Meduseld Memoirs

Where now are the horse and rider? In here, probably.
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Thain of The Mark
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Thain of The Mark
Points: 1 271 
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Joined: Wed May 20, 2020 9:40 pm
Dear Diary,

How did I end up being the bad-guy in all this?! What went wrong? Where did I lose my way?

I never used to be this over-protective; once upon a time I found all the adventure romantic; the polished steel, the shapely armour, the high stepping destriers and the horse-hair plumes catching in the wind. I realise now that it was all the fantasies of a foolish young girl caught up in the beauty of the moment, with no realisation of the truly horrific reality of war. I don't think any of us really did, back then.

Except my husband, and I guess now I must confess Grimthain also. I always thought it would be enough to be loving and caring, fiercely protective of my loved ones and supportive of their endeavours, but somehow somewhere along the way this wasn't enough. When I fell in love with Éodred, and when he fell in love with me, I thought I fully comprehended the scars that he carried from the defence at Helm's Deep. I thought I understood him better than anyone ever had; I wanted to protect and nurture of the hero of Sceornbeorg when everyone else was looking to his for guidance and leadership, putting him on a pedestal no mortal man could live up to. I comforted him those dark nights when his nightmares of the past came, I offered him gentleness and compassion when all anyone else ever expected of his was courage and honour. I hoped that would be enough, oh why was it never enough?!

I always understood his initial desire to continue his father’s legacy in the cavalry after he died at Helm’s Deep, and I always had respect for the desire of young men to serve their nation and prove themselves in the military. But after the war of the ring was done I hoped his service might be in safer duties and not on the front lines; let the battlefield be a place for those who do not have no family to return to or people to provide for, no wives of children waiting back home, like Grimthain. Oh, I well know how selfish and bitter and shallow and cruel that makes me sound, but when I was younger that's always how I thought it would be. I didn't realise that marrying Éodred would lead to this. I don't regret marrying him, not for a second, or having Éomund. But I... just wish the world were different, Bema dammit.

I always thought that when he became a parent Éodred would remember the loss of his own father and try to avoid putting himself at risk. I thought that when Éomund was born, he might retire from the cavalry and settle down with me. Even now I don't really understand why he couldn't do that. Oh sure, it would have been duty and honour and all those ridiculous ideals that Grimthain has brainwashed into Éomund, those damn same ideals that got his father killed on foreign soil; but what are they anyway? When it comes down to it, what are duty and honour really worth? They don't put food on the table or wood in the hearth. You being awarded the posthumous honours for your actions in the Southern Storm and Northern Wind campaign did not bring you back to us. They're just stupid words for stupid people. Why should a man give his life in duty and service to a man who sits on the Throne only because he was lucky to be born the son of the last King? What gives royalty more right to determine who rides to war and who stays behind to tend the fields; what makes them any more special than the farmer or the carpenter or the smith anyway? A real warrior would tremble only at the voice of the Valar and their servants the Maiar; all men are mortal, and both Kings and knaves have to wipe their arses.

And here I am once again, the angry widow spitting angry words at people I will likely never meet. What happened to me? If only we had both just stopped and looked at the world we were in then, at what we had together, at how lucky we were to be alive back then. We survived the war, unlike so many who fell; why could we both not just be satisfied with what we had together.

Oh Éodred, how I miss you. I'm sorry that those last months we spent together were so tense, with you wanting to continue your service in the military, and me begging you to retire from the cavalry and accept the life of a simple farmer, and be happy as my husband. I realise now that you would never have been satisfied with such a humble life, with only me as your wife and no days of glory and danger. I could never be enough for the hero of Sceornbeorg, and I'm sorry for that too.

I still remember that dreadful night, that horrible prophetic nightmare of you falling from your horse mid-charge into enemy lines, never to rise again. I knew it then for what it was, a premonition, a warning that if you rode out with the cavalry again, you would not return home, and your fate confirmed it to me. Oh how I wish you had listened; when we spoke and the tensions and invasions in the East were merely rumours, I begged you to stay home for the sake of our son, for Éomund, and you seemed minded; I thought you would stay!

And then Maiar-blasted Grimthain turned up at our homestead later that day, and told you that that the formal summons had been called for the cavalry to muster for a campaign, and reminded you all about your oath to the King and duty as a cavalry officer, and you resolved to join the cavalry ride and my words could do nothing to dissuade you. I cursed Grimthain then and I still curse him now for dragging my husband from me; I knew I would never see you again, but I hoped - I desperately hoped - that I had been wrong. That it had just been a silly nightmare, like you said. Oh curse me for being right.

I should have know. Truth told I think I did. I knew who I married, but I relished being your wife. The fact that we survived the war was a miracle, our child was another, and I was happy and content with that and refused to see the truth of what would inevitably happen if you continued to pursue your dreams in the cavalry, of command. If only you had stayed alive, that would have been enough. I couldn't claim to know the challenges you were facing, the evils you erased with your blade and your bow, but you never really understood how afraid I was even then; I knew how I married, but I only asked that you come home at the end of the day, that would have been enough; oh why could you not manage that for me? For your son?

Éomund shares your mind, and your heart, he has your smile, and the world better look out because he has chosen to follow in your footsteps, despite my desperate attempts to turn him away from that path. I am so scared, Éodred. I am so afraid that I am going to lose him like I lost you. I expected him to flunk out of cavalry training - he was never as competent at you with a sword, and his dexterity was always so poor - I thought he would fail and return here full of remorse and learn to be content with the simple farm life that you rejected. But I fear he is too much your son, every day he grew and became more like you I could see it coming, like another dreaded premonition. Every day he does not return to me I realise I have pushed him too far and now I have pushed him away for good. He will surely have passed his training by now, and will be beginning his active service, if he has not already died in a field somewhere. Oh Éodred, our son is in the cavalry putting his life on the line for our nation, and I am not even there to protect him.

For the first time in years I am grateful to Grimthain. He is so damn stubbornly loyal that even I haven't been able to drive him away all these years, though curse Bema I have tried! I suspect he knew this day was coming and was trying to prepare Éomund and I for it; maybe he manufactured it, and this was all part of his grand plan? But as bitter and angry as I still am at him for causing your death, I don't believe he plot anything so cruel. This was Éomund's choice; your son made his decision to respect his father's legacy and not his mother's wishes. What the hell is a legacy anyway? Its just another stupid word to make people beholden to ridiculous ideals. Your son didn't need a legacy, Éodred; he needed a father! He needed you, and you failed him. You failed us both, and I failed you. I failed to offer you peace of mind; if you had only let me inside your heart, let our story together be the legacy that we passed onto our children; not the cavalry narrative of war and glory in battle. If only that narrative had ended in the chapter when you had decided to stay, with me, with Éomund, content to hang up your sword and become a farmer and a father for the rest of your days.

I guess I should be grateful that Éomund at least had one father-figure in his life, and one that you approved of who gave him some connection to you, and your own stupid ideals and notions. A man whose presence made you somehow more present, much as I resented him for that. Grimthain cares, dammit, I have to admit that he cares, and he tried to help so many times and all I ever gave him was cruel remarks and vicious words. I never even made him a cot to sleep in, Éodred; such a bitter, vile woman I have become without you that I would force him to sleep with the horses. And he never complained, not once, not of my treatment of him; he only ever raised his voice or got angry when the topic was Éomund; he wanted to raise your son the way you would have, and I hated him because I thought all he was going to achieve was stealing my son from me, like he stole my husband away all those years ago.

But I realise now it was my fault. Grimthain didn't drag Éomund away from me, and he didn't drag you away either. You both chose your own fate, so why am I so resentful of that? If anything, I drove my son to this, so once again it is my fault. Oh Éodred I wish you were here; I wish you could help me find a way out of this mess. I want to stop being bitter, I want to learn how to stop being the angry vicious widow and learn how to be the caring, sensitive, compassionate woman you feel in love with, but I don't know how? How do I leave the past behind me and move on, without you? How do I stop seeing our son as following your footsteps towards his own doom? How do I stop blaming Grimthain for losing you, or myself for letting you go?

I don't know how I can find my way home from this dark alone? Home is a lost dream, empty and scattered to the night skies. Without you by my side I feel so alone, I can't find the way. I wish you could be here with me; you promised yourself to me when we married, whenever I needed you, that you would be here for richer or poorer, in times of hope and strife. Where are you Éodred? Why have you not kept your oath?! Whenever I call your name you never answer. You are gone, you aren't anywhere any more. I'm trying so hard to keep going, to hold on to something light and positive, but all my dreams seem to keep falling apart whenever I touch them, like I am cursed to destroy everything that I touch. I just wish I could hear your voice one last time, just a word, one word will do. I need you to end this nightmare that I never woke from; the nightmare of you falling from your horse as blood spilt down your chest. Please, wake me up; I cannot bear this endless night-terror any longer.

And now here I sit, alone, forgotten, tending a farm I cannot possibly manage to keep without horse or son. I'm holding on, Éodred. For you, for your Bema-damned legacy, and for Éodred, thought I fear he does not need me any longer. I'm finding courage at least in the knowledge that your friend Grimthain is in the cavalry with our son, and he will try his best to keep him safe; maybe this time he will not fail you, or me. I try to be brave Éodred; I am brave, dammit. Whatever else I may have done in this life, I am still a proud shield-maiden of Rohan, and courage runs in my blood as surely as it did yours.

I have survived before, and I will survive again. I will try, but I realise now that it was my stubbornness and bitterness that has sustained me for so long that I don't know how I can let them go and still keep fighting. I don't even really know what I am fighting for, but Bema-blast it I am fighting. And I am going to try and let the anger go; all I have really achieved by being defensive and aggressive is driving away the only people who really, truly cared for me after you died. I'm sorry it has taken me this long - that it took Éomund defying my own orders and demands and leaving - before I realised what I had become. That I have left it this late to make a change, but I change I will make, and hope it is not too late to at least salvage some sort of relationship with our son, and with Grimthain. Because as annoying as that man is, he has kept his vow to you and continued to provide for your family and has determinedly withstood my worst tirades and angry words, and has always tried to do right by Éomund even if I didn't like. Now that Éomund has joined the cavalry, I have some solace in the fact that he persisted so much in training your son and thanks to him, Éomund is less likely to die through error or mishap. Its oddly ironic that the man I have hated and have been so cruel to through the years is now the one person who brings me comfort, though he probably does not know it.

I hope Grimthain can keep Éomund alive and safe long enough that I can find some way to repair the wrongs I have done to him, to them both. I don't know how, I will have to think carefully on it; I have lost many of my skills in diplomacy, and the farm needs tending before the harvest comes or I will have no food for the winter, and curse be to me but I will not arrive on the cavalry's doorstep begging for handouts. If I go to them... when I go to them, it will be as a strong, independent woman who knows her faults, so that when I ask their forgiveness they do not feel compelled by my destitute state to offer it out of pity. Because if there is one thing I never wanted, even before I married you, it was pity. Compassion and empathy have a place in the world, but pity serves no-one, just as I have learned anger and bitterness do not.

It is late, and my words are turning in circles. Tomorrow is a new dawn, and I must rise before the sun to see to the new chickens I have purchased with the last of my coin reserve in the hopes I can settle them to lay eggs for the table. If I am lucky, mayhap I will have pleasant dreams of you Éodred, visions of when we were young and hopeful and the world did not seem such a cruel and dark place, that it might help me remember how to be that loving, caring woman again and shake off the vestiges of the bitter old cow I have become. I miss you Éodred, and I miss Éomund. Curse it, but I'm even missing Grimthain; I must have finally lost it! But for now I must go; the dreaded wildcat of Wilderwood is mewling for his supper and my bed is calling to me. Rest well, my love, and guide me on this new journey.

OOC (Inspired by the song 'That Would be Enough' from the musical 'Hamilton' and 'Endless Night' from the musical 'The Lion King'. Also, apologies to anyone who was rather hoping this would be an insight into Allacan's own mind; that post will come, in good time, but not this day.)

Thain of The Mark
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Taethowen's Private Journal

Early Summer

I've stepped across the border, into the Mark, for the first time in a decade. I am... not sure how I feel about it. I have no horse, which nearly makes me feel... as if I do not belong in the Riddermark anymore, but no matter what, there is unfinished business here I must deal with, whether I stay or not remains to be seen.


A Day Later

Ærn Anhyrne was empty. Moðor was not there, nor her husband, nor my brother and sister. No stablehands, no horses in the stables, no livestock. The fields look to have lain fallow for at least a year now, possibly longer. I briefly passed through Coinmheadh, to see if Moðor had left word for me at the inn there, but there was nothing. I found the deed to the land and more coin than I recalled still safely buried in the stable, where I'd hid it from my stepfather when I first left to join the Cavalry. I know there is more that I hid on the land, I just... have to remember where. I hope I wrote it down somewhere. I wouldn't have been so foolish as to bury it in the middle of a field or under a tree. Time and nature change those things too quickly.


A Few Days Later

I reached the Aldburg this afternoon, after hitching a ride with a passing farmer. There's a bulletin to post public notices, and I posted a notice for a steward. I'm not sure what will happen when I reach Edoras, but no matter what does, Ærn Anhyrne should not sit empty and fallow.


One Week After Returning to the Mark

I have reopened my seamstress shop in Awesnis, and taken a room at the inn. I... can't quite yet bear to check on my house in Edoras that I shared with my husband. If he is there, I am not yet ready to face him. And if he isn't... I am not ready for that either.

I met some dear, old faces in the Riddermarket though, by chance. Thalionwen, and Culfinwen, and Lail. Bema's horn, it was wonderful to see people I knew again.

It was even more wonderful to actually remember them.

There was a seamstress squatting in my shop, though. I suspect that after I instructed my cousin to close it, the woman snuck in and began using the shop's reputation to build up some clientele. I suspect she's been swindling the local cloth dyer, from the way the cloth dyer's children were behaving with the woman. Fortunately, the seamstress left without a fuss, and I'm glad, because from the work she left behind, she would have barely passed to be accepted as an apprentice during my time running the shop.

Elarith, from the butcher's shop, commissioned a new apron. She served in the Cavalry around the same time I did, but in a different eored, so she did not truly have anything new to add to my sparse memories of the time.

I... need to go to the Dragon Room soon, but I am not sure that my exit will be a free one, or if I might be tossed in the stockade for abandoning my post. So I need to finish tying up some loose ends first.


A Few Days After Re-opening Awesnis

I received a letter today, an inquiry about the steward's position, I will reply first thing in the morning.


A Few More Days Later

There's talk of the Edoras Summer Festival being staged again this year. I wonder why they haven't done so for the last few years, from the rumors...


Another Few Days

I've received a response about the steward's position again. It's a young man identifying himself as Ceadda. He is interested in the position, most definitely, and would like to set up an interview.


About Three Weeks after Returning to the Mark

Lady Bereth and Thalionwen visited my shop today, both to commission dresses for the summer festival. I've decided that Awesnis will host the Meduseld pageant again. It seems it became quite popular in my time away, and as the founder of the event will be quite fun to host it once more. I will need to find someone to be another judge, though.

Lady Bereth gave me a surprise gift, too. Two dozen tiny, white iridescent buttons. Each button has the smallest, sparkling stars you could imagine studded across them, connected with shimmering silver wire. I'm not sure if I should make a hairnet or a gown with them. I'm not sure either would do them justice.

Thalionwen is hiding something from me, though. She paid for her gown with mixed coin from the Black Lands and Umbar. How, in all of Bema's Green Pastures, did she come across that coinage?


A Little Less than a Month after Returning to the Mark

I found a farmer to take me from Edoras to the Mering Stream, thank Bema. While the journey was still a few days of travel, at least I did not have to make it entirely on foot. Just the stretch from the road to the manor. I interviewed the Ceadda for the steward's position at Ærn Anhyrne today. He is young, but has experience running a farm, at the least. I would like to get the breeding stables back up and running again, but that will take time as I try to track down any remaining breeding stock from the family lines which might still exist.

Ceadda will be bringing his widowed mother and two young sisters to live in the steward's house with him. I'm glad that the estate won't sit empty anymore. It needs people to love it.

While I was at Ærn Anhyrne, though, I managed to find several years worth of old ledgers, and even some of my father's old journals. I didn't know he'd kept any, or that Moðor had saved them.


A Few Days Later

Midsummer is nearly upon us, and with it the summer festival. I've returned from the Eastfold now, yet again, and should honestly be heading straight to Awesnis in the morning... but first. First, I think I will take a day or two and clean up my house here in Edoras.

With Ærn Anhyrne returning to order, I should also put my home here to rights. I also cannot continue to justify spending good coin sleeping at the inn when I have a house here that is perfectly suitable. I must face the memories, sooner or later.

Another shopkeeper in the Riddermarket answered my advertisement for a second judge for the Meduseld pageant. Her name is Gwai. I think... she may have been another Cavalry comrade as well.


The Next Night

I have returned to the inn for one final night. I finally visited my house, and while there were few memories that assailed me there, it was still an emotionally draining task. My husband was not there, and there was no sign of him having been there for a very long time. I found a stack of letters, though... from myself. I'm sure that some were lost in the mail along the way, but the most recent one was dated eight years ago. I know that we've corresponded more recently than that... but it's been at least four years since I received a reply from him. Even with mail getting lost as I traveled, I should have heard something.

But to be honest, after the first year or two... the tone of both our letters changed. And I think part of why I delayed returning for so long was because I did not want to return to a loveless, failed marriage. Although now I am not certain that returning to no husband at all is any better.

I will write now the words I spoke earlier today, as I realized that we truly were not ever meant to be. Don't forget these words, Taethowen Anhyrne.

