I finished my glass of cider, sat back and sighed. Grabbing a loaf of bread, I walked outside of the small house where I lived. It was but a few miles to the torn in the valley below, but I needed water and tranquility. I knew where to find both. I was a soldier under King Thengel then, but he did not require us to live in the barracks. I much preferred my house high in the mountains anyway. I lived on a peak of the Ered Nimrais, in a clearing where I could look down onto my kinsmen below. It was in the Westfold, between Helm’s Deep and Edoras. It was the year 2980 of the Third Age, and things were now growing in the shadows.
Climbing to an outcrop above my dwelling, I looked around in every direction. Somehow my eyesight seemed brighter, perhaps from breathing the mountain air. To the south lay the farthest reaches of the realm of Gondor, and there dwelt a few farmers. Small ridges ran down to the crystal sea beyond. At the end of one was the great city of Dol Amroth, which was founded by elves and was where ny forefathers were from. I am Celegal, which in elvish means “shining silver”. My grandfather had moved the family from there to the Rohirric city of Dunharrow, a city high in the mountains, the other side of Edoras from here. My father had been a soldier of the Mark, and so, being the next in line, I enlisted also. The King had almost instantly made me a scout, but under the supervision of a good leader, Gamling.
To the west was a great jumble of mountains, and great, barren plains beyond that. After the great mass of peaks, though, it turned to the south-west, and continued down to the coast, where it formed a peninsula called Andrast. Very few people lived there, and only those who knew how to survive on their own. In between the Ered Nimrais and the Misty Mountains, which were to the northwest, was the Gap of Isen, and at the foot of the Misty Mountains was a fortress called Orthanc by some, Isengard, by others, and Angrenost by a few. There was a great courtyard full of trees, and in the middle was a jet-black tower. It was built many years past by the Gondorians, but now was occupied by the wizard Saruman. He was one of the Istari, an order of wise men who were sent across the sea by the Valar long ago. Smoke now rose from that place, and we Rohirrim had been keeping an eye on him for a while now. His elvish name was Curunir, which meant “cunning skill”. He deemed himself very wise and so far had not done anything that would turn us against him. He had been there almost thirty years now, but had been a good steward of the place, and had respected the nearby forest of Fangorn, we thought.
Looking to the northwest, I saw the lofty Misty Mountains. Snow lay on the peaks of Caradhras, of Zirakzigil, and of Celebdil, the three mountains of Moria. Underneath them was once a great dwarven city, and beautiful to see, and they were great allies of the elves of Lorien.But then the dwarves awoke a secret evil in the depths, and it killed many dwarves and many elves, and the friendship of the elves and the dwarves did not last. Now goblins occupied the enormous halls of Khazad-Dum, and no one went there anymore.
To the north were the seemingly endless plains of Rohan, covered in billowing grass. I had spent many days on those plains, roaming the fields alone. After that were the dark, mysterious, beautiful woods of Lorien, where Galadriel and Celeborn ruled. The elven duo were ancient, but looked younger than the youngest grand-sires in our country. Though they mainly kept to themselves, they were our strong allies and had on more than one occasion helped us out.
Further north were swamps, forests, and the land of the Beornings. Here dwelt the descendants of the shapeshifter Beorn. All of these lands ran along the eastern side of the Misty Mountains, which formed the backbone of Middle-earth.
