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1
Chapter 1

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the recognizable characters; I am only borrowing them for fun for a little while. They belong to J.R.R. Tolkien.

Many thanks to my Beta Readers – J. and Marsha


~~~

Chapter 1

The three riders rode silently along the Great East Road, each of them lost in their own thoughts as the miles slipped away. The area they were riding through was only lightly forested and the ash and oak trees that were scattered throughout the mostly evergreen woods had already turned gold and red on this early autumn morning. The sky was overcast and it was cool and the riders were wrapped against the weather in identical grey cloaks. At first glance the three appeared to be as identical as their cloaks and only on closer inspection did it became obvious that two of the riders were taller and were, in fact, identical while the third rider only looked similar to the twins. His dark, almost black, hair was shorter, only shoulder length, and his ears did not have the graceful points that the other two possessed.

It was the fifth day since they had left the elven haven of Imladris and they would reach their destination, a small Dúnedain village called Dolomar in the early evening. The elven twins, Elladan and Elrohir, sons of Elrond, the Lord of Imladris, were becoming increasingly concerned about the young man who rode between them. The one who was as a brother to them, who had been since he had entered their home as a two year old eighteen years before, the one they knew as Estel, but who had learned his true name, Aragorn, and heritage six months previously and was now going to take his place among his people, the Dúnedain.

“Do they know I am coming?” Estel’s voice broke the silence that had surrounded the three since they had broken camp several hours earlier. He looked between his brothers with a question in his light grey eyes as he absently patted the neck of his roan horse.

Elrohir glanced at Elladan before answering the question, “Yes, Halhigal was informed and I am sure he told the rest of the people in the village, Estel.” He paused, studying his brother, easily seeing the tenseness in the set of his shoulders and his furrowed brow. For a brief moment Elrohir hesitated and then he asked Estel the question weighing on his mind. “What frightens you the most about this, Estel?” he asked in a very quiet voice.

Estel quickly reined his horse to a halt and the other two horses took several more steps before stopping and Elladan and Elrohir twisted slightly in their saddles and looked back at him questioningly, though both knew why he had stopped. “I am not frightened, Elrohir,” he replied sharply. “I am… concerned about living in a village of men and somewhat nervous about meeting kin that I did not even know existed until six months ago, but I am not frightened.” Estel shook his head and urged his horse on, passing his brothers and taking the lead. He was not really surprised that Elrohir would ask him such a question. Elrohir always saw into the heart of others and, if Estel were truly honest with himself, he was more than just concerned about taking on his role as Chieftain of the Dúnedain, but he did not consider himself frightened.

While he had been shocked when his adar had told him his true name, Estel was proud of his newly revealed lineage and he thought he was ready to take on the responsibility for which he now realized he had been training for all his life. Yet there was a small part of him that wondered if he was too young for this, he knew he was very young for one of his people and that concerned him. Estel had never even been amongst the Dúnedain and the only humans he had ever been around, apart from his naneth, was when he and his brothers had helped a family whose horses had strayed and so had no means of pulling their wagon to continue their journey. They were nice people and grateful for the help in rounding up their wandering horses, but that hardly gave him a basis with which to take over leadership of the Dúnedain. While Estel understood the necessity of keeping him hidden from the agents of Sauron and he did not fault the wisdom of his adar, his naneth, or the current leadership of the Dúnedain, he did think it was going to make it difficult for him to adjust to this new life. Fortunately, he thought with an inward smile, he had learned from the wisest teachers in all of Middle-earth and Estel knew that that would be enough for him to find his way… eventually.

“Stop, Estel.”

Estel brought his horse to a halt once again, recognizing the no nonsense tone of Elladan’s voice. He looked at his brother and waited for him to continue.

Elladan knew full well what Estel was thinking, it was difficult for the young man to totally hide his thoughts from either of his brothers. “If you are not frightened, then what are these concerns?” he stared intently at Estel, expecting an answer.

Running his hand through his hair, Estel tried to put his thoughts into words. He trusted his brothers completely, they had always been there for him as he had grown up in Imladris and they were as close as true brothers, yet there was something about this situation that he hesitated to share with them. He was not sure that they could truly understand his heart in this matter as this was something with which they had no experience. Still, Elladan was waiting for an answer and so with an inward grimace he responded slowly with a question of his own. “How old is my uncle, Halhigal, who currently leads the Dúnedain?”

