Many Guises and Many Names
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Rangers of the North: 19. The Gladden Fields
Men of the swarthy Easterling type and the fair haired
descendants of the Northmen, living in pallisaded
villages surrounded by a patchwork of fields,
pastureland and little woods. It was a country
tolerably familiar to Gondor, whose merchants regulary
passed through on their way to the distant northern
kingdom of Dale.
But the young princes, rather startlingly, knew it
firsthand having, Ellenion said, escorted an aged aunt
on journeys over the mountains. Cemendur was less
surprised than he might have been. Judging by the Lady
Ellemir elderly ladies of the Northern Dunedain were
very different from their southern counterparts.
On the third day they came to the Gladden marshes
green with rush and reed, and golden with the yellow
iris that had earned both marsh and the river that fed
it the name of Ninglor, the Golden.
Ereinion and Ellenion rode right into the
treacherous bogland, apparently unconcerned. Cemendur
and Rumil exchanged resigned looks and followed
trusting their Ranger companions, as usual, knew what
they were doing. And apparently they did for they led
the Gondor Men along a winding track of solid ground,
little different to the inexperienced eye from the
reed and rush choked pools that lay around it.
The path led them close to the edge of the broad
swift moving stream of the Anduin, cutting through the
marsh. Suddenly Ereinion raised a hand to halt them,
then beckoned Cemendur forward.
"There," he said quietly, pointing, "across the
The eastern bank was fringed with reeds but the
ground rose above it in long slopes to the dark edge
of the Mirkwood. And there, between river and wood,
stood a smooth grass covered mound so perfectly
circular it could not be natural with a white standing
stone on its flat top. Cemendur knew at once what it
must be. "Isildur's How."
"So called though he himself does not lie there,"
Isildur's descendant agreed, "only the Men of his
escort, and his three elder sons."
"Far from their own folk," Cemendur said sadly,
"forgotten and neglected."
"Not at all." said Ellenion. "The How marks the
southern limit of the Beorning's land east of the
River. They say no Orc dares to pass it, and every
Midwinter Eve they light the sunfire beneath the
standing stone and watch out the night beside it."
"And of course we Rangers pay our respects from
time to time as well." Ereinion turned his horse's
head back into the Marsh. "Come, we have a little ways
more to go."
Go where? Cemendur wondered as he obeyed.
Ereinion disappeared around a clump of alders,
followed by Ellenion, then Cemendur himself rounded
the trees and reined to a halt so abrupt that Rumil's
horse nearly collided with Culuros' rump.
There, on the other side of a strip of sparkling
water, was a cobbled market square fringed by a
semi-circle of child sized buildings with whitewashed
walls, humped reed thatched roofs and round doors and
windows. Cottages of the same small size stood on
nearby islets, just right for the Little People poling
their flat bottomed boats along the channels of slow
moving water between.
Cemendur remembered to close his mouth. Saw the
twins had dismounted and followed suit. A boat shot
towards them, circling round the large island with the
cobbled square, bumped gently against the moist ground
and a Little Man jumped out. The squint wrinkles round
his eyes and stubbly beard made it clear this was no
child and he was too short for a Dwarf, dressed all in
bright rush green but with unshod and outsized, hairy
"Greetings Carloman." Ellenion said pleasantly.
The Little Man frowned up at him. "So it *is* you
Padfoot, what're you got up as?"
Both princes laughed. "People keep asking us that."
"I shouldn't wonder, foolish gear for hard
travelling that is."
"We are on an embassage and must do our folk
credit." explained Ellenion.
The Little Man shrugged, "whatever you say."
glanced behind them. "Brought those big horses of
yours again I see. Staying the night?"
"If we may."
"Of course, you can sleep in the Alehouse as
always. Mind you'll be expected to pay the usual fee!"
The Alehouse turned out to be the largest of the
buildings off the market square. Beams of bent
alderwood formed a ceiling high enough for the Men to
stand upright in the long common room with its rush
strewn clay floor, trestle tables, and benches that
filled with Little Folk as the setting sun sent the
long shadows of the mountains streaming eastward to
darken the lands below.
The 'fee' it turned out was news from the world
outside the marshes. Sitting crosslegged on the rushes
Ellenion began with an account of their battle against
the mountain Wargs. The Little Ones listened wide eyed
but when he finished an elderly man sitting close to
the fire burning on the central hearth gave a little
"Well that's the sort of thing you've got to expect
if you insist on stravaging about the Wild instead of
staying home where you belong."
"True enough, grandfather," Ellenion replied
courteously. "but at least there will be fewer Wargs
now to trouble you folk east of the mountains." The
old man grunted, unconvinced, and Ellenion went on
recount his mother's concerns about the growing Orc
population to much sober shaking of heads among his
audience. And then the latest quarrel of the Wood
Elves and Mountain Dwarves over the Forest road,
eliciting much rolling of eyes and a few chuckles.
"No doubt Elrond's sons will smooth things over as
usual," said Carloman, "but why those people have to
make trouble over every little thing -!"
"Which people?" Ereinion asked with a twinkle in
"Both of them!" was the robust answer. "Could use a
little good Hobbit sense they could!"
"I agree," said Ellenion, "and so I suspect would
Elladan and Elrohir."
The next morning the Little People produced a pair
of rafts large enough to carry two horses apiece with
four of their own to help pole them through the
winding waterways past a second village, islets
planted with grain fields and vegetable gardens and a
perfect half-sized mill beside a swift running
channel, to the semi-solid ground on the other side of
the Gladden mouth. After bidding farewell to their
Halfling ferrymen the four travellers mounted their
horses and continued southward.
"My Lord," Cemendur said quietly to Ereinion,
glancing over his shoulder to be sure Rumil was out of
earshot. "being on the west bank of the Anduin as we
are, will we not have to pass through the Wood of
"Indeed we will." the prince glanced sidelong at
Cemendur, read the dismay on his face and smiled.
"Don't worry, we Rangers have the permission of the
Lord of Lorien to pass through his country at need."
That was all very well but what about the Sorcerous
Lady of Lorien? would even the protection of her Lord
be sufficient safeguard against her wiles?
1. He is, of course, a Hobbit - of pure Stoorish stock
- undoubtedly descended from that remnant of Smeagol's
people who took refuge in the marshes for safety after
the rise of Dol Guldur.
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