There are many stories in the history of our world. Most are lost, scattered in the winds of Time, beyond the memory of man. But this story. our story should not be forgotten. Papa! Maia! Run! Maia run. Maia run! We came from the water, It runs through our ancient days, down the long years to this moment coursing through our lives like the bloodline of Kings A swiftly flowing stream of memory and sorrow One drop of water of blood and then another can become a ripple, a river, a rising torrent unstoppable which in time breaks down all resistance to flow free once again on the journey to it’s destiny The remnant of the faithful The Dúnedain the men of the West were scattered and few and beset by many dangers For the Dark Lord Sauron had not forgotten the past and of all the peoples of Middle-earth he held none with more hatred and more fear than the Dúnedain He spread his will amongst his servants and through the long years sought ever to discover if the Heirs of Isildur yet lived so that he might destroy them and the last of his greatest enemies would be lost forever Hurry! Hurry! Dírhael! Ivorwen! Gilraen! Go! Please! I will not lose you all this day. Arathorn! You have my thanks sir, and whatever service I and my family may provide you and yours. We owe you our lives. As I owe you mine. I thank you, lady. You are most welcome, my lord. We cannot stay here. Where were you bound? I do not know, my lord. Orcs burned our village, and slew our people. Those who were not killed were scattered, I know not where. Dorlad, my son. Struck down as he defended us. We would not leave his body for the cruel sport of orcs. Your son shall have a safe resting place, lady. You will come with us. Arathorn! Arathorn? You know him, father? Yes Or I did when he was but a child. If he is the same man, he is the son of my friend and kinsman. Our chieftain, Lord Arador. Isildur’s Heir. What is it? They’re after plunder, it seems. But these are but baubles. It is strange. Orcs seeking gold and jewels in the Wild? to what purpose? You’re becoming more like him by the day. Is that what he would have wanted? He would have growled at me for letting you take his place. “The wild is no place for my daughter!” But I’m still glad I trained you. So am I. Lord Arathorn They’ll bring no news to whoever leads them. Good work Halbaron. Now we must bring these three to safety. We go to Taurdal, our village, Lord? Dírhael. My wife, Ivorwen. And my daughter… Gilraen. And I am Arathorn. Son of Arador. Indeed. No, no. Do not bow. When you come to my father, you may greet him thus. But for now, we must make haste. A jealous heart finds no room for true affection, though it were standing right behind it. What have I to be jealous about? I saw that look between them. Just as you did. Your eyes deceive you. Besides, it has nothing to do with me. Does it not? No! Nor with you, Dírhaborn. And so Arathorn and his rangers led the grieving family North, past the mighty rivers and through the vast forests of Rhudaur. A land that still enjoyed the watchful eye of the Dúnedain and brought them to his father, Lord Arador, in the hidden settlement of Taurdal. Come, my old friend and kinsman. Let us bestow upon your son the peace and honour he has earned. For I account your loss as my loss, and your grief as my own. Alas, no long sleep in ancient halls of stone for a son of the House of Aranarth! But I will not see your bones dishonoured, Dorlad, when the servants of Evil try again to drive the Dúnedain farther into exile! Farewell! I’ve come to ask your forgiveness. Long had I thought your feelings for Arathorn no more than a passing fancy and that in time you would turn from them and look around you at last. I did not understand. Until last night. Years I have spent by his side, yet there is a gulf between us that only the flames of a stranger’s pyre could reveal. I cannot vie with such beauty and such sorrow. El, any man would be honoured to call you his. I would cause him nothing but grief. We found these after the attack yesterday. It is strange how such tiny things can bring such immense darkness and change into our lives. Lord Arador now had much to contemplate. News of orcs assailing other villages came to his ears. Peaceful homesteads, far from help, were likewise menaced, Taurdal filled as many of the Dúnedain fled their homes and sought safety in numbers. And so Arador led his brave rangers in a quest to rid the land of the menace that had ravaged his people. Yet the most trusted of his men, would not be at his side. How goes the harvest, my lady? Bountiful, my lord. I had expected a little more for my travels. Are you leaving? My father has charged me to seek out the enemy’s purpose in the cold mountains of the East. Alone? Yes. A dangerous mission my lord. Indeed. There was a time when such