Recollections of a Dunedain Ranger

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Recollections of a Dunedain Ranger

Postby Halasian » Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:53 am

Year 121 of the Fourth Age of Middle Earth

"I am Gilrénna, daughter if Halcwyn, daughter of Halasían and sister of Hanasían. I have now in my keeping much of the writings of Hanasían, and some of the collected writings of many who lived before his time. I wish now to share some of these writings with people who will never delve into the great halls of knowledge in Annúminas and Minas Tirith. May they learn and know of the events that led up the the great War of the Ring, and to victory and peace in our days.

This account was written by Hanasían, son of Halasían of the House Halvarís, Dúnedain Rangers of the North. The first part was dated 7 Súlimë 3019 of the Third Age of Middle Earth, and was a swiftly scribbled recollection of Hanasían of the night the Grey Company was encamped in Dunharrow for the muster of Rohan. The Dúnedain, along with the Elladan and Elrohir made their camp nearest the ancient road that led east into the Dimholt, for the Rohirrim feared that road and told of dark tales concerning it. The second dated 23 Súlimë 3019 of the Third Age of Middle Earth and tells of his recollection of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. The script used was Tengwar, written in his unique and flowing hand. The conditions in which he wrote was not well suited for ink and parchment, for there are the heavy stain and stretched weakness of the script in many parts. Also signs of his fatigue were plain, an obvious reflection of all of which he had seen and experienced."


Shadows of the Mind - 7 Súlimë 3019 of the Third Age

The night was growing long but I could not sleep without first writing my thoughts, for I felt we sat on the edge of this age where all would either fall into darkness or burst forth unto light. This was the last night of any peace we would have and I wanted it to last. The fires in this great muster of the Rohirrim camp hadburned in a solomn way, each throwing its light and warmth upon men gathered around them. A larger cookfire was burning near the center of the encampment, and all had eaten what they would. I spent much of the night in preparation, for I knew we would ride tomorrow. But I did take some time and walked about.

Passing by a group about a fire, I was waved to sit with some men gathered there and I did so. The elder man of the group sat beside fine armor, and in introduction I learned that his name was Dúnhere, the Lord of Harrowdale. We conversed for a time speaking of Aragorn, friends, and our lands in the north. In due course he spoke of knowing my mother Forcwyn. I asked him how she was for I had not been able to see her with our haste in these dark times being so great. He looked away for a moment, and then turned back to me saying she was well. Meanwhile a soldier outside the ring walked off. I then asked of Halcwyn my twin sister and he looked me in the eye and said,

'I believe she is well. Maybe you wish to ask her husband Éothain?'

I looked to where his eyes turned to, and I noticed a man stand up by another fire not far away where Lord Éomer's men had gathered. The soldier that was summoned by Dúnhere stood with him and they spoke in brief. The man turned his gaze toward us, and soon both started to walk our way.

My mind raced with this news. My sister had married and I heard naught of it? I could not take my eyes from him as he approached. A tall man he was, slightly moreso than most of the Rohirrim. Grim was his demeanor, and as he eyed me I stood.

'You are my wife's brother?'

he asked and I nodded my head.

A moment of awkward silence followed as we sized each other up. I knew not what he may have heard of me from my sister and mother, but surely it was not all good. Both Forcwyn my mother and Halcwyn my sister had opposed my returning to Imladris ere thirteen years past. We were then fifteen, and I thought my learning would be best served by my study under the tutoring of the elves. My mother finally gave in, saying I was my father's son and would do what I thought right. In me she had hoped I would be like my older brother Hayna, or even better, stay close and live and be of the Rohirrim. But of us all, only Halcwyn remained close. Hayna was away south working the quays and ships along the coast of Gondor, and I went and remained in the north.

'I am, Hanasían, son of Halasían and Forcwyn, brother of Hayna and Halcwyn.'

'And I am Éothain of Eastfold. It is a dark hour you finally come, though your kin have been here. I have been your brother-in-law for near 4 years now, and have heard of you only from your mothers lips. Yet I have heard story and rumor of your father from many. I would be lying if I said this was a joyous meet.'

