauron and this dragon in the Dwarves' Mountain were working in tandem; what if both struck at once? Even the Elves in Rivendell would not withstand the attack. It would be folly, the wizard knew, to muster an army and take back the Dwarves' home by force. It must be done discreetly.

Gandalf pays a visit to Bilbo.Dwarves and mountains rolled around in Gandalf's head until a revelation hit. Was he not in the Shire to visit his old friend, a hobbit? The portly Bilbo Baggins is quite exemplary of his race, reminding one of everything comfortable and lazy they've ever seen. Somehow the musing of the wizard disregarded all this as he appeared at Bilbo's hobbit-hole door with the words, "I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging..." (The Hobbit).

Bilbo writes There and Back Again."There and Back Again," authored by Bilbo himself, tells what follows. In arriving at its purpose, this essay will abridge that work. Swayed by Gandalf's magic and the songs of 13 Dwarves (including Thorin) who arrive at his hole, Bilbo and 14 cohorts (the dwarves plus the wizard) set out to recover the Mountain. The company narrowly escapes capture by ugly, giant trolls and a stay at Rivendell assuages their long-felt hunger. Upon leaving, the Misty Mountains lie before them. A cave gives the journeyers a night's shelter from the cold.

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