21. Raising the Standard
Opening the door, I stick my head in and in my stern commander’s voice say, "Up with you now. Muster in five." Groans and mumbled curses answer me.
The next cabin is much the same, same as it always has been. Even on a day such as this, soldiers awake as they always have and I suppose always will.
By the time I reach the last cabin, the men in it are already awake and the men from the first are up and about. The camp quickly settles into the morning routine as it always has, taking no heed of our guests. Within minutes, the company is milling about awaiting my command to form up for the raising at sunrise.
Looking at the eastern sky, I judge the time to be right and give the command. "Assemble for the raising of the flag." With little fuss or noise, the company is standing in neatly spaced rows exactly in front of our flagpole.
I notice a movement in the corner of my eye. Turning, I see him step out of his cabin. He seems taller now, though I have known him since I was a lad. He was the perfect Ranger then, the one we all tried to be; he looks the perfect King now, though you can never completely wash the Ranger out of a man.
I try not to stare, but she is so beautiful, my eyes linger for as long as I dare as the Queen moves join him. Even in trousers, boots and an old gray Ranger sweater, with the sleeves rolled up, as it is several sizes too large, she is a jewel.
As soon as the Queen is at his side, the King strides over and takes a place alongside me. The Queen stands by my other side. Bracketed by royalty, I feel nervous as a schoolboy standing to read a difficult piece. The feeling passes in a moment as the first blazing gold of the Sun breaks the horizon and routine takes over.
"Attention!" I bark, and the company, including King and Queen, stand erect facing the pole.
"Hoist the colors." I command. The trumpeter sounds the royal fanfare, the flagman hauls on the rope and the King’s Standard goes up the pole at our little Ranger camp for the first time.
I am not ready for the tingled chill that sweeps over me. Tears come to my eyes as I see the Standard of Elendil unfurl in the morning breeze. It is hard to believe than an old Ranger can be moved to tears by something so simple, but this is what we fought for all my life, all my father’s life and his fathers before him. This is why there are so many good Rangers buried in hidden graves across Eriador. It is more than a piece of cloth. Our King is more than a man with a jewel on his brow. He and our flag say that we, The Faithful, have triumphed in the end, we own this land, we govern ourselves and we will pass our way of life on to our sons and daughters.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.