1. Return of the King
Dedication: This fic is inspired by Lord Fergolad, whose return was most welcomed.
The Return of the King
The watchmen saw from afar the black sails of a fleet upon Anduin.
"The Corsairs of Umbar! The Corsairs of the Umbar!" men shouted.
Eomer became separated from Imrahil, but his mood became stern and his mind clear. He let blow the horns to rally all men to his banner that could come thither; for he thought to make a great shieldwall at the last, and stand, and fight there on foot till all fell, and do deeds of song on the fields of Pelennor. He rode to a green hillock and there set his banner, and the White Horse ran rippling in the wind.
And then wonder and joy took him. Upon the foremost ship a great standard broke: the White Tree with Seven Stars about it and a high crown above it. Thus came Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elessar, Isildur's heir, out of the Paths of the Dead, borne upon a wind from the Sea to the kingdom of Gondor. (1)
The lords prepared to assault Mordor, to draw the Eye of Sauron from his own lands, as Gandalf counseled. And when all their strength was mustered and paths chosen, Imrahil suddenly laughed aloud.
"Surely," he cried, "this is the greatest jest in all the history of Gondor: that we should ride with seven thousands, scarce as many as the vanguard of its army in the days of its power, to assail the mountains and the impenetrable gate of the Black Land!" (2)
On the morning of the second day, the army of the West was all assembled on the Pelennor and prepared to march into Mordor.
A company of Elves, dressed in white, came riding from the south, seeking to speak with Aragorn. They were allowed passage to the front of the assembled army.
"Mae govannen, Gildor," Aragorn said. Gildor gave Aragorn a stern look, forestalling any hugs. Aragorn looked to Haldir's diminished company, now lead by Rumil, Haldir's brother, and then turned back to Gildor. "Has Elrond sent the Wandering Company to proudly fight alongside Men?" Aragorn asked with hope filling his voice.
"No." Gildor tossed his long, golden tresses back. "Elrond does not command the Elves of the Wandering Company."
"But I heard that there had been a Council of the Elves, and that the decision at that Council was to unite against Mordor," Aragorn said. He looked to Gandalf, who nodded.
"I did not say that I would not fight beside you, Elessar," Gildor said, "only that Elrond did not command my Company."
Aragorn groaned. Indeed, for a brief moment, with the coming together of Men, he had forgotten that the grudges of Elves were deep and unrelenting.
"Of course, Lord Gildor. But will you march with us of your own accord then?" Aragorn asked through gritted teeth. (After all, Gildor had before been the suitor of Arwen, and Aragorn could never entirely shake the feeling that Gildor might've been a better match for the Evenstar of the Elves.) Beside him, Imrahil shook with suppressed mirth. The Prince of Dol Amroth had also had his fair share of dealings with the Lord of Edhellond.
"Yes, but I came to deliver this message to you Aragorn, son of Arathorn: The King has returned. Tarry for a while longer so that the alliance between Elves and Men can be honored properly." Gildor placed odd emphasis on the last word, perhaps because he did not think the Elves of Lothlorien suitable representatives for all the Elves. After all, they'd been a token gesture from Celeborn after much badgering from Elrond. Serious assistance from the Elves would not have been led by Haldir, who was not even of royal lineage.
"Already he has raised the banner of the kings and displayed the tokens of Elendil's house, but he deemed the time unripe and will not have himself called King until the Steward of Gondor returns his position to him," said Eomer.
Gildor didn't even spare a glance at Eomer as he said, "I do not speak of the return of the King of Men." He smiled crookedly as Aragorn, Eomer, Imrahil, and even Gandalf looked at him without comprehension. "Look!" He pointed toward the sea. "The ships of Mithlond and Edhellond have come!"
All turned to where Gildor pointed, and over great distance, they could see a great fleet of white ships shaped like swans sailing quickly over the waters of Anduin. The foremost ship bore a banner as brilliant as that woven by Arwen for Aragorn. The banner was silver and blue, and upon it were 12 stars, 4 surrounded by 8 that touched the edge of the emblem. (3) Thought all looked with marvel at the brilliance of that bright banner, none but Gandalf understood its full import.
