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Subject:Chronicles from the East
Date:Wed Jun 4 21:25:13 1997
Chronicles of Orbal the Wanderer, Part I

Out of curiosity and wanderlust, I decided to brave the lands that lie south
of Rivendell and east of Tharbad. Taking leave of Elrond, I rode my grey horse
southwards, along an ancient road. The travel was uneventful, and I began to
wonder if all the horrific stories I'd heard from the storytellers were but
the nightmare of a drunkard.

Leaving behind me the cliffs of the Misty Mountains, I ventured into a land
of plains and green hills, full of holly bushes. Hollin, they used to call it
when the Elves still lived there. Now few people live there, apart from a few
tribes of warlike hillmen. I heard that some people, especially elves dabbling
in sorcery, haven't been received kindly. However, I had no trouble dealing
with these warriors, and I was even invited to dine with their elders, whom
I entertained with tales of other lands.

Retracing my paces, I returned into the Misty Mountains, where I collected
several specimens of local flora. Some merchants are interested in such
items, also because they can be used as ingredients in strange philters.
Then, fully loaded with plants, I pressed forward, and slowly crossed
cruel Caradhras. If it was so hard to cross in midsummer, I don't dare think
of what it could look like in winter! My fine horse, hitting a loose stone
on a ledge, lost its balance and fell into a wide chasm. Grieving at the loss,
I struggled onwards.

At last, completely exhausted, I reached the valley of Anduin. After resting
for a while, I foolhardily decided to dare the evil darkness of Moria, all by
myself. I crossed its strong gates and ran through an entire tribe of orcs,
who were trying - not too efficiently - to make me their dinner.

Once I was far enough from the gates, however, the orcs left me in peace.
Perhaps they didn't care of a single human, who knows. For days I wandered,
almost lost in the blackness. Luckily I had brought a small canoe: many
tunnels were flooded. I saw old mines and defiled caverns, eerie places
and simple tunnels; I climbed my way to the highest peak of the Misty
Mountains, retrieving the fabled Tower of Durin, at the top of the Endless
Stair; I ventured into the deepest recesses of the earth, which few have seen
- and lived to speak of it. Only one place I didn't dare approach - one of
the deepest groups of caverns. The stench of orcs and trolls, and the aura of
something different - something extremely corrupted and extremely dangerous -
convinced me that it was time to seek an exit.

It was then that a series of disasters began. First of all, in order to flee
a big group of nasty orcs, I had to enter a fast flowing underground turrent.
Too late I realized the ceiling was plunging down steeply! Roughly carried
underwater, I felt my canoe smashed against the rocks, and as I held my
breath I expected to drown soon.

It was a surprise to awaken on the bottom of a huge cavern, spared by the
rushing water. Though I had completely lost my bearings, I managed to retrieve
a known tunnel and reach Moria's western gate. To my surprise, it was open.
Yet, as soon as I stepped out, a... no, I can't speak of it, it still haunts
my dreams; a monstruosity reached out of a lake with its tentacles, trying
to drag me underwater! In panic, I fled... into a pack of a dozen wargs, the
ugliest ones I'd seen. Hurt, weakened, without a mount, without a canoe,
I tried to reach my Hillman friends... only to stumble upon an emissary from
the Red Eye! With a maniacal cackle, this fellow tracked me down and burned
me with fiery globes of fire. Not even using all of my remaining strength
could I tickle the bastard and wreak his concentration.

At last, I sat there, severely wounded, my concentration ruined, my legs not
supporting my weight anymore, waiting to die. It was a relief to find out
that the Eagles of the Lords of the West still keep watch on Arda - just as
I heard Death approaching, a noble bird swooped down from the sky and led me
to safety, where I was able to write down these notes.

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