“Seventy,” Elladan said, urging his horse on, the other two automatically bringing their horses into step alongside as they turned off the road and headed south into the area known as the Angle where most of the scattered villages of the Dúnedain were located.

“And the other men in Dolomar?”

Elrohir and Elladan exchanged knowing glances over the top of Estel’s head. “They are all different ages, Estel. Just like in most of the villages,” Elrohir replied, a hint of amusement in his voice.

Estel gave him a brief, hard stare before dropping his gaze back to his saddle. “I meant the men who are in leadership there… the ones that lead the patrols and the ones who give Halhigal counsel.”

Elladan took his time before responding, “The youngest is probably in his fifties and the oldest are over a hundred,” he finally said. “Why does that concern you?” He watched as Estel narrowed his eyes and shifted slightly in his saddle.

“I think I am too young to become Chieftain,” Estel admitted, lifting his head and shifting his gaze between his brothers. “I know Adar believes I am ready for this, as do you two apparently, but I am only twenty and that is young for one of… my people.”

“It is,” Elrohir agreed quietly, as he sought for the words that would encourage his brother. He knew that Estel was ready to take his place among the Dúnedain, yet he also knew that it might take some time for his brother to find his way as a leader and not simply the follower that he had been up to this point in his life. Try as they might, it was rather difficult to give Estel the experience of being a leader when living amidst elves with thousands of years of experience. “While you do not have the experience that your father, Arathorn, had or your grandfather, Arador, had when they took over leadership of your people, Estel, you do have all of the skills that are needed. You are well trained in the use of both sword and bow, in tracking, in healing, and your knowledge of your people and of the history of Middle-earth is deep and,” he paused for a brief moment. “You know how to apply that knowledge to whatever situation you face; Erestor and Adar have taught you well,” Elrohir smiled.

“Estel,” Elladan spoke up once again, “the Dúnedain need and want you to return. This is the longest they have ever been without their Chieftain; it has not been easy for them to have you in Imladris all this time.”

Estel looked at Elladan sharply, having never considered that the Dúnedain might actually need him. He had assumed his uncle was a wise man and had done a good job leading the people while he had been away. “Is Halhigal not a good leader?”

“Your uncle is a very good leader,” Elladan replied, giving Estel a stern look. “I did not mean to imply otherwise.” His voice softened for a moment, “He is, in some ways, much like your naneth. But having Halhigal leading the Dúnedain is not the same as having you, the rightful heir and direct descendent of Isildur and Elendil, leading them. The people trust you without ever having met you; they will follow you without question…”

“Most of them will,” Elrohir interrupted, glancing at his brothers before staring into the woods ahead of them, thinking of a few men who would very likely question Estel and his leadership.

“What do you mean?” Estel asked, frowning.

“There are always men, even among the Dúnedain, who question those in authority, Estel. You had best get used to it now and learn how to deal with them,” the elf replied and Estel nodded, his brow still furrowed.

“But, Estel,” Elladan fixed his brother with his piercing stare, “this is well within your ability. Young as you are, you are ready for this. Halhigal will be a great help and I suggest you heed his counsel.”

“That I already planned on doing,” Estel said with a half smile, stretching slightly, his eyes scanning the woods as he pondered his brother’s words. It was almost the exact same things his adar had said to him, yet hearing it a second time from his brothers somehow made it easier for him to accept and to believe that he was ready for the path laid out before him. It might not be easy, but it was his heritage and destiny and he would just have to find his way.

The trail narrowed and they fell silent as they brought their horses into single file with Elladan leading, Estel in the middle, and Elrohir trailing a short distance behind the other two, keeping a wary eye out behind them. They rode the rest of the way with little conversation between them and the sun was low in the sky as they finally drew close to Dolomar. As they rode up the little rise overlooking the village, Elladan suddenly reined to a stop and put his hand to the hilt of his sword as he stared at a clump of small bushes. His brothers quickly copied him, but only Estel actually drew his sword when he too heard the faint whispering. Elladan and Elrohir visibly relaxed after a moment and gestured for their brother to deal with the situation. Seeing his brothers relax helped still Estel’s racing heart and he called out sharply, “Come out and show yourselves,” remembering at the last moment to speak in Westron instead of Sindarin. It was not a language he spoke often, except with his naneth.

To Estel’s surprise, but not to either of his brothers, two young, dark-haired boys stepped out from the bushes. They shifted nervously from foot to foot, but had determined looks on their pale faces as they faced the three riders. Suppressing a grin and keeping a stern look on his face, Estel laid his sword across the pommel of his saddle as he asked, “Were you planning on ambushing us?”

