Aldamir's Journey

by Frodo Baggins

28  29

Chapter 28 -- The Rangers of the North

When Aldamir awoke, the sun was rising; he had indeed slept through the entire night. He could see the dawning light now pouring through the door of the keep, shedding a golden hue on the stone floor and walls, and lighting up the figures moving about in the large room. Taking a deep breath, he slowly tried to rise to a sitting position, and found that the pain in his side and shoulder had lessened greatly. For a moment he rested, leaning back against the wall.

Elves sleep seldom, most of the time only when they were ill or wounded, and then they gain great strength and healing if they sleep deeply and long. Having slept now for many hours, Aldamir felt his strength returning. His wounds were healing. They were far from completely healed, but it would not be long before they were.

Rising carefully, he found his armour lying at the foot of his bed, but left it, finding it easier by far to move about only in his lighter Lórien garments. Taking his cloak, which was stained with blood and torn in a few places, he cast it about his shoulders and fastened the clasp. Walking slowly and carefully, but steadily, he made his way out of the room and onto the keep’s parapet.

The signs of the battle were dimishing, but the evidence of war was long from gone. The stones were stained with blood in places, both dark, almost black, and red. The carcasses of the orcs had been hauled away and burned; in a remote, dark corner of the valley, heavy black smoke still lingered, oozing from low piles of blackish ashes. The sad business of carrying away the bodies of the fallen Rohirrim was not yet finished. Two men walked past Aldamir, carrying the body of a younger boy, and Aldamir sighed and bowed his head. So young! The tragedy of it all cut him to the heart.

Footsteps sounded behind him, and he turned to see Lindir hurrying toward him with a glad smile on his face. “Aldamir – you’re up again!”

Aldamir smiled wanly. “You wouldn’t want me to lie half-dead in that dark room when I could be out here with you, would you?”

Lindir laughed and wrapped an arm about his friend’s shoulders. “Come and see the horses – you’ve got to find one for yourself, you know.”

Aldamir drew in his breath when he saw the horses standing together behind the shattered Deeping Wall. They were horses of Rohan; tall, graceful, strong, and swift, with sweeping manes and tales and deep, dark eyes which seemed almost to speak. Their heads lifted quickly as he approached, and they looked at him alertly. He allowed them to nuzzle his hand and snuffle him as he walked among them. He stroked their glossy coats as he went among them, and some bent their heads and returning the caress.

It didn’t take him too long to find himself a mount, either. A white horse, finely formed with a sleek, strong body and a long, flowing mane and tale was his choice. He whispered to it softly in Elvish, words to calm it and introduce himself. The horse accepted him, and he slid his hand under the halter.

  Lindir watched admiringly as he led the horse out of the flock. “You’re not too bad at picking out a good horse,” he commented.

  Aldamir smiled, never taking his eyes off the horse, and spoke again in a low voice to it. It nickered softly, and he mounted fairly easily, taking care not to strain his shoulder or side. He needed no saddle, but whispered something in the horse’s ear, and they were away, sliding into an easy canter.

  The feeling of the wind blowing lightly through his hair and the supple body of the horse moving beneath him like the waves on the Sea gave Aldamir a sudden thrill. He had  ridden only a few times before, but it does not take an Elf long to learn when he has a good horse beneath him, and Aldamir was sure that he had that.

  Wheeling around, he rode back to where Lindir stood watching, and slid off the horse next to him. Lindir stroked the horse’s flank. “That’s a fine beast, if I do say so myself,” he said. “Can you ride without too much pain?”

  “I can ride,” said Aldamir, catching his breath. “This is a fine horse indeed; I will name him Fëarán.”

A horn sounded suddenly, and they both looked up, startled. They stood now at the foot of the Deeping Wall, near to where the causeway met the gate, and so they had a good view of the valley’s opening.

  A company of men, mounted on dark-coloured horses, rode into the valley, their horses’ hooves kicking up a cloud of dust. They were tall and slender, all of them, and wore muted, earthy colours; rich browns, foresty greens, dark blues, dark greys, and deep wine reds. Their eyes were keen and their swords long; Aldamir could see that these were no ordinary men - certainly none of the Rohirrim.

The company did not halt at the base of the causeway, but rode up it, barely slackening their pace. Aldamir and Lindir watched them curiously.

Lindir turned to Aldamir. “I’ll go see what this is all about - you should wait here,” he said.

Aldamir nodded his assent, and Lindir ran swiftly up the causeway and into the keep.

It seemed to Aldamir an endless long time he waited for him to return, but he did at last reappear at the causeway’s top and hurried down to his impatient friend.

“They are Rangers from the North,” said Lindir a trifle breathlessly. “Kin of Aragorn. They’re riding south to join him for the battle against Mordor; they are talking now with the captain of the men who are stationed here. Their captain is called Halbarad; that is all I know.”

“Rangers of the North,” repeated Aldamir thoughtfully, and absentmindedly stroked Windspirit’s flank.

“What is it?” asked Lindir, puzzled. Aldamir did not answer; he was deep in thought and seemed not to have heard.

Aldamir was thinking of his vision of Haldir and the last few days, the battle, Haldir’s words, Galadriel’s words. The thoughts whirled through his mind, and abrubtly he turned and walked toward the keep, leaving a confused Lindir holding Fëarán’s halter...

Lindir stood on the Deeping Wall, leaning against the remaining part of the wall and watching the stars come out in the sky. It was evening, and even now the moon was beginning to lift its silver crescent over the horizon.

