7. Envinyatar -- Starlight
The older man walked to him, more uneasy in spite of his age and experience. This was his first sea-voyage.
`I can feel it, lad.' He put his hand on Halaran's shoulder, more to steady himself than to reassure the young man.
`Lean forward. It feels as though we are flying,' Halaran said. `The thought of riding the waves under black sails was not very encouraging, but now I feel like one of those seabirds the stories tell of.'
`What would I give to become as one of them now,' came a new voice, and both men turned round. It was Aldarion, whom they had not seen since the early morning when the wind changed and more hands were needed to keep the sails steady. `We need all the speed we can get. Aragorn said Minas Tirith is burning.'
`Aye, and it saddens me somewhat,' Halaran said, `that we will finally go to the home of our sundered kin, only to find flame and blood, and not the majesty of the ancient kingdom.'
`And yet for such an hour we were appointed to come, and our pledge we will fulfill. We should be getting close to it now; we have sailed faster since the new wind came. We will get there when we get there, and you need not worry about things you cannot fix.'
`But I must worry, Aglahad! For this moment we have toiled, and bled, and trained. For this moment have we forsaken so much,' Aldarion's tone melted into a sadness they had seldom heard in it, but his countenance had softened and his eyes, though briefly became distant, acquired a deep expression of tenderness. `It is the hope of this dream that has kept me sane through all I have seen in my life. I am a Ranger, and nothing makes me happier than to know I am in the service of my people, but sometimes I wish they did not have to suffer so, yet I realize that darkness must come before the sun shines again. It is our Chieftain's moment, our people's moment, and I only wish I could do more to help. I feel tied up in this ship!'
`Your strength has helped him, and mayhap for that alone we are come.' Aglahad glanced at Aragorn's ship, and a bright light kindled his eyes. `What could a small force of thirty do, in the midst of such havoc and destruction? What could our little company achieve, only rangers, men of the wild, when faced with the savage armies of Mordor? We have felt their onslaught before, we know how fierce they can be, and we know that thirty men is too small a force to stop them. But,' he looked up, and the weight of many years seemed to be lifted from him, `we are come, nonetheless, bringing hope when the hour was dark, and faith in a better future. We have forsaken so much because we desire so much. And our lord Aragorn needed to be reminded of the promises that can be his if he becomes what we all hope he'll be.'
`And he will,' Aldarion said.
`And we will,' the old man said, gripping Aldarion's shoulder with his free hand. `We have trodden paths that no mortal man has trodden for many years, and have conquered. We have seen, and have been part of the fulfillment of the prophecies of old, when `the hour was come for the oathbreakers.' The One would not have sped us so far without a special purpose for us. So, my friends, do not worry because you cannot do anything now- you know nothing of sea-craft! I'd be worried if you attempted any more than you have. But, there will be plenty of time to worry once we reach the White City.' Aglahad smiled, gently, `And I will have you worry, then, for I do not want you dead so soon after you have seen what we have so long hoped for.'
`Our people united,' Halaran said.
`Our hope restored,' Aglahad said.
`Our light renewed,' Aldarion said, and when he looked north, he saw a great, black shadow being lifted to the top of Aragorn's ship. A gleam of sun caught its furls and it shone like bright Earendil in the night, revealing seven stars and a White Tree, the device of their sires of old whom no one had borne for many lives of men. And at that hour Aldarion ran to the prow of his ship, being filled by a strange, delightful happiness, followed by Halaran and Aglahad, and they laughed seeing that their restorer had, at last, come.
`I little dreamed that I would see Isildur's symbol in my time,' Aglahad whispered, and his eyes became filled.
`I never knew it could be so beautiful,' Halaran said, his head moving in time with the waving of the standard.
`Now we are free,' Aldarion said, very softly, and drew his hand to his heart, `to show who we are. The hope of men is at last fulfilled. Envinyatar has come.'