Politics of Arda
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Rangers of the North: 24. Consequences
"I will make no claim on Gondor." Aragorn told his nephews bluntly.
The two young Men looked unsurprised. "We thought that would be your decision." said Ereinion.
Beruthiel's sons had been lodged in one of the guesthouses built against the Citadel's curtain wall. The three Men were sitting in a round tower chamber, with windows looking east over the city to the Mountains of Shadow.
"You understand what this means for our people?" Aragorn demanded, almost harshly.
Ellenion nodded calmly. "To remain in hiding and gradually dwindle into the simple hunter folk we pretend to be."
"Better that then falling to a new Witch War and taking our country folk and the Men of Rhudaur with us." said Ereinion. Added gently; "Never fear, Uncle, our people will accept your decision."
"I don't think any of us has truly believed Arnor would be restored for a long time now." Ellenion said quietly.
"The world has changed." Aragorn agreed. "Men have changed. The time of the Kings, and of the Dunedain has passed."
A moments silence then Ellenion said drily: "I am glad it is you not we who will have to explain that to Elrond."
Aragorn's mouth quirked ruefully. "I am not looking forward to that conversation." he admitted. Turned the subject. "What news of the North?"
Ereinion shrugged. "We lose ground. Slowly but surely we are being driven back."
"As ever, since the last Flood Year." Ellenion added quietly as Aragorn's face tightened. "I doubt your presence would have made much difference, Uncle."
Aragorn nodded weary agreement. "What could I have done that our grandmother and Uncle Armegil did not? Angmar still grows?"
Ereinion nodded. "Raiding bands of Hill Men have struck as far south as the Lone Lands. Uncle fears we will soon have to pull back the Line yet again."
"And Orcs are multiplying again in the Mountains." said Ellenion. "Mother crossed with us to talk to Grimbeorn about increasing his patrols."
Aragorn nodded again, then frowned. "Beruthiel? What of your father?"
The two young Men exchanged a glance, it was Ereinion who answered; "Our father is dead, Uncle. Thirteen years now."
Aragorn's eyes closed in pain. "Anybody else?" he asked tightly.
Another look passed between the twins. "No other family." said Ellenion, hesitated. "Bregolas, Diriel and Ondohir have also fallen, (1) and Borthand died six years ago. Borondir leads the Men of Rhudaur now."
"Time I went home, and past time." Aragorn said grimly. "I have done almost all I came here to do." grimaced slightly. "Certainly I cannot stay now that I am known." *** Ecthelion found Cemendur standing in the embrassure at the tip of the great stone pier that bisected the city, looke eastward to the lowering Mountains of Shadow. "The Lord Aragorn has refused to press his claim." he told him. "He will not risk civil war in Gondor."
"I feared that would be his answer." the Councillor sighed. "It is true the danger is very great, not only of a new Kinstrife but of assault from the Dark Land." turned to look Ecthelion in the eye. "Yet it is also true that Gondor declines, and will continue to fail until she returns to her true allegiance."
"I know." the Steward agreed softly. "But the King is right, now is not the time. Someday perhaps..."
"A day you and I will not live to see."
"No. Nor my son either I fear."
Cemendur looked at his master and friend thoughtfully, he knew Denethor's temper as well as Ecthelion did. "The Dunedain of the North are long lived," he offered. "the Line of Isildur especially so. Our King will outlive us all. Perhaps in young Boromir's time -"
"If there is still a Gondor for my grandson to rule when his time comes it will be due in no small part to Thorongil - to the King." Ecthelion broke in bitterly. "He has given us much, and it seems there is nothing at all we may give him in return!"
Cemendur, remembering the Northern Rangers' long labor in defense of unknowing, ungrateful Men - including the Gondorim - could find nothing to say.
Then Ecthelion's expression changed. "No." he said softly. "There is one thing." **********************
1. These are of course not the only Ranger casualties of the last twenty years, just those who were personal friends of Aragorn.
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