Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not own Middle Earth, nor anything that dwells inside it.
Summary: My first story posted ever, hope it's to your taste. Aragorn and Legolas are faced with unexpected hard times, which have drastic consequences for the elf.
The palace steps were made from solid stone. Strong, without flaw, not even a miniscule crack could be seen. Each stone square was cut and set evenly, smoothed down to perfection. When they were walked upon, the heel made a resounding click against the stone, as pronounced as a person snapping their fingers. Someone walking briskly down to the stables could be heard from as far away as the kitchens, as well as four stories up.
But the person today clicking against the stone was not walking briskly towards the stables, indeed not. Instead, this person was pacing, firm strides, back and forth over the same stretch of bare stone that had escaped from the rug's covering embrace. The click of the heels against the stone beat out an unconscious rhythm, a beat to unheard music, as well as a beat unheard by the rest of the palace. For the one place that no clicks could be heard from was the king's study. Aragorn had long ago decided that if he was to be a fair and just leader that he would need a place where he would be allowed to think in total and blissful silence. His study was deemed the room.
And certainly now he was unconsciously grateful for such a room, for a problem, such a one he had not faced before, had come upon him.
It had actually not started out as a problem at all, something so insignificant that not even the king had taken notice, for indeed, why should he, when it was absolutely normal to go a week or two without rain? Many a time he had spent summers in his youth at Rivendell, confined only once or twice indoors due to the weather. Of course, Rivendell was located in a different climate then Gondor, but the simple fact is that mostly no one worries about sunny skies. It was still early spring at this time and so farmers invested their money and bought seed, which they then duly planted in their fields.
But by the end of spring only one shower had graced Minis Tirith, and then it had sped quickly onwards towards the ruined land of Mordor. People had no way of knowing that it would be the last rain shower experienced for a long time, the beginning to one of the worst droughts in the history of Gondor.
A month or two passed, and now the problem exploded into sight. Suddenly the palace was overwhelmed with worried farmers, the invested money gone to waste, along with their crops. It was as if they believed the king had some control over the weather, and thus could command the heavens for the rain his people needed.
Another month passed, Aragorn helped his people as best he could, but still more people flocked to his palace, complaining of dried wells, and of thin cattle. After another month had gone by and still no rain, Aragorn called his people to the courtyard and appeared before them. He asked them to conserve water carefully, to not be wasteful with what they had. He asked for their patience and strength during trying times, and that as long as each man looked out for his fellow brothers that he was sure that they would be fine until the rains of the winter season came. His people, rallied by what was a moving speech, took heart, and the palace remained free of complaints for some time.
Winter came, the rains did not.
And so it was that into the second month of winter, one could find the king, pacing quickly back and forth over the solid stone, his mind far away, pondering over how he could possibly bring water to his thirsty people. Last month the last of Gondor's mighty rivers had dried up. An order had gone to the people that all water was to become rationed. To the people who were left anyways. Many had opted to pack up their few belongings, and to move to find a place were planting and living would be fertile. They would have to travel all the way to the Shire to find it.
All over Middle Earth, from Gondor to Rohan, stretching all the way from Mirkwood to Fangorn to The Lonely Mountain, a horrible drought had descended. Trees withered, and became brittle and dry. The once green plains of Rohan were now seas of endless brown dead grass. And everywhere, times of hardship came down upon the people, instead of the rain they had hoped and prayed for. People everywhere despaired.
Until Aragorn arrived at the only solution he could find. They could not bring water down from the skies, but perhaps they could ship it up from the earth?
Messengers were sent bearing requests for help to the Dwarves, specifically, to an old friend of Aragorn's, Gimli, son of Gloin, now the master of the Glittering caves. Here, living naturally and peaceably underground, Gimli had not known how drastic the droughts effects had been to the surface dwellers. Deep underground they had ever flowing springs, mighty rivers, which never ran dry. When messengers arrived from Gondor requesting water, Gimli did not even hesitate, nor pause to think anything over.
Water was shipped out from the caves, and from other dwarven recesses in the earth. The water was channeled into tight-boarded barrels, which were lined with skin so that leakage was reduced to minimal amounts. Riders began making water runs back and forth between kingdoms, carrying with them the precious life giving liquid.
Aragorn was grateful. His people would be saved. Gimli had assured him that this water chain could be kept up indefinitely, until the drought passed. Times would be hard, but they now were livable even if they were tough. The king no longer had to pace in his study, heels clicking worriedly. The worst was finally passed.
Or so everyone thought.