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Hadrell's Journal

21st Ringare. a journey to judgement

It will be a long watch tonight, and a late start in the morn, but we need the rest. We have only about thirty miles to go tomorrow to reach Larrach Dunnain; there we can deliver our captives into the hands of the Dunnish authorities, and resume our quest.

The presence of these rogues has made travel difficult and slow. I have driven Delnenn's cart today, his leg, though healing fast, is still sore. We lent him Moth's horse for the journey. Moth shared the cart with me, watching the captives as they lay, bound with the guy ropes of their own tents on the hard wood, their belongings, armour and weapons bundled at a safe distance. We stopped an hour after dark, when it was becoming too dangerous to take the cart any further. Erethor, as always, located a fine campsite for us. There had been the welcoming light of an Inn as the day began to fade, but with the cargo we carry, a stop would have elicited too many questions.

Moth has suffered badly from travel sickness today. I hope it was not my doing. It has been a long while since I drove a cart, and I am rusty.

The night is quiet, and I am uneasy. The song I sang this evening failed to lift any spirits, least of all my own. There is a weight in my heart. I am certain that Erethor would have passed swift judgement upon our captives, had I not argued for justice. Justice must not only be done; it must be seen to be done. Thus we deliver the felons to the court. And yet our journey, our quest is vital, a matter of great import, and these villains slow our progress. Still, my way is clear. I must do what must be done. The life of a man cannot be balanced merely by the need for speed and expedience. I must tend to the needs of the captives. They must be hale and whole when they reach the authorities.

22nd Ringare. a night in the cells.

I sit now on a cot in a two-man cell that I share with my comrade Erethor, Rider and Ranger. Fear not, the door is not barred and we are still beweaponed. We are here, it seems, for our own safety. There are those in this town who would try to do violence upon us, because a party that includes a Man of Rohan has accused Dunlendings and brought them to justice.

There is still much bad feeling between the two races, and to some the old wars are not over. As we reached the town of Larrach Dunnain I could see that it had no defences. The embankment that surrounds the town was evidently designed to be topped by a wall, or at the least a palisade, yet there is none. There are no gates and no guards. Though I have not broached the subject, it is likely that the Rohirrim insisted upon the removal of all fortifications after the War of the Ring. A disarmed and unarmoured foe is little threat. But I saw before me a town that would struggle to defend itself against a pack of dogs.

There are soldiers, we passed some on our way to the old clan hall, and moreover there is evidence of law. As we approached we saw, and smelled, the peeling corpse of a convicted offender hanging from the bough of a particularly large tree.

Erethor also speaks Dunnish, a fact that clearly came as a surprise to Moth. Delnenn translated a little as the two conversed with the guards. Soon enough we were admitted, and our charges were removed for questioning. We came before the Magistrate to inform him of the truth that we had witnessed, and the crimes that we suspected. It seems that Moth's given name is Riddian, he was known, having been born in this very town, however he appears uncomfortable with this title His grandmother, I have gathered, is some sort of town Elder.

Delnenn was also questioned and he admitted some alteration to his original tale. There had been no wares in his cart, and also he had driven the vehicle directly at the accused, having recognised them as known troublemakers. As far as I am aware we have said all that is necessary and certainly all that is required of us.

The rogues have made some counter-claim against Delnenn and ourselves. What we are accused of I know not, although it may be related to the fact that Erethor may have been a little impetuous if not heavy-handed in securing the lawbreakers. As a result their sentencing cannot occur until morning, when a second magister will arrive from the accused's own town.

We withdrew in order to find lodging, and for Moth to visit his family. Erethor had a few private words with the magistrate, and upon rejoining us suggested strongly that we leave our horses and heavier equipment with the guards, and accompany Delnenn to the Red Wyrm. Erethor gave me the impression that it was felt that Delnenn may try and avoid the following mornings deliberation.

And yet we did not get to stay the night at the Red Wyrm. We spent some time there waiting for Moth to return from his family dwelling. We talked, drank and ate. I told Delnenn the story of the origins of my armour. This led on to the subject of Erethor's armour. Fortunately he had it with him and I was allowed to inspect it. It is a full chain hauberk, triple linked, and split for riding. It is some of the finest mannish work I have seen, and would protect him well in battle. With it came a good steel helmet, spiked and open fronted. I will try and persuade him to wear it. We talked of other things, of our approaches to battle, of ethics and morals, of Northern Mirkwood, now called East Lorien, of the Elves that dwell there, and the giant spiders that did once, and may still, haunt its boughs. We also talked of his work as a Ranger, a peacekeeper, and of his need oftimes to be both Judge and executioner to those he captures. It explained much of his attitude to the Dunlending horse-thieves.

The afternoon passed swiftly, and Moth joined us and ate with us. He seemed withdrawn and distracted. He had had bad news concerning his Fathers health. Moth appeared to be well respected by the patrons of the Inn. Barely had we made headway into our meal when four guards came to fetch us. They were polite and respectful, but to send four guards is an act of strong persuasion. We returned to the court where we were told of unrest brewing in the town and asked to stay within the confines of the building. This is both court and jail, though it had clearly been the town's keep in earlier days. A strong wall surrounds it enclosing a courtyard and outbuildings, including stables. We were given the only beds available, in the two free cells, and so here I sit. Delnenn and Moth are on one side of us, The miscreants upon the other. Fortunately they are behind a bolted door.

Now I will relax. We are safe here, the walls are not well made, but I am sure they will be sufficient defence, and I can hear guards beyond the thick oaken door. I will remove my armour and possibly even my boots. I look forward to tomorrow and seeing justice served irrespective of the cries of the mob and the prejudices born of war and defeat.

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