Time With Maps by Linaewen

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Merry looked around the vast library with keen interest.  "There sure are a lot of books and scrolls here!" he exclaimed, marveling.  "I'm certain to find what I need to help me prepare for the journey.  Now if I can just find where they keep the maps..."

A beautifully detailed map hanging on the far wall caught his eye and he hurried over to inspect it.

This is just what I need, he thought.  But it's too high for me to get a good look at it!  Maybe if I pull a chair over, I can see better."

As Merry searched around him for an accessible chair or stool, he realized there was someone in the library with him.  A tall Elf sat at a desk nearby, quill in hand and a large piece of parchment before him.  When he saw that Merry had noticed him, he carefully set down his quill and rose from his seat.

"I'm sorry!" stammered Merry.  "Did I disturb your work?  I didn't mean to be loud or anything..."

"You have not disturbed me," the Elf said reassuringly.  "My work is not pressing.  In any case, it is my pleasure to put my work aside to assist you.  I am Erestor, counsellor of the Lord Elrond.  The contents of this library are well known to me.  Do you need help finding something here in the archive?  Please tell me what you need and I will help you find it."

"I'm interested in maps," Merry answered happily.  "And any books or scrolls that talk about the lands to the south.  I want to learn as much as I can about the lands where Frodo will be journeying on his quest."

"Ah, I see!  Are you one of the companions assigned to travel with him?"

"Well, no... not for certain, anyway," Merry admitted.  "No one's been assigned yet, but I'm going with him for sure!  They'll not stop me from going with him!  He'll need my help on the way, and I'm good at things like organizing and planning, and finding my way around.  That's why I need to find all the maps and information I can, to be ready for anything."

Erestor nodded slowly.  "Being ready for anything is very important on a long journey, and I commend you for your desire to study the likely paths you will take on this venture.  Time spent with maps is time spent wisely, I am wont to say.  Come, I will show you what you wish to see, and what you need for your quest.  I know all the best maps as well as the journals of those who have traveled and prepared them.  Some of the more detailed maps in this archive were even prepared by me, from reports given by scouts as well as from my own travels."

"Did you make that map over there on the wall?" Merry said in awe, waving vaguely behind him.  "The one I was trying to get a closer look at?"

"I did indeed," Erestor smiled.  "Let us get it down from the wall and spread it out over there on that long table.  It is a good one to start with as you begin your studies.  We will look at it together and I will explain some of the notes I have made on it.  Afterwards, there are other maps I know will prove useful to you; I can make a list of them and show you how to find them in the archive so that you can study whenever you find the time."

"That's exactly what I was hoping for!" Merry exclaimed.  "Thank you so much!"

"I am happy to be of service to you, and through you, to Frodo and the other companions who make the journey," Erestor replied with a bow.  "May your study of my maps be the first step in a quest successfully completed!"




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