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Rangers of the North: 14. A Family Party

Cemendur opened his eyes. He must have been asleep
for some hours as the guest chamber was quite dark
though a soft bluish-silver light, like moonlight,
welled through the lower panes of the window
embrasure. Looking out he saw no moon but the trees
far below sparkled with points of silver-blue light
illuminating the garth and rivalling the stars just
emerging in the grey twilight skies.

Even more startling however was the homely golden
light of candle and lamp shining from the windows in
the cliff faces overlooking the garth. Cemendur had
assumed the city of the Eagles was empty, abandoned
like Fornost and the lesser towns they had passed on
their journey. Once again he'd been wrong.

The door behind him opened. "How long have I been
asleep, Rumil?"

"Nigh on five hours, m'Lord." his Man replied,
setting a tray with gently steaming basin and ewer on
the table.

"As long as that?" Cemendur walked towards him,
unbuttoning his tunic.

"It *was* a hard ride, m'Lord. And you're not as
young as you were." Rumil offered, taking the garment
from his master.

There was an understatement for you. At one hundred
and three Cemendur was accustomed to thinking of
himself as very old. It had been a shock to discover
Dunedain here in the North ordinarily passed their
hundreth year in full vigor, living twice as long as
lesser Men, and and fifty or more years longer than
their Southern kin.

Cemendur dried his face and hands and turned to
inspect the clothes Rumil had laid out on the bed. "I
take it I am expected somewhere?"

"In my Lady's solar for a late supper, m'Lord."
***

The outer wall of the Lady Beruthiel's solar was a
curved arcade of sleander white colums, their capitals
carved in the form of eagles, opening onto a hanging
terrace paved with colored marbles. The lady was
sitting out under the stars talking to two shadowy Men
Cemendur took to be her sons. Her head turned as he
entered and she rose and came into the lamplit room to
welcome him.

The Lady Beruthiel was the tallest Woman Cemendur
had ever seen, at least a handspan taller than himself
(1), robed in azure and silver with her black hair
coiled into a silver net held in place by a thin
fillet with a tiny adamant star upon her brow. Like
her brother, the Lord Belecthor, she resembled the
statues of the ancient Kings and Queens to an almost
alarming degree with her fine, high boned features and
clear grey eyes.

"Welcome to the Keep of Cristhoron, my Lord
Cemendur. I apologize for my sons, they should have
known better than to force a guest to climb all those
stairs."

"But this house of yours is nothing but stairs,
Beruthiel," a voice protested humorously, "your guests
cannot escape them."

"Yet they shouldn't be required to climb from garth
to eyrie upon arrival, especially after a day's ride
over the fells." she returned as lightly, over her
shoulder.

Twins but not Beruthiel's sons, or Mortal Men. Yet
they bore sufficient likeness to their hostess in
coloring and feature for Cemendur not to be altogether
surprised when they were introduced as the sons of
Elrond, Elladan and Elrohir. These family resemblances
were a little unnerving, a sharp reminder that the
Kings of the Kings of Men were more than Man.

Was that the real reason the Council of Gondor had
rejected Isildur's Heirs, Cemendur wondered suddenly,
fear of their strangness? Of the Elven light in their
eyes and semi-divine Maiar strain in their blood? That
same blood had run thin in the line of Anarion long
before it failed. Accustomed to Kings who were no more
than Men had the Councillors been unwilling to accept
one who was something more?

The door behind him opened and the other, Mortal
twins entered still attired in the black and silver
splendor their Elvish uncle had given them garnering
their cousins' full attention.

Elladan, circling the two: "Landroval was right,
very impressive indeed."

Elrohir, also circling widdershins: "I always said
if they'd just comb their hair and wash their faces
they'd be quite presentable."

Beruthiel, eyebrows rising: "Merely presentable?"

Elrohir, over his shoulder: "I have not a mother's
bias."

"Of course getting a Ranger to *wash* is an almost
impossible task." from Elladan.

"Nearly as impossible as distracting certain
Half-Elves from their grooming rituals." Ellenion
riposted easily.

