B2MeM Challenge: Unity
"Next to it lay a treasure without price, long mourned as lost for ever: the Elendilmir itself, the white star of Elvish crystal upon a fillet of mithril that had descended from Silmarien to Elendil, and had been taken by him as the token of royalty in the North Kingdom."
Format: short story
Genre: angst, friendship.
Characters: Aragorn, OMC
Summary: The King returns to the North and meets an old friend.
Disclaimer: The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.
For shirebound on her birthday.
Gilavir had waited for this day for some time, but now it had finally arrived, he was plagued by curiously mixed feelings. He was, of course, happy that the King was coming to visit the northern part of the Reunited Kingdom. He had loved and admired his Chieftain since he was a small boy, been eager to join the Rangers as soon as he could, and gladly ridden to Gondor to aid Aragorn in the battles he fought there during the Ring war.
The longer he had served alongside Aragorn the more his devotion to his Chieftain had increased. Aragorn had saved his life on more than one occasion and had become almost as a father to him, his own having been slain when he was but a young child.
The day he had seen Aragorn crowned in Minas Tirith had been one of happiest in Gilavir’s life, second only to when he had wed his beloved Inzilwen. The King had offered a home in Minas Tirith to any of his Rangers who had wished to remain there, but all the survivors had all returned home to the North. Gilavir had doubted that either Inzilwen or his aging mother would have wished to move. He and his fellows had been richly rewarded with gifts of land from their former Chieftain.
He had prospered since the Ring War. He now had a thriving farm, and had built a large comfortable house for his growing family. The King had asked him to write ere they had parted, but he did not think his mundane doings would be of any interest to a man who was now so exalted.
He still patrolled as a Ranger, but Orcs were hardly ever encountered nowadays and those that were fled when anyone approached. The worse dangers came from the occasional poacher or prisoners who had been sentenced in Gondor to help rebuild the North. Most made the best of a chance to start a few life, but a handful were troublemakers.
The Rangers, who were once so reviled by the Bree folk, were now treated as heroes. Gilavir never felt like a hero. He had been wounded and carried ignominiously from the Pelennor Fields, suffering from what proved to be no more than a badly sprained ankle! The injury had prevented him, though, from following his Chieftain to the Black Gate. He felt that he had let Aragorn and his comrades down. Not that the now King had ever reproached him or treated him differently from his comrades who had fought before the Dark Lord’s stronghold.
Now the King was returning to his own people in the North, to spend time with them and to lay a foundation stone for the rebuilding of Annúminas. The work had already started, but the stone would be the first towards a great hall, which when build would be a marvel equal to the Elendil’s great Dome of Stars that he had read about in the books of lore.
Gilavir arrived where the ceremony was to be held in good time and took a place near the back. He noted approvingly that the front row was occupied by Halbarad’s family, a few of the Rangers who had fought in the Battle of the Black Gate and three Hobbits. He had grown to know one of them, Merry, quite well as they had been in the Houses of Healing together. He enjoyed his company for he was friendly and likeable, and a true hero for helping to slay the Lord of the Nazgûl. Gilavir recognised the other two Hobbits as Samwise Gamgee, who had helped destroy the Ring and Peregrin Took, cousin to Merry and a hero in the Battle of the Black Gate.
Suddenly, a hush fell upon the crowd as a herald appeared and blew a short blast upon his trumpet announced the King.
Aragorn came forward and Gilavir gasped. His Chieftain had looked majestic at his coronation, but not he was even more so. Surely, Elendil himself in his prime could not have looked more magnificent! Upon his brow, a gem gleamed, the like of which Gilavir had never beheld. Gilavir had seen Aragorn wearing the old Elendilmir before on a handful of occasions, but this gem surpassed it as a diamond surpasses glass. He recalled hearing that the original Elvish crystal Elendilmir, long believed lost, had been found when Orthanc had been cleansed. He had imagined the gem would be much like the copy, though, but it was not.
The true Elendilmir shone as brightly as any star in the heavens, yet its radiance only seemed to enhance the aura that surrounded the man who wore it. Gilavir gazed upon his former Chieftain in awe. He was glad that he had chosen to remain at the back where he could be inconspicuous. The Ranger he had lived and fought beside for years had gone and in his place was a great king, as high above him as the sun is above the earth! He had perceived a change come over his Chieftain when he had rode the Paths of the Dead beside him; an increase in statue and majesty, which had seemed complete when Aragorn was crowned. Now the change was even more remarkable. It was hard to imagine this man drinking beer in the Prancing Pony or huddling beside his companions on a freezing night in midwinter.
After he laid the foundation stone, Aragorn spoke. He spoke of his joy that he was able to unite the long sundered kingdoms and his hope that Annúminas would equal Minas Tirith in beauty and splendour once the rebuilding was complete. His voice, was just as Gilavir recalled it, deep, commanding, and musical.
The ceremony over, Aragorn walked over to the Rangers and Hobbits at the front. Gilavir turned away, intending to go home. He could tell his wife and children how splendid the King had looked. He hoped his children might catch a glimpse of their lord during his stay in the North. They were too young for formal ceremonies such as this.
The crowd were tightly packed and it took Gilavir a while to find a way through the throng. He became aware that someone was behind him and spun round, only to almost collide with the King.
“I am sorry, sire,” he mumbled.
“There you are my friend!” the King exclaimed, ignoring his apologies, and pulling him into a close embrace. “How do you fare and you Inzilwen? I well recall the day I joined you two in wedlock.”
It too Gilavir a moment to find his voice. “I am well, sire, as is Inzilwen. She would have been with me today, but standing tires her with our fifth child due next month.”
“I will come and see her and your children if I may,” said Aragorn. “But tell me, friend, why were not at the front with the others?”
“They are all heroes,” said Gilavir. I did no great deeds. You would always be welcome in my home, sire.”
“You spent years battling against foes that most would shudder merely to name,” said Aragorn. “When I had need of my comrades, you came to my aid and you rode the dread Paths of the Dead with me. If those are not great deeds, I know not what are. Tomorrow week, I am holding a feast for my Rangers. We shall talk about old times and eat all the foods we dreamed of when we went hungry in the wilds. Then we shall retire and sleep on feather beds in the pavilions.”
“You remembered!” Gilavir exclaimed.
“I think we all dreamed of feather beds in those days, Gilavir. Then the day after the feast we shall go hunting together in the wilds and I can enjoy being a Ranger again.”
“But you are King now!” said Gilavir.
The King laughed, his whole face lighting up. “Once a Ranger, always a Ranger!”
Gilavir laughed too and realised that bright though the gem upon the King’s brow was, his eyes were even brighter when he spoke of returning to the wilds. The King was still the Ranger he had known and loved.