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Moth's Journal

25th Ringare

It is evening and I feel in my very blood and bones the strangeness of our mission. Gandalf! Who would have thought it? Surely I cannot have warranted such an important figure requesting my being here? It is not possible. I am a nobody, a nothing. I do not belong in such great tales as ones with his hand in them. No, no, far easier for me to believe that if I can change my appearance, then so can another - or that I was mistaken in remembering the stranger's face.

And besides, surely Gandalf wouldn't have been so stupid as to send Dunlending and Rohirrim to attempt to work side by side?

Iaurnarwen knew his face but could not remember his name. It was Erethor that recognised the face - he bombarded me with questions as to when I had seen him. I couldn't confirm that, although I think it probably was after Elbrian had met me, his concern for my well-being was more than concern felt for a stranger. Unless he too had seen things. Oh, by the gods, this revelation has raised more questions than answers.

So I am imprisoned here in this room until the spell of the amulet wears off. But that is a small price to pay for the look on Erethor's face when he saw my altered features. I think it unnerved both him and Hadrell. Still, no doubt it will give him yet another reason to distrust me, but I care not. Once this is over, I will be able to return to my books somehow, and need never put up with his arrogance again.

Hadrell is a different matter, for although he is treating me differently since we met, it is not unkindly. And Iaurnarwen is a pleasant travelling companion, if a little too easily bored. But boredom can be remedied easily. It is prejudice that I abhor, not boredom. And more so in one who wields the power of judge jury and executioner. For not once has he queried my side of the story. I wonder, has he ever judged too swiftly, too rashly, too fatally?

Last night felt strange. I dined with the others, feeling at odds with my true identity, uncertain how to react. I should know these things, it should be so easy. Yet the only thing that put me at my ease was Iaurnarwen's beautiful music and voice. Perhaps it is because she alone has not known me as the others have known me 'til recently, accepting me for what I am, that I find her reassuring company. I also find her intriguing. More so after last night, the visions I gleaned from her touch.

Barriers. Magical barriers. A fleeting glance of a smiling male face, seemingly friendly, telling me that it was not the right time, before all went blank. What on earth is hidden in her past?

I have promised her that I will keep trying. She has insisted that I only try if I am well enough to do so. She stayed with me last night after I'd passed out. Watching over me, perhaps? It briefly unnerved me, a part of me feeling that my secret would be out, before I hazily remembered that it already was! But I felt touched at her concern.

Another strange thing. Hadrell sang last night and his voice was truly incredible, soaring to the heights of Iaurnarwen's vocal talent. Perhaps he has been magicked! After this morning's dire performance, it would certainly appear that way. Now, if we can persuade him his singing be used when entering combat….it would no doubt send the enemy running.

Breakfast brought with it the discussion about the ruins of the library here and rather than let Iaurnarwen and myself go explore, the others decided to come with us. So we travelled to the ruins with Hearon, who, it seemed, would be of use to us. Once we'd picked our way carefully through the rubble to an appropriate area, he called over several workmen to help move the rubble away from possible entrances to lower levels. I did the only thing I could to try and help, by taking off my gloves and "feeling" my way to the entrance, if there indeed be an entrance.

There was nothing. Absolutely nothing. It felt so empty and hollow, almost painful. I hate that feeling - when everything you touch has some sort of memory, it is a shock to find nothing. But I am stubborn. Found myself a puddle and sat and gazed into the waters, all the while asking if there was a space below. I don't normally need to scry, but it can be useful at times. And it works on occasion. It did this day. There was a huge space below us.

I yelled over to Hadrell, and, eager to behold what secrets the space might hold, rushed over to help remove some smaller stones - but Hadrell would have none of it! His manner has changed towards me since he's found out I am a woman, quite how and why I don't understand. And just as I was inwardly fuming, he disappeared down a hole, and all my anger dissipated to be replaced by concern. Erethor rushed to his aid, and disappeared in turn down the hole. I think he hurt himself badly, and I don't just mean his pride by that. His nose now looks somewhat crooked, and though it grieves me to admit it, it does his appearance injustice.

When we finally collected our senses together, we had a look around the room, and in particular at the door, which was locked. Erethor drew out the bejewelled key he has guarded so fervently, only to find it didn't fit. Again, I removed my gloves and reached out to the lock which showed a few scratch marks.

I see people, roughly dressed, rogues possibly. They pick the lock and go into a room with some sacks. Then there is a wait, and they return, carefully relocking the door behind them in the same fashion. More images of a similar fashion, but I hear no growling or anguished screams, no fighting. I deem it to be safe.

