The Field of Cormallen

They had retreated from the place where once the black gate had stood to a field near the Anduin, lined with yellow-blossomed trees. Cormallen, it was called. There they set up tent and the wounded found the peace they needed to heal.
Lorron had been worried about Ranulf. It was easy to overlook him, functioning as he was, when so many daily chores needed the Captain’s attention. So Lorron reminded himself not be fooled by that and to look after him on a daily basis. It was likely he would try to overwork himself to fill a void or to just be exhausted enough to fall asleep without further worries. For that reason, he had not chosen him to help Hamnath, for instance, for fear he’d place care for the wounded over care for himself. Right now, Ranulf needed to learn to appreciate his own self again. No weapon’s training, either. Not now. So he’d sent him to care for the horses and to go hunting for food, something he liked and did well. He was rewarded for that idea with a rare smile, as Ranulf and Alden brought in a deer one afternoon. „Fine fat fellow, thanks a lot, guys!“ Lorron exclaimed. „Ranulf, go tell the gondorians yonder in the great tent. This one’s going to be a feast for us and them tonight.“ „With pleasure, Captain.“ He wasn’t back to his old self, but he was healing. The more he settled into the rythm of the group, the less he thought of the past, now, under the clear sky as the year enfolded all around them.
But it was only a short rest. A few days, a beginning, no more. Companies were being dispatched to sweep the dark tide out of Mordor itself, to tear down any garrison still manned there. And one day, it was Lorron’s turn to ride.
Standing next to a bench by his table in the tent, he looked up from some crude cards drawn on a parchment as someone entered. „Ranulf, I called you here to tell you that… well… I don’t feel comfortable taking you with us. I’d rather you stayed here. We go where remnants of the dark still linger.“
Ranulf swallowed and bowed his head, then shook it. „Damn you, man… it was your belief in me that made me feel better and now you’re telling me you don’t trust I can stomach whatever we find there? Forget it. I chose to believe you when you said it wasn’t my fault and that the past shouldn’t hold power over me. Don’t you dare go back on your words now.“
„I don’t. It’s just that I thought you needed more time.“
„Stuff the time someplace. I won’t stay behind when the others go. If that was all, Captain, then I’d like to get my gear ready now.“
Lorron laid his head to one side. „Why do I have the feeling you hang out with Tjoren too much? Allright, if you’re sure then so be it. But be warned: We’re riding with Hrimholt’s company. He despises Haram, Vilheith and most of all me for letting ‚things‘ happen. And Arnim rides with him and thinks in line with his Captain, only that he despises Haldagard and everyone near him most.“
„Wrong, Lorron“, said Ranulf with a wry smile and watched his captain’s eyebrows narrow ever so slightly. „You made top of the list when he learned you were alive. Guess why.“
Lorron was at a loss for the moment and just looked at him uncomprehendingly.
„Tradition. Tradition demands you ask him for Larynje’s hand. And after Hytbold he can’t very well say ’no‘. It’s been galling him since the Pelennor. If he rides with us, that’s just one more reason for me not to stay behind. Someone’s got to watch your back. Especially since you warn me of Mordor, but are completely unaware of the darkness that still lingers inside Arnim.“
Lorron had gone bright red in the face and it was fading only slowly. He hadn’t told Jehan. He had never told Tjoren or anyone! He stared at Ranulf aghast.
„Don’t take my warning too lightly just `cause he’s Aerwald’s son“, Ranulf insisted. „He’s still a blasted …. and clings to the shreds of his pride. I wouldn’t bet on it he doesn’t choose murder over constant humiliation, and that’s what you are to him. Be careful.“
„How can you and he know something I myself…. ehm…“ Lorron’s voice trailed off.
Ranulf chuckled. „It doesn’t matter what you knew or want, Lorron. She set her eyes on you and since she’s even more stubborn than her brother she’ll get what she wants. Just make sure you get back to her in one piece.“
Lorron had to sit down. The important part of this had been news to him. „But… why would she tell Arnim?“
„He’s got eyes. He found out for himself.“
„Great good… does all of Cliving know?“
„No. You were presumed dead, remember?“
„Then why would she tell you?“
Ranulf sighed. „To make me understand“, he said.
They eyed one another for a moment. Then Ranulf sat down on the bench opposite Lorron.
„You know, I wasn’t angry at you because she’d chosen you but because you’d left her without a word. I thought: damn arrogant bastard, cares nothing that he takes a heart and breaks it in one stride.“
Lorron shifted his weight. He wasn’t comfortable. „I had been brandished a liar. I couldn’t court her the way I’d have liked to.“
„You don’t need to defend yourself. I know you better now.“
„I… think I hated myself too much back then to be open for anything else…“
„Lorron… stop“, Ranulf said softly. „You just pulled me out of a dark pit… don’t look back on the one you’ve been in. We can’t have you brooding now. I said I was angry at you. She never was.“
Lorron shook his head. „Great good ancestors…“ he said slowly.
They looked at each other again.
„I’d better prepare for the ride tomorrow now, Captain.“ Ranulf got up and Lorron followed him to the entrance. „Tell Jarl I changed my mind about you“, he said.

aus den Ländern von Mittelerde und darüber hinaus