For RS, who wanted something about the fortunes of the Dúnedain in the Fourth Age as they rebuild Arnor/Annúminas, preferably with Aragorn.
They saw things that other men never saw: sunsets from the top of Amon Sûl; the secret deer ruts and wallows hidden deep in the trackless woods; at grey dawn, when the sun was a glimmer over the mountains, they saw a hundred swans take flight from the fenlands by drowned Tharbad; on the hunt for orcs and wargs, they passed among the bones of ruined cities – Fornost, Lond Daer, Tharbad, Annúminas. Rangers walked the lost byways, turned old, broken cobblestone for campfires, learned how to make one wall and no roof shelter on the Long Watch.
And they dreamed – dwarvish dreams, elven dreams, the dreams of all the torn-up lives of Middle-earth that yearning remember the light of long gone better days. Around little watchfires in the Wild, sitting backed by the lintels of doors that led no more anywhere, over beer and supper in inns from Dale to Bree, they dreamed in the peculiar fashion that life had taught them.
In the Wild: “You could put a post here, you know,” someone will say. “Good place, right on the rill, there. Someplace for folk to pause along the way.”
“Wouldn't need but a couple men that first year,” another takes up the dream. “Then when they've a roof and some fencing up, let them bring their wives out, start planting.” Nods all around, and murmuring:
“It could be done.”
At Tharbad: “The old bridge rotted, but the stone braces – those are still solid. Break the last of the rot-wood free, float timber down the river and cut the beams and planking here – a little work, and no more fording the hard way.”
“We should never take foul-tempered merchants up the passes again,” says another, and raises a waterskin to the idea. Aiya násie!, someone mutters, and everyone drinks, whatever he has.
On Yuletides at Forsaken Inn: “Another year in the wastes, lads! Drink up – next year, we'll not be here.”
“Why? Going somewhere?” Laughter, groans – everyone knows the joke.
“Aye, we are – to the king who will come, lads. Next year we go East, and we will sit in Barad-dûr's own pub and sing the new year!”
“And afterwards, we raise Annúminas!” the rest chorus.
Generations of dreams flow in blood that spills out onto the earth like so many promises – which it is, and they are. So many dreams, each one lovingly wrought with an eye to hammer and nail, a sense for the clearing and ploughing, for the need of sword and bow that will keep them – always these first. An age of dreams – a thousand years and more, and then one day – it happens. They do ride East. They wrest a new year from the old, though Minas Tirith's taverns are far better than Barad-dûr's.
And when the new king – old Ranger, old hand on the Long Watch, an old and canny dreamer of so many men's dreams – summons them to speak of Arnor, there is but one command in the missive: Tell me what you need to begin.
A/N: ...how to make one wall and no roof shelter: “Shelter,” muttered Sam. “If this is shelter, then one wall and no roof make a house!” - “The Ring Goes South,” FoTR, 282.