I spent the last 2 days travelling across the North Downs. It was a nice journey; the weather was good and there was plenty of game about so I didn’t go hungry! My goal was a place called Esteldin.
I had been told that Esteldin, or Hidden Hope in Sindarin, is the main gathering of the Dunedain Rangers Apparently it is a “hidden sanctuary standing as the gathering place of the strength of Men in the North – the only power other than Rivendell itself that might offer pause to the growing power of Angmar”.
To tell the truth, that didn’t mean very much to me but when I was told that “Once a secretive organisation, the Rangers are beginning to seek the aid of any stalwart who would raise a blade against the darkness as the North prepares for war”, I became interested.
I was told to contact a man called Halbarad. He sounds a fascinating character.
Halbarad was a Ranger of the North. He is the second in command of the Dúnedain behind Aragorn and also the leader of the Grey Company. Halbarad was among the Rangers who guarded the Shire. He said of the Hobbits “A little people but of great worth are the Shire-folk. Little do they know of our long labour for the safe-keeping of their borders. Yet, I grudge it not.” Clearly a man of great perception!
Esteldín was once a great city of the Northern Kingdom of Arnor, now fallen into decay. Arnor was a kingdom founded by Elendil at the end of the Second Age, after the fall of Númenor. In the first half of the Third Age, Arnor was beset by not only by war with the forces of Angmar, but also by plague and internal strife. After the great battle of Fornost the Northern Kingdom fell, although the line of kings was preserved. Now, however, it has long since fallen to ruin. It is being used as a hidden fortress of the Rangers where they gather to plan forays into the enemy territory of Angmar, which lies just to the north.
And here I am in Esteldin. It is surprisingly busy and there are a number of crafting halls, vendors and, of course, Rangers scurrying about. Something is afoot, it seems.
I found Halbarad and after welcoming me he told me that although the Ranger’s focus was the threat from Angmar, a new offensive was about to be launched in Evendim, to the West. It seems as though the Rangers are keen to protect their flank and there has been renewed trouble in Evendim.
Evendim was the former home of the northern kingdom of Arnor, but it has since fallen into ruin, left to be picked apart by tomb-robbers and the encroaching wild. Additionally, the forces of Angmar have taken over Annuminas for reasons unclear. These events have spread the Ranger’s forces thin and they are now losing on every front. Frankly, they need all the help they can get.
Well, that suits me. I can spend a few days here building up my fitness and training (and my coin which is sadly depleted) and then join the Rangers in Evendim.