...One Week Ago...
The ancient circle of Isengard had been broken years ago, although
desolation had been replaced by flourishing plant life and trees once
more, for the Ents had done much to repair the land. However, the area
immediately surrounding the tower of Orthanc and, in fact, the tower
itself was still in a state of semi-disrepair, which the dozen or so
years that had passed since its last occupancy had hardly improved upon.
Two figures were sitting by the fire in the middle of camp, one older
and one younger. The youth was probably no more than twelve or
thirteen, but the elder was harder to place, seeming at once to be a
man in the prime years of his life, and yet bearing an age greater than
was usual for the span granted to mortal men. Both humans had thin
silver circlets upon their forehead and bore a striking resemblance to
one another, although there was a distinctly fair cast to the younger
boy’s face and something somewhat whimsical about him that almost, almost reminded one of an elf. As
indeed it should since his mother
was an elf and his father one of the last true Númenorians left
Aragorn and his son, Eldarion, sat in comfortable silence, watching the
flames dance as they waited for the scouting parties to come back and
declare whether the area was secure or not, although there was little
doubt that it would be.
Aragorn, or King Elessar as he was now more commonly known, had spent
the last fifteen years re-ordering the scattered and often crumbling
realms that he was now responsible for. Restoring Isengard had been
high on his priority list for some time and, although some of the work
had already begun, this was the first time he had been able to make the
journey here himself, which he had wanted to do for many reasons. But
those could wait for the moment.
Arwen remained in Minas Tirith with Eldarion’s little sister, but
Aragorn had wanted his son to accompany him this time; indeed, it was
the boy’s first real foray away from the White City for any great
length of time, and Aragorn felt the young prince was ready for that.
Aragorn seemed to sense something and rose to his feet, causing
Eldarion to glance questioningly up at him, for he had heard nothing,
and neither had the soldiers nearby or they would have said something.
Nevertheless, a few moments later Legolas Greenleaf walked silently
into plain sight and smiled at the disconcerted guards before passing
them completely by and heading for the fire where his old friend
awaited his report.
Eldarion did not understand how his father could hear the elf prince
coming, since he certainly hadn’t been able to do so.
"The eastern reaches are clear," Legolas reported, having completed his
scouting mission. "Is Gimli back yet?" he asked, taking a seat near the
"Not yet, but-" Aragorn started to answer before he was cut short.
"Yes, he is, and the western reaches are also clear," Gimli reported,
appearing with slightly less stealth than his elven friend. "I think I
saw those other two scouts approaching from the north and south. I’ll
go see what word they have, but I think there is naught to trouble us
out here now."
Balancing cross-legged upon the rounded log as the dwarf stumped away,
Legolas smiled meaningfully at his human friend. "I see you have
ordered camp to be struck around
the tower, Telcontar." It would
never fail to amuse Legolas that Aragorn had actually chosen to take
the high elvish form of his old Strider nickname as the name for his
Aragorn nodded, not really grasping the reason for the elf’s
mischievous smile. "Yes, of course."
Legolas chuckled. "Don’t tell me someone is still afraid to sleep in
that tower?" he queried, remembering events many years past.
Aragorn actually colored slightly as his friend reminded him of that
long ago time when they had been Saruman’s unintentional guests, long
before anyone knew what treachery was stewing in Isengard. Before he
could answer his friend, Eldarion shivered dramatically, looking up at
the black spire. Even now that there was no evil in residence there,
severe architecture was less than welcoming.
"I don’t see how anyone could! It’s so... creepy!" the boy shook his
Legolas laughed so hard he nearly fell off the log he was sitting on.
"Oh Strider! He is most assuredly your son!" the elf managed to get out
around his merriment.
Aragorn chuckled lightly, wrapping his arm around Eldarion’s shoulders
and smiling at the boy’s perplexed face. "He’s not laughing at you,
Eldarion," the King assured. "It’s... it’s a long story." Leaning close
he whispered in his son’s ear. "And between you and I, I agree with
you, I still think it’s creepy!"
