Many Guises and Many Names
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Rangers of the North: 21. Minas Tirith At Last
Cemendur grew more and more nervous as the party of
travellers spiralled up the levels of the White City.
The young princes had pulled up their hoods to hide
their faces, but the shimmering black velvet of their
cloaks, the glitter of the eagle broaches on their
shoulders and sparkle of the jewels decorating the
harness of their horses drew stares from the people in
the streets. But the Councillor paid little heed,
being fully absorbed in trying to mentally order his
discoveries into some semblance of a coherent
narrative. It was proving difficult.
*Well, my Lord,* he rehersed silently, *to start
with your faithful Captain Thorongil is in truth our
rightful King; Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elendil's
Heir. These young Men are his nephews, descended from
Isildur on their mother's side and the Sorondili on
their father's. They have come as hostages for the
safety of your grandson Hurin who chose to take
service with the Lord Aragorn's grandmother and
regent. As for the alliance you hoped for, it seems it
may not be unless we accept the Lord Aragorn as our
King. Elrond Half-Elven strongly urges this but the
Prince Armegil, Lord Aragorn's uncle and lieutenant,
and the Lord of Lorien are opposed. Oh and by the way,
while we were in the Golden Wood we met the Lord
Aragorn's intended wife, Arwen, daughter of Elrond
Half-Elven and granddaughter to Celeborn and Galadriel
who are Lord and Lady of Lorien and quite pleasantly
disposed towards Gondor dispite their disfame.*
Cemendur shuddered. Surely there was some gentler,
more gradual way of breaking it all to Ecthelion - if
he could only think of one!
The Steward of Gondor was in his privy chamber
reading, or rather trying to read, a tall stack of
reports from the outposts but his mind kept turning to
his son. Denethor had been hit by a black arrow while
riding outside the eastern walls of Osgiliath on one
of his periodic journeys of inspection. The Men with
him had feared it was a Morgul arrow and certainly
Denethor's condition when he was brought back to Minas
Tirith had seemed to confirm it. Ecthelion had spent
three dreadful nights sitting with his daughter-in-law
by his son's sickbed, and heard from Denethor's
delirious lips many things to distress and sadden him.
Then Thorongil had arrived unexpectedly, having
ridden through the night from Cair Andros immediately
upon hearing the news. The great Captain was as
skilled in healing as he was in strategy and he
quickly assured Ecthelion that Denethor's escort was
mistaken, his wound had been caused by an ordinary Orc
arrow. Poisoned certainly but Thorongil knew simples
that would counteract the venom. Denethor, he said,
would make a full recovery. And his condition had
indeed improved almost immediately. Just yesterday he
had been released by the Healers to return to his own
house and the care of his wife.
Yet Ecthelion remained fearful, unable to forget
the fate of Boromir, the great Warrior Steward of
Gondor. Wounded by a Morgul weapon he had withered
away as quickly as one of the lesser Men of Middle
Earth. If Thorongil were wrong and it had been a
Morgul arrow Denethor would be fortunate to live long
enough to see his little son come to manhood - and
suffer bitterly for all that short time.
Worse still were the things Denethor had mumbled in
his fevered wanderings. How, Ecthelion wondered
unhappily, could his only son believe that Thorongil
or any Man could ever replace him in his heart? It
must be his fault that Denethor felt so - clearly he
had failed to communicate to his son just how
important and dear to him he was. Somehow he would
have to amend that failure in the few years they had
left together, but it seemed inevitable that the first
step must be to send Thorongil away and Ecthelion was
not at all sure Gondor would survive such a loss. And
if Denethor - Valar forbid it! - truly had only a
brief time to live then young Boromir would need the
great captain desperately.
The door opened, startling Ecthelion out of his
troubled thoughts. "Forgive me, my Lord," the servant
said apologetically, "but you did not answer my knock.
I would not have disturbed you but the Lord Cemendur
is returned and you left orders you were to be
informed immediately -"
"Yes, yes indeed." the Steward got stiffly to his
feet. If Cemendur and Hurin had succeeded in their
mission then they might be bringing back a solution
for at least some of his troubles.
Ecthelion entered the small audience chamber to
find a visibly and uncharacteristically nervous
Cemendur standing next to two Men, or so Ecthelion
assumed, shrouded in glimmering black hooded cloaks,
but no sign of his grandson Hurin. The three Men bowed
as he crossed to the chair of state and looked
inquiringly at Cemendur.
