28. Peace Like a River Ran Through the City
I had not known when I set out how hard this was going to prove to be... but it was not as hard as I had feared. As I rode, my anxiety seemed to fall away, and the woods of Ithilien, bursting into unfettered bloom for the first time in my lifetime, lifted my spirit to blossom as well. I began to feel more secure about the ritual I had envisioned, as though a sense of peace flowed into me from the river where I had discovered him at peace at last.
I found the outcropping where I had been accustomed to perch, and spread my cloak about me, mantling, watching blackbirds sing in the reeds. Anduin, too, sang a new song, a song of reconstruction, a song of restoration. There was still a descant of watchfulness, and a quiet undertone of pain, but the river had become a healer and was doing her best to wash us clean of what we had endured, and of what we had brought upon ourselves.
I took my tablet and began to sketch. I started with the basic designs I had in mind for Emyn Arnen. I sketched the designs that Gimli had shown me for the new gates of the White City. I added a small profile of the ranger who was now king, wearing the ceremonial seabird wings and smiling. One after another, pictures flowed onto the page. They seemed so small, these drawings - and so big somehow. Must be the insecurity of the artist.
It was getting dark now, and I took the small candle I had brought, lit it, and set it upon the rock. I took up my small brush and began to write down the side of the page. I wrote of peace and change, I wrote of family and friends, news from home and the lands where he had traveled. I wrote of my sorrow at our separation, and of my fearful joy when I saw the serenity on his beautiful face. I admitted to my envy that night, and affirmed that I had found my own path now.
I told him at the end that we missed him, and ended with my love, and a small post-script that Merry and Pippin asked to be remembered to him, as they remembered him often and fondly. Then I sat and watched the river until the stars flourished overhead. I waited for the swordsman to rise, and when I could see his golden belt I rose as well.
Leaning on the rock, I folded the letter point to point, then over and down, smiling as I fashioned it into a little boat. I flattened the center, and setting the candle within, I waded into the stream and let it go.
I knew it would not reach the place where his boat had gone, but it would last long enough to carry its flickering light away down the river and around the bend toward Osgiliath. That was enough for me, for now. Anduin would do the rest.
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