King Comes Home, The
8. The West Road To Annuminas
Unlike Ost-en-Dunhirion the equally ancient city of
Tarkilion on the upper Lhun was in ruins, very like
Gondor's own ancient capital of Osgiliath. Tarkilion
too had been walless and built on both sides of a
river - the Eithel Uial, a tributary of the Lhun
running down from the Evendim Hills rising high and
rugged to the east.
But unlike poor, dead Osgiliath the northern city
was green with growing things; trees, climbing vines
and a riot of flowers. When they stopped to make camp
those court ladies and waiting gentlewomen who hadn't
accompanied the Queen used the last hours of sunlight
to pick flowers in the ruins, coming back with baskets
full of roses, lilies, snowdrops and other garden
favorites run wild, and even some Elven flowers;
elanor, niphredil and lissuin.
"Every house seems to have had its own garden."
Edhellos, Angrod's sister, told him as she sat between
her brother and Hirgon by the fire in front of the
Captain's tent after the evening meal. "And there were
parks and orchards too, right in the middle of the
city. Lady Telperien says the Arnorim always built
their cities so - they'd picked up the practice from
"Along with their fondness for fountains and
channels of water." Hirgon agreed, thinking of Minas
Tirith with its few, small, high walled gardens in the
sixth circle and the citadel.
Edhellos frowned. "What we really didn't understand
was why Tarkilion was ruined while Dunhirion and
Annuminas are whole. When we asked the Lady she said
all their cities had been abandoned after the last
Witch War but the Elves of the Havens and of the Lake
had cared for those two while the others were left
prey to time and pillagers."
"But why abandon their cities?" her brother wanted
"We asked her that too." Edhellos swallowed,
suddenly uncomfortable. "She just smiled, the way they
do, and said it was safer so."
Both young men knew what smile she meant. A small,
grim, wintery curve of the lips seemingly common to
all the Northern Dunedain - even the King - which
tended to put a quick end to any conversation.
Not, Hirgon reflected gloomily, that the King's
Rangers were easy to talk to at any time. Silent and
unapproachable as a Fountain Guard on duty the lot of
them. Invariably polite, but in a distant, formal way
that made them seem more like the Fathers of Men of
Old than people belonging to this Age of the world.
And with a razor edged alertness that looked
uncomfortably like mistrust.
Two score or so of them, grim and watchful and
slightly disapproving, haunting Minas Tirith like
ghosts of the Numenoreans of Old had been unnerving
enough. But now here they were; surrounded by
thousands of Northern Dunedain and every one of them
as stern and silent as the King's Rangers - Men and
Following King Elessar through the streets of
Dunhirion under the eyes of an attentive but perfectly
silent crowd was an experience Hirgon would not soon
forget. they'd been pleased to see the King, He was
sure of that much, for they'd looked far less grim
than usual, and he'd even spotted a few fleeting
smiles here and there. But they neither shouted nor
waved, just stood there still and composed as figures
in an ancient relief, watching. Hirgon grew less and
less happy at the prospect of spending the next five
or ten years among these eldritch folk the more he saw
A voice spoke quietly, just behind them. "You keep
poor watch." almost before it had finished Hirgon and
Angrod were on their feet swords drawn and leveled at
the throat of the tall, hooded figure that had
materialized out of the night. "On the other hand your
reflexes are excellent." the figure continued,
amusement rather than alarm in his voice. Spread his
empty hands in sign of peace, and as they slowly
lowered their swords, reached up to put back his hood.
Hirgon and Angrod froze, as did Edhellos and the
Men nearby, siezed by an astonishment that was not far
from fear. Minas Tirith had once been Minas Anor, seat
of the Young King Anarion. After his death his son
Meneldil had filled the city with his father's image.
Hirgon's company was made up of city men who'd grown
up seeing that face everywhere, carved in stone or
graven in metal, and were now confronted with it on a
The Ranger, for so his worn green leathers
proclaimed him to be, raised the unervingly familiar
winged brows quizzically as his wide deep grey eyes
touched them one by one, registering their reaction
but clearly not understanding it. "I am Gilvagor son
of Armegil. I apologize for my unmannerly greeting. It
was a less than courteous welcome for guests and long
"Not to mention that you might have gotten yourself
run through. What were you thinking, Gil?" two more
Rangers formed out of the shadows; one a typical
Dunedain the other of quite a different kind. Nearly a
head shorter than his companion and far stockier, with
curling light brown hair and hazel eyes fixed
reprovingly on the first Ranger.
Who smiled at him with a quick, startling warmth
that reminded the watching Gondorim of their King. "It
was indeed foolish of me, but then I am often foolish
as you know only too well." to Hirgon. "My companions,
Beomann son of Barliman and Danilos son of Dirhavel.
We have come to guide you on the road to Annuminas."
"I think I could find the way." said a dry voice,
and the Lady Telperien walked through the parting
guardsmen, her silver grey gown glimmering, to face
Gilvagor across the watchfire. She was a tall lady,
taller than most Men, but not this one.
He smiled at her. "Of course you could, Berya, but
I was impatient to see my new sister and needed an
The Lady returned the smile. "Then stop annoying
Aragorn's guardsmen and come see her."
Edhellos followed Telperien and the Rangers back to
the Royal Pavillion, puzzling over Gilvagor's words.