Of course Legolas overheard them and his grin only widened, if that
"And what has set the elf off this time? As if he needed an excuse for
excessive mirth..." Gimli dropped down on the log next to Legolas,
looking as if he were considering giving the laughing elf a push to see
if he really would fall off his perch. Legolas recognized the look in
his short friend’s eye and quickly put his feet back down on the ground.
"It doesn’t figure," Gimli shook his head, speaking to Aragorn and
glancing at Legolas. "I keep waiting for a little sense to rub off on
him, and it never does..."
"Rub off from whom, master Gimli?" Legolas arched his eyebrows sharply.
"Certainly not you!"
"At least I don’t find the need to laugh at the drop of a hat or break
into song just because the sun is shining..." Gimli grinned.
"Thank heaven for that!" Legolas rolled his eyes, smirking at Aragorn.
"If you’ve ever heard dwarves sing or
laugh you’ll know why..."
Gimli shoved Legolas. Legolas dodged and smirked tauntingly.
Aragorn and Eldarion laughed as they watched the friends bicker. The
talking and joking went on long into the night as songs were sung and
tales told. Eldarion’s eyelids became heavy and before long he was
sleeping quietly against his father’s leg. Aragorn looked down and
smiled. "I think it’s time for bed," he said softly.
Legolas and Gimli smiled.
"I think you’re right," Legolas whispered, touching the child’s hair
gently. Eldarion’s dark, wavy locks hung in his eyes, framing the
soft-edged face that was only just beginning to lose its boyish
roundness. He had Aragorn’s looks, but his mother’s eyes and chin.
"He is very like you Aragorn, you and Arwen both. You have a treasure
here, my friend." Legolas watched the child stir slightly, many
running through his heart. Memories of Eldarion as a wee child, and of
Aragorn as a young man, for the two were very alike.
"I know," Aragorn nodded softly, favoring his son with a proud, gentle
look. "But come, it is late and tomorrow we have much to do."
"Uncle Legolas and Uncle Gimli are going with you!" Eldarion protested.
The lad had quite an odd extended family although he thought nothing
about it. His father was human, his mother an elf, he had two ‘real
uncles’ who were half-elves, and considered themselves to be the
brothers of both his mother and
his father, and a score of ‘adopted’
uncles including another elf, a dwarf and several hobbits who, when
they were around, often acted more like his playmates than uncles and
continually got him into mischief.
Aragorn shook his head. "And you will too, but not this time. It’s for
your own safety Eldarion, I explained that already."
"No, no buts." The King shook his head firmly. "You heard me the first
time and that’s all there is to it, all right?"
"Yes, Father," Eldarion nodded finally, although he was not at all
pleased at being left behind.
"All right then, I promise we’ll take you in there as soon as I know
it’s safe." Aragorn tipped his son’s chin up on the crook of his finger
and managed to coax a brief smile from the boy.
The king turned and made his way to where Legolas was waiting for him
at the base of the long staircase that led up into the tower of Orthanc.
"You mean for the boy to not accompany us into the tower." It wasn’t a
question but a statement; Legolas could already tell from the
displeased look on Eldarion’s face what had passed between the father
"Not today. Not the first time. This tower has been closed off for some
time; no one has been in it since Saruman left. There is no telling
what we may encounter in there and it could be that there are things a
young boy should not see," Aragorn explained himself to his friend.
"I understand well enough, but I’m not so sure that he does," Legolas
nodded his head towards the young human prince.
Aragorn sighed. "I explained it to him, but he thinks he is old enough
and ready enough to handle anything..." The king shook his head
Legolas stroked his chin in mock-thoughtfulness. "Now why does that
seem familiar? Who else have I known like that...?"
Aragorn elbowed Legolas in the ribs. "Enough, I get your point. Well
Eldarion will just have to survive somehow, like I did," he grinned
slightly. "Where is Gimli?"
