|History of The Osgiliath Guard|
|Written by Ingo|
|Monday, 27 August 2007 16:10|
The history of The Osgiliath Guard starts in the great Numenorean haven of Pelargir before the founding of Gondor. When Ar-Pharazon the Golden sent his great armament to challenge Sauron for control of Middle Earth, he decided to land at Umbar and not Pelargir, though the latter was more severely threatened by its nearness to Mordor. Faced with the might of Numenor, Sauron's forces deserted him and left him to beg clemency from the victor. In later years, the King fell victim to the blandishments of Sauron and mustered the forces of Numenor to invade the Undying Lands, but the men of Pelargir remembered the earlier slight and only a handful answered his call.
When Elendil and his sons escaped from the destruction of Numenor the citizens of Pelargir hid their hearts and disguised their joy at the downfall of Ar-Pharazon. Thus the sons of Elendil believed them to have also remained faithful to the Valar and honored them for this. When the city of Osgiliath was built to be the capital of Gondor, the elite guardians of the city were chosen mainly from among the Numenoreans of Pelargir. Isildur himself granted them their name - The Osgiliath Guard - and swore them to an oath to defend King and City unto death.
The Guard was organized into two companies to fulfill its dual role. The smaller Guard Company was manned by veteran warriors in their prime and stayed by the side of the King of Gondor. The larger Osgiliath Company remained in the city, where the newest recruits and youngest warriors were constantly trained by the old veterans and all took their turn at standing guard over Osgiliath. Both companies served with great honor during the war against Sauron. The Osgiliath Company protected the city against assassins coming up from Harad and trying to enter by night to wreak terror upon the city, and the Guard Company stood with Isildur as he faced Sauron, and were cut down nearly to a man.
The Osgiliath Guard grew powerful as Gondor grew in strength, yet it remained an exclusive group, open only to those of pure Numenorean or of Numenorean and Elvish race. As the blood of Numenor waned in Gondor, the arrogance of the Guard increased, and they looked down upon the Northmen who flocked to serve the King of Gondor. When Eldacar became King many of the nobles conspired against him, for his father had married a Northman princess and they would not brook a King of mixed blood. When conspirators rasied an army and attacked Eldacar in Osgiliath, the Guard Company attempted to betray him, but that failed and they fled with many of the Osgiliath Company to join the besiegers. Osgiliath was burned as Eldacar escaped north and the remnants of the loyalists from the Osgiliath Company stayed in the ruins as the usurper Castamir set up court in Pelargir. After ten years Eldacar returned with a host of Northmen, and the men of Anorien and Ithilien joined him to defeat Castamir at the siege of Pelargir and the battle at the crossings of Erui. The betrayers from the Osgiliath Guard followed the sons of Castamir to Umbar after the defeat where their numbers dwindled as the long years passed until there were none of Numenorean blood within that once proud city.
Though they had not sided with the usurper, the remnants of the Osgiliath Company were no longer trusted and the Guard Company was never reformed. Instead King Eldacar chose a new bodyguard from the Northmen who had served him and from loyal citizens of Gondor. The Osgiliath Guard was left to guard the shrinking remnants of their city, which never recovered from the siege. Within a few generations King Tarondor moved the King's House to Minas Anor and the population of Osgiliath dwindled further until it was little more than the garrison of the Guard.
The Osgiliath Guard struggled over the long years to recover their tarnished reputation. They reaffirmed their oath by swearing to defend all the Free Peoples from evil, and they opened the ranks of the Guard to anyone skilled in the arts of war and willing to swear the same oath. Northmen, once shunned, were welcomed into the Guard and grim warriors from the hill peoples of Gondor's distant provinces shared their arcane knowledge of spear and sling with swordsmen wearing heirloom mail of Numenor. When the Army of Gondor marched to war, some part of the Osgiliath Guard would always join, marching with the companies of Ithilien.
The years passed and the line of Kings ended when Earnur rode into Minas Morgul to meet the Witch King's challenge and never returned, yet the Osgiliath Guard abided and kept watch over the city and the great Stone-bridge over Anduin while the Stewards ruled Gondor. In the days of the Steward Denethor I, Osgiliath came at last to utter ruin when the Witch King marched from Minas Morgul with a great host of Uruks, sweeping across Ithilien in order to capture the crossing of the Anduin. Yet the men of Gondor, led by Denethor's son Boromir, held fast against the orcs until faced with the dreadful faceless countenance of the Witch King. Of all the captains only Boromir stood against him, and of the men, only the Osgiliath Guard stood their ground and faced that evil foe without flinching, half of them beside Boromir on the western approach to the bridge and the other half beneath, working feverishly to break the arch. The Nazgul could not prevail and the Uruk army was defeated and Ithilien regained.
