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Hadrell's Journal

1st Narvinye of a silenced song.

It is the first day of winter. There is a brushwood fire burning within the camp, but there is little that will warm my spirit this night. I have taken my hardest wound this day, and I know not how to heal it.

We are yet to reach Bree. Our journey across the Downs has been delayed by desecration and foolishness, though it seems the latter is to be remembered as selfless courage. The ways of this land and its people are a mystery to me.

Early yesterday afternoon we turned aside from our swift northward journey to answer the calls of a halfling, and thereafter to search for his lost friend. Ilberic Brandybuck, it was who called to us, a relative of the famous Meriadoc, companion of Lord Gimli. He and a friend, Posco Bolger had come to the downs to have a picnic, and Posco had wandered and could not be found. Such a lack of wisdom it seems to me for the unprepared to visit an area of evil repute for the purpose of eating in the afternoon sun. Yet it appears that the Hobbit folk will see things in a different light, or so I am told.

Erethor picked up the tracks of the lost Hobbit with ease, and with Ilberic in tow, we followed them to a barrow, the resting place for a dead king of one of the ancient tribes of men. The door was of stone, large enough that it would take the rangers help to move it. And this we later did, for at this time it stood open, and had long been so. It had once been secured with an intricate stone locking mechanism, now crushed and broken. The tracks led within the gaping maw into an impenetrable darkness. Ilberic was eager to race inside. The curiosity of these folk appears insatiable, and overwhelms all wisdom. Still, we would have to enter and brave the shadow.

In the time we have travelled together we have relied ever more heavily on Erethor. I feel that I have known this man for many years, and yet it is a little over a month since I saved him from thieves on the great south road to Minas Tirith. He is at one with the wilderness, and always seems prepared for any eventuality. This night was to be different. To enter within without a source of light was almost unthinkable, and yet we had no torches or lanterns. Not even a branch to set alight. Yawinawin it was who came to our succor. It seems that she has magics that will aid her performances upon the stage or in the inn. One of these is to illuminate herself in a radiant glow. She sang softly to herself and became lit from behind, the excess light spilling passed her into the barrow. With weapons drawn we entered.

The tomb was very old, the paintings upon wall and roof faded and worn. In the second chamber we came across a stone sarcophagus, its lid smashed upon the floor revealing within the remains of a man in the tatters of rich garments. There were two things that did not sit right in my mind. The first was that the chamber's walls had been scored, as if a battle had taken place within its confines. The latter was that the king had been stripped of his grave goods. As we might have guessed from the forced door of the barrow, the dead king had been robbed of any jewellery, weapons and, most of all, honour and dignity.

Theft is a foulness, but to break into a tomb and steal from the dead is heinous indeed. Also many are the stories of the unquiet dead who have risen to reclaim their honour. And into such a story we strode, for in an offshoot from the room I came upon the white form of Posco, and above him loomed two sprirts of undeath.

I remember them clearly as they stood in Yawinawins glow. They waxed and waned like the moon, always changing. At some points black, at others white and every shade between. There was little room for fighting, and the Hobbit, if he still lived, remained in great danger unless I could successfully engage both enemies. And so I slung my weapon and, covering Posco with my shield dragged him back to the main chamber.

The spirits may have looked insubstantial, but their blows were far from so. I took many a wound as I dragged the still form into the larger chamber. Yet their blows were as nothing to that my heart would later suffer. I threw the unmoving halfling behind me and battle ensued. They were fell creatures, and were of such strength that my great shield shattered upon mine enemy. We all fought, though at times it seemed that my comrades retreated unnecessarily. And then it was over. One spirit had dissipated and the other stood in front of me, still and quiet. Aule's power had been with me, and had coursed through me during the fight, and we were victorious. His presence there, in the barrow makes what followed later so incomprehensible.

I do not know whether such creatures as we fought have a comprehension of honour, but I believe it is likely to be so. In moving Posco something had dropped from his white hands on to the tomb floor. In the quick glance of it I saw that it was jewelled, perhaps a chain. It had undoubtedly been taken from the dead king, and my opinion of Posco was greatly reduced. I fear that I may have treated him roughly thereafter, but then my companions and I were risking our lives for an inbarbund, a witless hornhead and a common thief. It seems to me likely that the two spirits arose to protect the tomb, and uphold the honour of the dead. If that is so, Erethor did the creature a great injustice, for as it stood unmoving before me, the battle ended, he loosed an arrow and slew it.

We left hurriedly carrying Posco, Ilberic coming also, and once outside we attempted to ensure that nothing had been taken from the tomb. I believe that Erethor had replaced the jewellery within the sarcophagus before he fled, a fine deed. Ilberic swore that he carried nothing that had been taken from this place, and the few worn coins that I found upon Posco I threw back into the barrow for good measure. Ilberic was only persuaded not to re-enter the place by Yawinawin and Moth who insisted that, should he become a spirit creature himself, he would be unable to eat. This appeared to frighten him sufficiently.

Erethor tended to my wounds before he and I sealed the doorway as best we could. Darkness now upon us, Yawinawin, Moth and I continued back toward the road, whilst Erethor, under great protest and with a hobbits lack of wisdom, rode off at speed with the halflings to return them to their village a few miles to the north.

Yawinawin again cast her dwoemer and a glow surrounded her enough for the eyes of an Elf or Dwarf, but not perhaps for a Man or a horse. Shortly after Erethor had departed, Moth's horse stumbled and she fell with a great cry. I tended to her immediately, trying to calm her and stem her tears. She had fractured a bone within her wrist and was in great pain. I called upon Mahal, The Maker, once again, knowing that he gives both the strength to unmake during battle and the compassion to heal in peace. My voice sounded loud in the quiet darkness of the Downs and Aule's healing energy flowed through me into Moth. I think that the arm will only trouble her for a day or so.

It was decided to continue on foot, though, with still no sign of our ranger, Yawinawin and Moth finally insisted that I get back in the saddle where I could be lookout, and so better protect my fair companions.

The midnight had passed when Erethor returned to us. He approached us from the south and had clearly had some difficulty in locating us. The halflings were safe, but contrary to my expectations, Posco Bolger was not being held by the authorities for theft and desecration. Against all that I know to be honourable, Posco is to be heralded as a hero for braving the terror of a barrow and attempting to recover the riches therin. I cannot understand how a race can so deny respect for the dead. Do they respect their own ancestors? Are they buried? entombed? Is their rest disturbed by curious burglars? Such is beyond me, yet I will try my best to understand these small folk and perhaps, learn to accept their ways. The camp was set, the fire lit, watches were taken. We did not break our fast until late in the morning.

And now the moment is reached. During the battle and after, Aule had heard and answered, and so why, why did it happen? Have I misinterpreted? Was the meaning of another nature? It happened thus. I moved away from the camp to a low rise, and there sang a song of thanks to Aule in Khuzul, the fair tongue of the Khazad; to thank him for watching over us, for his gifts and his favour. I know that he heard me for there was a clear response, though far from any I had anticipated. I had sung but a few lines when a blanket of silence enveloped me. I sang aloud, and yet I could hardly hear my own voice. At first I feared that it was an effect of the Downs and the Barrow spirits, but when I turned to my companions their speech was clear and free. I did not understand, and returned to the camp. There my voice returned. I have pondered. Mayhaps my song was silenced because enemies were near and He sought to protect me, yet we have seen no further sign of danger. The conclusion that I am left with is that I am at present not worthy to sing the praises of so great a Lord.

Tomorrow I may take an oath. It is perhaps best that no song pass my lips until I am once again within the fair graces of The Maker. I will humbly await his sign and continue to follow the path He lays before me.

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