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The Dunedain remained in Rivendell for weeks, then months, after their flight from peril to safety. There they rested, healed, and celebrated their fortunes and grieved over their losses. Then came the news on the twenty-fifth of March, ten days after their arrival, of the miracle out of the South, that the Dark Tower had been thrown down and Mordor had been vanquished at last. On that day, everyone’s hearts seemed to have lifted in ways they could not understand, and everyone sang for joy.
One day in April, at Galador’s word, all the Dunedain assembled together, and stood beneath blossoming branches and green boughs, with the Rangers Halrohir, Cormadin, Angbrand, Lainbarad and Ercolindo at his side. Everyone anticipated something, and they were not disappointed. For, as Galador explained:
“We are gathered here to pay honor and homage to these, our Rangers of the North, who by their labor and valor, their unwavering strength and heart, safeguarded and led our people through peril and fire and death to safety and now, a future. And for all their deeds, there can be these fitting honors, thus.” And about their neck Galador placed ribbons of sky-blue with a rayed star, designating Cormadin, Angbrand, Ercolindo, and finally Lainbarad, as Lieutenants of the Rangers.
“And more fitting I deem shall it be known for this”, he said, as about Halrohir’s neck he placed a ribbon of crimson and blue with a rayed star, and bade every cup and goblet raised in praise, saying, “Captain Halrohir!!”
After the glad shout died down, Galador raised his hands for silence. “These are our leaders, the brave hearts who risked all to bring us to our haven in the hills. But there were also those whose labors are not without worth, and shall not be forgotten. For there are those whose lives by their choices and deeds will strike out upon the Ranger’s path, and in accordance with our long law, two Rangers must vouch for them to begin the Trials and put their feet on solid ground. Rangers, is this your will, to speak for them?”
And all five, the four Lieutenants and the new Captain, cried “Yea!”
And from out of the assembled crowd walked Cenion, Meldor, and six others. At this point Halrohir spoke up: “Captain Galador, these eight have already endured the Trials, by virtue of their labors and valor on the flight to Rivendell. And all of us here assembled agree, do we not?” And the Lieutenants cried “Yea, Captain!”
Galador smiled, “And that makes five, not just three, who vouch for you. And for each of you, I have these!” And to each one of them in turn, Galador pinned a six-pointed silver star, the Star of the Rangers, on their breasts, denoting them as true Rangers of the Dunedain. But as Galador approached Cenion and Meldor, Halrohir stopped him, and took the badges, and presented them himself, while the two new Rangers grinned widely.
Galador then spoke, saying, “I am told, by no less a person than Captain Halrohir, that there is still one more bit of business to clear up. Captain, will you please?”
Halrohir nodded, then looked out among the crowd and, seeing one face, walked out and held out his hand to young Galindon. He led the startled boy forward to stand in front of the Rangers, who looked upon him with interest.
“Rangers, here is Galindon, son of Galafin, son of Galador”, Halrohir said, “and he himself has petitioned me to enter into the Trials of the Rangers, once he comes of age. But I tell you all, he too has endured part of the Trials already, for he has endured the Tempering in battle. For he it was, who held onto the ropes which helped others cross the Ford during the height of the battle. Has he proven his desire to join our company? Shall he not be admitted to the Trials, even at his age?”
And one by one, the four Ranger leaders placed their hands over their hearts, showing their assent. Galindon could not conceal his joy, looking at his grandsire, who was beaming from ear to ear.
Halrohir placed one hand upon Galindon’s shoulder. “You are now walking the Ranger’s Path, young one. Learn all you can. From everyone you can.” And he ruffled Galindon’s hair, smiling.
Later that day, Halrohir was riding Morindal “elf-fashion” slowly around the paths of Rivendell, taking in the peace and the tranquil sounds of the great valley of the Elves. He heard a voice call his name, and turned to see Cambeleg riding up to greet him, still riding his old horse, Bregedur.
“Bregedur and I are friends now”, Cambeleg said, “and I see many rides to come for this one. Just as you shall see rides beyond count for you and Morindal the Mighty. Now, I see you are thoughtful this fine night, my friend. Will you not share those thought with me?”
Halrohir walked Morindal to beneath the trees, and halted. He looked at a waterfall in the distance, reflecting the twinkling lights of Rivendell’s halls. And he turned, his face a sad mask.
“Elennaur. It is something she said when we said farewell. She told me she tried to enter my heart, but that there was someone already there. I know of no one who meets that test. How shall read this riddle?”
Cambeleg was silent for a beat. “I told you about her hidden heart and mind, my friend. They were mazes that one could get lost in, and never come out. Any affair of the heart is perilous, son of Numenor; but the hearts of the Eldar are far more perilous to endure. While there have been affairs of the heart between those of Men, and those of the Silvan kin, though rare, rarer still were those unions with the High Kindred. And Elennaur was one of the Sea-Elves, and their kind is vanishing from Middle-Earth. That you met her at all, is nothing short of a blessing. So, take what you can in memory, of her, and of her words. For she is gone from your life. But, I am not, and both our mounts are spoiling for a race!” And with that, Cambeleg spurred Bregedur off at a quick run.
And Halrohir, Captain of Rangers, smiled as he looked ahead from the trees, and urged Morindal to a loping canter and thundered through the trees, ahead, and to the future.
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