"Fortunately they don't have to sleep any more than
their Elven kin." Ereinion explained to Cemendur. "and
so can spend half the night combing and braiding their
long locks."

"And the other half smoothing scented lotions into
their hands and faces." said Ellenion.(2)

"While Rangers, on the other hand, refuse to spend
even a moment or two on ablutions with plain water."
Elrohir retorted.

"I have gathered the unkempt look of our Northern
kin is quite deliberate," Cemendur observed mildly, "a
form of disguise perhaps?"

"Something like that." Ellenion conceeded. To his
cousins; "We certainly don't want to be taken for
Elven Princes."

"Well you're not like to be taken for anything less
dressed like that." Elladan pointed out.

"Which no doubt is your father's intention." said
the Lady Beruthiel.

"I fear the Lord Elrond may be trying to force Lord
Aragorn's hand." Cemendur admitted ruefully.

Beruthiel made wide, innocent eyes. "Oh no! Our
Uncle would never dream of doing such a thing."

Elladan gave a gentle snort as the Mortal twins
grinned appreciation of their mother's sally. "You'd
think Father would know better than to even try, given
that the Isildurioni are the most stubborn and
contrary of all Mortal Men."

Elrohir nodded emphatically. "To urge a course of
action upon them is the surest way to get them to do
the exact opposit!"

"Not always." said Ereinion.

"Only when certain elder relatives try to push us
into doing things we don't want to." finished his
brother.


The Lady Beruthiel's supper was served on a round
table before a fireplace guarded by gilt-bronze
eagles. Upon chalcedony plates carved in a pattern of
spread and furled wings each feather rendered in
exquisite detail. With goblets of colored glass chased
in mithril and gold and heavy silver tableware
embossed with the Eagle and the Star. However the food
was as plain and substantial as that Cemendur had
eaten at other, lesser holdings.

"You come at an opportune time," the Lady Beruthiel
was saying, "as both Elrond's twins and I have errands
on the other side of the Mountains. We can travel
together."

"A nice little family party." Ellenion agreed,
glanced sidelong at Elladan. "Another mission to
Thranduil?"

His cousin nodded ruefully. "He knows the Woodland
Realm cannot stand alone but it's a constant struggle
against his, and his people's, instinctive dislike of
outsiders."

"He's not objecting to the Ranger watch on Dol
Guldur is he?" Ereinion frowned.

"No. Your Men have worked hard at being accepted
and succeeded. The Dunedain's familiarity with the
Elven tongue and Elven ways has served them well."
Elladan answered. "It's another quarrel with the
Dwarves I'm afraid. Something about them building way
stations along the Forest Road."

Both Men sighed. "The extra-terratoriality question
again." said Ellenion resignedly.

Elrohir drily: "Isn't it always?"

"I don't know how well acquainted you are with the
Northlands, my Lord Cemendur," Lady Beruthiel
explained politely to her guest, "but there is an
ancient Dwarf road across the Mirkwood. It fell into
ruin after the Dragon Smaug destroyed the Kingdom
under the Mountain. However the realm of Erebor was
restored some thirty years ago and the new King had
the road rebuilt and put back into use. And he and
King Thranduil have been arguing about who has
jurisdiction over it ever since." turned to her Elven
kinsmen. "I presume the problem is Dain's new guard
stations?"

Elladan blew out a sigh. "Of course your Rangers
would have known all about it long before Thranduil
did. Why didn't they say something?"

The Lady shrugged. "We were hoping the Elves
wouldn't notice."

"We know how unreasonable the Elder Races can be."
Ellenion put in, eyes glinting.

"I would argue with you if I could," Elrohir said
ruefully, "but I must agree. Neither Elves nor Dwarves
have ever been particularly reasonable about the
other."

"Which is why a delegation of Dalesmen will be
negotiating on behalf of the Dwarves." added Elladan.

Ellenion laughed out loud. "Pity the poor Men!
caught in the middle as usual."

"Spare some sympathy for the poor Half-Elven as
well." said Elladan.

