5. Chapter 4
In the spring of 1306 there was a general call to arms, and our small kingdom gathered its full might to strike a blow against our foe, but the wrong one. Considering the new threat to the north to be much diminished following the previous autumn's campaign old King Eldaer had ignored his son's pleas to return there and had instead turned his attention west to our longstanding grievance with Cardolan over the Weather Hills and the tower of Amon Sul. It was the home of one of the fabled seeing stone, and the masters of the tower were able to cast their eye far and wide and speak by thought to those who held other stones, however far away. As well as being our supposed ancient right, access to them would be a great aid in measuring and controlling any further threat that might come from Carn Dûm.
So brave Galdir marched to war yet again, along with Angon and many other good soldiers who had fought together at the battle of the camp in the north. Once again Ulfur led his host out of the Shaws and joined his strength to theirs on the North Road. By the time all were gathered outside Lastbridge the host numbered twelve thousand or more, but mostly foot and archers. Our mounted soldiery were few now, limited to the great and the good and their bodyguards for the most part. Our land, with all its steep crags and deep vales, did not lend itself to mounted warfare and our native horses were small and stocky, and whilst sound and strong lacked the speed and size to excel in that field. It did not however hamper us unduly that time, as we prevailed over the host Cardolan sent out to meet us on the West Road in a fierce battle and then took Amon Sul after a short siege. Once again Angon and Galdir, fighting side by side, covered themselves in glory, and were personally commended by Prince Elion for their part in the taking of the tower. They had noted a weakness in the defences and put all their strength against it in a surprise attack, which had succeeded and broken the resolve of the defenders. Our flag flew once again over the ancient tower, and the King himself came west a few weeks later to view his prize and look into the stone. It is said that those who have right to use the Palantir find them much easier to control and make sense of what they see, and despite his hopes it appears that Eldaer did not have that gift. His house was ancient, and pure enough Dunedain blood, but the true line of Isildur in Rhudaur had petered out only a few generations after the division of Arnor, and his line, though unbroken, had only been maintained by marriage. The truth of this was of course kept well hidden, and the master of the stone who had been captured and pressed into service for his new liege was able to lend his aid to some degree.
A large garrison was installed, at the tower and regular patrols were sent daily up and down the West Road which formed our long and vulnerable border with Cardolan there. However as the year waned, the threat from the north also began to increase again, and bands of orcs came raiding off the moors in increasing numbers. The King's attention had been elsewhere, and his enemy in the north must have known it. Lord Beldir sent word south pleading for reinforcements again and eventually the northern host, including Angon and Galdir, were sent home up the North Road. I can only imagine the joy when Galdir, the battle hardened hero, returned at last to the house on the hill in Northford. My father Galdirion was almost of age and must have been eager to learn all he could of his older brother's adventures, for it was almost time for him to pledge his own duty and take up arms too. There was a new member of the household to greet him there as well, as my grandmother Branniel had engaged a new handmaid, who went by the name of Faelneth. She was young, the same age as my father, and very pretty with a keen wit. She was of Hillman stock but there was surely a smattering of Dunedain in there too when you saw her eyes and the way she carried herself. There was nothing unusual in that in our land at that time as intermarriage was commonplace, and even unavoidable. Although I suspect my father had designs on her even then, she had only eyes for the returning warrior, and he soon returned her interest. My grandmother scolded them both unmercifully though, as far as she was concerned her firstborn would have a fitting match with the daughter of a notable family, not some peasant girl out of the Shaws, however comely.
Galdir was soon back on duty, patrolling across the river and hunting down the orc bands and destroying them wherever they found them. Once again the enemy were driven back, and the attacks lessened in frequency and severity. However by this time a large part of the previously settled lands north of the Hoarwell were empty. The population of the settlements south of the river was swelled by their numbers and Northford in particular became a crowded, bustling place once more.
As another surprisingly bitter winter set in, Amon Sul remained in our hands and no attempt had been made to wrest it back from us. For those with the wit to read it the Palantir would have revealed the main reason why, and also why we had once again driven the orc raiders back with so little apparent trouble. The King Of Angmar had turned his attention to Arthedian at that time and decided to test his growing strength against the strongest of the three Kingdoms. At this time a peace treaty was made between Cardolan and Arthedain, and Cardolan sent a large force up the King's Road to aid their new ally. A large force of men and orcs had come out out of Carn Dûm, crossing the plain and coming down the North Downs toward Fornost. However they had been scouted, or even witnessed in the seeing stone there, and the defence was well prepared. Once again the King Of Angmar's forces were driven back with great loss.
In Rhudaur though I fear this lull was once again misread, and in the spring of the next year a force came unlooked for up from the south out of Cardolan and took the settlement of Halfway Hill on the West Road, cutting off our garrison, whilst a second host came cross country down the weather hills and laid siege to the tower. Realising his position was hopeless, given that it would take some time before a relief could be attempted, the captain there capitulated. When the news of this swift and unexpected defeat reached our King, he was enraged. Once again he ordered his armies to mobilise, and Galdir, Angon, and Ulfur and his folk marched south once again.
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