Hilda Greenhill's Diary, 1st entry
The Dwarves' Yuletide celebration lasted for twelve days. These dwarves sure know how to party. I awoke in Thorin's mead hall to find that the dwarves were still slumbering in various places around the hall. The empty barrels and overturned tankards a testament to the revelry. With a pounding in my head, I got up and ventured outside, my sheepdog Trotter on my heals. I really did need the fresh air. The cold mountain air did help to clear my head. The dwarf named Ori gave me this book to write in. To explain what I am doing here, I will have to back track a few weeks, to when my tale begins.
The 7th of Foreyule 2939 will be a date that will haunt me until the end of my days.
The day started out like any other. My mother was busy in the kitchen preparing food for the workers, My father, my two brothers and myself. My father and eldest brother, Siegfried were going to fix the dry-stone wall that needed repairing. It was an important job, because the wall surrounded the sty which housed the farm's bad tempered old boar. In its current state, it did little to stop the old boar from getting in to the vegetable patch. My younger brother, Tristan had gone to see the draught horse we kept for heavy work around the farm.
I had gone out with our sheepdog, Trotter to check on the sheep out in the far field. With winter coming on, the weather had been getting worse of late, and my task was to bring them down to a field closer to the house which also had shed we could use to shelter them from the snows of winter. Looking back now, it is difficult to believe that a day which had started out so ordinary would turn out to be the day that the worst thing that could happen to a young hobbit lass occurred.
Even before I had made my way out of the herb garden by the back door, I was greeted with a blast of cold air which seemed to cut through the travelling cloak to my bones. Trotter turned to look at me like he didn't want go any further. This surprised me somewhat because he usually had much enthusiasm for his work. I was glad that I'd had the foresight to wrap up before coming out of the house.
Our farm lay in the foothills to the south of the Blue Mountains, and I could see the snow clouds from some distance away that would soon be upon the farm. The sky had that look it get when it Is laden with clouds heavy with snow, and I made up my mind that I wouldn't stay out longer than I needed to - herd the sheep down the hillside and into the field that we had marked out for them, ensure that there was adequate straw for bedding, fodder and water for them in the shed and go back to the house.
Of course, at that point, I had no knowledge that there were worse things out in the fields than a snow storm.
It took me about an hour to get to the far field. Our farm was big because we needed enough land that could support our sheep herd, the five pigs and the small herd of ten shaggy haired cattle that we kept. The cattle were already in the main barn, having been brought in by my brothers and Trotter the day before. The four sows we kept were in a fenced enclosure in the deciduous copse on the west side of the farm. We also had a fowl coop at the bottom of the herb garden - my mother usually looked after those.
Trotter bounded ahead of me, and the first indication that something was wrong was when he started pawing at a hump on the ground. When I got closer, I realised what it was. A sheep, with its guts ripped out. Wolves? Was my immediate thought. Not those marauding beasts that it are said to ally themselves with orcs, but ordinary wolves, those that are the wild kin to Trotter's kind. It would not have surprised me. The winter weather would have made them bold, lean and hungry. Stray dogs was my other thought.
As I passed the first dead sheep, I looked around, alert for more, and there were more humps on the ground. It appeared that the entire herd was down, either killed in the manner of the first sheep Trotter and I found, or collapsed from the stress of being chased. When I approached one that had collapsed, I could see that it was still alive, but it expired its last breath before my eyes.
I searched, because I wanted to make sure that there were no survivors. If there were, my father would have wanted me bring them back to the farm, but it was hopeless. They had been left out too long. I searched until the cold had penetrated my flesh so deeply that I could no longer feel it, and my hands and feet were numb beyond feeling.
There were none alive that I could see, and even if there had been, I doubted that it would be alive for long. The herd was gone. I called to Trotter and started to walk back down the hill. With a whine and his tail tucked between his legs, looking every bit as miserable and cold as I felt, he followed.
It was at that point that the snow began to fall.