June 7, 3019

Bearn: How fared the journey?
Pippin: It was tiring and frightening but I made it!
Bearn: What was the news from Gandalf?
Pippin: I think he is to join forces with all of us, and with Aragorn
Bearn: Helm's Deep is no place for the horsemen. They are mobile, not to be confined to a keep and I doubt this will be attacked anyway
Bearn: No, Dunharrow is safe I think, for now anyway
Pippin: Begging your pardon, sir, I'm just a halfling from the Shire who knows nothing of war. I'm sure you and the captains know better than I do but it looks like a sturdy fortress, aye
Bearn: Were you not at Pelennor and in the south with the army?
Pippin: Aye, but I never really wanted to fight
Pippin: I consider the others much more experienced
Pippin: I've only seen a battle not really been in one, not like my friend
Bearn: But surely Master Halfling, you are good for something, but for what it is, I cannot say
Pippin: Merry the Brave *tear*
Bearn: Yes, his ending was sad
Pippin: *hangs head* Aye, no one can seem to figure out what I'm good for. Maybe I will have a purpose in the end. I wish Gandalf were here
Bearn: Than nothing more than someone to eat our supplies?
Pippin: He seemed to think I was worth something...I hope I can be of some real use
Bearn: Which we must watch about?
Pippin: Then you're rationing your supplies too? *groans* and I'm so hungry
Bearn: All must be rationed
Bearn: We face hard days to come
Pippin: These men, they only eat three meals a day! And I have hardly been able to eat that lately. Usually it's only one or two
Bearn: There are no ways to get supplies here now. Edoras has fallen
Pippin: I'm famished!
Bearn: We have only that which we have stored for long months
Pippin: Is there anything I could eat? *hopeful*
Bearn: You join our procession and ask at once for food!
Pippin: Well, I'm a halfing, I can't help it
Bearn: It is not our habit to eat upon the journey
Pippin: It's a sore trial for a halfling to go without food so much!
Bearn: What is your name, Halfling?
Pippin: Peregrin Took
Bearn: I don't even know that about you
Pippin: But I'm called Pippin quite often
Bearn: Master Took
Pippin: Aye
Bearn: Can you tell me any news from the South? Did all fall?
Pippin: I don't know, sir. There was evil stirring there
Bearn: Master Peregrin, what do you know?
Pippin: Gandalf and Aragorn could feel it, but I do not know what actually happened to them
Bearn: Are you of any use where you came from?
Pippin: You mean the Shire?
Bearn: What did you do there?
Bearn: Yes, Merry came from the Shire, but you were not with him
Pippin: Well, there are no great armies or wars or kingdoms there
Bearn: Did you see Merry die?
Pippin: *turns pale, jaw drops, eyes water*
Pippin: No.... Did....did you?
Bearn: *sad look comes across his face* No, Master Peregrin. Long have been the years since I have wielded a sword
Pippin: *wipes his eyes and sniffles* He was my best friend
Bearn: A sorrowful matter then, Master Peregrin
Pippin: *nods* But I have heard that his end was glorious, that he died a hero
Bearn: Dark days have fallen all across the land
Pippin: It is true
Pippin: There does not seem to be much hope left
Bearn: Yes it was from what I have heard
Pippin: There were four of us that set out from the Shire, four hobbits in the Fellowship of Nine
Bearn: No, hope is useless, but still we go on. Hope is dead in Rohan
Pippin: And I am the only one left of all the four!
Pippin: Yes *hangs head*
Pippin: Frodo was the Ringbearer
Bearn: And only one remains to mourn them?
Pippin: He went to Mordor to destroy the Ring in Mount Doom and Sam went with him
Pippin: I fear they are dead. We have had no word of them
Bearn: It seems obvious, Master Peregrin, that your friend was not successful
Pippin: But Gandalf's premonitions were very dark...he saw visions he would not describe to me
Pippin: No, he was not. Poor Frodo! and poor Sam!
Bearn: We await now word from the survivors in the South. Gondor has fallen. Great is the lament!
Pippin: If only the Ring had never been found!
Bearn: Who will sing songs now of it? Who will sing songs now of any of us!
Pippin: I never thought I would see the day when I would wish Frodo and Sam were dead!
Pippin: For if they still live their torments will be much worse than death! *covers face in hands, then wipes eyes*
Bearn: Both Gondor and Rohan and even all of Middle Earth will be absorbed in darkness!
Bearn: Then Merry was lucky! To die in honor and before the shadows fell upon us all. It's a thing we all seek here, to die in honor, at least those who are young enough to fight but the old men like me can do little but advise
Pippin: Perhaps the men seek to die, but I can't seem to make myself wish that
Pippin: I want to live. I can't believe that there is no hope at all, at least there are some to fight
Bearn: *Shakes his head, and goes into private reverie*
Bearn: Who would think this would ever happen!
Pippin: *murmurs an Elvish prayer for Merry and Frodo and Sam as he listens to Bearn*
