Honestly not completely certain when I first became aware of my companion. I remember the feeling of someone watching me as I checked the last of my traps one late spring morning. At first I wasn’t even sure if it was more than paranoia and shadows… I had been out there by myself a very long time. Being a tracker of no small skill I scouted around the area and found nothing other than the usual small animal paths and tracks, For the next several days, however, the feeling returned as I wandered my territory and persisted in growing ever stronger. Finally my friend revealed himself one night as I sat in front of my fire… strange that someone could creep up on me so easily but I suppose I was a bit out of it. All I know is one moment I was alone and the next a dwarf was seated across from me with a giant mischievous grin.

Ursus the too tall and only slightly smarter than the overgrown rats he trapped was lucky someone like me took pity enough on him to bother hanging around. Poor sap was going all buggy out there by himself gibbering away to nothing at all. What this fellow needed was a kick to the bottom and a push in the direction of some excitement, or at least some good beer, and leave it up to ole Smokey to push a fellow more than they will likely ever appreciate.

For the next 7 or 8 days Smokey (as I later discovered his name to be) was a silent companion – appearing when I was most tired or when I was inattentive and woolgathering. In appearance he was a rather average dwarf – almost the very idea of one if I had to say. After a time we began to converse more and more.

It has been a much less lonely life being a trapper with the added companionship over the last couple of years. I only worry that Smokey has on occasion shown a very casual cruelty and a desire for chaos and destruction. I have never been the sort for needless conflict but he seems to crave it. More than once in town I found myself fighting his fights after some imagined slight or another – do wish he would pick fights with slightly smaller adversaries…

As dull as the time in the forest was I had to work extra hard when we went into towns for sale days to increase the level of excitement. I have yet to find a barman that I can’t incite into leaping across a bar with knife or shattered bottle in hand.Sure Ursus took his lumps, but I could tell he was having fun – no matter how he protested.

We went on like this for some time but I guess it was only a matter of time before the world eventually found me in my refuge from the bustle. One day as we returned to our camp after visiting the local village to sell our furs Smokey announced he had received news that his Brother had gone missing in the vicinity of the Long March and that he intended to go in search for either rescue or revenge. I couldn’t let my companion undertake this one his own so off we went. It has been some years since I last offered up my bow and tracking skills for this sort of service but a ranger rarely has trouble finding a spot in a group looking for adventure or trouble.

Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and I had to get us out of that damp old cabin. In the wide world there were fights to be had and women to be won and neither of these things were going to happen dredging damp rodents out of rivers. I needed to provide a good reason of course but my over-sized fellow being the sentimental sort was easy to get moving with a story of lost relations. Do I have a missing Brother? Well we are all brothers and sisters in some regard and I have certainly never met my blood brothers so it was true enough when this dwarf wanted to get moving. So on to the Long Marches we go where I hear treasure and life’s stories await!


The Long Marches swdunlop Daedelus77