Author Name: Linda Hoyland
Prompt: ""There the air was cool and there wayfarers in summer would rest and drink of the cold water." (Children of Húrin)
Summary: Aragorn and Halbarad search for water on a hot day.
The sun burned down mercilessly upon the two Rangers who trudged wearily along the dusty road.
Halbarad paused to take a swig from his water bottle. “It is almost empty,” he said with a deep sigh.
“So too is mine,” said Aragorn. “We had better go in search of fresh supplies. It means we will be late returning to camp, but no matter. We need water in this heat.”
“A detour will be more than worthwhile if we can get out of the sun,” said Halbarad. “I cannot recall it so hot in June before. I hope this is not some devilish new trick of the Enemy!”
“I think not,” said Aragorn. “Any extremes of weather that we experience, the Elves have encountered countless times before and worse! In any case, Orcs flee from the sun while some decent folk actually enjoy heat waves, though why, I have no idea! Only blizzards do I like less than the heat!”
The two men laughed ruefully, remembering the recent harsh winter when Aragorn had almost been buried in a snowdrift.
“We should get off the road,” said Aragorn. “There ought to be a spring somewhere in these woods.”
“A few more years as a Ranger and you will know the exact location of every water source for miles around,” said Halbarad. “Come, I will show you where the nearest stream is.”
“Presuming it hasn’t dried out in this heat!”
“It is fed by an underground stream,” said Halbarad. “It never dries up.” He plunged into the trees and set off like a hound following a trail.
The sweat poured down Aragorn’s face as he fought his way through the thicket in pursuit of his cousin. “Is there not a more accessible stream nearby that experienced Rangers like you are aware of?” asked Aragorn.
“Stop grousing, cousin, you will thank me in a few moments. This water is worth battling the undergrowth to reach,” said Halbarad.
The trees suddenly thinned out and the two men found themselves in a woodland glade. A stream trickled along mossy banks adorned with pink campions and golden buttercups.
The two Rangers hurried down to the stream and cupped their hands to drink from it.
“Is anything sweeter than pure fresh water? Nothing makes me more thankful than to quench my thirst with it.” Aragorn said a little later after drinking his fill and refilling his water bottle. He now lay sprawled across the bank, watching the birds flittering in the treetops surrounding them. A few sunbeams danced across the stream illuminating the wings of the darting dragonflies and making the water sparkle.
“When you are King you will have fine wines to drink every day,” said Halbarad. “You will forget to savour water.”
“Wine cannot quench your thirst on a hot day like water can,” said Aragorn. “Nor can wine look like diamonds sparkling in the sunlight. I wonder if even the Simarils appeared so fair?”
“You are master of Elven lore, not I,” Halbarad said matter of factly. “I would imagine, though, that to a thirsty man that no jewel could compare with water.”
Aragorn trailed his hand in the water, a thoughtful look upon his face. “Men and Elves have fought and killed over jewels,” he said. “Yet what is there in Arda more precious than water? It is the very stuff of life.”
A/n A revised version of a ficlet I wrote for BTME in March reposted in honour of my American friend's Thanksgiving Festival