Bearn: Aye, Master Peregrin, you have travelled long. I will call back down the line and see if someone has something in his saddle bags for you to eat
Pippin: Oh, thank you, thank you!
Pippin: *feels like weeping with relief. Food!*
Bearn: *passes an order to one of the riders and soon one rides up the line with some bread and a jug of water*
Pippin: *rubs his temples, feeling dizzy with hunger and fatigue*
Bearn: *Bearn calls a halt to the party for a brief moment so the halfling can be fed and given water*
Pippin: How long are you going to rest?
Bearn: *The rider gives it to him and rides back down the line*
Bearn: Not long
Pippin: It has been so long since I had a proper sleep! *his face falls*
Bearn: A brief time so you may eat and gain some strength
Pippin: But thank you for this *eats and drinks*
Bearn: That will be all, Peregrin, until we reach Dunharrow
Bearn: If I may call you Peregrin... I do not know the customs of your land
Pippin: Or water, or rest? How long IS it to Dunharrow?
Pippin: Oh, yes, you may call me Peregrin, or Pippin, if you like
Bearn: About 20 miles south. We should get there by nightfall
Pippin: *stifles a groan. That's a long way! He could eat three meals in one sitting*
Bearn: This accursed darkness plagues us ever
Pippin: *mouth full* Do you stop to sleep?
Bearn: Nay, Pippin, we do not, for who has time to sleep, when war is about us!
Pippin: *whines* Ohhh!
Bearn: Who knows, even now we might be followed!
Pippin: *coughs* Forgive me. I'm just so tired.
Bearn: But I do not know for sure if we are being followed, for who can see!
Pippin: If only I had a bed and some ale, and mushrooms!
Bearn: Then sleep upon the horse!
Pippin: Oh, and pipeweed! *lost in daydreams*
Bearn: We must ride and ride hard
Pippin: *comes back to reality*
Bearn: Pipeweed? We have no such thing as that
Pippin: *sighs*
Bearn: This is war, Peregrin, war!
Pippin: *becomes thoughtful* I know. I don't want to be in a war
Bearn: *he motions for the group to start again*
Pippin: But I suppose I must. Perhaps I will have some use in the end
Bearn: *he looks over to Lady Eowyn, who has gone back into her silence*
Pippin: Gandalf says that a higher purpose guides our fates and our meetings
Pippin: *He looks back at Eowyn too*
Bearn: *He asks her* Lady Eowyn, is all well? *He thinks he hears her mutter, "Yes", but he is not sure*
Bearn: *shakes his head and mumbles to himself* Aye, dark days!
Pippin: Yes, perhaps I will be able to help somehow. *rides closer to Eowyn*
Pippin: *He slumps forward and dozes off on Shadowfax, who luckily has the good sense to continue following the group. Shadowfax trots gently to allow Pippin to rest*
Bearn: *he whispers to Pippin* She is fey. Do not heed her words
Pippin: *half asleep* Hm?...Fey?...These are fey times!
Bearn: Yes, all Middle Earth blunders, and is ever about to fall into a deepening shadow
Bearn: It will be like the dark days of old when Sauron ruled
Pippin: *yawns* Oh, no, don't say that. It will turn out for the best.
Bearn: The men wandered in darkness... Truly wicked days!
Bearn: *they ride on*
Pippin: *Pippin closes his eyes*
Bearn: *He is quiet for a while*
Pippin: *The horse's motion lulls him*
Bearn: *Suddenly he says* Pippin, can you wield a sword!
Pippin: *jerks his head up* What? A sword?
Pippin: Well, I suppose so...maybe... But I have little experience! Why?
Bearn: Yes, a sword *he puts his hand on the hilt of his sword and draws it forth from his scabbard and holds it up* This is a sword, my boy. You have seen many
Pippin: *draws back with a gasp* Yes
Bearn: Can you use one? Not one so big of course. Mayhaps you will have to defend yourself before all this is over
Pippin: *touches his sword* I guess I could, if it was necessary. This is my sword. I've heard it's called a blade of Westernesse
Pippin: *pales* Oh, I hope not, sir!
Bearn: *he puts his sword back in his sheath*
Pippin: I have had enough of perils. I do not delight in danger!
Bearn: I have heard of these blades, but in lore I read long ago when I was a lad
Pippin: This one came from a Barrow-Wight's treasure
Bearn: Your sword is little more than a dagger
Bearn: *he doubts the truth of Pippin's tale* A barrow wight you say? *he says doubtfully*
Pippin: Truly, sir. Ask Gandalf. He knows how to read people's eyes and he knows I do not lie
Bearn: *he thinks to himself... this one has the mark of a storyteller, not the mark of one who tells the truth, but he finds himself becoming amused*
Bearn: Aye, Master Took. Tell me about your battle with the Barrow wight *he laughs*
Pippin: *Pippin frowns and looks offended*
Bearn: Was it a large and terrible creature with glowing green eyes?
Bearn: Surely if you were there, you can remember what it looked like *he smiles to himself, thinking he caught Pippin in a lie*
Pippin: I don't remember clearly. It put me under its spell so fast...*he begins to shudder* It was so horrible! I can't quite remember it *He seems truly distressed by the memory*