"Oh I do." Ereinion assured him. "I wish you luck.
Cousin, you're going to need it."

"And don't we know it!" Elrohir sighed, turned to
the Lady. "What is your errand over the mountains,
Beruthiel?"

"I want to talk to Grimbeorn about increasing his
patrols."

All four men suddenly looked much more serious.
"Orc trouble?" Ellenion asked.

"Not yet. But their numbers are begining to
increase again." his mother answered. "It's only a
matter of time. We're going to have to keep a close
watch if we're to avoid unpleasant surprises like the
'Front Door'".

Cemendur was unable to follow much of this but one
point caught his attention. "You have dealings with
the Valesmen?" for certainly Gondor had heard no word
of their Northern kin from that quarter.

"We do. But only as Rangers, wanders and hunters of
the Wild." Beruthiel answered. "The Beornings have
secrets of their own. They ask no questions."

"So who does know your secret," he asked, "The
Elves of Rivendell -?"

"And of Lindon, our ancient allies." Ellenion
admitted.

"And the Dwarves of the Blue Mountains and of
Erebor who are also allies from of old." added his
brother.

"So it is just your fellow Men whom you distrust."
Cememdur observed pointedly.

Beruthiel and her sons exchanged looks. "It is not
so simple as that." said the Lady.

"Lindon and Rivendell are guarded realms, guarded
by powers that know the Dark Lord and reject him
utterly." Ellenion explained.

"The Dwarves also keep to themselves, and while
many know the Rangers only their princes know that our
Chief is Isildur's Heir." added his brother.

"The continued existence of Isildur's Line is a
closely guarded secret." Elladan assured Cemendur.
"Not shared even with all of the Wise."

"But the remaining Noldor do not forget that the
blood of their Kings runs in the veins of the
Isildurioni." Elrohir continued quietly. "And the
Sindar will risk much for Luthien's Children, in
memory of her whom they loved."

"And Dwarves always pay their debts." said
Ereinion.

"And Men?" Cemendur prompted.

"Men change." said Beruthiel flatly. "It is their
nature, the nature of Middle Earth. Old loyalties fade
and are forgotten. It has been more than a dozen lives
of ordinary Men, since there was a King in the North.
We are become the stuff of childrens' tales."

"Gondor remembers." Cemendur objected.

"Gondor rejected Isildur's Heirs, not once but many
times." Elladan answered, with an edge to his voice.
"Can you blame them if they now take you at your
word?"

"Elladan!" Beruthiel said sharply. Turned to
Cemendur. "We do not forget our duty to our people or
our kin. That is why Aragorn went to Gondor in the
first place. We work in secret but we do what we can."

*And have learned to expect nothing in return.* the
Councillor thought bleakly. *Not even gratitude.*
**********************************************

1. Cemendur is just over six feet, normal male height
for Southern Dunedain, but Beruthiel is 'man-high',
six foot four, just a hair shorter than her sons.

2. This is not entirely a joke. Elladan and Elrohir,
and other Elves, do use lotions to protect their skin
from weathering when convenient. How else can Legolas
keep that porcelin complexion? :D


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In Playlists

Playlist Overview

Last Update: 02 Mar 14
Stories: 10
Type: Reader List
Created By: AngelQueen


Stories that go into the details of the politics behind many of the events of the various Ages.

Why This Story?

An outstanding look at the tangled web of the Third Age's politics - why Gondor rejected Isildur's heirs for a millennium, the loyalties of the Stewards, the fate of the Isildurioni in the North, Elrond's views, etc. Morwen Tindomerel's legendarium is perhaps my favorite AU of all. Brilliant.

 

Story Information

Author: Morwen Tindomerel

Status: Beta

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - The Stewards

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 06/05/04

Original Post: 03/22/03

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Many Guises and Many Names: An on-going collection of stories that feature Aragorn in another guise (primarily but not exclusively as "Thorongil") as well as stories that include significant reflection or recognition. (C) means the story is connected to others an author has written; (SA) just means stand-alone.