Parchment Case #19845, The Recollections of Bardhwyn of Dale

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Parchment Case #19845, The Recollections of Bardhwyn of Dale

Postby Bardhwyn » Sat Sep 02, 2006 5:55 pm

Imagine: before you lies a parchment case which is masterfully carved, imbedded with fine threads of gold that twist and turn into intricate filligree knots.

Upon it you see runes which read:


ROYAL ARCHIVES OF DALE

CASE # 19845


Reference: The Royal Bowmen

Herein lie the recollections of Bardhwyn, daughter of Bardhol, Archer in the King’s Bowmen who, when struck with amnesia, doth chronicled her tale in her own hand.

Cross References: House of Bardhol, Dorwinion - The Royal House of




Unroll the parchment and you will see the edges of the document cracked from repeated use. There is much writing upon it; crammed in the top margin is laid the thick fat sprawl of a man’s printing and following it the thin and delicate cursive of a woman. Both frame the beginning of a tale which is, in truth, merely the continuation of another …




To: The Captain of the King’s Rangers, Arnor.

Sir:

This was found along a disused path on the western slopes of the Weather Hills. We send it to your attention for it is clear some investigation needs to be done. By the delicacy of the hand, we think it is a woman’s writ which is all the more concerning. We suggest all patrols be alerted and if this woman found, render her what assistance is necessary and above all she be placed under protective custody. I draw your particular attention to the woman’s description of the bodies she found.

Caius, King’s Ranger.





The Day: I do not know.
The Month: I think sometime in the early autumn by the looks of the trees and the crisp warning of winter in the air.
The Year: Again I do not know the exact date but I do know it is the Fourth Age, the King has returned to Gondor and reigns in Peace.

A Peace that was dearly paid for. Strange how I can hold minute details of history, of our people, and of the Great War in my mind but ask me my name, my age and the place of my birth and I am helpless. I do not know.

I write these words because I know that if I do not chronicle my turmoil in some way I will go mad for it. By writing my mind perhaps I can save it. Will someone, someday, by the reading my words uncover subtle hints that I, myself, are blind to and thus piece together my identity? I can only hope.

I confess I stole this parchment, pen and ink from an old wandering merchantman as he slept. May the Gods forgive me and take pity on me for I am a sorry soul.

Here is the extent of my memory, from the time I woke, bruised and bloodied, under a might ash in a small field, the location of which I do not know.

(I will note that I cannot place the any of the land around me then or now – I do not recognize the paths I travel or the scenery I move through. I am told the place names of villages as I pass, but they make no sense to me.)

I live a life with a mind like a vast dungeon, and I wander in a small partially lit section while many parts are closed to me, sealed with doors impenetrable, as if soldered shut by the very breath of Smaug himself.

Smaug. The name fills me with intense fear. Why should that be? He was slain long before I was born.

But I digress – I must chronicle my first few days before the memory of them fade, for therein they may be some key to my plight. I woke, as I wrote, bloodied and bruised and by the sun’s arc I could tell it was mid day. How long I lay on the ground under that ash, I will never know. Standing over me was a black stallion – near 17 hands from what I can tell. He pawed at the ground, anxious for some reason and the blaze on his forehead was so clean and bright it was all I could focus on at first.

Upon my stirrings he reared up with such excitement I thought he would come straight down upon me and end my days, then and there. But no, the beast veered away and pranced happily like a foal on a clear, spring day. I breathed a sigh of relief but quickly realized I felt far from a clear, spring day. I felt close to that eternal sleep that, when presented too soon, fills us with a cold fear.

Despite intense pain I managed to roll onto my side and, after wiping the blood from my eyes, take in the scene around me. It was a small level clearing rung with old ash and sycamore high on a ridge of what was, I later learned, an impressive mountain range. Two dead bodies lay nearby, and once I reached them I could see their skulls had been crushed in – the firm, clear imprint of a horse’s hoof could be seen on each.

The stallion stood aloof, off to the north of the clearing as I inspected these bodies, and I wondered if he was the culprit for the beast seemed almost remorseful. But he hadn’t harmed me. It was then I saw dark patches of dried blood on his hooves and legs. The beast was to blame! Yet I was spared?

More disturbing than a killer horse were the dead themselves – some strange hybrid of orc and second born. They were gruesome creatures, possessing the frame of men with the misshapen attributes of an orc. Their skin was a sick, greenish hue and their hands had both fingers and claws. They had heads of hair; one was black the other a chestnut hue, one straight another had curls. It seemed terrifically odd to see an orc like creature sporting curls! Their jaws, too large for their skulls, were beset with sharp fang like teeth yet their noses were small and one, surprisingly, had clear hazel green eyes. I felt for the women kidnapped and forced to breed these abominations. My suffering in that moment paled to what theirs must have been. And still may be.