danger would not have moved me and every part of my being would happily travel to the end of the world in service of our people. But now? Now a part of me remains here. And that is my heart. My Lord. I am sorry my lady, I did not mean to upset you I will look to the East and await your safe return. My Lady. With a heart full of joy Arathorn travelled far beyond the fallen cities of Arnor. While Arathorn made his lonely way into the cold mountains, Gilraen would await his homecoming in the fading summer of the West. Straying at whiles deep into the forest, to watch for his safe return. Gilraen! I will not go far! Why does she do that? You know for whom she waits. She is too young. But not without wisdom. My heart forebodes Arathorn will wear Barahir’s ring sooner than expected. Even so, I do not think he will long lead the Dúnedain, once it rests upon his hand. Then do not stand in their way, Dírhael! For if these two wed soon, there yet may be hope born for our people. But if they do not, it may be, in this gathering darkness, that the Dúnedain fall at last, never to rise again. Let them have what happiness they may! You’re late! Where are the others? Slaughtered! We were ambushed, there are Ghostmen everywhere! They are not ghosts! Merely Rangers, you coward. You’re as bad as these two! Did you get it? These are useless. You still have not found the ring that Sauron is seeking. Go back! Find it! How? There is not enough of us left. We need time to increase our numbers. It was a mistake to attack the ghostmen out of the darkness, Shaknar! I do not make mistakes! I go now to report your failer to Sauron at Dol Guldur. Increase your numbers if you must, but send out your spies. When I return I want to know where he is! What is it? I smell manflesh. That’s impossible. Can’t you smell it? Arathorn! You’re back! You should not come this far into the forest alone! I know. I… Rangers. Will you not go to them? They’ll find us soon enough. So, I must hurry, or miss my chance. For what? I hope they take their time. I train them too well. My lord? I wandered too far from the village. But your captain found me. I am at your service, my lord. I shall always be at yours. Halbaron, escort the Lady Gilraen back to the village. At once, my lord. Elgarain. A word. I’m sorry, my lord. We could not find you. I did not know… No apology necessary, my friend. Have you ever been in love? No. It changes your world. Consumes it with a burning flame that does not abate. A light as brilliant and piercing as Eärendil’s star. You have been in love. I have heard it talked of. So you are in love? I am to be wed! Or I hope to be. And soon if fortune is with me. I wish you joy, my lord. Your heart should be filled with joy, Arathorn. Oh, it is… yet I fear that Lord Dírhael will not willingly give his blessing… Gilraen is, like you, not yet of age. I may not have known love, but I do know that when the heart would command the tongue no man should stand in the way… if you delay you may find that what should have been spoken is forever locked in your heart, and regret your only companion. Your words are wise… still… The seasons are changing. Maybe it will bring a change to his heart too. If it changes with the seasons, it can only grow colder. Just hold your ground and speak your heart. Thank you. You’re a good friend to me. I would lay down my very life for you. And I for you. I am glad you’re safe, my son. You also father. Halbaron tells me that your campaign against the orcs has been a success. Their numbers are indeed few now. They should not trouble us for some time. Yet your mind is not at ease. I now know what they’re after, and that they do not act alone. They are servants of Sauron, and he seeks the Ring of Barahir. Father, they are hunting for you. It is as I feared then. I beg you to hide the ring. Do not wear it! No. But it will lead them straight to you! Let Sauron send all the armies in this world against us. I will not hide from who I am, while I have a breath in my body, and a sword in my hand. Forgive me. There is nothing to forgive, my son. You have been of great service to me, and the Dúnedain. You are a true heir of kings! Come now, do not be troubled. Your mother used to remind me that the people look upon us for guidance, that we had to stand fast, no matter what. Perhaps one day you will find someone with as much wisdom and beauty, to counsel you. You have my blessing, my children. May your days be long and fruitful, and filled with hope. I go now to Rivendell, where Elrond Halfelven awaits me. When I return with his good counsel, then perhaps we shall have a wedding. Good luck with Dírhael. Lord Dírhael… good morning. Through the long winter months the warmth in Arathorn’s heart was only held at bay by his fear of failing his most important task. Just hold your