I release you from your oath to me. Wherever you are, whether in Rohan or elsewhere, I wish you happiness. From now on, I shall seek my own.


The Morning of the Second Day of the Summer Festival

Dôlguzagar.

His name. His true name. Don't forget it.

Dôlguzagar.

Six years. I ran away from him, six years ago, in Umbar. How is he here? How does he know Thalionwen? Why is she married to an orc, and saying things about leaving Rohan, and as much as that worries me, I don't care.

Because he is here, and I have a feeling that I owe Thali a debt she will hopefully never discover.

Don't forget him, Taethowen Anhyrne. Don't forget his name. Don't forget the feel of his skin against yours, or the way he kisses you with that pretty mouth of his as if you're the only water in the midst of a desert. Don't forget what it's like to feel whole. What his pretty, pretty black hair looks like against your skin.

I never thought I'd see him again. And yet he remembered me, remembered my name... well, the one I gave him then, at least. Lomiel.

For once, I recognized someone first, before they recognized me. I'm sure my appearance has changed some since that fateful day in Umbar. I was still... fairly gaunt then, after that illness. I am healthy once more, and I rarely wear my hair loose, and I don't remember the last time I fixed my face in any manner. But I'd been posing as a Gondorian noblewoman. And Taethowen Anhyrne of the Riddermark is not Lady Lomiel, at least not in appearance.

Dôlguzagar.

Don't forget, Taethowen Anhyrne.

I'm so glad I prepared my house to be lived in again. I need to have my trunks moved from the inn this afternoon.

Doorwarden of The Mark
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First Entry ~

I should have begun you long ago, Hiraeth, for so so much has happened in the short time since I’ve returned. I often pour out my thoughts to a horse, who, while a patient listener, I doubt he remembers a thing I say. At least he will be no talebearer. I trust neither shall you.

Much has changed. Much remains familiar. Many of my perforated memories have still not returned in full. There are those who I have instantly remembered, those who slowly come back into recall, and still very many who are simply a fog. And then there are some I should not have so much trouble remembering. Such segregation seems akin to mischievous magic, or some such oddity.

I did so very much wish to return to the Aern Freablod with dear Eldrith. I worry for her, and wish we could steal some time to speak. The Aern should not as stand idle as it has, it was never meant to. She did an admirable job maintaining it as she did, and I must find a way to repay what she has spent out of pocket.

I brought a small box with me to the Horse and Rider Inn upon my return, a gift for her. But I fear it has been lost in the chaos of the fires.

Oh but the fires. I cannot even begin to tell you of that yet, Hiraeth.

And then there is the one who calls himself a Fool. He is very much not.

Sleep calls me now, if I can dodge around the dark dreams. Perhaps my next visit with you will be less scattered and disjointed.

With Affection,
Ber

Thain of The Mark
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THALI'S LEDGER

Received in exchange for Eastfold family farm, Godric's smallholding, and a good flock of dairy goats: XXX gold pieces

Shopping List:
20 camp beds
20 sets surplus/worn out Cavalry barracks bedding
1 VERY large tent
1 equally large soup pot
6 sets nice curtains
20 nightstands
3 rocking chairs
several good-sized washbasins
Alwin of Sailes, if he'll come out from Aldburg (decide what payment can be offered for his assistance)
A quantity of hay
As many and varied medicinal herbs, bandages and supplies as money can buy (needles, fine horsehair, etc)
Perhaps some very small horses, to keep patients in good spirits?

Reminder: Set aside a bit of coin for foodstuffs, after furnishings and herbs are bought

***


Reminder: inquire at the Pet Shop as to whether they could use some kittens. How did this place end up so overrun? At least there won't be any bother with rats

***


Reminder: Ducky is underneath Bed 4. Not sure if he's still there? Haven't heard anything for a little while. Should probably check in.

***


Reminder: Sigrid is in the western pondside cot. Do not disturb unless necessary--she ought to have her privacy. Sort out her wages

***


Reminder: extra shipment of willow bark is waiting back at Cwep Ciese. Be sure to pick it up tomorrow. Find new supplier for cheeses now the Eastfold farm and poor Godric's smallholding are sold off

***


Infirmary Meals

Oat porridge for mornings: oats and honey, with a spoonful of apple preserves stirred in so long as supplies last
Should have a cup of new milk for each patient, too. See about finding a cow? Perhaps Hild could be traded for one

Simmer a good quantity of soup bones overnight, with garlic, salt and a bit of onion
Set some stock aside at the beginning of each day for the weakest patients
Add root vegetables at midmorning (whatever was picked over and cheapest at the Riddermarket)
Serve for midday meal
Add greens or peas during early afternoon, if they can be got
Serve for evening meal with 1-2 honeyed wheat cakes per patient

***


Reminder: Frost is locked in the old south end shed. Don't forget about him.

***


Herbal Brew for a Persistent Cough

Mix 1 spoonful each dried ginger and thyme, steep for...awhile? Until you remember the pot was set out
Add a good dollop of Lail's honey
Use to treat cough and/or sore throat brought on by smoke inhalation post-Edoras fire

Reminder: Ask Taeth to make up a quantity of very small gauze bags with thread ties, so doses of dried herbs and crystallized honey can be sent home with outpatients

***


Reminder: Beda. Beda's siblings. Beda's Mum.

Reminder: Old Mother Mute is in the cot across from the tent. Check in at mealtimes. Make efforts to find out her name.

Reminder: visit Throne Room the next time the king hears petitions and grievances, tell him about the...slight problem...with the Infirmary land and expenses
Image
Bealdorhaelend
Proud member of the Eastmark
Lead Healer, Edoras Infirmary
Shopkeeper, Cwep Ciese

Thain of The Mark
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Darkness, blackness, silence, void. An obsidian night that stretches into eternity, absent presence and thought and being. Only sentience, a knowledge of presence tenuously balanced in the limbo between existence and oblivious. Time has no meaning, nor sensation, nor emotion, only the blackness of thought without stimulation or imagination. This is where I was born; into this night without the grace of moon or stars, without the hope of dawn. From hence was I moulded, not by feeling and emotion, but by pain.

Tortured anguish was the only thing that reached me in that eternal black; merciless, intense, consuming, overwhelming. The torment became the beating of my heart, the blood pounding through my veins, the air as it entered my lungs and expelled itself again without the mercy of taking my soul in flight with it. There was nothing but the absence of emptiness, and the all-encompassing agony. My life should have flickered from existence, but somehow the pain bound me, restrained me, reforged me into something new.

It was all I knew, all I remembered in those first waking moment, in my first formative days, and it imprinted upon me like a mother’s greeting until the screaming torturous agony became the sanctuary and seclusion into which I fled, the home I was bound to, where I would grow and reform. It became my purpose, my aim; to reflect and inflict that which bore me into the world. After the pain had utterly destroyed me and forged me anew into a creature that revelled in its sensation, mother-agony began to birth new sensations; the tenuous explorations of this new experience called life.

A trickle over hand, red and thick, warm to the touch and yet scorching, burning acid to mine. Lifeblood of mine mixed with another, spilt to empty my carcass of all hope and joy and courage and fill the empty husk with only despair and ruin. The touch of betrayal, failure, loss. A caress of my ultimate folly; my pride, my belief in the goodness of another. Love for a daughter who desired naught but my ultimate defeat and destruction. The day the pain woke me to a new life was the day the flames of my previous existence were smothered so the darkness could claim my soul.

It was impossible for them to understand how such a birth, such a coming into being, had changed me beyond all possible redemption. All existence becomes a living torment, a feral seeking of nourishment never to be sated, impossible to tame. Ignorance and pretence of recovery have carried me thus far, but the scars never heal; the physical ones may pale and soften with age, but those within the mind fester and blacken until necrosis rules. Destruction reigns. Pain dominates.

Yet even against the darkness, the blood of man proves a resilient fuel, a flaming Phoenix that was reborn at the sight of old friends and allies, the passionate loyal warrioress not destroyed in those cold chains but only subdued, sparking back into being at the calling of those dear to its heart. In that moment - when the creeping dominance of shadows was pushed back by the tiny wavering glimmer of hope - my life became a raging torment of confused half-rememberings. The darkness like shadows before the fire retreated into the deepest recesses of the mind, but there it lingered. And waited.

I strove to find balance, to return to the remnants of a life that had become nothing more than a half-remembered dream; the folly of the mortal. But my blood still coursed with the shadow, hungry for destruction and torture. I retreated from the world, from myself, from all knowledge and influence. Until I thought I had found some measure of self-acceptance. Balance. Control. All lies and self-deception.

Cuthbert. The name will be forever etched into my mind, branded into my soul. The dark creature within me had been bound by the iron chains of resolve and loyalty, yet the dark aura that emanated from that foul creature of a man dissolved them as easily as flesh consumed by lava. The feral beast within was unleashed, the I that is also my true self re-forged by another, by the pain, battling to eclipsing the every action of the memory-self, tainting and taunting.

I wish again for chains to grind deep into flesh, words that cut even deeper. A crashing crush to the chest sending thoughts into oblivion, the screaming agony of the pain-home to claim me once more and consign me again to oblivion and destruction, or the ignorant rebirth of another. Anything but this horrific truth. This eternal, aching hopeless despair of self. A silent scream of anguish as I recognise the inevitability of my twist the world to my own evil intent, even as my own battered soul laughs at my torment and desperately strives to put right my own discord.

I scream into nothingness again, the sound stolen by the steely hold of my own subconscious. I shake in my frozen cage, my insides trembling apart, my tears cascading in the only expression I cannot halt. Worse once was the thought of my destruction, yet more horrified still am I now that I realise the futile selfishness of my continuation. Utterly outraged by what I have been forged, and the revelation that I can do nothing to undo this crafting. Nothing but watch the final glimmer of fragile hope of redemption flicker against the endless tides of hatred and despair, resilient but weak. Like spider gossamer against the thorn.

There is nothing more I can do but huddle in this empty wilderness, horrified and appalled, shocked into stillness by the unimaginable duality of the beast I have become. It should be the end of hope; there is no way for this conflict to conclude except with a cataclysmic self-destruction, for I cannot sustain an endless torment. My fingers itch to close around despair and end this torture at long last. To die and be done with all suffering. I reached for it, I grasped my end in my hands.

And yet, not so.

The tiniest glimmer of hope remains, unlooked for and unknown, and yet more powerful still than all the works of darkness and light wrought within me. A touch, a face, a spark of blue flame burning in eyes as bright as my heart had grown cold. In the moment that I teetered on the edge of defeat, plunging my knife within to end it all, as the jaws of the baying hounds of fate slaver for my flesh and the cage within me crumbles, like a herald of the end of night and a new dawn rising, beyond all belief I find new purpose.

Lost as I thought I was, seeking only an end to my failings, an end to me, that might rebalance the world, only to find those scales shifted by another, I was ignorant to her influence. My fate was altered only by her intervention.

Hope as unexpected and serendipitous as magic itself, yet all the more perennial and powerful in my cataclysmic despair, has suddenly raged furiously within again. A crossbow trigger that sets my heart racing with the purpose of life, like fleeing footsteps that retreat away from those chains and the blood and my own dying form. Away from the baying cries of the furious beast within that offers sweet relief from all conscience and remorse. Away from despair and into the great yawning unknown.

Towards hope. Towards a meeting of the two, an accord and a balance; a new peace. Forgiveness, compassion, acceptance to myself. Towards a future not yet defeated.

Tomorrow I will go to the archer, and try to speak with her. Tomorrow I will find some way to put right the wrongs I have done to this land and it’s peoples, but without forsaking the past that has forged me beyond rescue. Tomorrow I will make a new vow of purpose, and seek my own redemption no longer in the eyes of others, but within myself. I walk a new path - one that falls within the confines of neither of my lives before, and one that will likely lead to my destruction and ruin, exile and betrayal. But one that is the only measure of peace I can seek, for it is the inner-battlefield that torments me so.

These words I consign to fire, but neither the flames nor the shadow can undo what I have experienced, what I have done, or what must come next. Because of her intervention, I have a new chance to become neither loyal warrioress of the light and stealthing death of the shadows, but something more than the balance of their whole. I will become the burning flame of pure night, and pray the fates will have mercy on the tattered remnants of my soul.

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Walpurga

I’m not sure what I expected when I came to Edoras. I supposed I thought the world would shift and everything that had been wrong with my life would change for the better. I thought it would be a fresh start and I could become a new person with a new look and lease on life. I think I was wrong.

Not totally wrong mind you. Things are different here and they are better. I meant a wonderful person named Shadowfox who seems more genuinely happy and curious about the world around them than anyone I’ve met in a long time. I can’t remember feeling like that. I suppose when I was younger and had a stick instead of a sword, when I imagined wild adventures with the pigs as my steeds while we invaded Mordor and fought off a legion of orcs singlehandedly. But those days are long, long gone. I’ve grown up since then. The veil of childhood was ripped away from me a long time ago. I hope that sense of wonder and genuine happiness is never taken from Shadowfox, they don’t deserve that. I want to say I didn’t either but does it really matter?

I bought three skunks today. I hadn’t planned on buying that many. Truth be told, I didn’t plan on buying any. Who ever heard of a pet shop selling skunks? Wyrd had something good planned for me. That was nice. They’re cute and squeak to each other. I wander what they’re saying to one another. I wonder what it would be like to have a sibling like that. Someone you could take to and instantly understand you. Friends. It’s a concept I’m hoping to learn soon.

Everyone is so busy here. That’s the biggest difference between Edoras and Benton. Everyone seems to have a place to be or something to do. I feel out of place and out of sorts. What am I supposed to do? I was going to see if Éomund wanted to spar, but he seemed busy with the man he kept calling Fædera and I was too embarrassed to try and speak up. They were having a moment and I didn’t want to intrude. I'm happy that Éomund has found someone to connect to. Really. From what little we’ve actually spoken it sounds like he deserves it, to have someone in his corner willing to fight for him and stand up for him. I wish I had someone like that.

I don’t mean to sound whiney or needy. I… I do sound whiney and needy though. I don’t want to be. I want to not need anything. I don’t want to feel so lonely and feel better being by myself. Is it pathetic? It probably is. My mother would say so. She would say she’s been alone her entire life except for a few nights twenty years go and she’s just fine. I don’t think she’s fine though. I think she’s just bitter and callous. I don’t want to end up like her. I’m scared that I will. She warned me against coming here. She told me that she wasn’t going to stop me but she told me I was making a mistake. What if she was right? What if… what if she was right about other things?

The Cavalry is nice. No, it’s not nice, that makes it sound silly and for children. It’s not. Even though I somehow ended up with a baby badger on my first training exercise. I’ve earned the wrath, or mistrust, or something negative, from the Second Marshal. I’m sure of it. I did something wrong but I don’t know what I did. I thought fighting off the wolves was a good thing. I would have done the same thing back home. I have done the same thing. But she seemed more annoyed than impressed. I don’t know what I should have done but I clearly made a mistake doing what I did. Typical me, I suppose. She looked at me a lot after that, like she was trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with me. Makes me wonder… is there something wrong with me? There must be. I still get the same looks in Edoras that I did in Benton. No one knows me here though, they don’t know about how I hate having to dance with boys at festivals. They don’t know that I’d rather just sit with someone and read all day, particularly a girl. Mostly a girl.

I’m rambling. Of course I am. When I’m around people I can’t seem to speak, not that anyone really speaks me to though, so I guess it’s not great loss. When I’m with the skunks or the my baby badger I can talk, but they only have a measure of understanding. What I wouldn’t do for someone to really talk to. I really thought Edoras was going to be different. As it turns out, it’s mostly just bigger. I’m still lonely. I still feel isolated and secluded. I just want a friend. I want to rest my head on someone’s shoulder while watching the stars. I want to make shapes in the clouds and tell stories with someone. I’m tired of having to be my own best friend. Why can’t I just be normal and have a friend like everyone else?

There really is something wrong with me, isn’t there?
Everything Stays | I heard that wise man said from presence to silence we flow

Elwing
Elwing
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Lailyn's mental list of things to do since returning to Edoras (in no particular order):

- finish unpacking. in progress... a few boxes and chests still to go
- remove weeds and replace with a bountiful garden. in progress... this garden of my dreams for the bees is a lot of hard work but it'll be worth it.
- get house repaired. in progress... and stop utterly failing at eyeing him. he. has. a. family. just stop! get yourself together.
- deliver honey to Thali's Infirmary. at least that should be easy.
- deliver honey to the Dragon Room. really dreading going back there again. I was always afraid of the Cavalry HQ back in my day. I guess we'll see how I feel now.
- get a dog. a big dog. apparently there are would-be murderers on the loose around Edoras and you decided to live alone. you're always so full of good ideas, Lail.
- inquire after, or visit, Pele. must be terribly frightening to get stabbed on the streets of a strange city...
- find out where to get some barrels in this town so I can start making mead. but after the fires, they are probably in scant supply...could be a problem but not the worst thing to be lost in the fires.
- set up the barn for making mead. at least it doesn't need repairing...I think. I'm no expert. but there's nothing obviously wrong.
- inquire at taverns and pubs if they will be interested in serving my mead once its ready.
- also: brew bilewitdox. and locate lemons and birch tree sap. what was I thinking suggesting that? I may have been a bit ambitious with this.
- have Gwai over for tea. and don't let her get stung and killed by a bee. no pressure, she's just the Marshal of the Meduseld eored!
- help Nymlac be less of a scoundrel. is it possible? I'm willing to try.
- also: apologise to him for not being there when he injured his leg...I am sure it wasn't easy.

