1. Chapter One
The Valar help us all was my thought, and the next thought of mine was thank the Valar! For help came in the nick of time. All of us in the Officers Mess cheered mightily when we heard the horns of the Rohirrim blowing madly as they came galloping over the field to join in the carnage. But our wild exultation quickly was smothered when the lookouts spotted the black sails of the Corsairs on the Anduin—a huge fleet of ships nearing the Harlond. That froze my blood—I thought then it was all over and my poor heart nearly bursting in my chest at the thought of being defeated by the enemy. Then someone was screaming in the street—running and being followed by others who were screaming that it wasn’t the Corsairs of Umbar after all—it was Elendil arisen from the dead with a mighty black banner displaying the white tree of Gondor and seven stars and a crown, and leading an army of the dead! Of course we found out later it was the heir of Isildur, Elendil’s son, Lord Aragorn leading a host of men from Pelargir, but it turned the tide of battle in our favor.
Then came the worst of it—at least for me. It was the task of caring for the wounded and accounting of the dead. As I’m still on duty I cannot go down to the gates with others to watch as the soldiers return to the city. I pray to the Valar that my son is alive, that he is just delayed out on the Pelennor by duties—that I won’t get word to come down and identify a lifeless face beneath a coarse burlap shroud.
Now after this battle is when I fear I will earn my keep and meager soldiers pay—my superior officer will have me on my feet all night running dispatches to and from the command posts, and bringing food and drink to the officers. I needed a few minutes of rest, so I climbed the narrow steps up to the great outthrust battlement where there was an embrasure in the wall. I found a bench and sat on it—my feet aching abominably—my heart pounding from the exertion of my climb. I must have fallen asleep there against the wall, for suddenly I noticed it was quite dark, and I was quite stiff. Someone joined me on the bench, another old timer like myself, Dorlong, who works in the mess hall. “Have you heard?” he asks me.
“Heard what? More rumors—the dark lord himself is here?” I laugh.
“No, about Captain Faramir---he has been cured.” I looked at Dorlong, incredulity showing in my face.
“Yes it’s true—completely cured—and what is more, the White Lady of Rohan is also cured, as well as the perian, the squire who came with the Rohirrim. They were near death, now they are awake and talking!” I shook my head.
“You shouldn’t believe everything you hear, Dorlong. Captain Faramir was near death—wasn’t I sent to his room with supplies only an hour ago, and saw him with my own eyes and the white wizard was there with despair on his face? He is most likely dead by now.” I leaned my chin in my hands, thinking of my son, where was he? Is his cold body even now laying on the Pelennor, forgotten, unclaimed? I could not leave my duty here to go search for him. That would have to wait until—my friend cut in on my musing.
“It was Lord Aragorn, you know, leader of the Grey Company, the one in the corsairs ships! He healed Captain Faramir!”
I raised up my head to look at Dorlong. His face was flushed as if he had been climbing lots of stairs as I had been; his eyes were wide and glistening with unshed tears. “Haven’t you heard what people are saying? About the old rhyme? The hands of the King are the hands of a healer—“
“Are you trying to say that this Lord Aragorn is the King returned and that he has brought healing after war, like in that rhyme?”
“Yes yes yes!”
“I tell you I saw Captain Faramir! He was sitting up and talking!” He grabbed my arm in a deathlike grip and shook me.
“It is true, Lossufin. After war the King brings healing!! You know how many have died from that sickness which comes from the black riders—all of them! My son has it—I do not want him to die. The King will cure him as he cured Captain Faramir and the others!” He let my arm go, stood up as if to leave me. Then he turned to me.
“Your son also has a chance—if he lies somewhere under the black shadow.” Then he trudged up the street and disappeared into the darkness.
My commander appeared with an anxious look on his face.
“Lossufin! Look sharp!” I creaked to my feet and hurried over to him. He clamped a hand on my shoulder.
“I need someone to do a simple task, someone who is not afraid of rumors and stories,” he said, looking intently into my eyes. I saluted him sharply (I was still a soldier of Gondor, even if I was just a fetch and carry man).
