King's Folk, The
6. War In The North
from the great halls and chambers of state, weren't
anywhere near as overwhelming - though not exactly
what a Breelander would call 'homey'.
Gil, Treebole and Silverlock didn't reappear but
Beomann made friends with the young Ranger in grey
and white who brought their lunch and their supper and
seemingly had been assigned to look after them.
He really was young too, just Beomann's age, and
only a little taller with soft black hair, brown skin
and startlingly pale grey eyes. His name was Danilos,
but he didn't mind being called Dan.
"Why do you all have such odd names?" Beomann asked
idly the next morning as he lay by a pool in the
Palace gardens with the Ranger sitting cross-legged
Dan smiled down at the arrow he was fletching.
"Because they're in the Grey Elven tongue not a
language of Men."
"So you people are part Elf."
He shook his head. "Only some of us, the Line of
Isildur of course and a few other Houses. Most
Dunedain are mere Men."
Beomann's look was skeptical. Men maybe, but there
was nothing 'mere' about them.
"Our ancestors adopted the Elven speech three Ages
ago," the other continued, "when they allied with the
High Elves of the West against the Great Enemy."
Beomann sat up, blurting the question that had been
bothering him all night. "Dan, what's happened to your
The Ranger put the finished arrow down beside the
others and took an unfletched shaft from the pile, his
face grim and sorrowful and much older than it had
been just a second ago. "We have won a great victory
but it has cost us almost all we had."
"Gil said your homes had been burned." Beomann
"There isn't a holding or strong place left
standing north of the road." Dan said baldly, hands
busy with his arrow. "And the south and the east are
little better off. Raiders even won through to Lune
Dale and the Tower Hills and that's never happened
before, even in the worst of the Flood Years."
Beomann frowned, puzzled. "Flood Years?"
Another bleak smile. "Our name for times when our
Enemy has come near to overwhelming us. This year was
the worst - and the last."
"There've been others?" Beomann'a blood chilled,
how long had this war been going on with Bree knowing
nothing about it?
"To many." Dan said flatly.
Beomann decided not to pursue that question just
yet. "And this is where the Rangers went when you all
But Dan shook his head. "Only the children, the old
and some of the women. Those still fit to bear arms
went North to face the Enemy."
"Enemy, what enemy?"
"Angmar." the Ranger answered grimly.
"The Witch Kingdom? But I thought - wasn't it
"Oh yes." even more grimly. "Carn Dum was leveled
and her people scattered. But that was no more the end
of them then the destruction of Fornost was the end of
"As the power of Sauron grew so did the numbers and
might of the Hill Folk and Carn Dum was rebuilt. Orcs
and Trolls multiplied in the Mountains, and other Dark
things came forth from their hiding places."
"Like the Wights." said Beomann.
Dan nodded. "We have been hard pressed these last
years. Foot by foot they drove us back until the Line
of Defense was just a few miles north of the Road.
Then, at the begining of March, Greymere fell and the
Line was broken."
"What was Greymere?"
"The seat of the Wardens of the Weather Hills and
key to control of the Road. When we lost Greymere we
lost the power to defend our country people from the
storm to come.
"So the Lady and the Captains decided to carry the
battle to the Enemy and that the time for secrecy was
ended." Dan's sudden smile glinted like the steel edge
of a sword. "The Captains rode to Rivendell to get the
Arms and Banners of the Kings from Lord Elrond and the
rest of us brought out the weapons and trappings our
ancestors had put aside, at Aranarth's bidding, over a
thousand years ago when first we became Rangers."
"So Nightcrow - Lady Ellemir that is - is your
leader?" Beomann asked puzzled. "What about Strider, I
thought he was Chief of the Rangers?"
"And so he is, Isildur's Heir and our King. But he
was down in the South, as he still is, and in his
absence my Lady, his grandmother, governs the
"Nightcrow is Strider's grandmother!" Beomann
interupted. And if she was Gil's grandmother too that
must mean - "Gil's royalty? He's descended from the
Dan gave him a look of mild surprise. "He is the
next in blood, the heir until the Dunadan gets himself
another." a faint smile. "Which he may now at last!"
