14. Become What You Are
Summary: Rangering is sometimes the art of "positing your own presuppositions..."
The green-cloaked men sit half-slumped at their table, and when Nella brings their supper, one squints at her from the depths of his hood out of a blackened eye. Taken aback, her gaze lands on the hands of the other – swollen, scraped knuckles, sure sign of a fistfight, and her nose wrinkles at the scent of alcohol. Frowning, she slides a plate before each, but refuses their ale order.
"You've had enough, and Barley won't have trouble in his house," she informs them. Shaking her head, she departs. "Disgraceful!"
One of the cloaked men sighs. "And I needed that drink," Halbarad says mournfully.
"I told you that these - " Aragorn raises a battered hand by way of illustration " - could wait 'til the Pony. You need not have poured half the flask on them immediately."
"Orc's teeth will fester any wound," his lieutenant counters.
"Give your foes less to grin about, and I shan't risk such."
"He was grinning in anticipation of you; I saved your skin!" Halbarad protests.
"With your face, yes – a very sound tactic, cousin." Halbarad narrows his (good) eye, contemplating his revenge, when his tablemate's foot nudges his.
"No trouble under Barliman's roof," his Chieftain says sternly. Then: "Tomorrow – in the yard. Win, and I'll buy your beer."
"How many rounds?"
"How many were you thinking?"
Halbarad gives a scornful harrumph. "Enough to earn our reputation of tonight, of course!"
Aragorn considers. Late October, with the cold coming on, and the last of a band of tenacious orcs dealt with...
Everyone needs relief, he knows, and sometimes... sometimes one needs to coincide with the mask for a little while. So:
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.