Last night we fought hard against Barrow wights to save the life of a halfling grave robber. Not a hair on my head was harmed during the fray, an unusual occurrence to say the least. Yet this morning I lie here, writing my journal, in much discomfort from what Hadrell tells me is bruising and a broken wrist. For now I can add clumsiness to my list of already useless qualities.
Last night I fell off the horse that I cannot ride, in the dark in which I cannot see.
Last night, he who most skilled in the ways of the wild and the road, and without whom we would have often deeply suffered if not died, left us to our own devices on the cold and bleak Barrow Downs, while he took the halfling grave robbers to their warm, cosy homes and beds.
Last night it emerged that the halfling grave robber would be hailed a hero by his peoples, and there was nothing we could do to change their opinions. This we were told by he who had ridden far and fast to restore the little ones to their comfort, while leaving his travelling companions to unknown dangers and broken bones.
Last night, on the Barrow Downs, Hadrell, despite his shorter stature, was the greater man of the two, staying by us, calling on his god to mend a broken body, and calling on compassion to try and mend a broken soul. And when it emerged that we could not travel fast or far, he gallantly rode his steed, in order to see danger from further afield. I have misjudged Hadrell greatly, for his actions towards me were not those of a distrustful being, but one who would have put both Iorwenawen's life and mine before his own. I wish that I could take back the harsh words I uttered to him, I am certain now he was not mocking me, but instead believed his words would help. For he uttered them again last night, trying to reassure me that I was of value to this quest, despite my inability to ride, fight or stand my ground when faced with a frightening foe.
I will still beg my release from this at Bree - I do not travel fast or well, and I still feel my presence is of little point. But today is the beginning of a new month and perhaps time to turn to a new and cleaner page of my life. If I must go on then I shall do so. Besides, I have with me a trinket taken from my time at Minas Tirith and simply touching it can give me back a little of what I once had, a little of my former contentedness. And I am still judging myself as a man would, something I need no longer do. Last night I cried for almost all to see, the tears I'd held back for so many miles, now set free by pain and stupidity. Today I shall try not to be so hard on myself for all my weaknesses.
So, to the beginning of this sorry tale. All seemed to be going well - by this I mean that there were no incidents - on our journey through the Barrow Downs until we met with a frightened halfling, one Ilberic Brandybuck, descendant of Meriadoc himself. He claimed that he was out picnicking with his friend, Posco Boldger, when Posco vanished, and Ilberic begged our assistance in helping him. His claims seemed genuine enough, and it would have been uncharacteristic for Hadrell or Erethor, to walk away from such a plea. And perhaps me, too, were I to think about it. So off we went to the scene of the disappearance, like good little heroes the lot of us.
There was an open barrow. It didn't take any of us long to draw the obvious conclusion - Posco would likely be found inside. And to find him, we would have to follow his steps. Perhaps it was my upbringing full of superstition, but I feared what we might find inside, and demanded to know how long it had been since the stone had been moved, I had no desire to become trapped inside this place of ancient death. Yet there was no question of my not following into a place of darkness. Were it not for the magic light of the elf, Iorwenawen, my human eyes would have seen nothing in the barrow. It seems odd that while I am not the only human in this group, I appear to be the only one with human eyes. Still, her spell worked effectively, effectively enough to set the hairs on the back of my neck on end as I noticed the scratches on the barrow ceiling.
There is little I wish to write about the figures that followed Hadrell back into the cavern we were in. They shifted from black to white and back again, ethereal, terrifying to behold, and to my shame, fear gripped my soul and I turned to flee. Not as easy as it sounds in a darkened narrow passage. The noise of battle behind me was almost as loud as the hammering of my heart, and while I am certain Hadrell, Erethor and Iorwenawen fought valiantly, I could do nothing. Nothing, that is until the fear subsided and I was able to send the strongest magic I possessed into the undead before it dissipated.
Yes, we could have left Posco there, for the rogue had tried to make off with tokens of the dead, and dearly he had suffered for it. Yet not as dearly as Hadrell who had taken much damage and whose shield had shattered. All this so the thief could be declared a hero amongst his own people? It took much persuasion to prevent Ilbirec re-entering the barrow. And while the sun was sinking ever deeper into night, not satisfied with closing the barrow stone with Hadrell's aid, Erethor insisted on blocking the now tiny gap with rocks.