Clearly he was some kin to the King but how could he
be the little Princess' brother?
Certainly they looked enough alike to be brother
and sister, or even father and daughter. Entering the
nursery wing of the great tent they discovered the
little Princess Silmarien (2) sitting in the middle of
a richly colored Numenorean carpet playing with a
collection of carved and painted animals from the
widely famed toy market of Dale, a present from her
father's Dwarf companion Gimli.
She promptly transfered her intent gaze from the
toys to her visitors. Her eyes were the same deep blue
as the Queen's but in shape and setting and the soft,
slanting brows above them they were identical to her
He knelt on the carpet before her. "Hello, Aredhel,
I am Gilvagor." a hint of mischief entered his voice.
"You are most welcome, sweetheart, we've had to wait a
long time for you."
"Which was her parents' fault - not hers." Lady
Her kinsman grinned up at her. "Aragorn's fault you
mean. Arwen would have willingly wed and given us an
heir long ago."
"Gil," that was the un-Dunedain Ranger, "if
Strider's your double first cousin, as we Breelanders
reckon it, how can his daughter be your sister?"
"Because he is my foster father as well as my
cousin." Gilvagor explained. And Edhellos suddenly
realized who he must be.
Before the Council of Gondor had let their newly
returned King march off to almost certain death at the
Black Gate they had taken care to establish he had an
heir; a near cousin, the son of Elessar's father's
brother and of his mother's sister, and his own
adopted son. The name of this prince, formally
proclaimed heir at Elessar's coronation, was
Elemmacar, which in the High Tongue had the same
meaning as Gilvagor, 'Swordsman of the Star'. His
unexpected likeness to Anarion was a potent, and oddly
reassuring reminder, that the Isildurioni were
descended from the Kings of Gondor as well as of
It took the long train of riders, horse litters,
and sumpter wagons a full three days to get from
Tarkilion to the first gate. As long as it took
Beomann to cover the distance on foot these days. Of
course his own folk had been just as slow, but he
hadn't expect anything else from them. But, rather
unfairly, he kept expecting people who looked like
Rangers to act like them too - and the Gondorim
Not only did they crawl along at a slow walk but
they started quite late in the mornings, took a long
break at midday, and then insisted on stopping to set
up camp, a prolonged process, hours before dark.
Beomann was begining to wonder if the King might not
beat them back to Annuminas for all he was going the
long way round through the Shire.
It was but three in the afternoon when they reached
the first gate, at the edge of the Evendim Hills, but
not even Beomann thought they should press on. They'd
never make the first wayhouse before dark - and not
even Rangers travelled by night in the Evendim Hills,
not even on the Road.
Those who weren't busy setting up camp, the ladies
in waiting, Guards officers, craftmen's children and
the like, slowly gathered in front of the closed gate.
Staring up at the gigantic arch of black marble, set
in a cleft between two hills, with the phases of the
moon inlaid in pearl above great marble doors
decorated with stars of adamant. Judging by the tone
of their murmurs the Gondorim had never seen anything
quite like them before.
Recognizing the two officers who had nearly
skewered Gil Beomann sauntered closer. "The west gates
were made for Elendil by the Dwarves of Belegost." he
offered. They turned to stare and he continued; "This
is the Gate of Night, there are two others, the Gate
of Twilight and the Gate of Sunset."
"They look ominous." the younger of the two said,
after a moment.
"Don't they just." Beomann agreed ruefully. "And
you should see the Gate of Winter on the other side -
every bit as bad if not worse. Sometimes I think
Elendil just didn't want company."
Both Gondor Men blinked at him, as if slightly
shocked, though Beomann couldn't think why.(3)
"Er..you're not Dunedain are you?" the elder asked
Beomann shook his head. "No. I'm a sheep." more
blank looks. "Sorry, that's a joke. Not a very good
one. Seriously I'm what we here in the North call
'Runedain' an Eastern Edain, one who didn't go to
Numenor. My people are descended from the Second
House, the ones who didn't follow Haldad over the
mountains into the lost Westlands, and maybe some who
came back after it sank."
"Oh, I see." the officer said, plainly enlightened.
"We weren't too friendly to Elendil at first, not
like the folk in the Midlands and the Down country."
Beomann continued chattily. "Made a lot of trouble for
him when he was building the Greenway - the
North-South road that is. But he won us over in the
end and we've been King's folk ever since."
"Ah." then the elder officer blinked. "But wait,
you say you are descended from the Forest folk who
preyed on the timber cutters out of the shipyards of
"That's us." Beomann agreed cheerfully. "You
Numenoreans surely did give us plenty of reason to
dislike you in those days. All thousands of years ago
now of course, nobody can hold a grudge that long."
The two Gondor Men exchanged looks. "I have heard of
some who can." said the elder.
1. Telperien is the Quenya name of Aragorn's cousin
and foster sister Beruthiel. See 'The Last Homely
House' and 'Rangers of the North' by this author,
2. 'Silmarien' is Aragorn and Arwen's daughter's
Quenya name, under which she is formally known in
Gondor. 'Aredhel' is her Sindarin name, used by her
parents and other kin.
3. Gondorim don't make jokes about the revered
ancestors. That's part of their problem....
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