Aldamir's Journey

by Frodo Baggins

Chapter 42: Reunions

Four days passed until Lindir woke up at last. They were anxious, uncertain days; none could tell for sure if Lindir would conquer his injuries or not. His chest had been more or less cut open by an orc-sword’s stroke, and on top of that the blade had been poisoned. That was the most serious of the injuries; he had also been stabbed in the arm, but it wasn’t deep and the wound was clean. It wouldn’t have threatened him at all but for the added loss of blood. Aragorn was often at the Elf’s bedside, and afterwards Aldamir always said that if it weren’t for the Ranger, Lindir would have died without even waking.

Aldamir spent the days close to his tent, only leaving the area a few times to go for a solitary walk through Ithilien in the morning or the evening. He would walk through the trees until all sight and sound of the encampment had faded away, and then go onwards, following no path but letting his footsteps wander at will. He had been awed by the quiet, golden-green beauty contained in the wood, but his heart yearned for Lórien and the day when he once again could set eyes upon the mallorns, and walk beneath their boughs.

Often spending hours in the woods, he would walk, think, rest. His wounds were healing, though slowly. He had lived through more than a few hard battles, and they had taken their toll on him at last through exhaustion. Elf as he was, the combined stress of Helm’s Deep, the Pelennor, and the battle of the Morannon had worn him out. It wasn’t just the battles, either. Losing so many of his kindred had taken something from him as well. He knew it would be long before his strength was regained fully.

But it made no difference to him. The War of the Ring had come to an end.

Another thought often on his mind was the time he had left to spend in Middle-earth. Even as Galadriel herself had said, the power of the Three Rings would not last forever and it was only a matter of time before the Elven folk left this world. Not wanting to think about it, Aldamir pushed the thought away, and let himself rest.

One evening, returning to the encampment, he met the same woman he’d found in Lindir’s tent the morning he had awoken. She smiled brightly when she noticed him. “Your friend’s awake, and a wonder ‘tis,” she said, nodding back toward Lindir’s tent. “One o’ the first things he asked was if you were alive. Dear me, he came much closer to death than you, and I do say myself that if ‘tweren’t for the King hi’self...”

Aldamir did not hear more, for he was hurrying toward Lindir’s tent. Throwing the door-flap aside, he stepped in.

Lindir, lying flat in the bed, turned at his entry, and his pale, slightly drawn face brightened visibly. “Aldamir!”

Aldamir grinned in relief and joy. “Lindir...wonderful to see you awake! You’ve been sleeping for over a week, did you know that? You gave all the healers a terrible time. I was rather anxious myself.”

Lindir raised an eyebrow. “And then as soon as I wake up, no one can tell me anything about where you are except that ‘he went walking’?”

Aldamir chuckled and sat down next to Lindir’s bed and squeezed Lindir’s shoulder affectionately and gently. “Mellon nin...”

In spite of Lindir’s condition, the two lost track of time and talked together into the night, until the healer woman shook her head, clucked her tongue and sternly sent Aldamir to his own tent. “There’ll be plenty of time for talkin’ in the days to come, there will,” she admonished, “but only if ye don’t kill yerself with lack o’ rest.”

Aldamir and Lindir said nothing, but grinned at each other.

After another week, the King Elessar returned to Minas Tirith, and his army went with him. He was received with great celebration and honor; indeed, it seemed as if the entire city had turned out to bring him in as their king. Flowers were cast before him as he entered the city, and banners of all colors were hung out from windows. All of the White City was filled with rejoicing and delight, for the terrible Shadow had fled at last, and only the sunlight now shone on the city.

Lindir and Aldamir rode side by side into the city, following Aragorn. Lindir had gotten the better of his wound, though like Aldamir, he too had been worn out by the war and would only heal fully over time.

The day after their return to Minas Tirith, Aldamir was standing on the balcony outside the room he had been given on the third level of Minas Tirith. A soft wind was blowing through his hair and through the city beneath him. The plain of the Pelennor lay spread out before him, mostly empty of movement. He was quite alone, for Lindir had gone riding in the woods, wanting, like himself, a bit of solitude.

He was gazing east toward the mountains of Mordor, now lying under a clear sky instead of heavy dark clouds, when a sudden horn-call caught his attention. Jerking around, he stared in the setting sun, straining for the source of that horn-call. It was not a horn of men...

