Dear King Thranduil,
Forgive me my tardiness, much has happened in the time since I have last returned to your fair halls and I find that I have become overwhelmed by the events as so much has transpired. I fear that I am not competent enough to clearly transcribe them but I shall try nonetheless. Having left the domain of the dwarves, Erebor, we ventured through Mirkwood. The way was dark and gloomy and we were fortunate, though much to Khorum’s displeasure, to have met a group of 4 elves making a similar journey. We joined their party and yet although with our combined voices the song was not so joyful as the woods are so oppressive in their gloom. I fear thee is a lot of dark movement within the woods. Orcs move south towards Dol Guldur. What shadow lurks there sire? Dread fills my thoughts simply contemplating what shadowy malice stirs within those spires and I pray that my eyes never settle upon that place and its influence will once again depart from Mirkwood so that the woods may once again be filled with light.
Yet, I digress. We made our way south to Woodmen Town. Khoram has great renown there and was merrily greeted. Unfortunately, that greeting was not well spread and I am sad to report that my entry to his home was barred. Yet, no matter, I will change his opinion of elves. Leaf out new companion found a secret doorway which led to a beautiful garden. The garden belonged to Radagast. Sadly, Radagast was not home, but my wits abandoned me and still I ventured inside. I admit I could not repress the desire to enter such a fair place and wander among the glories of his garden. So fair was the song I sung as I was inspired by the beauty that surrounded me. Lost we became and time slipped by us (Capt. Galman, Leaf and I that is) so that once we exited the garden a number of days had passed. Upon doing so a foul omen descended, the skies became dark and ash fell upon the land. Khorum was convinced that it was our doing, yet I do not believe our entry into such a fair place could bring such doom upon the world. What shadow rests upon his shoulders that doom he sees in levity?
We learnt that two woodmen had ventured to Black Tarn as they had learnt of gold hidden within a cairn upon the shores of the lake. They had not returned and we were charged with their rescue. Though the distance is not great between the town and the lake the journey was arduous and took us a great deal longer as it was full of evil portents and great peril. We came upon a Great Orc and were forced into battle with it. It was a foul beast and a mighty adversary. It would have escaped, though barely if not for Bifur appearing at the most fortuitous moment and putting an end to it.
We resolved to move on although our injuries were great and our endurance very low. Upon attempting to cross back over the river we met a river maiden, Duskwater. The maiden was bedecked in a suit of armour woven from spider thread and Bifur was much intrigued by such marvelous craftsmanship. He became obsessed and determined to craft such a suit himself. We learnt from Duskwater of two sources of corruption within the woods: gold tainted by the shadow and Great Spiders, daughters of Ungoliant, stalking Mirkwood. We also learnt that Radagast had told Duskwater that an ancient evil has stirred within Dol Guldur (could this mean what I think it means? Is the sorcerer returned? I fear the answer is in the affirmative and dark times indeed are ahead). I had an intuition though that Duskwater is not being entirely truthful and she was holding something back. She did though inform us a safer passage across the river. Yet the news that there were several barrows in the area intrigued us so much that we felt that we had to investigate. Galman saw that something bad had happened to Duskwater and pressed her on this matter upon which we learnt some shocking news. The trauma of having the gold and its corrupting influence upon mortals had become too much for Duskwater and she was forced to drown a man overcome by the gold’s corruption.
After much discussion, we decided to investigate the gold and Duskwater determined to accompany us in our search. So we ventured forth. Galman while hunting heard cries for help. He immediately decided to run to assist whoever was in peril. Fortunately, due to my keen sense of hearing, I heard his movement and brought the companions to his aid. Upon sighting him again, I discovered that he had been lured into a trap by an illusion and he had got himself in a rather sticky situation. He had climbed up into a tree and was hacking away at some spider webs, which he had gotten himself caught up in. The trap had been set by Tyulqin, one of Shelob’s three offspring. Duskwater immediately retreated screaming something incomprehensible. Nevertheless, we did battle with the monstrosity. Bifur and Captain Galman did a great deal of damage and were able to drive Tyulqin off. Unfortunately, we were not able to slay the it, although Capt. Galman did not give up easily and chased after Tyulqin even though both he had become poisoned along with Leaf.
We were most fortuitous to meet Radagast, who had been searching for his rabbit companion, Penny. So joyful was I upon meeting such a wonderful and wise personage that I sung his praises. So enchanted was Radagast that he gifted my with Betsy, a most delightful bird, so that I might call upon him in a time of great need. Radagast informed us that Tyulqin had poisoned Duskwater and has her under its sway. He beseeched us to come find him so that we may assist him in slaying the spider and breaking its hold over Duskwater.
That is all the news I have for now. We have not yet returned to the Woodmen Town as we must still venture forth into the barrow as that is what we have come here to do and none of us have any desire to leave our task unfulfilled. What awaits us within? Nothing that we can’t handle together I am sure.