Rangers of the North

S04E00 - prologue: The Company of the Dragon

Wherein Barhador forms the Company of the Dragon

Throughout the years of his imprisonment Feredir held report with those birds that would come to him, and knew much of what occurred outside, but he was ever unable to deliver a message, as any allies proved too far removed, save one, who shared his cell. His trusted companion Ancalagon, though greatly outliving other of his marten-kin, lived hidden among the prisons for many years. But though long-lived, he could not escape his doom as a lesser beast, and would seldom find his way to the dungeons of Feredir and Salabon, as the guards kept many beasts with which to torment and guard their prisoners. Greatly did Feredir mourn the loss of his trusted ally. Grey Cloak, the great wolf of Evendim, returned to Angmar, and guarded the entrance to Scorba’s lair. Many Orcs did he slay there after the War, who had come seeking a new Master. When Feredir finally escaped captivity, Grey Cloak knew it in his heart, and set off across Middle-earth, to meet with his master on the borders of Rohan, where they were finally reunited.

Thereafter for four years Barhador, as he now named himself, and Grey Cloak wandered much in Eriador, in Númeriador, and into Mirkwood and Wilderland, and even beyond, a solitary vigilante, ever fighting the scattered agents of Sauron where he would find them. But much lore and knowledge he sought, as was the chief purpose of his roamings, and he would wander to any village, stead or ruin that held rumour of Dragon lore. Much he knew already, and much he learned. Thus, he became known to many as the Dark Sage, for he would oft-times be swaddled in his long, grey cloak, his grizzled face shadowed by his wide-brimmed hat, perhaps resembling one of the Wizards, or other dark loremasters of legend. And ever his companion was the great wolf Thingol, striking fear among Men, but never harming any living creature save the servants of Sauron. Others named him Erefarad, the last of the Rangers, and truly, so he was, the only one of that people still roaming the wilderness. Others called him Shadow, or Ghost, or the Grey Wolf of the Downs, for he would stalk forests and ditches and fens, and only be seen when he wished to be so, and woe unto the enemies of Men and Elves who crossed his paths. Orcs knew of him, and trolls, and other fell beasts hiding from the Reckoning after the War, and they feared him, for they knew not who, or what, he was. Had they known, they would have feared him still, for his heart burned, as did his eyes, with the fervour of the Valar, to whom he had pledged himself completely. His task that he had set before him was to rid Middle-earth of the servants of Darkness where he would find them, though the doom of Scorba the Great was his plight, and that path was his own alone. He had long since decided to seek this task alone, to spare his one-time Companions. He still felt the pain of Salabon’s betrayal too great, and shame for the loss of Baran, sorrow for not being able to defend Eldacar who lost his fate of Elves, and great grief for Jack Fleetfoot’s sacrifice. But he would be confounded to that end, for although he found great joy in seeing Beoraborn reclaiming his people, and contenmnet that at least one of his Companions had found peace, he would inevitably cross paths with his other Companions, Idhris the Lindoner, Brólin of the Iron Hills and Svendir the Spearman, and those Companions would not be refused in aiding in the downfall of Scorba.

In those days he rekindled his friendship with the birds and beasts. Therefore, he vowed to no longer eat any flesh nor slay any living thing that was not in the service of Sauron, as a tribute to the line of Beren Erchamion, his distant kinsman echoing through the Ages. They would aid and guide him, and never betray him, for they, too, recognised the strange kinship with Beren, and eventually, they led him back to Imladris.

Bròlin, Idhrhis and Svendir had receiced word of his coming, for many creatures and omens spoke of it, and so they were all there, in Rivendell, when Barhador arrived. At first, Barhador would not allow his old friends to join him, but they managed to persuade him that they had all read signs and portents that this was their path, and he was therefore unwilling to deny them. Therefore, the Companions took counsel with the Sons of Elrond, and they it was that pointed to the clouded lands beyond the Ered Luin, the Blue Mountains. For in that mysterious and distant land, said they, were the last vestiges of Beleriand that was before, destroyed in the battles against the Black Enemy in the War of Wrath, in Ages past. When Beleriand fell, Men, Elves and Dwarves all fled south and east, and all else was swallowed by the wrath of Ossë and his master Ulmo. These tales Barhador knew well, for they were often told in the Imladris of his youth. There, said they, the Dwarves of old knew secrets that had allowed them to drive away even the mighty Glaurung, Father of Dragons, himself. With them, the Sons of Elrond sent Elthir, young in the years of the Elves, but knowledgeable about the Elven-lore of the creatures of Morgoth, and trusted and loyal servant of Imladris. So say the Sons of Elrond. He would therefore serve as the representative of Imladris, if Barhador and the Companions wanted any help from the Elves of Rivendell. And so, their party swelled, grudgingly accepted by Barhador, the Companions set out from Imladris to the distant mountains beyond the Lhûn.

In the ancient days, the Blue Mountains were an unbroken chain separating Eriador from Beleriand, before they were brought to ruin during the War of Wrath. And so, they ruptured, and gave way to the sea under the might of Ossë and his master Ulmo. The great Dwarven citadels Nogrod and Belegost were also ruined when the mountains broke, and most of the Dwarves migrated east, towards Khazad-dûm. Now, these cities are but a distant memory, and the Dwarves of Ered Luin are mostly Thorin’s folk, dwelling in the halls of his people. Here, Dwalin still lives, once Bilbo’s companion, and ally to Feredir, Brólin, Idhrhis, Beoraborn and Svendir during the Battle of the Borderlands. Dwalin welcomes them as such, and they spend some time with him learning such lore of Nogrod and Belegost as survived with the refugees from the War of Wrath. When Dwalin learns of their quest, he tells them of a Dwarf named Brock, a prodigious smith and lorekeeper, who has spent much time trying to delve after the remnants of Belegost on the western slopes of the Ered Luin. Many artifacts has he found, though most have been destroyed beyond use, but Dwalin forebodes that he will have valuable counsel in this quest. Dwalin himself leads them through many secret passes into Forlindon, and points them to the hidden path that leads to the dwellings of Brock. Brooding and fierce, Brock is at first unwilling to talk to the four strangers, especially as two are Elves, but as he learns of their Quest, a glint is born in his eyes, and he disappears to rummage around in his hut for some time, before emerging with several ghastly hoods in a leather-like metal. He explains that these are his attempts at recreating Dwarf-masks of Azaghâl. It were these which allowed the Naugrim of Belegost to withstand better than any others in Beleriand the fires of Glaurung, Father of Dragons, and the secret that allowed them to defeat the Worm. They have prodigious resistance to fire, but Brock has no way of knowing if they actually serve their purpose against an actual Dragon. The Companions are desperate enough to take the risk, and so their ranks swell again, as Brock the Dwarf packs up his portable smithy, and sets off with the others, along the secret paths and passes back into Númeriador.

And thus, the Company of the Dragon is formed.

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