"Welcome home, my friend. How went your mission?"
The Councillor took a deep breath. "We had a
measure of success, my Lord. Our Northern kin still
dwell in the Lost Realm. Here are two of them come
back with me." turned and bowed to the Man beside him.
The stranger threw back his hood and Ecthelion was
instantly struck by his resemblance to Thorongil in
coloring, bearing and most of all the smoking glance
he threw at Cemendur. "My Lord Ecthelion," he said
formally, "I am Ereinion son of Thorondil, and this is
my brother Ellenion." the second Man had also unhooded
himself to reveal a face identical to his brother's,
"Sent by the Steward and Regent of Arnor, with
messages for our kinsman Aragorn son of Arathorn
There was a moment of tingling silence. Ecthelion
sat motionless as pieces of information, misunderstood
and misinterpreted until now, fell into new patterns
in his mind. Finally he got to his feet and bowed.
"You are welcome to Minas Tirith my Lords." he said
formally. "Your kinsman is, I believe, here in the
Tower. Permit me to find him for you."
The elder prince, Ereinion, bowed his assent and
the old Steward headed for the door, then paused and
turned. "By the way, where is my grandson?"
Both young Isildurioni looked at Cemendur who
looked distinctly unhappy. "The Lord Hurin chose to
remain in the North, swearing service to the Chieftain
of the Dunedain through his regent."
"I see," Ecthelion said dryly "thank you."
'Thorongil' was exactly where the Steward had
expected him to be, a side room of the great library
head bent over an ancient tome. He looked up, started
to rise, and Ecthelion forstalled him with a bow. "My
He went still, as he always did when taken by
surprise. To most he would have seemed expressionless
but Ecthelion's practiced eye detected shock, chagrin
and finally resignation - but no fear, for which he
was deeply grateful.
Isildur's Heir sighed. "How did you find out?"
"I sent Men into the North to find your people."
"Cemendur and Hurin's secret mission." Aragorn
guessed. Smiled wryly. "Clearly they succeeded."
"Cemendur brought two kinsmen of yours back with
him, bearing messages from your Steward and Regent in
the North. Ereinion and Ellenion, sons of Thorondil,
they called themselves."
Aragorn's eyes widened. "Ereinion and Ellenion!"
Ecthelion frowned. "Are they not your kin?
Certainly they look it."
"Oh yes indeed, my cousin's sons." shook his head
wonderingly. "And the last time I saw them they were
no older than your grandson."
"You have given us twenty years, my Lord." said
Ecthelion. Then suddenly, urgently. "Why come to us
like this, in disguise?"
"I wanted to see the Southern Kingdom." Aragorn
answered simply. "Then you told us Gondor thought the
line of Kings extinct, and I decided it was safe to
stay a while."
"Safe." the Steward echoed bitterly.
Aragorn got up, rounded the table to put his hands
on the older Man's shoulders. "I have always
trusted you, Ecthelion," he told him softly, "but you
would have refused my service had you known who I was
- and there were things that needed doing."
"The alliance with Rhovanion." Ecthelion smiled
crookedly. "The watch on Mordor. The Ithilien
Rangers." he stopped, closed his eyes. "It was a
Morgul arrow wasn't it?"
"Yes, but do not fear - "
"I know. The Kings of Old had the power to heal
"An inheritance from Luthien, our foremother."
Aragorn said matter-of-factly, added gently. "Denethor
will recover and live as long as any of his fathers, I
"Thank you." Ecthelion managed, for the younger
Man's casual reference to Luthien as his ancestress
had suddenly brought home to him the full realization
of who and what 'Thorongil' truly was: Isildur's Heir,
Elendil's son of Gondor and Arnor, descended through
the Kings of Numenor from the Chiefs of the Fathers of
Men, High Kings of the Noldor and Sindar, and a divine
Maia older than time.
"You say Ereinion and Ellenion have messages for
me?" Aragorn asked, rousing him.
"Yes, and I can guess the substance of one of them
at least." Ecthelion looked up at his King. "I sent
Cemendur and Hurin to find and make alliance with your
people if they could."
"Alliance!" Aragorn shook his head, troubled. "I
fear that's impossible, Ecthelion, you do not know our
position in the North."
"And your news, my Lord, is some twenty years out of
date." the Steward reminded him. "Perhaps we should
both hear what your young kinsmen have to say before
discussing this matter further."
"Very well. Take me to them."
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