ground, and speak your heart. Lord Dírhael. I have come to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage. I owe you my life, son of Arador. But I do not owe you my daughter. But I love her, my lord. I fear deeply the shadow you cast on my house, Isildur’s Heir. The attention you show my daughter is unwelcome… By you. Not by her. Yes. Therefore it cannot be ignored. I hope for Gilraen’s sake your father’s blood flows through your veins. If you fail your people, you will have only the Dúnedain to answer to. If you fail her, it is me to whom you’ll answer. Was that a yes? And when Winter had withdrawn it’s cold fingers from the land and passed into bright and early Spring. Arathorn, son of Arador and the Lady Gilraen were wed, in happiness and hope. But after only a year of joy, a dark shadow crept back into their lives. Arador, son of Argonui, Lord of the Dúnedain, found himself in a shallow dell amid the chill, blinding vapours of the Coldfells. Run! Run! Where’s my father? He’s further South. Go! Father! Father. Arathorn! Arathorn! Awake! It is nought but a dream! Awake! No! I saw him! I felt the breath leave him! Shhh! It’s but a dream. A dream! Oh, Gilraen! Would that it were! What hope is there for our people? The line of the Kings hangs by a thread, I fear it’s going to find its bitter end in me. Arathorn, where is your joy? Where is your hope? I will not despair! Nor would I have you do so. Arathorn, look at me! Fear not tomorrow, for it is not ours to know or to command. And do not fear that the royal house has reached its end. It is alive. In you. And in me. There is my Hope. So a year after the lose of his father on the first day of the third month Arathorn and the Dúnedain welcomed into the world new hope. You have a son my lord. We will name him, Aragorn. Kingly Valour, that he shall have, but on his breast I see a green stone, and from that his true name shall come and his chief renown for he shall be a healer and a renewer. Behold Aragorn, son of Arathorn, Lord of the Dúnedain! Scion of Elendil of Númenor! The Heir of Isildur! Hail Aragorn! Hail Aragorn! By the valour of the Lord and his Rangers, the Dúnedain had a measure of peace. And the child Aragorn grew swiftly and happily. Halbaron Seems but yesterday that your son Halbarad was Aragorn’s age. It does indeed, my lord. I imagine it’ll seem the same, Evonyn, when our son is a man. That it will, my lady. How quickly they grow! And how much they eat to get there! If there’s anything left! I claim this field in the name of the King! Seven stars and a crown on a field of blue In the wind of war the banner flew Around it the King called men forth To fight for freedom in the North Fornost has fallen the herald cried As Dúnedain they fought and they died A man noble and brave fell from his steed Trampled by beasts that gave no heed The king was carried from the fray As the army of Angmar made its way Our banner caught in a sea of death As the king’s herald drew one last breath The banner toppled and fell to the Earth The enemy howled in terrible mirth As men ran in fear and cried The Lords Elladan and Elrohir of Rivendell arrived unlooked for, and wished to speak with us at once. Welcome, friends! What brings you to us this night? And how fares your father Lord Elrond? And the Lady Arwen? Our father and sister are well, my lord. It was Elrond who sent us hither in haste. Orcs are increasing North and East of Taurdal. Their numbers are greater than have been seen in many years. Even now they move relentlessly toward the northernmost villages of the Dúnedain. It will not be long before danger presses once more on your borders. To Rivendell where the boy doth lie And where the banner still flies on high. For this reason our father sends grave counsel. What is this counsel? He urges you to send your wife and son to Imladris for safekeeping, and for you, Arathorn, to lead the Dúnedain by secret ways to other lands, and flee this encroaching danger. It is late my lords, we will speak further in the morning, Let us find you somewhere to rest. Elrond Halfelven is wise, and sees much that is hidden or has yet to come to pass. I will consider his words, and take thought for my people. Let your decision be not long delayed. With every hour that passes, peril draws closer. I understand. Rest well, my lords. Rest well. Do not say it! I will not be parted from you. Yet it is wise counsel. If danger closes in on us once again, you and Aragorn must be protected. All the Chieftains of the Dúnedain have been fostered for a time in Elrond’s halls. I myself spent years there as a child. I will not leave you. I will not! We know where he is! Good. Come with me. Elgarain! Halbaron saw you leaving. Something I should have done a long time ago. Without goodbye? Ever since your father’s death, I’ve made it my