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The Heirs of Haeron

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Grim and dark had grown the days for those who dwelt nigh the Misty Mountains in the waning years of the Third Age as the hand of the Dark Lord spread ever closer to the lands of the free peoples. In a region called the Angle, where most of the remaining Dúnedain families sought refuge from the growing threat, the man who led the Rangers of the North prepared to return to his watchpost nigh the Great East Road. "I must depart soon," said Halbarad to his wife, "for the evil of Mordor rests not, and my brothers are in need of me." After that he turned his gaze to the north and added, "Not since the days of Arassuil did those vile creatures dare to reach so far into our lands."

As he concluded his last remark, he heard noises coming from the nearby woods and stepped out of his tent to have a look; and at that moment, out of the trees to the north, he saw four rangers come forth and walk with haste towards the encampment. As they came nigh the edge of the settlement, the man at the front stopped to give instructions to the rest and thereupon continued alone towards Halbarad. “I bring important tidings,” he said as he came close.

"What is it Maegorn?" said Halbarad.

"I have learned," replied the ranger, "that our Lord Aragorn has returned from his long journey to the South."

"Aragorn!" cried out Halbarad unable to hide his excitement. "Which way has he taken?"

“It appears,” said Maegorn, “that he travelled north along the eastern edge of the Misty Mountains, then crossed into Eriador through the High Pass, whence he set course for Imladris. I was told further that he was preparing to leave the House of Elrond shortly and should be arriving here within a few days.”

"A joyous message this is, indeed,” said Halbarad, “I shall postpone my departure and await my kinsman."

A few days later, after nearly three and twenty years away, the Chieftain of the Dúnedain was come again amongst his people. Upon arriving he went to Halbarad’s tent, and after greeting him warmly, turned to serious matters. “Tell me about our situation,” he said.

“It is well that you have arrived in this hour,” said Halbarad, “for the orcs are becoming bolder and there is talk of a sinister alliance between the Dark Lord and the Nameless Terror that the Dwarves awakened in Moria.”

"Tell me not of The Enemy's designs, Halbarad,” said Aragorn, “for I have not been idle and know them well."

“Forgive me; I forgot whence it is you come,” said the ranger. “Much must you have learned of Sauron’s plans in Imladris.”

“Not only in Imladris,” replied Aragorn, “but also in Lórien and in the White City far to the south. For his malice touches all of our allies, and he seeks to bring dread and despair upon each of them ere he unleashes his full might upon the strongholds of the West.”

"Come," said Halbarad. "I will show you the distribution our men." And with that they went inside a tent to have a look at the map.

Later on that evening, as Maegorn walked back towards his family’s abode, he came upon a tall elf who had just stepped out of Aragorn’s tent and stopped to have a word with him. At the end of their brief conversation, the ranger continued on his way and was soon joined by a boy who had been waiting for him a few feet away. “Who is that, father?” asked the boy.

“That is one of whom I have spoken to you on many occasions, Aldanur,” said Maegorn. “He is the elf-lord Glorfindel, who journeyed with our Lord Aragorn hither from Imladris.”

The boy at once turned his head and gazed in awe at the golden-haired elf whose eyes seemed to shine from within with the light of a thousand stars. He had seen elves before, but none such as the one who stood a few paces from him, around whom so many great tales of might and valour were woven. But of all the accounts that told of Glorfindel, one had stood out ever in the boy’s mind for the majesty and grandeur of its settings; and he found it hard to believe that he looked now upon an elf who had stood against the great horror that issued from Angband in long ages past to bring forth the ruin of Gondolin.

On the third day after the return of Aragorn, young Aldanur was sitting near the edge of the River Bruinen preparing a rabbit trap when he heard noises coming from the opposite shore. He lifted his head to look for the cause of the tumult and in that instant witnessed with dismay the sudden appearance of a large force of orcs on the east bank of the river. Without delay, he picked up his things and rose to his feet to go alert the others of the presence of the ghastly host, but he would soon find that there was no need. For the rangers had been expecting the creatures, and before the boy had taken a step, a hail of arrows came down on the orcs from all directions causing them to break ranks and flee back east.