The boys stared at him wide-eyed and then the taller boy swallowed nervously before he answered. “N-no, my lord,” his gaze flicked between the man and the two elves. “Halhigal asked us to watch for you. Are-are you Lord Aragorn?” a note of awe had crept into his voice and his eyes were shining with excitement while the younger boy was looking the three of them over curiously.

“I am,” Estel replied, inclining his head. “This is Lord Elladan and Lord Elrohir,” he indicated his brothers who were regarding the two boys gravely. “What is your name?”

” Caladithil, my lord,” he said and bowed as he remembered his manners. “This is Balrant,” he elbowed the younger boy, who also bowed before giving Estel a gap-toothed grin and again he had to bite back a smile.

Tapping the hilt of his sword with his fingers as he studied the two boys, Estel finally re-sheathed it and he noticed that their eyes followed every movement that he made with the sword. He addressed them again, “Since you were not planning an ambush, I believe that I will release you to complete the task that Halhigal set for you. However,” he cautioned the boys sternly as they began to move back into the bushes and they froze and stared at him wide-eyed, “as I hope the two of you will join me as Rangers someday, I want you to work on remaining quieter when on watch.” Estel suddenly smiled at the two boys who blinked, grinned and nodded before slipping back into the bushes towards the village below and he could hear them break into a run as soon as they were out of sight.

“Well, Estel,” Elrohir said with a faint smile as they urged their horses forward and headed down the slope, “I would say that your first encounter with your people went very well.”

Estel let out a small laugh before he asked, “Do they have no one guarding the approaches to the village?” From all he had heard and learned of his people, he knew that was not likely, but he did not sense anyone else in the area and neither of his brothers had indicated the presence of other men.

“There are always two or three young men out patrolling the area around the village, usually several miles out though, so that if there is danger, they may warn the people in time to prepare,” Elladan replied.

Estel nodded, satisfied, but did not otherwise respond as he was looking intently at the village that was to be his new home. There was a wooden stockade surrounding a group of about twenty houses made of logs with a few trees scattered amongst the houses. A wide dirt lane ran between the two rows of houses, though grass, turning brown now in the autumn, surrounded most of the homes. Each house had small penned areas in the back for their small flocks of chickens. A few dogs wandered here and there around the village. Estel could see sheep and cows in a common grazing area near the hay, wheat, and corn fields on the far side of the village. Near the center of the village was a large open area and a larger building that Estel assumed was a hall for meetings, special gatherings, and celebrations. A well was also in the center of the village as was a blacksmith shop and other smaller buildings, but Estel could not tell what their purpose was before they dropped too far down the incline and approached the gate into Dolomar. The gate was open and Estel wondered if that was in expectation of their arrival, or if it was typically kept open during the day. They pulled their horses to a halt as there was a grim-faced, middle-aged man standing in the opening watching them closely with narrowed eyes.

“Good evening, my Lord Aragorn, my lords,” he said bowing deeply, first to Estel and then to Elladan and Elrohir. Estel inclined his head and he and his brothers greeted the man in return, though Estel found it strange that people he had never met knew him on sight. “I’m Faelon and Halhigal has asked me to escort you to him. Rosruin,” he motioned to a tall, slender boy standing nearby, “will take your horses to the stables and care for them.”

Hesitating only a moment, for he preferred to care for his own horse, Estel replied as he dismounted, “Thank you,” he paused briefly, then added as he handed the reins to Rosruin, “I would appreciate that this evening,” emphasizing the last two words. Elladan and Elrohir exchanged quick, amused looks with each other, though they said nothing as they turned their horses over to the youth who quickly led them away. Aware of Faelon’s silent scrutiny, Estel turned back to him with a questioning look and the man quickly averted his eyes.

“It’s this way, my lord,” Faelon said, gesturing down the wide lane that led between the rows of houses towards the open area that Estel had seen from above. As they began to walk, Estel glanced behind him and was pleased to note that two boys were standing at the gate, obviously on watch. Trying to look around without being too obvious, Estel saw that the houses were as well built as they had appeared from a distance and that the village was neat and orderly. He knew from his brothers that it was not the same in many villages of men, but the Dúnedain were descendants of those who had escaped from Númenor and they took pride in that heritage and some of that pride was reflected in how they lived. However, living in an elven haven like Imladris, with its beautiful buildings that had been carefully built to seem a part of the natural landscape, had not prepared Estel to live in these simple log homes. He suddenly realized how quiet it was and his first thought was that he was missing the sound of the waterfalls that had surrounded his home all of his life and then he realized that it was the village itself that was quiet and he cast an anxious look around. While he could not see anyone, Estel could sense that they were being watched from the various houses as they strode down the lane. As everyone here knew Faelon and most had seen his brothers, he realized he was the one the villagers were watching. The thought brought him both a sense of dismay and amusement, though he kept an impassive expression on his face.

