An Evening with the Fellowship
You walk down a narrow, wooded path in the growing twilight. Above stars blink to life in a pale purple sky. A dove coos somewhere in the trees overhead, and you can hear the rush of water in the distance.
As you walk, the fresh, cold scent of a running river swirls around you. The sound of it flowing grows louder and louder as the night grows darker, and through the trees you can just make out its bubbling current as it cascades over the hills down into the valley. Above the river rise the spires of a great hall surrounded by covered walkways and arched porticos, its pillars slender and pale as young birches. A bridge crosses the water leading up to this stately but still welcoming home, and you pass over it, pausing momentarily to take in the water tumbling over rocks beneath you.
At the door, an elf in silver robes smiles and bows in greeting. He bids you enter. The fire in the great hall is lit and the songs are about to begin. Tomorrow a great council has been called, a meeting where the fate of the world will be decided, but now there is good company, delicious food, and warm fires.
Come and rest awhile.
The elf opens the tall doors to the great hall. A long table covered in food and drink stretches before you. The smell of roasted meats, fresh-baked bread, and succulent fruits wafts towards you. Already some are eating and drinking around the table, but many others are scattered throughout the hall, chatting and laughing in knots of conversation. In one corner a musician strums a gentle melody while elves sit in rapt attention.
Your guide passes you a silver goblet of the finest craftsmanship, its stem twined with vines and flowers. He offers you a place at the table, but you would rather sit in the corner and watch for a while. Understanding, he leads you to a cushioned couch where you settle.
Near the fire, a group of happy halflings surrounds a tall old man in a peaked cap. He listens with a smile to their animated tale, laughing at their innocent jokes and cheerful good humor. One of the halflings raises his goblet and toasts to their recently finished journey and adventures to come.
Your eyes sweep across the room and take in the rest of the company. A dark-haired man with a weathered but noble face stands with an elegant elven maid, his eyes upon her, his expression attentive. At his side is the ornate hilt of an ancient blade.
At the table, a gathering of dwarves feast upon the offered food, sharing news of their distant mountain halls with any who would listen. Their beards are braided, their axes sharp and polished beside them. A proud warrior listens to their talk, stroking the horn he carries at his side, his gaze sharp, his expression that of impatience.
So many folk have journeyed far to this hall. What has drawn them here to this place of peace and rest?
As you listen to the music, the elf from the door returns carrying a plate of food that he offers you. You thank him and ask if there is a quiet place you can rest for a while. He leads you to a private sitting room and places the plate upon a small table. He lights a candle, and the golden glow spreads across the room like warm water flowing over you. The flame flickers and dances, and you sit beside it, watching. Here you will rest for tomorrow the true adventure begins.