"I think he has despaired of our companionship and gone on ahead with
several of the guards," Legolas replied with a short laugh.
"Well then we had better catch up," Aragorn said as they made their way
up the long stairs towards the door of the tower. "Else he shall claim
to be faster than you and then I shall have my ears wearied to no end
by the two of you bickering over the unending elves-versus-dwarves
debate that you never seem to tire of."
Legolas grinned and sprinted ahead of Aragorn, stopping at the top of
the stairs to hold the door open for his friend. "Well I’m faster than
Aragorn rolled his eyes and mock-bowed to the elf as he entered. "That
is one I will let you claim this time my friend, for the years are not
as kind to humans as they are to elves."
Legolas looked away for a moment and did not speak. Aragorn wondered if
he had said something wrong. He laid a soft hand on the prince’s arm.
Legolas lifted his head and smiled quickly at the concerned look on his
friend’s face. "You will never be old to me, Estel," he whispered
softly, laying his hand on his friend’s chest. "Your body may change,
but your heart does not, and that is what I see."
Aragorn smiled and gave the elf’s hand a quick squeeze.
"Which is well...," Legolas continued, the mischievous fire sparking
behind his eyes once more, "because you still act like a child
sometimes..." The elf danced away before his friend could swat him for
"What do you mean, 'child'?!" Aragorn shook his head with
already older than most mortals ever get! Will you and my brothers never allow me to grow up?"
"And now you sound like Eldarion again!" Legolas laughed. "Say what you
like but I’m not the one who insisted on camping outside the tower..."
"Don’t start that again..." Aragorn warned wryly.
"Are you two going to talk all day and leave me to do all the work?"
Gimli leaned over a railing above them and called down.
"Coming, coming." Legolas and Aragorn made their way out of the empty
entry hall and into the passages beyond. "Don’t you know it’s not
becoming to chide a king?" Aragorn called up to the impatient dwarf.
"You’re a king, he’s a prince, what’s the difference when you both move
as fast as hobbits on a holiday?" the dwarf shot back, his heavy
footsteps clattering above them. "The stonework here is incredible!
Legolas, you must come see this archway!"
Legolas looked at Aragorn and rolled his eyes fondly. "Oh joy. I must
go and look."
Aragorn chuckled. "Only a dwarf would find this place enthralling."
"Well you said it, I didn’t," Legolas grinned wickedly before sprinting
up the stairs to join his short friend and politely admire whatever
feat of stonework had so impressed his dwarven friend. It was only
fair, Gimli did put up very well with the prince’s love of trees and,
for his part, the elf was willing to accept Gimli’s love of cleverly
done stonework. They were friends and one made many concessions for
It took a long time to go over the tower from top to bottom and there
was a great deal that had to be purged and destroyed, as well as a
number of truly remarkable discoveries, the most notable of which
occurred in what must have been Saruman’s study and main chamber: a
large, sprawling set of rooms containing many, many niches, drawers,
chambers and cubby-holes.
"Look here," Legolas said as he opened the lid on a rather large casket
that had been buried under a stack of yellowed parchments and other
Aragorn raised his eyebrows and Gimli gave a low whistle as the lid
was raised to reveal a stash of dazzling gems and some exquisite
pieces of ancient craftsmanship.
Gimli reverently lifted a magnificently wrought necklace with the
emblem of a charging horse frozen in its centerpiece.
"These must be worth a pretty price to someone, else I’m no craftsman!"
the dwarf remarked. "I wonder where Saruman got all these things?"
Aragorn shook his head as he looked through the treasure. "If I am not
much mistaken many of these are heirlooms of the house of Eorl, no
doubt filched from Edoras by Wormtongue and brought hither some years
ago. Eomér shall be glad to have them returned I am certain."
