Many Guises and Many Names
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Rangers of the North: 7. The Lost Realm
the High Pass over the Misty Mountains rather than the
southern way by which we came." Hurin told his
companion as they strolled along one of the villa's
many cloistered walks.
The other, the more talkative of the two Padfoot
Brothers, nodded. "That would be wise. The Old South
Road is becoming dangerous. Nobody patrols the
Enedwaith anymore and the Dunlendings are notoriously
unfriendly to Dunedain." a quick smile. "Not that our
ancestors didn't give them reason enough to be so."
glanced sidelong at Hurin. "But no doubt you noticed
all this yourself."
"The journey was not uneventful." he conceeded
drily. "We nearly lost Rumil at the fording of the
Gwathlo, but after that the going became easier."
"After that you had entered Ranger territory. The
Red Lands of Cardolan *are* patrolled. You were under
our eye and our guard from the moment you crossed at
Hurin blinked. "We saw nothing."
His companion smiled a little smugly. "Nothing is
what you may expect to see when Rangers are tracking
you. But you travelled too quickly for our people to
send word ahead of your coming. Uncle was taken quite
by surprise when you walked into the Pony."
"And you ran away from us." Hurin remembered. "By
the way, what is your real name?"
"I am Ellenion, my brother is Ereinion."
'Son of the Eldar' and 'Son of Kings' appropriate
names for Isildurioni. Like his uncle, Ellenion was
now dressed suitably for his rank in black and deep
blue, and on his finger he wore a ring of silver in
the form of an eagle with a small adamant stone set
like a star between its upraised wings. The device
seemed familiar to Hurin but he couldn't place it.
The walk became a gallery above a sanded court
sounding to the the ring of steel on steel. Looking
down Hurin was startled to see a number of Women and
girls practicing with sword and halberd. A flash of
silver-fair hair proclaimed the Lady Gilmith,
Armegil's wife, was among them.
"Do your Women also take up arms?" he asked, trying
not to sound shocked.
"Sometimes, when there is no Man left to do so." a
shadow passed over Ellenion's face. "It is becoming
more common. We have many widows and orphans these
"I can see you're hard pressed." Hurin offered in
"We are losing." the Ranger answered quietly.
Looked at him with those strange, light filled eyes.
"We have been losing ground for more than a hundred
years now, since the time of my great grandfather, and
are likely to lose all before the end."
"Gondor too. Yet Prince Armegil bids us to have
Surprisingly Ellenion laughed. "Indeed we still
have Hope." they had been speaking in the Common
Tongue but he used the Elven word 'Estel' with an
emphasis that drew a questioning look from Hurin.
"Estel is one one of the names of my cousin
Aragorn." he explained. "He was called so for a
prophecy that predicts he will bring down the Dark
Lord and restore the Kingdoms."
"If any Man can do so it will be Thorongil." Hurin
said with the simple faith all Gondor had in the great
"You know him better than I." said Ellenion.
"Indeed, I do not know him at all for all we are near
kin. My brother and I were babes in arms when he left
"Which would make them a little younger than Hurin
himself. "Gondor will be sorry to lose him, but I see
he is needed here too."
The Lord Belecthor, transformed again into the
Ranger Hawkeye, left Arnost early the next morning
with the three horses to be returned to Gwathlad. He
would then continue on foot back to his wardenship in
the south. But if the Gondor Men were a little dismayed
to see him disappear alone into the Wild, it was clear
none of their Northern kin were at all bothered by the
thought of a prince of the Isildurioni walking
unattended and unguarded all the long leagues back to
But they had little time to think about that as
their party too was preparing to depart. The two young
princes, Ereinion and Ellenion, were to guide them on
the first part of their journey across the Wild and
over the High Pass. And, as their road led past the
mythical Rivendell home of Elrond Half-Elven, the
little Lady Niphredil would accompany them as well.
It was, Princess Gilmith had explained, customary
for the children of the Isildurioni to be fostered and
educated by their kinsman Elrond. And at nine
Niprhedil was judged by her parents old enough to
begin her formal training. Hurin had been a little
dismayed to hear this. In his experience little girls
of rank traveled in curtained horse-litters with large
trains of pack horses, guards, servants and attendant
gentlewomen. Of course he should have known the thing
would be done differently here in the North.
Niphredil entered the stableyard in the lower ward
of the stronghold accompanied by her mother and
father, a Woman dressed in green leathers and armed
with bow and knife as Laebeth had been, and a pretty
little girl of her own years with light brown curls
and blue eyes.
Three of the shaggy Ranger horses stood next to the
Gondor Men's mounts and it was clear from the saddles
on two of them that the little girls were intended to
ride pillion, which did not please the Lady Niphredil
"Why can't we have horses too?" she demanded, lower
lip protruding in a way that made Hurin suddenly and
unexpectedly homesick for his younger sisters. "Erien
and I can ride!"
"So you can." Armegil agreed calmly. "But I cannot
spare a brace of horses to carry little girls."
"We could share a horse." the daughter suggested
"No." said the father with warning emphasis.
Which his daughter ignored opening her mouth for
further argument, but her cousin Ereinion leant down
from his horse to abruptly end the debate by swinging
her up behind him.
Armegil turned to Cemendur. "This is Muinith
daughter of Morred, Niphredil's nurse." he said,
introducing the Woman. "and her daughter Erien, whose
task it is to show *my* daughter how a good little
"I'm not always good." the child piped up, almost
defensively. "It was my idea to put holly berries into
the soap and to keep cream in the tower basement and
lots of other things too."
"I stand corrected." the Prince said, amused.
"Still compared to Niphredil, our Erien is
"Relatively." Muinith agreed drily.
"I begin to feel sorry for our Uncle." Ellenion
grinned, reaching down a hand to help Erien up behind
"So do I." Armegil agreed. "No doubt he will
survive, and Rivendell too, I hope!"
They did not head back towards Fornost and the old
North Road but southwest on a path that wound between
the downs. Their way was littered with the ruins of
what had once been good stone built manor houses and
farmsteads. Once again Hurin was reminded of his home,
of the abandoned lands along the Great River.
Shortly after noon they came upon the remains of a
sizeable town. The crumbling shells of what must once
have been splendid market and guild halls rose above
the grass grown ruins of houses and shops and the
tumbedown wreckage of once formidable defensive walls.
Circling the ruins they found a crossing of ancient
roads, one running due south and the other northeast.
"The eastern track is the old Rhudaur Road,"
Ellenion told the Men from Gondor, "that ran from
Fornost to Minvorn Erain, the eastern capital at the
foot of Gram Mountain. We will take the southern way,
along the Weather Hills to the great East-West Road."
"The town was called Rhufen." the Woman, Muinith,
added, seeing Hurin's eyes straying back to the ruins.
"My husband's family lived there, long ago."
"In a stone house with a tower just off the big
market square," Erien piped up suddenly, "with running
horses carved above the front door."
"It sounds like a very fine house." Hurin offered,
a little awkwardly.
"Our people gave up a great deal to follow their
King into hiding." Ereinion told him quietly. "They do
not grudge their losses, but they do not forget them
That was another difference between the Northern
and Southern Dunedain, Hurin thought grimly. *His*
people did grudge their losses, every one of them.
Perhaps all the more because they knew in their hearts
they had only themselves to blame.
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