The Osgiliath Guard was redeemed, but paid a bitter price, for of Osgiliath there was nought left but piles of rubble on an island in the Anduin. The Guard disbanded as a military unit, but stayed together as an organization dedicated to the fight against evil. Members still swore the oath to defend Gondor, but served in other companies, served at sea against the Corsairs, or travelled to far-flung lands to observe and act against distant evils. The Osgiliath Guard established groups amongst the major populations of men, nearby in Gondor and Rohan, and also in the north in both Bree and Dale. From the latter two they made freindships and recruited members from the Dwarves who travelled along the Great East Road from Ered Luin to the Iron Hills and also with the Hobbits of the Shire. Although the northern peoples were not much concerned with Mordor and the enemies of Gondor, there were orcs who threatened them in the mountains and the constant problem of bandits along the roads. Even the usually complacent habitants of the Shire worried about bandits as much as they did the occasional wolf that destroyed a farmer's chickens or the maddened boar which rooted up a farmer's fields.
Elves too lived near the dwarf road in Ered Luin and Rivendell and north of it in Mirkwood the Great and they became acquainted with members of the Guard as travellers in their lands. The Osgiliath Guard sought to recruit among them as well, even from amongst the secretive elves of Lorien, for they often travelled to Rivendell or to Thranduil's halls in Mirkwood where they became known to the Guard.
Eventually the Guard contained members from every major group of Free Peoples. There were no overall leaders, instead there was a council of the wise in Gondor who collected information, and local groups who gathered information and directed their own to thwart local evils. Those of the Osgiliath Guard who travelled as merchants, sellswords, as adventurers had many secret signs by which the recognized their fellows. Chief among these was the image of a broken-arched bridge, commemorating the final defense of Osgiliath.
In the year 2954 Mount Doom burst into flame and the last inhabitants of Ithilien fled over Anduin to safety. This served as a signal to the Osgiliath Guard and they increased their recruiting and began to actively gather intelligence about the enemy. About this time a great captain, Thorongil by name, entered the service of the steward Ecthelion II and helped him to strengthen Gondor against the enemy, eventually leading a raid against the Corsairs and burning a great part of their ships in the harbor of Umbar. Many members of the Osgiliath Guard served in the force that raided Umbar, including a few who had come down from Bree to support their southern kin. They recognized the accent of a fellow northerner from the odd word of the common speach he dropped here and there, and by his appearance and demeanor as a Dunadan of the North.
Despite his great victory over the Corsairs, Thorongil refused to return to Minas Tirith and the honors that awaited him and instead departed from Gondor.
"He returns to his home in the north." said the wise among the Guard, "He does not wish to become a rival to Denethor, who is come into his manhood, for he fears such rivalry would not be for the good of Gondor." Then they questioned further their comrades from the north, asking about the remnants of the Dunedain of Arnor and of their leader. Some delved amongst the old histories in the archives for news that had travelled from the north during the end days of the Kingdom of Arthedain. All led to the same conclusion, there was no evidence that the line of Kings had ever died out in the North. The Kingdom had ended, that was true, but not the lineage. Messengers were dispatched to the north to speak to the Elves who belonged to the Guard, but thought the Elves of Lindon and of Mirkwood admitted freely their lack of knowledge, those of Rivendell and Lorien remained curiously silent and would say nought of the heirs to ancient kingdoms of men.
Yet even silence is information, and thus the Osgiliath Guard was the first in Gondor to learn that an heir to Kings still lived in the northern lands. They kept this secret close to their hearts, but they decided to mobilize their strength to support the hidden King. Since he was in the north, the Guard should gather there.
Word was sent out from Gondor, "Dangerous times and great deeds are nigh. The Osgiliath Guard shall muster in the north, in The Shire and Bree, in Duillond and in the Halls of Thorin, by ones and twos and more. Seek your fellows and join with them to fight the gathering evil." West from the Iron Hills and Dale and Erebor came Dwarves and Men, joined by Elves of Mirkwood and Lorien and Rivendell along the road, the men stopping in Bree amongst their fellows and the Elves and Dwarves continuing to the Ered Luin to join their fellows further west. More men came north from Gondor and Rohan into Bree, slipping through the Gap of Rohan and avoiding the watchers of Saruman. And in The Shire and in Bree, the adventurous Hobbits who had joined the Osgiliath Guard gathered in inns and taverns and planned how they too would fight against the gathering darkness.