Politics of Arda
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Rangers of the North: 3. The Rangers
camaraderie, but not this time. Hurin became aware of a
definite constraint between his party and their hosts
as soon as they awoke the next morning.
The Rangers undoubtedly realized they'd given
themselves away but refused to acknowledge the fact.
and Cemendur seemed reluctant to challenge Hawkeye
Not that Hurin blamed him. Seen by full daylight
the elder Ranger looked even more formidable than he
had the night before. Few Dunedain in these degenerate
days reached what had once been the standard height of
two ranga, Hurin himself being one of the exceptions,
but Hawkeye stood at least a handspan above it. Many
Men of the West have grey eyes but Hurin had, until
now, seen only one other pair with that quicksilver
gleam like a light shining within. Hawkeye's worn
clothing and the grime of a long sojourn in the Wild
did nothing to detract from a truly kingly presence.
The nephews, seen clearly for the first time, were
obviously twins - as alike as two stars - shorter than
their uncle though still more than 'man-high' with
hair of the true raven black and their uncle's bright
piercing eyes. Swift and silent in their movements
they shared an elusive quality, creatures of the Wild
that could be glimpsed but not grasped.
The three Rangers went about the mundane tasks of
building a fire and cooking breakfast in dextrous,
efficient silence. Hurin and Rumil stood about
uncomfortably and tried not to get in the way, and
Cemendur sat on a stone block watching pensively.
By the time they'd reached the washing-up stage the
silence had been unbroken for more than two hours and
passed from uncomfortable to unbearable.
"We will collect the rest of your gear from your
camp and then find those horses." Hawkeye said
Hurin nearly dropped the folded cloak he was
holding. Rumil did drop the stick of wood he'd been
carrying around all morning. Cemendur leveled a steady
look at the elder Ranger.
"My Lord, I have not told you all our errand here
in the North." Hawkeye's brows quirked at the form of
address but he said nothing. The Councillor continued;
"We are servants of the Steward of Gondor. He has also
in his service a great captain of war we call
Thorongil. He came to us from Rohan but he is not of
the Rohirrim but one of our own people, a Man of
Westerness, though not of Gondor. There are few places
in Middle Earth where Men of our kind have dwelt;
Gondor, Umbar and here in the Lost Realm of Arnor. Our
Lord has sent us to find Thorongil's people if we can
and make alliance with them."
"Why not simply ask this Thorongil where he comes
from?" Hawkeye asked.
"He will not answer. No more than he will give us
his true name."
"Then no doubt he has his reasons." Hawkeye knelt
to quench the fire with a dipperful of water from the
crumbling well in the corner of this former garden. "I
know no 'Thorongil' and I have already told you there
are none of your kin here in the Wild."
"The Dunedain have ever made poor liars." Cemendur
Hawkeye's head came up, eyes narrowed at the
challenge. Hurin held his breath then let it out in an
audible gust of relief when the Ranger smiled wryly.
"A sore weakness which we have been unable to amend."
he admitted, no longer in the rustic accent of Bree
but in speech as pure as any Hurin had heard in the
Court of the Tree. "Yet it was not all lies. I told
you there are neither kings nor lords here in the
North and that is plain truth."
"There are many years of neglect to make amends
for." Cemendur returned seriously. "It would be a
kindness to accept our help."
But Hawkeye shook his head. "No." finished
spreading earth over the ashes of the fire and rose
from his knees to tower above them like one of the
heroes of old. "It is not pride that has held us
silent all these years but prudence. We have neither
armies nor fortresses now. To be secret and forgotten
is our only defense. Do not seek to strip it from
"But there's no need to hide any longer!" Hurin
blurted suddenly. "Come back with us to Minas Tirith,
a hundred or a thousand such as Thorongil would be a
strength beyond our wildest hopes."
The bright, unnerving eyes swerved from Cemendur's
face to his. Hurin gulped and withstood their gaze as
best he could.
"If we could be of aid to you we would." Hawkeye
said quite gently. "Never think we hold old grudges
above our common blood and common danger. But a Shadow
lies on the North as well. For nearly a thousand years
we Rangers have guarded the peoples of Bree, the
Shire, the Angle and the River Villages from the
creatures of Angmar. We cannot abandon them."
"They do not know what you do for them." Cemendur
said softly. And Hurin, remembering what the Innkeeper
Butterbur had had to say about Rangers knew he was
"Nor do we wish them too." said one of the nephews.
"They have courage enough at need, Men and
Halflings both," continued the other. "but they are
not a folk for war. Better they should enjoy their
peace and live without fear."
"Long ago Elendil promised their fathers' fathers
his protection in exchange for their allegiance."
Hawkeye finished. "His heirs will keep that promise as
long as we have the strength to do so."
Elendil's Heirs? The words shivered over Hurin's
skin and he stared at the Ranger in wild surmise. Was
he saying the line of Kings had somehow survived here
in the North, that he himself was of that blood?
"Come, we have horses to find." Hawkeye changed the
subject abruptly, as if he'd said more than he'd
'Ranga' was a Numenorean unit of measurement
equivalent to three feet two inches or just under a
Two ranga were colloquially known as 'man high'
meaning the average height of Numenorean men was six
foot four. By the time of the WR the average height of
the Dunedain of Gondor had become somewhat shorter,
probably about six feet. Hurin, at six four, is known
as 'the Tall'.
Hawkeye is about four inches short of seven feet and
the Padfoot Brothers are six five or six six.
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