He kept the fire burning, watching the four Hobbits sleep. Sixty-seven years a Ranger and he could still count on the fingers of one hand the number of times Strider had been allowed in the best rooms by the suspicious Butterbur breed. A cold draft of fear seeped along the floor. Rising and silently drawing his sword, Aragorn moved to the door; a final bulwark against marauding Nazgûl. Staring down at the oblivious Frodo, he found the familiar pommel-heavy weight of the unbalanced weapon cocked jagged point downwards at the sleeper’s throat. In Isildur’s hand, this blade freed the Ring from Sauron. He is Isildur’s Heir. The careless, apple-cheeked Hobbit is no fitting guardian. The Ring ought to be his to protect. Give this land a few years free and there would be an army of Dúnedain sons behind him, and no sneer on Denethor’s face when he demanded what was rightly his, the crown of Gondor. He would besiege Rivendell, drag Arwen… his thoughts checked. He shook his head. Foolishness! He had lost count of the number of times he had eluded the chill grip of Nazgûl. It must be the Ring. He would be doubly on guard now.
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