Each autumn, something strange happens on the Brandywine. An outlandish ship heads upstream on a noble mission. ‘s the Ranger ship Gilminuial, sailing north to bring supplies for the Wardens of Annu… An u Mins.. Well, to a city up there, ye know. And each year on the same day, their ship goes wrecked on the shore of Brandywine, up north. And their precious cargo is scattered on the banks of the river. As mentioned, this happens each autumn on September 19. Now, have you ever wondered how strange that is? How can there be a mighty storm each year on that very same day, a storm that is strong enough to wreck a ship? I say there is more to this than we know. Let me tell you the Real Tale of the Shipwrecked Mariners. It all started in Buckland, at the local annual mushroom festival. ‘s like the Farmer’s Faire in Bywater, same sort of buzz around autumnal treats. The only difference is, they focus on mushrooms there. There are all sorts of mushroom dishes to try: fried shrooms, pies, stews, scones, sammiches, filled shrooms… In addition to the other entertainment, there are also mushroom competitions. The mushroom cultivators bring their crops for a review, wishing for a prize. It is a hard competition though, with Farmer Maggot as a strong competitor. But every now and then, surprises happen. There was a Bucklander lad who always wanted to win a prize at those competitions. After a few tries, he realised that competing with traditional mushrooms wouldn’t work. He needed some special mushrooms to win. But where can you find something special? He looked at the nearby forest… the Old Forest. A foolhardy lad that he was, he sneaked into the forest to search for some special shrooms. He decided to follow a stream so that he wouldn’t get lost that easily. Soon, he came to an old willow tree. And beneath the tree, he saw what he was looking for. Mushrooms in all colours possible stood there, calling him. Quickly, he started to pick them, trying not to get too close to the willow. Later, the lad hurried out from the forest, with his face paler than usual, but with a victorious smirk on his face. He started experiments with his mushrooms, cross-breeding them with usual, edible mushrooms. As a result, he got gleaming, colourful and extremely special mushrooms. “These shrooms will revolutionise mushroom cultivation!” he thought. “I will beat all other competitors, even Farmer Maggot!” When he brought the mushrooms to the festival, the other guests were not as impressed. “I bet those things are not even edible!” some muttered. “I like my munchrooms to be ordinary and comforting, not… gleaming at me!” The lad seemed a bit disappointed when no-one showed any interest in tasting his shrooms, but he didn’t really care. It was the judges he wanted to impress. After getting the prize, the mushrooms would sell like hot mushroom cakes in the whole Shire and beyond. But well, the judges didn’t seem impressed either. “This competition is for edible mushrooms, my dear”, said an old lady judge. “I am afraid that these shrooms suit better for illuminating yer burrow.” “But… they are edible!” the lad said. “You just need to cook them properly, ‘s all.” “Oh?” the judges muttered. “Well, please cook them for us then.” The hobbit lad took all his mushrooms and threw them straight into a nearby cookfire, eager to support his statements. The mushrooms started to sizzle, and a thick but colourful smoke started to rise from them. “Oh dear”, one of the judges managed to say, and then it all happened. Meanwhile, the Ranger ship had just reached the Shire and was sailing upstream. “Avast mateys!” Captain Aranhir shouted to his crew. “I think we can all take a small rest from our chores now. Take a nap and gather some strength for the hardest part of our journey.” “We’re in the Shire now, so it’s safe. Nothing bad can happen here.” Some famous last words there… Only the First Mate Argirion was left on the deck to be in control of the ship. Back in Buckland, the festival had gone mad as a Baggins. The burning mushrooms filled the air with a colourful fume that seemed to make everyone lose themselves. It seemed that things took different shapes in their eyes after inhaling the strange fumes. Hats looked like cakes, buttons like biscuits, goat droppings looked like… well, you can imagine surely. They did lose themselves, but not their appetites. Folks started chewing everything in their sight, edible or not. At some point, one guest saw the Range ship from the bank, sailing past. “Look! A giant mushroom ‘s floatin’ in the river!” Soon, all guests were heading towards the poor, unsuspecting ship. Some were on boats, some on logs, some on pie trays, armed with cutlery. That’s when First Mate Argirion saw them. “Shiver me timbers!” he shouted. “All hands and legs and whatnot on deck! We are under attack!” “What is it?” grumbled the Captain. “What on earth could attack us in the…” He was interrupted by a sound of crash. Then, another crash, and a dozen more. The ship started to rock. The captain looked down to see a swarm of fierce hobbits at the waterline ripping the ship to pieces. “Arrr! Ye stop right now, or we will…” Suddenly he heard a loud crack and shouting from beneath the deck. “There’s a hole!” “Quick! Full speed ahead! We got no time to spare!” the Captain shouted. “But our ship is leaking!” First Mate said. “Do as I say! We need to get out of here fast!” Captain replied. The ship speeded up, and the vicious hobbits were soon left behind. The First Mate wasn’t relieved yet though. “Captain, we shouldn’t go forward with this pace.” “All this sudden, colourful… mist makes it hard to see ahead…” “Shut up! I know what I am doing”, the Captain said. Also some famous last words there. “I have a bad feeling about this…” the First Mate said and then his face turned white. “Hey, what’s that thing ahead of us? Is it another ship?” “That’s no ship. It’s a bridge!” the Captain shrieked. I guess the longshanks didn’t realize that hobbit bridges are hobbit-sized bridges, not some monumental constructions. So you can imagine what happened when that high speed ship reached the Brandywine bridge. No, it couldn’t take a dive and go beneath the bridge. Part of the ship was crashed, and badly. The supplies streamed out and got scattered, and the First Mate Argirion flew overboard. The ship managed to sail a bit further to the north, were it was wrecked on the riverbank. But what happened to the hobbits? They recovered from their craziness, not being able to remember anything about the incident. All they knew that those magic mushrooms had made the festival tastier than ever, even though they got some stomach ache afterwards. So they decided that on every festival they should burn some of those glowing mushrooms to get more out of the celebrations. And each year, the passing mariners are in peril. Being defeated by a dozen hobbits is no thing to be proud of, so that’s why they are blaming everything on a “storm”. Well, believe what you will! But I say those longshanks never learn from their mistakes. I myself don’t trust ships, unless they are friendships.