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Strider at last sent his summons, though not exclusively to me. He called three others to meet with him, and asked us to travel together to complete his task. Though I am always glad for company,  it makes me worry about the difficulty of what lies ahead.

There is another of Strider’s kin, a man named Tambaros, who says little but acts decisively. We are joined by Avivah, a proud dwarf with a blunt tongue but an appealing dry humor.

The third of my companions is more of a puzzle. He introduced himself as Harrow, a Man of Archet, but he must know that I can plainly see him for what he is: another of the Noldor. I do not know why he plays at such a ruse. It is unlike any natural instinct of our people. I do not know if Avivah and Tambaros recognize this deception, so I will keep silent, though it unsettles me most deeply.

Our errand took us across Bree-land, during which time we learned that the Nine Riders have infiltrated the region. I did not expect to encounter the Witch-king again so soon after waking, but encounter him we did, in the cold depths of an ancient tomb in the forgotten Barrow-downs. I dug deep for my courage, and challenged him, but he fled from me, leaving behind his minions to do battle with us instead.

I do not know what would have become of us if not for the intervention of Iarwain Ben-Adar, who dwells in the woods near there. He took us to his forest home, where we dined on berries, creme, and honey-cakes. It was a welcome salve against the seeping dread of the barrows.

But it cannot make me forget what we have learned. The new is so dreadful that it turns my veins to ice. I cannot write it yet, for fear I might somehow make it more real.

Sunny of Hengstacer

October 7, 2019

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While I bide my time in anticipation of Strider’s summons, I have been exploring Bree-town’s surrounding environs. Golden wheat glows in the broad fields, and women sing as they thresh. The air is heady with the scent of ripening fruit. So peaceful are these simple, honest lands that even the trees seem content. I could almost forget that we are at war. Almost.

I had rather more of an adventure than I planned today while touring the famous horse farm north of town. A handsome blue roan mare took a great liking to me, and followed me all through the tour! The proprietor insisted that I take her–for a substantial fee, of course. He also revealed to me that the mare is bonded with a dapple gray pony and certainly could not be separated from her, so I found myself handing away roundly more coin than I thought to spend today, or indeed this entire week. I remain mystified by Men and their preoccupation with coin.

I believe I have made the correct choice, though. The mare tells me her name is Sunny, and the pony is Pepper. Sunny is clever and calm, with a gentle gaze and a loyal heart. Pepper is younger, fresh out of foalhood, and a great deal more prone to mischief, as ponies often are. Still, she is excited to be my companion, and looking forward to the road ahead.

Sunny chose her name after the sunflowers she loves to eat. They grow in abundance all through Bree-land, like bright sentinels of summer. I have packed our saddlebags full of them to bring us cheer. Nírya’s power will keep them fresh long beyond their natural span. That is good news for me, too, as I have found myself snacking on the seeds all day.

There is a thoughtless ease to travelling alone, answering no one’s whims but my own. Adjusting to the presence of two new friends will take doing, but it is a comfort to know I will not walk the road alone.

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Into the Land of Men

October 6, 2019

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A curiosity: Elrond has sent me east, to a stronghold of Men called Bree-land. He has instructed me to meet there with a man called Strider. I do not know if such a name is a common quirk among Men, but it makes me feel as if this is some sort of ruse on Elrond’s part. A noldo in Bree-land? A man named Strider? Whither does he stride, and why?

I am not to meet with the man for a few days yet, and so have been exploring the town to get a sense of it (with a hood to cover my ears). There are similarities to Elven settlements, but they are few. Bree-town is a chaotic jumble of life. The town has been destroyed by war and fire so often that one need only walk down the street to see architecture from four or five different eras. There is something charming about these half-timbered huts tucked into the bones of ruins that are nearly as old I am. In fact, the whole town seems to have one foot planted firmly in the past, and one stretching impatiently toward a future that I, of the Eldar, cannot begin to fathom.

I have genuinely enjoyed perusing the market stalls. Bree-land is within trading distance of The Shire and Lindon, of Evendim, Forochel, Thorin’s Hall, and Rivendell. Abundant curiosities pass through these colorful tents, many of them far more valuable than the people here realize. This morning, I glimpsed a ring suspiciously similar to my own, and am confident it was Eregion-forged. I contemplated purchasing it, but I wonder if it is not better for some legends to fade into obscurity.