The dead had carried water which to my surprise was potable. Their food was putrid however, and caused me to wretch which brought on even more pain. I pulled myself up against the trunk of the ash and used their water skins to both drink and wash. I found a gash on my head that was deep but clotted and there was a banging in my head that kept time with my heart. I had at least one broken rib, two of my fingers were sprained badly, and I had at least one black eye and a few loose teeth. On the left side of my face I felt a scar but an old one, for the skin over it was taught. I understood, somehow, I was lucky to be alive.

On and off I dozed, drifting in and out of the pain I felt. When the clearing would come into focus, I could always see the horse nearby. He never left me. He kept his distance, as if on guard, nibbling the grass and on occasion, lifting his head, his ears pricked high, hearing some sound that was lost to me and my dull ears in the moment. Despite his murderousness, I felt safe with him near.

I finally emerged from my dull haze and realized I had no notion of where I was, how I arrived in this place or how I had been wounded. It as a tortuous revelation: I had no memory, no recollection of what happened. Were they chasing me? Did they come upon me in surprise? Was I traveling with them? Were these gruesome beasts my comrades? Were we attacked??

I then realized I didn’t know my name, or where I came from. I did not know who I was.

I battled a rising fear within me with every unanswerable question. My mind was a terrifying blank. No matter how hard I concentrated or how deeply I looked into the recesses of my rattled mind, there was nothing. Further more I was injured, unarmed, alone and the sun was setting. There could be more of them, of those things, out there, looking for me or looking for us.

A deep reflexive urge then filled me: I must not be found!

Darkness fell over my eyes at that point. It was so striking I had to check to see if the sun had dipped below the horizon before its time. I had not. It was my fear at work. I noticed my shirtsleeve had untied and on my right arm I found even more scarring; deep, and old and in what was clearly in a meaningful pattern but one that was lost on me. I looked at this brand wondering if it was some mark of belonging to this horrible band. A shudder of dread filled me. Then there followed a motion that seemed so well rehearsed; I quickly pulled down my shirtsleeve, bent my arm and tied the cuff strings using my teeth and my free hand. It was an action so deft and quick and I startled myself. I had done that many times before, it seemed.

Who am I? What am I? What am I capable of doing?

The sun was, in fact setting and there was no time for pondering. I mastered my fear with a will so strong it surprised me! I got to my feet, took what was of value from the dead half-orcs and with some effort searched the clearing for whatever else I could find. I recovered a ring, a jeweled locket and a set of saddlebags that belonged to a human, (perhaps I?) for they were better made and cared for than what items I found on the half-orcs. There was no saddle or tack for the horse, just a blanket with the letter 'C' finely stitched in each of the four corners. To my surprise I found a sword, sword belt and long knife discarded in some brush. Again, they were finely made and not the work of Orcs.

Now armed, a deep part of me relaxed which made sense when I saw the calluses on my hands, clearly made from working with a sword and knife. The calluses on my right index and middle finger were (and still are) a mystery, though. I cannot imagine what they mean. Why just these two fingers?

I set out at dusk and followed the setting sun. Why, I do not know. West was the direction my instincts took me and the horse followed me like a faithful dog. In fact, it stopped before me and one point and kneeled, as if inviting me to ride! I dared not, partly because of my injuries and also because I did not trust the beast.

That has changed for he has proven himself to me, leading me to fresh water, to safe places to sleep at night and to remote farmhouses for food and rest - or at least an empty barn to sleep in.

I have been wandering West for quite some time now and I am healing well thanks to the kindness of strangers I meet on the way. I have met the unkind, as well and was it not for the sword at my side and my equine companion I think I would have met with ill on several occasions. One look at me and my horse is enough it seems to turn a malcontent away.

Praise the Gods I have not yet needed to draw this blade at my side and for that I am grateful. For in truth I am afraid that were I to use it, horrible memories would return - memories of what I was before that horrible day in the unknown clearing. If I was companion to those abominations, could that part of me return? It cannot happen, it must not! That part of me must die with them.

But what if I was their victim? If so, I deserve to learn who I am. So I wander and watch. I closely observe the people I meet. I look at their eyes at first meeting and gauge their response; do they recognize me? If so, are they afraid? Are they at ease? I look and I watch and I hope for that spark which will give me the permission to ask my request: Please tell me who I am.

Many weeks have passed and I have met many people but have yet to see it – that spark of recognition. With every cool eye I meet, my fear deepens. Perhaps I was one of them - a cruel bandit in league with half-orcs, my life spent hidden in some cave or in the mountains and this is why no one knows me.

If that so, perhaps this is blankness a gift. But to be so alone with this 'gift', with only a horse for a companion, does at times feel more like a curse.

As I wrote: May the Gods forgive me and take pity on me for I am a sorry soul.


And as for the rest of the tale, that is for another parchment roll.
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