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164 He wrote as follows: "My vassals, my instructors and some my pupils, faithful, trusty and tried, attentive to my behests like shadows, hearken to my letter all assembled!

165 "Give ear! I, Avt’handil, earth beneath your feet, write this unto you; with mine own hand have I written this epistle. For a little while I have preferred roaming to drink and song; for bread and meat I shall trust to my bow and thumb.

166 "I have in hand a certain matter which makes me journey to a far country; I depart alone, and this year shall I travel. I ask you only this: I beseech you let me find the realm unshaken by the foe.

167 "I have appointed Shermadin to be lord in my stead; until he learn of my life or death he will shine upon you all like the sun; he will make the rose to be frosted and not fade, he will cause all misdoers to melt away like wax.

168 You know, too, how he has grown up with me like a brother and like a son; you must obey him as if he were Avt’handil; let him make to sound the trumpet, do everything as I have hitherto done; if I come not at the time appointed, mourning and not laughter will be seemly, to you."

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169 The eloquent and nice-worded one ended this letter, he tied gold round his waist, habited himself to travel alone; he said: "I shall mount in the plain." The soldiers formed in line, then they came forth; he tarried no time indoors.

170 He said: "Let all go hence; herein I need none as a partisan." He sent the slaves away also, he remained by himself, alone he withdrew himself, he hastened through the rushes. His slayer, T’hinat’hin, is always in his thoughts.

171 He galloped over that plain; he was lost to the soldiers’ sight. Whatever human being might have seen him and pursued him, his sword could not harm him; his arm was hampered. He was heavy laden with a burden of grief for her sake.

172 When the soldiers hunted and sought their lord, and could no longer find the sun-faced, their countenances paled, their great joy turned into heaviness, they ran everywhere to seek him, whoever had a swift horse,

173 O lion, whom can God put in thy place! They ran and brought out other messengers from elsewhere; they could learn nothing of him; he passed from that place. His disheartened hosts shed hot tears.

174 Shermadin assembled together the courtiers and nobles; he showed them the letter in which he (Avt’handil) had told them his tidings. When they heard it, all remained heart-pierced, they beat themselves, there was not a tearless heart, not an unbruised breast.

175 All said: "Though our state without him is irksome to us, to whom save thee could he give his seat and throne? Of a truth we shall obey thee, whatever thou commandest any of us." They made that vassal lord; all did him homage.

Next: IV. Avt’handil Sets Forth in Quest of Tariel