That Erú Ilúvatar may light these words.
That the Valar may show their favor upon you that peruse these words.
I, Belegnost Foecleaver, bid thee greetings, most wise reader. Wise for you have come to study the deeds of men, and to know what transpired in one's ancestors days doth bring much clairvoyance on the path one must thread towards the Gift of Erú. To the noble elf, stout dwarf, good hobbit or any other of the free races that may come, should you find this document, that it's words may also fill you with the will of a better world, as this writer desires, and remind you of a time when those that were free gathered to battle the oncoming waves of darkness, from the land where the shadows oft never rested. We were - we are - brothers in this world of Eä.
About the one that feathers this parchment, I will speak of now only briefly. I, Belegnost Foecleaver, hail from Gondor, where my ancestors took refuge after fleeing from the lands of the Haradrim. Of the struggles of my ancestors I shall not pen here this day. Suffice to say I took to the lands of the old kingdom of Arnor, in search of how to better serve my ancestors, my land and how to bring glory before the Valar to myself. There I traveled water and land with most steadfast Lily as guide, met many a folk, befriended wise elves and courageous dwarves in Ered Luin and many a good and reputable hobbits in the Shire. The Lone Lands I walked, and I did see upon the majestic city of Annuminas. I have met and befriended the Lossoth of Forochel, and helped as I could the men that would protect the North Downs from their hidden sanctum. I took battle to Angmar, scouted the Trollshaws, explored the Misty Mountains, and brought death to many an enemy in Eregion. I was there when my friend dwarves decided to retake Moria, and when the majestic Golden Wood was revealed to them, and the Dark Wood beyond it, brought into ruin by the Enemy. I sojourneyed through Dunland and Enedwaith, where I learned even the wise may be turned into evil when one forgets the path of Erú, that may Saruman find his undoing soon.
Of my travels to these lands, of my deeds in them and the honors and titles I have achieved, others have penned better descriptions than I, a mere warrior and guardian of the free people, can hope to accomplish. Suffice to say the path was long, and the road stretched on, until this moment where I write.
The following pages contain what words I, Belegnost Foecleaver, could muster to register the history of new Hytbold. Ever since I have come to lead these men in rebuilding their city and fight for their land, I oft turned my thoughts to my ancestors, and how they would register the deeds of men in the path to the Gift given by Most High Erú. As well, as I am advised by the astute man, Edgal of Rohan, these such cities all record their histories for the appreciation of the men of the days to come and of the men of these current days. So it is here, so I shall do to not offend these people I respect.
Despite having spent but a few weeks among these men, I am glad I could be of help. The lands are filled with orc and enemy, and many fell before my blade and trusty horse Hengroen. Men of Wold, led by Harding, were the first I helped, and by whom my loyal steed was given. The vassals and serfs of Athelward, of the Norcrofts, I helped next. Ingbert of Entwash and Fastred of Sutcrofts, too, knew my sword, Hyarril, in their service. For all the help I was able to give to the men of this land, which were struggling under the orders of King Theoden - poisoned against the people by Saruman and his lackey Grima Wyrmtongue, a curse upon them both -, indeed, for all the help I have given my actions took attention to many a folk, desperate and hopeless. Quickly I was contacted by Edgal of Rohan, son of Hytbold, who thought my presence could be of use in these difficult times. Hytbold, a once thriving settlement in the western side of the East Wall, had been destroyed by marauding orcs, it's people scattered to the plains and the mountains. Being my presence unbarred by the local politics, and noticeable enough to many a men of these lands, Edgal devised a plan to bring back the city of his ancestors: in that I would be a natural leader to these men to restore their old home.
Being no leader of men, my first thought was to respectfully decline, as many worries dwell in my mind. However, I have come to admire the tenacity and blazing fury the Rohirrim possess, and with my self imposed charge being out of reach for the foreseeable future, I have decided to stay for the time being, to once more be the rock upon which the waves of darkness break. The Rohirrim, as I said, are a courageous and strong people, but alas much of the old days has been lost upon them: what little I know of the times before Gondor, of Númenor and even older days, I shall try to impart upon them as well.
Here are the details of these days in rebuilding Hytbold.
