The Last Journey

by Evermind

The King leant heavily upon the white parapet in the gardens of healing, his grey head bowed upon his aged hands. The night was still and clear. Stars were in the sky and the crescent moon dipped low on the horizon, shinning with a soft radience above the hills of Emyn Arnen. From here Aragorn could see the starlight glinting upon the white towers of Dol Elenna, and he almost imagined that he could make out the banner Elboron the Prince of Ithillien, the crescent moon and the silver flower of Athelas that were the emblems of the stewards of Gondor. Aragorn closed his eyes for a moment and sighed. he had dreamed tonight.

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In his dream, it had seemed that the King had found himself standing beside the shores of a wide, still sea. As he had gazed into the grey curtain of mist, he thought that he could make out the holy isle far away. Then suddenly, the mists had rolled back, and he had seen sailing towards him a grey boat with a high prow that carried four queens towards him across the silent sea. As the ship drew closer, he could see the figures in it clearly, tall and straight, beautiful and terrible, but what they were, elven or mortal or Valar themselves he could not tell.
Then it seemed to Aragorn that the queens stepped from the boat, and silently they paced towards him, their silver shod feet leaving no ripples upon the surface of the water. The foremost queen was clad in a grey robe with soft brown hair arrayed about her shoulders and eyes grey as his own. She spoke no word to him, but silently she took from his hand the sceptre of Annuminas, and looking upon her, he saw that she bore the face of his mother Gilraen.
Then from the shadows behind him stepped Eldarion his son. His dark hair was wet with mist, and tears were in his grey eyes. Eldarion stood before Gilraen, the grandmother he had never known, and into his hand she placed the golden sceptre.
And Aragorn put out his hand to stay her, but as is oft the way with dreams, the image fled from him, and hastened on fleeting beyond his control, and he saw before him the second queen. Aragorn was then as one struck dumb, for he knew her also, but she was not now as he had seen her die, silver haired and worn by the passage of years, but the girl whom he had loved of old, swift and slender, golden haired with shinning eyes and clad in a blue cloak hemmed with silver stars. Eowyn it was, and yet not so, for she spoke not, but standing close before him she unclasped the elfstone and slid the eagle brooch from his cloak. She cradled it for a moment in her hand, and her slim white fingers carressed the clear green gem. Then from his other side stepped forward one who seemed to be the mirror image of Eowyn, clad all in white, her grey eyes solemn as she took the elfstone from her mother's hand. Little Haleth, who had been more like a daughter to him than his own had ever been. And as Eowyn set Haleth and Eldarion hand in hand, Aragorn felt a powerful ache is his breast. He saw the tears in their eyes as they looked him full in the face, his shinning warrior daughter, his brave and golden son. Aragorn felt the tears rise in his own throat threatening to choke him, and yet he was unable to weep.
He would have called out to them then, begging them to stay, but again his voice was soundless, his will unable to hold them there. And the King watched as the third queen stepped before him, and he knew her also, raven haired and cloaked in black, weeping as she came. Slender she was as an elf maiden, yet laden with the sadness of mortal men. And he watched the bright tears that fell like rain from the eyes of Arwen his beloved. Then she took from his head the high winged crown of kings, and set it upon the dark head of Eldarion her son.
At last there stepped onto the silent shore the last queen, high and regal, beautiful and terrible, her deep eyes held wisdom and power beyond the imagining of Kings. Old she was, who had been old ere the sun was wrought or the moon sailed, and yet she appeared to him as he had ever known her; great mentor, counsellor, queen. Galadriel the fair. A robe of palest blue she wore, and her hair was golden, and she alone looked him full in the eyes as she knelt before him and took from about his waist the sword Anduril in the jewelled scabbard that she herself had wrought. Then drawing the bright blade from it's sheath, she passed the hilt to Eldarion.
"Throw it into the lake." her voice whispered. Eldarion looked up at her, his eyes confused and frightened, but as he looked on her, his will seemed to strengthen until at last, with all the force he possesed, the young prince hurled the gleaming blade aloft. Slowly, twisting and shimmering, it fell through the air, and clove it's way point first into the deep water of the lake. A single ripple spread outwards, and the lake was still again.
Aragorn stared with sudden comprehension into the face of Galadriel.
Her deep voice held quiet assurance. "We shall not meet again Elessar, for the fates of our kindredss are apart. Namarie." Almost Aragorn wept, his pained eyes were fixed upon her face. But Eowyn and Gilraen coming took him in their arms and led him towards the swan ship, and together the three stepped onto the grey boat. Looking back, Aragorn could see those he had forsaken, Arwen weeping, and his son, arrayed as a king, and the quiet strength of little Haleth who clasped Eldarion's hand in her own. He watched them a moment more, three shadow figures quietly weeping upon the shores of the silent sea. Of Galadriel there was no sign. Slowly, filled with a blessed sadness, the King turned from the the shadowed world, and saw before his weary gaze the light of Valinor.

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To his shame, Aragorn found himself weeping. It was time to do now what the dream had shown him. To pass on the crown to his son. Eldarion would be a good and wise ruler, and Haleth would be a strong queen. He smiled then as he thought of them, of his son, and of Eowyn's daughter who could have been his own. And strangely, the King was almost happy. He would see them all again. Gilraen, his father, Boromir, Faramir, Eomer, the ringbearers. He would see Eowyn again. Gandalf? Would he ever again meet that wisest and truest of friends? He did not know the answer, but he sensed that Galadriel was right. They would not meet again. Nor would he ever again see Elrond, nor Celeborn, Glorfindel or Gildor Inglorion. The fates of the Eldar were apart from men. Never will those two sundered races meet until the final end of days, when the King at last shall come again.

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And in after days, when courage had failed, and the glory of Gondor of old was but a distant memory, men told a tale of their greatest leader, who arose in darkness and brought to them hope and victory. They spoke of the child who had been fostered by a great lord, who had in his long life more love and more sorrow than any mortal has ever known. They spoke too of the great sword he wielded, and it's jewelled sheath wrought for him by an elven queen. They spoke of the great loremaster whom some have named a wizard, who set the great King upon his throne. They spoke of victories, and alliances, of bold knights and glorious wars. But most of all they tell the tale of that greatest of men, forever silent as stone in his cold tomb beneath the mountain. And they spoke his name with love, the unhappy race who knew no light nor joy of their own, and they named him Arthur, the once and future King.