"These are not of Rohan make," Legolas shook his head as he raised up
another piece, a brooch shaped like two great trees with their branches
intertwined. "This is elvish work and very old. And these items here...
these are caëbin tokens, such as the men of old used to bury in
the treasure houses of the dead."
"I found more like it in the next chamber," Aragorn agreed. "As well as
artifacts that could possibly have even been taken from barrow mounds.
It seems that Saruman in his degradation became not a dragon, but a
jackdaw, a grave robber," the King of Gondor shook his head somberly.
It was sad how low someone once so wise had fallen, as well as being a
somber reminder to all what an unquenchable desire for power could do
"There is something odd over here..." Gimli’s voice brought the two
friends’ attention to the back of the chamber; they had not realized he
had moved away.
"What is it?" Legolas asked, walking over and kneeling beside his
friend, trying to see what the dwarf was peering at so intently. To him
it looked like nothing but a blank, stone wall.
Gimli tapped the stones with his axe handle, slowly moving to the right
and downward. Suddenly they all heard the difference in the echo when
the sturdy axe handle thumped against what seemed to be the same
stones, but could not have been from the sound they made. "Hello,
there’s some kind of hidden panel here unless I’m much mistaken..." the
dwarf murmured, probing the stones carefully with his calloused but
Even Legolas’ elven eyes could detect no flaw in the stonework. This
was one area where the elf had to truly admire his friend’s skill,
although he would never let the dwarf know it. "Well, what is it?"
"A little patience, master elf, if that’s not asking too much..." Gimli
murmured the friendly barb distractedly, his attention on the puzzle in
front of him.
Aragorn knelt on the other side as they watched the dwarf work.
"There... now it’s coming!" Gimli said with satisfaction after several
long minutes of work. Aragorn could not determine what exactly the
dwarf had done, but whatever it was had worked because a large section
of the wall under his hands slid soundlessly away, revealing a tall
steel cabinet behind it, about as high as a man stood and obviously
intended to be very secret.
"Gimli, can you open it?" Aragorn asked as they rose to their feet and
looked the new door over.
"Can I open it?" Gimli grinned, cracking his thick knuckles loudly
and obviously enjoying the attention. "Of course I can."
"Yes, but this year or next?" Legolas jibed with playful glibness.
Gimli scowled at him. "I’ll make you eat those words, elf."
Legolas’ eyebrows shot up. "Oh? And how-"
"ENOUGH!" Aragorn stopped them, having to keep himself from laughing.
"I realize that both of you have naturally longer life spans than mine
but, if it wouldn’t inconvenience you too much, I, for one, would like
to see what’s in there sometime BEFORE I have grandchildren."
"All right, all right, no need to fuss..." Gimli mumbled, going to work
on the small door with surprising quickness. "Has he always been this
impatient?" he asked Legolas with an infuriatingly impish sidelong look
as he worked. He knew that Legolas and Aragorn had known each other for
a long time.
"Oh he used to be even worse. You should see him when he’s tired,
positively unlivable. It’s a human thing," the elf assured, earning him
a baleful glare from the King of Gondor.
It took Gimli a few minutes longer than he would have boasted about to
get the cabinet open, but in the end he did. For a moment the friends
were surprised because it was almost empty.
"More than likely this cupboard was waiting and ready to receive the
Ring as soon as Saruman could get his hands on it," Aragorn said
quietly and all three friends shivered inadvertently as a momentary
hush fell over them... thinking of what might have been... of what very
nearly had been.
"Well, it’s not completely empty," Legolas pointed out as he reached up
upon a high shelf and withdrew the hiding place’s only occupant: a
small chest. It was not locked and clicked open easily enough. There
were only two objects inside, but both of them were shocking.
Aragorn’s eyes widened as he looked upon them.
"What are they?" Legolas asked, not even sure if he should touch them,
but certain from his friend’s look that the King recognized them both,
if only from legend.