Leaving Snowbourne, the seat of Fastred in Sutcrofts, the Rohir Edgal, his loyal friend Renwald, and myself, along with many of the villagers and crofters that the city could not receive, traveled swiftly and quietly during the early hours of the day, when the orcs take flight from the rays of Anor the Fire-Golden, fruit of Laurelin. Upon reaching our destination, we quickly surveyed what little could be saved for our first day, and rebuilt the structures and walls the Mead Hall, which willl serve as our residence for the time being. Edgal, Renwald and myself then took council on how to rebuild the city. A stream flows from the East Wall in the town's southern part, giving us a fresh source of water, but for the moment the supplies we have brought will have to suffice for the days to come.
As we spoke, the men and women, mostly former inhabitants of Langhold in the Wold, built their meager tents. When we exited the council, we had decided what to rebuild first: we gathered the people and erected the palisade of the east wall, from which the orcs came at when Hytbold fell. While construction took place, the horses that accompanied us were gathered and accounted for, and a stable master was chosen among and by the people, his duty to care for the horses, take them to graze and tend to them, and gather the manure. Immediatelly I gave orders to send scouts to bring word to the other settlements ere the next day's break, to give them rest for this day and night, and Edgal appointed me the fastest riders among the people.
By the end of the day, a small group of men and women descended from the mountains, and Edgal and Renwald advised me that they were former habitants of Hytbold. A discussion ensued between Edgal and Renwald, of the availability of our resources and if those that had fled their lands, and not died for it, would be honorable to receive shelter and protect it once more. The discussion came to a stall, upon which I gave my veridct: "Many a man I have met that fled their homes, hopeless and with their spirits crushed. Fear dwells in the heart of all men. I cannot fault someone or call them cowards for choosing to live, and I cannot oppose them to try to find their redemption for their flight by returning to their once beloved home. Welcome them". We will fasten our belts tighter for the days to come to be able to accomodate these new people. That Erú may find wisdom in my actions.
This was the end of the first day.
By the break of the second day, I learned that my mercy was rewarded. One of the newcomers was a tamer of birds, and claims he'll be able to train pidgeons to bear any messages we deem. He was given leave to train them as he saw fit, upon which we may establish a mail system.
We then took the people a-ganging to establish the bounds of Hytbold, and have erected the outside fences and lights that led to the old farms of the city. The crops had been destroyed, but the harm to the land was not permanent, thank the Valar. But, before our eyes could be set to that task, our council decided best to reinforce the eastern gate first.
While part of the people reinforced the eastern gate, the other group rebuilt a scout's tower in the middle of the city, near the tents of the men of the Wold, in order to watch the fields to the west.
I must say that the celerity with which these men and women rebuild their lands is astounishing, and I would wager many a dwarf would show respect to their steadfastiness, although we the race of Men are not as sturdy and industrious as they are.
This was the end of the second day.
Eager to place my skills as a metalsmith to use, I was able to convince Edgal and Renwald of the utility of a forge, for the production and repairing of the tools, hauberks, helms and weapons we'll need for the upcoming days. Our supply of wood and woodworks is currently satisfactory, whereas knowledge of metalsmithing and it's supply is not. Given my mastery at such matters, I was able to teach and demonstrate to the only blacksmith and it's few helpers on how to best utilize our current stock. At this moment, the essential tools are being taken care of, and although the craftsmanship could be more refined, they'll serve for the moment.
Upon the smithy's rebuilding, however, one of the scouts returned and Edgal has warned me of a nearby mine that may serve our current and future needs of ore. I took it upon me to explore the tunnels, and although I have found some opposition in the form of a few easterling scouts, I was able to dispatch them without any scouts fleeing, to the best of my knowledge.
By the time I returned, the crofters were able to clean the lands of the farms and plow what they could. They say the land is still very serviceable, and can provide us autonomy in edible goods in a few weeks. With that duly noted, I took upon the dove ward to send a message to the Sutcrofts and the Norcrofts to send in what seeds, animals and fertilizer they could to tend to the land. Although they are not able to send soldiers nor fight the orcs that roam the land, I believe such askance will not fall upon deaf ears, as I am not a lord of Rohan and I am not tied to the laws of Theoden King, and these people need food and shelter.
This was the end of the third day.
A few more Rohirrim have joined our growing community, bringing their own supplies! Men of Norcrofts, Sutcrofts and Entwash erected their tents today, and are helping us eagerly as we rebuild and maintain what constructions we currently have. The new hands have been a blessing at the farmlands, and most of it has been done with the heavy plowing. Soon we'll do the second plowing and the sowing. Although tents are temporary houses, the Rohirrim made them more comfortable, and with our current number of men and women, and with a few weapons being already produced, I have given them leave to keep the campfires throught out the nights. Should any orcs come, we'll cut them to pieces, myself at the tip of the Rohirrim spear to bleed them.
