3. The Lord's Minstrel
The still air was heavy. Purple clouds piled high far in the west, but the relentless afternoon sun beat down, perfect for growing greenness but sending both two and four-legged creatures to seek shade. The heat had driven Aragorn and Deesch into the coolness of the study corner, where Deesch sat writing, several pages already ink blotched. Aragorn stretched out on the cool floor tiles, reading a volume of the history of Numenor. It was a part of the tale unknown to him and he was engrossed in his ancestors' triumphs and follies. Presently, finishing a section he stood up and wandered to the desk, leafing through Deesch's pile of scribblings. He shuffled through the pages, reading bits that caught his eye. Deesch wrote on, pretending unconcern at his cousin's interest but watching him closely.
"These are quite good poems. Do you write ballads too?" Aragorn asked. Deesch ducked his head and in a barely discernable voice said aye. "Do you have more?" Deesch looked up in astonishment to see if he were truly interested, pulled out a large, messy portfolio, and soon they were sitting on the floor surrounded by pages, Deesch summarizing each work and Aragorn reading and humming, trying to set the words to music.
"I can never be a warrior," Deesch said softly though they were alone in the house, "as you know, so I thought perhaps to be a story teller or a minstrel. I hear they are still mightily respected in the great halls of the Elves and in Gondor."
"That is true. Music and great tales are signs of learning and civility. We should have such entertainment here for the older folk and the cousins. Does anyone here play? I can sing a bit," Aragorn added modestly.
"Perhaps you were born to be a minstrel, too." Deesch commented after listening to Aragorn softly singing one of his poems.
"I'll trade for anything but what I am," the young man said without thinking, engrossed in the lyrics.
"I think it would be wondrous fair to be such a leader as you will become." The boy's eyes were shining and Aragorn got the uncomfortable feeling the boy was speaking not of him but about one of the great princes in his poetry.
"Deesch, it's not often mere men can live up to the arcane predictions of ancient soothsayers or their even own minstrels," Aragorn added softly. "The Great Tales, those are told of times long past. There simply isn't that sort of adventure in the world any longer. Men no longer possess the valor of our Numenorean ancestors and the Elves are too few to marshal great armies. No, you must be content to sing of the past or create your own heroes."
"Being a great hero will not be a problem for you! You've already performed miracles---I can hold a sword and ride a horse!" Deesch laughed, lightening the mood, "And I shall be the bard who writes down your great tales of errantry and sings them in your hall!" Aragorn shook his head and went back to choosing songs. Deesch watched him and decided his champion did indeed need a champion himself.
As the afternoon wore on, the two selected and practiced several of Deesch's songs. The wind picked up, the sky darkened, and except for lighting a lamp, the two did not notice the spring thunderstorm rolling across the Angle. Evening came, the rain lessened to a gentle patter and when dinner ended, the pair announced they would be entertaining any who cared to stay. Everyone settled down to listen.
Aragorn had found a lute and a cousin who could play it. He sang a few Elvish ballads for the gathering and then stepped back to let Deesch's high tenor tell of a young traveler guided by the beauty of the stars to a true love. His audience was mesmerized by the tale and his last note hung in the silence of the room until finally Harwilthel broke the spell.
"That was magnificent, laddie. I did not know you could sing. Do you have another?" he asked his nephew in an awed tone. The cousins enthusiastically called for more and Deesch sang several more of his ballads, basking in the praise of the family. Aragorn moved away to allow Deesch their full attention and circled behind the crowd to get a cup of spring water and to glory like a proud parent in the youth's accomplishment.
"Thank you." Amarië, Ranger-silent in her approach, was at his elbow. "Thank you for being so kind to him." Aragorn had seen little of her since the incident in the glade; it seemed as if she purposely avoided him.
"It is easy to be kind to Deesch. He is so caring of everyone else's feelings." She looked at him in disbelief that he could be so mistaken in assessing her brother's prickly personality, saw the amusement in his eyes, and laughed with him, at once feeling her unease disappear. They listened to Deesch's singing a bit. Aragorn noticed tonight she wore her hair loose and it curled about her face, softening the stern lines, lit warm brown by the candlelight. Her tunic was a dark rich material belted with silver, and she had left her sword upstairs although a jeweled, gilt dagger hung on her belt.
Aragorn put down his cup and turned to listen more carefully to Deesch's song of a prince bewitched into a dragon. Amarië desperately sought a topic so he would not walk away.
"Are you enjoying your visit?" she finally asked lamely.
"I have enjoyed meeting my mother's family," He smiled at her again. "especially many of my cousins." Aragorn walked back into the crowded hall. He did not see her eyes following him as he went to sit beside his aunt, but another did.
Deesch with his flair for the dramatic bowed deeply and commenced a song Aragorn suspected had been composed that afternoon. The boy seemed to have decided it was time to begin his self-appointed position as official bard of the Dúnadan.
"Deep in a valley hidden
Far from the searching eyes,
Dwelled a prince born of blood royal
Unaware of his secret disguise
His proud name and lineage denied
Yet all shall be told, bye and bye.
"As the lad grew into manhood
Far and wide he wandered, unsettled
He searched on tireless for truth
He doubted his worth and mettle
His fears put to rest, bye and bye.
His many adventures were wondrous
With his sword, he led a great host,
Defeated dragons that flew through the skies,
And became a great lord, bye and bye.
Varda Elentari pressed him to greatness
She showed him the path that was his
And all did come true, bye and bye.
The Lady extended to him a crown
You're king that will come, bye and bye.
And all came to pass, bye and bye."
The cousins applauded enthusiastically and Deesch began a new song. Aragorn shifted uncomfortably, sighing mightily. Wyorven leaned over and patted his knee.
"It will all come to pass, bye and bye," she whispered.
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.