Nearing the village center, Estel finally heard the sound of children’s voices which relieved him. He did not want his mere presence to disrupt the everyday life of the village. A group of young boys and girls were playing some sort of game around the well and Estel saw that Balrant had joined them, though Caladithil was not in sight. The young boy spotted them and ran to Faelon calling out, “Ada,” and they stopped and waited for him to join them. The rest of the children stared at him and Estel got the uncomfortable feeling that this was going to be something he needed to get used to, not only here, but also in the other villages that he would be visiting in the coming months. A woman came out from a nearby house and shooed the children away and Estel gave her a small smile. The woman looked startled and then gave him a hesitant smile in return.

“I thought you were going home after you and Caladithil told Halhigal that Lord Aragorn was here,” Faelon said, frowning down at his young son.

“I-I was going to Ada, but I wanted to see Lord Aragorn again,” Balrant glanced up at Aragorn from the corner of his eye, almost bouncing in his excitement.

“Well, you’ve seen him, now run along home and tell your nana that I’ll be along shortly,” Faelon said sternly, laying his hand on his son’s shoulder. His voice softened slightly at the disappointed look in his son’s eyes, “Lord Aragorn will be living here now, Balrant, you’ll be able to see him another day.” Balrant brightened at that thought and after a quick bow in the general direction of Aragorn; he took off running towards home and one of the dogs lying by the well trotted along behind him.

As they walked on Estel glanced at Faelon and commented, “Balrant seems like a wonderful boy.” Of course he had never been around any children before, but he liked the boy’s enthusiasm and it gave him something to talk about with Faelon.

Faelon gave him a searching look and then nodded once, “He is, my lord.”

Estel wondered briefly if it was too personal to ask more questions about his family, but he did not know any other way to find out about his people and so he asked. “Do you have other children?”

“Yes, a son, Baisael, who’s thirty and a daughter, Braniell, who’s twenty-two. My wife’s name is Arthiell,” he added after a moment, giving Estel a sidelong glance. “Do you have other questions, my lord?” he asked politely, but Estel could hear the slightly suspicious tone in his voice.

Suppressing an annoyed sigh, Estel shook his head. “Not right now, Faelon. However, I would ask that you remember that I do not know anyone here and the only way I will learn is by speaking with people and asking questions,” he allowed a hint of exasperation to enter his voice and Estel could tell that Elladan and Elrohir were giving him looks of approval, though he was concentrating on Faelon.

Faelon studied his feet for a moment as they walked and then looked up and met Estel’s eyes steadily, “Yes, of course, my lord, forgive me.” Estel nodded once and returned his attention to the house they were approaching where a small group of people – mostly men – were standing. He easily picked out his uncle who was standing slightly in front of the group as he looked like his naneth and he assumed that the woman by his side was his wife, Nimrie. There was an older woman standing nearby and Estel wondered if she was his grandmother, Ivorwen, as he saw a resemblance to both his naneth and Halhigal. Sweeping his gaze over the rest of the gathered men, Estel saw a wide range of expressions in their eyes and on their faces. While all of the older men were grim of face, their eyes showed what was in their hearts – joy, wariness, uncertainty, satisfaction, or a combination of all of those. Those men under forty, however, seemed uniformly pleased and their countenances showed it as Estel reached Halhigal and Nimrie and bowed. He may have been the Chieftain of the Dúnedain, but Halhigal and Nimrie were his uncle and aunt and his adar and naneth had taught him to show respect for the elder members of his family.

“You don’t have to bow to me, my Lord Aragorn,” Halhigal protested quietly as he looked carefully at the tall, young man before him. He was amazed at how closely Aragorn resembled Elladan and Elrohir, though he also realized there was something about him that reminded him of his own son, Halbarad. That Aragorn had been raised in Imladris there was no doubt Halhigal realized as he took in the soft green and grey elvish clothing he wore, yet even without that, it was evident in his very stance and in the graceful way he walked and moved.