The works continued at the crofts, and many of the new men were given positions to defend the eastern gates and the towers of the eastern gate and the tower of the, we shall call it, Wold district.
This was the end of the fourth day.
Renwald advised me of the nearby woods from which we could explore the resilient oak of Rohan. Considering our necessity for more and more materials, this sound advice was accepted, and an old construction near the river was given to be used as a lumber mill. The tools that the smithy produced in the past few days were allocated there, as was all our supply of timber. I then took upon me to patrol the woods, finding it filled with many wolves, although one of them seemed much bigger and more cunning than the others. Suffice to say that their pelts will supply enough leather for the following days, however.
The crofters continue to tend to the farmlands. By the end of the day they say they have finished the heavy plowing. We then proceeded to share the hides of the three fields to each of the crofters through the custom of fortune, a land of their own for them to work on, and a land to the Mead Hall to supply to it's inhabitants. After this, I have given them leave to celebrate, as is their custom, and in good time, as many of the old residents of Hytbold that took to living in the mountains returned with game, herbs and fruits provided by Eä in these lands. Ewes' and goats' milk with honey were our drinks, and the people were able to roast a few goats, capons, ducks and herrings.
This was the end of the fifth day.
Thank the Valar! My scout to the Entwash was the first to return with good tidings! Ingbert of Entwash quickly sent me many boons to help establish Hytbold, for all the services I have provided him in the previous weeks. In possession of these resources, the people rejoiced even more along with the spirit of yesterday eve's feast, and the day was spent in laborious reconstruction.
First and most important, I was able to guarantee the city's food supply and autonomy for the future. Ingbert has sent many seeds of barley, rye, wheat and vetch of good stock, and we'll proceed to plant them with our own seeds, along with what manure we could supply from the sheep and horses we have brought with us. The production looks promising.
We were also able to finish a few wind mills for the farms, upon which I have given leave for all to abandon their hand mills. The communal oven was also finished, and was superbly built. As per custom, we have instituted the tax of one loaf for the lord for every ten pieces produced to maintain the Mead Hall, whereas we also established a second loaf as tax for the times of war. Despite this unpopular measure, the Rohirrim understand the need of it, for these are times of strife, and we guaranteed thus the payment of the few soldiers we were able to receive in our own ranks.
A supply of hay was also given to the stables, which can last us a few weeks when winter comes. By then I believe we'll be able to produce our own hay from the fields as well.
The rest of the day was spent reinforcing the eastern gate and planting the banners of the Rohirrim, and also finally reconstructing the western gate, to establish both the exits of the city, as per custom, as after all the gates are the means through which we leave and join the city, and we have learned of the importance of setting such limits from the Valar. May Oromë make these gates stand strong! I am worried, however, to acquire enough materials to rebuild the palisade.... although it still stands, it has been weakened by the fire, and soon we'll need to work extensively on it. For the moment, the mountains and the paths will be our walls.
This was the end of the sixth day.
We continued to improve the tools of the lumber mill and assure we had enough workers to bring in the wood, for the future need to rebuild the palisade. Work is slow and steady.
Meanwhile, Edgal has convinced me of the necessity to build a deposit of Rohirric knowledge, a library. Although a people geared towards war, I was impressed by his request, to which he quickly explained it's advantages: that which the lore of their ancestors could be kept, and the knowledge of the battles of yore could be of help to the fights of these days. As well, to them the Rohirrim, it is a place were tales are told and many can come to listen to the wise men and women of their traditions, as well as being a safe place on which the children can learn and be protected. To myself, I took this as an opportunity to also share what knowledge and stories I do have to these men and women, and to store these pages I write in there. With my leave, the library was quickly rebuilt. Not only that, as Edgal talked about one such places of knowledge in Rohan, he expressed a worry for one of them, which I took unto myself to explore and retrieve as many texts I could. A few brigands and bandits took residence upon such hallowed grounds of the deeds of men, and single-handed I was able to scoff them off. When I returned with what I could gather, Edgal was very happy, and proceeded to sort out the books and manuscripts, a task which he seemed to enjoy. What a curious behaviour of these men! Indeed, there is much more than the looks to any book...
This was the end of the seventh day.
(To be continued....)