One of the two items was a small case of gold on a fine chain. It bore
no letter or mark, but there was no doubt in Aragorn’s mind that it was
the necklace in which Isildur had carried the One Ring when he rode out
upon that ill-fated journey so many ages ago, and he told his friends
so. The second item in the chest, and the one that drew the most
attention, both confirmed this supposition and dazzled the small
assembly with its beauty.
"The Elendilmir... The Star of Elendil," Aragorn said softly, unable to
resist lifting the priceless treasure from its place. A glowing piece
of elvish crystal, cut with a precision that could no longer be matched
and set in a gleaming mithril circlet, the ancient heirloom of the
Kings shimmered luminously in the torch-lit room. "This is a treasure
beyond all value, and long mourned as lost forever. Passed down from
Silmarien of old, it was taken by Elendil as a symbol of the North
Kingdom and has forever been the only crown worn by the King of Arnor."
"I thought it familiar somehow..." Legolas mused, fascinated by the
beautiful piece of ancient elven workmanship. "Have I not seen you wear
such a thing quite often since coming to the throne of Gondor and
Aragorn nodded slightly. "The Elendilmir was worn by Isildur on that
last journey from Gondor to Rivendell... the one from which he never
retuned. It is said that when he was forced to put the Ring on and flee
he had to cover his head, for the Elendilmir flashed brightly in the
night, defying even the invisibility of the One. When the Ring forsook
him and left him to his doom in the Anduin, the Elendilmir was lost
with him. The one that has been passed down to me was a copy made at
Lord Elrond’s bidding by the smiths in Imladris for Isildur’s only
remaining heir, Valandil, but it could never have the power and potency
of the original one that had been lost."
"And now has been found again," Legolas murmured. "I wonder how came
Saruman by it?"
"From what Gandalf told us long ago, Saruman had long been searching
Anduin for any trace of the Ring. It must be that these were what he
found instead," Aragorn Elessar laid the circlet reverently back in its
case. "I must show this to Eldarion," his smile softened when he
thought of his son. "Mayhap it will lessen his disappointment in not
being able to be in here today."
"Well we have found a rare prize indeed to carry back to Gondor with
us," Gimli shook his head as the case was reluctantly closed. "That was
a marvelous fair piece of work, even if it was made by elves, I will
grant you that."
Legolas and Aragorn both laughed.
"You are generous beyond words, good dwarf," Legolas teased.
They were three days working over the whole tower and there would be
much more restoration needed before it could be returned
to its former state of repair, but that was what Aragorn had brought
along the teams of masons, gardeners and other craftsmen for. Because
rebuilding and restoring had been a good part of what he had been doing
since assuming the throne, King Elessar had become quite proficient in
knowing what sort of people would be needed for tasks like this.
Indeed, many of them had already begun their work.
Legolas and Gimli watched their progress with approval, both of them
having had more than their share of experience in restoration over the
past several years as well.
"So tell me, Aragorn, did you tell them to try to do anything with the
decorating to make it less... how did you put it... creepy?" Legolas
teased his friend.
Aragorn shook his head wryly. "I fear the only way to do that would be
to tear the whole place down and rebuild it. Besides, Gimli would find
these people a kindred spirit. I think if I so much as suggested
touching a stone of this place that was part of its original
craftsmanship, they would give me looks befitting an orc."
"I heard that," Gimli piped up from nearby, wiping his hands on his
pants as he approached. "But tell me, Aragorn, our work here is
is it not? Now it is up to the restoration crews, although the
gardeners have little enough to do since the Ents seem to have taken
care of most of that already."
"Almost finished," Aragorn agreed. "We have one last piece of business
to attend to. We need to return something that has had a long road."
The former ranger glanced significantly at Legolas and the elf nodded.
"Do you want me to fetch it?"
"No," Aragorn shook his head. "Have Eldarion bring it. I would wish him
part of this."
Eldarion did as his father wished and the four of them climbed the
stairs to the upper-chambers of the tower one more time. The very air
inside of Orthanc seemed cleaner now, and in truth it was not nearly so
dark nor frightening as it had once seemed at all.