Gildor was very upset that his dramatic moment had fallen on deaf ears, for Men had long forgotten the ancient lore of the Elves. Imrahil flinched at the anger of Gildor, as quick as lightning and twice as deadly. None, not even Aragorn, dared ask the Lord of Edhellond what was this sign. Aragorn, of course, knew of Mithlond and Edhellond, the havens of the Elves by the Sea, but as for the emblem, he knew nothing.
Instead, Aragorn turned to Gandalf for wisdom and asked, "The silver and blue banner is truly great, but I do not recognize it. Pray tell, whose emblem is that?"
Gandalf shook his head in disbelief and looked at the swanships with wide eyes. "I recognize it, yet it cannot be. He died long ago and is remembered only in song by
those of Imladris. You have heard of him, Aragorn, in the songs sung in the Hall of Fire. He was the last whose realm was fair and free between the mountains and the Sea."
At last, understanding dawned in Aragorn's eyes. "Gil-galad, the Elven-king!"
"Gil-galad?" Legolas repeated in disbelief.
And though men did not know the person, some of the people of Gondor understood the meaning of those words. It passed in whispers like the kindling of a fast fire: "Starlight."
Gildor smirked, his quick anger turned to smug pleasure. "An alliance once existed between Elves and Men. Long ago we fought and died together. This is the very same King of the Elves who fought beside Elendil, King of Men. It may be, as Celeborn said, that the time of the Elves is over, but ere its end, the deeds that we shall do shall be the matter of song until the last days of Arda."
The army waited awestricken by the beauty of the approaching swanships. At high noon, the might of the Elves came up out of the West, and the challenge of the trumpets of Gil-galad filled the sky. As the Elves disembarked from the ships in perfect formation, the fields of Pelennor were ablaze with the glory of their arms, for the Elves were arrayed in forms young and fair and terrible. (4)
Apart from the main army, four columns of Elves, two rows of two, lined the way from the flagship of the Elven fleet to the head of Aragorn's army. When all was in readiness, the front row drew their bright swords and held them aloft. The second row brought their golden trumpets to their lips. From the white ship came the Lord of Imladris, bearing a great standard with the same silver and blue emblem. He walked between the columns of Elven warriors amidst the calling trumpets, and as he passed, the Elves crossed their swords over him. Behind Elrond came forth the Last King of the Elves.
Gil-galad was tall, fair of face, and masterful. His eyes were piercingly bright. Gil-galad gleamed as a star; for his mail was overlaid with gold, his Elven tabard was of the richest blue and embroidered with many silver stars, and his blue shield was set with crystals.
"The High King of the Elves has come!" Elrond announced.
Gandalf had to nudge the open-mouthed Aragorn before Aragorn said, "We welcome you, King Gil-galad. I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn, and am known as Elessar the Elf-stone, King of Gondor and Arnor, and descendant of Elendil. I would be grateful for your help in this war against the Dark Lord Sauron."
Gil-galad drew his sword Ringil that glittered like ice. After a moment of hesitation, Aragorn crossed Ringil with Anduril, reforged from the shards of Narsil, the sword of Elendil. Gil-galad nodded with approval.
"Like you, I have also come from the Paths of the Dead. We are proud to fight alongside Men, once more, Aragorn, Scion of Elendil," Gil-galad said. "Let this be the Last Alliance of Elves and Men."
At that, all the assembled Elves and Men gave a great cheer.
Amidst the din, Gildor smirked and said, "I told you: The King has returned."
(1) Taken from Return of the King, pp. 148-150.
(2) Taken from Return of the King, p. 194.
(3) My favorite site is back up, so you can see the emblem of Gil-galad here: http://tolkien.ru/texts/eng/pbjrrt/47.html
(4) Taken from the Silmarillion (no page number, I don't have my copy on me). Btw, they have helmets that can actually protect the back of their heads. *gasp!*
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.