Forgotten Allies: part vii
The history of one man is the history of all men, a lengthened
trial, more or less. Bitter and sorrowful. The voice of human nature
is nothing but one prolonged cry." -- Dumas
History was written in stone, and many of those stones stood tall
throughout the farmlands of southern England. Ancient signposts
reminded the world that some histories would not be so easily
erased. Despite excavations and research by historians, the true
nature of these stones had yet to be revealed. The only people upon
Middle-Earth who knew the true stories behind them were the
occupants of the car that drove along the roads of Wiltshire County,
Kate had hoped to spend her last summer of university exploring
these roads. Some of the oldest and most interesting archeological
sites in Europe were found along these highways. Stonehenge was the
most famous, but they were not headed to Stonehenge. In fact, Kate
was not sure where they were headed, except deeper into the
agricultural communities west of London.
An oasis of trees broke the monotony of the farmland. In the midst
of a field of crops, a small grove of trees stood, several hundred
feet across at the widest, surrounded by open country on all sides.
"Stop here." Gandalf said.
Kate pulled off the highway and cut the engines. She looked across
the fields to the trees about a quarter of a mile away. Though it
had been a while since her classes, she recognized the place
immediately. "The East Kennett Longbarrow?" she asked.
"Longbarrow?" Elrond said. "You compare the Rath Dinen of Gondor to
Kate made no attempt to respond, and Elrond simply shook his head in
amazement, as everyone got out of the car. "Mortals. Foolishly,
naming things they have no knowledge of," he said.
Gandalf climbed over the fence and the rest of them followed, as he
walked across the fields towards the trees.
"What is the Rath Dinen?" Kate asked.
Legolas' eyes did not stray from the stand of trees as he walked. A
look of both dread and anticipation was on his face. "The Rath
Dinen. The Silent Street. It is the resting place of the great of
Kate mentally reviewed what she knew about the place. The barrow was
a long ridge of dirt, beneath which was found ancient burial
chambers constructed of stone. This one was unusual because of the
trees that surrounded it, and its size. It was among the largest in
England, though no formal excavations had ever taken place here.
She said as much to Gandalf, who simply said, "Yes, but it's the
informal excavations I'm worried about."
An unspoken reverence descended upon the group and they approached
the trees in silence. No place upon Middle-Earth still held onto the
past as this place did. Elrond hesistated a moment before stepping
beneath the branches, words of Elvish spoken softly upon his lips.
As Kate followed him beneath the canopy of trees, even she could
feel the past whispering softly in the branches. She heard Legolas'
sharp intake of breath as he walked behind her. Within these trees,
the past seemed a living breathing thing.
Upon the mound of earth that made up the barrow, wild bushes and
flowers grew, covering it, and almost obscured it from view. The
entrance to the burial chamber was marked by two half-broken
standing stones. Behind them, was a small rectangular entrance, like
an open door leading into the side of the mound of earth. Pulling a
flashlight out of his pocket, Gandalf disappeared into the man-made
The inside of the barrow was constructed entirely of stone. Kate
stumbled down several steep steps behind Elrond, until she stopped
and gaped in wonder. The low entrance gave way to a ceiling of
unimaginable height. Nearly 20 feet above them, the arching stone
The passageway was narrow but long, and extended under the earth for
the entire length of the small grove of trees. The stone walls were
unadorned, the grandeur of the elvish runes that onces graced the
stones had long since been worn away by time.
As they walk up the length of the passage way they were greeted by
deathbeds on either side. Skeletons were all that remained of the
Rath Danin, where the great of Gondor had once lay in splendor.
Even the clothes they had worn had long since crumbled to dust.
No one spoke as they slowly made their way up the length of the
barrow. Kate glanced at the skeletons as she walked by. Most were
the tall skeletons of men. However, Kate stopped when she saw two
smaller skeletons. They lay upon the same stone bed, side by side,
holding hands. Gandalf and Elrond disappeared in front of her. She
stepped closer to examine the bones and shined her flashlight on
"Children." she said.
"Not children." Legolas said, softly from behind her. "Here are the
halflings you wanted to see." Kate turned to face him and was
shocked to see his eyes filled with tears.
"You knew them?" Kate asked.
Legolas nodded. He had walked this path too many times. Both Gandalf
and Elrond had long since passed beyond the seas into the west when
Merry and Pippin and finally Aragorn had fallen into eternal rest.
None but he and Gimli were left of the fellowship to honor their
"I laid them to rest here." Legolas said. He reached out a hand and
placed it over the clasped skeletal hands of the small hobbits. He
stood silent for a long moment as if seeing them the way they were
in life and waited for Kate to walk forward.
A few yards ahead of them, they caught up with Elrond and Gandalf.
They stood beside a another stone bed, the skeleton tall and the
shoulders broad. But there was no sword within his hands, or pendant
around his neck.
"It's gone." Gandalf said.
"There were swords and armor upon all of these men," Elrond
said. "Who are the grave robbers now?" He cast his glance at Kate.
"If you have a description of these things. There are ways of
finding them." she said.
"You think you can find one pendant among the thousands of
antiquities upon the earth?" Elrond said.
"If it's still within the antique community. I can find it." she
"This quest seems to fall further and further into folly." Elrond
Kate stepped closer to the stone bed. "This is Aragorn?" she asked.
"It once was. Where he walks now, it is not within these bones."
"The sleep of mortals contains little hope." Elrond said.
"That is not what Aragorn believed. Even on his dieing breath, his
last words to Arwen were of a great hope." Legolas said.
"What were those words, Legolas?" Gandalf asked.
"In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. We are not bound forever
to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory."
"I hope that is true." Gandalf said. As they walk out of the barrow,
Gandalf put his arm around Kate's shoulders. "I have never lost
hope, my dear. No matter, how dire things may seem, there is always
hope of success. Promise me you will remember that."
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