I am not certain I have much else positive to say. Life’s very existence here is an assault on the senses, and though most of the people seem happy, I do not think I could endure it here for long. The roads are a dangerous bustle of carts and carriages, the gutters strewn with refuse. Vendors clamor to be heard over the clang of hammers, the barking of dogs, and the discordant tunes of buskers. And the smells… The smells, the smells!

I am trying to be adaptable. But oh, how I miss my bed of feathers.

 

A Grey and Dreary Place

September 7, 2019

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My work in Ered Luin is finished, and none too soon. The Elves of Duillond and the dwarves of Gondamon walk a knife’s edge, a most precarious peace that threatens to topple in the face of recent Dourhand presence. Each is eager to blame the other for their misfortunes, imagined or otherwise.

The birds and beasts here have suffered for it. The dourhands have gouged a great wound in the mountain in their voracious hunt for coal. Even the trees seem to wilt in the crossfire. No one has given thought to how their actions might pollute the surrounding land, tarnishing it. But that has always been so–even, sometimes, among my kin.

The dwarf named Thrasi has been my one solace here. He keeps a cottage in the mountains, and a tamed lynx for companionship. Despite this remote life, he is amicable and generous, and has a plain mastery over the spoken word that compels me to listen to him when he is speaking, even if it is about something so mundane as thistle milk. He says he will be sorry to see me go. I, too, will mourn the loss of his company.

But go I shall. These snow-spotted hills and sooty-grey skies are not for me, and I will not miss them.

Tomorrow, I travel south to The Shire. I am eager to meet the halflings who live there, for I have heard such whimsy about them, and cannot separate fact from myth. But by all accounts they cook a marvelous meal, so that is something to pin my hopes upon.

The Lure of the Lhûn

August 25, 2019

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The Elves of Celondim look at me with awe, as if standing beside Glorfindel and Gil-galad in battle makes me as great as they. I have not the heart to tell them how wrong they are, that I am barely more than a child waving a wooden sword.

Elrond, I am certain, could have imagined a task for me anywhere in Middle-earth. But he has sent me here to Celondim, where the River Lhûn slips silver down toward the sea. This is no accident.

He is testing me, to see if the shores of my homeland still sieze my heart. I could have simply told him that they do.

But I will not go to Lindon, not yet. I cannot face the towers, nor the ships, nor the glittering sea. I cannot go there and see, undeniably, that my parents are no longer there. Even the thought of going raises a panic in me so strong, I feel as if I might faint.

I will stay, and play the hero Elladan and Elrohir so passionately believe me to be. Perhaps in time, I can even convince myself.

What World Is This?

August 25, 2019

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I still cannot fathom how long I slept. Three thousand years is an eternity, even among my kin. Though I am ashamed to admit it even privately, Elrond’s recounting of what has happened since makes me glad I was not there to witness it. I do not think I could have borne the ruination of Arnor, or the sullying of Greenwood. I can hardly bear to hear of it now.

The Last Homely House is a haven, as it always was. I could sit here and listen to its fountains murmur for another Age, but I suspect Elrond already has other plans for me. I can see it in his tactician’s gaze.

It is a comfort to know that my friend has not changed.

I wonder if Prince Thranduil survived the battle. I wonder if he ever took a wife.

 

 

That Which Does Not Fade

August 24, 2019

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At night I awaken, my forehead slick, from dreams of battle. Three thousand years have passed since my sword first darkened with blood, yet my throat still burns from the ashes of the Morannon. I close my eyes and there is Barad-dûr, wreathed in unquenchable flame. I feel the press of it against my cheek. That terrible, frozen heat.

Mother, Father…did you know what awaited you in Dagorlad? Did you bring your only child, a flower unfurling, into a battle you knew would be your last? There is a cold and empty place within my heart where once your love for me did dwell. But mine was not the only innocence lost that day.

Why, now, have the dreams returned? The Nameless Enemy is long vanquished. The lands of Middle-earth are green and peaceful.

Aren’t they?

Û, Elbereth. Please, not again.