My body is bitten by the freezing cold of the high and impressive Misty Mountains and I can hardly hold the quillpen in my hand. Not only is the hand trembling from the cold, thinking back on our last meeting with the Enemy is even more cause for shivering limbs.
Last time I wrote we were heading out of the Elven Kingdom of Rivendell to hunt down a Black Rider. The mountains led us to an outpost of dwarves seeking refuge in a camp where we met Lord Gloin. Gloin's people live in constant battle with both the unforgiving nature of the peaks of the Misty Mountains and the increasing number of goblins dwelling there.
In return of helping Lord Gloin recover some odd heirlom of his he told us of a traitorous tribe of dwarves that had turned againt him. What was worse, the evil dwarves had welcomed the Black Rider we were hunting. We followed the Black Rider and ended up fighting the Dourhand's wicked Dwarf Lord. The Black Rider escaped but Lord Gloin told us, after reading some parchments we returned to him from the Dourhands, that the Black Rider was likely hiding in some ancient dwarven stronghold named Helegrod, or rather in the treassury of that fortress.
We should never have followed. It was folly and I know it. But we were too deeply involved in the wellbeing of the bitter but not unfriendly dwarves, and there was still no sign of Strider. We rode out of Gloin's camp one morning, it was colder than usual. When we had managed to locate the entrance of the old treassury I saw on the large stonedoors and understood we would have to leave the Maeras behind. I should have turned back then. But we went on. After having led Riverfoam and the other steeds into the entrance and left them with blankets on while we continued into the maze, and towards our own doom.
After having lost our way countless times, at last we entered a huge hall, comparable even to Meduseld allthough carved out in the rock, and saw the Black Rider speaking to a few minions of his. On the ground in front of him was the dried up corpse of a long dead dragon. We should have run but stood almost paralyzed in the doorway when the Black Rider and his minions started to chant and reading out curses aloud.
What happened next is as much of a miracle as the fact that I am still alive to write you this letter. The dragon, obviously dead since decades, maybe centuries, slowly came alive. I am not lying to you. There, right in front of our eyes, the dragon was awakened by the Black Rider. How utterly foolish of us to have tried to hunt down such an invicible creature! The dragon soared up into the darkness of the cave and left the same way I presume it must have entered many years ago allthough I did not myself see any openings out into open air.
Then, at that moment, the Black Rider reliazed he wasnt alone with his minions any longer. He turned slowly in our direction and I felt the blood freeze to ice in my heart. He was upon us as rain or snow come out of the White Mountains, in no time. I barely got my shiled up before he cracked it in half with his ill-tended blade. The struggle, it would not be correct to call it a fight, was over in less than a minute. The Eored broke. Without our steeds we were like young boys fencing with wooden sticks against a foe that grabbed hold of your heart with a cold invisible hand, and squeezed your life out of it.
I awoke hours later. A deep cut in my shieldarm but no other visible wounds. The men were scattered on the cold dark rock. Less blood were covering it than fill six men. My hope returned quicker than I thought possible. I could see Fridgrim sit in a corner, pale face, like life was drained from him, mute. I walked around and checked on them one by one. Gundred, face painted with horrible nightmares. Thraindir in a cowering posture on the floor. Beotatha shield covering his head, knuckels gone white holding the sheiled. Wraecca, pale as ice, his right leg soaked in blood but not mortally wounded. It was a sad sight.
And still, we were all alive. Why the Black Rider spared us is a mystery. Not that there is much left of us. Our steeds where still in the entrance and on our ride back to Gloin I pondered much on whether we should simply return to the Mark. I dont know how we will react if put to a fight again. Maybe we will all break. I know not the answer while I write this to you from Gloin's camp but I will find out.
Perhaps we are not far from you, on our way home, when you read this. I have failed to honor You and your realm.
Your loyal blood