Many Guises and Many Names
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Rangers of the North: 10. Imladris
slope gently up to the feet of the Misty Mountains
looming high and jagged on the horizon, rough with
heather and tumbled stone outcroppings, streaks of
green showing the tracks of streams and brooks. But
the ground was more treacherous than it seemed, riven
with unexpected gullies and deep valleys cut by
rushing rivers fed by snow melt, and dotted with green
and flowering bogs capable of swallowing both horse
and Man. Without their guides the Gondor Men were like
to have come quickly to grief.
Ereinion led them off the road just past the ford
heading north-east, threading his way between the
hazards with a confidence that suggested he had
covered this ground many times before.
The valley of Imladris at first seemed no different
from the others they had looked down into, tree filled
with inumerable falls streaking the steep walls
feeding the small, swift river at valley bottom. It
wasn't until they'd come more than halfway down the
steep, winding path cut into the cliff face that they
saw the house of Elrond Half-Elven, a cluster of steep
roofed halls and short towers linked by airy open
colonades standing on a rocky knoll above the river.
The grooms who came running to take their horses as
the party rode under the gate arch were the first
living Elves Hurin had ever seen. Tall and willow
sleander, dark haired and bright eyed with slightly
pointed ears and unnaturally smooth features - at
least to Mortal eyes. He tried not to stare too
obviously at the Elf who took his bridle.
Rumil was not so inhibited. He stared openly, round
eyed and with mouth slightly agap, until a pointed
look from Cemendur caused him to close his mouth and
nervously lower his eyes.
A small, slight person, black hair flying and white
sleeves and skirts whipping around her sleander limbs
streaked down a curve of steps to fling herself into
Ereinion's arms, musical Sindarin flowing in an
excited stream from her lips. Hurin had to look
carefully at her ears before he could be quite sure
she wasn't an Elf.
She tore herself from Ereinion to embrace Ellenion
with equal enthusiasm, talking far to quickly for
Hurin's book knowledge of the tongue to follow, but he
did catch the word 'muindor', brother. A little sister
A small boy, perhaps ten or so, with a mussed
thatch of thick black hair above delicate features and
a pair of wide grey eyes greeted the little princess
and her companion almost as eagerly. "You have come to
stay haven't you, it's not just a visit?"
"Oh yes," Niphredil assured him, "we're staying.
It's time we were educated Naneth says."
"I am glad!" the boy said with emphasis. "Gilya and
Lilit are no fun at all anymore," shot a dark look
over his shoulder at the pretty girl embracing the
twins, "and Iril is almost as bad."
Erien saw Hurin looking at them and nudged her
foster sister. Reminded of her manners Niphredil made
the necessary introductions. "This is my cousin
Gelion, Lord Hurin of Gondor."
The boy bowed with a quick mumbled "At your
service." Then whispered urgently to his cousin. "They
aren't supposed to know about us!"
"I know," the princess whispered back, "they just
found us out. Ada says they won't give us away."
A silent but smiling Elf escorted Hurin to a
spacious chamber with one wall open to the air,
screened from the terrace outside by no more than a
row of sleander columns which struck him as a drafty
and insecure arrangment but it was not his place to
complain and a curtained dressing room adjoined it so
he could wash and change in reasonable privacy.
Afterward he wandered out onto the terrace,
uncertain what to do next and found Cemendur there
before him, thoughtfully rereading the scroll of
instructions Ecthelion had given them.
"It cannot be said we have failed in our mission,"
he remarked without raising his eyes, "we have indeed
found our surviving Northern kin." let the scroll roll
closed. "But alas, the alliance our Lord hoped for
"Cemendur, there are one hundred thousands of them
at least!" Hurin said desperately. "Think of it, an
army of ten thousand Men of pure Dunedain blood with
the strength and hardihood of the Kings of Men of Old.
Men like Thorongil! There must be some way we can help
them - free them to aid us against our common foe."
"I would that there were." the councillor said
wearily. "But I can think of none."
"There is one." a ringing voice declared
emphatically behind them, making the Men start and
A man with a Woman on his arm came towards them
across the terrace. He was certainly of Elf kind but
very different from those who had welcomed them for
his face not smooth but lined and seamed with power
and memory, sorrow and strength, reminding Hurin
startlingly of his own grandfather. The Woman with him
was as clearly mortal but enough like to be closest
kin. Her face similar in shape, if not so furrowed,
with the same wide, wide-set eyes, deep grey beneath
"There is a way." The Elf continued. "Accept your
rightful King, let the Heir of Elendil unite the
Dunedain and the Men of Middle Earth under the banner
of the Kings of Men!"
"Elrond!" the Woman said sharply and he turned
those piercing eyes on her. "It is not that simple."
"It can be." he told her. "It will happen, Ellemir,
I have seen it - and so have you."
"I have seen my grandson habited as the High King
of the West and riding under the banner of Gondor."
she answered. "But I have not seen when or how this is
to come about - nor have you!" she turned her
brilliant eyes on the Men from Gondor. "A thousand
years of tradition and precedent cannot be overturned
in a moment." she told them with a kindly smile. "One
would think an Immortal Elf would understand that
better than any." slanted an almost mischievious look
at the Elf lord beside her. "But then my kinsman *is*
half Man - and so impatient."
Hurin's head was spinning. This was Elrond
Half-Elven, herald of Gil-Galad and twin brother of
Elros Tar-Minyatur first King of Numenor? And this
Mortal Woman, so like him to the eye, was Thorongil -
the Lord Aragorn's - grandmother?
"Prince Armegil asked only for our silence."
Cemendur was answering. "He believes an open alliance
between our peoples would bring disaster on us all."
The Lord Elrond made an impatient gesture. "The
Heirs of Isildur have lived in hiding and fought in
secret for too long. Now they fear to emerge from the
"Or perhaps we simply sense the time is not yet
come." The Lady Ellemir said calmly, seating herself
on the bench from which Cemendur had risen. "And that
decision is not yours to make, Elrond, nor mine, nor
Armegil's. Aragorn is our Chieftain and Lord of the
Dunedain. It is for him and no other to decide if this
is the hour to raise the sword of Elendil and demand
the allegiance of Men."
"And if he should do so, would Gondor follow?"
Cemendur could only shake his head helplessly. "My
Lord I cannot say. As Thorongil the Lord Aragorn is
both loved and trusted by the Steward and by our
people. But if he should try to claim the crown as
Heir of Isildur -"
"The Heirs of Anarion were the Kings of Gondor."
Hurin said, finding his voice at last. "It is to them
we owe our allegiance." so he had been taught, like
every other son of the House of Mardil the Good
"The right of the Heirs of Anarion to claim any
allegiance -" Elrond began grimly.
"Is a very ancient controversy that we need not
enter into." the Lady Ellemir interupted crisply.
"Aragorn is as much the Heir of Anarion as he is of
Isildur by right of his descent from Firiel, daughter
and heiress of Ondoher the last King of the direct
"My Lady, I am inclined to agree with you." Hurin
said a little desperately. "But I cannot speak for my
grandfather the Steward, nor yet the Council of the
"Nor can I." Cemendur agreed. "My Lord Elrond, my
Lady Ellemir, all Hurin and I can do is support the
Lord Aragorn's claim before the Steward and the
Council should he present it. I can say that there
will be many others willing to support him - but there
will also be those who oppose."
Led, Hurin thought grimly, by his Uncle Denethor
who would by no means be willing to suffer his
longtime rival as his King and master.
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