As I feared, she's still on our side. When I arrive she starts talking about some plan to poison the bandit dogs. Her thinking is that if I can take some poison and drop it into the dog's food supply, we should be able to get rid of their entire brood of warg-dogs without having to track them down and kill each one personally. Ellie even knows a man right here in town who can provide the poison.
"But... I already killed the dogs," I protest.
"Well, ye killed the mother, but you'll still need to deal with the pups they've raised."
"So why was poisoning the food supply the SECOND item on your to-do list?"
"I don't follow."
"Did the mother dog eat? Like, food? Sometimes?"
"Oh yes. Like a beast possessed."
"So if I were to, say, poison the dog's food supply, wouldn't that have killed her?"
"Well, no need to do that now since you dealt with her directly," Ellie says matter-of-factly.
"That's what I'm saying, see... Look. Nevermind. The point is, I hate you."
On the upside, using poison is going to be a huge labor-saving effort. This is so much better than hacking through diseased creatures and crawling through godforsaken ruins every time something needs done. Even better is that Leecher Cartwell is right around the corner! I don't even have to go far for his help.
Cartwell is the town herbalist and medicine man, according to how humans do things. He makes his living by making medicines, poultices, and other useful concoctions. He's a pleasant enough fellow. Slightly shy and quiet as Humans go, and he neglects to offer me tea despite having a fresh pot of it boiling away on the stove, but he's earnest and eager to help. He listens quietly while I explain our plans.
He's not eager to concoct poison, but bless his soul, he's willing to do what he can. "If this will help make things right, then I will help," he says in his low murmuring voice, "I think I know just the thing! I'll need fresh honey, blackwort root, and several red berries."
"Wonderful!" I say cheerily. "Go ahead. I don't mind waiting."
I let him do his herbalist business while I help myself to a cup of his tea. It would feel a little ungainly sitting down in one of his enormous chairs, so I take my tea standing. I hope he doesn't think of this as a rudeness. In the Shire it's rude to not offer people tea if you have some on hand, so if I am being a little rude it sort of evens things out. At any rate, it's very nice to meet a professional who isn't going to use me as his personal errand-runner or assassin. I begin to hum a merry tune as I drink. This feels rather like being in the Shire for once. An oversized Shire where the robbers outnumber the townspeople and the tea tastes like bilge water, but the Shire nonetheless.