Many Guises and Many Names
Playlist Navigation Bar
Rangers of the North: 15. Departure
Cemendur had been impressed from the begining by
the dispatch with which the Northern Dunedain managed
their affairs. Like soldiers in the field they made a
decision and acted on it at once. Still he was more
than a little surprised to discover the Lady Beruthiel
fully prepared to ride out with them the very next
morning, contary to his lifetime's experience of the
The Lady was dressed in the usual Ranger leathers,
but in shades of grey rather than green, with her long
hair braided. Unlike Laebeth and Muinith she wore a
sword, and like her brother carried one of the great
steel Numenorean warbows. Men with the strength to
draw a great bow had grown scarce in Gondor and
Cemendur had never heard of a Woman able to do so. No
doubt he stared.
"Yes she can draw it." Ellenion said in his ear, a
note of amusement clearly audible in his voice.
"And match our uncle arrow for arrow in speed and
accuracy." added Ereinion from the other side.
"It's in the blood, our father was a great bowman
as were all his fathers before him." their mother said
blithly, having clearly overheard both remarks, "The
warbow my brother carries was a reward for valor given
by Tar-Minastir to our ancestor Cubeleg the Archer."
Cemendur was hard put to maintain his usual
urbanity. "Your father was a common bowman?" he asked,
trying not to sound shocked.
"Most uncommon." the Lady corrected. "But no, he
was of the Isildurioni, his forefather having married
the daughter of a past Chieftain." glanced at him
sidelong. "We make little account of rank these days.
We are all Rangers now."
Her brother, the Lord Belecthor, had said much the
same. And certainly the manner of the common folk
towards their Royal House was notable for its lack of
ceremony. Yet the idea of a simple bowman, however old
and distinguished his family, marrying a princess of
the blood royal was so far contrary to the law and
custom of Gondor as to leave Cemendur speechless. The
Kings of the Line of Anarion, in their pride, had
disowned sons and daughters who made matches unworthy
of their high estate.
Clearly law and custom were quite otherwise here in
the North, for Beruthiel had said her father was
accounted royal by right of his descent from one of
the Isildurieni. And why not? Judging by the result
the bowman's blood was as worthy to mingle with the
blood royal as that of the noblest House in Gondor -
if not more so.
Cemendur continued to brood as the party rode out
of the garth and down the steep rock cut path to the
river valley below. Gondor had always been obsessed
with perserving the purity of the Numenorean blood,
above all that of the Royal House, and enacted many
laws designed to do so. But with what result? the Line
of the Southern Kings was extinct. Any number of Noble
Houses had been fatally weakened by debilitating
inbreeding. And commoners of pure descent were not to
be found outside the Circles of Minas Tirith or the
haven of Dol Amroth. And for all their efforts the
dwindling of lifespan, hardihood, and wisdom continued
unabated, even in those of provably 'pure' descent.
Yet here in the North the ancient Numenorean strain
remained strong in the face of terrible adversity.
Certainly they had taken no great care to keep their
blood pure, Cemendur had in his journey across the
Lost Realm encountered several Rangers of mixed
heritage. Could it be that 'purity of blood' was
unimportant? he frowned troubled by the renegade
thought but it would not go away. Were the Dunedain of
Gondor failing for some other, less tangible reason?
They forded the Bruinen, shallow but very fast here
near its source, and rejoined the Great Road which
rose steeply, overshadowed by gigantic ancient pines
clinging grimly to the rocky slopes. By mid-afternoon
they had climbed above the tree line and the air was
The Rangers had built a traveller's rest house of
drystone roofed with slate on a terrace cut into the
barren slope below the entrance to the pass proper.
Trickles of smoke rose from the louver indicating
another party was already in residence.
It proved to be a company of Dwarves. Though
reticent about the business that had brought them over
the mountains in the first place they were more than
willing to talk about their adventures in the Passes.
"We could smell Warg from the second day on," their
leader, Eilif, told Beruthiel, "But they didn't get up
the nerve to try their luck until the night of the
fifth day." showed teeth in a savage grin. "We killed
three of them, bloodied as many others and they fled
"I take that's when Brynold was wounded?" said
Ellenion, looking up from the Dwarf he was tending.
Elilif nodded. "After that they shadowed us and
made a few fients by night but no more real attacks."
"Though there might have been if we'd dropped our
guard for so much as a moment." put in another of the
His leader nodded. "Keep a sharp watch, especially
at night, and you should be all right."
Beruthiel looked out the open door at the long
shadows cast by the westerning sun. "We will stay here
tonight." she decided. "and start at daybreak
tomorrow. No need to spend any more nights than we
must in the mountains."
Her sons and even the Half-Elven twins accepted
this without comment. Clearly the Lady was in command,
another astonishing reversal of Gondorian custom but
Cemendur was becoming used to that by now.
He was more interested in the easy familiarity
existing between the Three Kindreds here in the North.
While Elladan and Elrohir's mission proved relations
were not always amicable even the quarrels seemed like
those between close neighbors rather than strangers.
In Gondor both the Elder races had receeded into tale
and legend for neither Dwarf nor Elf had been seen
there since the days of the Kings.
Strange stories were whispered about the Golden
Wood on the borders of Rohan but it had been long
since any Man had tried to learn the truth of them.
And only the vaguest rumors of the Dwarf realms of
Erebor and the Iron Hills had reached the White City,
though there had been some trade with Moria before its
destruction. Gondor's dealings had always been chiefly
with other Men, perhaps to their loss.
Cemendur settled into his blankets, resigning
himself to yet another night on hard stone - and at
his age too! How had Ecthelion talked him into this?
Smiled wryly to himself. By appealing to his
curiousity that's how. The smile faded. Certainly
neither of them had expected the answers he had found,
or the dilemma he was bringing home to Gondor in the
persons of two princes of the ancient Kingly House
Playlist Navigation Bar