Ranger in Waiting

by Pippin's Sunshine

Introduction: This is my tale of Aragorn’s life. This is the third and final part in the tale. The first two parts, A Mother’s Love and The Little Hunter can be found here. To recap: Aragorn has met Arwen in the woods of Rivendell, been given the heirlooms of the King’s house and has left to roam the wilds with the Rangers all in a few days.  Thanks again for reading!

"In her heart, your mother knew you would be hunted the rest of your life. The skill of the Elves can reforge the sword of the king, only you have the power to wield it."

Chapter 1: Meeting Gandalf

Introduction: This is my tale of Aragorn’s life. This is the third and final part in the tale. The first two parts, A Mother’s Love and The Little Hunter can be found at the scrapbook under serial tales. To recap: Aragorn has met Arwen in the woods of Rivendell, been given the heirlooms of the King’s house and has left to roam the wilds with the Rangers all in a few days. :) Thanks again for reading!
I decided to go ahead and post this, please forgive me if future postings are sporadic. I have a lot to do this semester and this part is only finished up to chapter 30! This will be a long tale and I hope you will stick with me through it.

Chapter 1 Meeting Gandalf

For several years, Aragorn had proved his worth as a tracker in the company of the Dunedain. Many times, they had been able to prevent ambushes by orcs thanks to his skill. The foul creatures rarely needed exceptional skill to track though, for they left telltale signs everywhere they went. Still, Aragorn was high on their list of most skilled trackers. He was also able to help rescue many of the Dunedain women and men who had been kidnapped by the orcs as well.

One thing that amazed him, though he did not want to know how they did it, was no matter how many of them were killed, there were two or three more to take the dead ones place. So little did they care for their own kind that they would often trample the fallen so as to make a bigger mess of carrion.

The symbol that the Dunedain wore was a silver star that pinned their cloaks down. This also was the only token that Aragorn had had to earn. Most of the older men recognized his claim as Arathorn’s son, but his worth had to be proved to those who did not remember his family. The raiment of the Dunedain was poor by higher standards. Their cloaks and boots were mud-stained from their wanderings. But, as the hunters put it, it was better that they did not wash their clothes often for otherwise, the cleanliness would drive the animals away.

Aragorn had been assigned to the company that camped in the woods near the Shire. On the way there, the company passed by a curious ruin. Aragorn rode up to one of the older men to inquire about the ruins.

“That is Weather-top as it is called now. But, it was once the watch-tower of Amon Sul, in which one of the palantir of old was said to have resided. But, as you can see, the wars and time have reduced it to near nothing.”

The Rangers were the Shire’s unseen, but ever-present protectors. Aragorn remembered all Bilbo’s tales on his visit and was filled with joy when he finally saw the fair country for himself. They only went into the borders by night for the hobbits were wary of trespassers. Also, the Dunedain were happy to live anonymously.

It was here; on the borders of the Shire, that Aragorn met the wizard Gandalf. He was already twenty-five and considered of an age to make his own decisions. The party had been tracking a set of strange boot prints. And it was Aragorn who found their owner. He came upon a small clearing where he saw an old man resting on a rock. Aragorn’s hand, on instinct, strayed to his sword hilt, but there was no need. At that moment, the old man spotted him and motioned for Aragorn to join him.

“Come sit with me and enjoy this day! Though I am armed, you shall have no need of that sword.” Aragorn was amazed that his hand obeyed this man’s command and then he saw the wizard’s staff on the ground beside him. He had learnt little of wizards, but knew they were dangerous.

“Who are you?” he demanded.

“Again, I say you have no reason for your immediate distrust of me, for I already know you. And you have seen me from a distance before. Which name should you like to hear first, son of Arathorn? To the elves and the people in the South, I am known as Mithrandir. The other Elven name I have is Olorin. And most here in the north simply call me Gandalf. Yes, Gandalf will do. To others, I am less friendly names, but you may call me Gandalf.”

Aragorn was amazed at the wizard. The old man looked out at him with merry, twinkling eyes that could barely be seen under the gray bushy eyebrows. For the moment, his head was bare, but Aragorn noticed a gray pointed hat next to his staff. And his beard looked unkempt even to a Ranger’s eyes.

“Well, if we are introducing ourselves. As you already seem to know I am Aragorn son of Arathorn. But to the Rangers, I am known simply as Strider. Though, may I ask how you know me?”

”Did you not already guess? First, I am a friend of Master Elrond. If not for that, I recognize the ring which you wear as an heirloom of the house of Elendil.”