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To-Do List

- Apologise to Éomund again (properly this time) for the Throne Room
- Go shopping (with Éomund obviously)
- Visit Glædmód Abiring
- Buy a kitten from Ye Olde Pet Shoppe (surprise Éomund if possible)
- Drop by Awesnis Gærwe Nædleprica to see if they stock buttons and maybe pick up a basic sewing kit for the short term
- Maybe browse Treowwyrhta for new furniture (beds!)
- Talk to Éomund about the letter from Éodred (mental note; take the letter, don’t be a coward this time)
- Talk to Éomund about Leigh
- Tell Éomund about the house
- Warn Éomund about Sigrid (mental note; make more time to see Éomund)
- Take leave from the cavalry to visit Helm’s Deep
- Collect stuff
- Complete hand-over paperwork for new Watchmaster
- Write to (visit?) Leigh; update her on Éomund, tell her about the sword and the letters, make sure she is set for winter/help her out with reserves (mental note; don’t bloody take no for an answer this time
- Find out what happened to the old mute Auntie (Infirmary/Thali?) Make sure she has somewhere to live after the fires; invite her to stay with me? (and warn Éomund)
- Éored meeting with Gwai (there is a distinct change in ink and writing, as though the writer’s focus drifted off at this point and the list was completed much later)
- Speak to Shiva or Taeth about Gwai
- Make plans to take Éomund (and Leigh?) to Éodred’s grave-site

Elven Enchanter
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To-Do List

— Check on Fædera to see if he's okay after the Throne Room
— Make sure Fædera gets the letter from Da
— Figure out a way to send some money to mum
— Get up enough courage to talk with the Third Marshal
— Learn how to use a sword
— Train with Sunbeorht - figure out horse armour stuff?
— Stop by the Infirmary to get my hand checked? (this item is written in a reluctant scrawl)
— Make plans with Fædera to travel to Da's grave-site

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Taethowen's Private Journal

The Evening of the Second Day of the Summer Festival


He's watching me as I sit and write in my journal. Not staring, but just... watching, in between other things he's doing. It's distracting, but somehow I will keep my focus until I'm done or until the food--something he calls lung au vin and it smells quite delightful, and he's already given me a glass of wine that is so superior to what I served him yesterday I am nearly ashamed that I dared to serve it at all--is ready, whichever happens first.

I'd asked him to pick up some supplies, since all that was in the house last night was that old bottle of wine. I gave him money and a list, and thought I'd make something simple when I came home for the evening. I hadn't expected him to cook dinner, and I'll be honest that I don't recall if my husband ever did this for me.

I'm glad the way Gwai and I planned the pageant provided for an evening off in between the second and third rounds. At least for the judges. I'm sure the contestants are dashing about madly trying to finish their garments, but I... I get another night, with him. And I'm so glad.

My trunks arrived from the inn safely. I should unpack them, but I doubt it will get done today, for some reason.

(His gaze is heady and distracting, and all I can think about at the moment is his voice in my ear earlier. The longer the day goes on, the hungrier I think I get.

The kiss he stole in the alley. The way his touch makes me feel more alive than I've ever felt before.

Focus, Taethowen. The sooner you write these things down, the sooner you can spend time with him.)


I hired two helpers for the shop today--Starbreeze, an Istari, will be an apprentice, and Seleðryðe, another Rohir, will be a shop assistant until I've seen what her skill is. They both are interested in boarding here in my home as well. Starbreeze nearly finished Elarith's new butcher's apron, and her work was more than satisfactory. Seleðryðe is supposed to bring samples of her embroidery, and she'll be making a dress in the shop so I can observe her skill.

There was... an interesting incident in the shop, as well. A female orc by the name of Zarâm tried to steal a bolt of fabric. It seems that both Thali and Frost know this orc, though, and they both attempted to pay for the fabric, and somehow I've now also been commissioned to make a set of clothes for Zarâm.

(here, there is a smudge of ink, and any flies on the wall will know that Frost distracted Taeth at this moment with more than a few kisses before pulling her away from her journal to eat and... other things)

(the next paragraph or two of Taeth's handwriting is a bit shaky, perhaps written while feeling intense emotions, or by candlelight)


Bema's horn, the things he does with his mouth and his hands... but he seemed to be plenty satisfied with what I do with mine as well.

I just have a couple more things about today to write down.

I went to the Dragon Room, at last. It was... strange. I am relieved that my letter of resignation did indeed arrive all those years ago, but right after First Marshal Shivased had assigned me a task, Second Marshal Rowena stepped in and changed my task and assigned me something to do with her family motto and sword. The entire thing only took a couple of hours, but... it was odd.

They are short a Marshal right now--the Meduseld eored--and despite my qualifications, and the fact that I asked for the position again, I was... turned down. Nor was I even made Ærest Pæthfindian again. I am simply... a pæthfindian.

I am not sure how I feel about this. The Cavalry seems to have changed, greatly, while I was away. Which I suppose was to be expected... but I would never have expected it to change in the ways it has.

Who turns down a returning Marshal in favor of an empty seat?

On to happier thoughts now... there are things I definitely want to remember from today.

The ridiculous outfit he was wearing when he came into Awesnis. Yellow, red, and blue... was he trying to look the part of a fool? He's far too... imperious to pull it off, but I will give him that he's bold.

Don't forget, Taethowen Anhyrne. The way he held you close as you walked through the streets. The warmth of his hands when cradled your face, brushing your hair back. Kissing you, so slowly and softly. How it made you tremble.

I know he's a flirt. I know he's probably pulled these moves on a hundred different women, and men, and Bema knows what else.

But I can't quite shake the feeling that it's different for him too. The way he looks at me, at times, he seems... I don't know. Surely I'm imagining things.

Oh, please, don't let me be the only one falling.

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Image
Walpurga

The days are kind of melding together now. I wake up and instead of feeding the pigs or cleaning out their pens I go eat breakfast in the common room, play with Brocktree and the skunks, then I go for Cavalry training.

I’ve taken to the sword quite well. I may not be as good as all the heroes in stories and tales, but now that I can practice with a genuine sword instead of a gnarled old stick and I’m improving immensely. I still have a lot of work to do with the bow and arrow. I can’t believe how many times I thought I was about to shoot when the arrow just sort of… dropped. To be far to myself, there’s no farm hard equivalent of a bow and arrow I could have had rudimentary practice with. I suppose I could have used a slingshot and that might have helped my aim, which is not horrible when I manage to fire the arrow. I’m proud of myself.

I’m not sure how much of a war horse Svanhildr is going to be. No, I do know how much of a war horse she’ll be and it’s not much. I remember catching her out in the wild. She was a feral pony we first met, and she wouldn’t let within a hundred feet of her. Slowly, I was able to gain her trust enough to touch her and feed her from my hand. Getting her to let me ride was a bit of a trick. I think I broke a bone or two falling and falling and falling until finally we came to a good mutual agreement: I would only ride her if I provided a sweet apple before we rode. She’s sweet and gentle now, at least with me. I don’t think anyone else has tried to handle her.

Things are good.

No.

That’s a lie.

When I’m practicing with the sword I’m alone in the yard. Everyone else is too busy to practice with me so I’m relegated to the training dummy. I am getting better, but fighting a blank face stuffed with straw is lonely. Archery is worse. I am just as bad as I said above, but there’s no one to help me or show me what I’m doing wrong. I’ve had to figure most of what I know (and therefore what I don’t really know) by trial and error. Walking to the targets by yourself feels like the saddest thing in the world. I miss the pigs in the morning. I love little Brocktree and the skunks, I really do, but there’s just something about the pigs that I miss every morning. Eating alone every day is… well it’s harder than the more I have to do it. I thought it was nice at first, I could have some time to myself and could watch the sun rise without interruption, but now I hear everyone else’s conversation and realize I’ll never be a part of anything like that. I don’t have stories to tell friends over and over again, I have no inside jokes, I have no one to tell my funny tales to. I can talk to my animals and they seem to understand, but I wish someone would talk to me.

I had a dream the other night. A nightmare. I was out in Edoras at night, walking through empty streets when I thought I saw someone in the shadows. I tried to follow them but every time I got close, they just vanished and reappeared somewhere else, just at the edge of my vision. I grew more and more frantic as the chase went on. I have no idea why. I tried to call for help, to catch this person but no one heard me, or no one cared, it’s hard to say. I heard voices though. Harsh, guttural voices that would grow louder and louder the closer I got. I almost caught them once, at the end, but before I could turn them around to see who it was they exploded in a cloud of crows.

This is the kind of thing I wish I could tell someone about. What does it mean? Who was it I was chasing? Why did no one want to help me?

I suppose I could answer that last question. No one wanted to help me because no one sees me. The more I try, the more I feel invisible. Brocktree and the skunks don’t think I’m invisible though, they’re climbing all over me now hoping for treats and scritches. I’m not totally alone. I do wish I had someone to confide in. Someone to whom I could share the things that scare me. Will I ever find that person? I hope so, but I don’t think it’s likely. Hope is a poison though.

Still, I wish I had someone.
Last edited by Marshall Lee on Fri Feb 19, 2021 1:16 am, edited 2 times in total.
Everything Stays | I heard that wise man said from presence to silence we flow

Thain of The Mark
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Dear diaree,

My frend Walpurga has sed that keeping a diary can help with reeding and riting, and sumtimes it can help you understand your feelings too. So I am giving it a go.

Walpurga is loverly. She is so fun to spend time with and she is very clever. Even tho her frends were mostly animals growing up, she is reely good at reeding and riting and an amazing singer. And shes so cool too. She has a pet badeger and pet skuncks, and I herd rumurs from some of the cavalery people that she fote foot fort a wolf empty handed and that is why she has been waring bandadgis on her hands! Plus she is bootiful - I reely hope she wants to stay my frend becos I think there is lots that I can lern from her abowt beeing corajus and tru to yurself. I wud like to visit her and call on her for suprize visits when I hav days with nuthing to do, But I dont now no know were wehre where she livs. I think she wud like me to visit her, becos I feel like she mite be loneley like me sumtimes, but she seems to confidunt that I am no shur. I think mayebe she sleeps in the cavalery baraks most of the time, but I dont think no cavalery peeple like me are suposed to go there, even tho I helped put out the fire on the dragonn room roof recentely. Maybe I can sneek in and surperise her one day, but I will hav to make surr I dont get cort.

My rist is aching now so I am going to stop riting for today. I wil haf to purchis a nyuw violin as soon as I can becos that will help with my rist strenguth and then maybee it will help with my riting too.

Goodbiye diary and thank you for lisenning.

Shadowfox Fox Me

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Taethowen's Private Journal

The Morning after the Fires
Written with a shaky, exhausted hand, the ink smeared in several places and some words potentially indecipherable later.

I don't even know where to begin. What do I need to remember most?

Allacan is Fyrefly.

Kâribâri. (What does it mean? Something about a horse...)

Thali's assistant, Alwin, said he'll take letters to him for me. We haven't exactly told Thali about anything yet. Especially not having met before, in Umbar.

I think... that's the most important bits. I should... try to remember what all has actually happened now.

Campian. There was a nasty dwarf with a filthy mouth, and he came to my defense. But he ended up hurt because of it, and then... we fought, afterwards. He apparently stole an apple from a child, and... I don't know what all happened, honestly. I think I asked him to please be a little more discreet and... he took it to mean that I didn't want him around at all.

We made up later, at the after party for the Festival. But I can't remember everything we said. I just remember that he was... almost frightened. Spooked, really, and I think... someone hurt him, in the past. Tried to make him be something he's not.

I remember telling him that I wanted to stand at his side as his equal. He... what did he say? Think, Taethowen Anhyrne. Think.

Ah, yes. You are my equal Taethowen Anhyrne. And my opposite.

There's something more to those words. Something I need to figure out. When I'm less tired. Bema's horn, I'm so tired.

The fires started not long after. I'm certain that some of his Mordor cohorts were involved in the tent fire, but no one was injured or killed, so I doubt Gwai or I will push for any recompense. This way, we don't have to find a way to store the tent.

Everything that happened at the Æthelmund though... it's so confusing. I don't know how to make heads or tails of my jumbled memories. I need to sleep... but if I sleep I might forget it all.

Allacan called us all there--all the minions, and then Gwai and I using her power as the HCMA. That much I do remember. But for what purpose? I can't decipher it, and what I remember most is... that I can't remember who all was there. Frost, Thali and her... husband, Allacan and Gwai, and at least one other woman. Another Númenórean, I think. And... she kissed me? Ugh, I don't remember.

What I do remember is a shattering bottle and a flame. The pub went up, and he went down, which was probably inevitable after his injuries at the Campian and the amount of drinking he did at the after party. But still... my heart nearly stopped. Thali was able to get him away to her... new infirmary (I keep wondering if I've forgotten something about that, but I don't think so. It was only two days ago when she said she was leaving Rohan) before the Cavalry arrived to fight the fire.

I never want to fight a fire again.

Later, I was able to find out from Thali where she'd taken him. And it was on my way to see him that I discovered there was yet another fire last night, at the Horse & Rider Inn. It seemed to have spread to some of the nearby homes, and I saw a body covered by a blanket in the emergency infirmary outside Meduseld. So someone died.

My memories become even more scattered and foggy after that point. I know I went to the infirmary to see him. I know I saw him. But... I said things. I panicked. But what did I say? What happened, exactly?

Why do I feel like I've made a grave mistake?

I remember waking, apparently having fallen asleep leaning against his cot in that locked shed. I remember Alwin walking me home.

But what else happened? I feel that I've forgotten something so terribly important.

It's well past dawn now, though. If I hadn't just hired the apprentice and shop assistant, I would not go to the Riddermarket today. But I don't know when either of them plan to show up yet, and so I should be there. Somehow. I don't dare lie down to rest, though. If I do, I won't wake again for hours.

Oh. Right. One more bit of news.

I'm... apparently the Second Marshal now. Promotions are to be held at the Dragon Room this afternoon. I don't know what has happened for this to occur. It's all very strange. I had just resigned myself to being just a pæth. But now... I'm a Marshal again, and I'm honestly not sure how I feel about it.


The Evening of the Day after the Fires

There was a stabbing at the Riddermarket this morning. A woman named Pele, a Gondorian. She's all right (or she will be), thank Bema, due to Thali being at the right place at the right time.

I passed out at the barracks after the promotions. I'm amazed I even remember the stabbing at all.

I commissioned spare keys, too. And another item... the keys I was able to wait on, copies of the house and the shop for my cousin and the new hires. The other item will take time. It's a gift.

Lail was helpful today, too. I need to speak with the other Marshals about an idea I had. It seems there is a disconnect between the people of the Mark and the Cavalry of the Mark these days. We (the Cavalry) need a public presence which is maintained by the people, a place they can come to ask questions and seek aid when needed. I think Lail would be a perfect fit to help manage something like that.

I've figured out what Kâribâri means. Horse queen. He's a flatterer if there ever was one.


A Couple Days after the Fire

I was able to have an audience with the King today. I wanted to be sure that my appointment to Marshal again was done so with full knowledge of the illness I'd suffered in the past, and its seemingly permanent effects on my memory (especially since I'd been denied the rank of Third Marshal so shortly beforehand). He assured me that it was.

I was also able to obtain an letter of dissolution for my... marriage. While I'd already released my husband from my heart, it feels right now to have the legal side of it settled. I deserve more than to be bound to a man who vanished without a word.

I also told the King of my relationship with him. If the fires hadn't happened... if he hadn't been so obviously in the public eye, among others who were seen causing mischief, I would not have worried about it so. But I do not wish there to be rumors sent to the royal house of me being a traitor.

Who I spend my time with is my own business, but I know that in nearly every part of Arda there are gossips, and I have a... publicly prominent position now. It's not a matter of if I will be scrutinized, but when.


A Week after the Fires

That was a ridiculous and ill-timed Cavalry exercise, even if the task itself wasn't a terrible challenge. But surely it could have been delayed after all the fires, and not been forced on the Cavalry in the middle of all the investigations. But... the King's orders are the King's orders.

I was paired with a young woman. Her name is Walpurga. She looks eerily like him, but in our brief conversations she made no mention of knowing anything about her father. If she really is his daughter, though, I won't be the least bit surprised. She was as strangely stubborn about her own lack of taking care of herself as he is. He drinks while he's concussed, and she fights wolves with her bare hands.

Her potential parentage aside, though... she was delightful and innovative. I would like for her to choose my eored for her station, but I'm afraid she may bear a grudge for having her grounded during the badger fight. But I didn't know how else to teach her that a soldier's most important weapon is their hands (other than one's mind, anyway.)

I hope I can go see him tomorrow. It's been a week. We've exchanged some letters... but it's no substitute for actually seeing someone face to face.

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Taethowen's Private Journal

Two Days after Lost & Found

At least while we were away on the Cavalry exercise, the idea I broached to Shiva and Gwai has made progress. We'll be opening a Liaison Office in the Riddermarket, someplace where the people of Rohan can come and request assistance from the Cavalry. Someplace a little less intimidating than the Dragon Room. More accessible.

Lail has agreed to manage the office, at least for the time being. She has the perfect demeanor for it--helpful and friendly--plus her prior Cavalry experience will give her an advantage. I stopped by the location we selected in the Riddermarket, close to the main office, and the needed renovations are nearly complete.

It should be done in two days, and Lail has agreed to meet me there that morning.

Gwai and I are to go present ourselves to the King tomorrow, as the newest Marshals of the Mark.

I have not yet had a chance to visit him at the infirmary. These new Cavalry duties, while necessary, are becoming wholly frustrating.

