Many Guises and Many Names
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Rangers of the North: 8. Common Folk of the Lost Realm
still had a gentle roll to it, and entered thick
woodlands. Not even Rangers willingly camped in the
open so far north, and the twins were prepared to go
somewhat out of their way to find shelter for the
night, especially with two children in their charge.
With evening coming on the party turned off the old
road onto a narrow forest track that, after an hour or
so, ended in a large clearing.
A drystone wall, about three ranga high (1), with
toadflax, ivy, stonecrop and selfheal growing in its
crannies stood a bowshot distance from the verges
of the forest with the long roof of a house and tops
of orchard trees showing above it. The heavy
wooden gate stood open and the party rode in
unchallenged, but only because they had been spotted
by watchers long before and were expected.
The inner side of the wall had a low wooden
platform for defenders to stand on, and enclosed a
grassy yard with fruit trees shading a kitchen garden
on one side and the house and a number of small
outbuildings on the other.
Three Men approached the party, greeting the young
princes familiarly by name and, to Hurin's surprise,
in the Elvish tongue. Ellenion, doubtless out of
courtesy to the southern visitors, answered in the
"Once again we impose ourselves upon you, Master
Hallorn," he said dismounting, "and this time with a
sizeable company I fear." turned to lift the little
princess down. "My cousin Niphredil, and her friend
Erien, and Erien's mother Muinith. And these," he
continued, "are kinsmen of ours from the Southern
Kingdom, on their way home. The Lord Cemendur, Lord
Hurin and their Man Rumil."
Three pairs of keen, green-grey eyes surveyed the
Gondor Men with piercing interest. Nor did they seem
to mind being studied as intently in return. They
shared a strong family resemblance and were clearly
"Master Hallorn is the head of this holding."
Ellenion continued. "His son Hallas, and grandson
Hurin blinked. All three Men seemed in their prime,
showing little sign of the difference in their ages. Nor
could he make any guess as to exactly how old they were
save that Morlas, the youngest, must be several years
The house was built of age darkened wood on an
undercroft of stone, eaves and window and door frames
richly carved with the entwined figures of beasts and
birds. A tall green gowned woman stood in the open
doorway to greet them, her honey colored skin and dark
eyes suggesting some share of Hill-Men blood in her
veins. Hallorn presented her as his wife, Miril, the
mistress of the holding.
Inside was a modest hall panelled in many colored
woods and decorated with quaint carven grotesqueries.
Three children, two well grown boys between twelve and
eight years of age and a much younger girl, were
playing with a large and varied collection of nuts on
the slate hearthstone. A grey haired woman sat in a
highbacked chair nearby and the guests were led over
to her to pay their respects. This was Dame Serin,
Hallorn's mother, which together with her visible signs
of age (2) meant she must be nearing her hundreth year.
Two younger women, Lindel and Aewenor wives to
Hallas and Morlas, laid a table at the opposite end of
the hall near the door to the kitchen, and soon all
were seated round it, partaking of roasted game birds
and venison pies and nut breads spread with honey.
Hallorn's house reminded Hurin more than a little
of hunting lodges belonging to his own family and he
suspected it, like the villa of Arnost, was a survival
from a more gracious time. His host readily
acknowledged that he was right.
"Eryn Lossen (3) was once a chase belonging to the
High Kings at Fornost." he explained. "My ancestors
were their foresters, in a sense we still are."
"Deep woods are favored dwelling places for the dark
things surviving from Angmar and the Elder Days."
Ereinion put in. "Many of our forests here in the North
are so haunted. Hallorn and his fellows have kept
that from happening here at least."
"Not entirely." Hallas contradicted. "We've still
got a few White Wolves, left over from the Fell Winter,
hiding in the more distant glens."
"That was a terrible year." his mother remembered
with a shiver. "Wolves howling right outside the wall
day and night, and my garden froze solid in that awful
cold. I had to replant everything when spring finally
came, even the fruit trees."
Cemendur frowned at her. "Surely, mistress, you're
not old enough to remember the winter of 2911?"
She laughed. "Indeed I am. Why that was the year my
daughter Gwenlas was born."
The Gondor Men exchanged stunned looks. Cemendur
cleared his throat. "Then we must be much of an age I
think. I am a hundred and three, quite old by the
measure of the Dunedain of the South."
Now it was their hosts turn to look surprised.
"Miril is one hundred and two," Dame Serin said, "my
son is a dozen years her elder. And I am begining to
feel the weight of my years at one hundred and forty-four."
Hurin, Cemendur and Rumil tried, unsuccessfully, to
hide their awe. It had been nigh on six centuries since
any Man or Woman of Gondor had reached such an age.
These days their span was little longer than that of Lesser
"We do not dwell cheek by jowl with Mordor."
Ereinion observed after a brief silence. "The nearness
of the Dark land has doubtless taken a sore toll upon
our Southern kin."
Possibly. Yet the precipitous decline in life span
had begun well before the Morgul Wars and long before
Sauron's return to Mordor as Hurin recalled. But very
soon after Gondor had rejected the Heir of Isildur as
After supper the little princess and her companion
played happily with the children of the house, all
five seemingly unconscious of the difference in their
rank. And the adults seemed almost as unaware.
Yet Hallorn and his kin clearly knew perfectly well
their guests were royalty and their manner could not
be called disrespectful or even overfamiliar - just
'There are no kings or lords here in the North.'
Belecthor had said, and it seemed the Rangers lived as
if that were literally true.
(1) A 'ranga' is equivalent to three feet and two
inches in English measurments, (Unfinished Tales).
(2) Dunedain don't develop grey hair and wrinkles til
very near the end of their span. Hurin is assuming the
Dunedain of the North live about as long as those of
Gondor, he's wrong.
(3) tr.: The Snowy Wood
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