The Darkening of Mirkwood
"Adversity is also an opportunity to grow."
Before she was born, Brünhild’s parents travelled down the rivers, through the forests, over the mountains, deep into foreign lands. They went in search of traders, weavers, trappers, and suppliers of goods that they could sell in Esgaroth. By the time they started a family, they had enough suppliers and shippers that they could manage their textile business without having to travel very often or very far. Their business flourished.
When Brünhild was little, her parents told her stories of their early years of travel. She wasn’t sure if the tall tales were true—forests so dark the sun never touched the ground or spiders the size of horses. She loved hearing about the native lands of elves and dwarves. She wanted to see the ruins of ages past. It all sounded far more interesting than selling cloth and furs.
Then Smaug destroyed Esgaroth, and the family fortune went up in smoke. Exotic cloth, sturdy dwarven fabric, elven silk, fine-woven wool of the hobbits, and the rich furs from the men of the west burned brilliantly when the family warehouse went up in a blaze.
Esgaroth was saved by two things. The first was the drive and solidarity of the people to rebuild. The second was its fantastic location, set strategically between the Woodland Realm, the Kingdom under the Mountain, and the city of Dale. There is no place better for trade. Today Esgaroth is a thriving port, measuring almost thrice the size of the town that Smaug destroyed.
It took three years for the Mercer family to get back on their feet. Brünhild worked hard, helping her parents restore their trading business. After a year of slowly rising profits, Brünhild told her parents she would soon be off to explore the world. With loving support (and a bit of envy) they gave their blessing. “Go and find your adventure.”