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The Shire Stories - The River Dryad Of Pepper Cotton

Sun 21 Apr 2024, 04:20

The Shire Stories - The River Dryad Of Pepper Cotton
A Solo Roleplaying (Strider Mode) Play Report - the One Ring RPG
By Arthur Dallas


- Holman Cotton, a male hobbit farmer and father of Tolman and Wilcombe Cotton. He lives at Bywater on the south lane. He is faithfull and rustic.
- Old Noakes, a male old hobbit. He is a farmer and keeper of hives of honey bees. He lives at Bywater on the south lane. He is honourable and fair-spoken.
- Ruthie Overwater. a female old hobbit. She lives at Bywater and can always be found in the Green Dragon Inn. She is a local gossip. She is keen-eyes and inquisitive.


Holman Cotton woke with the familiar ache in his heart, a dull pain that never quite faded, even after all these years. He lay still for a moment, staring up at the thatched roof of his hobbit hole, listening to the quiet sounds of his home. Pepper's absence was a void he could never fill, and he had never found the words to explain to his sons how she had slipped away from them.
Slipping out of bed with practiced quietness, Holman dressed in his simple farmer's attire and stepped out into the cool morning air. The mist hung low over the fields, cloaking the landscape in a soft haze. His thoughts turned to the wolf that had been spotted near their lands, a troubling presence that stirred a protective instinct within him.
Deciding to confront the threat head-on, Holman set off towards the edge of the Little Forest of Bywater, a stretch of trees and underbrush that bordered their property. The river murmured gently nearby, its peaceful melody a stark contrast to the tension that gripped Holman's heart.
As he walked along the familiar trail, his mind wandered back to happier times with Pepper, their laughter mingling with the rustle of leaves in his memories. But the present called him back, and he steeled himself for what lay ahead.
The forest was quiet, the only sounds the occasional chirp of a bird or the rustle of small creatures in the undergrowth. Holman's senses were on high alert, every crackle of a twig underfoot sending a jolt of adrenaline through him.
And then he saw it—a shadowy figure moving stealthily through the trees, its fur blending with the dappled sunlight filtering through the canopy. The wolf. Holman's jaw clenched as he watched, determination hardening his features.


Holman's heart races as he approaches the figure in the black coat near the small lake, his mind still reeling from the sight of what he thought was the wolf. As he draws closer, the mist swirls around them, lending an ethereal quality to the scene. "Hello there," Holman calls out tentatively, his voice carrying a mix of curiosity and caution.
The figure turns slowly, the hood of the coat obscuring her features at first. As she pushes back the hood, Holman's breath catches in his throat. It can't be, he thinks to himself, his heart pounding in his chest.
But there she stands, her face softened by the mist, yet undeniably familiar. "Pepper?" Holman whispers, disbelief and hope warring within him. The woman smiles gently, her eyes holding a depth of emotion that pierces through the mist. "Yes, my dear Holman," she replies softly. "It's me."
A great shudder passes through Holman, his knees growing weak as he falls to the ground, emotions overwhelming him. "It's impossible," he murmurs, tears welling in his eyes. "You're... you're here." Pepper steps closer, her hand reaching out to brush away Holman's tears. "I know you think of me every day," she says tenderly. "And that's why I've come back to you."
Holman pulls himself up slowly, his eyes never leaving Pepper's face. He wraps his arms around her in a tight embrace, his heart overflowing with a mix of joy, disbelief, and longing. "I've missed you so much," he whispers hoarsely.
Pepper strokes his hair soothingly, her voice a comforting presence in the misty air. "Rest now, Holman," she says. "I am with you. Come, let's go together far from The Shire." As Holman gathers his thoughts, a realization dawns on him. "But I can't leave," he says with a mixture of sadness and determination. "The children... they need me. No, I can't leave."
Pepper meets his gaze with understanding eyes, though there is a hint of sorrow in them. "The children will come join us later," she assures him. "I have something for you in the lake. I will always wait for you. You'll always find me here." Holman nods, feeling a sense of calm settle over him despite the whirlwind of emotions. "I'll come back," he promises, his gaze lingering on Pepper's form as she begins to fade into the mist.
As she disappears from view, Holman stands there for a moment, the weight of the moment heavy on his shoulders. With a deep breath, he turns and begins the journey back home, his mind filled with memories.