“You found him, sir” I said.
“Good good. I want you to bring food and drink to three weary officers in the guard room in the Seventh Circle Street.”
“To the Lord Aragorn and the two elves that came with him.” I stared at him. Elves? As in all the old stories—elves?? My commander proceeded to fill me in on this great leader of men as he called him who came with the Gray Company, and who had these mystical beings with him. Elves! No one has seen elves here in Gondor in a thousand years! I turned my attention back to my commander. The mess staff was afraid, he was telling me, and no one wanted to bring them their food. He must have seen some hesitation in my face, for he said,
“I’m counting on you, Lossufin. Bring in their food, serve them, and leave. Be very respectful, do not ask them any questions, and you’ll be fine.” I saluted.
“You can count on me, sir. I’ll do my duty.”
“Good good. Hurry now. They’re waiting.” With that he turned and hurried down the street.
I went to the officer’s buttery and presented myself to the man in charge. He handed me a basket of food stuffs and a flagon of wine.
“Here ye are, Lossufin. Now be careful—don’t look them elves in the eyes. In and out quick like.’ And with that admonition clanging in my head I made my way out of the buttery and down the street.
As I neared the guard room I began to notice something strange. People were gathering around, staring at the closed door, murmuring to each other. I had to push my way through them.
“Here now, we were here first!” cried one man to me, as he clawed at my arm, trying to stop me.
“We’re next!” cried one old woman. “He has to heal my boy!”
I turned and looked at her.
“The Lord Elfstone healed the Captain of the Guard. He can heal my boy too!” her cry was taken up by others, all directed to the closed door of the guard room.
“Please heal my husband. He’s under the black breath!”
“My son also! Heal him! He’s wasting away—“
”Heal him, Lord Aragorn—with that elfstone of yours!”
“Elfstone” a chant was taken up. “Elfstone Elfstone!” I turned back to the door, fearing that the crowd was quickly becoming a mob. I tapped on the door, then opened it and slipped in, shutting the door firmly against those trying to barge their way in.
The room was lit by a few candles on a table in a corner. Three men were sitting at the table, one with dark shaggy hair and dressed in ranger garb whose back was towards me. The other two who were opposite him were dark haired also but were very fair of face and so exactly alike they obviously were twins. They also had pointy ears. The one on the left was suddenly aware of me. His eyes positively glittered like stars in a clear night sky, and pierced me like knives in my soul—an elf! He stood up—he was very tall and well built, a formidable soldier, and wearing what looked like armor made of pure silver! And his twin was arrayed the same.
“Here’s our repast, Aragorn” he said in a sing-song voice as he indicated to me to approach the table. I laid the basket and flagon on the table and began unpacking bread, cheese, apples, sausages, plates, knives and cups.
“It’s not much, my lords” I stammered, nervous in the heavy silence. “But the wine is hale and from Dol Amroth”. I glanced to my right at Lord Aragorn. Steady grey eyes looked at me out of a tired but kind looking face.
Suddenly a cry went up from the crowd outside. “Elfstone! Elfstone! The King! The hands of the King are healing hands!” Lord Aragorn’s eyes widened at that, and exchanged an intense look with his companions. It was then I noticed the gleaming green stone on Lord Aragorn’s shoulder. I quickly put the basket at the far end of the table, gave a polite bow and made for the door, my heart beating so loud I was sure they all heard it. As I put my hand on the door latch Lord Aragorn called out to me in a soft yet confident voice, “Your son will be well. Have no fear.”
I wheeled around and stared for a brief moment at the grey eyes that reflected the candle light. A fierce hope suddenly choked me. I bowed my head, and croaked “Thank you, my lord” and went through the door.
Yes, the day I came face to face with the King of Gondor, Elendil’s Heir, the one they named Elfstone, and two elves, no less, was the day that I found my son in the camp infirmary, deathly still and afflicted with the black breath, and by the morning of the next day he was completely well and back home with me.
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.