When they finally reached the top, Eldarion handed the velvet bag he
bore to his father. Aragorn reached inside and gently pulled a smooth,
dark sphere from it. A palantir. The last one left that could still see
anything as it had been intended. The palantir residing in Gondor had
been put away from view since Denethor’s death as it no longer revealed
ought but the end of the last man who held it; the one that Sauron had
possessed was assumed to have been destroyed with him, and the one at
the havens had ever only looked out to sea. And so at long last the
Orthanc stone was returned to its rightful place, and this time by its
rightful owner. For the stone of old had belonged to this tower before
it had been hidden away, only later to be recovered and brought here
for more evil purposes.
As Aragorn set the last of the ancient seeing stones into the special
pedestal waiting to receive it, he could not help glancing at Legolas
and smiling. By now he had of course realized that this was the same
palantir that he and the prince had gone through so much grief over
many, many years before. It seemed like a kind of completion to at long
last be able to do what they had wanted to do all along and finally
place the stone in the setting it belonged, knowing that the ancient
heirloom from over the sea was safe at last and no longer tainted by
the designs of evil.
"Why do I feel there’s a tale in this that I don’t quite know the half
of?" Gimli queried as they made their way back to the base of the tower.
"That, my friend, is very ancient history," Aragorn shook his head.
"It wasn’t that long ago,"
Legolas shook his head, amused by
Aragorn’s perception of time.
"Did it involve you and Uncle Legolas?" Eldarion asked hopefully. "I
like those stories, they’re usually funny. Uncle Elladan and Uncle
Elrohir tell me a lot of them."
"I bet they do. Well, I could tell you quite a few about them as
well..." Aragorn muttered.
Eldarion nodded with a grin. "As you have. Like the one you told me
about Uncle Legolas and the-"
Aragorn coughed loudly and shook his head at the boy, shooting a quick
glance at Legolas.
Eldarion took the point and shut up quickly.
Legolas raised his eyebrows with a wry smile. "Wait, wait, I want to
hear this. Pray tell what stories has your illustrious father been
telling about us and his misspent youth? Did he mention nearly getting
himself eaten by a carnivorous plant? Or the time he decided against
his father’s advice, to cross an orc-infested plain all by himself with
nightfall approaching? No? How about his irrepressible habit of
touching everything and
nearly dropping us into a bottomless pit
because of it? Or-"
"We get the point, Legolas," Aragorn cut the elf off with a warning
glare. "And wait a moment, I seem to remember having to cut you out
of that plant..."
"Only because I was trying to help you," Legolas retorted with an
"Well if it’s stories you want to tell I can think of a few..." Aragorn
threatened with an evil glint in his eyes. "I’m sure Gimli would love
hearing about our exit from Moria the last time we had dealings with
that seeing stone up there..."
"Strider, you wouldn’t dare! You promised!" the elf accidentally
reverted to his old nickname for his friend, although in truth he would
probably never quite give that one up.
Aragorn laughed at the prince’s indignation.
"What? What?" Eldarion wanted to know. He was enjoying this whole
situation quite a bit.
"Yes, I’d like to hear this as well, I knew not that our friend elf
here had any previous experience with Moria!" Gimli was highly
intrigued. Besides, anything that obviously embarrassed Legolas was of
great interest to him.
Legolas glared daggers at Aragorn who was laughing heartily. "Oh yes,
he certainly did, we both did... and let’s just say that at least one
of our exits was not... in the normal fashion."
Legolas looked like he was about ready to clobber the human if he said
another word, but Aragorn just shook his head, holding his hands up
helplessly towards the inquiring gazes of his son and the dwarf. "No,
no, I did promise... but of course as soon as other people start
telling stories my mind wanders and I forget what I should and
shouldn’t say..." he grinned at Legolas, eyes dancing.
"Blackmail," Legolas muttered. "Pure and simple. I thought a King
should be above that."
