Many Guises and Many Names
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Rangers of the North: 16. In High Pass
narrow they had to ride single file, the Lady leading
with the Elven twins behind her, then Cemendur and
Rumil and finally Ellenion and Ereinion bringing up
the rear. The ground rose steeply on one side and fell
away to a narrow wooded valley far below on the other.
"M'Lord," Rumil said suddenly. "is that a road down
Looking into the valley Cemendur could indeed
descry a pale streak appearing here and there between
"Your eyes are not decieving you," Ellenion assured
them from behind Rumil. "it is indeed a road, built by
the High King Tarcil some two and a half thousand
years ago through the high valleys and tunnels delved
beneath the mountains."
"Unfortunately it's been unuseable since the days
of the Witch Wars when our Enemy called evil things
from the Dark Years out of their hiding places beneath
the mountains to infest the valleys and tunnels."
Elladan put in over his shoulder. "I remember how
proud Tarcil was of it," he continued sadly, "and
rightly so. Broad enough for cart and carriage it was,
paved with hard white stone from the quarries beneath
Mount Gram, and every valley held a way house with
fair gardens for the refreshment of travellers."
"And the Dwarves who helped carve out the tunnels
lit them with crystal lamps. And Lady Isfin painted
the walls and vaults with frescoes of forest and open
sky so one almost felt oneself still above the
ground." Ellenion continued, in the tone of one who
has heard all this many times before.
Elladan twisted in his saddle to shoot a
reproachful look over the Gondor Men's heads at his
young relative. "It was a great achievement, a thing
both useful and beautiful."
The Lady Beruthiel's voice floated back to them.
"It was, and sorry we are to leave Tarcil's road to
the Enemy, but we simply cannot afford the Men it
would take to clear and guard it. Were Tarcil here he
would say the same."
"I don't doubt but he would." Elladan agreed, mouth
twisting in a grimace Cemendur couldn't quite
interpret. "The Isildurioni have always valued their
people above their works."
"It is hard for our Uncle and his children,"
Beruthiel told Cemendur some hours later when the road
had widened enough for two to ride abreast, her voice
pitched Ranger fashion to reach no further than his
ears. "they remember Arnor in its splendor, and saw
the pride and joy our ancestors took in its building.
It saddens them that those Kings' heirs should seem to
care so little for what has been lost." she shrugged.
"But one cannot miss what one has never known, nor
grieve overmuch for what one has never seen save in
books or through another's memories. The World changes
and it is the nature of Men to change with it. And we
Isildurioni are Men not Elves, for all our Eldarin
Cemendur nodded wordlessly. He had occasionally
seen a touch of sadness in the Northern Dunedain when
they spoke of their Lost Realm but the never the
intense longing for ancient glory that gnawed at the
hearts of the Gondorim. The Isildurioni and their
people remembered the past but did not cling to it.
Perhaps because they had chosen to give up their
state, while the glory of Gondor had been reft away by
main force very much against the will of her people.
Though their own folly had played no small role in
The Lady looked ahead at the backs of her sons
glimmering in their black velvet cloaks and smiled a
little sadly. "You were quite right about Uncle trying
to force Aragorn's hand, or at the least send a
forcible message as to the decision he should make.
This Age, the Third Age, is drawing to its end and
with it our Uncle's days in Middle Earth." a gentle
sigh. "His Mortal kin are very dear to Elrond, all he
has left of his brother, and he doesn't want to leave
us like this; living in hiding defending a people who
no longer know us."
There didn't seem to be anything Cemendur could say
to that either.
The Lady's head turned sharply and a moment later
Cemendur caught it too, a rank animal scent. "Warg."
she said grimly.
Almost at the same moment Ereinion fell back to
join them. "Mother -"
"I know. We're being shadowed."
"We are surrounded," her son corrected, "look."
And sure enough sharp Dunedain eyes could just pick
out brindled grey shapes slipping through the rocky
slope ahead and behind and alongside.
The travellers had automatically moved closer
together. The Gondor horses were begining to snort
their alarm and twitch anxiously beneath their riders.
The Ranger horses remained steady but a rim of white
showed around their eyes.
"Have you or your Man had any experience of wolf
fighting?" the Lady asked Cemendur softly.
"I have." he replied grimly. "The winter of 2911
was hard for us in the South as well. Wargs from the
Misty Mountains took advantage of the freeze to try
and colonize the White Mountains. I took part in the
great wolf hunts that spring. Rumil?"
"Some of the Orc bands prowling Ithilien these days
ride on Wargs." the Man replied. "I have fought them
with my Lord Hurin."
"Good," said the Lady, "then we all know what to
"These are greater numbers than Eilif reported."
Elrohir observed quietly from behind Cemendur.
Beruthiel nodded. "Yes. They have mustered a strong
force to face us."
"They know who we are." Ereinion said quite calmly.
His mother's smile sent a chill down Cemedur's
back. "Perhaps, and perhaps they need a reminder." she
unslung the great bow, nocked and drew, selected a
target on the mountainside and loosed. A massive
brindled body rolled down the slope, a long steel
shafted arrow piercing its skull, then across the road
in front of them to fall silently over the edge into
the valley far below.
The shadowing shapes melted away as the Lady
laughed softly. "That's better. Keep your distance my
friends, and think again whether you wish to chance
"We needn't fear attack by day, I think." Elrohir
remarked. "Not with so many bows between us, and one
of them Berya's. But it's like to be a busy night."
"That I do not doubt." smiled the Lady.
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