I could not reply, for the harsh words struck me hard. It was nothing though compared to what happened next. A woman, fair and tall, approached us. She took the arm of Éothain and looked at me. I did not know what to say to my sister as she stood before me. She stood there tall and proud, with a cold stare that cut through me.

'My wife Halcwyn.'

was all Éothain said. I nodded in greeting, and she stiffened. Suddenly a hand slapped me across my cheek. Then fists were flailing into my face...

'Damm you Hanasian! Damm you! I love you but damm you!'

I deserved it. Éothain started to restrain her but let her go. Her pent up anger toward me tapered to tears and I embraced her.

'I am sorry my sister...'
'....Mother is going to be so happy for a breath! But why now when you ride off to war? Her sons always going... at least Hayna comes home every year. You, we would get a letter now and then. And you come not to my wedding...'

She was holding me tight now, and I her. We were oblivious to the others watching save Éothain. He took not his eyes off me, and did not step back from his wife's side.

'I knew not of your wedding, or if your marriage ere now!'

She looked back at me and ran her fingers through my hair. I brushed away a tear from her cheek and swallowed. She went on,

'I wrote you...'
'I never got it!'

No, the letter never arrived in Rivendell. Passage of the Fords of Tharbad was treacherous in the best of conditions. The letter was lost in crossing, and it found its way to the sea.

The reunion with my beloved sister was short but was well in the end. We had been so close all our lives until we were fifteen. Forgiveness was the order of the day, and though I could never seem to break through the shell of distrust that surrounded Éothain. It was his way Halcwyn assured me, for he was a proud man, distrusting at first those from outside the realm of Rohan. Time would tell if we would get along, if time we had. I looked forward to seeing mother again, but it would have to wait. There was no time now on the eve of battle, for Halcwyn would not leave until she saw Éothain off. And I bade them farewell and took my leave of her and Éothain, and also of Lord Dúnhere who silently sat by in witness of my reunion with my sister.

Time? What time do I think of? We ride to war, and in the darkness of the morn, Aragorn spoke to us of our road. As the light of the morning broke, all that had passed last night seemed a dream and we set out early for the Paths of the dead....


Battle of the Pelennor - The Aftermath...

Smoke still rose from the white city, but its fires had for the most part been contained and were fading. But the black smoke stains tarnished its white stone façade… where the stone was not damaged. And the air… death was in it. Every breath you smelled it. So many people were out in the fields in search of their loved ones. There were wives and mothers looking for their husbands and sons. Wounded soldiers looked for their missing comrades, and some of the Rohirrim grieving for their fallen horses. Yes, the smell of death... the crying of those who found whom they searched for, and the moans of those not yet dead from their wounds filled the air.

I am Hanasían, a Dúnedain Ranger from the northern lands of Eriador. I am weary from the days past, where the last decent sleep I, and my brethren had was in Dunharrow nearly a fortnight ago. Yet I sleep not, for I write now for the dead... those fallen in this great battle outside Minas Tirith be they man or woman of Gondor, Arnor, or the Rohirrim. We had defeated Sauron’s armies on this field. But the cost was high and this war is not yet over. For he hides now behind his great iron gates of Mordor, gathering his remaining strength, while we ourselves attempt to regain ours.

It seem a lifetime ago when I, along with well over two-dozen of my brethren answered a summons by our Captain Halbarad. He said we needed to ride in haste to come to aid our Chieftain Aragorn away south in the land of Rohan. We, along with the Sons of Elrond did ride south with speed, meeting Lord Aragorn and the escort of King Theoden of Rohan not long after crossing the River Isen. As the Rohirrim mustered for war, the foresight of Aragorn led us to take the Paths of the Dead. Of that part of the journey I have much to say, for Aragorn proclaimed himself to the Dead... he proclaimed himself Isildur's Heir! And they were called to the Stone of Erech to fulfill their oath. But here now I write for the new dead, those who lay about me here, those who will not return to their homes and families.

