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Hadrell's Journal

25th Ringare. morning's early hours amidst the ruins of Tharbad

I have risen early to write. The bed is too soft after so many nights on the road. My bedchamber is plush and well appointed, and clearly intended for far more grander visitors than I. My friends and I are taking our rest in the Kings House, a fine fortified building in the heart of the ruins of Tharbad.

Yesterday went swiftly. My day began with prayers to the Maker, before asking for his power to heal the still suffering Moth. I took my time and the warmth came easily to my hands. Gethin prepared breakfast and was on his way swiftly. He headed back to the caves from which we had emerged, and I warned him to be wary of the beast that still dwelt within. His choice of route back to Larrach Dunnain was undoubtedly affected by Erethor's admission of pursuit on the road. He had spied a mob, still four or five miles behind us, and fortunately on foot.

We knew that we would have to move on with some haste. If we were to keep off the road we would be difficult to locate in this craggy land, but our speed would be much reduced. We decided to take the road, and covered the distance with some rapidity, skirting the two towns that were upon our route. It was unlikely that our welcome in either would have been warm. It had rained most of the morning, and our tracks were very clear on the muddy ground. In order to throw off our pursuers, we travelled in single file, Erethor staying some distance behind and covering our tracks. For this he used his wiles and cunning, his finely honed ranger skills, and a very large branch from a fir tree.

While we circled round the second town Jack, my pony, was suddenly seized with fear, rising up on his hind legs and throwing me from the saddle. I fell heavily, but took no injury. Before me in the road was a snake. Not overly large and of no real danger. I am sure that it was as frightened as Jack. Moth called out that its kind was known to her and that it was venomous. Although I had initially drawn a weapon, this was no foe, merely an animal awakened untimely. I strode around it and ran to catch Jack. We proceeded back toward the road, and the startled snake disappeared into the undergrowth unharmed.

That was as eventful as our journey became. When we eventually stopped to eat, and rest the horses, we were only 10 miles or so from our destination. Yawinawin took the opportunity to sing for us. She has an enchanting voice. We reached Tharbad before dark and passed through the south gates. The city, or what remains of it, lies upon both banks of the river Gwathlo, and also upon an island in the middle of the stream. There were guards and craftsmen aplenty, but no common folk yet dwell here.

From the history that Commander Cillis has related the city sufferred greatly in the last centuries of the third age. Only now is the city being rebuilt after the great flood of 2912 TA that left the city desolate. We met the commander in the Kings House, beyond further gates and further guards. He is a tall soldier, one armed, a veteran of war. The house must have once been a splendour, and even now with the evident damage from past floods it is a fair sight. The room in which we were greeted by the Commander was panelled and gilted.

During the evening, and we were given a fine meal. We dined not only with the Commander, but also with Hearon, the chief architect overseeing the rebuilding of the city. I talked with him at length. He seemed delighted in my interest and related how the two bridges, the heart of Tharbad, had been rebuilt to their original design. I look forward to seeing the workmanship at close hand later this morning. As we crossed the stonework seemed good, but I doubt it is a match for the craft of the Khazad under the watchful eye of the Maker. Many other things were spoken of - Anuminas the ruined city, the best route to take to reach its broken walls, and the recent failure of the law in Larrach Dunnain.

Later Yawinawin played and sang for the pleasure of our host. In the wilds I had listened close and known that here was an accomplished bard. But yestereve she captivated us all. Her voice was strong yet light and clear, her fingertips drawing such sounds from the harp with their caress. And then she sang a song I knew. I could not help myself, the words sprang to my lips and I joined her in song. There was a fear that my voice would betray me as it is want to do, but the song sprang strong and clear from me. Erethor I am sure believed it a trick, or that I had been bewitched. I was, foolishly, filled with pride. Yet, one day, when I sing in the Great Hall of the Lonely Mountain, bathed in the light of the Arkenstone, that will be the voice my kindred will hear.

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