#10: In Ost Guruth

I am fortunate enough, having arrived with no plan to return or move on, to find that Ost Guruth welcomes me, and supplies are also available. Liffey, though as inscrutable as ever, was both surprised and pleased to see me. Our conversation, which I shall relate little of even to this private journal, left me even more muddled than before on many matters, but at least I need not worry that I cannot find some shelter here. In fact, as I write this by the dying light of her fire, she sleeps in a tent before that same fire, scant yards from me. Her injury is long since healed, and to my considerable astonishment, she considers returning to Bree two days hence, allowing me to journey with her and thus be reasonably assured of safe passage. Fortune has indeed smiled upon me, the unprepared fool.

I sit upon a new bedroll, too large to fit into my pack now full of food; I have some designs on a method by which I can affix the bedroll, coiled and bound, to the bottom of the pack. Tomorrow, she makes her preparations and says her farewells for now (though she intends a return within the next few moons, to meet some Dwarven friends who will be visiting at that time). I intend to give her some distance for the day, that she might be free to think about my presence, and the thought of her return. It might chance that the idea of departing, which seemed sensible to her by night at a time of surprise and amongst a conversation heavily laden with emotion and (at least for me) confusion, could feel less compelling after she's had opportunity to cogitate on it without the 'clouds' in her thoughts of which she speaks, which I apparently at times bring. (Her speaking of them gave me my own clouds.) If so, I will find another way to return. Now that I have food and bedroll, I'm sure I will have no trouble, if it come to that.

To give her some distance my intent is to explore some of the nearby lands, at least where she said it was safe, including the bridge to the east, and the woods beyond, whose trees are unfamiliar to me. Perhaps I shall collect a sample of wood. Though it occurs to me that even if it proved of great value in the making of furniture, lumberjacking so far from Bree would be of immeasurable challenge. It is hard to imagine the quantities needed for furnishings could be worth so arduous an undertaking. If I made handcraftings or whittlings, perhaps. Still, I have to find some way to keep myself busy and out from underfoot, and I might as well examine a sample or two. A constitutional cannot help but be pleasant.

I may also walk around this settlement and make myself known to its people, if they seem welcoming to my overtures. They are a taciturn people, admirable in their ruggedness and self-reliance, and I would fain know more about them, if I could. Though I was advised to avoid the roofed ruin in which the healers dwell.

Liffey is well-known here, and well-loved. It is little wonder that she might dwell amongst a people like this, as the same traits in them I admire are amongst those things I respect in her. But that same unforthcoming nature means that most of what she told me left me none the wiser, my thoughts full of possibilities, most of them later refuted. She did assure me that, if she were harsh to me in the past (and I certainly felt that she was), it was not for anything I did, but rather, the sign of her own uncertainties and struggles.

At that, I told her, making light of things, how I have made every other person in Bree I have spoken to angry or upset with me at some time or other, but as I said it, mostly joking, the words stuck in my thoughts. It is very nearly true, and I cannot shake this revelation. I don't think Mr. Berengar was ever angry at me, and it's possible I haven't upset Eugenie. But everyone else, yes. I was in Bree less than a day before I was challenged to a duel by Mr. Hazelwood. I've done something to make Odelynne inclined to keep some distance, though at least she remains friendly. Piper has been cross with me more often than not, perhaps more than is inevitable from being siblings. I still don't know what made Margot irked at me. Belfry, who I spoke to on only one occasion, perhaps never took umbrage at me, though if Piper got so upset at that idle quip I made (which I thought was in their favor, not against them, but jokes are elusive beasts), surely so would Belfry had she heard it.

In Trestlebridge, I thought of myself as somewhat charming, erudite, well-read, with ready banter, a silver tongue for flattery (though never given in dishonesty; the trick is finding the good to concentration attention upon), and an air about me that people found appealing. Perhaps I was always mired in delusion? Perhaps my charms only worked on those who had seen me as an ungainly boy of seven years, and watched me grow into the man I am now? I have written just a few days ago about how Bree has disappointed me, failing to provide mirth and company, joy and song. Perhaps it is I who disappoint myself. I shall endeavor to be more circumspect with my so-called 'charm' in future. It may be too late to make a friend of Odelynne, or to mend bridges with Mr. Hazelwood, or a dozen others; but mayhap I will, in time, find something better than charm to make Bree a pleasurable home.