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Hadrell's Journal

10th Ringare

At last the quest is laid before us. The Maker moves his hand, and the wheels are set in motion. We have a long journey and a difficult task before us. It has been a most unusual day.

We arrived at the great gates of Minas Tirith early, and were met by armoured guards, one of whom, Elobride, became our guide for the journey through the city. The gates are very great, a magnificent achievement. They clearly show the craft of master Dwarven metalsmiths, yet they have the intricate styling of the Elves and the presence and scale of Men. The arch soars to a height of 80 feet and each gate is 20 feet wide. They have been forged from steel and mithril and the morning sun glinted off them, accentuating the fine detail.

The city is most impressive. It is akin to a tiered cake covered in white marble icing. Each tier is more beautiful and more affluent than the last until you reach the seventh level and the two towers, the White Tower, and the Tower of the Guard. We left our steeds in the gate stables, in the keeping of the guard (this was not altogether to Erethor's liking I think) and Elobride led us through the bustle of the city. Riding in the streets of the city is forbidden, as are horse drawn carts. This appears to be a very wise decree, as the streets are very busy, and space is limited.

The route up through the city is a zigzag, the gate to the next highest level always on the opposite side of the city to the last. As a result it is essential to pass through a stone tunnel, on each level, that passes under the rock promontory on which stands the Tower of the Guard. The whole city is therefore a fortress in function. To ascend, a foe would be forced to traverse a great portion of each tier before reaching the next gate, thus providing a killing ground for any defensive archers, distasteful though that may be. Moreover it would be a simple task to block the tunnels and make an attack almost impossible. Missiles could also be rained down on an attacker from the promontory itself. The design is astounding. There is a great deal of stonework in the city that is, however, of poor workmanship and this detracts from its overall magnificence.

We saw many sights as we passed through the city streets. Traders plied their wares, music was heard, games were being played, and ever and on troops would be seen travelling hither and thither. One building held creations of glass and crystal including a rose bush and a sword. I could recognise the beauty of the latter, but I see much greater beauty in a well crafted blade of steel or mithril, where function is not at odds with appearance. A shine of metal drew me to a medallion that had been dropped into a drainage grate as we passed through the second level of the city. To my eyes it was clearly made of gold. I attempted to retrieve it, in order that this item of both worth and beauty could be returned to its rightful owner. Alas, my fingers lacked the necessary dexterity and it fell further and was lost. There on level two the drainage system laid beneath the city roads worked very well. The same could not be said when we reached the seventh level. The pure white marble stairs, and towers beyond were marred a little by having to wade through muddy water to reach them.

Moth stopped briefly at his dwelling, relatively small and unpretentious. He did not invite us in, but took little time. I believe he was as eager as we to reach the top levels of the city, and to discover our quest.

We were met firstly by Lord Carendall, and after by Lady Gilorwin, Mistress of the Hall of Guests. Lord Carendall was addressed by Erethor as Galter, and this made Lord Carendall seem most uncomfortable. There is clearly some history between the two. It seemed we were to meet, not the King himself, but Tarlequin, his advisor. This was a disappointment for me as I had looked forward to meeting such a great man.

The most odd thing occurred at this point. It is a very minor thing when compared to the happenings of the day, and the quest that now lies before us, yet still it did not sit right with me. I was asked to remove my boots. The marble floor and steps beyond are so precious that they could not be dirtied by muddy boots, or risk being scratched by my heavy hobnails. A peculiar custom. Dwarves, unlike men, make floors designed to be walked on.

After a wash and refreshment we were escorted to the 5th floor of the white tower. We had discovered simple robes laid out in our rooms. Having noted this I removed my armour and shield, however decided to remain in my aketon, the padded under-jerkin. I think it was a vain attempt on my part to retain the appearance of a warrior, thus giving me confidence in these unusual surroundings. However, the appearance may have been marred somewhat by the bare feet.

The 5th floor of the tower was a sight that made Moth's jaw drop. It is a great library filled with tomes of great age. I too was impressed, though, alas, it is unlikely that I will ever get a chance to peruse its shelves. In that library sat a man, old in the years of men, apparently blind, yet aware of our presence and movement. Before him, across a desk, were three seats. Whoever had laid them out had considered my dignity, and one, very thoughtfully, was sized for one of my stature.

The man was Tarlequin, advisor to the King. Many things we learnt in that meeting, and the quest was laid upon us. I will not tell of the details here, for I swore an oath by blood of kin and will of God that the information remain secret. I will tell what I can, for the sake of the tale. We are to travel far to the north, initially to the ruins of Anuminas in Arnor. We seek there knowledge of a magic that will allow us to search out and retrieve a great treasure. We laid it upon Erethor to carry with him a token that may be used to open the way for us.

I am happy that we will be on our way soon, tomorrow if supplies can be assembled in time. The quest appears good to me. Erethor and I have studied the map, and Moth has it in his safekeeping. I am, however, disturbed somewhat by something that was said to us in the meeting. The errand that we are to embark upon is being undertaken at the Kings request, yet there is a society in Minas Tirith, the name of which I must also keep secret, that consider themselves sufficiently knowledgeable in the ways of man and magic that some information has been withheld even from the king. We must be wary. I cannot fully trust any that would keep knowledge from their Thain and Liege Lord.

We are to be woken an hour before dawn, and Maker willing we will be away early.

May Aule watch and guard us on the journey,

May he give our eyes clear sight that we may see our destination.

May he give our legs the stamina to reach the goal

May he give us the will to persevere until the task is complete,

And may he give us the strength to smite those who would thwart us.

