Entry for 21 April
Nothing happens by chance. I have always found that, out of the greatest troubles and sorrows, come the greatest blessings, kindnesses, and good deeds. I don't know why all these things are happening in Bree right now. It's not my place to question Fate, or demand answers from those who walk on a higher plane than we. But for my small, insignificant part in the grand scheme, and the goodness I've encountered, I am forever grateful.
I've had visits from several friends. Baldmar, so dear is he! I don't know why he saw fit to call me his friend long ago, and to watch over me, a selfless, fearless guardian. His heart is so pure, its beauty is overwhelming. Dryn, such a gentle soul. Why did I never see how kind and thoughtful and humble he was, months and months ago when I first met him? I suppose circumstances at the time made it impossible. I offer my thanks now, for the friend he has become to me and Conrob.
Lastly...we saw Aallan. He came to my door wearing a disguise, presenting himself as a tailor looking for local work. Dryn had gone, but Baldmar returned, and within a short time, he began to question this mystery man's identity. I knew the voice, even though he'd shed his heavy Bree-land accent, but it didn't hit me right away. Baldmar declared it first, and he was filled with a sudden wrath that was terrifying, demanding to hear Aallan's excuse for being in my house. I have never seen him so enraged...I tremble even now to recall it. I feared for a moment that he might become violent towards Aallan, but he did not. The three of us then exhorted Aallan to stop running and hiding, putting himself and everyone he came into contact with in danger. He resisted at first, but in the end, he seemed to resign himself to facing the consequences of his recent actions.
I hated to see him so broken. My heart ached on his behalf. He kept going on about being hung, though I told him that Adalbart didn't want to hang him. And that we would come and speak in his defense, gladly. I'm terrified now. I will do anything and everything in my power to make sure his life is spared. I don't know what I'd do if...
I received the most touching letter from Neyaa yesterday! At first, I was worried that I'd disappointed her, being absent from my duties. And then she mentioned my ordeal (in the politest, vaguest terms), and I was embarrassed. But she went on to reassure me, with such incredible, generous kindness, that I was moved to tears. She bid me take the time I needed, to rest, and be with Conrob, and even offered to send us a hamper of food. Dear Béma, I'm tearing up even now. What have I done to warrant such kindness? I must thank her, truly and properly, when I see her again.
Conrob and I finally ventured into town last night. It felt peculiar, but pleasant, to resume the routine of sitting with a mug of beer and a cup of tea, gazing at the hearth with his massive arms around me. We ran into several faces when we first entered. Darling Avilina, my favorite hobbit in all the world! A young man of odd garb, who was introduced to us as Wiljon. And the woman, Ynel, who I've seen about town, and have to determine much of a character for.
She spoke of a strange plot to build a giant meat grinder in Bree-town. Something about producing "tons" of pork to ship all over the world. We all looked at her rather oddly. How is one to preserve such incredible amounts of meat, for journeys that will take months, I wondered? Unless it were dried and salted, which seems a lot of work when speaking of thousands of pounds' worth? And who would buy such vast quantities of salted pork? But she seemed so enthused with her idea, and wouldn't be deterred, so I said little.
But a short while later, I was sitting with Conrob and Dryn, and we began to speak of Aallan in quiet tones. Dryn confirmed my worst fear; that Aallan has confessed to participating in the murder of the rapist. If any crime will earn him death, it will be that one. Still, I know Adalbart suspected him of it already, as he questioned me about the matter when I was at the jailhouse. I didn't give him an answer, but entreated him to understand how a man might lose his senses and commit such an act of violent defense on behalf of innocent young women. Yet while I spoke to Conrob and Dryn of these painful, worrisome matters, Ynel began to shout at us, right across the tavern, in full hearing of other patrons and employees, asking about the Watch and referring to the "murder". Gods alive, has she no tact? Irritated as we were, Conrob and I both beckoned her over, since she was so determined to participate in our discussion; I felt it better to have her at least stand nearby so she wouldn't keep shouting. Dryn ignored her, and this apparently offended her beyond forgiveness, for she turned her back on us, but not without making several other comments of a most negative and uncalled-for nature. Even going so far as to say Dryn would be arrested and hung. Honestly! Poor Wiljon stood and looked on as if he didn't know what to make of it all. Thankfully, Dryn showed admirable self-restraint and withheld from arguing with the woman.
Conrob and I said our goodnights to Dryn and Avilina (who has a friend, it seems! A charming young lad named Fieval), and made our way out the door. We enjoyed a bit of playful bantering as we rode, which reached a culmination on my front lawn. He was in a rare mood, but I suppose I was, too, and the subsequent tearing of clothes and wild laughter, which was soon silenced by his lips, was a much-needed balm on both of our hearts.
I am counting the days...the hours...until we say our vows.