2. Of Cún Son of Thallanon
Though their villages knew relative peace, still there was the gathering knowledge that darkness was growing stronger. Grim and silent was the mourning when even mighty and noble Ost-In-Edhil fell, when Celebrimbor fought and was slain on the steps with his bodyguard slain all about him. On that day many of the Naruthaundrim fought dauntlessly and without hope of victory or thanks, for they were the last Kindred to stand back while their borders were defended by the Eldar.
So it became their tradition and custom, and verily a right of passage to each generation of the young men, to march into the service of one of the Lords. To this service the Men of Evendim assigned a high dignity, for in spite of the fall of Eregion, there was still the long majesty of Lindon, and of the Mithlond on Lune, and Elrond son of Earendil had founded Imladris. The great betrayal of Annatar of the Rings who returned to Eregion in his proper form -Sauron the Lieutennant of Morgoth- with war to take back the Rings he'd seen made, was only brooked at the last by the arrival of the Admiral of Numennor. Overlooked was the pride and dignity of the Men of Annor, and their strength was such thatSauron was thrown him back into the east. But even still the Betrayer set to work multiplying his orcs and wolves. Against these the warriors of Evendim saw much battle, though there is no song to remember them, nor list of fathers and sons who lived and died in the forgotten resistance against evil after the War of Elves and Sauron. But perhaps the keenest edge of Sauron's wrath had turned for that brief time from the Eldar of Eriador, and was turned against the Folk of Elenna, who were the Numenoreans.
So it is in a day of relative peace, where the pride and the glories of the Age were taking place elsewhere, the Naruthaundrim went on as ever they had, and few accorded them much honour, nor are they greatly remembered. But there is some memory of one young Captain of Evendim who grew into some renown, and he was Thallanon, and there is memory of his son who was Cún.
It is remembered that as a child the son of Thallanon was always slight creature, like a litle shadow, or one of the dun little birds that flits out of sight all of a sudden, seemingly altogether unremarkable, and plain. Amongst the other children of Tum-Naruthaun he was ever the brunt of what ruse of tease was being had, which from this tender age made him surly, and perhaps was the beginning of his characteristc dour expression. Though in the flower of his adulthood Cún of Naruthaun would be remembered for the light in his glance, from an early age that brightness was hooded, and his eyes were dark beneath, as if bruised, from constant brooding and solitude. To add to the peculiarity of how slight he remained in stature, Cún was dark of complexion compared to most. His mother promised him was because he had a touch of the elves in him, making his hair darker, and his eyes brighter. "The Elves take a lot longer to grow up", she promised. "They are like an oak tree, that remains no thicker than a grown mans' thumb, until one day, it broadens into the king of the forest, but not a day sooner than when it is ready". But even she played her part teasing him, and this was the first great sadness of Cún's life. His daily use-name, Cu, meant Weed, given to him by his mother, albeit with love. But it hurt him. It planted a hurtful seed, a burr, deep in the darkest grotto of his heart.
He was used to watching the best games being played from the sideline, and when the other children extended their largess to include him, Cu was usually picked last. They would form little armies and attack each other with pretend axes made of woven reeds. They would choose heroic names for themselves, like Mountaincleaver; and Burning-Iron. For the men of Naruthaun were fabled axemen, and were called often to give aid in the wars of their allies, this was the highest hope of every little boy. But Cu, who had all too often walked into the woods with no team to play for, gave up on this hope at an early age.
Cus' father, Thallanon, whose name means Steadfast-Door, suffered his weakling son with good enough humour. But it was clear to everyone, especially his son, that it was a terrible disappointment to the fierce warrior.
So it was that the Sentinel of the Valley, for this was Thallanon's Title, resolved to correct this flaw in his son; Thallanon knew what was needed to thicken up a scrawny boy, or so he believed.
Before dawn every day, when the Sentinel swung his feet over the side of his bed, Cu was waiting, as instructed, dressed and ready. Cu ran up the length of the valley, nearly six kilometres, every day, carrying his fathers' lunch. Then he ran back, and did his share of the chores.
The first twelve years of Cus' life passed slowly in this fashion, and still he remained slight, and the people of the valley shook their heads at him. Cu took even more to the solace of the woods. For the great redwoods of the valley leaned close to him. Sometimes it was almost as if the trees were the legs of a vast herd of horses, breathing and shifting. The forest floor, thick with the fallen needles of the pines, constantly steamed, night and day, so that the valley was always slightly misty, and sunlight passed down to the ground in shafts, like billowing curtains. The leggy rhododendrons thrust out dark green leaves, like spearheads, and bright flowers in every colour imaginable. Where the wind blew in from the lake, it opened long corridors between the redwoods and there the undergrowth grew with hardy grasses shot with tough little blooms of their own. Cu knew the names of them all, and they were the closest he had to friends.
When the other boys began their training with the famed axes of the valley, Cu was not included. This was the second great sadness of his life. The Naruthaundrim were indeed famed axers, and were called to war often, and each of them was in the field of battle as a score of any other mortal men. From their earliest manhood they were drilled and molded into imperturbable warriors, and their axes in time became every bit as much a part of them as their own flesh and blood. But not Cu: he was given a sling, and told to hunt pheasants, and hares. Each day, with the guffaws, and clatter of the axe-drilling sounding in his ears, he passed into the red-golden haze of the valley, instructed fiercely not to return until he brought something for the pot. And as the other youths, whose fathers may have been turners or growers, the son of The Sentinel was dismissed into the wild reaches of the valley in search of prey.
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