To the mouth of the Anduin we came in haste, and there with the aid of the dead and some local men (of whom I also have much to say, but again, another day) we fought and defeated the Corsairs of Umbar, the ancient brethren who had fallen into darkness and become enemies of Gondor. With their oath of old to Isildur fulfilled, Aragorn gave the dead their leave, and we took the corsair ships up the river. To Minas Tirith we came, arriving with the city engulfed in smoke and flame. Battle raged in and around the city walls, and elsewhere inside the Rammas Echor.

Swords rang, bows twanged, and engines thundered their deadly projectiles as the ships came ashore. The worst fighting I saw were where it was men fighting men… Easterlings battled Gondorians near the broken gates of the city; Variags fought we Dunedain; Southrons and their mumakil against the Rohirrim and their horses. The beasts of Harad rampaging and the horses of the Rohirrim storming in terror.... So much death... We engaged the enemy almost immediately, but not before our surprise was complete.

A wound I had taken near my left eye, a lasting memory of the Variags of Khand. He came at me from behind in a ravenous yell, leaping down from the body of a slain mumakil. I had just turned an axe of his brethren and I turned, but I could not react in time. Pain I felt as I fell backward, the warmth of my blood rushing down my face. His knife would have claimed me but for the sure sword of Halbarad taking off his arm. But still we fought, for he tried to take my sword with his remaining hand. We wrestled and fell to the ground, and I killed him with a knife I found. It was his knife, still in the grip of his severed limb. He was dead but there was no time to think, for another came at me. As soon as one was dispatched another would jump at you, or you would stop another from the blind side of your brethren. Their attacks were fierce, but our defense was even more so. As a group we pressed on from the shores of the river toward the city. But chaos of a stampeding oliphaunt caused many of us to scatter. It was then I saw Halladan go down with a blow from a screaming Southron falling from the beast, but I could not tend him. Easterlings, ruthless in their attacks, came upon us. My blade rang and my foe's axe shattered, blood flew everywhere when darkness closed around me....

A pain I felt in my head, wondering if it was still upon my shoulders. I remember thinking that I should move my hand, and the feeling that came over me was pain. My eyes cleared the foggy grey that crept into the dark, and blurry figures moved about before me. Somehow I stood, my sword still in my hand. I shook my head in a shudder to either shake off the webs that filled it, or see if it would fall to the ground. And just as suddenly, an Easterling jumped before me swinging his axe. My arm moved and deflected his blow, and the Variag knife I still gripped in my other hand buried into his neck. I now fought, I was not thinking or seeing. Rage drove me on, slaying and swinging. I nearly had the head of a fair armored Gondorian soldier, his helm long missing and his face dark with dirt and blood. He too moved against me, and our swords coming together rang out a song that awakened us both from our blindness. Looking around, pockets of battle still raged, but the west was having the day. Without thought, I, and the young Gondorian stood back-to-back, taking down those orcs who still pressed their masters will. But soon fatigue had taken us, and we sat and leaned against each other, fatigue claiming us.

In the aftermath people searched, With Halladan finding me sitting against a smashed siege tower. I was surprised to see him, for I had seen him fall. He was missing a part of his scalp, but was in good cheer to find me. I looked around for the young Gondorian soldier I had fought with, for I wished to know him. But there was no sign of his presence, and I would never know who he was. Halladan walked me towards the gates of the city where tents were being used to treat the wounded.

In ones and twos and threes we Dunedain brethren of the north came again together. Most, like me, had minor wounds of one sort or another, and as we gathered outside the smashed gates of the city, we looked about. Who had we lost? Aragorn himself came to us. He looked each in the face, the strain of battle on us all He seemed evermore relieved as his eyes met each of ours in turn. We all had lived with some of us having wounds to show. His look of relief suddenly become strained as he looked swiftly back over us, and he asked solemnly… where was Halbarad?