I'm beginning to get a feel for the ways the Cavalry has changed while I was gone. A returning... I honestly am not sure whether she was a full-fledged Cavalry member, or simply a trainee, actually. But anyway, her name is Hadassa. She appears to have Dunlend blood in her. The guards at the Dragon Room doors were less than courteous to her, and judging by the way he was also treated at the Summer Festival, I suspect certain persons cultivated this type of response to those who appear... other.

Even in my private audience with the King, he told me to be on guard around him, citing the incident with Wormtongue.

People here seem to think that enemies can only come from outside of our own. If anything, the incident with Wormtongue should have taught us to be most wary of those we assume to be safest. I do not understand how this has all become so twisted in my time away.

At times, I will confess, I am beginning to wonder if it was the Riddermark that changed while I was away, or if I changed more than I suspected.

It doesn't feel quite like home here anymore. But I don't know where else home might be, yet.

Oh, the wolf pelts... I need to remember to retrieve the wolf pelts. Dryhtguma Sighard said he'd left them in... Acsagemet, in the West Emnet, with the local tanner. Not that I would forget. How... fortuitous that it would be the same town where my father is buried. I had not realized we were so close to it during the Cavalry exercise.


The Day of the Second Visit to the Throne Room (read first)
Written shakily, hurried, in scribbles going all different directions across the page as one tries to record a jumble of thoughts that are not yet making sense, but needing to be recorded.

He is gone. Some... creature (Was it a vampire? Truly? I can think of no other being it might have been, though.) entered my house, through the shadows, and called him away.

Who is the Iron Queen?


I know he dabbles in... dark things. Dabble is probably far too mild a word for it, but I can't think of anything else to say right now. Even though he hasn't said it, the signs are there for anyone who has the knowledge to see it to know.

He's dropped more than enough hints... his casual mentions of magic. The runes inked onto his arms.

He is certainly of one of the noble houses of Umbar. The way the slavers responded to him that day... he mentioned that his mother obtained multiple tutors and lecturers for him when he was young...

Arioch. The vampire stated his name was Arioch.



(Here the writings scrawl into nothingness, the author clearly caught up in emotion or memory again...)


The audience with the King. I should write that down.

Gwai and I presented ourselves to King Éomer this morning, to swear our swords to his service as Marshals of the Mark. I... will not speak of the First Marshal's interruption. It was aggravating at the time, but compared to the most recent disappointments of the day, it's... nothing.

He was there in the hall, afterward. Apparently he'd finally received his summons from the King, but I was surprised when we were both called into a private audience. I would have thought that the King would speak with him alone.

I... may have lost my temper. But things needed to be said. I'm still astonished that I had the courage to tell the King I was ashamed to be Eorlingas, though. Yet it's true, at least with the series of events that have happened recently.

He swore an oath, though. I had not expected that of him. Oh, what was it, what did he say...

I... make this oath upon my own blood. I swear... I am no servant of the Eye, nor in league with the forces of the Black Land, though I walk those ash ridden fields freely.... I shall not lead a host of enemies against you whose intent is the destruction of your way of life and your culture. I will not use my avenues of inquiry in a way that will fall negatively upon you, your house, or kingdom... as long as there is no enmity between myself and other Rohir within your borders, I will take no action that would bring bloodshed and harm.

It's not exact. But I think... I think it's close enough to what he said. I'm sure there's loopholes in there. But my mind is too weary to make them out at present.

The King gave him a letter of safe passage. That was my suggestion, and I worry that it may have been a foolish one, but... I cannot help but feel relieved, knowing that wherever he is off to now, at least nothing will befall him within the Mark's borders.

~~~

Tomorrow I shall leave for the Eastfold. It shouldn't be long until Eldreda arrives, and I can leave a spare key for the house and the shop for her at the Ærendgewrit. It would be better if she somehow made it before I left, but there is too much to be done to linger here. I've delayed my preparations for my arrival at the Hornburg for too long already.

~~~

Eldreda has arrived. She brought news of my family.

They perished in a fire at the Cornerstone Inn, a couple days ride into Anorien, almost four years ago. Grimbur, unsurprisingly, mismanaged the estate and they had run out of money at last. Unable to sell it since the place is held in my name, they were heading to whatever family my mother still had in Gondor. She never told me any names or relations, and I'm fairly certain she had no brothers or sisters and that at least once she'd mentioned that her parents had long passed, so perhaps an aunt or uncle of her own. Probably to filch money off of them.

Eldreda said she wrote to me then, but I never received that letter. I am certain of it.

I wish today had never happened.

(The page is stained with tear marks.)

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Journey to the Anhyrne Estate
Day One

Lailyn seemed a little nervous, but she'll be fine. I highly doubt another occurrence like the stabbing will happen again, or at least not so soon. Surely.

Neither of the apprentices I'd hoping would show up to help Eldreda arrived, at least before I left Edoras. Oh well. I delivered Elarith's butcher's apron myself, while I bought the supplies I needed for the journey.

Travel was difficult. I miss Frost. I miss my family. I don't know if I will ever see him again--the thought of that is almost more than I can bear at the moment--and I know I will never see them again.


Day Two

Sleep was futile last night. Perhaps it wouldn't have been so bad if the fires in Edoras hadn't happened so recently. And then to learn that my family had all been killed in a fire.

Gefyrst and I were able to press hard today, and we made it to the Aldburg. The Cavalry officers here seem nice enough. A few faces seemed familiar from my own days here, though it's been over a decade.

They'd hoped to socialize, though, and I just wasn't in the mood.


Day Three

I was able to get a room at the inn in SwiÞhanda for the night, though the thought of staying in an inn after learning of my family's deaths in one was more frightening than I'd expected. At least they have a private room, and I was able to bathe.

My body itself has become a reminder of him. I miss him. I miss my family. There were so many missed opportunities with both. I should have gone to the infirmary to visit him every night, no matter my embarrassment around Thali. I should have come back to Rohan sooner, and at least visited my family one more time.


Day Four

Morning

Whatever tea the inn's cook provided to help me sleep was... not terribly helpful. But that could just be my own agitation.

Night

I made it to the border. Tomorrow I will cross into Anorien. Tonight, though, I'm at the Cavalry outpost on the Rohan side. It's far smaller than the Aldburg, and I don't think I will get out of socializing.


Day Five (Anorien)

I wish I was not alone for this journey. I wish I had someone to keep my thoughts distracted, but all I can think of is what I've lost. When will I get to have something good that isn't snatched away from me?

I should reach the Cornerstone Inn tomorrow.


Day Six (Anorien)

Evening, after visiting the mass grave where the Cornerstone Inn once stood

I wish I knew where they'd been going. Who they were going to see. Modor never said much about her Gondorian relatives. It would be nice to know what family I might have left, no matter how distant. The only relative I'm close to on my father's side is Eldreda. Everyone else is so distantly related that it would be difficult to track them down anymore.

The mass grave was... simple. There was a single, large gravestone with an epitaph.

Here lie those who perished in the fire at the Cornerstone Inn.
May they find the Halls of Mandos without wandering.


I didn't stay long. After four years, what was there to say? There was no use in any funeral rites.

I wish I was not bound to Rohan right now. That I was free to wander again.


Day Seven (Anorien)

It was colder today. I'd hoped to be back across the border by today, but Gefyrst was obviously worn and I took the time to give her a rest.

Tomorrow, I'll be back... home. The home of my past, anyway.


Day Eight (Ærn Anhyrne, Eastfold)

It was harder than I expected. Returning. I thought it would be all right, since I'd been there recently. But that was before I knew they were all gone. Forever.

Ceadda's mother, Trewyn, has invited me to stay in their own home on the estate. Normally, I wouldn't dream of intruding as the mistress of the estate but right now... I'm so tired of being alone.

Ceadda's family is clearly quite close. I felt a little like an intruder, but Trewyn did her best to put me at ease.

There were three letters waiting for me here. One from Æthelwigend Grimthain, one from Amethyst Copperpick--the dwarf woman at the goldsmith's in Edoras--and one from Shivased. Apparently Shivased's estate is not far from my own. I hadn't realized our family homes were so close.

After dinner, though... It was probably presumptuous of me to burden Trewyn with everything that's happened, but I've had no one to talk to. I don't know why Thali hasn't written, and I don't know what she's gotten herself involved in. Perhaps choosing her as Bealdorhæland was a mistake after all.

Tomorrow, Ceadda and I are to go into Coinmeadh. We need to hire more help for the estate before winter.

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Ærn Anhyrne
(excerpts from journal entries during Taethowen's winter preparations at her family home)

It's possible some of the Anhyrne lines have been mixed in with the horse stock at Braiarwood. I will have to speak with Shivased about it soon, see if some of my family's stock has been preserved after all.

~~~

I've hired two new hands to work at the estate. That should be plenty of help for Ceadda over the winter, as I've decided not to start acquiring new breeding stock yet. That can wait till spring.

~~~

I thought the Riddermark was home. But now I tihnk that I came here wanting a comforting familiarity more than anything else. I did need to come back, to finish up the lingering affairs between me and my now-former husband, but when I saw my old friends, saw Edoras again... walking into the Dragon Room. I thought I'd be able slip back into my old life, I suppose. I was so very, very wrong.

~~~

At least I won't have to travel to the Hornburg alone. I've decided to accept Æthelwigend Grimthain's offer of traveling together.

~~~

Trewyn suggested something today, and I cannot believe the fool I've been for not even thinking of it myself.

To find my son, in Gondor. I went and tried to see him after I recovered from my illness there, but his family asked me to stay away. To give him time to adjust. And I will be honest, I felt helpless in front of them. They seemed to be treating him well, at least, and had a stronger claim to him than I did, and so I agreed.

But it's been a decade now. He'll be nearly a man. Old enough to decide for himself what he wants.
And if his rejection of me is what happens, I will have to live with it, for abandoning him there.

It will be some time before it will be possible, though. I am not free to travel to Gondor right now, not with my duties as the Second Marshal.

