I hurt. I have no wish to return to the place of my birth. I have no wish to continue living a lie, hiding my discomforts. I know that I must do this thing set before me, but I have no wish to do so. My brother has forgiven me, that is something. And while my physical discomfort is lessened thanks to Hadrell’s loud but effective ministrations, my mental anguish is far worse than yesterday. For this morning the sun rose along with so many questions and I had no answers.
Do I stay behind the mask of the boy for the remainder of the journey? If so, why? Or do I throw away the years of disguise and leave behind the binding, the careful arrangement, the adjustment of the hair, just so? Do I learn to simper and giggle pettily at the witless comments of strange men, because they expect it? Wear a dress because I am a woman? Must I throw away the many years of learning simply because I am female? And if I do throw away the mask, how shall I learn of the ways I should have been taught from birth?
And what of my travelling companions? How will they treat me now?
What is to become of me?
Hadrell came to my tent this morning with the intention of healing me. I tried refusing his aid. My stupidity taught me a hard lesson and I feel it is not right that the lesson be cut short. But he would insist, fearful that my injuries may cause more problems and slow us on our journey, and so he called upon his god loudly and I felt a strength course through my body once more. Yet, it did not fully ease my pain or heal the burns. As for breakfasting, there was little left, and nothing warm, not that it mattered. The previous day had left me with a bitter taste in my mouth and a lump in my throat which would have choked me, had I tried to eat.
The Rider returned from wherever he had chosen to go, with news that a party from the village were heading our way. We left swiftly, but my goodbye to Gethyn was still difficult. I won’t see him again now…
We rode most of the day, the pain increasing with each movement of the horse beneath me. I tried talking to Iaurnarwen, the elf, on route to keep my mind occupied and her happy – she seemed in need of distraction. It turns out we may have more in common than I first thought. I know not where I am going, she knows not from whence she came. Over the course of the day we spoke further, me explaining my visions and suggesting that were she to help me come to terms with my true persona, that I could perhaps use them to aid her find out more about her own. We also both have books of herb lore, hers a most beautifully bound book written in exquisite Quenya. In fact, it would seem everything about her is exquisite – she makes me feel dull, ungainly, clumsy and self-conscious when I am next to her. And yet I have asked her to teach me of female ways! Do I detect a masochistic streak in my nature here?
I have not spoken much to Hadrell today, except to call out a warning as a rock viper spooked his mule. They can be dangerous, Grandmother has treaded more than one viper wound in her time, some fatal. I worried for the Dwarf a moment, and began to weave a charm of sleep to cast upon the snake. But then the danger passed and we went on our way. I feel that he may still be wary of my deception, although he seemed friendly enough to me this morning. Erethor has still not broached the subject with me, not of any of my deceptions. Yet he has stressed that a man’s word is his bond. I am beginning to fear him - to me this situation is like the makings of a spell that doesn’t know when to stop, and, when cast, lashes out in ferocity. I fear he may use my past duplicity against me in the future when trust between us all could prove to be vital.
We arrived in Tharbad, although I took little notice of it, many diverse thoughts were drifting through my head by then. Truth be told, I may have been feeling a little light-headed from the ride and the harvest of my foolish actions the previous day. Erethor fell easily into his "I am a Rider of Rohan, I am the law" role – does he ever fall out of it, I wonder? - , presenting a scroll of introduction and demanding to speak with Commander Cillas.
When we finally did speak with him, his appearance startled me for he was missing his left arm, and a metal plate protected the shoulder where it had once been. Still in his Rider role, Erethor introduced us. I noted he used "Master Moth of Minas Tirith" again, I suppose because it was written so in the letter and the Commander would have expected a master not a maid. How I hated him at that moment, detecting just the slightest hint of sarcasm in his voice as he spoke, the inflections on "master" and "Minas Tirith". Yes, I could have spoken out then, but I felt too nervous here in this strange place with a Commander who could have been a soldier’s soldier.
We spoke awhile, we talked of supplies and were offered rooms and good food this night. And then, as the others left, I remained behind. I had decided on throwing the mask of manhood to the four winds. The damned Rider cannot damn me for my duplicity and then have me damn well wear it still. So, abashed, I explained I was no "master" to Commander Cillas, who took it as a true gentleman, he neither condemned me or quizzed me, but treated it as if it were the most natural of situations. I could have hugged him for the kindness he showed me in that simple action. I did however refuse his offer of more womanly garb – one thing at a time, and I do not want to break my neck over hems just yet.
Now I am sat here in a fine bedroom, in good (and more intact) clothing, waiting for the summons to the table. I am still not happy, but I will offer my gift of visions to the elf tonight, once we’ve dined. For while the answers are still not forthcoming for me, perhaps I might help another find herself………