Coivanda

The men lay there, peaceful, with their hands folded across their chests and faces looking west. They could almost have been sleeping, were it not for the fact that all three were in states of gory disarray, bloody and clearly dead.

But no Orcs had arranged them like that; about them the Rangers stood in silence, looking down at the dead, or at each other, and Halbarad's eyes were fixed on the Nameless One.

He had joined them in a small town, the name of which Halbarad could not remember, and he did not have a name. At least, he had refused to give his name, saying merely that he would when the time was right, and all the men called him the Nameless One. Even to his face, for he did not mind, merely smiled and said that 'Names are but borrowed from their givers'. Sentiments that puzzled most of the men, but intrigued Halbarad – they were akin to the sayings of old, in lore-books.

He was clad strangely, in an old green cloak that looked as though it had been handed down through several generations, but underneath it in soft greys. His hair was dark, and a little too long; his eyes were sea-grey.

He stood now, at a respectful distance from the dead, head bowed, and murmuring softly under his breath.

Was it a prayer for the dead? Was it an imprecation against Sauron? Was it nothing to do with this at all, but merely a recollection of another place, another time?

Halbarad did not know.

And the man without a name raised his head and looked sharply at Halbarad, just then, as if he knew what Halbarad was thinking.

Halbarad was the first to look away.

-

It was night, and the air was still and calm.

Quietly, the diminished company talked; some smoking quietly, unwilling to take more active roles in the discussion; others talked and laughed animatedly, but all were soft, for fear of attracting some untoward thing. There had been enough battle for one day.

And Halbarad, again, could not help but look at the man sitting alone, some distance away, back turned to the others and gazing out into the night.

Softly, as one of the men began a fresh tale, about an adventure alone in the Wild, Halbarad slipped over and sat by him.

The man was gazing west, west towards Rivendell, and then towards the Shire and the Havens. Halbarad wondered at this, but did not comment; let the other begin the conversation, if he would be so reclusive.

Seconds passed; the man did not say a word, and Halbarad grew uncomfortable.

"'Tis a fine night, is it not?" he said at last, looking at the other's face.

The man without a name nodded. Halbarad saw now that he was younger than he had believed; younger perhaps than Halbarad himself.

"Fine indeed," he said. "Enjoy it while you may!"

He looked away again, and Halbarad wondered what he meant by that.

"Did you know them, those men who died today?" he asked.

The man shrugged.

"I knew their names."

"They died well," Halbarad offered.

"Indeed," the other offered, "But maybe it would have been better, had they not died at all."

"Is that so?" asked Halbarad. "It seems to me that death is not such a great evil in these dark days. Not as great as some."

"Perhaps," said the other. "Perhaps after we die, it is peaceful again, an eternal rest from the burden of our short time of living."

"Do you think so?"

The man looked down for a moment.

"Others may say that dying is blackness," he said, "But for me, it shall grow bright, not dark, and it will be as though all things draw towards a glorious golden sunset beyond which there is a long dusk."

Halbaraad stared at him. The fire flickered a little away from them, and the dancing shadows played on his face.

The other smiled slowly.

"But now it is yet dawn."