Trewyn suggested that I could sell the estate, too. I'm... not sure I'm ready to consider that. Even if the Mark doesn't feel like home, Ærn Anhyrne has been in my family generations. I'm not sure I'm willing to give it up.

~~~

This week went rather quickly. Tomorrow, I will leave, and stop in Acgesmet to retrieve the wolf pelts that Walpurga and I harvested during the Cavalry mission, and I will visit my father's grave while I am there. It has been far too long since I was last there... probably nearly fifteen years.

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Excerpts from Taethowen's Journal

The Day Taeth Visited her Father's Grave

I hate visiting graves. A month ago, I would have dreamed I would be visiting the graves of every member of family. That I would... be alone. I knew it was inevitable that Frost and I would have to part ways at some point, but I so very much hoped we would be staying in touch. Perhaps he's written while I've been traveling. He only knows where my home in Edoras is, so perhaps there will be a letter when I return. I'm probably foolish to hope so, though.

But to get back on track... I visited my father's grave today. If I was frozen with not knowing what to do or say at modor and Cary and Cadman's graves... at father's, it was effortless. No matter what decisions I make about my future, unless something calls me away from the Mark permanently, I will not stay away for so long again.


Return to Edoras

I feel guilty leaving Eldreda to tend the shop by herself, but this is why I called her out. My cavalry duties simply will not allow for me to stay in Edoras, not when I've been stationed as the Westmark Marshal. I'm well overdue heading to the Hornburgh.
There were no letters from Thali or Frost, but there was one from Lail.

I finally told Eldreda that my husband left me.

(A few hours later)

The couriers must be bored today. Lail and I have already been able to arrange to have dinner together tomorrow evening. I'm not sure yet if I will be leaving for the Hornburg the day after that, or another day or two out.


The Next Day, After Dinner with Lailyn

I told Lail everything. I didn't quite mean to, but somehow it happened. Two months ago, I would have thought I'd be telling Thali this story, but Thali seems to have disappeared, and I haven't had the courage to tell it all to Eldreda yet, though I should. Probably soon. In fact, I should tell her tonight when she comes home from the shop, because I don't know what awaits me at the Hornburg.

I want to believe that I'll go there, and everything will be in order as it should be, but since learning of traitors left unpunished, and leaks left to continue... there is a sense of unease that I simply cannot shake.

Poor Lail though... she's had a rough time too. I'm glad that we were able to help each other. At least, I think I helped her.
She told me something, though. Told me to remember it, if I forgot everything else about this night.

I think there is nothing you cannot do.

So many people have told me that I can do better, be better. But not that I can do anything. So I suppose... what I need to decide now is what I want to do.

I hear the door now, though. Eldreda must be home. It's late, but I should finish all the unpleasantness in one night, I think. Perhaps my head will be a little clearer for it in the morning.

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Excerpt from Walpurga’s notebook

This have seemed to turn around. They’ve turned around in most random way possible. I met a man today. I’m not sure what possessed me to think this but as soon as I saw him, I was convinced he could be my father. Why oh why Walpurga! You silly girl! Of all the people in the whole world why would you think that this one man who crossed your path was your father? Naturally, as you could guess, it turned out he was not. As it turns out, not every tall, blue-eyed, black-haired you happen across is related to you. What a concept! Normally, I would have mortified and believe me, I was. I even began to blubber about how terrible things have been for me here in Rohan, in Edoras. But then something happened. He didn’t run, he didn’t reprimand me, he didn’t blow me off. He listened to me, listened to what I was saying and heard me out. It’s been a very long time since someone’s done that for me.

Then, out of the blue, after I’d stopped crying and gotten a hold myself, I ask him if I could go with him. He was only passing through Edoras on his way north. Again, I’m not sure what possessed me to behave so brazen and rash but there it was, right out in the open. I have to give him credit. I should probably give him a name if I’m going to keep talking about him. His name is Kamion. Anyway, I have to give him credit, he didn’t flinch. He said I could come with him.

So I’m all packed up. He told me to meet him in the morning. It took all of about ten minutes to get everything ready. It was a little sad, realizing my life could be packed up and cleaned out of a place in ten minutes, but I want to leave as little of myself in Edoras as I can.

Brocktree and the skunk triplets are in good spirits too! Normally they are playful and try to cheer me up but I think they sense that I’m happy and are even more playful. I’ve had to stop the biggest skunk, the boy, from crawling all over me twice. He like sitting on my shoulder and latching on. The girls enjoy snuggling on my lap. I hope Kamion will be okay with them. I sort of, kind of, maybe, neglected to mention them. I’m sure it will be okay, right? If he accepted me, after I accused him of being a horrid father and then cried on his shoulder for who knows how long, then I think he will accept my little babies.

Speaking of babies, I should go make sure Svanhildr is ready to ride. I’m not sure where exactly we are going but I know it’s up north and I need to make sure she’s ready for a long journey. I wonder if they have some apples and carrots in the kitchen. I’m sure they do.

The innkeeper and her husband have been so kind to me. Maybe the most kind of anyone since I left Benton.

I should write a letter to my mother at some point. I wrote her a note when I arrived and told her not to worry about me, that I was safe. I never got a response.

No. I’m not going to let her get me down. Dealing or reconciling with her can wait for another time. I have so much in front of me know. I thought I was about to be swallowed up by the blackness of the lonely but then Kamion came and offered a candle, a glimmer of light. It’s not much, and I don’t know what sort of things will await me, but I’m ready. I’m ready to take control of my own life and live on my own terms.
Last edited by Marshall Lee on Tue Feb 23, 2021 9:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Rhissish
A Spider’s Account of Two Idiots Causing Trouble
(Private with Tara)

Oh boy! I was on my way out of Rohan, away from a particularly odd horse lover that tried to… I can’t even begin to describe that scene. Was she tried to capture me? Court me? Kill me? I have no idea. Humans are weird. They’re intrusive and they don’t value the simple constructs of nature. We spiders are much better at things like that. But that’s a moot point. The real point is that I needed to get out of there and get as far away from the crazy horse people as soon as I could. Between a bad attempt at seduction and a screaming, howling fit, I figured it was only a matter of time before someone tried to break open my hutch and stomp on me. So that’s how I ended up on the road. Not on the literal road, I’m not an idiot. I know my coloring would make me an easy target for stomping and squishing, so I kept to the tall grass the side of the road. I was making good time. I have no idea where I was going, but I was sure I was making good time. I was headed south. No real reason other than it was warmer down south and I could use a bit of warm weather right now. It was the forth or fifth night, I can’t remember which, when I ran into them.

I’m not exactly an ancient, giant spider so when I first came on the goblin and the orc, I was utterly flabbergasted. I was so shocked by how different they looked from humans. The goblin was shorter and green, and his teeth, silky gods his teeth, I’ve never seen such bad dentistry. It’s truly terrifying to behold, especially when he smiles. The orc wasn’t too bad upon first glance. He was ugly for sure, and hairy, so so so hairy but he was less creepy and unnerving than the goblin. That was until I got closer and my pedipalps got a sense of the… things growing nearly his belly region. I’m not going to lie here, I was horrified. Yes, blue, hairy tarantulas are allowed to be horrified. I know this because I absolutely was. However, the more I listened to them bicker and fight and complain and chat, the more I realized they weren’t really that scary, at least not in this instance. They were just idiots. Idiots that happened to be going the same way as me. I happened on them in the middle of their conversation and it appears that the larger one, Reg I think, was angry at the goblin for… I can’t really figure it out, there seems to be so many things for him to be angry about. Fleeg, what the hell kind of a name is that? It sounds like someone sneezed and decided that was a good name. Maybe it’s a goblin thing. Spiders are apparently the only beings in the universe with good names it seems. I’m not sure how I got mine, but that’s a web to get caught in later.

In the end, I decided to hitch a ride. If they were going south too, I might as well gain some distance, right? I crawled up into the goblin’s pack. I’m not sure what I was expecting to find in there but I did see some rags I could curl up in and sleep while they travelled. However, as soon as I tried to burrow I was pricked by a cactus. Yeah, a cactus. Who the hell has a cactus just stuffed in their backpack? And the spines were all still intact too. There was also a glass jar with a giant centipede in it. Yeah, no thanks. Nope. Noooooo thank you. I noped out of that situation and decided it was best not to hitch a ride in the pack. Where did I hide? On top of a sombrero the goblin was wearing. Where did he get such a ridiculous piece of headgear? Ungoliant only knows.

I’m in for something big, I can tell. What are these two idiots going to do?
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A Spider’s Account of Two Idiots Causing Trouble
(Private with Frost)

Adventurer’s Log, Day 1

Today was the first day of the journey. THE journey! The biggest, most excitingest, most monumental journey of my life! Finally, the time has come for me, Caixib, to get out and see the great big world!

I suppose I should back up a bit and write about how I got here, to this most exciting of days and this most epic of journeys. I had long ago begun to beg my mother to let me wander off to a warmer climate after spending my early years in this grassy wasteland. “No, no, no!” she would yell. “You’ll get your legs ripped off or your eyes put out, or worse!” But in my mind, the worst outcome was living and dying in the same place and never seeing anything but the undersides of horses (blech) and the walls of straw huts. I wanted so badly to get out and see what it was like in other places!

Mother and I would go back and forth on this issue almost every day (father being absent, of course, because mother ate him long ago). Then yesterday, my cousin Rhissish, who's a lot prettier than me - apparently the whole “colorful spider gene” skipped me - ran over, looking panicked. She said she’d just been wooed by a human. “A HUMAN?!” my brothers and sisters and I echoed in our raspy tarantula voices. “Never!” I said. But it was, apparently, true. How weird! I thought. Usually, humans run and flail and shriek when they see one of us. But to woo a spider? Things must be changing in a bad way around these parts. All of this was driving Rhissish out of Rohan, and my eight eyes lit up with excitement at the possibility of an adventure.

So, in the dead of night, I snuck out of my family’s burrow (I tried not to step on my brothers’ and sisters’ faces as I left, but I totally failed at this. What can I say? It's a cramped burrow! Just one of the many reasons I wanted to get out!) and scurried after Rhissish. I found her just as she’d come upon two … beings. She claimed the smaller, greener one, which left me with the big orc. They would be our ticket out of town! And our steeds! We would ride into the southern sunset, perched on their foul-smelling shoulders, and maybe we'd all even become friends.

That was how I thought it would go at first, anyway. My steed, whose name I’ve since learned is Reg, is a big oaf and would probably flip his shire if he discovered me back here. Despite the fact that he’s rather dumb and extremely gross, I feel a certain . . . affinity for him. We are both quite hairy. It’s still too early in our relationship for me to decide whether or not he’s a decent dude (bias against spiders aside), but I will content myself for now with curling up and blending in with his copious amounts of back hair and enjoying the ride. I just hope he stops screaming at the other one (whose name I gather is Fleeg) soon. I would really like to get some sleep tonight. Leaving home for the first time is exhausting, okay?!

Anyway. I guess that’s enough of this Adventurer’s Log for the day. I’ll try to keep writing in here as we continue our journey. Who knows - maybe something crazy will happen, and this journal will become a real book one day! Oh sweet Ungoliant, that would be amazing! I can only put my eight legs together in prayer that it will become an instant hit!
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Rhissish
A Spider’s Account of Two Idiots Causing Trouble
(Private with Tara)

Idiots can, or rather must, surprise you. Sure they’re idiots and they couldn’t think their way out of a woven basket with the lid off, but if you let them, they can be endlessly entertaining. My idiot, the goblin named Fleeg, had not noticed me yet. It was several hours into our trip south and I, bright blue large, still remained hidden. How that could be possible I don’t know, but I was not going to look a gift grasshopper in the mouth, no thank you! I was going to enjoy this. We’d just started our journey when I noticed something on the hairy one, a clump of hair that looked like disgusting and unkempt as the rest of his hair. Was that? Yes! It was Caixib, my dear cousin! We call each other cousin but I’m not quite sure what the real relationship between us is. It might be cousins, or it might be 89th cousins 12 times removed. Spider family trees are complicated. And full of ladies. No one cares about the males, unless you’re making a list of delicious meals. How she’d managed to escape her mother, a dreadfully overbearing and severe creature, I couldn’t guess. But I was happy to have her along. She needed to leave the nest, as it were. I hear down south they have some amazing places to build webs and wild and crazy things to eat. She had aspirations of becoming a writer and while I have no idea what that is, I will help my cousin achieve her goals. At the very least, we will have some wild stories to tell over a feast of beetles.

I was going to try and communicate with her, let her now I saw her (I assume she’d found me because let’s face it, I’m not a stealthy spider), when my steed started screaming. I’m not quite sure how the screaming started, I think he stepped in something that disagreed with him. I was able to pick out the words “horse-poo” amidst his inane babble. Bipeds seem to get really bothered when stepping in stuff like that. I’ll never understand it. Fleeg was under the impression that it was the orc’s fault that he’d stepped in the poo and was demanding recompense. Well, those weren’t the exact words he used but you can guess at what he said. Reg, the orc, didn’t pay the goblin any mind at first. He must have grown accustomed the goat like screaming of his compatriot. Like an infant human, when screaming did not work, the goblin took to throwing things. He bent over and scooped up a big handful of the horse droppings, formed it into a ball and launched it as hard as he could at Reg. As he was doing this, I could not fathom why. Wasn’t he just complaining about having stepped in it? He’d just spent ten minutes detailing a conspiracy theory about how exactly Reg had planned on making Fleeg step in it. It involved strange tangents about flies and centipedes (good Ungoliant this goblin liked centipedes, what the heck was up with that?) and the mushrooms growing on his belly. Finishing off his rant, he declared “I hope one of those mushrooms comes to life and eats you!” and threw the poo. I was very nearly knocked off my perch at the top of his sombrero. I was only able to hang on by the sheerest luck. How he didn’t see me is a mystery. I nearly fell right in front of his face!

Reg, for his part, roared with laughter, called Fleeg some names that I don’t think I can repeat in front of any possible spiderlings out there, picked up the poo and threw it back at Fleeg. Reg’s aim was better than Fleeg’s. His toss smacked the green goblin right in the face. The pungent odor of horse manure filled the air. Fleeg’s sombrero, along with me, flew off like a discus. I was having trouble orienting myself, but I heard something that made my heart freeze up.

“What’s that blue thing on your stupid ole hat?”
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Ilmarë
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A Spider’s Account of Two Idiots Causing Trouble
(Private with Frost)

Adventurer’s Log, Day 2

Well, here we are, on the second day of the big trip! I was finally able to get comfortable and get some rest last night. Reg is monstrously hairy, so I just sort of fluffed up his copious back hair to create a little nest for myself. When you ignore the fact that he’s just THAT hairy, it’s actually quite a cozy setup. Being a spider, you probably would think I’m used to gross things. I mean, so many other creatures - including humans! - find us repellant and disgusting. But my future burrow will be the tidiest burrow there ever was, and it will be lined with my finest silks. Speaking of silks, let’s not even get started on the webby works of art that my distant kin weave! Have you ever seen a spider web all caught with dew in the morning? Well, there you go! We are neat and tidy compared to oafs like Reg, who seems to have let himself go to such an extent that he can’t even be bothered to comb his own back hair. Imagine! I mean, I guess it doesn’t really matter to me so much, especially because all the knots and tangles actually make it easier for me to just relax back here, and to write this all out.

So, um, let’s see. What happened today? Oh! Well, I saw Rhissish peering down at me from the giant headgear that Fleeg is wearing, so I waved a long leg in her direction. Did she see me? I have no idea because just at that moment, there was a bit of a commotion. Fleeg started screaming about poo, then both he and Reg started flipping out and hurling giant chunks of the brown stuff at each other. My whole body shook when Reg roared, “Arr, a mushroom son’d be more useful’n you, yeh great booger! Nicer, too! I hope Mig slices yeh open and uses yer hide for a coin purse! Nyaaah!!” He sprinted ahead of Fleeg (me clinging onto his back hairs for dear life) to seize some hitherto-untouched piles of manure. Just as he bent over to grab a handful of the stuff, with a loud SPLAT, a chunk of poo landed

RIGHT.
NEXT.
TO.
ME.

Some of it even splattered ON MY LEGS. I was screaming. Inside, of course. I naturally joined in on the freaking out and writhed about, trying to shake the poo off of my hairy legs (let’s be honest, having super-hairy legs is not a boon when they are covered in poo).

I think I might hate Fleeg as much as Reg does. Or more. Reg was actually pretty unfazed by the poop-flinging. In fact, he almost seemed to be enjoying himself, what with all the maniacal laughter that caused his whole body (and, in turn, me) to shake. I, on the other hand, was covered in brown shire and had nearly dropped my journal into a muddy pile of filth in all the ruckus. Plus, everything smelled awful.

And then. And THEN! Reg said the scariest thing yet: “What’s that blue thing on your stupid ole hat?”

I almost died right then and there. Rhissish had been spotted! We were running out of time! So, I did what any self-respecting spider might do: I joined in the fight. I scuttled up Reg’s huge beefy neck to perch atop his head, which is actually quite massive for someone who I’m beginning to think is not that smart. Probably a lot of air inside that big ol’ skull.

Anyway. Where was I? Oh, right. I was on top of Reg’s big old dome. I could see Rhissish clearly from here, so I waved my frontmost legs at her to get her attention. I was hoping she might help me get revenge on Reg and Fleeg and, in the process, perhaps buy ourselves some time to find better hiding spots on these stupid steeds of ours. After all, I don’t think she signed up to be caught in the crossfire of a poop war on her way out of Rohan, nor did she sign up to be spotted and squashed like some common house spider. I certainly didn’t. What these two disgusting excuses for steeds needed was a taste of their own medicine - but with a spidery twist. You see, us spiders poo, too. And it’s toxic. I thought to myself, well, what’s the worst that could happen if they get poisoned? The poison will knock them out for a bit, three hours at most. They’ll be fine. And while they’re knocked out, we could kick them in the face, and Rhissish and I can have a chat and coordinate how we’ll hide and communicate and stuff. That would all be very hard to do (the face-kicking especially) if they were conscious.

This plan seemed pretty reasonable. Still, I’m not proud of what I did next. Like I said, I’m usually quite tidy and clean. But. Well. These were extremely chaotic circumstances. I let it all go on top of Reg’s head, then scooped up a little glob of my own poo (I KNOW) and hurled it at Fleeg’s face. It was too bad that the giant hat (and Rhissish) had flown off of Fleeg’s head; I’d sort of been counting on the hat protect her from any of the, er, splash. I waved my legs at my cousin once more to try and signal to her that she should do the same to Reg, but I’m pretty sure she just gave me a look of revulsion.

Fortunately, my aim was true, and Fleeg started wailing like a newborn human and clutching at his eyes. Great Mother Ungoliant, those things (babies and Fleeges) can scream. I threw some more poison poop his way. Some of it got in his mouth, which was wide open mid-scream. Ha! I chuckled to myself. What a brilliant plan! I spun several legs at once to send a barrage of spider dung at Fleeg, and watched as he succumbed to the poison. I actually washed off my legs to write this entry while the toxins take their full effect. Oh! It looks like maybe he’s about to pass out. Maybe Rhissish has been doing the same to Reg, and we can get in a good chat…I’d better go check.

