For days now the Blue mountains have come closer and closer, an impressive mountain range even for one who has crossed the Misty Mountains. Culwic must be close, the dwarf thinks as he checks his map again. Culwic was the town mentioned in his uncle’s writings. It will be his best bet for finding his uncle. Sure pessimist would say that his uncle might no longer be alive, having succumbed to age or misfortune years ago, but he knows this not to be true. Even though no word of his passing would likely have found its way all the way to the Iron Hills, he is certain that his uncle is alive and well. For if he can survive such a long and perilous journey, then an expert outdoorsdwarf like him will have thrived.
Whistling and singing to himself, in a tune sure to frighten away all forms of wildlife (even a hungry bear would be driven away by this tone deaf dwarf) he pushes on.
After awhile he comes across and old path, and decides to follow it. An hour later he spots a man walking on another path, one that is newer and running parallel to his own. A few meters later the two join up, and Brólin finds himself walking alongside a man and large dog. No that is not right, the dwarf things, that is no dog. That is a HOUND, thats what that is.
“Hello Mr. Human” the dwarf finds himself saying. Its been a long time since he last talked to anyone else than himself, the trees or birds. “Hello Mr. Dwarf” the man replies in a quite tone. The two walk on for a little while, before the dwarf once again breaks the silence. “I’m on my way to the village of Culwic, you wouldn’t by any chance know if I am on the right path?” “I hope so, I’m heading there myself.” The man’s words masks the fact that he does not know where he is, it has been days since he realised he was hopelessly lost. His quest having forced into such foreign terrain that he has no knowledge, nor map of it. “Well I’m sure we’ll find it soon, according to my map it should be around here, somewhere close” the dwarf replies.
A few hours later they come upon an outpost, a man busy closing the shutters, grunting a hello when they they greet him. “I’m sorry to bother you mr. Human, could you possible tell me wether this is the road to Culwic?” The man looks at them, rubs his chin and utters: “Hmm Culwic…could be, could be…maybe if I had something to help me remember…” Catching on the dwarf hands him some tin pieces, and soon the two are on their way again, with the knowledge that they are heading the right way.
Some time later they come to a ferry crossing, the man now known to Brólin as Pike, pay their way across and two hours later, as the day is done, the two of them enter the village of Culwic.
Tired, hungry and convinced that it is the best place to search for information, the two head towards the inn. They arrive at the same time as some lumberjacks, who politely let them enter first.
The dwarf orders food for them and two pints of ale, asking Pike if he wants something to drink as well…
After finishing his first ale, Brólin asks the innkeeper if she perhaps have heard of his uncle, Báin. Her smile disappears and she looks worried, but before she can answer, one of the lumberjacks speaks up. He’s a young man, but with a worried look. “My name is Varian and I know Báin.” Brólin is delighted and immediately heads over to him: “You do? What luck! What can you tell me of my uncle?”
Varian tells his tell, how Báin came into the inn the other day, comepletely distraught, shaking and speaking incoherently about restless dead and a curse. He seemed old to Varian, so very old, whereas before he alwasy seemed to teem with life. He drank many a dram, but none seemed to calm him and the end he walked away, looking scared and tired, muttering that the curse would surely drestroy him.
Concerned Brólin jumps to his feet and implore Varian to take him to his uncle at once. With their food packed away, they set off. Pike joins them, apperantly concered for his new found travelling companions kin.
Sometime later they arrive at the old dwarfs home, a small stone structure by the river. The hold dwarf is slumped along the riverbed, washing for gold, but without any enthusiasm.
Brólin rushes to the uncle he never before has met, and as soon as he explains who he is the two embrace and a tear runs down the old dwarfs cheek. For a moment Varian sees his friend the way he was before he came frightened into town and it pleases him.
The old dwarf invites them in, to eat and rest and too talk. As the night is upon them the four enters the home of the dwarf, unknowing of what lies ahead for them.