This letter is written in a bit shaky hand, but the letters are still neat and relatively clear. It seems to be the third in a series of letters.
Yet again another letter to add to the pile of letters I am not sure I will ever send to you. I will probably end up giving you all those letters when I am home again. You would enjoy that. Perhaps they would read like one of those volumes you brought back from Mudburg a few years ago. However, I have promised to find someone to send you my news and I intend to keep it.
Before I go on, I must excuse myself. My handwriting is horrible, today, even our youngest writes better than I do (oh, remind him that he must improve his, or he will not be able to train with the Knights of Dol Amroth. Their Prince is known for promoting literate young men). However, I need to tell you what happened during the last days, even in this crude form. Who else would understand me better than you? I thought that our trip through Lothlorien was horrible, but this was worse.
As you know, our two guides left us once we traversed most of the Vales. That was the deal; to accompany us till the Wolf Dens and then Maerstan, Elladoraa and I traveled on. The journey was pleasant enough at the start, a hike up to the mountains with snow to lighten up the environment. I kept thinking of what the guides had told us; do not be fooled, the mountains have teeth.
And teeth they had. It started slowly; the snowflakes danced languishing around us. I believed that we could press on a little bit, what a fool I was. Soon, the wind picked up and the snow became thicker and thicker. It started going everywhere, chilling us to the bone. I have never felt so cold in my entire life! That first day, I tried to remember how the warmth of a fire would feel like, but I could not recall. All of us were severely underdressed for the weather, I could see Elladoraa's teeth chattering and my heart hurt.
The worse came the next morning. You see, we kept moving instead of staying put, with the notion that perhaps we can outrun it and keep warm at the same time. I miscalculated. We could not see. We could hear nothing but the howling of the wind. One moment I could see two figures ahead of me and then... One. Why was it only one? I kept asking myself, I refused to think of the worst, one of them must be far ahead. I kept following that lonely figure till they stopped. Elladoraa looked at me via tired eyes "Where is Maerstan? I thought he was with you".
My heart sunk. That brave man who so willing joined my trip away from his home. He always thought he needed to be protector, but I have responsibility towards him as well. What did my father say? We take care of our people or they do not care about us. I had failed Maerstan.
With steps heavier than before we kept going. We often shouted his name, calling him to us, to no avail. We tried to backtrack, but what use was it? We were lost. Neither of us knew where we came from or where we were going. Thankfully, the storm did as all storms do and passed. We even got a fast glimpse of the sun! Our terrible situation was even clearer at that point. What would we do? What could we do? We kept walking through the fresh snow, just Elladoraa and I. We could not see anyone around us for a long time, until Ella touched my sleeve. "Behind us, she said".
There was a caravan coming towards us. As they approached us, I could see men on goats; no not men. They were short and stout with long beards… they were dwarves. I had not seen dwarves before in my life, and I would have been more impressed by their stature if I could focus on them. I realised that a a very cold Eorling was riding with them.
"Oh, Maerstan!" I called to him once they came closer. "I am so glad to see you alive!" The poor man felt so shocked and apologetic; he felt bad for not being there to protect me! I need to talk to him tomorrow, to make clear that I do not think he has failed me in any conceivable way. I would have said as such on the spot if not for the dwarf leader.
"Greetings" he had a deep voice and an unusual Westron accent. "I am Thorghest. I assume that you are lady Adiwen. That lad seems to have been looking for you".
"That is me, sir" I nodded politely at him. "I am glad to happen upon you; not only because you reunited us with our companion, but also because we are dreadfully lost!"
He frowned at me, or at least I think he did under all his hair. "I am not surprised that you got lost! Only fools would go through the Misties with such a snowstorm!" The impertinence! Can you imagine his disdain, darling? He even snorted at me. "But come, we can take you with us to Hrimbarg tonight. There, you can warm up, and tomorrow, you will travel with us. Consider yourself lucky for traveling with you at the same direction".
I shot a quick glance to my guard; he did not seem to be any sorrier for revealing our travel plans to the dwarf than he already was. I was wounded and angry, the dwarf was right, of course, but you know me. I wanted to spit on him and refuse his help out of my damned wounded pride. Both my companions' spirits had lifted visibly at the prospect of warmth and shelter; I could see it on their faces. I could not take it upon me to refuse them this comfort, and the fact remained that we were lost.
This is how, I have come to write to you this letter while in Hrimbarg. The place is magnificent, beyond anything you or I have seen before. Thorghest said that this is but a barn in comparison to Thorin's Hall. I would spend some ink to tell you more about the dwarves and their settlement. You have to forgive me, I am getting tired and I need to rest. I am told we will leave first thing in the morning. I promise to describe it to you in my next letter.
Please be safe, my love. I will come back as soon as I am done with my little business in Bree. Give my love to our kids, and my greetings to our friends.
With great love,
Adiwen, Lady of the Mark
PS: None of us got a frostbite, thankfully. We will all arrive in Bree with fingers and toes intact.