duty to look out for you. I owed it to him for his years of service, and his friendship. When you wanted to take his place, I alone supported you. For ten years you’ve been by my side, yet now, when I need you most, you would leave me? You need eyes and ears in distant lands, and the Ranger post at Hithlin is unmanned. Hithlin? But it is so far! I release you from your duty. I will burden you no more. You have never been a burden. Elgarain, you have only ever been a friend. you’re like a sister to me. You have a family. A wife and son who need you. Protect them. Do not bid me stay! Please. I will not hold you here if you wish to leave. But I do not understand. And for that reason, I cannot explain. Forgive me. Lord Arathorn! Your counsel is needed. Arathorn. The Enemy is on the move! Safe journey, my friend. My Lord. The orcs are on the move. Lord Elrohir bid me to say this: “The decision has been made for you.” Call my captains to me. War is at hand! Well met my friend. It is time. But while the Lord of the Dúnedain and the Sons of Elrond laid their plans, the orcs, by stealth and cunning, were nearer to the village than even Lord Elrond had foreseen. Did you not forget something? What would I have forgotten? To tell me you were leaving. Lord Arathorn needs our help. Yet whether he rides to Rivendell or leads the Dúnedain to safety elsewhere, you will not stay. I cannot. I see that now. I go to free my heart of him. Would you not welcome such news? Indeed I would. For you are ever in my thoughts. Did you never know or guess this? You’ve always been kind to me. Kind? No, Elgarain. I love you. I have done for years. When you knew I loved another? Why? Because in time I knew you would be wise enough to let him go. And now I have. Only to run from me. El, do not run. Come with me. I will. Elgarain! Flee! You cannot hold them off alone! Hurry, warn the village! No! You must warn them, for the Dúnedain go! We will see each other again! Go! My lords. My lords! We shall not wait for the orcs to make their advance. We will evacuate the villages, but we will bring war to them in the Wilds, wherever they may be. So let the servants of Evil beware! To arms! To arms! To arms! To arms! Halbaron! Our enemy is upon us! The forest… Dírhaborn… fights to delay them… orcs everywhere! Rangers, to me! Are you injured? No. Gilraen, where is your son? Where is Aragorn? Aragorn!? Go to the Hall! Arathorn! Fall back, fall back! There! He’s the one! Behold your fate. Your house has ended! Papa… Papa, papa!? Two dogs must die today! Gilraen! My lady, go inside! I will not leave you! Papa, papa! The Dúnedain prevailed. But a heavy price was paid for their victory. Forgive me. For what? For my envy… because he chose you. Elgarain! Arathorn, I… Save your strength my friend. I failed you. No. No, you did not. My family is safe because of you. Your father would be so proud. I found my heart today. And now it is lost… He was leaving with you? I will not lose it all. You must live. And Aragorn must live. We cannot lose our hope! Elgarain. Elgarain! How many more must fall? How many?! Too long the servants of evil have ravaged our people and this once-proud Kingdom of Arnor. Men of the West! The Shadow grows longer, and its cruel arm reaches ever toward us. But we cannot lose hope. A time will come when the Dúnedain regain their strength, and banish evil from these lands forever. Until then, we have a duty to safe guard our people at all cost. So, arise, Dúnedain! Remember who you are! Let our enemies once again flee before us! And let no orc leave this forest alive! Gather your rangers. You men with me! I will come back to you. I promise. Then Arathorn, son of Arador, Lord of the Dúnedain, led his people in a great and valiant onslaught, and the servants of the Enemy quailed. Arathorn, wait! Now the line of Kings ends! The line is not broken. There is still hope! They will return, Gilraen. They will. Lady Gilraen! Lady Gilraen! Lord Arathorn is hurt! Has he spoken? Only your name, my lady. Gilraen? I’m here. I’m here! Here is my joy. And there is our hope. Aragorn, Chieftain of the Dúnedain! Then the Lady of the Dúnedain bid farewell to her kin, and to all her people, for to protect the last children of Númenor she bid Halbaron disband Taurdal and the Dúnedain to find safety in small secret settlements in the depths of the forests of Rhudaur. The Heir of Isildur was brought to Rivendell for his fostering and safekeeping. And that is how you are come here to Master Elrond’s house, little one. I will not for many long years call you Aragorn. For your name must be forgotten. Less the enemy learn you live and all we fought for is lost. For the last time then. You are Aragorn, Son of Arathorn, Chieftain of the Dúnedain and the Heir of Isildur. But for now, Estel, you are simply our Hope.