Thursday, December 18, 2014

Homesteads and Hospitality

If you've come a-visiting to our home on 2 Chalk Road, Cotstream Shire, there's no doubt the one thing you've noticed; From the nooks on the bookshelves to the proud frames on each wall, and yes, even cluttering over tabletops - our home is full of maps! Indeed! No finer collection this side of the Brandywine either, or so I hear.

Our love of maps is founded in the grain of our beings, for so many of us are of that noble profession - Adventurer! Traveler! Explorer!  We love discovering new lands and placing our foot along the untrodden paths of Middle Earth, uncovering the most ancient of tales and learning the histories of the realm (some more personal than others.) But none so passionate as our beloved kinship leader, Skalithor Mountainzephyr. Most of our maps have been drawn by his hand, for he has journeyed far and wide in exploration. It is said he has traveled the land from the Blue Mountains to the old and evil ruins in Southern Mirkwood, and crossed the vast distance from the peaks of the Misty Mountains to the foothills of the Great White Mountains in Gondor! He has walked in every land and charted many of the deep caverns of Middle Earth, such as the dreadful pit of Goblin Town and the unspeakable depths of Khazad-dûm. Imagine that!

I, myself, am the daughter of a Great Adventurer and Story Teller, and it has been my great pleasure in recent years to visit many of the old haunts from my father's amazing stories. But, of course, that is a written work of its own that I daren't spoil, because it's not yet done!  

So, you would like to know a thing or two about these maps of ours? Well, I suppose the best place to start would be right here, on our homestead.
The Mallorn Children of the Fourth Age are a pleasant group of people, if I should say so, and very fortunate to own a figurative palace in the hillsides of the Shire.  From our kinship home to our individual estates, this little corner - here, I've marked it for you with this blue chalk - is where all these adventurers come home to rest after a long journey across the lands of Middle Earth.  (And yes, I see you're wondering about the red dabs, well those are the only neighbors we have for miles, and as I'm awfully fond of visiting, I have marked down their names and addresses to send them wrapped gifts plus the occasional home-baked pie.)

At any rate, anyone is welcome to visit whenever occasion permits! We might not always be home, of course, but the doors to the grand Kindred Hole are ever open to travelers in need of a place to rest for the night. And, I might mention, there will always be a certain somebody there to make sure you are well looked after. But remember, he is usually quite shy you know, so don't be offended if he doesn't introduce himself right away.

 Should you like a tour of the place? I'll gladly show you around. Please, come into the foyer.

All of our guests are required to have their names written in that book in the corner, just for the house records which are kept and maintained by the Book-Keeper. Usually you will find him at his desk here, but of course it is his lunch hour just now. He probably went in after lighting the fireplace... it does seem to be a bit chilly tonight. Here, please make yourself comfortable and warm up while I write our names in. It shouldn't take a moment.

Now then, you look hungry. Come in and have a bite. 

The tables are always set with a feast fit for a king! Mmmmm... Smell that freshly baked bread and cheese, how delightful!
My cousin Lilliway is a masterful cook, she is always bringing meals over to feed the company. Of course, Boppin also makes regular visits, as she lives just down the hill, and she  always brings the Book-Keeper his daily meals.

However, if it is a feast of the mind you should prefer instead, come step into our library.

It is said by our Kinship Leader that there is only one thing worth more than the charts and maps of the realm, and that is knowledge safely kept and preserved. Wisdom is a priceless treasure.  So it is that not only our library, but also our home is filled with many of the great tales of ages past. A marvelous collection! This room is dedicated to gathering volumes of history and the tales so dear to us all. Though, should you seek more modern works, you may certainly find them here too!

Among them all though, I believe it is this shelf here that holds many of the kindred's favorites!
Countless are the story-lovers who have sat down in this corner to pore over these exact same books! And several who have taken up residence here have also begun to add to our collection with their own works - personal histories, and stories picked up while in their travels. But I mustn't forget that we also have quite a few creative minds among us as well! I, myself, have taken up writing a fantasy novel, and there are plenty written by our members to keep anyone entertained!  

Haha! I'm rambling now I'm sure, but anyway you wanted to see the maps.

In the main room you'll find the "Charting Corner" where navigational tomes are kept and many maps to chart courses of exploration and intrigue.
You might have noticed the ceiling in the Grand Hole is square, and the beams are of a sturdy fashion, well that is because it was designed by a dwarf (or so I am told) but as you can see here, the windows are on this side of the house in good hobbit fashion. I think it provides the charting corner splendid lighting in the daytime myself, which is quite agreeable as many people spend hours with the maps that lay before you.

Come over this way, I want to show you one of my favorite places in the Grand Hole. You look about ready to sit down anyway.

 I've found that there's nothing quite like a homely cozy-corner such as this after a long day's journey. Here is a comfy chair to rest in, and all the best to eat and drink. If you should like to read while you sit, there are good books here too!
I think of all the corners in the Grand Hole, this is one I like the best. I have so many fond memories of the good company here, all seated on the floor about the fire, sharing amazing stories of our adventures! This is where ballads have been composed, songs sung, and dances danced - What wonderful times!

Hm? Oh, you're wondering what is down the hall. Of course.

"The Great Divide." A pathway hither and thither if you will. Both ways lead down, though one down further than the other. You will be carefully watched should you venture down this way, but now that you mention it, I simply must show you what lies down the left hall!

  Come down this way, it's deep, but not too much so. It will be worth it, I assure you!

I call it the "Great Golden Hall" because it is so long. But look there, can you already see it? I personally think it very beautiful.
The kinship leader had that, (at the end down there, don't you see it?) commissioned from pure gold to depict the Dwarf city of Gondamon. I have heard him say that of all the places he's been, Gondamon is the one place he loves the most. I'm not sure exactly why, but the work is lovely, don't you think?

Here you are, the treasure room!

 Being adventurers, you must imagine how much we come by, but many of the people I have met here are well known across the land.
Here is where all our treasures are stowed for safe keeping.
That map there I hear depicts the lands where our kinship earned their first fortune! Then over there is a picture of heraldry - a rich heritage representing  so many of us who have come to call the Grand Hole our home!

But, you shouldn't ask about the chicken and the egg just yet... I wouldn't know how to explain it. Suffice it to say that my cousin Lilliway had something to do with that.

 Anyway, have you enjoyed your tour? You really should visit again sometime, I'm sure the others would be glad to meet you! And you really are welcome to stay as long as you'd like, just - Hm? What's that?  You mean down the other hall?

 Oh, yes. Well, the only ones who go down that hall are those that have serious business to discuss.

Some have called it the basement, others call it the "Dungeon".... But I shan't be taking you down there tonight. Oh dear though - is that light?  It must be. I've talked the night away about the Grand Hole when I promised to tell you about our maps. My oh my, you must forgive me, I get to rambling like this sometimes and forget when to stop.
I'm sure you have other places to be, a fellow adventurer such as yourself can never stay too long, but I hope you go feeling well rested after your stay. You're welcome back anytime!

Goodbye now! Come again soon!
~Maeflower Tooke