Pippin: But I do remember...
Bearn: It is not that I do not believe you, but your tale seems strange
Pippin: That Tom Bombadil came to rescue us, me and Sam and Merry, and when we woke up. Frodo was there. We were all dressed strangely in white robes with much jewelry!
Bearn: Master Took, telling tales is as good a way as any to pass this long journey
Pippin: Aye.
Bearn: Ah, white robes with jewelry *he thinks surely this one is a spinner of good tales* We love tales here in Rohan, and songs too
Pippin: *softly* Poor Frodo! Now he is in a place far worse than the horrible Barrow! And Sam, too!
Bearn: Master Pippin and the Barrow Wights and how he defeated them all singlehandedly. Now that is a good tale, Master Took!
Pippin: If only I could call Tom Bombadil to come and rescue them now.
Bearn: Can you sing in addition to telling tales?
Pippin: *angrily* You DON'T believe me! But I swear it's true!
Pippin: And I didn't defeat them. Not at all
Bearn: But this is no time for singing for the sound would carry too far and who knows what is behind us
Pippin: It was Tom Bombadil and Frodo!
Bearn: Master Took, it is not that I do not believe you, but it is who knows what tales to believe now
Pippin: When the three of us were unconscious, the Wight had laid a sword across our necks. It reached in to kill us
Bearn: *He looks over at Eowyn* My lady, do you have stories you wish to tell?
Pippin: Frodo woke up before us, and he cut the Wight's hand off!
Bearn: *He watches as she slumps once again forward in the saddle, then regains her balance and rides erect*
Bearn: Aye, did he cut the wight's hand off now? *totally amused by this. He wants to hear more of the tale*
Pippin: Yes, he did. I swear it. Gandalf heard him tell the tale in his sleep when he was wounded in Rivendell
Bearn: Well at least your friend was good with a sword *he smiles through the darkness*
Pippin: As was Merry.
Bearn: Perhaps you will prove that you are as good as he was if you have a chance, would you not? But it would be indeed a short foe for you to kill *he laughs loudly and some of the other men in the procession laugh with him*
Pippin: I would try, to honor Merry's memory. I would try to do him justice and to honor the kingdom of Gondor which I serve now.
Bearn: *he looks down sadly at the reins in his hand*
Pippin: *bites his lip and looks down*
Bearn: Gondor is no more
Pippin: *is afraid to answer, afraid he will say something rude in his anger at being laughed at*
Bearn: *bows his head*
Bearn: Tell me more as we ride about this place you come from
Pippin: *He wishes Gandalf were here to defend him, as he once did to the men in Gondor*
Bearn: The place from which the noble Merry came. Merry was esquire to King Theoden and promised to tell tales of the Shire when they returned but they did not return
Pippin: *begins to feel a little jealous of the other three, even in their terrible fates. At least their deaths are honorable! Pippin is doomed to be remembered as a useless mouth to feed*
Pippin: *lowers his head*
Pippin: *quietly* What would you like to hear about the Shire?
Bearn: Perhaps if you are no good with the sword, you will tell us more of your tales. We only know about it from old legends, that it lies someplace to the north and that which Merry told and your people are called in our language Holbytla
Pippin: What did he tell you? We call ourselves Hobbits. I suppose it sounds similar
Bearn: Well then I will honor the name by which you are called
Pippin: *smiles*
Pippin: Well, the Shire isn't particularly remarkable. It is just a peaceful place, where things stay much the same year after year
Bearn: There was little time for Merry to tell tales, before he left, but had they come back... *he breaks off* ...but they did not
Pippin: *looks at Bearn, appreciating his mourning for Merry*
Bearn: And there will never be a mound to mark the spot where Theoden King lies
Pippin: *Pippin's eyes fill again*
Bearn: But Merry, the other from the Shire, a small mound marks where he lies
Bearn: ...Or what there was to bring back
Pippin: Oh! *sobs*
Bearn: May he ever rest in peace and may his deeds forever be remembered!
Pippin: *wipes his face*
Bearn: For he was staunch, doughty in his way and he dared try to stand up to the Black Captain. Few there are that would do that!
Pippin: *smiles through his tears*
Bearn: And paid for it with his life
Bearn: *Bearn hopes that the lady who rides with them will hear his words, though he has told them to her many times before*
Pippin: I have heard that blades like mine can wound the Nazgul, otherwise invulnerable. May the Valar grant that I may avenge my friend!
Bearn: For the brave Merry went with Lady Eowyn and rode with her in secret, hidden by her cloak
Pippin: *Looks passionately to the sky. The dark of Mordor obscures the sun but Pippin can always feel the light make its way through, just a little*
Bearn: Merry, your friend, his blade was picked up by Elfhelm, but little good did it do either!