Then he saw it. An Elven banner of Rivendell, floating on the evening wind, borne by a mounted Elf. Behind him rode a great company of Elves, all mounted, their cloaks and hair streaming out behind them as they rode down towards the city. The light of stars seemed to shine about them, a silvery glow, even in the gold light of the sunset.

Aldamir’s heart skipped a beat. That was a banner of Rivendell, but...

He did not stop to look again. Turning and snatching up his cloak, he made his way swiftly out of the house and through the streets to the stables. Fëaran stood there in a stall, and when Aldamir entered, he whickered restlessly. Without waiting for a stable hand, Aldamir saddled and bridled the horse himself and mounted, riding out of the stable like a wind through the plain-grass.

Guiding Fëaran unerringly through the circling white-stoned streets, ever downwards to the great Gate itself, Aldamir rode through it and out onto the plain. Reining in his mount briefly, he looked again to the West. The company of Elves were there, closer now, carrying several banners. And yes, there were banners of the Golden Wood among them...

Urging Fëaran forward, Aldamir coaxed him into a fast canter and rode swiftly toward them. In a few minutes he had reached them, and his face lit with happiness as he saw so many known, beloved faces, and heard their voices calling and greeting him with joy. The Lady Galadriel herself was there, with a great many Elves from Lórien, as well as Lord Elrond of Rivendell and many of his house. Aldamir greeted them all joyfully, but he was searching for one certain face...

Suddenly Lindir slipped through the company and rode up to him, a smile on his face. “She is in the back of the column,” he said simply.

And in the back of the company Aldamir found her, his own dearly beloved Uruviel, riding a light grey horse, clad in blue, her golden hair dancing in the breeze and her eyes searching for him. She slid off her horse at the same moment he sprang to the ground, and a moment later they were in each other’s arms.

Lindir glanced back, and then turned to his kindred, smiling. “Come, mellyn,” he said. “Let us leave them to themselves. They deserve it, after all these days...”

Turning his horse suddenly, he rode with the Elves towards the White City, gleaming in the sunset.

Chapter 43: The Return of the King

“What a beautiful city,” observed Uruviel. She and Aldamir, hands entwined, were walking through the streets of Minas Tirith’s fourth level, where there were many shops and stands selling goods of all sorts. Children dashed about here and there, and the street itself was fairly full of inhabitants of the city; not to say more than a few Rohirrim wandering about. All was a bit more busy than usual, as preparations were taking place everywhere for the coronation of the King, to take place in three days.

Wandering through the streets, the Elves talked together in their native tongue, drawing a few stares from curious inhabitants. Most, however, glanced only once at them. These days, there were so many strange people in the city that it was almost to get accustomed to. Those Rohirrim, Elves, Northern Rangers, wizards, Halflings, and even dwarves...

As they passed a stall selling a wide variety of fabrics, Uruviel stopped. “Wait a moment, Aldamir,” she said, going toward it. He followed her over. The woman at the stand looked a bit nervous and startled at an Elf visiting her stall. She did her best to be business-like, but Aldamir noticed with a little smile her hands wringing her apron intermittently. Uruviel returned her timid greeting with a smile and began looking over the fabrics, stroking them and running them through her fingers.

Aldamir waited patiently, watching her. Glancing upwards, he gazed at the city rising up above him, circling upwards, finally ending in the spur of rock thrust out from the mountain. Birds were wheeling high above, their cries mingling with the many sounds of the city; voices, shouting, horses’ hooves, amour clinking. The sun was shining, pouring down on the white stone and giving it a light, almost invisible golden hue. Aldamir thought of the golden light in Lothlórien, sparkling in the little streams...

A hand touched his arm and he turned. “All right, we can go on,” Uruviel said. Over her arm was draped the folded mass of a dark blue material. “I have what I need.”

“What will you use it for?” he asked, taking her hand.

“You could use a new tunic, for one thing,” she answered, smiling. “The one you’re wearing now has been through a lot.”

Aldamir glanced down at himself. Though having been washed and patched as best as possible, his tunic was rather worn and stained. He squeezed her hand appreciatively. “Trust you to think of that,” he said, silently thanking the Valar for his beautiful wife and the fact that they were together again. “I don’t think I would have.”

