1. Shelter from the Storm
Eldarion was scared, or if truth be told, quite terrified by the ferocity of the sudden storm. Even the usually stony- faced guards who accompanied them looked rather apprehensive, as did Uncle Faramir. Only his ada seemed unperturbed at the turn of events. "Do you know of any shelter nearby?" Aragorn cried, fighting to make himself heard above the howling wind and driving rain.
"There are some derelict shepherd's huts yonder," cried Faramir.
"We will make for them," said the King.
Eldarion cried out as his pony, spooked by the strength of the wind, reared up.
Aragorn was beside him in an instant, grabbing the frightened beast's reins just in time to prevent his young son from falling. "You had best ride with me, ion nîn," he said. "One of the guards can lead your pony." He scooped up the boy in his arms and placed him in front of him on Roheryn's broad back. He then pulled his cloak around the child. "Faramir!" he called. "How far are the huts?"
"About a quarter of a league hence," said the Steward.
"We will soon be safe, ion nîn," said Aragorn.
Eldarion nestled against his ada feeling much less scared now. He had being having such fun before this storm had blown up. His father and Uncle Faramir for once did not have to take part in the boring grown up things they called "official duties" and had taken him on a hunting trip. Only a short time before the sun had been shining, then suddenly grey clouds appeared on the horizon and within moments a fierce storm had erupted overhead. Eldarion had always thought storms were rather fun, but that was when he was safely indoors watching them from the nursery window. The wind was so strong he could hardly catch his breath, while the rain was icy cold and falling with such force that it hurt his skin.
It was not long before they reached a cluster of broken down buildings. Aragorn brought Roheryn to a halt. Faramir leapt from his horse and lifted Eldarion down, calling to the guards to make camp as he did so. The men led the horses inside a hut with a broken down doorway. Aragorn selected the least dilapidated of the buildings and led the way inside. The rest of the party followed, clutching their oilskin wrapped packs. It was pitch dark inside and the air smelt musty. Eldarion sneezed.
One of the guards took a torch from his pack and lit it with his tinderbox, illuminating the small hut. Eldarion was far from reassured to see his surroundings. The room was empty apart from some rags and broken furniture; the once whitewashed walls were grimy with dust and adorned with cobwebs. He shivered.
"Make up a fire!" Aragorn commanded. "We will soon have you warm and dry, ion nîn. He peeled off his sodden cloak and cast it on the floor. Faramir did likewise and then rummaged in the packs and brought out a blanket, which he handed to the King.
The guards broke apart a three-legged chair, placed it in the hearth, and kindled a fire.
Aragorn knelt beside his son and pulled off the boy's drenched outer garments.
"I thought you said Rangers knew when storms are coming?" Eldarion said somewhat accusingly as his father eased his dripping tunic over his head.
"Usually we do," said Aragorn. He wrapped Eldarion snugly in the blanket then sat down beside the meagre fire with the boy cradled in his arms. "It is a foolish man, though, who forgets that nature can still take him unawares, however skilled he might be in reading her."
"The Valar must have their sport," said Faramir. "Sometimes they delight in seeing whether they can frighten stout hearted Men." As he, spoke, hailstones started to batter against the walls of the hut and come down the chimney.
Eldarion shuddered and nestled closer to his father. "I'm not scared," he said unconvincingly. "Why do the Valar want to frighten us?" he asked.
Faramir looked across at the King. Eldarion could have sworn there was a twinkle in the Steward's usually serious grey eyes. "Maybe your ada knows a story to explain it?" he said.
"Lord Manwë, who controls the winds, and Lord Ulmo, who controls the seas, care about the Children of Ilúvatar and seek to protect them," Aragorn began. "The Valar do not rule alone, though, they have other powerful beings who help them share the burden of duty."
"Like Uncle Faramir helps you?" asked Eldarion.
"Yes," said Aragorn. "Uncle Faramir assists me, just as the Maiar help the Valar."
Faramir smiled, both touched and amused by the comparison.
"Lord Ulmo's chief helper is called Ossë. He enjoys causing storms, just as much as you enjoy playing hide and seek, or with your ball, Eldarion. Sometimes, though, his games are too rough and they cause harm."
"Like when I knocked the blooms off naneth's rosebush?"
"Just like that."
"But I didn't mean to spoil the flowers."
"I know that, ion nîn. You simply did not realise that your game was too rough. Sometimes Ossë's storms are like that and ships are wrecked and trees blown down. Then Ossë's wife, the Lady Uinen, tells him he must cease his play and the storm ceases. Our forefathers in Númenor would pray to her when they sailed around the island in their ships. She brought Elendil and his folk safely here to Middle-earth. Even now, she will be telling Ossë that the storm has gone on for long enough."
"That's just like naneth when she tells me I've played battles with my wooden soldiers too long, but I'm still having fun!"
"It is just like that, Eldarion," Aragorn said gravely. "Do you understand now that there is nothing to fear? A storm is just Ossë playing a rough game."
"I think so, ada," Eldarion said staunchly. He trembled though, when another loud clap of thunder broke overhead.
"I have an idea," Faramir said suddenly. He picked up his sodden cloak and started to rub the dust off the walls with it.
Eldarion watched in bewilderment as the Steward cleaned a large patch of wall. Faramir then rummaged in his pack and took out a stick of charcoal, with which he began to draw.
"Won't you get into trouble for drawing on the wall, Uncle Faramir?" asked Eldarion. "My nurse says it is very naughty!"
"Usually it is wrong to draw on walls," said Faramir, "but no one lives here to be upset if we do so." He started to draw some squiggles.
"Are you drawing waves?" asked Eldarion.
"I am," said Faramir. He broke the stick of charcoal in two. "Why don't you draw some as well, Eldarion?"
"How about a ship sailing on the waves?" Aragorn suggested.
Faramir broke off another piece of charcoal and handed it to the King. Soon a picture began to take shape of a little boat riding the waves with sailors inside. To the left of the picture, Eldarion drew a fierce looking man, whom he said was Ossë, blowing the ship. Faramir then drew a serene looking lady, waving her hand over the water and explained that was Lady Uinen.
"Her hair should spread out more," said Aragorn , adding tresses that were bigger than the waves to the lady's head.
Eldarion laughed delightedly. He had quite forgotten his fears.
One of guards wandered outside and returned a few moments later smiling.
"The storm has passed now, my lords," he said. "The clouds have blown away and the sky is clear."
"That is good news," said Aragorn. "We can ride home now."
"We are having fun!" Eldarion protested.
"We will tell more stories and draw more pictures again soon, ion nîn," Aragorn promised. "Maybe it is time you had drawing lessons?"
"Please, ada, then I can draw a picture of naneth!"
"I doubt any artist upon Arda could capture your mother's beauty," said Aragorn. "But she would treasure a picture you painted for her above all others. Now come, our clothes will be dry now. We must ride home before naneth becomes worried about us, or Aunt Éowyn worries about Uncle Faramir."
"This has been the best hunting trip ever!" said Eldarion as his father pulled his now dried tunic over the boy's head.
Aragorn and Faramir shared amused glances.
The hunters went home empty handed but well satisfied.
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.