The Journal of the Apprentice Athalbert Folksvarthrson (4)
When we left Dale behind, the gates and the strong walls, I think I had never known such a feeling of loneliness. I looked back and in that moment I knew that, no matter how often I returned there, it wouldn’t be home any longer. The doctor says these feelings are to be expected, for I mentioned it to him while I looked back. He says that he hasn’t a home any longer either, that the house where he was born in the east is no longer there, nor his village, nor any of the villages where he used to travel. He will not tell me why, but we get stories from the east of foul men and foul deeds, the sorts of stories you hear as children.
Ma used to tell us to watch out for the Wandering Easterling, the man who’d betrayed the king of Numenor and was cursed to wander forever. She said that if we stayed out too late in the dark that he would come and get us, or that goblins might come and strike from the gloom. But I think I must be in the company of a wandering Easterling now, and that if there really are any goblins left they won’t be bothered with him or I. The doctor is good, though, and if his villages were destroyed it must have been by some vile group, perhaps by goblins for they must be somewhere.
And if there are elves here their cousins must be somewhere about. Why not to the east of us?
We’ve stopped at an inn for the night, and made a fine profit on the innkeeper’s daughter afflicted with a condition of the skin that leaves it red and flaky that the doctor called leprosy. I could not say what good the salve will do but it seemed to alleviate the itching and so she seemed at least contented, so that is doing a good job. From here there are farms which might take us on, and the doctor has said I might have leave to inspect their animals to see what sicknesses might live within them, for some are easily overlooked.