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The Four Houses
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What are the Houses?
The Four Houses are a coalition of families that banded together for security in times long past.

The calamities that beset Middle-Earth at the end of the second age did not end so suddenly as is believed today. In distant lands, far from the the Dark Tower of Barad-Dur, the tide of goblins fleeing the site of Sauron's defeat forced many to abandon their homes lest they be caught in the path of the panicked retreat. These disparate tribes of Elves, Dwarves and Men, faced with the threat of imminent destruction, began to move westward, making for the safety it was believed lay on the far side of the Misty Mountains.

The journey was difficult for the ill-prepared village folk. Though they never wholly overcame their racial prejudices, they began to rely more and more on each other as the weakest quickly died off. The cold and effort of the journey, combined with the goblin horde that was ever on their heels, soon left only a handful of survivors. By the time the refugees arrived in Rivendell, there was no more than a single family of each race.

Though the elves sympathized with their plight and offered them rest and fresh supplies, they were overburdened with their own problems to care for the refugees indefinitely. It was, of all people, a hobbit couple - Hoppin and Ophelia Took - who, stumbling upon the party on the streets of Bree, offered to provide homes and means of living to the families. The Tookish couple had been banished from the Shire - a rare occurrence, but not unheard of - and had made a fortune monopolizing the local pipeweed market. When Hoppin and his wife passed away ten years later, they left as their legacy four wealthy families, bound together with bonds of blood and gold.

Over the years the original refugees died off, but their families had by then branched off to create a large and wealthy trading cartel. Despite their success, the families maintained the traditions that their forefathers had created, and in time even a series of laws were created to structure and govern their society. These laws and traditions are venerated to this day, and form the basis of what is now called the kinship of the Four Houses.
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