She merely tightened her grip on his hand and they continued their walk.

Three days later, the coronation of Aragorn as King took place on the topmost level of the city. The entire level, from the steps of the Citadel to the point of the spur of rock, was covered with people from all the reaches of Middle-earth, from the Shire to Pelargir. The White Tree, rising above them, had revived once again; white blossoms covered its boughs.

On the steps of the Citadel knelt Aragorn, clad in kingly robes and with the White Tree on his breast. His head was bare; Anduril hung girt at his side. To the right stood Gimli, bearing the winged crown on a wine-red pillow. Gandalf, clad all in shining white, reverently lifted the crown from Gimli’s hands, held it aloft as it glinted in the sunlight, and lowered it gently onto Aragorn’s head. Then the Ranger, now the King Elessar in name as well as blood, stood and turned to face his people.

A great cheer arose, rising and growing until it flew away on the wind with the gulls above the city. Tears stood in the eyes of many as they cried out for gladness; now the days of darkness were over and the King who they had so long waited for had returned.

White petals began falling from the White Tree, falling like a drifting, dancing rain among the people and settling in their hair. Aragorn lifted his face as they brushed softly against it. Uruviel, standing at Aldamir’s side, reached up and caught one of them in her hand.

“Now come the days of the King,” said Gandalf, in a strong voice. “May they be blessed.”

Aragorn gazed out at the multitude before him. “This day does not belong to one man, but to all.” He spread his hands, as if accepting them all not just as his subjects, but his people. “Together, let us rebuild this world, that we may share in the days of peace.”

Glancing upwards into the white petals swirling through the air, Aragorn drew a breath and sang in the Elven tongue a line spoken long ago by his forefather Elendil. “Et Earello Endorenna utulien. Sinome maruvan ar Hildinyar tenn’ Ambarmetta!”

Again the people cheered, clapping happily, and Aragorn turned to walk down between them, on a carpet laid out before his feet, amid the still-falling petals. Along the sides stood a row of Citadel guards, and beyond them Rohan’s King, Éomer, his sister Éowyn, Faramir of Gondor, Imrahil of Dol Amroth, and the Elves of Rivendell and Lórien. They stepped forward and bowed in turn as Aragorn passed. Then, as he reached the Elves, he paused at the sight of a cream-colored banner, with Elrond standing next to it.

He hesitated as he saw Arwen standing there. Aldamir saw the pain and love mingled on Elrond’s face as he nudged her gently, whispering to her. Slowly, she came forward, and with a sudden sadness on her face, bowed her head. Aragorn lifted her chin gently, and Aldamir could see that the pain and uncertainty of accepting her choice was still in his heart. For a moment they gazed into each other’s eyes, and then at last he accepted her, and she nearly threw herself into his arms, embracing him and returning his kiss. Her happy laughter sounded silver in the ears of the people, and again they cheered, now for both their king and his queen.

Aldamir let his gaze take in the White Tree, the Citadel, the sunlight, Elessar. His heart was full of emotions, glad and otherwise. He thought of Haldir and the other slain, and his heart ached for the fallen Elves, who should by rights be standing here celebrating the downfall of Mordor. He looked at Frodo, clad no longer in worn rags but clean garments, and wondered what was going through the hobbit’s mind. All this – Elessar’s crowning, the great victory, was greatly due to his hours of agony and suffering in the dark lands of Mordor. Now all he had fought for was fulfilled, and yet Aldamir saw in his eyes a sort of pain, and his heart went out to the hobbit. Even though the Ring had been destroyed, there remained a piece of that darkness within him. Again, Aldamir marveled at so great a courage in so small a heart.

Aragorn, too, was gazing at the four hobbits, Frodo, Merry, Pippin and Sam, whom he loved and whom he had traveled so far with. They stood before the White Tree, only half the height of the rest of the people, but now known throughout Gondor. As Aragorn gazed at them with love and wonder in his eyes, they bowed as one.

“My friends,” interrupted Aragorn, and they looked up. He shook his head. “You bow to no one.”

Then, as King, with Arwen at his side, he bowed his head and knelt before them. Behind him, the Elves knelt as well, and with them, the entire multitude knelt down before the hobbits, honoring the small people who had brought about the great victory now being celebrating throughout all of Middle-earth.