The morning sun casts a golden glow over the Shire as Holman Cotton sets out on his journey, his heart heavy with longing and determination. The mist from the previous day has dissipated.
But duty calls, and Holman first makes his way to the bustling village of Bywater to gather supplies at The Green Dragon Inn. As he enters the warm, welcoming atmosphere of the inn, he is greeted by familiar faces and the comforting aroma of freshly baked bread.
"Ah, Holman my boy, come sit with me," calls out Old Noakes from a corner table, his eyes twinkling with a mixture of kindness and wisdom. Holman nods gratefully and joins the older Hobbit, the weight of his thoughts evident in his eyes.
They share a meal of cheesy braised bread, the simple flavors offering a momentary distraction from the tumult of emotions swirling within Holman's heart. Old Noakes, ever observant, senses the turmoil within his young friend.
"You see, lad," Old Noakes begins in his gentle yet firm voice, "thoughts can be like chimeras—illusions that seem real but lead us astray." He pauses, studying Holman's reaction before continuing. "We've seen others lose themselves to such illusions in these parts. The Little Bywater Forest holds mysteries, and that lake... it's deeper than it appears."
Holman's eyes glisten with unshed tears as he nods slowly, the weight of Old Noakes' words settling upon him. "Yes, my children mean everything to me," he admits softly. "I'd do anything for them. But I can't shake this longing for Pepper." Tears finally spill down his cheeks, mingling with the remnants of his meal. Old Noakes places a comforting hand on Holman's shoulder, offering silent understanding and support.
Meanwhile, Old Ruthie Overwater, who had been listening quietly from the neighboring table, interjects with her own wisdom. "Illnesses of the mind are treacherous waters, my dears," she says, her eyes wise and knowing. "They can swallow us whole if we're not careful."
Holman listens intently, absorbing the wisdom of his elder Hobbits. With a deep breath, he wipes his tears and thanks Old Noakes and Ruthie for their words of caution and kindness.
Armed with provisions and newfound clarity, Holman sets off once more, his heart still heavy but his mind more attuned to the dangers of losing oneself to illusions and longings. Holman walks with a cautious step and a newfound resolve to protect not just his physical home but also his inner peace and sanity.

END OF EPISODE (In Adventuring Phase)
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Re: The Shire Stories - The River Dryad Of Pepper Cotton

Wed 24 Apr 2024, 10:09

Thanks for the two solo adventures over separate threads!

Is it worth noting some of the mechanics/key rolls at the end? Avoid breaking up the narrative, but can help show others how mechanics have influenced the story.
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Re: The Shire Stories - The River Dryad Of Pepper Cotton

Wed 24 Apr 2024, 16:39

Many thanks for your comment Harlath. I'm glad to see that you've seen all the game mechanics in my story. The shadow path is not an easy task to do and I wanted to tell a story that still holds up.

I am open to all comments. I am a Loremaster who always focuses more on the story than on the game mechanics. I leave the technical comments on the rules mechanisms for more experienced TOR loremasters. Harlath, if you want to comment on the ending to explain the dynamic I would find that very interesting, be my guest.

A quick note : when I wrote and made this story. I didn't want to answer and clarify everything. Is it in Holman Cotton's head or is it really a monster in the lake. I wanted to let the reader decide for themselves without giving an explanation....

P.S. in fact there are 3 stories out ... A Night At The Stone... The Honey Bees Incident... The River Dryad of Pepper Cotton... and several more stories in the works which will be released soon. Stay tuned and thanks again for the comment ....

Enjoy your games.

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