Many Guises and Many Names
Playlist Navigation Bar
Lords of Gondor: 4. The Army Marches
compared to the days of Gondor's glory, set out for
the crossing at Osgiliath some two days later, the
day's march much enlivened by gossip and speculation
over the mysterious 'Captains of Rohan'.
Their looks alone proclaimed high birth, and by
their manners and other signs it was clear they had
enjoyed a nobleman's education. All of which made it
quite certain they were not of Gondor. Two such could
not have grown to manhood in any of the few surviving
Ancient Houses without attracting notice. Nor would
they have been allowed to sell their swords in Rohan.
The Elvish strain in their blood, obvious to those
with the eye to see it, only added to the mystery.
Where in Middle Earth had Men of Westerness mingled
their blood with the Eldar? Not in Gondor, and
certainly not in Umbar!
Aragorn and Barahir were aware of the talk, and
more than a little puzzled by it. For nowhere was
there to be heard the slightest whisper or hint of a
suspicion the truth. Strange as that seemed to them
"I am grateful but bewildered." Barahir told his
brother softly as they walked together through the
evening encampment, in the ruins on the east bank of
the Anduin, to the Steward's lodging. "In fact I can't
understand it at all. How many times have the Eldar
matched with Men? What *can* we be but heirs of the
Kings of Old, descended from Luthien and Beren, Tuor
and Idril Celebrindal?"
"I don't understand it either." Aragorn admitted,
sotto voce. "Ecthelion thinks he knows *something* but
I'd take oath he has no inkling of the truth."
"May the One continue to cloud their eyes!" Barahir
murmured fervently just before they came in earshot of
the sentries guarding Ecthelion's quarters.
The Steward was lodged in what had once been a
large mansion. The roofless shell of hall and chamber
had been covered with stretched canvas and rugs laid
over the earth silting the floors. The hall was lit by
torches and full of Men, the captains of the various
companies, gathered round a trestle table spread with
a large map of eastern Gondor. Aragorn and Barahir
eased their way silently into the company.
"Seeing Ithilien abandoned by our people the
Haradrim think to take it for themselves." Ecthelion
was saying. "This we cannot allow for it would lay all
of Lebennin and Minas Tirith herself open to their
raiding." he put a finger to the map. "Our scouts have
sighted small bands of raiders in South Ithilien but
the main body of their host has yet to cross the
Harnen. We will meet them at the fords of the Poros -"
"My Lord," Aragorn interupted, "Forgive me, but why
not challenge their advance at the Harnen?"
Denethor glared at him. "Because it would mean
crossing the empty leagues of Harondor with its bands
of brigands and Orcs!"
"I do not think brigands would care to assail so
large a force as ours." said Barahir. "Though I grant
careful watch would be needed at night against Orcs."
"The Poros is a wide river," Aragorn continued,
"but shallow and slow moving, easily forded in many
places not just at the crossing. We might find
ourselves out flanked."
"Only too true." the Steward said grimly. "Such
nearly happened to my grandfather."
"And we have not such numbers as Turin commanded."
Prince Adrahil agreed worriedly, "Though we celebrate
the Crossings as a great victory it was a costly one,
more than we can afford to pay these days."
"The Harnen is a narrow river but deep and swift
with many falls and rapids," Aragorn said earnestly,
"the crossing too is narrow and dangerous, easily held
by small numbers even against a great host."
"All this is true." the Steward said slowly. Or so
our maps and records say." raised his head to give him
a piercing look. "You seem to know the ground well,
Aragorn colored, momentarily at a loss. It was
Barahir who answered, slightly defiantly: "We were in
Near Harad some years ago and saw the Harnen with our
Suspicion flared in Denethor's face but Ecthelion
seemed merely interested. "A dangerous journey for Men
of our kind." he observed mildly. Which tied both
He was right of course, it had been dangerous but
less so than he might think given their companions. (1)
Nor could they possibly explain why they had gone into
a land belonging to the Enemy.
Fortunately the Steward didn't pursue the subject.
"Your suggestion has merit, Captain, but there are
difficulties. I doubt our army can reach the Harnen
before the Haradrim."
"Horsemen could." said Barahir.
1. Gandalf and Glorfindel. Rangers don't limit their
activities to Eriador, they also act as spies
gathering intelligence for the White Council,
(specifically Gandalf and Elrond) these missions
sometimes take them very far afield, deep into Rhun
Playlist Navigation Bar