Oh, Inwë. I believe that I have succumbed to the evil that suffuses every accursed breath of air in this wasteland. If I have not acted this day as a coward, then I can not imagine what would ever count as an act of cowardice. It seeps into my skin, the corrupting taint of this place, and I fear I will soon be as wicked as the rest who prowl these steppes. I will forget my quest. I will forget my people and all I hold dear. I will, in time, forget your face, dear inwë, and the starlight in your eyes.
I will be damned, like setsuled Kinslayer and all the goblin filth that follows him.
It is only a few hours after sunset as I write this. Many hours ago now, there in the gully where I'd fallen asleep, I was awakened by the cry of a hawk. The sun was still high, and I lay still a while, watching the bird circling far above me. Only slowly and with reluctance did I recall where I was and how I had come to be here. Suregait gave an anxious, low whinny and flared her nostrils, and so I rolled over and crept slowly on my belly up to the lip of the deep gully. There before me was the orc encampment, the hoard I believe to be following setsuled in his hunt for me. Only the camp had grown considerably in size while I slept. And watching, I realized from certain crude markings on the rags they wear, that many among these goblins were the same who had earlier pursued me and Suregait, not long after we left the foothills of the Mithrim Spur.
But there was a far worse sight to come, Inwë. For I soon realized that the orcs had captured a number of men, women, and children. I took them for the Easterling nomads who wander Mordor, though I did not think any were foolhardy enough to venture forth onto the plains of Gorgoroth. But now I saw them clearly, bound hand and foot, the nearest among them no more than a stone's throw from my hiding place. And I saw, too, that the goblins had already killed two or three of the Easterlings and were in the process of dressing their flesh for the spit. Before that moment, I naively believed I had looked upon genuine horror. I believed that my training and my life had long since steeled me against such awful sights. But I was wrong, Inwë. I was terribly, terribly wrong. I lay there watching as the butchery continued, as a another woman's throat was cut and her belly slit, her entrails spread out beneath the blazing sun and upon the dusty earth.
And then I saw him, the man from the Limlaith, come striding in among these murderous creatures and their captives and...I will write this down, for the true extent of my cowardice must be recorded here. I must be forced to look upon it in days to come. I saw the man setsuled, dressed all in black and sporting now a strange metal leg. I watched as he exchanged greetings and friendly blows with the goblins as though he were one of their own, and then he knelt and drew his dagger. With the blade, he hacked free a length of intestine...and I watched...I watched while he ate the flesh of the slain Easterling!
Again, the hawk cried out above me, and I had no doubt that bird was Radagast, for there are no birds in all this land save carrion crows and ravens, not that I have seen. One goblin heard the cry, as well, and it pointed towards the sky above me, and setsuled also turned his eyes that way. One of the orcs reached for its bow and swiftly nocked an arrow. And that's when an Easterling child saw me. I know that she saw me, Inwë. I will never doubt it, so long as I might yet live. But she did not cry out for help, even though none among the captives were gagged.
And I looked away, turning my back on her, and I scrambled quickly once more to the bottom of the gully, where Suregait waited nervously. For only a minute did I consider whether or not I might deliver the Easterlings from the goblins and the cannibal setsuled. For only a minute. I have naught but the short Elvish blade given me by the wizard, and I am naked save for a stolen cloak and boots. I was one, and my foes were many. I might slay some considerable number of them, but I would certainly die before I could hope to rescue the captives. However, this is not what stayed my hand. Never have I feared death. I have proven that time and again. I am a shieldmaiden of Rohan, a daughter of The Mark, and yet still one thing did I fear. In my mind, I saw myself taken prisoner again by setsuled Kinslayer, and I remembered the dreams that have haunted me since Caranduin. I felt again his hands upon me, and I heard again the promises...
And so I fled, Inwë. But not because I understood that, when such grim measures must be made, my purpose here is to be counted as more important than the lives of a handful of nomads. Nor because I feared that burden with which I have been entrusted and which has been so bound to me might fall into the hands of Khamûl of the Nine or some other remnant of Sauron's depraved court. No, I rode away on Suregait because I feared him and what might become of me were I taken alive. I looked back only once or twice. Some among them gave chase on the backs of wargs, led by setsuled astride an enormous ebony steed. But Suregait soon left these fell riders far behind, and still I rode, moving always northwards, for hour upon hour, as day faded to twilight to night, my mind too filled with thoughts of his hands moving upon me and also with the memory of the Easterling child who had looked to me with the faint glint of hope in her eyes. It was long after dark when Suregait at last came to one of the great rifts or canyons and refused to go any farther without rest.
I can write no more of this now. I have seen no sign of Radagast. Perhaps he has forsaken me for my cowhearted retreat from the goblin camp. But I can write no more now.
Okay. Time for leftover birthday cake and Lemony Snicket...