2. Author notes
- The beacons are never to be left unguarded, not even for a short span of time. Hence two soldiers per beacon. One can sleep or do things, while the second is looking at the other mountaintops. Assigning more than two soldiers would be a waste of manpower, which Gondor can ill-afford, in my opinion.
- The beacons are of important military value (at least, of old, they were), which is why guarding them is in the hands of the army. A rotating system seems to be fairest and most practical. Every soldier will hold out for a month, but perhaps not longer (weather, loneliness, boredom).
- To have at least some interaction with another person, the two guards eat their meals together on the top, beside the beacon. It makes sense for the one on watch to cook, since he's already awake and on-site anyway, giving the other more time for rest etc.
- Everything has to be carried up to the top. Which is why:
- Guard houses are not build on top of the mountains but a little down the slopes where there is more coverage and some trees might provide building materials. A lean-to or something might be possible, but I did not mention such in my story.
- The guards spend a lot of their "off-duty time" in gathering wood for the beacons, which need constant maintenance due to weather influences.
- Cooking fires are kept small and are extinguished once the meal is finished. This is also a security measure: at night light would travel far, and though the cooking fires are small, one would not want the wardens on the next mountain mistake them for the beacon being lit.
- Speed is of the essence, so a lamp is always kept ready to kindle the beacon.