7. Crownless by Forodwaith
Aragorn sat comfortably cross-legged, oiling his knives, but the weariness he usually wore as easily as his grey cloak seemed to lie heavy on him tonight. Halbarad studied his friend's remote face. "What troubles you?"
"The men we killed..." Aragorn scoured at the runes etched on his blade. "They were not evil, only hungry and misguided."
"True," Halbarad agreed. "But they did evil to the people of the Angle."
Aragorn rubbed his brow, smearing it with oil. "Killing bandits is little use when I can do nothing about the reason they plague Arnor. I must be ready to face the Dark Lord soon, or this land will be ruined past saving."
"When you do, I will stand with you."
Aragorn smiled, and some of the lines scored on his face smoothed away. "I know, old friend. And I hope you will stay with me for counsel after that day comes."
[a drabble & a half]
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