My Favorite Aragorn Stories
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Haven of Rivendell, The: 1. Prologue
A late winter snowstorm raged over Rivendell. The wind howled through the peaks above the home of the Elven lord Elrond Perendhil, one of the wise of Middle Earth, but in the protected valley, the heavy snow fell silently. Wolves howled in the lonely reaches of Hollin; in isolated homesteads, men drew their families closer to the fires and threw the heavy bars across the doors. But in the hidden valley, the Elven patrols made sure all was safe.
Elrond's friend Gandalf the Gray sipped mulled wine in the lord's study and was glad the glazings were fixed and draperies were pulled across the usually opened side of the room. He had ridden in from the north, arriving with the rising wind and first snowflakes of the storm. Now, he drew his chair close to the fireplace warmth. His feet toasting on the hearth, the wizard silently contemplated the play of the flames.
Elrond sat in the opposite chair, enjoying the wine and the warmth with the wizard. For a few brief moments, the elf-lord had set aside the work that had filled the void since his wife sailed west, though the correspondences with the various leaders of Middle-Earth and the ledgers of Imladris lay on his desk, open and calling. His dark grey eyes too reflected the dancing flames.
"When will Arathorn bring his son to me?" the Lord of Imladris asked presently, picking up their last thread of conversation.
Gandalf sighed. "The Dúnadan is a stubborn man who loves his wife and child and would not be parted from them. Your sons and I work hard to convince him Fornost is too dangerous for the boy."
"It grows more dangerous every day. Forces of the Dark Lord are awake in Mirkwood and in the mountains. News will have gotten to them of the boy's birth."
"I am thankful that Elladan and Elrohir ride with Arathorn as protection. I know it is a sacrifice to you to have them gone so much." Gandalf raised a bushy grey brow in question to his friend, so careworn in this Age.
"My sons have found roles in this world which occupy their time." Elrond agreed but shook his head. "However, though they are fearless and skilled, they cannot fight off all of the dark powers if the boy's whereabouts are discovered. It is urgent that he be hidden, and hidden soon. I feel doom stalks us in the North. The boy needs to be spirited away to safety soon. If the unthinkable would happen, we cannot recover from his loss."
"When I ride north again, I'll use what powers of persuasion I have with Arathorn. He is loath to be parted from Gilraen, but he also believes the prophecy spoke at the boy's birth. In fact, all the Dúnedain view the boy as the new High King, as do your sons---"
"And as will Sauron, if word gets to him before we can hide the boy. The stronghold of Fornost will be no defense against the Nine." Elrond rose presently and went back to his desk to lose himself in his ledgers. Gandalf turned again to the fire but its cheeriness was gone. Instead, in the flames, he saw the smoke and fire of Orodruin and the dark tower of Bara-dur looming above. If this world was to have a future, the boy needed to be kept safe at all costs.
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