Pippin: But I have the last one left - Right here! *touches it*
Bearn: Elfhelm died some days later. One of the Dark Ones killed him!
Pippin: I'm sorry.
Bearn: He kept the blade in honor of Merry! A momento
Pippin: *fiercely* I wish I had nine, to kill them all!
Bearn: It seems no blade can conquer them now
Pippin: They wounded Frodo, and now they have killed Merry!
Pippin: Oh, if only I could prove that wrong and hack them to pieces
Bearn: *He hopes beyond hope that the words will bear weight with Eowyn*
Bearn: But Elfhelm, before he died, he at least struck at one of the fiends
Pippin: *He is panting, and beginning to feel dizzy again. He tries to slow down his breathing. Shadowfax gives a gentle grunt*
Bearn: Now perhaps someday the bards and minstrels will remember the brave Merry and his friend Elfhelm! And tell them in song and poem
Pippin: May they always be honored, and never forgotten!
Bearn: And you, last survivor of the halflings, what of you!
Pippin: *adds silently: And may I earn a part in the tale as well!*
Pippin: *looks down, ashamed* I know not. I can only try my best
Bearn: Perhaps there is a use for you....
Pippin: *Thinks how afraid he is to be in battle again. He wishes Gandalf were here*
Bearn: If you cannot fight in battle, perhaps you can be a page to the lady?
Pippin: *brightens* Oh yes. I would like that
Bearn: At least you can tell her tales which might cheer her
Pippin: *smiles* I hope so
Bearn: So perhaps *he laughs* you will be of some use after all and not just another to eat all our food!
Pippin: *That remark hurt, but he tries not to show it*
Bearn: *he looks over at Eowyn but she ignores the words*
Pippin: I will teach her many songs of the Shire, too!
Bearn: *shakes his head*
Pippin: Elvish tales, and drinking songs, and walking songs...oh, there are so many wonderful tunes!
Bearn: Speak to her of what you will, Master Peregrin, but do nothing to disturb her thoughts
Pippin: Then I should wait for her to speak?
Bearn: She has been ill long days now. She speaks little now
Pippin: *looks sadly at Eowyn*
Bearn: She is sad. Some great sorrow plagues her
Pippin: I can see that. I wish I could help
Bearn: *He asks* Lady Eowyn? *but she does not answer*
Pippin: I can sympathize. I carry a great sorrow as well. I suppose we all do
Bearn: Cheer her thoughts, sing her songs
Pippin: *smiles* Aye, I will do that!
Bearn: Tell her of peace and pleasant things
Pippin: It is the best we can do.
Bearn: Tell her of the Shire and the tales there, of happy people and happy lands far from this sad one
Pippin: I would like nothing better than to dwell on peace, and the happy past, and the good that remains, and to forget all that I have lost, and those I shall not see again
Pippin: Perhaps in cheering her sorrow
Bearn: Yes, Master Peregrin, it is well to talk of peace.... but who knows what tomorrow may bring
Pippin: I can try to forget mine as well
Bearn: Yes, Peregrin. You have much to be sorrowful for. As do we. Our King, who long ruled us well, is dead now, and many of our number
Pippin: *looks down, thinking hard. Yes, it is true. He could die...he could see many others die*
Bearn: I will never forget the riders as they left, Theoden proud and erect in the saddle
Pippin: *Pippin tries to be sorry for the Rohirrim's losses, but he can only feel for his lost friends, Merry, Sam and Frodo*
Bearn: And his sister son Eomer with him
Pippin: *He wishes Merry would come riding out of the mists to cheer him up*
Bearn: At least we have Eomer
Pippin: *Even such a dismal situation would be better if Merry were here. He thinks back to when they were captured by orcs*
Pippin: *Somehow, he managed not to lose heart, because Merry was alway thinking of ways to escape, to smuggle food to him*
Bearn: Welcome to Rohan, Master Peregrin. May it go well with you, ut we have long miles before our journey is ended
Bearn: Perhaps yet before it is all over we will drink the cup together and perhaps..... *his voice goes lower* The Lady Eowyn will present it to us *his voice is an unspoken question*
Pippin: *Pippin lifts his face to Bearn, a much sadder face than the joyful hobbit that left the Shire, but not without a hidden spark* Thank you, sir. I will do my best for the Free Folk of Middle Earth!
Pippin: *He looks to Eowyn too*
Bearn: That is all we can do, any of us!
Bearn: But guard the lady well, Peregrin, for she has known sorrow, great sorrow
Pippin: Aye, and such hearts must be handled gently, not with force or harshness
Bearn: And I preceive that her heart holds much that is unsaid
Bearn: *he glances again to Eowyn, but he is met again with her silent resistance. He thinks to himself... she is like the mountains, cold and unmovable as stone itself. He shakes his head and falls into silence as the weary miles go by*
Pippin: *He wishes he could lean back against Gandalf and forget about his grief. He hopes Gandalf can sense his thoughts: Come quickly! All is slipping away. I am afraid! Merry...oh, it hurts!*