I found myself falling over again, falling towards the unaware Erethor, hastily pulling my hands back in case the contact instigated a new set of visions. And I related what I had seen. Hearon retreated and returned shortly with wires and a dagger, and I foolishly offered to try the lock as I had seen in my vision. It took little effort, a prod here and a twist just so, there. And I felt a little thrill of satisfaction as the lock audibly clicked……before it hit me and my heart sank. What would people think of the dark horse Moth now? A thief? A rogue? Surely not! But then, I had covered and concealed much and given them great room to doubt anything I now said. Even as I tried arguing that I was only doing what I had seen in the vision, I realised how lame my protestations were. Hadrell may believe me, I doubt Erethor will. He most likely expects me to have dark and devious skills as rote. Iaurnarwen, well, who knows? Perhaps she may. Perhaps not.

We went through the door, and met with a dark corridor, and deep water. Sometimes I am glad I carry a staff, for it is useful to test the depths. Poor Hadrell was the first to cross, I felt for him, wading through gradually. While I have never before thought of his height being a disadvantage, here it was being made painfully apparent. His dignity suffered too, as he stopped to extract an eel from his boot and crush it in his grasp. I saw the teeth marks in his hand afterwards….

Only the four of us crossed this time, Hearon staying behind, nervously. And so another door, a locked one. I felt all eyes expectantly upon me. My heart pounding, I reached for the lock with the wires. I don't disagree that a part of me was hoping I would succeed again, but another part was screaming at me to fail. Yet I tried my best.

It wasn't good enough. The lock broke, a part of it stabbing me in the hand and I left it to the others and brute force to open the door. And so down further dark corridors 'til we reached a room containing bookshelves and old books. Again, a little thrill of excitement. What treasures here, that eyes may have not seen for many years? What tales? What history? More importantly, what clues to our quest? I quelled my impatience. The books, it seemed were mostly across the other side of a fast flowing deep torrent that would be nigh on impossible to cross. Impatiently I waited just inside the door with Iaurnarwen, as Hadrell and Erethor puzzled over ways to cross. It seemed ages before Erethor began to remove items from his person, preparing to swim across.

And then the impossible. The pile of books seemed to come to life, leaping across the waters and bearing down on our companions, determined to do them harm. A big dilemma, indeed. Destruction of any sort of book is anathema to me, yet here were a whole pile of them intent on destroying these companions of mine. And worse, Erethor stood there weaponless and vulnerable. Books of importance or a man of importance?

I admit I dithered - it can be hard to overcome old habits and books have been as good friends to me - but truly there was no contest. His life was of far more importance than a shambling pile of books. While Hadrell hacked at the monstrosity, Iaurnarwen sang at it, presumably to soothe the troubled beast. And all the while it hit out at Erethor. My magic didn't seem to touch it. And then I realised. Water or fire! I began to yell at Hadrell to push it into the water or set fire to it, something I would have done myself, could I have reached it. But he was unable to, and I couldn't hand the torch to Erethor either, he was too far away.

It didn't matter. Erethor began casting a form of fire spell. I didn't know he could do that. What else is he keeping from us?

Moments seemed like hours while Hadrell valiantly hacked away at the monster,and then Iaurnarwen drew back an arrow and let it loose, burying deep into the beast, which fell to the floor, inert……dead. Almost as it hit the floor I flew towards it, eager to look at the papers, for I realised that it was the magic that the beast contained within it that had given it life. But Erethor had already uttered the last few words of his spell and the pile burst into flames, hungry, strong flames that would devour it all with no mercy. Even the papers I snatched from the flames blazed, burning me with the fury that was welling up in my breast.

How could the fool do something like that? He may well have burned information vital to us all. The words he had uttered had inadvertently started two fires not one, damning words blazing from me, furious, intent on scorching him with them, despite his being quite injured from the shambling brute's attack. He made no reply. As usual.

But there was still work to be done. There was still a pile of paper and books the other side of the water. And by some miracle, Hadrell and Erethor jumped the distance, throwing me a rope so I could cross in relative safety. So I spent a while perusing the ruined pages until I found three books in reasonable and readable condition, one in a language I did not recognise. It helped calm me, helped me realise that my anger had been misdirected. My yelling at Erethor had been a release of the sheer anguish I'd felt at suggesting the destruction of the books, though there was no other way. And he had been the one injured by the monster, yet here he was, still prepared to help salvage the remainder of the books.

So for the first time, I bit back my stubbornness and pride, which I admit taste a little rank, and I apologised to him as we made our way back to the other side, this time crossing the water by a wooden plank. Poor Hadrell fell in. Sometimes a staff is a truly handy item to carry around…..although I had never envisioned it as being used to fish for dwarves until now!

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