Many Guises and Many Names
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Lords of Gondor: 6. Elendil's Heir
Stewards, a vast shadowy hall adorned with statues and
inscriptions and filled with row upon row of dead,
laid out on couches of stone.
The mourners stood with bowed heads in a circle
around Beren's bier, lit by banks of flickering
candles with the scent of embalmer's spices strong in
their nostrils: The Steward and his family, wife and
daughters draped in long veils. Representatives from
the other Ancient Houses there to do honor to the
deceased and his kin. And Aragorn and Barahir in their
Listening to the familiar Quenya words intoned by
The Lord Steward, Barahir wondered where their
Southern Kin had gotten this custom of embalming the
dead and laying them in massive, ornate family tombs.
Long ago, in Numenor, interrment in rock cut tombs
had been the common practice. In the North the Exiles
had adopted the Runedain (1) custom of barrow burial
and held to it as long as the Kingdom lasted. Now
Rangers were laid to rest in unmarked graves, often
where they fell, and memorialized with engraved stones
or statues set up in small, private hallows.
The brief ceremony came to an end and the mourners
reformed their procession to follow Ecthelion, his
widowed daughter on his arm, out onto the Silent
Street. The Steward kissed Emeldir gravely on the brow
and gave her over to the care of her brother, then as
the rest of the mourners headed up the Rath Dinen
towards the winding path back to the circles of the
living, he beckoned to the two captains.
"As you are interested in the history of Gondor,
Captain Elfwine, there is something here I would like
you to see."
Aragorn and Barahir exchanged furtive glances and
obediently followed the Steward to the largest and
most ornate of the great tombs, its facade adorned
with the stars and tree and crowned statues of kings.
Ecthelion produced a key to unlock the great golden
doors and pushed them open.
Unlike the House of the Stewards the Tomb of the
Kings was lit by high thin windows, inset with panes
of colored glass. The dim, mysterious light showed
rows of still figures, richly robed and bejeweled,
laid out on stone biers. But directly in front of the
door was a throne, very like that in the Hall of the
Kings, with the body of an aged man propped up on it.
He was grey bearded and frail, weighed down by a
kingly circlet and heavy golden mantle. Clawlike hands
rested upon a gleaming, helmet shaped crown with wings
of mithril and pearl and jewels of adamant set above
Barahir started, felt Aragorn's hand tighten on his
arm. Swallowed with a dry throat and said silently to
his brother: *I do not think I approve of this manner
of treating the dead.* Recieved wordless, amused
agreement, in reply.
"The King Earnur, last king but one of Gondor."
said Ecthelion, aloud. "That is the crown of Anarion
he holds, until the king shall come again."
*I might consider letting him keep it even then.*
came Aragorn's dry thought and Barahir winced in
agreement. The thought of recieving Gondor's crown
from those fleshless hands was not appealing.
The Steward led them around the throne. Directly
behind it was a broad table on which lay a long casket
of jet black galvorn overlaid by gleaming chasings of
mithril and gold and set with the seven and one stars,
the white tree, and the cipher of Elendil.
Aragorn and Barahir didn't have to be told what it
contained, they knew from the lore and traditions of
their House. What they did not know was how the body
of Elendil, laid to rest by his son in a hallow at the
heart of the South Kingdom, came to be in this place.
Ecthelion looked at the two younger Men and saw
they were shaken, though only an eye as discerning as
his could have read the signs. "You are right," he
told them quietly, "this is the body of Elendil
brought from his grave on Amon Anwar by Cirion when
Calenardhon was ceeded to the Rohirrim." The Steward
moved to the other side of the table, drawing the
captains' eye to the body laid out beside Elendil's
A Man like enough to them to be near kin, with high
forehead and straight nose and slightly hollowed
cheeks, robed in the black and silver of the Kings
with a star of adamant bound upon his brow. "And
this," Ecthelion said quietly, sadly, "is the last of
Elendil's line. The last heir of the Kings of Men in
Two pairs of eyes rose from the dead face to his,
Elfwine's grey as water under clouded skies, Elfstan's
dark blue, both wide with shock.
"He first appeared in Gondor the days of the Morgul
Wars and fought the Nazgul under Denethor and
Boromir." the Steward continued. "But when those wars
were ended he left us. Only to return long years later
to stand beside Cirion at the field of Celebrant, and
to fall there. He came to us out of the North, we
never knew his true name. Perhaps you do?"
"He was Arminas," Elfwine said huskily after a long
moment, "Minastar in the High Tongue." (2)
"Thank you." said Ecthelion. "It is good to finally
be able to give him the honor of his royal name."
looked at them. "And I thought it might comfort your
people to know he lies in due honor beside his
"So Arminas was right, Boromir did guess his
secret." Barahir said quietly as two rather shaken
young princes made their way down the long circles of
the city to their lodging outside its gates. Cloaked
and hooded against recognition by folk in the street.
"And doubtless passed on his suspicions to his son,
Cirion." Aragorn agreed pensively. "This explains a
great deal. If the Gondorim think the line of the
Kings is extinct, it's no wonder they failed to
recognize us as Isildurioni."
"But then who or what do they take us for?" his
"Descendants of the Northern Dunedain and Elves of
Lindon I would guess." Aragorn smiled wryly. "A
reasonable enough conclusion given the little they
know of the fate of our people in the North. And from
our point of view, a very fortunate mistake indeed."
1. Runedain, Men of the East, name given to those Men
of Eriador descended, like the Dunedain of Numenor,
from the Three Houses of the Fathers of Men.
2. Arminas was the elder son of Arahad I, the seventh
Chieftain of the Dunedain. So the Gondorim were right
in identifying him as an Heir of Elendil. But very
wrong in assuming he was the last of the Line. Arminas
had a younger brother who succeeded their father and
carried on the Line of Isildur.
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