June 7 afternoon to evening
Road to Dunharrow

the entourage slowly travels through the Harrowdale valley towards the refuge of Dunharrow. Tall, dark mountains surround them on either side. noise from the rushing Snowbourne river and an occasional whisper of wind in the trees can be heard in the heavy air. A place of beauty this might be, but little can be seen through the dark haze of Mordor.

Maltriel listens to Bearn and the newcomer's conversation with curiosity. the newcomer is a hobbit.... his name is Peregrin Took, also called Pippin. The Rohirrim had told her about hobbits... supposedly in their stories one named Merry had ridden with Eowyn into battle... she wondered at that, for Angmar told her that the man who tried to poison her and caused her health and memory such harm went by the name of Merry. But perhaps the name was common... from the appearance and demeanor of Pippin, the race of hobbits seemed a harmless one, innocent and child-like, thoughts of poison far from their heads. But still she must be wary.... especially since this one brought tidings from Gandalf, and Angmar had told her evil things concerning the White wizard.

Maltriel keeps a polite silence whilst the two talk and exchange news, quietly listening. A lot of what they say seems strange to her.... mentions of barrow-wights, someone called Tom Bombadil.... She had never heard of anything like these tales before. Bearn thinks the hobbit is spinning falsehoods, not the truth, but the little fellow insists he tells no lies. Maltriel almost smirks inwardly... now she wasn't the only one whose story was doubted! But she shoves those thoughts from her mind.. the newcomer is tired, hungry and obviously very young.

Bearn begins talking about Pelennor.... the usual "You are Eowyn of Rohan; you fought valiantly against the Black Captain" speech. Maltriel's body tenses, for she knows he will speak some ill of Lord Angmar, her beloved. And she is right... both he and the hobbit begin talking about the Nazgul... they say that Angmar and the other Eight powerful lords of Mordor were fell men who were neither living nor dead.... but that could not be, Maltriel believed that she had seen Angmar's face and he looked kingly and quite alive. Soon she is stuck in the middle of a discussion on magical blades that will vanquish the Nine lords of Mordor... this would mean killing Angmar, the man she is to wed!