Eastward was the capital of Rohan, Edoras. I went there nearly everyday for training, as I was part of the Kings army. It sat on a hill, and on the very top was the Golden Hall, Meduseld. It was a majestic, rectangular place with banners, carvings, and suits of armor everywhere. I had only been in once, to deliver a message from Theoden, the Kings son. He had just arrived from Gondor, where he had spent his childhood. This city was in front of the Ered Nimrais. After that, the mountains kept going on a southeasterly route, going to Dunharrow, my home before long. It was a small city set into a mountain and was the start of the beacons of Gondor. The beacons followed the mountains until they came to the end of them, where the great city of Minas Tirith was situated. It was the capital of Gondor, and was where Ecthelion, the steward of Gondor lived. He also had a son, Denethor, who was strong, tall, and valiant. The White City, as it was called, was on the other side of the Anduin from Minas Morgul, the Tower of Sorcery. It was a place filled with great evil, and the reason Gondor had stewards, not kings. The last one rode toward the black place and was never seen again, and since he was childless, Gondor had to resort to stewards. It was written, though, that one day a new King would come from the North, a Dunedain and of the line of Isildur. But for now, they had to guard the rest of the realm from attack. Of old there had been three cities around the river: Minas Ithil, Tower of the Moon, on the east, Minas Anor, Tower of the Sun, on the west and Osgiliath, the pride of Gondor. which sat on both sides of the Anduin. But after Minas Ithil had been captured by the Dark Lord Sauron, Minas Anor was renamed Minas Tirith, and the population of Osgiliath slowly withered. To the east of Minas Morgul was the realm of Mordor, the stronghold of Sauron. It was guarded on the north, west, and south by steep, dark mountains. The plain of Gorgoroth was contained inside these. It was a desolate, flat, rocky, and black area of land. In the southern part was the great lake of Nurn. There was where Sauron’s slaves tended crops for his army of maggots. The land of Mordor as a whole was a dark mysterious, withered land.
But the White City, Minas Tirith, was an interesting place. It was set into a mountain, and was crowned with a great pinnacle at the top. It had seven stories, each of which was closer to the mountain. On the seventh story was the King’s Hall and a great courtyard. In the courtyard was a White Tree, which had been brought from Númenor by Isildur and his sons, the first rulers of Gondor. The tree stood there, bare and cold.
Looking to the south-east, I found it an uninteresting yet inhospitable land. It was covered in deserts, and there dwelt the swarthy men of the Kingdoms of Khand and Harad. Near the coast was a city. It was Umbar, the Ancient Numenorean Haven. It was infested with Black Numenoreans, filth of the worst sort. Originally they were men of the proud realm of Numenor, tall and strong. But after becoming corrupted by Sauron they had filled Umbar with their rank, black, filth. Now the only ones of that descent were the Kings of Gondor, who now were in exile, and the Dunedain, rangers of the North.
I took in a sharp breath of mountain air. Somehow, they felt like my home. Though my forefathers dwelt by the sea, I felt a strange inclination to the lofty heights. After gathering water and a little bit of wood ,I sat down on a rock in front of my abode. Presently I heard a low rumble. It slowly grew louder. I rose to my feet. After a little bit I could hear hoofs, getting faster. In a little while a horseman rode out of the clearing.
He seemed to be about twenty-five, with brownish hair to the end of his neck. He carried a sword over his shoulder, and a sling by his side. He was wearing a mail-shirt under a cloak of green, and was riding a swift black horse. I rose in greeting.
“Hail, messenger from Thengel,” I said, for that was what he was. “What news do you bear from the King?”
“Hail, noble warrior of the Mark,” he said. “I bring you a beacon from the King, to but a few his soldiers.”
By now I had figured that either a few of us had done something wrong, we were to be promoted, or we were going on some sort of quest. I took the scroll from the rider’s out held hands. It read:
Thengel, King of Rohan, wishes to see you at a council in
Meduseld. Come as soon as possible. Lateness will not be
tolerated. You will be of an elite vanguard of soldiers
that will be guarding the King on the way to Rivendell.
More details will be explained at the council.
“Tell your master, the King, that I would be honored to be in his presence at the council.”
“I will inform his majesty of your comment, sire.”
A few hours later, I gathered some meat, a few loaves of bread, a flagon or two of ale, and started down the hill towards Edoras. As I rode down the hill through the red maple leaves, I wondered why the King had summoned me. Another thing that bothered my mind was the mention of Rivendell. Rivendell, the city of the elves, was a beautiful place. It was in a vale, with a river running through it. The one time I had been there, It always seemed like fall, even though it was spring. There were majestic halls, marvelous architecture, and kingly heirlooms that made one’s blood run chill at the sight. Dwelling there was the elf-lord Elrond, his sons Elladan and Elrohir, his daughter Arwen, and all of their immortal kin. It was said that there was a great store of weapons in that city, and it was well known that the place was heavily guarded. Even the very weapons of the elves were majestic, with writing carved into them, jewels set into the hilts, and engravings so complex and intricate that it made the mind reel. It gladdened my heart to be possibly going there.