“Yes, I do, Uncle Halhigal,” Estel said with a faint smile as he reached out and clasped Halhigal’s forearm. “My adar and naneth taught me better manners than that.” A slight stirring among the men and a flash of something across the face of both Halhigal and Nimrie that Estel could not read made him wonder what he had said wrong and then he realized that he had called Elrond his adar and that among the Dúnedain that might be seen as dishonoring the memory of Arathorn. He gave an inward sigh and realized it could not be helped, while he would never intentionally dishonor the memory of Arathorn, Elrond had raised him and Estel saw him as his adar and he would always refer to him as such. He cast a sidelong glance at Elrohir, but the elf was staring at the ground and he turned his attention back to Halhigal.

“Knowing my sister, I’m sure she did,” Halhigal replied mildly and turned to his wife. “This is your aunt, Nimrie.”

Estel took Nimrie’s hand and kissed it lightly in greeting, “Aunt Nimrie, I am glad to meet you.”

“Welcome to Dolomar, Lord Aragorn,” Nimrie said, smiling. “I do hope that you will be happy here, though I know that it’ll be a big change from Imladris.” Estel nodded as she continued, “From what Lord Elrohir has told me, you’re a gifted healer and I would like to speak with you about healing when things have settled down for you.”

“Are you a healer?”

“Yes,” she replied, “but it’s mostly what I learned from my naneth when I was young and things I’ve learned over the years. I’ve never had any type of formal training and I’d like to learn more from you, if you have the time.”

“I will make the time, Aunt Nimrie,” Estel said with a smile lighting up his face. “It is something that I enjoy and will willingly share with you. Are you the only healer in the village?” At her nod, he continued with a small frown, “Then it is even more important that you are well trained.” He would have gone on but a small sound made him look back at Halhigal who was watching the two of them with an unreadable expression.

“You will find, Halhigal,” Elrohir commented, “that Aragorn is not only a gifted healer, but that once he begins speaking with another healer he tends to become totally focused on the subject.” Estel opened his mouth to protest his brother’s words, but then he realized Elrohir was right and he shrugged slightly.

“Healing is an important skill,” Halhigal noted, surprised at the interest that Aragorn showed in healing even though Elrohir and Elladan had mentioned this gift before. While every Chieftain of the Dúnedain had a certain level of healing skill, he did not remember the three he had served under having this much enthusiasm about it. It was not something that he considered particularly important for a leader to have, though as long as his Chieftain had the other skills necessary, he supposed it did not matter. “Come and meet your grandmother,” he led Aragorn over to the other woman that was standing nearby. “Naneth, this is your grandson, Aragorn.”

Estel felt the full force of his grandmother’s penetrating gaze as she looked him up and down, her bluish grey eyes hard as she examined him. Instead of reaching for her hand, Estel bowed and said quietly, “I am glad to meet you, Grandmother. My naneth also asked me to give you her love and to tell you how much she misses you. Also, now that I… I know my true heritage, she hopes to be able to visit you.” He bowed again and waited for some kind of response.

Ivorwen snorted, “Know your true heritage? Did you just learn of it?” Estel nodded and glanced at Halhigal who shook his head slightly. “You should have stayed here in Dolomar and then you would not just be learning the truth about who you are and Gilraen would have been at my side these past eighteen years.” Estel was stunned at the bitterness in her voice, he had thought that the decision to take him to Imladris had been something that everyone had agreed to and he was temporarily at a loss as how to respond to his grandmother.

“I am sorry, Grandmother, I know that my naneth often wished that she were here with you and the rest of her kin,” Estel finally said, his eyes full of sorrow as he looked down at her. It was true, he had seen the sadness that overtook his naneth at times, sadness that she would not explain to him and while it had lessened as he had grown older, it had remained a part of her.

“She should have returned then,” Ivorwen replied and though her voice was no longer bitter, the hardness did not leave her eyes and a hint of worry could now also be seen there.

“She could not,” Halhigal reminded his naneth gently. “Remember, we sent Aragorn to Imladris to keep him safe, naneth, and as you see we succeeded,” he gestured to the young man standing in front of her.

“Yes, I remember, Halhigal,” Ivorwen whispered. “I just… I just… “ she suddenly turned and hurried away towards one of the houses.

“Forgive her, my lord,” Halhigal started to apologize when Estel interrupted him.

