The Ranger And The Shieldmaiden


Chapter 008




Chapter 8

Searching the depths of Mordor was something few men could do. How it came that he, Hanasian of the Dunedain of the North, found himself searching and breaking the foundations of Barad Dur he did not know. Yet there he was. Sauron was truly gone, and there were many who were trapped in bondage in the depths. Hanasian freed them, but to what their broken minds would find in this sudden change of fate he could not guess. But the signs were too clear, even if vague. There was nothing more he could do here now. He gave the order for all to gather for the night, and after they had another uneasy rest in the fumes of Mordor, they started their long road back toward Gondor as soon as it was light.

When Hanasian and his party arrived at Cormallen fields, they were tired. Hanasian sought out the Dunedain camp and was ready for a long sleep. But it seemed as soon as he was asleep, a summons came from Chieftain Aragorn. Hanasian arose and nodded.

Mecarnil who was also there, said after the messenger left, ”I was glad to only go up to the Morgul Vale and to Minas Morgul, for it spared me from going into Mordor, and to what is left of Barad Dur. But you have only arrived and a summons comes from our ‘Chieftain’. “

Hanasian stood and stretched and said offhandedly, ”He likely wants a report on what we found in Mordor.”

Macarnll chuckled slightly before saying, ”You know that most have been referring to our Chieftain as King for some few days now. I’m sure it’s just a formality and all, and he is our Chieftain until such time he declares himself as King in Minas Tirith and Steward Imrahil, or if he lives still, Steward Faramir receives him. But I don’t think he has used the title of Chieftain officially amongst us since he declared himself to the Dead."

Hanasian shrugged as he prepared to leave the tent, "I don’t pay much mind to such matters. Be Aragorn summon me as Chieftain or King, as he is indeed both, I will go, even if I am sleeping while I walk.”

Macarnil nodded and waved Hanasian off. He was going to gain some sleep himself.

Hanasian found Aragorn standing outside his tent alone in thought. He quickly waved Hanasian inside. Hanasian gave a detailed report on what they found in Mordor, and also what he didn’t find. It seened to distress Aragorn, but not surprise him. After they talked at length, Aragorn grew silent for a time but he did not give Hanasian leave.

He said quietly, My friend, It is sad that we have not had the time serving together in the north since you became a Ranger, but Halbarad had only praise of you and all the young Dunedain.”

“Halbarad is deeply missed. I learned much from him, and from my first commander Elendur,”
Hanasian replied.

Aragorn nodded sadly before he went on, ”With the war over and evil abated, I am giving all my Dunedain brethren the option to return home and find a life that has been unknown since the days of Arnor. What are your plans Hanasian?”

Hanasian swallowed at that, "I have not thought much about it. I may go see my mother and sister for a while. Other than that, I have no plans.

Aragorn looked long and hard at Hanasian before he asked, Would you consider continuing to serve the Chieftain?”

Hanasian cleared his throat as he looked hard at Aragorn, and reading his face, he said, ”Whatever the Chieftain may need of me, I am at his service.”

“Yes. You perceive my thoughts clearly,”
Aragorn said quietly. "There will be needs of the kingdom that the King will not be able to request. Still, there will be needs. Though the long fight against the Dark Lord has come to a successful end, if only all evil would have dissipated as well. But there is still much to do. For the most part, there will be peace, yet there will be many a warlord that will rise from the ashes of Mordor’s defeat in Rhun, Harad, and Khand. We also know that the elf Naiore Dannan had some part in this war, and we have no clue where she may be now. With this ageless meddler still on the loose, who can say what ill may come.”

There was silence for some time before Aragorn went on, :There will be peace, and the kingdom will be ordered, but we will have to be vigilant.”

 Hanasian said, "I think I understand. M’Lord, did you know my father?”

Aragorn looked away with a pained face before nodding. Hanasian then asked, ”Is he why you ask me to do this task?”

Aragorn walked about a few steps before answering. He said, "Were your father here now, he would most gladly take on this role. Yet if he were here I could not trust him with this. His restraint was at times lacking. I think you know this since you served under Elendur. It is because I trust your judgement and ability to handle this. I believe you have the right amount of restraint, but also will be a good leader of men. As your Chieftain and friend, I ask you if you are willing to do this. If not, then I will ask another.”

“As I said, I will do what my friend, Chieftain, and King ask of me. I will do this willingly,” Hanasian said standing tall. Already his mind was working on how to organise this.

Aragorn nodded and said, ”I am relieved to hear you say that. We will talk further before we ride to Minas Tirith.”

Hanasian gave a nod and turned to leave. He stepped out into the sun and headed back to the Dunedain camp.

For the next several days Hanasian kept for the most part to himself. He wrote a lot and considered many ways to fulfil what Aragorn had set before him. He talked with most of the Dunedain to find out how they were doing and what they planned to do now that the great victory had been won. Most had little thought other than to relax and enjoy the days without war and battle. But Hanasian marked the ones that had a look in their eye. They, like he, would have trouble in a world of ignorant peace. His thoughts considered the other veterans of the war. There would be those from Gondor, Rohan, and Dale. Hanasian will not have to actively seek them out, but he would keep his eyes open to all possible people that would give his pending company what it would need. Hanasian also would have to be very careful who he chose

When the time came for Aragorn to go to Minas Tirith, Hanasian already had worked out the framework. Making full use of the free hand he was given to work with, he had already had a cadre of soldiers that would likely make the basis of his company. As they travelled back to Minas Tirith, Hanasian talked long with many of the Gondorians. The Ithilien Rangers and the hardy men from the southern provinces which saw the Grey Company ride forth with the Dead would most likely be open to what he would have to say. Many of them would join, they just didn’t know it yet. Hanasian considered many of the men of Minas Tirith, but realised they would be less keen to join, for they would want to remain in royal service. But there were so many with that long stare. Hanasian would have to further consider those whom he had considered in his head after they got to Minas Tirith and things settled. Right now, it would be a time of celebrations and laughter, but his tracking of Naiore Dannan had already started.

Darhias was both excited and nervous about arriving in Minas Tirith. Would he find Vorda well, and will his friend Berendil be tending to a recovering Freja? He was also thinking about being able to walk again without aid. He was sure he was well on his way of doing so, but he would always have a stagger in his step for the rest of his days. When Hanasian asked him what he would do now, that was about all he thought of. Any thought of walking free again in the rugged forests of Rhuadur was only a distant consideration to him. Maybe one day, but right now, they were approaching the White city.

The excitement of Aragorn’s arrival was awe inspiring. The people of Gondor had for so long only known war for so many years, the prospects of peace caused the joy to spill out in floods. The bards sang and the minstrels played and the people danced with joy! A fair stock of ale was tapped and everyone who marched into the city that day were treated as conquering heroes. Darhias found a place inside the crowded White Swan Inn and were treated to the finest ale and buttered bread they had tasted. Never mind it was siege stock. They were just glad to have it. It wasn’t long though before Darhias wondered where Berendil was. He would be up in the House of Healing with Freja. That would be where Vorda would be too. Downing his ale, he gave a nod to his brethren and started to make his way out. It would be a long walk up to the Healing House.