His hand was needed, for inside the city the house of healing was filled and overflowing with soldier and citizen alike. Those who could not be brought inside were laid in the streets, tended as best as could be. Out in the fields the tents of the wounded filled likewise, and the remaining were laid nearby where there was room. I had some healing experience, and so once my eye was tended and I could see straight, I did what I could for those wounded still in the field. All the while I looked for Halbarad, and my heart would tighten with each man I tended that I knew by their wound they would be dead by days end. What do you say to them? It is hard... so many dead and dying. A man of the Rohirrim, a young man he was. He was I would guess we just saw his twentieth winter. He talked in his native Rohirric tongue to his comrade next to him. He asked me to see to his friend, in good Westron like all was well. He knew he would die soon, but his concern was for his comrade who sat next to him. His friend didn't seem wounded but for a drying stream of blood that had run down his temple. But his mind was gone and he would stare only at a clover he pulled from the grass. The dying man told me he had taken a hard blow from the ground when his horse was slain in full gallop and fell from under him. The dying man told me his name, and only wanted me to promise his friend would get home ok, even while the last of his blood flowed out of him and he faded to death. I held his hand for a moment before his fried took it from me. I nodded and moved on.

The day was darkening, and I helped my brethren Kayan to our camp. His leg was badly mangled, and though he would live, he would suffer a severe limp. As we made our way, a halfling, dressed in the soiled and bloodied attire of the Palace Guard, wandered forlornly about, looking at the dead and dying. Others from the city searched still too, but most were now grieving while others prepared funeral pyres. As the night closed about us, the sons of Elrond joined us. We were for the most part together again, but still Aragorn's question remained....

Where was Halbarad?

We all asked ourselves this as we rested into the night. No sign of him had been seen since our moment of scattering. Kaldil had seen him last, standing upon the body of a slain mumakil, hewing the Southrons that had not the fear and sense to leave him be. But another mumakil stormed by and the dust was raised, and afterward, those who looked saw him there no more. We searched the place and found many a corpse, but not a sign of Halbarad.

The darkness of night claimed the lands as we rested and wept. Those of us who were able, readied themselves for the day to come, and those whose wounds were ill were set to rest and heal. Word had been carried from the city that the King had indeed come, but here where we encamped, our Chieftain joined us. It was not yet time.

Aragorn's face showed weariness that I had not seen before, and the edges of his hair and beard seemed to have a silvery aura to them. The firelight detailed the lines of care that shrouded him, but I saw not the tired Ranger Chieftain that fought hard a day’s battle, but a man wizened. Wizened by the depth of his burden, and the knowing gut feeling that our friend and lieutenant would not see the light of another day. It was what we all felt inside really, though nobody spoke of it. Instead we spoke of the days to come, and what they held. Words of days in the north when our burden was to watch over the lands of the Shire we shared. Of times good and the weddings aplenty, of sons and daughters born in the quiet of the homes and the Midsummer’s eve celebrations past. A feeling of cheer and laughter came out amongst some of us, pushing aside this day but for a time. But this too passed, and with a final chuckle of a memory long gone, silence again overtook the Rangers.

The fire crackled and the flicker of its light made the shadows dance. Around the fields there were other fires. The Rohirrim staked a large camp out farther from the city gate, and there kept their horses in check. Aragorn looked up and the stood, and all of us who could stand did so to look at the shadowy horse approaching.

'Hail Dúnedain! Is this the camp of the Rangers?'

'It is.'

Aragorn said as he stepped forward to have his back to the firelight. I too stepped forward at his left, and Kaldil did so at his right. The rider dismounted his horse and stood for a second. Our eyes seeing now in the darkness, we could tell he was of the Rohirrim. His helm was gone and the side of his face was covered in dried blood. We could see also that the horse was still burdened. The rider approached and spoke,

'I am Brytta of Dunharrow, and I bring bad tidings...'

Kaldil and I did not wait for Brytta's words, but went to the horse who stirred slightly from our approach. Aragorn's brow was crinkled as he cut the man's speech off...

'You bring us Halbarad.'

We lifted the bloodied body from the horse and carried him near the fire where Kallam prepared a place for him in Aragorn's tent. Aragorn looked at the wounds and his eyes grew wet with tears. Halbarad still breathed, but it was labored and slow, the sounds ill. His last strength lifted his hand to Aragorn's, and we knelt beside as Brytta stepped away to allow us a last moment with our comrade. Short burst of whispered, gurgling speech came forth from Halbarad as his eyes opened.