Holy art thou, Maker of the people,

Holy art thou, whom nature hath not formed

Holy art thou, the vast and the mighty one,

Lord of the Mine and the Mountain.

11th Ringare

Our first days travel is complete. We are following the 'Men Aran' or main road to the north. It will soon begin to turn west and we will follow it into the Riddermark, as the Rohirrim call their land. I must return briefly to Helm's Deep to collect a spare pipe and my warhammer. I do no relish travelling into the wilds of the north without a choice of weapon.

We are tonight in the Inn of the Beacon. The beer is good, but I think that taking a third mug was a mistake. Moth undoubtedly took it as a comment on the tale he was telling, yet the tale was entertaining enough. I attempted to tell the story of the slaying of the worm from which my armour is created. It was passable, but not my best telling. I will have to write the story down elsewhere in this journal and in so doing improve its delivery.

I miss the company of my own folk, however they may treat me. I met a dwarf by the name of Olros just prior to leaving Minas Tirith, and exchanged a few words with him. He was a trader and I wished him luck with his business. He readily agreed with me concerning the quality of some of the stonework of the city. It is something that would play on my mind were I to stay for any length of time in Minas Tirith, and indicates to me how few dwarves must reside there. When I return to Erebor I will ask the Thain to send an envoy to Minas Tirith offering stonecutters and masons to work within the city. In this way may it all become as beautiful as the great gates that precede it.

Through the actions of the Lady Gilorwin, and a man named Elegar, we have been provided with many things for our journey. There are blankets and winter clothes, many weeks rations, and even a two-man tent. I feel the cold little, and Erethor is undoubtedly used to braving all weathers, however Moth is a scholar and a man of the city, and will not be prepared for some of the hardships that we will undoubtedly encounter. The equipment is being carried by a pack pony named Eluth. For ease of movement, and, in my case, lack of riding skill, I lead him by having his rein tied to my saddle. I hope he is not strong willed, or it may become the pack pony leading the dwarf.

Once again Erethor has impressed me, indeed he has become an excellent companion. He has hunted and foraged food for all of us today, and, having ridden ahead to catch his prey, he had time to prepare a fire and start the cooking of lunch by the time Moth and I caught up with him. He is also a very fair cook.

I think Moth is still feeling a little out of place, but we are all aware now that he will play an essential part in our errand. The tasks we must accomplish in the wreck of Anuminas cannot be achieved without him. It seems he is a wielder of magic and arcane power. He follows in the footsteps of Gandalf himself. I do not yet know a great deal of his abilities, but I will treat him with the respect he deserves. After all, is it not said 'Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards for they are subtle and quick to anger'.

12th Ringare

Slept well at the Inn of the Beacon, tonight we have stopped at the Inn of the Dragonsclaw, a very grand name for quite an earthy stopover. I was reminded tonight of how much I miss my pipes. I must also pick those up from my belongings stored at Helms Deep. This evening I attempted to play on an unusual lute that one of the Inn's patrons was abusing. I faired no better than he. In fact I played no more than a couple of notes (bad ones) before I gave the instrument back to its owner and retired for the night. I was lucky not to have snapped it in two, and, if it was tuned when I was given it, it was certainly not when it was returned. Perhaps that is why Moth also had difficulty playing it. He at least managed a recognisable tune, which is more than can be said for some of its original players.

This morning I learned more of Moths talents. When I awoke I discovered that neither of my companions had passed the night within the Inn. Though this seems natural for Erethor, it was vexing that Moth had not returned to the private room he had claimed.

I found Erethor outside searching for the item Tarlequin had presented us with. For ease, I think I will call it the key. This did not speak well of his safekeeping skills. Before I had chance to speak at length with him, Moth ran towards us from the stable. He insisted on the return of his gloves before he would approach us closely or indeed break fast with us at the Inn. Erethor threw him the gloves, which he immediately put on. He seemed to relax somewhat after that. I noticed that his hands are very pale. I wonder if Gandalf wears gloves.

We shared a morning meal of fresh bread and bacon, but at Moths request did not discuss the matter within the confines of the Inn. Later we spoke at length. It seems that one of Moth's Talents is to see visions. This may be very useful in our quest, and it is even clearer to me now why he was chosen. Last night Moth received a vision from the history of this key. It seems that he lost consciousness shortly after, Erethor caught him and took him to the shelter of the stables. Although, as I say, this ability to receive visions may be most useful, I worry about Moth's control over them. It is something that Erethor and I must take into account should combat arise. If he were to lose consciousness at the wrong time, without warning, it could prove fatal. I will watch over him closely.

Erethor failed to find us meat for the pot today. I do not know whether it was last night's chill that has made game scarce, or whether this morning's revelations have distracted him, and his bow skill has suffered as a result. He created a stew of leaves and tubers that was most nourishing. For most of tomorrows journey the 'Men Aran' skirts the north of the 'Tawar-in-Druedain', the forest that lies in the Northeast lee of the Ered Nimrais, the White Mountains. Maybe he will have greater success then.

13th Ringare

Erethor has provided well for us today, some species of small forest bird. Lunch is complete and we are about to make our way once more. Either my riding is improving, or I am beginning to gain a better understanding of Jacks nature, I know not which. The saddle is less comfortable today however, as a result of a minor injury last night at the Dragonclaw Inn. The wooden beds of the common room were very poorly finished, leading to scratches and splinters. It is possible that I may take after Erethor and sleep in the soft grass of the fields, if the quality of our lodgings doesn't improve. Still, soon enough, as our journey continues northward, the winter will close in, and we will remember warmly the inns of these more temperate climes.

Later today we will cross a river and stay at another Inn. I believe it is called the Inn of the Far Towers. And so on with the journey.

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