Minas Anor ~ November 1442 The day started clear and cold with the breath of winter lightly blowing down from the north. Halvarin had risen in the dark of the morn and made his way to the Commander’s Quarters on the sixth level. There was so much to do to get a grasp on his position. He sent word to the commander of Osgiliath and Minas Ithil. Halvarin knew them to be supporters of Eldacar, and he was eager to consolidate their support. Michas knew him well but the commander of Minas Ithil knew only Amarwen, and only at a distance for she had not been able to meet him yet. The local commander of Minas Anor was Bergil, a man Halvarin had served with on his first ship posting. As for his allegiances, Halvarin could only guess for Amarwen had not named him amongst her rebels. Given that Bergil had risen through the ranks to hold the command of the White City, Halvarin had to presume him to be one of Castamir’s. Care would be needed, for Halvarin could not leave Bergil out of any discussions he had with the other two commanders. Such a thing would raise suspicions and so this necessitated initial meetings with each, one by one, prior to drawing them all together. Bergil first, of course, and the others as they arrived. It was not long before Bergil stood in Halvarin’s office, peering about to see what changes Halvarin might have already made. ”Commander Bergil, Halvarin said as the man looked about, ”It has been some years since we shared the decks the Bowfin.” “Yes, I thought I recognised your name,” Bergil replied and Halvarin inclined his head. Their talk swiftly fell to the status of Minas Anor as Bergil offered a review of his command of the city. With no prior knowledge of him from Amarwen or her uncle, Halvarin designated Bergil the six of diamonds. The sort of man that would bend whichever way the winds blew, or so he suspected. For all of that, Bergil was a solid commander with a strong core of junior officers. By the time the interview was concluded, Halvarin was of the opinion that Bergil would remain loyal to Castamir until Eldacar was a certain bet. With that, came the realisation that Halvarin would need to keep his administration in his new position as passive as possible. A fine line, once again, to walk between Castamir and Eldacar. It reminded him in many ways of his time at Osgiliath…save that he was no longer afflicted with doubts about his own loyalties. This time, he would have to take care to remain impartial though how he might accomplish that without coming into strife with Amarwen he had yet to resolve. Over the coming days, Halvarin embarked on his days early and returned home late into the evening. There was scarcely time to speak with his wife and Halvarin fretted over the scant time he spent with his son. Pleased as he was that Sarael had accompanied them to Minas Anor, for she had a special way with Mindacil and firm friendship with Amarwen, Halvarin missed his time at home. Still, even this was better than being at sea for each night he could return to Amarwen’s warmth in his arms and he could comfort his son when he awoke during the quiet hours of darkness. Halvarin hoped in a few weeks he would have things settled, and in turn more time at home. For that to come to pass, there was a lot of work he had to do. Michas arrived two days later, and it cheered Halvarin to see his old friend. ”Michas! Long have I missed your counsel. Is all well in Osgiliath?” “Very much so,” Michas replied. Halvarin nodded as he looked down the hall. He turned back to Michas and with a hand toward the large door and said, ”Do come in! I am interviewing all my city commanders on the disposition of all the men under their command.” That, of course, was not said for Michas’ benefit for he knew why he was here. Halvarin’s summons had been quite clear. With a final glance, Halvarin closed the door after Michas and beckoned the man to a chair. Halvarin said quietly as they sat down, ”We are secure, enough here, but it is well known that the walls of Minas Anor has ears.” Michas grunted agreement at that and Halvarin continued, ”Perhaps, once we have finished discussing affairs to the north, you might deign to join me for dinner?” “Of course,” Michas agreed and so Halvarin summoned Mardil, his young adjutant, to dispatch to his residence. ”Inform my lady wife that we will be joined by a guest tonight for dinner, Commander Michas.” “Sir,” Mardil replied promptly, snapped off a salute as crisp as the wintry air of the morning and headed off to see about his biddings. After Mardil had left Halvarin’s office, Halvarin asked Michas, ”I selected Mardil on your letter of recommendation. Are you sure he is… as good as you say?” “He was young when the sack of Osgiliath took place. He has an appreciation for you from your time as commander there. I think he will serve you well and faithfully.” Halvarin nodded, ”He certainly seems efficient. I’m sure he will settle in well.” Michas agreed, ”There is much ambition in that young man.” The two went on to discuss the defences of Gondor and how well they were in the north on the west side of the Anduin. All Michas had to report only made Halvarin hope that the commander of Ithilien would soon arrive from Minas Ithil.