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Axbridge

Axbridge and Axley Hall in the Southfarthing

Axbridge was a small village marking the crossing of the River Fayne by the Redway, the old Dwarven road from Tharbad into Sîrgala . The road lost its red stone paving as it descended from Sarn Gap in the White Downs into the marshy river bottoms, but the old causeway , anchored by stone pillars and built of enchanted oaken planks , still kept the traveler dry in all but the highest floods . The ax symbol burned into important segments of the bridge dated back hundreds of years. The timbers of the causeway did not rot , and its stone anchors neither sank nor swayed .

Axbridge in TA 1640

Axbridge2

Axbridge map

The boggy nature of its ground had long kept Axbridge smaller than Sackville (Burh Sachem) , its companion village farther up the Fayne . However, the thugs running the two hamlets shared a rough tradition and a continuing animosity toward the Hobbits swarming into the country . A clan of Dunnish immigrants , the Dreub-dign , controled this most important crossroads. Nominally appointed by the Prince to keep the bridge and its approaches free of flood-debris and properly graded , they charged a "toll " for any man or Hobbit who crossed it without an armed guard . Cluad , the clan tark or chieftain ,was in league with Molloye of Buhr Sachem and Mag Durkin of Longbottom , over the divide on the River Reedly . Acting in concert , they hoped to re-establish the rule of Men in the area .

The Road Wardens

Axbridge serves as the headquarters for an unlikely band of mercenaries , one that travelers on the Kings' Highways are likely to encounter more than once . Amalin's Road Wardens , grubby thouh they might be , consider themselves elite among caravansaries , several steps above the usual sell-sword . Amalin , a middle-aged Cardolannon , has a quick wit and manners changeable to suit any gathering . His farm , Axley Hall , is set behind a hil l overlooking Axbridge from the north . It is modest to outside view , quite comfortable , even sumptuous when a guest is allowed inside . The captain of the Road Wardens prefers to keep his wealth and power out of sight. Less than a handful of his men are visible in Axbridge on a given day ; few in Sîrgala realize that Amalin' s scattered warriors could , if gathered , outnumber the King' s garrison in the province . An enterprising fellow , Amalin makes it his business to know all there is to know about the roads from Bree to the Carras (Caras Celairnen) to Metraith . His contacts include merchants , armorers , stablemasters , and sutlers , to keep his men supplied , and oxherds, cartwrights, blacksmiths , and healers who could be of use to the Wardens' patrons . Where supply and goods are not within easy reach , the Road Wardens have secret caches hidden in forests and caves . Amalin's scouts gather tidings from informants in a hundred villages and steadings ; local officials are bribed where that is the custom and befriended where it is not. The roads that Amalin' s "lads " patrol are safe , as travel goes in Eriador . Most sell-swords would eagerly work here , if a livable wage could be had . Amalin , who has sufficient wealth to offer such a wage , bargains for the pick of the mercenary manpower in Arthedain and Cardolan . His men are brighter and better disciplined than the thugs collected in other companies . They avoid the petty brutalities common among mercenaries ; in exchange , local reeves and shirriffs allow them free reign to practice their petty vices . Amalin makes it a point to provide them with no colors other than a blue silk scarf , worn around the neck in cold weather and the face when troubled by the dust of the trail . Amalin' s lads say they need no coat of arms ; this point of distinction also keeps them from seeming a threat to the Arthadan and Cardolandren men-at-arms they mix with everywhere in their territory . Amalin's loyalties are , first , to himself , second , to his clients , and third , to the Arthadan and Cardolandren lords who make his comfortable position possible . He works for anyone' s gold , but takes no contract that could endanger his position . Information is one of the products Amalin sells. Prince Minastir' s senior knights talk to him regularly , as do representatives of Lord Tarma and , in polite disguise , agents of Angmar . Entertained royally at Axley Hall , these guests respect the Wardens' professional integrity , within its bounds , and seek to turn Amalin' s resources , particularly the two-hundred plus warriors at his command , to their advantage .

Axbridge in TA 3018

A prosperous village in the independent Shire, never able to overtake Sackville or Longbottom in importance. The old Dwarven pillars of the bridge over the Fayne still stand, but most of the surrounding river bottom has been diked and drained. The bridgekeeper, Wag Muncy, is the first Hobbit to blame Lotho Sackville-Baggins for the shortages of foodstuffs in the Southfarthing in T.A.3018. For his troubles, he winds up in the Lockholes. If anyone speaks to him before or during the Sharkey crisis, he can give them the numbers of wagons involved, the cargoes carried, and the names of most of the Hobbits involved. Axbridge is also notable as one of the Shire's few centers of scholarship. Members of the gentry with an interest in learning founded the Axbridge Formidable Alliance several centuries ago with the intention of improving the quality of conversation in their drawing rooms. The "Axbridgers " and their rivals , the Norwesters of Gamwich and the Ivies of Whitfurrows, keep collections of tomes, scrolls, and other mathoms in their private libraries and a few village museums. If their trust can be gained, they represent the best source of ancient lore between Lindon and Rivendell. The "Axfords" are leery of outsiders and deal only with folk of "quality". Others are referred to their solicitors, Goodbody and Sons, in Longbottom.

Inhabitants

1640: Amalin Cluad

3019: Wag Muncy


References

  • MERP:the Shire
  • MERP:Arnor
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