More later!
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A Spider’s Account of Two Idiots Causing Trouble
(Private with Tara)

Globdammit! I can’t believe it! I am so angry! ooooh! I’m so steamy! Argh!!! This is just the worst. The absolute worst. Nothing on earth could be worse than this. No one on this earth can possibly be having as bad a day as me right now. I don’t care how many people are dying or sick or whatever, they don’t have it as bad as me right now and that’s a fact. A fact!

I lost all my pages!! We were trying to flee the fire that those two nimrods Reg and Fleeg made in that random mansion when I tripped. My beauteous wings got tangled up in each other and suddenly I was falling like an apple from a tree. All my pages went into the fire! It was the worst thing I’d ever seen! All that work, all that time spent writing out my thoughts and feelings about the events unfolding around. All gone! Globdammit! This is the worst! Do you know how hard it is for a spider to write at all? Sure we have eight legs and are thusly superior to humans, elves, and dwarves, but writing is hard! It took me hours to convey my feelings about how gross Reg and Fleeg are, about the magic school with the toad and the boy and the stretchy talking dog. And it all just went up in smoke and flame like that.

BLIP!

Oh woe is me! Woe is Rhissish! Woe!

I bet Caixib managed to save all of her work. She’s so much more organized than I am. She’s going to be the famous spider one day. More famous that Shelob, Ungoliant, or Charlotte (ugh, what a traitor)! She was more brilliant than all the minds in Middle-Earth and… wherever that magic school place was.

I wonder if she managed to save any of mine before it went into the fire? Probably not. But that’s not her fault. It’s not her job to make sure I keep my papers secure and don’t let them fall into a fire. Anyone who gets made at someone else for that or makes them feel stress over it is a huge bag of spider poo. No, goblin poo. Definitely goblin poo.

Well there’s nothing for it but to start over I suppose. Sorry for my brief panic. That was very unspiderlike of me.

We escaped the fire, no thanks to me losing my life’s work or Reg and Fleeg deciding to spread the fire as far and as wide as possible.

Honestly, I don’t remember a lot of what happened that night, it’s all a bit of a blur. I the last thing I remember was Rohirrim coming in and trying to fight of Reg and Fleeg. It was a bad idea for them because, despite being utter buffoons, those two actually know how to fight when it comes to it. The horsemen didn’t stand a chance.

📜 🕷️
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A Spider’s Account of Two Idiots Causing Trouble
(Private with Tara)

Spider's Note:Aha! I found a some of the sheet containing my old journal! Caixib (with the help of a passing cave troll) was able to find them! oh happy day! Now comes the task of trying to put everything back in order. Not too big a task, I think. I'll even be able to add some commentary on my old work. Ungoliant be praised!

Things… escalated. Who knew that throwing poo (oh gods, am I becoming a poet, I certainly hope not) could raise someone’s blood pressure so much? I was aware that monkeys liked to throw poo at each other, but I never imagined it would be something that orcs and goblins would do. Spider's Note: They throw so much more than poo at each other, so... much.... more. I'm pretty sure Fleeg has an infection in his ear because of something Reg threw, it's smells so bad!

I’m not a biologist by any stretch of the imagination, I know a few things about non-spiders but that’s nothing special, but I have to wonder if there’s an evolutionary link between orcs and monkeys. Certainly, if there is, it’s much closer than monkeys and humans. The two dimwits engaged in a poo throwing contest and then… it happened. I was spotted. Honestly, I’m surprised neither of these toadstools found me before now. I’m blue. I’m not exactly camouflaged. I suspect I’d do much better in the jungles down south with the monkeys than in Rohan. How did I end up here? Ungoliant only knows, and she’s not talking to anyone. Regardless, I know I’m the type of spider that stands out. How had these two idiots not seen me yet was surprising. Maybe they were blind? Were orcs blind? Maybe it had something to do with the sun. I don’t know. Again, I’m a spider.

May Ungoliant bless Caixib, the bravest spider to ever creep and crawl and spin a web (though we tarantulas don’t spin webs of course)! If not for her timely and inventive intervention, I might have been squashed.

It took me a few seconds to realize what she was doing. Not only was she buying us both time to find better hiding places (admittedly sitting on top of the green one’s hat was not the best “hiding” spot), but she was allowing us both to get some well deserved revenge on the two twerps. Following Caixib’s led I, well I pooed, all over Fleeg’s hand the moment he tore off the sombrero and looked at him. Spider's Note:Interesting note, since we got back from the magic school I've been sitting on the sombrero again and neither of them have noticed, at least neither of them seem to be throwing a hissy fit over it.

I’ve never heard something scream so loud. Rabid goats are loud, but they can’t compare to Fleeg. Honestly. You’d think his hand was on fire, then chopped off, not pooed on. I really thought goblins had a higher tolerance for grossness, especially this one. Apparently not. He tried to throw the hat like a discus, but I jumped on his hand at just the right moment. I will say this for the little snot, when he’s panicking, he has a lot of upper body strength. The sombrero floated at good twenty or thirty feet before landing in the mud. He started cursing then. Let me see if I can remember exactly what he said:

“You little eighty legged demon! Go eat Reg, you blue hellspawn! Oh shire it’s gonna bite me! Reg, you mushroomed befuddle dunce! I wish you had a mushroom son! Then I might have a conversation with someone on my own intellectual level!”

It was clear these two had some major issues with one another, they were probably in love with each other and didn’t know how to express themselves properly. But I’m a spider, I eat all my boyfriends. Spider's Note: I'm still pretty sure this is the case, they haven't tried to eat each other, as spiders are wont to do, but their behavior is too outlandish to pass off as "cHaO$ bR0s"

He jumped off his hand while he was yelling at Reg and pack onto his pack; I couldn’t see Caixib but I’m sure she’d be around soon. The two idiots were argue for a while, probably punch one another a few times then fall asleep, once that happened we could find a better place.

Never a dull moment! Spider's Note:Oh honey...
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Ilmarë
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A Spider’s Account of Two Idiots Causing Trouble
(Private with Frost)

Future Caixib commentary (FCC for short): Phew! Rhissish and I almost lost all our writings from this long and wearisome journey. That would have been an absolute tragedy, seeing as how I still plan to publish this as my debut memoir! Fortunately, most of them are intact! I’ve been going back and reading through them, though, and I just have to interject some thoughts here and there . . .

Adventurer’s Log, Day 3


Sweet mother Ungoliant, I can still hear the screams and the carryings-on from yesterday. What a commotion, all over a little bit of poo! Sheesh. Today has been calmer - thank Shelob - but let me finish up where I left off with yesterday’s story. (FCC: This was, in retrospect, nothing.)

So the last thing I wrote about was hopping off my giant beastly steed (also known as Reg) to get in a quick conversation with Rhissish. Fortunately, Fleeg was good and passed out from the poo poison. Unfortunately, there was no such luck with the dolt that I’ve got the misfortune to be riding. Nevertheless, he was so preoccupied laughing at Fleeg’s screams (I think I heard him say, “Scream louder, goat breath, and maybe the Nazgûl will come put you out of your misery!” What is a Nazgûl? It sounds sinister - will find out more later) and subsequent loss of consciousness that he hardly seemed to notice me.

I scuttled from rock to rock, taking cover every few yards to ensure that Reg hadn’t caught sight of me. I was just about to cross the last little distance to my cousin when a horrifying screech - yes, even louder and more horrifying than all the rest - raised all of the considerable number of hairs covering my body. Who knew that goblins could shriek at such frequencies? I shivered so hard that I think whatever remaining spider poo was on me vibrated right off. Fleeg had woken up! Blast my short-lived spider shire poison!

“Be careful what yeh wish for, Phlemgson!” hollered Reg when Fleeg said something about a mushroom son. “I might jus’ spawn one to spite yeh!” (The ways of orcs and goblins will make fascinating study someday, provided we survive this chaotic journey south.) (FCC: With time and a little reflection, I’m no longer sure how committed I am to the study of orcish and goblinish ways.)

By this point in the argument, I found Rhissish and waved. I normally would have given her an eight-legged hug in greeting but, you know, poo. A cousinly wave would have to do on this particular occasion. “Of all the people going south,” I hissed to her, “we had to choose the two biggest morons of all! What are we going to do??”

Just at that moment, Reg ran up to Fleeg, who was busy washing his hand in a stream for the eightieth time, and kicked him right in the pants. The screams and hysterical laughter never stop around here, I guess. I rolled all of my several eyes and sighed. “Rhissish, I hate these two already,” I whined. “But I guess it’s about as good as we’re going to get for now, huh? Do you think we can make it south before one of them kills the other?”

Oh my glob - I’m sorry, but I have to pause in retelling that conversation. There’s a cloaked and hooded figure on the side of the road now. The figure seems to have a sign, and Reg is pointing and jumping up and down with glee - that’s why my handwriting has gone all crazy. “Fuh-ree ma-gick,” he’s shouting. “Fuhree magic! Free magic!!!!!!” He’s so excited that he’ll probably poo himself, the great sod. OH WHAT have we gotten ourselves into? (FCC: A living nightmare, that’s what.)
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A Spider’s Account of Two Idiots Causing Trouble
(Private with Tara)

I swear, if the heads of these two dimwits weren’t attached they’d have left them rotting in the sun and let them turn into beehives! AHHH!!

Sorry for that outburst. I usually like to think of myself and calm and collected and mature but these two idiots are just… and I thought that lady in Rohan was crazy. These two are quite possibly the dumbest creatures alive. How are they alive at all!? Spider's Note: I mean, wow, this sentiment has only grown in the few weeks I've spent with them. They are dumber than a sack of bananas, but somehow they manage to put one foot in front of the other.

Where was I again? Okay, Caixib and I were able to get together and compare notes on our two idiots. They were too busy trying to drown one another to notice us. It was very likely they’d forgotten about us as soon as they fell asleep (or were knocked out from the poison, it’s not super clear which it was at this point). I was about to bet that Reg would feed Fleeg to that horrid smelling fungus growing out of his belly button when they started shouting at each other again. Spider's Note: As it turns out, that's Reg's secret weapon! They never stopped shouting. Did they not think anyone else was about? I expected a hoard of Rohirrim soldiers to come riding out of the blue and cut them down, or a troupe of elves to wander in with blindfolds and turn them into pin cushions.

Seriously, how were these two alive? What dark forces were keeping them alive and for what purpose?

I was beginning to worry that Caixib and I were never going to make it south. Either these two were going to get us all killed, or they’d get turned around staring at a solar eclipse too long and end up going north.

They stayed by the water for the rest of day, Fleeg on one side and Reg on the other. They shouted insults at each other the entire rest of the day and the entire night. How? How could they keep going? What in Ungoliant’s name?

Then it happened.

They started up again, but not before my cousin and I managed to sneak aboard again (so to speak), and then they ran into, literally because they were so busy arguing about what they were going to eat for breakfast they simply barreled into him, a man in a black cloak. I’ve never seen a Black Rider, supposedly the scariest thing in the world, so I’m saying this with conscious bias, he looked like a doofy, frail old man. Reg and Fleeg, however, did not think he looked doofy. They screamed and shouted. Fleeg tried to throw a dagger at him (missing entirely) and Reg charged him with a sword, was tripped by Fleeg and nearly cut his own head off with the blade. Caixib was fine though, since I know you were worried.

As usual it was up to the spiders to make sense of things. Free magic? That sounded fishy to me, and I’ve never even had fish. How was this cloaked figure going to give them free magic? And more importantly, WHY?! was he giving them free magic? Had he not been observing them? If there were any two people less qualified for magic of any kind, the world had not seen it fit to reveal them.

Fleeg was the first to recover and looked at the sign slackjawed and drooling. “Freeeeeeeee Magic?!” he squealed. He then broke into a monologue about how he was always underappreciated and someone named Swiltang would never notice him unless he had magic and how it was unfair that he didn’t and why he deserved it. Without even looking at his orkish friend, the goblin said yes and was, along with me, transported to Ungoliant knows where.

What the hell have I gotten myself into now? Spider's Note: cHa0$, that's what I got myself into, cHaO5
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A Spider’s Account of Two Idiots Causing Trouble
(Private with Frost)

Adventurer’s Log, Day 5

Yes, I know I skipped a day. It couldn’t be helped. The fact that I even survived the fourth day of this increasingly ridiculous journey is a marvel and an achievement, and for that I am proud. (FCC: It’s a miracle I’ve survived till whatever day it is now. Each morning I thank Shelob for another day of life with these morons!)

But let me back up.

After agreeing that we’d chosen the two dumbest steeds ever to trot about on these abhorrent green lands, Rhissish and I were forced to listen to a seemingly endless series of insults and screaming before we could mount up again and continue our journey. That was all before Reg noticed the person with the “Free Magic” sign and started screaming about that. Four of my best legs were almost chopped off by Reg’s unskilled swordsmanship when he tried to assault the figure offering free magic. Why, in the name of sticky silken webbing, would they attack someone from whom they wished to profit? Well, I suppose that’s a stupid question now that we know what these two are like: a couple of witless brigands, through and through.

Anyway. There was more squealing and shoving and Fleeg screeched, “And I’ll be damned if I settle for being the most unremarkable Fleeg in the line!” before vanishing into a portal of some sort with a shower of sparks. “RHISSISH!!!!” I screamed, before I could stop myself. What if Reg heard me? What if he discovered that I’ve been hitching a ride on his hairy back? Fortunately for me, Reg was doing some screaming of his own. (FCC: With time and a bit of space, I am now wondering about Fleeg’s comment. He has proven to be utterly unremarkable - except in the magnitude of his idiocy, of course - so maybe he’s just suffering through some kind of inferiority complex? Who knows. It’s probably futile to think too hard about his prospects.)

“Wha’s this?! Where’d that blasted maggot face get off to, eh? What’ve you done??” He rushed up to the figure with the sign and poked it in its chest, in a vaguely threatening way. From someone less idiotic, it might have seemed quite the threat. But this is Reg we’re talking about, people! He’s only really a threat to himself. (FCC: I stand corrected. I guess Reg has kind of shown he can be a menace to society at large throughout our adventures.)

The figure was silent, then it giggled in a dry voice like autumn leaves blowing over the hole of my family’s den: “Heh, heh, heh.” A foul stench of decay wafted on the breeze from the figure towards me and Reg. (Reg, of course, was oblivious, but I nearly threw up my breakfast.) And then the figure drew a circle in midair and a portal opened up again. Reg decided to bargain, for some reason, and asked what else he could get besides free magic. The figure sighed and ripped off its own skeletal hand. “Here’s a lucky magic charm,” it rasped, and Reg jumped for joy. And then he jumped through the portal.

Being possessed of foresight, I had scuttled onto Reg’s dome again to get a good look around. Good thing I had, too, since he landed flat on his back in the new world and had all the wind knocked out of him. He wheezed about demon farts for a while, and then he fell asleep. How do I know he fell asleep? Because bubbles started forming out of his nose with every exhalation he made. I did a little tap dance on his skull to tickle him, but he was out cold. And so I waited and eventually, fell asleep myself. And that was day four.

And sweet mother Ungoliant, but day five so far has been, if anything, WeiRDeR!!! How, you ask? Well, firstly, Reg caught up with Fleeg and tried to kick him in the face for abandoning him, only to miss and flip over (this time, I only escaped being crushed by some lucky miracle). And then from out of a cave steps a massive TOAD, whose name is, I gather, Bufo. Or, well, perhaps that’s not the toad’s name, but the collective name of the tadpoles living inside his vocal sac who speak creepily in unison. Bufo offered the doofs magic and gave them wizard cloaks. I’m currently writing this from inside the folds of Reg’s cloak’s hood. It’s actually quite comfy. So far, they have passed level one (“dustomancy”) by eating wooden brooms and level two (“shadowcery”) by putting their hands in a bowl of grapes while blindfolded. Bufo said the bowl was full of eyeballs, but I can see pretty clearly that they’re just peeled grapes. (FCC: Ugh, Bufo. The worst.)

Sigh. It’s going to be a slow journey to Reg and Fleeg becoming “Ultimate Wizards.” I’m not sure what an “Ultimate Wizard” is, but I guess we’ll find out … someday. I don’t know how many levels there are to this whole thing. (FCC: I still don’t know how many levels there were. I weirdly kinda want to find out.)

I hope Rhissish is doing okay.
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A Spider’s Account of Two Idiots Causing Trouble
(Private with Tara)

I don’t know how to explain this. I just… I… Well, at first… Fleeg… and then Reg… and then… a frog? I, well, maybe, hmmm.

Okay let me start over, this bull shire is too weird. So Fleeg disappeared into the magic portal because checking to make sure it’s not a sinister trap created by an eldritch monster to drain the life force from you and eat you does not occur when you see a whole open up in the middle of a field. Perfectly natural reaction. Ugh, goblins. Reg, according to my cousin’s account, tried to kill the creepy skeleton demon guy because… oh I give up. Spider's Note: I'm not entirely convinced that that's not what happened. Eldritch beings are, well they're eldritch. I think that means they're big and scary and unknowable. I read it somewhere in a book (not one from Rohan obviously). Portals to different worlds are rare and dangerous. From what I've gathered in my research since, this was a recruiting method of the magic school. If you ask me, poor spider who was sucked in without consent, it's a gross misuse of magical abilities. It shows irresponsibility on behalf of the school and it's students. It's wasteful. And it's inefficient as...

So they both ended up in a magic school. Yes. Fleeg and Reg. In a magic school. Spider's Note: I'm quite certain that "school" is a misnomer. There's no real class structure, no school board, no custodial staff, just a bunch of weirdly robed doofs pretending to pay attention. I can’t make this stuff up. I mean I could, but nothing I can make up about these two dimwits comes close to the things they actually do. Like, how. How? Fleeg and Reg were in magic school, they were even given robes that looked like they hadn’t been washed since Helm was the king of Rohan. They smelt bad too, but it was honestly no worse that the orc and the goblin already smelled so it wasn’t all that bad. Fleeg thought it was a dress and decided to stuff the majority of the fabric into his pants. That’s not going to look weird at all, you little weasel faced fart. Spider's Note: I think he might have started a fashion trend. Gods of the Web, Fleeg, a fashion icon.

They passed the first two tests easily enough, they ate brooms (yes, you read that right) and touched peeled grapes they were told were eyeballs. Fleeg was disappointed when he ate his and found it was just fruit. Honestly, I have to side with him there. Eyeballs are delicious and nutritious; grapes are boring and flavorless and sticky. I can’t believe I just agreed with Fleeg. The world is going to end now. A comet is going to come out of nowhere and smush us.

Somehow, doing this gave them dustomancy, the ability to read dust’s thoughts and emotions (I can see that never coming in handy for these two brainless oafs) and the ability to change the shape of their shadow with shadowcery. That one might actually come in useful, although I don’t understand the name. Naturally, as I was with Fleeg, I was “taking part” in the trials and lessons. I was gaining them too. I can only imagine Caixib is doing the same with Reg (honestly the only reason he’s probably still not chewing on a broom is because of her).

We were helping the idiots, Ungoliant forgive us.

Speaking of Caixib, I hope she’s getting enough good material for her book. I can tell it’s going to be amazing, she’s a great writer, but the only problem will be getting the publishers at Spider & Schuster, (Spy)Tor, or Random Web to believe that any of this is true. I’m living it and even I’m skeptical. Still, I believe in her. She’s not going to go the self-aggrandizing self-publishing route, which is a good thing. Spiders have to have standards after all.

That Bufo guy really creeps me out. Or is it guys? I… I don’t know. He, they, whatever, keeps looking over here, like he, they, whatever, can see me and Caixib. That makes me nervous. Toads eat spiders. But Reg and Fleeg lick toads. This is a weird rock-paper-scissors spin off.

