Title: The Omen
Author: Linda Hoyland
Characters/Pairing: Aragorn, Faramir, Ioreth
Word count: 945
Book/Source: LOTR book-verse
Disclaimer - These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.
The ending of this is for Cairistiona
Aragorn and Faramir urged their horses forward in a gentle trot. They had been looking forward to going riding for days now. It was bliss to have a free hour to themselves to enjoy some fresh air and exercise on a fine spring day.
As they passed the Houses of Healing Dame Ioreth greeted them and asked after their ladies and the little ones.
Just as Aragorn was assuring her that they were all in excellent health, two ravens flew overhead.
“Alas!” cried Ioreth. “That is an ill omen indeed! You should go home at once, Lord Elfstone and stay within doors this day and take great care!”
“Whatever for?” Aragorn asked.
“Just look at those ravens!” Ioreth said grimly. “See how they hover above you. That can only foretell one thing; the death of a king!”
Aragorn laughed. “I know the story well, that the ravens bring tidings to Ilúvatar, but it is just an old country tale. I am going for a peaceful ride with Faramir, not setting out to do battle. What possible harm could befall me?”
“Alas,Lord Elfstone! Well don't say that Ioreth didn't warn you if you die this day! You do not even have guards with you!”
“Indeed I will not blame you, Dame Ioreth, I give you my word. And why should I need guards just to go for a short ride in my own City? Now we must be on our way, if you will excuse me, good lady?”
“Good day, Dame Ioreth,” Faramir said politely, fearful the elderly healer would wish to talk all day.” The two men urged their horses to a faster pace.
Faramir looked up when they reached the third circle. The ravens were still following. “Are you certain it is just an old wife's tale?” he said. “Those birds are still hovering above you. I like it not at all!”
“Do not fret,my friend,” said Aragorn. “Master Elrond told me that the story came about simply because ravens are often seen hovering over battlefields. One might just as well say they appear when an old soldier is about to die.”
Just then a black cat ran out a baker's shop and crossed the street in front of them in hot pursuit of a mouse. Aragorn laughed. “If you want omens, a black cat crossing your path is said to herald good luck in the Shire,” he said.
Faramir laughed too, though he continued to keep a wary eye on the ravens.
The two friends rode out of the City and cantered along the fields enjoying the spring sunshine. When they came to a stream they dismounted to let the horses drink.
Some small golden flowers in the grass caught Aragorn's eye. “Arwen loves celandines,” he said. “They remind her of the elanor blossoms of the Elven realms. We need a fresh supply for the Houses of Healing. It only grows well near water. I wonder if there is sufficient to gather. There might be more medicinal herbs here.”
He started to explore the long grass. Faramir stood a little way off and watched, pleased at the King's delight in collecting medicinal herbs, but lacking sufficient knowledge to be of much assistance. He knew the common remedies like dandelion and comfrey, but Aragorn seemed to know of uses for herbs that he would shun as deadly poisons.
He looked up again. The ravens were still there. They seemed to be growing increasingly excited as they hovered above Aragorn's head, squawking loudly. Faramir repressed a shudder inward. He berated himself for feeling so unnerved by some birds. They were hardly Black Riders! He looked down away from the birds and a sudden movement in the grass caught his eye. It was a snake. He was no herb master, but he was a former Ranger and he knew every snake. This one was deadly. Calling out a warning to Aragorn, he reached for his sword.
The ground was soft and muddy and Faramir slipped, his sword flying from his hand. The snake reared and poised to strike at the King.
The screeching ravens must have drowned out his cry, for Aragorn, engrossed in his search for herbs, did not heed him. Seconds felt like eternity as Faramir watched helplessly. His lord was going to die. Surely this heart would break his instant!
From out of a clear blue sky, a great eagle appeared, swooped down before the King and snatched up the serpent. Great wings flapping, it hovered for only a moment before flying away, the snake clutched in one of its mighty talons.
The ravens gave a final squawk , this time in terror, and flew away.
Only aware of the danger now it was over, Aragorn watched the eagle fly away until it was out of sight.
Faramir scrambled up out of the mud. He ran over to his friend and hugged him with relief. “The Valar be praised you are safe!” he exclaimed.
Aragorn returned his embrace then gazed upwards.”Maybe I should have heeded good Dame Ioreth?” he mused,. “Or perhaps the ravens alerted the eagle to my danger? “
“I have had enough of omens for one day,” said Faramir, ruefully brushing the mud from his breeches.”Let us go home now.”
“The ravens might not have foretold my death, but they did fortell ill luck,” said Aragorn while they walked up to the Citadel.”I fear your breeches are quite ruined! You will have to replace them.”
“So the cat must have foretold good luck for my tailor then!” said Faramir and laughed.