He looked toward the keep, and sighed. Aldamir had been in there for more than an hour now, talking with Halbarad of the Rangers. What was so important that he would spend so long speaking with these men of the North was beyond Lindir, but he waited patiently. He had a feeling that Aldamir’s purpose was one altogether unusual, but he had no idea as to what it was.

Finally quiet footsteps sounded on the wall and he turned to see Aldamir approaching him.

“Finally finished?” he asked, half-teasing, half-curious.

Aldamir seemed not to have heard. His eyes were keen and sharp; filled with purpose. “Lindir,” he said, “will you ride south with me?”

“What?” Lindir was completely confused.

Aldamir explained. “I’ve spoken with Halbarad; I want to ride south with them to meet Aragorn and take up the battle against Sauron. I want to strike back; Haldir and the rest of my kin who have died are not to go unavenged. I am riding with the Rangers tomorrow, to strike out against Mordor; to strike a blow for the Elves and for all of Middle-earth.”

Lindir stood for a moment in silence. This was completely unlooked for; whatever Aldamir had planned, he could not have foreseen this.

Aldamir saw the utter surprise on his face, and smiled. “I know this is sudden, but I have made up my mind. I am not returning to Lórien yet; first I will ride and show Sauron that the Elves are something to be reckoned with. Will you come?”

Finally Lindir found his voice. A wide smile spread across his face. “Yes - I will ride with you, my brother! We will draw swords together, when it comes to that...yes, I will go with you.” More he could not say; he was still at a loss for words.

Aldamir clapped his friend on the shoulder in delight. “Thank you, Lindir! We are the only Elves riding south, though - Rumil and the others are returning to Lórien. I have spoken with him, and he has agreed to it - though he said he would rather have us at his side in Lórien. But I want to avenge my kin; this treachery of Saruman’s will not go unpaid. We ride with the Rangers at dawn.”

Lindir nodded. “But are you ready for such a journey? Your wounds aren’t fully healed yet.”

“I know, but I have a night to rest, and you and I can fall behind a bit and go easy in the beginning - we can always catch up. I am not letting my injuries prevent me from going.”

“All right.” Lindir nodded once more. “In that case, I think we had better both go and get as much sleep as we can.”

Aldamir put his arm around Lindir’s shoulders, and together they walked back to the Keep.    

28  29

Chapter 29 -- Riding North
 The Rangers rode at dawn, and Aldamir and Lindir rode with them. Both had said their farewells to their kin who would be returning to Lórien later that day, and though it saddened them to delay their own return to their beloved Lórien, their wills were set and they had no regrets about riding with the Rangers.

They rode out of the Helm’s Deep valley as the sun was just coming over the mountains, exploding into a brilliant medley of vibrant golden, rose, and purple hues. Aldamir lifted his face gladly to the pure sunlight; he had not seen the sun like this since before he left Lórien for Helm’s Deep. He was clad in his Lórien garments, a warm grey tunic made of the fabric Galadriel’s maidens had woven, and his dark blue cloak which had now been repaired of the damage it suffered during the battle of Helm’s Deep. His armor he had left behind, but he had chosen a shirt of chain mail from the armoury of the Keep and taken it with; a very finely-woven shirt, not of Rohan make, but of Gondorian. It was chain mail from long ago, when the smith’s hammer and hands were a bit more gifted than they were now; such fine chain mail had not been made in a long while, the Rohirrim had told him. He did not wear it now, but carried it with him for when battle came.

Lindir too had chosen a shirt of chain mail, but it was not so fine as Aldamir’s; it was made by smiths of the Rohirrim, and the rings were slightly larger. Nevertheless it was good, strong mail, and Lindir was content with it. Both Elves carried their swords, their knives, and their bows and arrows; they had salvaged all the arrows they could from the battlefield. They were ready for battle against the Dark one.

Aldamir rode now at the head of the column, next to Halbarad. The leader of the Rangers was a tall, lithe man, with fighting skills honed to near perfection from his many years in the wild. His eyes were blue-grey and sharp; his hair, nearly black, fell to his shoulders and across his face as the wind tossed it about. He was a stern leader and a good one; but he had a merry side as well, and now and then he laughed as he spoke with Aldamir as they rode along.

"How long have you been traveling?" asked Aldamir after a while.

"Over two weeks," replied Halbarad. "Our home lies far North, and even with our hardy horses we could not be faster about it."

Aldamir nodded. "How much longer do you figure we will be riding before we catch up with Aragorn?"

Halbarad narrowed his eyes and thought for a moment. "At the most three or four days, but I think we can do it in less," he answered. "It is not far now."
"No," said Aldamir thoughtfully, "not far, in more ways than one. It is war we are riding to, and war is not far away."

Halbarad shook his head. "It is indeed close, and I know I may lose my life in it, but I for one am glad that we are challenging him at last. Do not mistake me! - I do not like war, none of us do, but I am glad at last to be striking a blow against the one who has slain so many of my kinsmen."

His companion nodded. "I did not know that one could be so full of hate and sorrow at the same time," he said quietly, stroking his mount’s withers. "I have always hated the Dark One, but never as much as since... since the battle. I lost so many I knew..."

Halbarad glanced over at him, and his grey eyes were full of understanding. "I too have lost many," he answered in an equally quiet voice. "That is why I have ridden as quickly as I can, so that we can come in time to make a difference. Whether we win or not, the blow we strike now will be all the more stronger because of those we have lost."

Aldamir said nothing, but his brow darkened as he gazed East....