“Then, you were one of Bilbo’s companions, weren’t you? Yes, that is where I have seen you before, though I was only a small child. From the prints we were tracking, it would now seem you were waiting for us.”

“Again, you have guessed correct on both accounts. Elrond told me where to find you because he figured we could benefit from one another. And I agreed to come seek you out. I have traveled far lately for the earth tells me rumors of things to come. If you trust me, I think you should join the service of the Rohirrim after the New Year. They can teach you much in peace or war. I would also suggest you do the same in Gondor. As you well know, the land can teach us much and it will give you the experiences that you would not get otherwise. And learning to serve is the first step to ruling.”

“Well, I admit you have given me much to think about. I had already been thinking journeying with the Rohirrim. I have never been there, but I have heard many of the tales that come from that land. Come, friend, will you not join our camp for the night? It’s getting dark fast.”

“Yes I will join you.”

Thus, began the eternal friendship of Aragorn and Gandalf.


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Chapter 2: Dragons and Pipeweed

Aragorn never forgot his meeting so long ago with the furry-footed hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. He had always wondered what had happened to Mr. Baggins and if they recovered the gold that was stolen by the dragon Smaug. Aragorn had never outgrown dragon tales and it would be lovely to hear a first hand account.

Dear Mr. Baggins,
I am unsure if you remember me becaue I ws a small child when I met you in Elrond’s house. I have joined my mother’s kin here in the North. We are actually on the Southern borders of the Shire right now. I wish to meet with you--I never forgot about you or the Dwarves and always wondered what had happened with the dragon. Please meet me at Sarn Ford in a month’s time. I would prefer the night, as we are not supposed to be seen. I look forward to seeing you again. I have seen you roam the woods a few times, so I know you will be able to get away. I will call to you like a bird when I see you-I must stay hidden.
Estel

Bilbo was the only hobbit Aragorn had ever seen. He had been told they mistrusted strangers and to not get too close. There were few enemies in this part of the world, but the Rangers still protected the woods around the Shire.

On the appointed night, Aragorn waited. He informed the captain of where he would be if needed. It was not too far from the Ranger’s camp so he would hear any trouble.

Finally, he saw one of the Hobbits coming towards him. He waited until the hobbit got closer to him and then called out. Aragorn saw Bilbo turn towards him.

Aragorn stepped out of the undergrowth towards the hobbit. Bilbo looked up in wonder. “Surely you are not the young lad from Elrond’s house! I did not recognize you!”

“Indeed, I am the same. However, among the Rangers I am known as Strider. I have not been called Estel in a long time.” When Aragorn had first met Bilbo, they had been eye level, now he had to kneel down to meet the hobbit’s gaze. “Let’s get off the road. There is a hollow a little ways away where we can have privacy and some comfort.”

When the two reached the hollow, they sat on a fallen log and began trading tales.

“So, you wish to know what happened to the dragon? You remind me of the hobbit lads and lassies that live around me. They never tire of hearing the story. Of course, older hobbits are interested too; they would just never admit it. I have heard rumors that I brought back hoards of gold and treasure and that there is some buried in the walls of my house. That is only partially true. I did earn my share of the treasure, but no where near the amounts my dear hobbit-kin have imagined.”

“So you killed the dragon?”

“Yes, we did. But, it was at a great cost. Thorin and several of the younger dwarves were killed. There was a huge battle that involved men and dwarves and all manner of wild creatures. We had run the dragon out of the mountain, but he only attacked the town by the lake. It was actually the men of the Laketown who killed him.”

Aragorn sat back taking all of this in. It indeed reminded him of other dragon stories he had heard. “How big was the pile of dragon gold?”

“Much taller than even you. And there was certainly more than even dwarves could have ever counted.” Bilbo had pulled out a pipe and began stuffing it with leaves when Aragorn stopped him and asked what it was. “My dear heavens! You have never heard of pipe-weed! What do they do for fun in Rivendell?!?”

Aragorn laughed at the hobbit. “No, I have never heard of pipe-weed, but it seems to be an important thing to hobbits. I noticed other hobbits nearby smoking the same thing you are. The elves favor good wine and music.”

“Then, they shall be forgiven. Here take this pipe. I always carry an extra. Stuff it with these leaves and then you light it and smoke the fragrance.” Aragorn looked a bit skeptical, but it did have a pleasing aroma. It took a few tries, but he finally got the hang of it and quite enjoyed it.

“I shall have to take some of this with me. I am sure it is comforting when you are all alone in the woods.”

Aragorn and Bilbo tried to keep in touch as much as possible. The Rangers saw this as an asset. The hobbit provided much news of the goings on in the Shire and some things that even the Rangers had not heard rumor of.



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