TA 2979, Pelennor fields
The watch of Osgiliath had acclaimed the victors of Harad in torchlight. Haloed with the graces of victory, the heroes were proudly marching along the ancient paved avenue, towards the dark blue mass of mighty Mindolluin.
The awaking Pelennor greeted the return of his sons, with a thousand conniving rumors. A stream tinkled a clear tune in the gorse. A cow demanded her morning milking. A gardener cartage, loaded with fragrant fresh fruit, grinded on the pavement when the rooster crows. These familiar voices of their motherland reminded the victorious warriors about the stake of their strains and the value of their losses.
Suddenly a flame lit at the top of Mount Mindolluin- the venerable snowy peak was kindled with the first light of dawn, the reborn sun launched over the bleak summits of Ephel Duath.
An old sergeant, veteran of the Ithilien skirmishes, sang the anthem of the guard, soon to be imitated by all the company:
- A remmais erchail 'lain! A tirith beraid beleg! A galad erin Celeborn !
The joyful pride of the men relegated the noxious threat of Mordor, beyond the dark slopes of the Shadows Mountains. Today was a day of celebration. The rangers company of Poros had won a great victory in the southern marches of Ithilien. The Steward had recalled them for a triumph and a deserved rest.
Wealthy Anorien valleys awoke, bathed in radiant hope. At the foot of the flowering fruit trees, wheat tender green and alfalfa silver were rippling under the caress of a spring breeze.
At last the White City appeared, pegged to the monumental rocky rostrum dominated by the majestic citadel of the Stewards. The unfurled banners flapped in the strong morning breeze.
The horns greeted the first hour of the day from the top of the guard tower, as the company of rangers was ordering in tight ranks in front of the high door.
A crowd of townspeople and Pelennor farmers had gathered in the square, to watch the review of the victorious troops. This people, who lived under the everlasting and menacing shadow of Mordor, relished these moments of hope with dignity, and solemnly communed in this respite stolen to fear.
A squad of the citadel guards crossed the high door, while the stars of Elendil were glittering on their black livery. Their gleaming winged helmets lined up on either sides of the gate of Minas Tirith.
Surrounded by his entourage, a solemn character came forward, dressed in the purple tunic of the loremasters. But iron mails could be seen under the surcoat and a large sword hung at his side. Ecthelion, the ruling Steward had appointed his heir , to honor the victorious companies.
Denethor darted his sharp eyes on the soldiers, whose burnished chainmails and oiled leathers gleamed in the sun. Under the silver standards, the tribune exalted the Dúnedain’s vigilance in the legitimate war they led against the savagery of Mordor and duplicity of its Harad allies. The noble aquiline profile of the orator came to life to speak of honor, value, boldness.
- Remember thoroughly this moment of glory! Engrave brotherhood and hope in your hearts. Cherish this moment, for the time will come soon, where memory must feed our self-sacrifice and renew our courage! Glory to the company of Poros!
While the crowd was cheering, the girls covered the heroes with flowers, and the ranks broke up as the men were joining their families.
Denethor summoned the officers and forestalled, accompanied by his wife and an old man. He uttered the usual compliments and captains renewed before him, the solemn oath of fidelity to Gondor. The son of the steward looked at them sharply, his inquisitive look probing the souls of these men of war.
Satisfied with his inspection, he finally released his scrutiny. As the captains saluted and dispersed, Denethor called the tallest, who had discreetly remained in second place:
- Captain Thorongil! It is time to report to your lord!
The officer forestalled slowly and pulled the ocher scarf that concealed part of his gaunt face, releasing his jet-black hair. Thorongil’s gray steel look gazed in the eye of Denethor:
- My Lord, we had to take the offensive before the enemy forces could join. That is why I thought we would override...
But Denethor interrupted him dryly:
- You will answer for this insubordination and the foolish risks you had this company take!
Finduilas put her hand on the arm of her husband, who was quivering with indignation. Although she had recently born a child, the lady moved with grace, and she stepped between the two men who were facing each other:
- Come on, my friend! The gate square in the breeze of a celebration day, is neither the place nor the time for a council of war! It has been a long time I wanted to meet this gallant man, your father the Steward, praises so fervently! And our host king Thengel is eager to greet him!
Denethor bowed to his wife. He was about to grudgingly make the introductions, when Thengel forestalled and hugged Thorongil!
Seeing his host’s surprise, the old king laughed:
- I could not wait to see this guy, a splendid rider with whom I had been hunting orcs many years ago! That was he who, at the head of an eored, saved us from disaster in our campaign in Westmarch!
Denethor had to swallow his pride. Everything seemed to conspire to increase Thorongil’s favour at the expense of his own authority. Although he knew that his wife had been right to shorten the confrontation, he could not help himself from blaming her standing up for the foreigner...
The ranger followed the old man who was returning to the citadel, while they were chatting like two old brothers in arms.
- Time and battles seem to take no toll on you, Thorongil! Indeed I knew you Dunedain were long-lived, but I did not know your northern lines were so strong.
Denethor, full of resentment for his flouted authority, put a strange look on the ranger: so indeed he was a Dunadan, as he already suspected, but furthermore from a high northern lineage...
In Thorongil’s wargear, a small star attracted the loremaster’s attention: a silver brooch, holding his coat on the shoulder, a beautiful silversmith work of yore, in Fornost Erain... and very much alike the brooch of Isildur’s statue in Rath Dinen...
An unbearable foreboding crossed Denethor’s subtle mind. Who indeed was Thorongil and what dark designs did his anonymity hide ?
Denethor would have to find out for sure. The loremaster had many sources at his disposal. If he dared, the seeing stone could reveal what he needed to know...
1- O proud white walls ! O powerfull watch towers ! O light on the silver tree !
2- Fragments of the history of the Ruling Stewards of Gondor
Born in TA 2886, Ecthelion II was the son of Turgon, whom he succeeded in TA 2953. When news of the death of Turgon reached Saruman, the latter declared himself Lord of Isengard and took possession of Orthanc, he strengthened.
Aragorn, son of Arathorn, served Ecthelion, as Thorongil, to hide his true identity. He became one of Ecthelion trusted servants and persuaded the Steward to send him destroy the threat of the Corsairs of Umbar. In TA 2980, corsairs were routed, most of their fleet was destroyed and the harbor master was killed. Thorongil also advised Ecthelion to heed the advices of Gandalf, instead of those of Saruman. However, the great esteem and the many honors Ecthelion bestowed on Thorongil and Gandalf, led the jealousy and anger of Prince Denethor, who felt both threatened and despised.
In TA 2976 Denethor married Finduilas of Dol Amroth, a daughter of Prince Adrahil II. The couple had two sons, Boromir in 2978 and Faramir in 2983. In 2984 TA, Ecthelion died at the age of eighty-eight, and his eldest son Denethor II succeeded him. A few years later, in TA 2988, Finduilas died, leaving Denethor deeply bitter.
3- Fragment of the history of the kings of Rohan
Thengel was born in 2905, the only son of Fengel. In constant disagreement with his father as a teenager, he went to live in Gondor, where he took service in the armies of the Steward. He married Morwen "steelsheen" of Lossarnach. On the death of his father in 2953, Thengel returned reluctantly to Rohan and became the sixth king. Morwen bore him five children, the second being his only son, Théoden, in 2948. His youngest daughter Théodwyn was the mother of Eomer and Eowyn. Thengel learned Sindarin in Gondor, and this language was that of his home, with the westron. After 27 years of rule, he disappeared in 2980 and his son Théoden succeeded him as the seventeenth king of Rohan.