(Two weeks earlier...)
Ryheric had been alone, by the Last Bridge, at the edge of the Trollshaws. There beneath the trees, he played his lute. He had played the theme over and over. No bloody fingers, this time around, though for certain his fingers would be well past aching and tired by the time he was done. At first, the music would have come in small sections. Cycles and mistakes, repeated passages of notes. The more he played each, the more streamlined they became. His technique would improve on each passage, and he would grow more decisive from the first improvisations, of which notes to include.
When the theme came into itself, he performed it. A doe came strangely near. Something natural and earthy about the pluck of lute strings, especially with the lack of any sung voice or signs of stirring or movement. She came unusually close, and left again. He stopped some time later to build a fire, but played into the night without sleeping. Also the eve after Lavendara had come to visit and then departed.
The next day he slept by the embers, waking now and again to feed the fire. Then, he played some more. A few sips of water taken, but nothing eaten. At least until that evening came and his stomach snarled at him its objections. He stopped playing to make a squirrel soup.
Another two or three days passed in a similar manner. He remained in that place by the river, with the bridge near enough to be in sight, but far enough to be out of earshot from travelers. It was on the fourth day that one of his lute strings - already rusted out from water damage, gave way and snapped.
He continued... at least until the second string broke. Stubborn not to be deterred, the piece continued. Then the third string broke, and he sighed. The instrument was too water damaged. Dropped in a lake, rained on. Frozen in the snow, thawed in the temperate summer of Breeland. Hours left on the saddle. Knocks, scrapes and snags on the road. The instrument's wood was warping after it's swim in the lake. It had remained playable for a time, but now it was time for his sixth lute to let go.
He crouched down and slid the entire lute into the river. Forlorn, she seemed, shocked and betrayed, if inanimate wood were allowed such expressions. It cut him somewhere, the same as the five before her had done, though he never allowed himself to recognise it before. Somehow it was less this time. Somehow more.
He watched the water take the lute away, then he left.
The theme played (click to listen)
He rode hard, returning to Bree and the forthcoming distraction from the loss of his instrument. Airodir's quest against the orcs was just the thing.