"And a Prince should be above telling tales to a boy about his own
father," Aragorn retorted blithely.
Legolas brightened. "Then I shall simply let your brothers take over. I
am sure they know enough stories about you to keep the lad entertained
Aragorn moaned slightly and shook his head. "Don’t encourage them,
Legolas, they’re bad enough as it is."
"Now wait, I want to hear more about you and Moria, Legolas, you never
told me of this..." Gimli pressed the elf, not willing to let it go so
Aragorn grabbed Eldarion’s shoulder and started walking the boy quickly
away with him, making a hasty exit. "Come, Eldarion, I think we need to
start getting the men ready to leave, wouldn’t you agree?"
Eldarion was trying hard not to laugh. "Yes, definitely, Father," he
nodded as they hurried away from the relentlessly curious dwarf and the
increasingly peeved elf.
"STRIDER!" Aragorn had to cover his mouth to keep from laughing as
Legolas called after him in frustration.
"Well, I’m in trouble now," Aragorn murmured to his son with a smile,
his hand resting on the lad’s shoulder as they walked. "You better help
me watch my back, all right?"
"All right!" Eldarion agreed lightly. The boy hesitated a moment. "Ada?"
"I... I like this," the young man gestured around them as if he could
not quite find the words he was looking for.
Aragorn smiled. "I know you haven’t gotten out of the city much other
than our hunts. That’s part of why I wanted you to come with us for
this. I had a feeling it would agree with you."
"It does, and I do like being out here, but that wasn’t all I meant..."
the young man looked down at his hands, suddenly shy. "Never mind."
Aragorn stopped and turned to completely face his son. "What? What is
"Nothing..." the boy evaded, somewhat embarrassed.
"No it’s not, now tell me. You know you can tell me anything, Eldarion,
or at least I hope you do," Aragorn assured.
"I... I like you father. I
like the way you are when we’re out here,
you’re so... open," the boy said for lack of a better word. Eldarion
flushed, he wasn’t saying this well at all and he felt he probably
shouldn’t have tried.
"You mean I’m not when we’re at home?" Aragorn asked softly, the
question very serious to him. His family always came first in his
heart. If that did not show in his actions, he wanted to know.
"No! That’s not what I meant," Eldarion shook his head quickly. Aragorn
always made time for him and he knew he was well loved by both his
parents, that wasn’t what he had intended. "You just seem so happy out
here... I like it, that’s all I meant."
Aragorn smiled and squeezed his son’s shoulder, understanding what the
youth was trying to say. "I fear you recognize the blood of a ranger in
me, my son," he smiled. "I love the White City, but some part of my
heart shall always belong to the wilds and feel at home on the road."
"I wish I felt more at home out here," Eldarion admitted. "I fear
sometimes that I shall never be anything but a soft princeling. You and
Legolas and Gimli are so experienced and I feel so stupid sometimes,
like I don’t know how to do anything right."
Aragorn chuckled slightly, remembering that feeling all too well.
"You’re young, Eldarion, don’t expect to be able to do everything that
your uncles and I can do all at once. It takes years to learn. Give
yourself time." He laughed. "You know I can’t believe I’m saying that
to someone else..." he murmured, making Eldarion smile even if he
didn’t know exactly what his father meant.
"Well, my son," Aragorn clapped the lad on the shoulder once. "You can
be glad of one thing at least... that you’re not growing up completely surrounded by elves. If
you want to feel clumsy and
inadequate, that is a great way to start. Now let’s go inform the men
that we break camp tomorrow morning."
Eldarion smiled as he trailed his father. "So what do you think Uncle
Legolas is going to do to you when he finally gets free of Uncle Gimli?"
"I shudder to think of it, Eldarion, I shudder to think of it...," the
The sun was shining brightly and laughter flowed easily. There was no
shadow over any of them that day. No notion of what would come to pass
barely a week later. No concept of how things could go so utterly and