Many Guises and Many Names
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Rangers of the North: 24. Consequences
his nephews bluntly.
The two young Men looked unsurprised. "We thought
that would be your decision." said Ereinion.
Beruthiel's sons had been lodged in one of the
guesthouses built against the Citadel's curtain wall.
The three Men were sitting in a round tower chamber,
with windows looking east over the city to the
Mountains of Shadow.
"You understand what this means for our people?"
Aragorn demanded, almost harshly.
Ellenion nodded calmly. "To remain in hiding and
gradually dwindle into the simple hunter folk we
pretend to be."
"Better that then falling to a new Witch War and
taking our country folk and the Men of Rhudaur with
us." said Ereinion. Added gently; "Never fear, Uncle,
our people will accept your decision."
"I don't think any of us has truly believed Arnor
would be restored for a long time now." Ellenion said
"The world has changed." Aragorn agreed. "Men have
changed. The time of the Kings, and of the Dunedain
A moments silence then Ellenion said drily: "I am
glad it is you not we who will have to explain that to
Aragorn's mouth quirked ruefully. "I am not looking
forward to that conversation." he admitted. Turned the
subject. "What news of the North?"
Ereinion shrugged. "We lose ground. Slowly but
surely we are being driven back."
"As ever, since the last Flood Year." Ellenion
added quietly as Aragorn's face tightened. "I doubt
your presence would have made much difference, Uncle."
Aragorn nodded weary agreement. "What could I have
done that our grandmother and Uncle Armegil did not?
Angmar still grows?"
Ereinion nodded. "Raiding bands of Hill Men have
struck as far south as the Lone Lands. Uncle fears we
will soon have to pull back the Line yet again."
"And Orcs are multiplying again in the Mountains."
said Ellenion. "Mother crossed with us to talk to
Grimbeorn about increasing his patrols."
Aragorn nodded again, then frowned. "Beruthiel?
What of your father?"
The two young Men exchanged a glance, it was
Ereinion who answered; "Our father is dead, Uncle.
Thirteen years now."
Aragorn's eyes closed in pain. "Anybody else?" he
Another look passed between the twins. "No other
family." said Ellenion, hesitated. "Bregolas, Diriel
and Ondohir have also fallen, (1) and Borthand died
six years ago. Borondir leads the Men of Rhudaur now."
"Time I went home, and past time." Aragorn said
grimly. "I have done almost all I came here to do."
grimaced slightly. "Certainly I cannot stay now that I
Ecthelion found Cemendur standing in the embrassure
at the tip of the great stone pier that bisected the
city, looke eastward to the lowering Mountains of
Shadow. "The Lord Aragorn has refused to press his
claim." he told him. "He will not risk civil war in
"I feared that would be his answer." the Councillor
sighed. "It is true the danger is very great, not only
of a new Kinstrife but of assault from the Dark Land."
turned to look Ecthelion in the eye. "Yet it is also
true that Gondor declines, and will continue to fail
until she returns to her true allegiance."
"I know." the Steward agreed softly. "But the King
is right, now is not the time. Someday perhaps..."
"A day you and I will not live to see."
"No. Nor my son either I fear."
Cemendur looked at his master and friend
thoughtfully, he knew Denethor's temper as well as
Ecthelion did. "The Dunedain of the North are long
lived," he offered. "the Line of Isildur especially
so. Our King will outlive us all. Perhaps in young
Boromir's time -"
"If there is still a Gondor for my grandson to rule
when his time comes it will be due in no small part to
Thorongil - to the King." Ecthelion broke in bitterly.
"He has given us much, and it seems there is nothing
at all we may give him in return!"
Cemendur, remembering the Northern Rangers' long
labor in defense of unknowing, ungrateful Men -
including the Gondorim - could find nothing to say.
Then Ecthelion's expression changed. "No." he said
softly. "There is one thing."
1. These are of course not the only Ranger casualties
of the last twenty years, just those who were personal
friends of Aragorn.
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