“Forgive her for what?” Estel asked, a look of disbelief on his face. “For the pain of losing her child and grandchild to a far off place? And from what Elladan and Elrohir have told me of my kin, I know that she lost two other children in tragic circumstances and her husband, my grandfather, died only a few years ago. No, Uncle Halhigal, there is nothing she has done that needs my forgiveness. I only wish I could have brought her comfort instead of causing her pain,” Estel’s voice held a trace of sadness and grief for the grandmother he had only just met.

Halhigal stared at him for a long moment and then his stern, grey eyes softened somewhat, “I believe you will give her more comfort than you realize, my lord. There is one more of your close kin that I would have you meet before you meet the rest of the men that are currently in the village.” He glanced around, “My son, Halbarad, is around here somewhere.” When he did not immediately see him, he raised his voice and called out, “Halbarad!”

“Coming, Adar!” a strong clear voice sounded from near the back of the assembled men and then Halbarad wormed his way through the small crowd and joined his father. “Forgive me, Adar,” Halbarad said with a slight bow, “I was helping Caladithil for a moment.” His father gave him a long, stern look and then proceeded to introduce him to Aragorn.

“My Lord Aragorn this is your cousin, Halbarad.”

“Well met, Halbarad,” Estel said, clasping his cousin’s forearm as he intently studied the young man. He knew from his brothers that Halbarad was only a few years older than him and he had been pleased to learn that he had at least one kinsman that was close to his age.

“Well met indeed, my lord,” Halbarad said, bowing. “I’m glad that you have returned to us at last.” He ignored the frown of his father and wondered why the remark might be considered impolite as he knew that his father and most of the Dúnedain were glad that Aragorn had returned.

“I am glad to be here, Halbarad, though I do have one request to make of you and my uncle and my aunt,” Estel looked at each of them in turn and they gave him questioning looks so he continued quietly, lowering his voice so that the rest of the men could not overhear. “I would ask that you not call me lord but simply Aragorn. We are kin and it is not right that you should call me that.”

Halhigal bit back the automatic denial that was on his lips as he studied Aragorn. Though Aragorn hid it well, Halhigal could sense an underlying nervousness in him and he had already determined to do whatever he could to help him as he took his rightful place as Chieftain. If calling him by name would set him at ease, then Halhigal was willing to do that. Aragorn was right, they were close kin and the villagers would not think it strange if they called him simply by name. Glancing at Elrohir, who gave him a very small nod, Halhigal finally said, “If that is your wish, then of course we will call you Aragorn.”

“Thank you,” Estel said, giving his uncle a brief smile.

“It will be easier,” Halbarad remarked, “as that’s what I called you before.”

Estel blinked and gave him a questioning look, “Before?”

Halbarad shrugged, “When you were little. I was five when you left and I remember you quite clearly, though you weren’t much fun to play with at that age. You never could catch me,” he said, a look of remembrance in his eye.

“I was only two when I left, Halbarad, and I rather think I could catch you now,” Estel said, a hint of challenge in his eyes and a faint smile on his lips.

Halbarad grinned and started to reply when Halhigal cleared his throat, giving Halbarad a stern look before turning his gaze to Aragorn. “Aragorn, I would like to introduce you to the other men now,” he said quietly.

“Yes, of course, Uncle,” Estel murmured, slightly embarrassed that he had gotten so caught up in speaking with Halbarad that he had almost forgotten about the other men. He gave Halbarad one last glance and turned to meet the rest of his men.

0-0-0

To be continued…

~~~

Reviewers: Many thanks to everyone who reads the story and especially to those who review, I appreciate the encouragement. I will answer everyone by email when I have an address.

Author’s Note: Return of the King calls Halbarad Aragorn’s kinsman and obviously I have made him a cousin. Also there is no reference as to his age that I could find and it best suited this story to have them close in age.

Because the Dúnedain live so long, I believe that they mature later than most men and I base that on two things. First, Gilraen was 22 when she married Arathorn and her father was opposed to it because she was too young and not of an age when their women normally married (Appendix A in Return of the King). That indicates to me that most Dúnedain women did not marry until they were somewhere between the ages of 25 – 30. Also in Appendix A it says that Elrond looked at Aragorn at the age of 20 and saw that he was early come to manhood though he would continue to grow in mind and body. Again, that indicates that Dúnedain men mature later than most men, which makes sense if you are going to live until you are over 150 years old or so. Of course, Aragorn lived until he was 210, but he was of the purest strain of Dúnedain blood.

Those are the reasons that I use to explain why, for example, Halbarad at the age of 23 is just now going out on patrols. Or why a 17-year old might be considered a boy or a girl and not a young man or a young woman, etc.


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