'My... my king! Your hour has come! But ere its passing I will join my fathers...'

'Quiet my friend and rest, for my hands will heal ...'

'Nay my lord. Not even the hands of a king can repair these wounds of arrow, sword, and knife. See now! Varda opens her cloak of twilight to light your way, and to carry me home. Speak well of me to my son and daughter...'

It was beyond Aragorn to say he would heal, but while he breathed there still was hope. Each of us came and sat for a time with Halbarad, mostly in silence as he rested. I could not speak, for I could not feel his strength. With a squeeze of his hand, I departed. Aragorn soon re-joined him, and he closed the tent to rest with Halbarad. Aragorn lay beside him, their hands bound together as a rough sleep overcame him.

We too took rest in tent or outside. Brytta stayed with us for a time, telling of the deeds of Halbarad that he saw. Apparently he had jumped from the dead beast where we had last seen him, and battled there the remaining Southrons that still stood. The thunder of the mumakil had scattered many of the Rohirrim, and Brytta rode headlong toward a wayward band of orcs that sought to slay the dour-handed Ranger standing alone. Brytta slew a couple while Halbarad slew more, and then he was pulled atop the horse and they turned about. The retreat was chaos as Easterling, Southron and orc ran this way and that, and the fight was drained from most. Halbarad was bleeding from a knife wound that was poisoned, and turned swords had cut his arms and legs. But the death knell of Halbarad was when a band of orc bowmen fired upon then in unison. Brytta's horse reared, taking an arrow and spilling he and Halbarad to the ground. Brytta split his head on rock debris, while Halbarad quickly regained his footing. The orcs were slinging arrows and fired as Brytta, stood dazed. Halbarad jumped to push him out of the way of the volley, but one late arrow caught him in the side, piercing his lung.

I noted this account in detail, and Brytta finished this telling and excused himself after his head was cleaned and bandaged. We rested as best we could, sleeping from exhaustion of nothing else, but were soon awake with the coming of daylight. The westward winds pushed back the darkness of Mordor, and the skies cleared with light clouds. Halbarad was lying in state in a field of honor of the fallen. King Theoden was there as well as many captain and soldier, of great renown or unknown, for many had fallen that day. Yes, Halbarad, the sullen Ranger and our friend had passed to his fathers in the night. His son and daughter will only have memory of him from before he rode south. His wife widowed at her prime. So it is with war, and now Aragorn gathered in council with Mithrander, Éomer, Prince Imrahil, and Elrond's sons Elladan and Elrohir.

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Re: Recollections of a Dunedain Ranger

Postby Halasian » Sun Aug 22, 2010 1:54 am

I dug this up off the old Ringbearer and actually took the time too edit it some, fixing typos and some sentence structure. sorry to bore you all with the same ol... maybe the muse will hit & I'll add to it.
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Re: Recollections of a Dunedain Ranger

Postby Candy Kane » Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:33 am

I like it a lot. Where are the friendly comments this work deserves? Come on, RBers!
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Re: Recollections of a Dunedain Ranger

Postby shireling » Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:07 am

I hadn't seen this before and it is really beautifully written, Halasian. I know the Don himself wasn't happy with fanfiction, but I've always loved it - especially when it's done as well as this is.

You really captured the flavor of the original and, by stating it from the viewpoint of a little known Ranger, gives another look at this battle and it's impact on those that survived its losses.

"He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God." - Aeschylus

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Re: Recollections of a Dunedain Ranger

Postby Halasian » Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:33 am

Thanks for the kind words. It still has some abhorrent typos I need to fix and in need of a non-tired, non beer-buzzed editing.

These writings all started with a role-play story in 2000 and the timing of a son born in that timeline would have made him prime age to be a Ranger at the time of the War of the Ring. So I started building a history for 'Ranger #26' noting he was the 26th Ranger to get word when Halbarad called them in haste. I later gave him the name 'Hanasian' which is similar to the father Halasian. There is no real meaning to the names. Later, I worked some 'what if' histories into an overall tale of a line through the years, and worked on tying them all together. I still find inconsistencies in the telling that I need to revise, but try and keep it all in the background within canon.
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