Maltriel's body tenses more, her arms held tightly at her sides... gritting her teeth, she twists the reins around her fingers until they turn white... she wants to scream, to fight, to defend her love. But she has no weapons, and is still sick and weak, always tired it seems... one helpless woman, a prisoner in the midst of powerful warriors with cruel weapons. Thoughts of any verbal duel with Bearn are futile, for the Rohirrim all believe what they wish, and they would merely continue to tell her that she was Angmar's enemy not his love, and Eowyn of Rohan, not Maltriel of Mordor. She silently fumes, cursing her lot in life.

And now they pity her. Pity! The poor, deluded thrall of Mordor, always in the throes of evil malady. It made Maltriel feel more helpless, reminding her that she was a sickly, weak woman who should be condemned to a bed, a charge of the healers, and definitely not wielding a sword upon a battlefield. She was a useless flower, cut off from life and privilege granted to those of greater stature and more worth, and placed in a vase, to be beautiful for a time, until she eventually withered and died. Perhaps if there were no war, it would not matter, and she would be content to waste away confined to her bed... for then there would be no great deeds to do, nor countries that needed to be protected from others who wished them ill. Add insult to injury, patronizing sympathy to ill-fate! She resented both Bearn and her feelings of inadequacy. If the Rohirrim truly desired to make her happy, they would release her and allow her to go back to fight in the army, or at the least believe that she was Maltriel a loyal subject of Mordor, and not their Eowyn.

The withdrawal-illness made her weak and feverish, often suffering stomach complaints, and ever did she deal with the crushing agony of depression, for mind had become accustomed to her medicine for feelings of happiness. She wished she had her medicine now... it would not help her escape from her captors, true, but she could fly away and soar into a azure sky filled with hazy memories of the Sun, and escape for a while the chains of health and status which kept her confined to the dreary earth. Such blissful dreams she would have, if only she were to be given her medicine by her lord, to be tended to by his gentle care and arts of healing. He was the only one who truly understood her, and he had suffered her to wield a sword and fight alongside the men, even though illness clung to her with its wicked claws and cruel nets, and he thought better of the idea. At least he spared her from the greater part of his pity, and allowed her to do what she wished.

Every now and then, Maltriel becomes too weary to support herself and slumps over in the saddle..... finding herself falling forward, and stopping herself with a cry.... desperately trying to right herself... oh how she hated that, especially now in front of her enemies. Complicated and tormented thoughts she possessed, often being torn between two conflicting opinions. For some time, she both greatly desired her medicine, and resented her dependence upon it, and the state of befuddlement it brought upon her. Now she no longer had it and felt miserable.... convinced that she was dying, even though her health had gradually shown improvements since she was first captured. The two stories she had been told about her life now plagued her thoughts and tormented her waking moments, and nightmares of a great, all-consuming Fire tormented her sleep. She refuses to allow her mind to ceaselessly delve into who was telling the truth about her identity..... Angmar or the Rohirrim..... and focuses instead on her journey with the entourage.

It is approaching evening, for the darkness is thickening. The road they are riding on seems to glow slightly, being of lighter color than the surrounding ground... the orange light from the torches ahead blaze in unsteady rhythm, trying to cut through the heavy air and allow some light to pass. Though sight is diminished, sound is everywhere.... the noise of the river, horses' hooves plodding, the talk between men and refugees, an occasional cry of a child, a faint song in some unknown language.

The entourage comes to a cliff on the eastern side of the valley, and Maltriel feels her horse begin to climb... the elevation of the road is rising. Through the darkness, she is able to discern that they are approaching a sheer wall of rock, with a narrow, curving path rising up its side, leading somewhere into the unknown. It is the Stair of the Hold, informs Bearn, and it leads to Dunharrow.

The entourage begins its ascent, plodding along the winding, twisting path, through the ancient statues of Pukel-men which stand at each turn in the road. Maltriel looks at them with wonder through the darkness, weather-beaten statues of the short, squat men, most of their features chiseled away by the hands of time. She knows little of lore nor of the peoples of Middle-earth, for her memories are vague, beginning at Lugburz, and beyond that there is a great darkness which is impenetrable by her will.

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