With nightfall fast approaching, Aldanur decided to begin to make his way back to the encampment. As he approached the tail end of the eastern forest, he heard the voices of several men coming from a clearing a few yards ahead and decided to hide behind the bushes and listen in. He soon realised that the voices belonged to his father, Halbarad and a few other rangers, who were having a discussion about the events that had taken place earlier.

"... for this attack was no coincidence,” said Maegorn; “Sauron’s lieutenants must have received word that the Chieftain of the Dúnedain has returned."

“Aye,” said Halbarad, “this move was not planned, but made in haste. It is likely that an orc captain sought to take advantage of the opportunity to gain favor with his master by slaying our chieftain, for it is said that it is our leader whom the Dark Lord appears to fear most.”

“That may account for the timing of the attack,” said one of the other rangers, “but it explains not how they discovered our location.”

“Many spies are there in the service of the Dark Lord,” replied Halbarad, “and despite our measures, a settlement of this size is hard to keep hidden for long. Indeed, I believe it is quite possible that they have known of our location for some time and decided to move now because of Aragorn’s presence here.”

“We cannot stay here,” said another ranger. “Even if they can in time discover our new location, this place is at this moment too dangerous for our families. We must make haste and relocate further south.”

“I disagree not,” said Maegorn, “yet I would counsel against any move until it is certain that the orcs have gone away and can pose no threat to us while we relocate.”

“Indeed,” said Halbarad. “We need to make sure that they have left the area ere we come to any decision.” Then he turned to face Maegorn and said, “I need you to take a few men and go find out how far the creatures have gone.”

When Maegorn returned to his tent he went to his wife and sat down next to her, and the expression on his face was grave. “I must speak to you now,” he said taking her hands, “for a dark foreboding is in my heart. I leave soon to track a band of orcs that lurks east of the river; should I not return, ever you must remember that at the bottom of the large chest lies a small box of fine carved wood. It is of crucial import that you keep it safe and pass it on to Aldanur when his sixteenth winter has come.”

As Maegorn walked out of his tent, Aldanur came running towards him and grabbed hold of his cloak. “Do not go, I beg of you,” said the boy with great distress, for he also seemed to sense that the decision to follow the orcs had come in an evil hour.

Maegorn crouched down and put his hands on the boy’s shoulders. "Son, great strength is required of you now,” he said, “for you are the heir of Haeron, and one day it will be your charge to uphold the sacred vow made by our forefather long ago."

Many days passed and no word of Maegorn’s party came back to those at the camp. It had been more than a fortnight since their departure, and hope had all but vanished in the hearts of the families of those who had gone to search for the orcs. Young Aldanur was sitting alone with his head down near the edge of the forest when Glorfindel came to him. "You mourn for your father," said the elf.

The boy did not look up, but nodded his head a few times.

The elf-lord then sat down next to the son of the ranger. “I know not what the doom of Man is,” he said; “yet this I can say to you, for alone of the elves of Middle-earth I have seen the Timeless Halls, death in this world is not an everlasting parting.”

Aldanur did not find Glorfindel’s words reassuring. “But you speak of the doom of the elves, not men,” he said without lifting his head.

The elf assented with a slight nod. “Different are our paths, indeed,” he said, “and yet not so unalike may be our fëas.” At that moment Aldanur lifted his gaze, and Glorfindel could see that the boy was doubtful of his remark. “These are not idle words to offer comfort,” continued the elf, “nor are they uttered without reason. For I, by the grace of the Valar, was returned to the Blessed Realm and can say to you that one walks now with the elves in Aman who was once counted amongst the Edain of old.”

Aldanur’s eyes were open wide as he looked up at Glorfindel. “A man lives in the Undying Lands?” he said with astonishment.

“One I love like a brother,” replied the elf. “Tuor son of Huor is his name. And if he could follow the path of the Firstborn, then it seems we are not so different after all.”

"Do you think,” asked the boy, “that I will see my father again after I die?”

“That I cannot say,” replied Glorfindel.

Several days later, as he ran an errand for his mother, Aldanur heard that Aragorn and his companion were about to depart for Imladris and at once began to run towards the northern edge of the encampment to look one last time upon the great elf-lord. When he arrived he found the elf and the chieftain having a few last parting words with Halbarad and stopped several yards from them. After a moment Glorfindel noticed the presence of the boy and walked towards him. “I go now my young friend,” said the elf, “but we shall meet again in this world ere I depart these shores. Farewell.”