Onto the next day! The next challenges, according to Bufo the Creep, is Hair Growth (seriously wtf?) and Generate Mayonnaise. What the hell is mayonnaise? Is it some sort of acid? Poison? Does it kill people? This “Ultimate Wizard” gig is going to take for – e – ver to complete. We’ll all be old farts by the time they become strong enough or learn enough or… or whatever.

I’m so over this, I just want to eat flies and locusts and bite people, is that so much to ask?
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A Spider’s Account of Two Idiots Causing Trouble
(Private with Frost)

Adventurer’s Log, Day 8

Oh no. Oh no, oh no, oh no. Oh. No.

Did I mention last time that this is a wizarding school? I’m pretty sure I didn’t, and to be fair to me, that is because I didn’t really realize this was a whole actual institution of magical learning. I just thought it was another weird situation that Reg and Fleeg had gotten themselves (and, by extension, me and Rhissish) into. But no. It’s a school, and that means there are more pupils. And let me tell you something, those other pupils? They are WEIRD!

One of them is a dog. Now, I’ve come across (and bitten) many dogs in my day. They freely roam the streets and fields of Rohan, chasing chickens and barking at children and begging for table scraps. But this dog is . . . different. He’s yellow, can talk, and can stretch his body into whatever size and shape he wants. He made the Dustomancy lesson look like nothing - he just stretched his body all huge, swallowed the normal-sized broom like a crumb, and shrank back down and suddenly had the powers. (FCC: Upon reflection, I don’t think I freaked out enough about the fact that there was suddenly a giant stretchy dog in our midst. I wonder what happened to him and that boy.)

The other guy is a human (I think). It took him a lot longer to eat the broom. He wears a bear hat and did the same weird thing as Fleeg with stuffing his wizard robes down his pants so as not to appear to be wearing a dress. Sigh. Much as I know that Reg and Fleeg are chaotic imbeciles, I am starting to think that maybe they aren’t the craziest beings in the world.

Anyway. Those guys have quickly caught up to Reg and Fleeg in lessons (not sure if that’s a testament to the boy and the dog’s potential as wizards, or merely a symptom of Reg and Fleeg’s idiocy) and now they’re all in the same class, learning how to cast the spells for Vorpal Hand and Beauteous Wings. I’ve been practicing Dustomancy (what, you thought I’d sit through all those lessons and get hit by splinters of Reg’s broom without taking the chance to become a magical spider?) and have learned that the dust motes on Reg’s body are very deeply depressed, given their lot in life. Understandable. (FCC: I am VERY glad that we took advantage of the Free Magic while we had the chance. We’ve got to be the most talented and unique spiders to roam the land since . . . ever!)

Oh, hang on - there’s a lot of noise happening in the room right now. I should probably try to be a bit more aware of my surroundings as I’m almost certainly in constant mortal peril.

. . .

Well now, there’s a big fight happening. The human is accusing Reg and Fleeg of being evildoers (I mean, he’s not wrong) and has sworn to be a hero and save Bufo and the rest of the magic students from their evil ways. Reg is screaming and casting mayonnaise everywhere from his fingertips (they learned that spell the other day). He tried to hit the yellow dog with it, but the dog just stretched up really big again and swallowed all of the mayonnaise. Fleeg just cast Create Fireworks - why? To what end, Fleeg? (FCC: I have come to realize that there is never a good explanation for the things Fleeg does.) - and my ears are absolutely splitting.

Maybe we’ll all just blow up and this whole nightmare will end.
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A Spider’s Account of Two Idiots Causing Trouble
(Private with Tara)

I take back what I said about this whole thing being boring. Just when I thought I couldn’t see any more mayonnaise squirt out of Fleeg’s… you know what Spider's Note: I don't want to think about how close I came to getting hit with that particular stream of mayo, the thought is more terrifying than all the things we've been through on this journey already, I’m not going to subject anyone to that image. I started to pay attention to some of the other students, or whatever they were calling themselves. One of them looked like a prepubescent boy and with his robes stuffed in his pants. If he were green and ugly, he could have been Fleeg’s twin. The other was… a dog. I think. I’m not sure. It talked. And, and, and stretched. I’m still mostly convinced none of this is real and I’ve accidently eaten one of Reg’s body mushrooms. There’s no explanation for this. Weirdly, the dog has the most sense out of all the people in this wretched hive of doofery. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a doof and a half, but he’s less of a doof than the two my cousin and I rode in on (that’s not really a high bar). Spider's Note: Before we left, I heard one of them mention Bree and the Prancy Pony or something like that. I'm pretty sure I've heard of Bree. I think it's a town far north of Rohan. Did these two come from Middle-earth as well? I suppose that would make sense. What, are they going to get pulled from some magical land filled with sentient fruit, candy, and breakfast foods? Still, I have to wonder where all the other students are from. They can't all be from Middle-earth, there would have been much more of a stir back home. And I don't think Middle-earth has sentient toad entities.

. . .

Oh great. Great. This is just great. Wonderful in fact. I’d rather be crawling up an elf’s backside than be here watching what I’m being forced to watch. Fleeg, doing what he does best (or worst) decided Bufo was the ultimate toad. Sounds innocuous right? He’s just giving the bipedal toad with tadpoles that speak through him a great compliment, right. WRONG! If you’ve followed me thus far, you know that Fleeg likes to… lick toads. Good gravy! Can’t this dimwit goblin control himself for ten minutes! Oh god, I am never going to get the image of Fleeg’s long, long, long tongue flickering out and slapping at Bufo’s face like a beached fish. It was so gross. You can tell how gross it was because a spider who turns their victims into slurpy goo before eating them is telling you it was gross. Fleeg doesn’t brush his teeth, his tongue is a phlegmy, pale green. Reg, not to be left out, decided he had to get in on the action. His tongue was less long and gross, but I swear I saw a budding mushroom in his open maw. I was just hallucinating right? Spider's Note: In the narrative, this is where I should talk about drug addiction. It's a disease. Just because I think Reg and Fleeg are morons doesn't mean they can "control" their addiction any more than someone who suffers migraines controls their pain. It was gross, way gross, but thinking back on it now, it's also sad and pathetic. I feel bad for them. Not for Bufo though, eight-legged gods what a creeper.

Anyway, here comes the two guys I mentioned before, the preteen and the stretchy pup. Apparently, they’re heroes? I’m really bad at guessing a person’s personal alignment, I assumed they were just as evil as Reg and Fleeg. I suppose I conflated evil with stupid and weird. Caixib and I are smart and beautiful, ergo we are the good guys. Rohirrim and weird and creepy, also bad guys. I might have to amend my way of thinking. Anyway, their fighting now. The dog is taking on Reg in a battle of mayonnaise and Fleeg is making fireworks go off everywhere, because… reasons I can only assume.

I hid at the first sign of crazy. Can you blame me? You’d try to hide and pretend you weren’t getting covered in mayo and dust (which was also not happy about the circumstances) while four dimbulbs decided the middle of a wizard school was the best place to have a brawl.

Last I saw Bufo had disappeared, something about an urgent meeting in Wizard City, ---Spider's Note: This next section is missing, too torched by the fire to be read legibly. I wonder what it was that I wrote? What is Wizard City? Where is it? Is that were Saruman and Gandalf and the other one came from?--- for anyone to believe. He probably went to find a shower, I don’t blame him.

You know what? Screw this. I’m not gonna sit around here and let Fleeg get me and my cousin killed with his dumbassery. I learned all the spells too bucko. I’m gonna spray mayonnaise in his ears. I need to get on top of his head and signal Caixib to do the same to Reg, then we can use our beauteous wings to get to a safe distance and watch without fear of getting smooshed and mayonnaised.

Here goes nothing!
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Ilmarë
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A Spider’s Account of Two Idiots Causing Trouble
(Private with Frost)

Adventurer’s Log, Day 9

The [something, obscured by scorch marks] has finally come to an end. Here are some statistics:

Casualties: 2 wizard pupils quit after nearly drowning in a deluge of thick sauce (FCC: I don’t blame them. I kinda wish I’d quit hanging around these doofs after this battle.)
Fatalities: Dust motes uncounted (RIP)
Damages: Six holes blown (somehow) in the walls of this labyrinth of caves

It hasn’t been pretty, I can tell you that. (FCC: None of this has been pretty. None of it.) Reg and Fleeg are still on edge and are constantly mumbling curses under their breath (or at least Reg is) at the boy and dog. Or at least they’ve been on edge since the after effects of the toad licking episode wore off. Gosh, that was weird. Reg went all silly, giggling and staggering about, before passing out cold on the cave floor. Being the agile young thing that I am, I leapt out of harm’s way when he fell to the earth, but it was still a narrow miss. He is quite big, after all. The boy and the dog proceeded to jump all over Reg and Fleeg, leaving them covered with bumps and bruises. Serves them right, I guess? I’m not quite sure whose side I am on.

Oh! But I nearly forgot to write about the part where Rhissish and I joined the battle! That bit was actually quite fun - not sure how I managed to overlook it until now. We got to test our fledgling spider magic on our idiotic steeds! I’d like to think that half the reason Reg keeled over was that his ears and nasal passages were full of the mayonnaise that I squirted into his disgusting, hairy orifices - I hear that creatures with ears get real woozy if the liquid balance in their ears is even the slightest bit off. It was amazing!

At first, Reg started screaming at Fleeg (as he does), going on and on like, “Oi! Phlegmson! Watch where yer aimin’ that mayo! It’s not me yer after!”

To which Fleeg (who was dancing about trying to evade the mayo attacks from the boy and dog) replied, “Shut up ShuT Up SHUT UP!!!!” and cast a firework right into Reg’s huge stupid face. (FCC: Ha!! This is actually kind of funny.)

Now that I think about it, maybe that’s what caused Reg to fall over, and not the Bufo licking. Whatever. The point is, he fell over, I floated away like a serene dust mote on beauteous wings, and I reached out my legs to give Rhissish a high-eight for a job well done. We’d done it! We’d done magic! I never in a million years thought I’d become a magical spider, but well, here we are!

Adventurer’s Log, Day 10

Yesterday was spent basking in all our arachnid glory. It was a great time. We feasted on mayonnaise (surprisingly good, given the usual diets of spiders) and flew about the wizard school while Reg and Fleeg recovered from their many aches and pains. They’re probably still recovering, actually. I haven’t had a chance to go check on them in a little while, and that’s because Rhissish and I are hiding. We’re currently perched in a little crevice along the top of a cave wall in one of the magic classrooms. It’s not much, but it was the only place to hide. Somehow, something far more fearsome than Reg and Fleeg managed to cross paths with me and my cousin: A Know-It-All.

You know of what I speak: a person who always knows better than you, who thinks they know more than you even though they haven’t a clue what they’re talking about (gosh, just like my annoying little sister Ariabella [FCC: You know, I forgot all about my siblings in all the fuss of this journey. I hope they’re doing okay. Maybe I’ll write to them, if I can ever figure out how to send a letter to a spider’s den.]), who corrects you over the tiniest things at every turn just to make themselves look smart . . . In short, we met the current “top student” in the class. I put “top student” in quotes because I don’t think she’s actually tops. Even Reg has more magic stars on his robe than she does! I’ve seen him cast wings far more beauteous than hers. And she lost to Fleeg in a Vorpal Hand duel just two days ago! But she keeps track of these weird Wizard Points that Bufo likes to give out as an incentive to participate in class. She likes to turn around in her seat, twisting her stupid brown braid in her hands, and hissing things like “Moron” and “Imbecile” at Reg.

Who does this baggins think she is??

I’ll admit, I am quite surprised at my intense loyalty to Reg, who I hated so very much just a few days ago. But I’ve softened to him, the poor fool. He’s doing his best and has actually managed to sprout some highly unique beauteous wings - they are black and shiny. Even Bufo says he’s doing a good job! Fleeg, of course, is none too pleased that his friend-slash-rival (I still can’t really tell what their relationship is) gets all that praise, but I’m sure he’d rather Reg be praised than the boy or the dog.

Oh no! Here comes that lady again. I’m going to retreat into the shadows for now... Maybe rest my eyes a bit...
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A Spider’s Account of Two Idiots Causing Trouble
(Private with Tara)

The great Mayo Battle, as I’m sure it will be called from here on out by the survivors, has finally come to an end. Like my cousin, I’m not quite sure whose side we ended up on. Reg and Fleeg? The boy and the yellow dog? Bufo? Honestly I’m not sure. I think I’ll just say that we were on our side. After sabotaging Reg and Fleeg, we watched the remainder of the battle from a safe distance. It gave us time to reflect. We had done magic! We were magic spiders! Hah! We’ve both come a long way from two spiders in the vast plains of Rohan, fearing for our lives, having to dodge being stepped on, flirted with, screamed at, squished by a horse. I wonder what we’ll do when we get back. Will we go back? If we do, will we still have our magic? It’s something I need to bring up with Caixib. If there’s a chance we could go back to being ordinary spiders, something easily squished or captured or eaten, what’s the point?

I don’t want to be an ordinary spider. I want to be a super magic spider! I don’t want to live in fear that I’m gonna get eaten by the next passing orc or get captured and turned into a pet by some ass backward Rohir lady. I have beauteous wings for crying out loud! I can talk to dust motes and make shadows! I can make a vorpal hand and a tiger arm. Spider's Note: You know what, I'm gonna continue this rant because, well because I'm a damn amazing spider, thank you very much! I always was. It took going to a magic school in a different plane of existence, traveling with my best cousin and the two dumbest creatures alive, and going through a massive firestorm to realize it, but you know what. I am a great spider. Caixib and I? We're the best damn spiders in all of Middle-earth. There is no way we're ever going to let some puritanical, stuck up, stick up her romantic ass elf, no panicky whiny brat, no finger waggling candle licker tell us otherwise or make us feel like we aren't exactly what we believe ourselves to be. Remind me to tell Caixib that I think she's amazing too and there's no one I'd rather have gone on this journey with. I probably should have put this note at the end of the papers but it felt appropriate to write here. Maybe I'll finish this chapter with a good "kiss my spidery butt" monologue.

Sorry, sorry, I get a little carried away sometimes when I get frustrated.

Speaking of frustrating, oh my glob this one student. She survived the great Mayo Battle by hiding behind Bufo until the very end when she came out, slipped on some Mayo and then managed to land a single punch in the boy before running away again. Wow, though, I saw the whole thing and yet to hear her tell this story, she was the hero that saved the day, that rescued Bufo and fought off the forces of darkness. Which was funny because the second time she told the story she made it sound like she was the ultimate villain and that she had done it to show off how evil she could be, punching a pre-teen in the face. She is so annoying. Other than punching the kid, she’s done nothing to make her stand out. Caixib finds her as annoying as I do. We both had a good laugh when she put her robes back on after getting them cleaned from all the mayo. She has less stars than both Reg and Fleeg! I don’t know why that matters so much to me, or why I feel such pride to be affiliated with those two, her haughty attitude just irks me. Spider's Note: I shouldn't say anything here because I might get in trouble, but I hope it was her house we burned down. That's all I'll say here.

But onto more important things (because annoying people are so not important).

There is something weird about all this. Bufo and his (or their) tadpoles aren’t being completely honest with why they are teaching magic to any doof that walks through the door. I am of two minds right now. I want to explore and try to figure this mystery out, but I also don’t want to miss out any more magic school lessons. I have a feeling something really useful is coming around the corner, like being able to awaken inanimate objects and use them as servants. How great would that be? Wake up a rock and tell it go trip this orc or that goblin (when we get out and if we continue our trip with Reg and Fleeg I can imagine all the times we are going to make trees or rocks come alive to cause chaos and get them to pick fights with each other).

Sounds like something I need to talk to Caixib about. She’s pretty smart, I know she’ll be able to figure something out.
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A Spider’s Account of Two Idiots Causing Trouble
(Private with Frost)

Adventurer’s Log, Day 12

Where once I was a simple spider, I can now put “wizard” and “spy” on my list of personal descriptors. Oh! Maybe that’ll be included in my author biography, just as soon as I find someone to publish this memoir. (FCC: I am also going to need an author portrait, now that I think about it it. Who can I commission for a portrait? Surely I’ll be able to barter some magical favors for a portrait. Judging by Reg and Fleeg’s graffiti, neither of them is a passable artist, so at least I’ll be spared having to talk to them about it.) Back on track, though: spying is why I skipped writing yesterday; Rhissish and I were off using our wizard powers to spy on Bufo. Rhissish confided her suspicions to me while we were hiding inside Bufo’s desk from the bossy lady, and I have to admit, my cousin has a point. That toad / tadpole conglomeration / thing sure has been acting strange. I mean, who hires a skeletal drifter to stand by the side of the road, offering magic to every unqualified idiot that happens to wander by? This school is full of dunces and drop-outs. Not a single one of these people is top wizard material, save for Rhissish and myself, and we just so happened to be riding Reg and Fleeg when they enrolled. Surely, Bufo is not doing this just from the kindness of his heart. (FCC: Oh damnit, I meant to cast some sort of spell that would allow me to keep an eye on Bufo even from afar. Alas. We may never know what happens with that dastardly toad!)

So here’s what we have discovered after our spy mission:

1. There is a chamber off a side hallway in which two SUPER OLD wizards are hanging in the air, ropes tied around their waists. They are all rheumy-eyed and wheezy but are somehow constantly sending streams of magic at a weird crystal ball that’s just sort of . . . floating there in the middle of the room.

And that’s it. I thought I had more to add to that list, but I guess I don’t. What should we make of this hard-won information? I say “hard-won” because the bossy lady tried to follow us into the old wizards’ room; even she couldn’t fail to notice a couple of spiders with beauteous wings floating past her in the hall. Fortunately, we were quick and dodged out of her line of sight, and then she gave up the pursuit. It’s quite frankly amazing to have these wings. Not sure I’ll be able to go back to getting around only by scuttling. I mean, sure, scuttling has its uses, but I can FLY! Plus, why would I use my legs to walk when I could - in theory - cast Vorpal Hand on all eight of my legs at once? I’d be like an eight-pronged death machine if I did that! If that lady comes back and tries to smush us, I’ll give it a whirl.

(FCC: I am now pondering more about the pros and cons of flying vs. scuttling. I mean, we can fly now. So will we ever have much reason to scuttle about again? Maybe for exercise? Or just for fun - like, will it be all nostalgia-inducing to pretend to be an ordinary spider who can’t fly or cast dragon eyes or shoot mayo from her legs? Hm. I need more time to think this over.)
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A Spider’s Account of Two Idiots Causing Trouble
(Private with Tara)

I knew it! I knew that fishy frog had something to hide! Offering magic to the likes of Reg and Fleeg? Yeah, there’s no way that was on the up and up. Those old dudes in their skimpies was, as the kids say, sus. Spider's Note:Not sure where I picked up this phrase exactly. I remember hearing things in Rohan like "the lady that runs the fabric store is sus" and "did you hear that old lady tried to seduce a spider? Sus behavior if you ask me" and the like. I took it to mean "suspicious" and ran with it. Kids these days, trying to shorten every word into a single sound. Soon humans will do nothing but grunt and moan at each other. Spider communication, on the other is getting more and more complex. It's more than pheromones and complicated dancing. We spiders are learning to communicate in other ways like using lights or smoke or sound. I'm pretty sure even Reg and Fleeg have more communicative abilities that most Rohirrim teenagers. It's sad really, really sad. Whatever was going here, Caixib and I want no part in it. I am not going to be an old spider shooting magical energy into a crystal ball. I have things to do. What sort of things, you ask? Hot spider things. Ain’t nobody got time for this nonsense. We high tailed it (or as a proper would say, eight-footed it) out of there. We were not sticking around, no matter what sorts of cool magic they were going to teach us in the advanced classes. We left the room and, of course, ran into that annoying student. Such a teacher’s pet that one. She saw the old guys too but she didn’t seem to be bothered by it. Like, cool lady, you grow old and feeble staring at a crystal ball, no one is gonna care. Bufo really did a number on that one. She threatened to tell Bufo what we found and tried to squish us. Well, we weren’t having it I tell you! Like a couple of wizard spy spiders, we coordinated our attacks. First we shot in the face with a double barrel of mayo, blinding her. Then we got the dust around her to start screaming about chickens and being too tired. Next, we tricked her into thinking we were on the other side of the hallway with our shadowcery. I knew that would come in handy at some point. Finally, we, well we just tied her up and threw her in a closet because we were pressed for time. Don’t worry, we used the good silk to make sure she wasn’t going to bother anyone for a day or two. Spider's Note: Ladies and gentlemen, I present "the twin spider method"

