Extract from Ranhold’s journal.
Bloody trees. Honestly I wouldn’t care if I never saw one again. Oh I know I was yearning for verdant sward, sweet water and clean air when I was skulking around the Barrows, but after two full days lost and wandering in The Old Forest outside Buckland I’m beginning to wonder if I did the right thing in leaving there and coming here – maybe I should have stayed in Bree where there are no bats, bears, wolves and (to the best of my knowledge) huge walking trees that attack you with their roots! I swear I must have felled three dozen of the brutes and still they harry my every passing!
And if it’s not giant angry haunted trees it’s more bloody spiders! These have been by far the biggest I have ever seen and the desperate few hours I spent trying to escape their huge nesting area in the far south of this Gods-forsaken forest were amongst the grimmest of my life. I still recall the revulsion I felt when the queen of all the spiders found and attacked me – with a body larger than a fully grown bear and legs that raised her taller than a horse, she charged at me with pure hatred in all eight of her disgusting eyes! The battle was as fierce as it was long, with several of her kin joining in to defend their queen (the ones that lowered themselves from the silk-covered trees above me still haunt my nightmares!) but in the end I was victorious. True I have several nasty bites and puncture wounds, but the potions I bartered for in Bree are holding any infection at bay as they heal.
I can not understand why one such as Tom Bombadil, a man possessed of such power that he could crack the earth and fell a great Wight-Lord as he did when he rescued me from the Great Barrow, suffers these foul creatures to life in and pollute his beloved Old Forest.
But then I am at a loss to see what he finds so agreeable about such a dark, dismal place as this. Oh I understand that once it may have been a beautiful wood to walk through, but even the fabled Ent Wives could not survive here, leaving only their flowers to mark the places where they were subsumed into the Forest and ceased to exist.
Everything here is hostile and monstrous in a way that is very different from the Barrow-downs – there the dead have been given life by the long dead Witch-King and as such are almost fated to be evil and murderous, but here life, not death, abounds and still everything seems intent on murder! Every glade and dell, every tree and bush is bursting with vigour & vitality… it’s just that it seems to hate, nay despise! anything that is not from the Forest. There must be a deep, dark scar here – something terrible in this Forest’s past that has twisted it and warped it into a nightmare of its former self. As far as I can see, the only pure thing in this forest is Tom’s wife, Goldberry, who is a women of such beauty that our one and only meeting still makes my heart sing!
Since then I have completed a great many quests and deeds in the Old Forest – finding two Hobbits who were fool enough to run after a Brigand was the most testing (I have heard tell that a week in the company of these wee folk from the Shire will make even the most patient soul desire to slap them into a lake!) but many other have also been testing in various ways. Still, ’tis done now and I can at last move out of this damnable greenness to explore the open, rolling hills of the Shire at length on my way to see the magnificent ruins of Annúminas on the shores of distant Everdim where I’m sure I can at last rest my sword and attend to my studies of the past. All I need to do first is find the hedge tunnel back into Buckland…