Eventually I reached the bottom of the hill, and rode onto the plains of Rohan. I could have cut across the side of the range and come down later, but I knew of a small inn along the way that I could not have reached through the hills. It was called The Lucky Fortune Inn, and it was tended by some friends of mine, a dwarf named Borin, a woman named Mellaloreum, and a man named Erinhue. It was a friendly place, with travelers from halflings to elves. Since it was getting late, clouds were gathering, and Edoras was still about 20 miles ahead, I decided to stay there for the night. Stabling my horse in the barn, I headed in as delicious smells greeted me. Opening the wooden door, I looked around. In the corner, a hobbit and a man were chatting near an female elf who was eating some fruit quietly. Over at the bar sat a dwarf and a man. The dwarf was smoking, while the man was drinking a mug of ale. The man I noticed. He was a stranger from the North called Thorongil, who fought for King Thengel. He was a loner but strong and a good fighter.
Behind the bar was Erinhue, and his face lit up as he noticed me.
“Celegal! So good to see you again, my friend. Where have you been? You haven’t visited in a while, and I thought that you had gone off on some errand for the King.’
“No, good sir. In fact, I am on errand for His Majesty right now. I stopped in here for the night. I was hoping for some good food and room.”
“That will be fine, lad. All I need are two silver pieces and for you to sign this paper and we will have a room for you.”
Handing the man the money, I signed the paper and sat down for some bread and meat. After I had finished the delicious beef and some cider, I recieved my key and headed for my room. It was upstairs, a little towards the back, and had a small fireplace. The fire was a welcome thing on a brisk autumn night, and soon I had it roaring. Grabbing a whetstone, I started sharpening my sword. It was nothing special, my grandfather’s and shaped like any other sword. Its crosstree was silver, with small points at the end. In the middle was a single green gem, which shone softly. The handle was black, with white paint spiraling down it. It was nothing grand, but it fitted my hands perfectly and felt light, though durable.
After the blade had been sharpened to my liking, I washed my face and laid down in the bed. The beds were made of oak, with a mattress that was comfortable enough, though lumpy. I had too much on my mind to worry about that, however. What would we be doing in Rivendell? Was the King going on a visit to Elrond? Was it a council of war? Was the King to be taking refuge there? I did not believe it was the last one, for two reasons. First, the King was old, but not that old. He was still able to fight, and still had some of his old glory. Second, he would have made sure that his people were safe before he had taken hiding. And, since, he had an heir, his son Theoden, he need not worry about being killed childless. If it was a council of war, then who was threatening us and why? I knew of no enemies to us. Sauron had been quiet lately, and had not attacked Gondor that I knew of . Saruman was rather weak, and had not anyone to fight for him. If it was in the north, why should it bother us? Anyway, I had a feeling these questions would be answered the next day.
When I woke up the next morning and sat up in my bed, I noticed a note that had been slid under my door. Walking over to it, I studied it closely. It was a piece of a scroll, with a hastily written note. It read:
Thorongil, a fellow customer, wishes to accompany you on your ride. He will meet you at the stables after your breakfast.
I looked out the window. The sun was just peeking over the horizon. I figured I would eat a little in an hour and then meet with Thorongil. After eating some bread with honey and milk, I headed fro the stables. As I left with my horse, I saw Thorongil standing by a nearby tree. He smiled and mounted his horse. We rode west, towards the distant figure of Edoras. For a while we talked about small things. The weather, trees, mountains, and things of that sort. After a while, though he asked me a question that led to many thoughts on my part.
“What is your horses name?” he asked.
“His name is Felarof.”
“That is a fine name. Named after the horse of Eorl, I expect?”
I nodded and asked, “How did you know? I always thought you were from the north. “
He chuckled. “In Rivendell we are taught of many things.”
“Rivendell? You are from that glorious city?”
He did not answer.
The rest of the way was more quiet but peaceful. We saw farms, horses, horsemen, and we kept on the path which led from Helm’s Deep to Edoras, with mountains on one side and endless plains on the other.