Beomann flopped back on the grass. Stupid of him,
he should have realized as much for himself when he
saw Nightcrow sitting on a throne. "So you went
north?" he prompted.
Dan nodded, eyes shining. "It was like the Elder
Days had come again, the ranks of knights and
men-at-arms with the sunlight glittering on their
armour, and of archers with the great Numenorean
warbows over their shoulders, a full ten thousand in
all, and the banners of the High Kingdom, Arthedain
and the Heirs of Isildur flying over our heads."
"You were there?"
A look of surprise. "Of course." continued: "The
Elves of Lindon and the Lake sent what strength they
could spare to join us, in memory of our ancient
alliance, some nine hundred in all.
"We met the vanguard of Angmar's army, four times
our number or more, at the Gornen -" broke off
remembering who he was talking to. "but I don't
suppose you know the far northern lands?"
"How could I?" Beomann asked drily.
Dan smiled faintly and explained. "It's a small
river some fifty leagues north of here. In spring and
summer it carries snowmelt from the Rhudaur Hills but
spring came late this year, as I'm sure you remember,
so its bed was nearly dry.
"They were still in marching order when we
encountered them, mounted Hill Men in the advance and
Orcs on foot behind. The Captain led our horse in a
charge on the Hill Men while our archers and
foot-soldiers flanked them to engage the Orcs."
Dan's eyes sparkled at the memory. "The shock of
being suddenly attacked by a foe long thought dead was
too much for the Enemy, they soon broke and fled
northward, carrying their panic with them to infect
the main host.
"Their captains spent some days trying to find a
way round us, but finally braced themselves to face us
beneath the Angmar Hills." shook his head. "They chose
their ground badly, a narrow sloping plain with the
high Hills on one side and the deep gorge of the
Forochel River on the other, making it impossible for
them to spread out and take full advantage of their
"The Captain set the Warden of the Weather Hills to
guard our left flank from attack through the Hills.
And himself took command of our left wing, giving that
of the right to the Lady Ellemir." Dan paused,
realizing from Beomann's blank expression he was
becoming too technical. "The Captain aimed his attack
directly at the leaders of the Enemy host while Lady
Ellemir and the Warden kept our flanks from being
turned, the Enemy from getting round us that is."
"I see." Beomann said. Military strategy was new to
him but he felt he had a sort of grasp of what Dan was
"They ran again and we followed to the plain before
Carn Dum itself." smiled grimly. "Then at last they
had us at a true distadvantage for their numbers
covered the field, protected by dikes and traps, worse
still they had two dragons -"
"Dragons!" Beomann interupted.
"Small ones, fifty or sixty feet no more." that
smile again. "We were expected to attack headlong, as
we had been doing, but of course that would have been
folly, instead we circled rightward around their
prepared position. The tried to stop us with cavalry,
then set the dragons on us. Our archers brought them
down and Ingloron killed them on the ground but was
sore hurt in the doing. Finally they were forced to
leave their entrenchments to attack us on ground of
the Captain's choosing, but even so we would have been
worsted had not the Ringbearer destroyed Sauron and
all his works just in the knick of time.
A raised eyebrow. "You do know about the Ring?"
"Heard all about it - from Gandalf and Mr. Baggins
"Of course, they would have passed through Bree on
their way home to the Shire. The Enemy broke and fled,
again, but that wasn't the end of it. We still had to
besiege and take Carn Dum, drive the Hill Men back
into their hills, and hunt out and destroy the
scattered hosts of Orcs and Wargs and other things."
"And that's what you've been doing since you all
vanished." said Beomann.
"In the north, yes. Our kin to the east and south
have had their own battles to fight. It is only
recently we've had the leisure to take up our
patrolling again. I know that's been hard on Bree and
the other country folk. I'm sorry."
"Don't worry about it." Beomann said, and this time
it was his turn to sound grim. "We managed."
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