So we were gonna leave. The question we were put to, was Reg and Fleeg. I know, I know, that’s not much of a question. You’re right, it’s not. We should leave them behind. It would serve them and Bufo right for being such obnoxious son of a blee-blob but, but they were the one’s that got us into this mess, we needed to ride them out. But, I hear you say, Reg and Fleeg are both so dumb they that wouldn’t be able to mush a peeled banana, how are you going to get them to leave? I thought about that one for a hot minute. Well, closer to a hot half hour. But then the solution came to me. Remember how we attacked the teacher’s pet? Dust! We can talk to dust and dust could talk to the two dimwits. There might be some translation issues going from spider speak to dustian to black speech but I’m sure the gist of the message would get across.

---- * ---- * ---- * ----

Aha! We did it! Well, okay we sort of did it. The communication issue turned out to be a farce. Saying “this is a trap” in spider speak gets translated into black speech as “your mom’s a tramp”. Yeah, went a bit sideways from there. Who knew that communicating with morons was going to be such a hassle? You probably did. I should have. I really should have. Spider's Note: Oh you sweet spider child, you have no idea what's in store for you later.

But that’s okay because once we got it across to them that Bufo was a bad guy, they went into action. The boy and the dog were elsewhere so they didn’t come to Bufo’s defense this time. Mushroom beauteous wings, mayonnaise, grossly inappropriate shadows, and vorpal hands flew and clashed until the battle ended with Bufo getting licked by both of them. It was gross. Like I cannot state how gross that was. I’m a spider who liquifies her food to eat it. That should tell you something. Sweet mama Ungoliant. What is wrong with those two?

There was a debate about whether to take Bufo with them, Fleeg wanted to be able to have hits of that “wizard, toady high” whenever he wanted but Reg disagreed. Said they didn’t have anything to tie him up with on the way back to Rohan. Reg saying something cogent and intelligent. Who knew, wow. WO-W! Spider's Note: Now that we're back in Middle-earth, Fleeg has been muttering to himself about toad highs and how he can chase the next big one. For a day or two he mumbled about finding a way back, thank mama he gave that up after he realized he had no idea where it was and how to get there. Now, though, he's been muttering and giggling about "making my own wizard toads" and I am deeply, deeply disturbed.

But it’s over it’s done!

We’re back in Rohan (after a few more shenanigans I’m sure Caixib will chronicle better than I) and I have to say, I miss the omnipresent smell of horse poo. It’s good to be back!

Oh! I forgot the most important thing: WE KEPT OUR MAGICS! Just Caxib and me. Reg and Fleeg were as useless as before. Good gods, they nearly fell for the same skeleton dude trying to sell them a demon heart. The only thing that stopped them was the guy recognized them and booked it before they got close enough.
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Ilmarë
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A Spider’s Account of Two Idiots Causing Trouble
(Private with Frost)

Adventurer’s Log, Day 15

Picture this: a pair of worn-out spiders, perched upon the shoulders of two morons from Mordor, all of them traipsing through the grasslands of Rohan. They’re not a happy little family, exactly (though the two idiots are always calling each other their “ChAoS bRo”). (FCC: I wonder where this name came from. Surely, neither of them are smart enough to coin such an apt term for the pair of them. But how else would it have entered their everyday parlance? Hmm. The origins of idioms for idiots is quite the mystery.) No, they’re just a ragtag group of dreamers and schemers (FCC: And morons.) who managed to fight their way out of Bufo’s magical trap. The morons (FCC: Oh, woops. Got ahead of myself there with that previous commentary. Past me DID know what she was talking about! That is an encouraging thought.) have just recovered from being passed out for two days from overdoses of toad licking. The spiders have beautiful, nay, beauteous wings sprouting from their hairy abdomens, and the doofs still have blobs of mayonnaise all over their bodies.

That, my friends, is what we all look like right now. Pretty weird, huh? It’s been quite a long few days. After the initial high from licking Bufo wore off, Reg and Fleeg passed out and collapsed while they were still chasing down the skeleton guy with the “FREE MAGIC” sign. Rhissish and I dismounted (we are, by this point, experts at avoiding being crushed when our steeds collapse beneath us) and flew around, going on a general scouting trip. We saw that there was a big mansion not too far away, which seemed like a better place for Reg and Fleeg to recover than in the middle of some field. (FCC: It was not, it turns out, a better place.)

Once they began to stir, we enchanted some dust motes again for the purposes of communication. The intended message was, “Look at that house! Go to that house!” Unfortunately, Reg heard “You’re a louse” and Fleeg heard “Look! There’s your spouse!” This really set them both off. Reg got super angry because he thought Fleeg was insulting his honor (??) and Fleeg screamed like a goat on fire and high-tailed it for the house with Reg in hot pursuit. My guess is that Fleeg has a spouse back home he has somehow wronged. This would be completely in character for him and I’d actually like to see the wronged spouse get their revenge. (If you couldn’t tell, I have a slight bias toward Reg over Fleeg here. What? He’s been quite a ridiculous steed, but at least he has the excuse of being stupid. Fleeg is just nasty.) (FCC: How the hell did Fleeg manage to get a spouse, though? Past me never did think to question that. One of the great Mysteries of Life. I suppose there’s no accounting for taste.)

So, yeah. Our plan kind of worked? Once we got closer, I realized just how big a house this is. Like, unrealistically big. When did the Rohirrim become experts at building enormous mansions? (FCC: Answer: NEVER! This house was a complete fire hazard from the foundations to the roof.) All the houses I’ve crept through in Rohan have been tiny little thatched-roof deals (FCC: See??! Fire hazard.) , not sprawling places like this one. It must be some fluke. Right? I’ve seen quite a bit in the last several days, and this is somehow the weirdest bit. Maybe it’s the king’s summer home. I don’t know.

Currently, we are hiding out in the barn. Reg and Fleeg at least had the sense to avoid the main house, as they would likely be killed for breaking and entering. There’s a chicken coop not far away. “Look at all them chickens,” Reg keeps mumbling. “Nice an’ fat. So many feathers.” I think he’s hungry. Not sure why he is so excited about the feathers, though. (FCC: Possibly feathers are a delicacy in orcish cuisine? I repeat, there’s no accounting for taste.) Fleeg keeps punching him in the face and telling him to shut up. Reg is so much bigger than Fleeg, though, I don’t think he even notices the punches. He definitely notices when he’s told to shut up, though. “YOU shut up, yeh nasty booger!” Reg just snapped. Oh dear. Now that they’ve vanquished Bufo, they no longer have a common enemy. I’m afraid that their “brOtheRlY” affection won’t extend too much farther than this verbal fight.

Ah, yes. There they go. They’re now running about the yard and screeching. This can only end poorly . . .
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A Spider’s Account of Two Idiots Causing Trouble
(Private with Tara)

I cannot tell you how good it is to be home again. Who would have ever thought I’d miss the smell of hay and horse poo? Bufo’s wizard school smelled like, among other things, mayonnaise and body odor. Somehow, I’ll take the horse poo. The sun is bright and hot, but I don’t find myself minding too much. How long were we gone? It felt like weeks once we got back but Caixib says was only a few days. A few days?! So much has changed in a few days. Caixib and I still have our wings! Our beauteous wings!Spider's Note: In fact, despite my brain thinking we'd been gone for weeks, we'd only been gone for two and a half days. How did we learn so much magic in that short amount of time? Time must work differently in different planes. Two and half days here was at least a week in the Magic School Plane. Does that mean their universe is older than ours? Younger maybe? Not sure. Time is not a spider's ally. We are patient creatures, but that is more in spite of time than alongside it.

I have to question our continued use of Fleeg and Reg as steeds now, what with our wonderous wings, it seems almost cruel to use them as transportation but, all in all, I think they could use the work. Not that they really know about us. Or do they? Honestly, I’m not sure. We can communicate with the through the use of dust even though that method has yet to be perfected (translations of translations on top of Fleeg and Reg’s general lack of intelligence). Do they think someone else is talking to them? They only encountered us the one time, when they tried to smoosh us at the beginning of this journey. It’s hard to say.

But none of that is important. What is important is that we found a house. Not just a house, but a mansion. Out in the middle of Rohan! So weird, right? After living in Edoras my whole life, I assumed all Rohirrim lived in huts with no windows and thatched rooves. So strange. The construction is all fancy and modern, like you’d find in Gondor (not that, you know, I’ve ever been there). It was huge, and I mean huge. There was a barn, a chicken yard (filled to the brim with delicious looking chickens), and lots and lots of fences. A girl could get used to a place like this. Imagine all the hiding places there are here. All the places to set traps, for food storage. Best thing of all is the place seems deserted. The animals seem to just, you know, look after themselves. Where are the people? Is this a place Fleeg and Reg have been before? Spider's Note: Even though there were people there in the end, I am convinced that none of the animals there needed to people that lived there. We animals don't need humans, we keep them around for entertainment mostly.

I’d guess not, they seemed as shocked by the random appearance as Caixib and I, but that could just be because they forgot it was here. Toad licking kids, it has consequences. Spider's Note: Apparently it's a thing here in Middle-earth? People actually pay to do it, the more you know... For once though, I have to side with Reg. Those chickens do look nice and fat and juicy. I’ve never had chicken, but the way he mumbles and drools all over himself when he stares at them (I clocked him staring without blinking for a whole ten minutes once) means they must be good, right? They were too big and too hard to catch in Edoras, but I’m sure I could convince Fleeg to go after one. Ha! Now that’s a funny image, Fleeg running around the chicken yard with his hands out ineffectually trying to catch a chicken, only to run into the fence several times. Fleeg would look good with a broken nose, I think. No real reason, just kinda want to see him break his nose. Does that sound mean? Remember, this is Fleeg, the nasty creature with a face no one could love. A broken nose could do a lot in regard to his attractiveness. Or maybe not, what do I know, I’m just a spider.

Mother Ungoliant these two fight so much! I have never seen two people who hate each other more. Reg insults Fleeg’s mother, Fleeg insults Reg mushroom garden, Reg threatens to bury Fleeg in said mushroom garden, Fleeg vows to poo in the garden, Reg does not see a problem with this arrangement, Fleeg throws a booger at him, the cycle begins anew. It’s only matter of time before… never mind, they’re off the races. Fleeg yanked out Reg’s arm hair with something sticky and now Reg is chasing him through the barn… and now they’re outside. Oh… oh no… oh dear oh dear oh sweet cheese. This place isn’t abandoned. There’s servant still here, or a slave, I can’t tell the difference. He’s yelling at them, wailing more like, in a squeaky voice and waving a glove at them. Is… is he challenging them to a duel? And here I thought the orc and goblin were dumb. Wow. Humans are weird. At least this will be entertaining. I wish Fleeg would stop talking about torches though. It’s making me nervous. Spider's Note: I'm going to stop and talk for a minute about duels. For spiders, duels serve a point. It's often how we decide who we are going to eat mate with but with humans it seems like just a formal way of getting into a fight. Why? Just fight and eat each other. Why draw it out so much, really?
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Ilmarë
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A Spider’s Account of Two Idiots Causing Trouble
(Private with Frost)

Adventurer’s Log, Day 15 (continued)

I only have time for a quick entry because I’m trying really hard not to get singed. Here’s a very high-level update on what we have been through this evening:

1. The servant man with the glove shouted a lot of angry things at Reg and Fleeg. I get it, dude. I do. These two practically beg to be insulted and shouted at. But at the same time, he is just some old guy. And these two are capable of quite a lot of malicious idiocy, even though their magical abilities are long gone. (FCC: That kind of has a nice ring to it: Malicious Idiocy: A Memoir. Working title for my full account of this trip? Or maybe for Fleeg's autobiography?)

2. Reg picked up a huge (and I mean HUGE) pitchfork and started brandishing it about. He nearly skewered Fleeg. The little green goblin hopped out of the way just in time and picked up a big pile of hay. (FCC: Malicious Idiocy is only slightly more appropriate for Fleeg because, unlike Reg, he isn't COMPLETELY hapless.)

3. Reg proceeded to chase the old guy in circles around the yard with the pitchfork. I think Reg was purposefully not catching up to him, just to make him more scared and tired. I kinda started to feel sorry for the old man because he looked so terrified, but really . . . he’s the one who picked this fight. (FCC: On second thought, maybe there is a bit of cunning cruelty lurking in Reg's little peabrain.)

4. Fleeg ran around shouting about torches. “Where’s the torches? Who’s got torches? Gimme that torch!” He snatched a flickering flame on a stick from some frightened-looking girl who came out of the house to investigate all the commotion. The girl seems to be crying now. She keeps screaming, “Help! Help! Somebody help!” No one is coming to help. We are so far out in the middle of nowhere on this ridiculous estate that there is no one around for miles to hear her scream. Hehe. (FCC: I wonder what's become of that girl.)

5. Fleeg started dancing around with the torch. He kind of looked possessed. His creepy little face was lit up all funny from the flames, and his teeth were poking out in all directions and looked bigger than usual. Did he somehow learn to grow his teeth at Bufo’s school? If he did, I missed that lesson. What a shame. (FCC: Hmm, what about The Possessors and the Possessed: A Magical Spider's Journey?)

6. He put the big pile of hay in the middle of the yard and set it on fire. The conflagration looks quite pretty but it’s also getting very, very hot in the barn. (FCC: If only we'd vacated the premises immediately! We wouldn't have had to whiz about looking for all our pages of writings.)

7. Reg stopped chasing the old guy for a minute to yell at Fleeg for starting a fire before he could eat the chickens. He has now thrown his pitchfork aside and is decapitating all the chickens he can lay his hairy fists on with his bare hands. You should hear the noises the chickens are making! It’s a hideous cacophony of screams and clucking. If there are more people inside this unusually-large mansion, they must all be aware that something is going on. (FCC: Do I feel sorry for the chickens? No. But also yes. Mostly, I wish I could've eaten them instead of Reeg.)

8. Reg is now painting rude pictures on the side of the barn in chicken blood. I’m not sure where he learned these things. I must admit, they’re shocking - even for someone like him. He seems quite happy, though: munching on raw chicken, leaving a big pile of feathers off to one side (what is WITH him and the feathers?!) and doing his weird Reg art. (FCC: I wonder where fingerpainting is taught in orcish society.)

I think it’s about time Rhissish and I evacuated this barn. Maybe we can find a better (read: less-aflame) spot from which to spectate.
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A Spider’s Account of Two Idiots Causing Trouble
(Private with Tara)

In conjunction with my favorite cousin, I think my next entry of this madness should be in point by point form rather than narrative. Out of solidarity, and the fact that this narrative has gone completely off the rails. If Reg and Fleeg were intelligent in any way that mattered, a cohesive story might be possible. A(n) (anti)hero’s journey or something like that. But no. Of all the orcs passing through Rohan, hell, of all the people passing through Rohan, it had to be these two. Ugh, I say, ugh.

1. Who is fighting who? Reg and Fleeg seem intent on killing the people (it is people not person after all) but also each other. They have been going back and forth so much it’s hard to tell which one actually motivates them more. If they were to ask this beauteously winged spider her opinion, she would say focus on one then do other, not both at once. But no dust specks are communicating with them so… Spider's Note: Goblins and Orcs don't usually get along, from what I've gathered. Reg and Fleeg and "bRo5" for whatever that's worth but in general the two species hate each other. Maybe it's just natural for them to fight? I hate to give these two props for breaking down racial barriers to become friends but, that's sorta what's going on here. Weeeeeeeird

2. Chickens smell terrible. Not really a note on the story unfolding, just a fact. I didn’t realize just how bad until now. I still want to eat one, don’t get me wrong, a nice fat juicy one. There’s one that keeps on squawking and running into the fence that looks particularly good. She doesn’t look smart, but who cares about the brains of the thing you’re gonna eat? Spider's Note: Chicken is, in fact, not all that bad. Before now I've never had the chance to eat one. They were always too fast or people picked them up when they were dead before I could reach them. There are some kinds of spiders that are big enough to regularly feast on chickens, alas I am not one of them. However, with my newfound powers and abilities, who knows? I might become a chicken devouring fiend!

3. Fleeg is obsessed with fire. Another thing that’s weird and nasty about him. He got his torch and immediately set about finding something to set alight. The giggly, goat chuckling sound he made was… I don’t even want to think about it. He kept saying how “Bubosha would find this hot” and “wouldn’t it be nice to…. [something probably gross in goblin]… by a fire” blech! Whatever a Bubosha is can do better than Fleeg. Spider's Note: guuuuuuuuuuuurl, run away from this weirdo! Unless you're just as weird as he is. Are goblin women creepy and gross too? they would have to be, right? Or is Fleeg just that weird and gross?

4. The people are running now. Probably wise. Reg and Fleeg, however, aren’t paying much attention to them. Not the smartest way of going about things. Those people are gonna come back with horses and something tells me Reg and Fleeg both have no idea what a horse even is. Spider's Note: He does, in fact know what a horse is. I heard him just now talk about turning one of the riders in a centaur. nononononononononononono

5. Welp. Lots of dead chickens about right now. Headless and bloody and… distracting

6. I can now say that chicken does indeed taste like, chicken. Not sure how to describe it. I’m sure it would taste better cooked, or at least dissolved. Maybe with some mayo? Not sure. Will have to collaborate with Caixib on chicken dishes for spiders. Perhaps that can be a part of her book? Or a sequel maybe?

7. Fleeg is still standing on that giant pile of hay that’s on fire. Not sure he realizes the trouble he’s in. Dimwitted booger breath

8. Reg is painting. It’s well it’s terrible and gross and he needs to learn basic anatomy if he wants to draw orcs with all their appendages the right size, but there is a certain crass charm to the fresco he’s making. Interesting use of chicken blood. Spider's Note: Orc appendages are definitely not that long. I don't want to talk about how I figured that out. Seriously.

9. Oh shire, the fire is reaching the barn. It’s really time to get out of here and watch from a better position. On top of the house maybe? It’s not completely on fire yet and I don’t want to sit on Fleeg’s shoulder while he’s sitting on a burning pile of hay. Spider's Note: He was also sweating and giggling and had a perpetually running nose that just made everything nasty.

10. Reg is gathering all the chickens in a pile now and putting dirt around them. Is that a cooking method? He’s plucking feathers and… eating half of them. What’s he saving the other half for? Does he have an orc wife or girlfriend that likes feather dresses? I wouldn’t think so but I also didn’t think Reg would make it passed the first test at Wizard School so… Ungoliant save us. Spider's Note: I think he was making a feather dress for his mother. Or as he put it "my môther" as a sort of "I'm sorry for being a terrible son, please don't have your secret assassins kill me in my sleep" gift. Orc customs are weird, but they're fascinating too. I wonder how his môther will respond.
Everything Stays | I heard that wise man said from presence to silence we flow

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