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Hadrell's Journal

29th Ringare. of torn canvas, teeth in the dark and.

Much has happened since last I wrote and I know not where to begin. There has been misfortune and battle and Moth becomes ever more sullen. It is as if she is turning in upon herself and denying all that would give her pleasure, shutting out those who would call her friend and comrade. I take solace that the journey continues and we have not yet lost sight of our goal. I regret though that, ever more greatly, I have become removed from Aule's grace. I pray still for the opportunity to atone.

The Barrow Downs lie before us; seemingly endless rolling green hills dotted with the tombs of ancient Kings of Men. It is a place of fear and ill omen. We stand merely at its edges, poised to strike across it as the daylight breaks, eager, lest we have to spend a night amongst its horrors. Those horrors are all to clear to me now. Last night, shortly before making camp, I saw before me upon the road a shade or spirit. A pale creature who passed and was gone. But its memory remains. The dead mayhaps are restless. We made camp then among the ruins of an old stone house. and Moth whiled away the little remaining daylight recreating a mosaic of an unknown ancient beast. She seems at times to dwell too much on that which has passed. She seeks her visions, her windows of history. Her path lies before her, yet her eyes are turned aside.

Tonight we have two tents to rest our bones in. We were recently reduced to one, after a small mishap. I am still not proficient with their construction and managed to tear a rent in the canvas. This I have now mended, using thonging and sewing techniques better suited perhaps for leatherwork. Still, though not pretty, the mend will hold. As for its resistance to the all to common storms of this area, that is yet to be seen. A covering of wax, or even a smear of goosefat would help I feel. I will see what can be done when we reach Bree.

The last town that we passed through was called Metraith, the day before yesterday. It was clearly once a great city, now hardly more than a village amongst the ruins. Once he had purchased an additional waterskin, and whilst Yawinawin and Moth browsed in the few shops, Erethor told me a little of the area. North and west of Tharbad, the river being the border, the area is called Cardolan; Mithraith was its capital. It's people are hillmen, though I noticed no difference in their colouring or stature from the Dunnish folk. Erethor did not warn me that rain and storm are Cardolan's standard weather, or so it is beginning to seem.

I have called to Aule to protect us as we venture north, without success. I know I must re-enter His grace before I can hope for any boon, even were it only to protect my comrades. If the Downs are as evil as their reputation, I will find far too many ways to prove my faith.

I thank the Maker that in combat he still gifts me with the strength to strike down my enemies. He has not altogether lost sight of his follower. The recent battle, the evening of the 27th, was little more than a skirmish. A pack of perhaps nine hungry dogs raced into the camp at dusk, two days travel from Tharbad. The only casualty was the packhorse, who has since, with Erethor's aid, recovered rapidly. We have become aware upon this journey that Erethor has a gift for horses, that he understands them, and bonds with them. He has a great respect for them, and it seems they for him. I was previously unaware, however, that his abilities also covered the healing of horses. Had I not been assured otherwise I would have assumed that the packmule's spirit had already fled its torn flesh. Now it stands with the others in the camp, seeking mutual shelter from the wind. It is perhaps still a little weak, but quite able to maintain its burden. As the grazing becomes more scarce the mounts have been fed ever more upon grain. At least the beasts load becomes less as the stocks of food and grain diminish.

The fight with the dogs was over very quickly. Five lay dead, the rest fled, some severely injured. Moth threw herself into the combat with great energy, but alas little skill. She is no fighter. With each confrontation I fear she loses heart. She is convincing herself ever more that she brings little skill to the party. I pray that she see how important her skills are to the group. We were told at the beginning that Moth would be an essential element, and now that I have travelled with her I see how this is so. She wields strange magiks, and her visions are powerful.

It seems that each member of our group has gifts. Mine come still from the Maker, and I praise Him for it. Moth has her visions, and her sparks and dancing lights that she throws in the midst of combat. Erethor is a woodsman beyond compare, at one with horses, and one of the finest archers I have met, though I wish such dishonourable weapons were kept for hunting rather than wielded upon the battlefield. Yawinawin is an enigma. It seems that, though she is an elf of many years, her memory is only of recent things. I wonder what calamity may have befallen her that she blocks out the past. In the fight with the dogs, she wielded a bow, as I have seen her done before, yet her true weapon was her voice. With it she seem to entrance and captivate her foe, so that it stood still and calm though around it were howls and blood and death.

Erethor has also shown himself to be a fine hunter and gatherer during our time together, and quite a reasonable cook. Our first breakfast after leaving Tharbad was a stew, an earthy mix contained grubs, a good source of meat when game cannot be caught. I do not think that Yawinawin appreciated the flavour greatly. Her Elven palette clearly delights in more delicate flavours. I was a little surprised that Moth ate it so readily. I had thought that her life in the city would have accustomed her to finer fare, however she claimed that much that she had eaten during her time in the White City had been far worse.

Erethor, later on that day, hunted on route and caught three rabbits. Whilst he and I talked in the village of Mitraith, we were approached by a vagabond asking for coin to buy food. Erethor offered him one of the rabbits instead and he accepted gladly. I sometimes find it hard to judge the character of men, but this one seemed an honest sort. I asked him of his profession, and he admitted to having none, though he was an extra body at harvest time when all hands are needed. Our ranger companion suggested to him that he travel to Tharbad, as the rebuilding there will require many labourers. I do not know whether he will have acted upon the advice, but at least he did not go hungry that day.

I have pondered upon many things since that meeting. We will pass through many settlements on our travels, and as we move further north, above Bree, so those settlements may become poorer. Aule is not only God of the Khazad, his chosen, He is a god of all Arda, The Maker and Smith to all peoples. He has brought me upon this journey, I will see what I can do for the folk that we meet on our way. Aule is my god; I must be his representative, and so I must reflect both his wisdom, and his generosity. His must be the light that guides me, yet I see only the faintest glow, and the dark presses close.

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