Common sense would have dictated that we camped out somewhere for the rest of that night, Bree was too far to be reached in the dark by any of us other than the ranger. It would seem though, that the hobbits' lack of the quality was contagious. For this is where this journal entry comes in, where Erethor left his travelling companions and we made our way to the road, albeit somewhat painfully.
Last night I thought rash actions were taken. I thought of anger. This morning, it is different. This morning I wear a bruised coat of indifference. No. Indifference is not, perhaps, the right word. We need that damned man if we're to survive. And one day he will ride off into the sort of trouble from which he cannot easily extract himself. The sort of trouble that so often proves fatal… Oh, hark, I hear the dulcet tones of our gallant and good Dwar…no, wait, silence…pure exquisite silence.
Potent is the silence that our elven friend can wield. For Hadrell has worried himself sick about his god's displeasure at his song, despite all the good that he has done over the past day or so. I had to persuade him that this was not so, and further hoped he would prove it by having him heal me of my bruising.
Potent too is her song. I think I might have gone unto my death in the sway of Iorwenawen's music. Yesterday I would have followed her music into the very flames of Mount Doom had she asked. It is an awesome power she wields. I even believe I actually saw Erethor displaying signs of enthusiasm.
And oh, while her music tugged at my very being and I could do nothing but be entranced during the evening, in the loneliness of the night, and the chill light of dawn, it made me feel so insignificant. Hers was music that one is lucky to hear once in their lives, a moment that will remain forever. I felt my reason for being here ebbing away once more. I am a nothing next to her, a worthless nothing. Everything is nothing compared to that music.
And so at Bree I asked again to be left behind, for my presence is hindering the speed we make. I know in my heart that I am not needed here, even though some may perceive my being essential to what we are doing. I know otherwise. I was sent here to aid Erethor. Nothing more. And he does not need my help. He sees things in black and white and there is no grey while I have had little choice but to view through the mixed hues. Thus I was refused my freedom.
If he is to be a man who would be great then he needs to learn that authority is not the essence of leadership. It is an understanding of people and gaining their respect, and in so doing their obedience, that makes a man truly great.
It was left to Iorwenawen to persuade me that I wanted to go with them; she seemed most puzzled at my request to be left behind, to the extent that she even wondered if I had found myself a lover. As if I could! Not with this "gift" I wield. From what I know passion carries within it enough pain of its own, without bitter visions of lies, deceit or death. No, if truth be told, it was good to wander around a busy village, and be lost amidst people for a while, as I have done more than once in Minas Tirith. How I have missed civilisation and the comforts it offers, and so much better now that I need no longer hide behind a mask.
We left Bree and passed through Rood, camping past it. We are almost at our destination. The light is fading and I can hear the gentle buzz of bees in the background. They should be asleep this late in the year, so says Hadrell. I have wetted a couple of faggots to put on the fire in case they should decide otherwise.
Poor Hadrell. I fear I have duped him horribly. He purchased a shield in Bree, a hobbit shield by the size of it, and with a roasted chicken motif, for which we gently mocked him! His realisation made him put aside the shield, ashamed of it, and I noticed it on the horse, covered by a blanket. So I wove a tale around it and told it with as much seriousness as I could muster, a tale of how the motif was a goodly one, a little known and oft forgotten Numenorean symbol. The ruse worked for, shortly after I had told him this, I saw him carrying it once again, almost proudly. Yes, I feel bad about this deceit, but I would sooner have deceived him thus and have his shield deflect a blow that might have killed him in battle than seen him slain shieldless. Does that make me so bad a person? I hope if ever he reads this he will understand and forgive me.
It is strange, but now that I am so close, I have become more determined, more strengthened. I will do whatever is required of me. I have made so many mistakes on this journey and this may be my last chance to succeed in putting those mistakes right. So put them right I shall. And if I cannot earn back any trust, then I shall damn well earn my right to be here by doing whatever it is I need to do.