with the children and followed Aranel down a winding
stair to the Hall. She stopped suddenly, halfway, and
turned to face him.
"Frodo left just in time." she said quietly. "That
same day the Nine attacked the guard on Sarn Ford.
They held them as long as the light lasted but at
nightfall three managed to break through. Aravorn is
His eyes closed in pain, it was a moment before he
could ask; "The boys?"
"Safe for now. Ingloron sent them home to Angwen,
but they are unlikely to stay there long, nor will she
try to hold them." (1)
Aragorn's eyes opened, glinting dangerously. "You
did not see fit to tell me this when we met on the
"You had more urgent concerns, and all that could
be done had been done." she answered calmly.
After a moment he nodded. "That is true.
Very well, I will write to Arahael and remind him of
his duty to his House and his Wardship. I will not
have those boys getting themselves killed doing
"And we both know just how foolish the Isildurioni
can be." she agreed drily.
A small door at the foot of the stair opened onto
the broad dais at the head of the Great Hall of
Greymere. Three banners, black, white and grey, hung
above the fireplace behind the high table; the Black
Sword of the House of Turin between the Star of
Elendil and the New Moon of Isildur.
Several Men were already standing behind the chairs
of the high table and scores of others milled, talking
quietly among themselves in the lower Hall. All fell
silent at Aragorn's appearance, standing until he had
seated himself in the great chair at the center of the
A page brought the most recent scouts to Aragorn
and they answered his questions as they ate. The news
was not good; the Nine were searching the road and the
land near it with the stubborn, mindless persistance
of wraiths. At least they were scattered. He could
handle three or four of them but no one, Man or Elf or
Half-Elven, could stand against all the Nine at once.
Nor had there been any word at all of Gandalf. Aragorn
was begining to fear the worst - though it was
difficult to believe one so ancient and cunning and
powerful could finally have been overmatched.
Looking down the Hall he saw an unusual number of
Women, boys and old Men at the long tables and glanced
questioningly at Aranel, seated at his right hand.
"From the outlying holdings." She explained
"The line is collapsing, Dunadan." a worn, grey
haired Captain put in, "Everything north of Fornost
has fallen and only the One above All knows how long
we will be able to hold the road."
"But it is secure for now." Aranel continued. "You
will have to go back to it, Aragorn, dispite the
danger from the Ringwraiths."
After a moment Aragorn nodded. "I fear you are
right. Aranel, have you any short swords in your
armory? I cannot be everywhere, the Halflings may have
to defend themselves."
The Ringbearer was sitting alone in the solar, now
lit only by a candle or two, when Strider came up to
check on his charges.
The Hobbit looked at him steadily with those wide
blue eyes, raised a hand and pointed at the square of
tapesty over the fireplace. "That's Turin," he said.
"And the dragon Glaurung that he killed, and his
sister Nienor." turned to the long panel of emboidery
on the wall opposite the windows. "And that is the
Tale of Luthien and Beren."
After a moment Strider's wary, closed expression
softened into something like a smile. "Bilbo taught
Frodo caught his breath. "You know Bilbo?"
A nod. "He is known to many outside the Shire."
"Especially Elves, and Elf-friends." Frodo slid off
the oversized chair and came a few steps closer to the
Man. "I know who you are," he caught a flicker of
something - alarm? - in Strider's face. "you're the
Kings' People. They didn't all die in the old wars
The Man did not deny it. "Those wars never ended,
Frodo, this will be the last battle - and I'm afraid
you and your friends are caught right in the middle of
it." he knelt down so the Hobbit could look him in the
eye without craning. "My people tell me the Wild has
grown too perilous we must chance the road."
"But - what about the Black Riders?"
"That is a risk we must take. With care and good
fortune we may elude them."
Frodo swallowed. "All right." then. "What is your
Strider seemed to hesitate an instant, then
suddenly he smiled. "I am Aragorn son of Arathorn, at
your service, Ringbearer."
"At yours and your family's." Frodo responded
automatically but with the uneasy feeling that Strider
- Aragorn's - words were not just the customary
formula but a vow.
1. Aravorn was Warden of the South Downs a descendant of of the Line of Isildur, through an earlier Chieftain. His wife, Angwen, is a much closer relative to Aragorn being the granddaughter of his Aunt Ellian. Arahael is their elder son, the younger is named Arahad.
Ingloron is Aranel's husband, Warden of the Weather Hills and head of the House of Turin, a lineage even more ancient than that of the Kings.
Aranel herself is not only double first cousin to Aragorn, being the daughter of his father's brother and mother's sister, but his foster daughter. Her parents were killed when she was ten and as next of kin and Chieftain Aragorn became both her guardian and her elder brother's.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.