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Hallas, the second Marshall of the Mark, looked out through the window. He was in Edoras, in council with the King and his sons. The Year was 2885 and the day was March 2 in the Shire Reckoning. The kingdom was deeply troubled after a scout had detected a great company of orcs traveling from the Emyn Muil to the Fords. Even though it was destroyed, the people wondered how the orcs dared to pass through the Mark after King Folca destroyed the last Orc-stronghold.
There was also another reason for concern. There was now hard fighting at the crossing of the Poros in the Kingdom of Gondor far away. But still the Rohirrim promised allegiance to Gondor if there was any invasion on them. The steward, Turin II, might call for aid from them in a few weeks. For the great beacon of the Holy Mountain had lighted calling the Rohirrim for aid.
So the King called a council to decide whether or not to muster the Rohirrim. Though the people of the Mark had become numerous they were still a scattered people and gathering them would take some time. Another thing of debate was whether the King himself should lead the Army or his twin sons should lead it.
The King said to his chief advisor “I cannot deny that some evil might come from the orcs to us in these days, but still we must go to Gondor for we promised the stewards of Gondor our allegiance, and I would not break it even if all the orcs threaten the Mark.”
The Chief Advisor became pensive and said, “ That is your will, my lord, but should we not look to our own defense and then only look to Gondor’s defense and are they not more mighty than we are?”
The King’s face became haggard and he replied “ Do you forget the service the steward Beregond II provided for us when the Mark was overrun by the Dunlendlings or do you forget the Oath of Cirion and Eorl that we shall help each other no matter what?”
Suddenly, they all heard a fair voice shout the king’s name and the challenge of the Guard. They all stopped arguing. A guard came to them and said, “ There is an errand-rider of Gondor outside. He claims to come from the steward and must talk to the king immediately for the good of both kingdoms”
“Let him come” said King Folcwine.
A tall man came in and he indeed looked like one of the fair warriors of Gondor. He was clad as a rider with a cloak of dark green over a coat of fine mail; on the front of his helm was wrought a small star. In his hand he bore a single arrow, black-feathered and barbed with steel, but with a point of red painted on it.
Many were awed and the king whispered “The Red Arrow! Has it indeed come to that?”
The Sons of Folcwine came near the rider.
man said, “Hail, King Folcwine of Rohan and the ally of Gondor.” Then
he knelt and held out the arrow and continued. “I am Gundor,
errand-rider of Turin, Steward of Gondor, and I bring you this token of
war. Gondor is in great need. The Lord Turin asks for all your strength
and speed to aid us lest Ithilien fall!”
Then the King took the Red Arrow in great dread and was silent for a while. “ The Red Arrow…. It has not been seen in the Mark from the day of its founding… But still Ithilien is far away, south and east. It shall take us at lest a fortnight to get there!”
“ A fortnight! But Lord…you do not understand our need. The Haradrim have mustered a great army in the far south near the city of the Corsairs. Our spies in that city, fifteen days ago heard about the great muster, which would have been complete by three days from then. We estimate their strength must be eight-thousand. Our spies escaped from the city by ship up the Pelargir and the Anduin and thence to Harlond. They told about the Enemy’s gathering and their purpose to invade Ithilien and perhaps the city itself. It is guessed that they will take ten days to travel around the desert and to the crossing of the southwater, the River of the Debated land.”
The man paused and gulped as if unable to communicate to them the darkness of the situation. Gundor continued, “ They will cross the Poros in five more days. They will contend with our army in Ithilien and easily defeat it, for the men in Lebennin are fighting the Corsair invasion to the southwest and we are slow to muster them. The Corsairs are contending with all our ship-armies. We can send only a few of the Guard of the City. They shall fully invade Ithilien. The Lord begs thee to send what host you can send in haste to Middle-Ithilien near the outpost on Emyn Arnen before the army invades Osgiliath. We know from our spies that they are not planning to invade Lebennin but Ithilien along the lines of the Mountains of Shadow.”
The King and his council paused, and each face in Meduseld was anxious, for it seemed that the Haradrim would easily invade South Ithilien and take and mayhap conquer all of Ithilien. Before the eyes of Hallas each one in the Hall seemed to have shrunk. A cold wind and a sudden darkness fell on the hall.
They all slowly stirred. The king spoke to Gundor. “Evil is the time as would be anyway but say to me this: Why would those Southrons invade us so suddenly? They have not hitherto tried such a great invasion for more than 900 years.
Gundor sighed and slowly spoke. “It is not known for certain but it is guessed that some emissary of evil has stirred them. It is presumed that it was by some of the servants of the Lord of the Morgul. Our peril is imminent. If something happens to South Gondor, we might lose all defenses against Minas Morgul. It might not affect Rohan directly, but still the shadow might surely and slowly enter Rohan. So my lord, Turin II, begs thee to muster an army and send it to the secret stronghold at the base of Emyn Arnen.”
to Hallas that time itself stopped while the face of the king was
troubled and that the face of all in the hall was grave. The king
himself stirred first. His fair cloak rippled in the eerie wind along
with his fair gold hair. He put his right hand on his sword hilt and
announced in a great voice, “Hear
the words of the Lord of the Rohirrim, Gundor, and send this reply to
the Lord of the Nimminas. It is that we are the proud but faithful folk
of Leod and the Eotheod. Eorl and his descendants swore to help Gondor
in whatever need and I shall help Turin. A great host I will send over
the plains to the dismay of your foes. Fear not, for Rohan is more your
friend than ally in war. An hour you shall hold counsel with the Lord
of Mark and his counselors and learn what you may about how many and by
what means and when the Rohirrim shall arrive to the aid of the
warriors of the land of stone”
As he spoke all that heard him were in awe, for in him they heard the reply to the Oath of Cirion. It seemed to Hallas that all in the hall shrank and that the king grew in splendor and might.
Thus the counsel for the second great ride of the Rohirrim began.
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