In the Waiting
"I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope..."
Ithilien, March 8th 3019, T.A.
When at last the Halflings slept, I took myself out to watch the moon rise, for I myself would get no sleep this night. On the stair, I passed Angrim, coming down off the watch and, as he saluted me, I saw his eyes glitter in the dark. "All quiet, Captain," he said; and so it was, save for the ever-rushing water and, beyond, the night-sounds, quick and furtive. Anborn, standing at his post upon the brink, raised his hand in silent salute. I greeted him in like manner, and then I sat upon the rock and I sought to quell my heart.
Do not misunderstand – for no doubt lay upon me. When the morning came, I would let the Halflings go. Mithrandir himself had chosen their path, and I would interfere with no design of his. Nor would I by any means bring this Thing within my father's grasp. And yet, whatever Samwise had said, I knew there was no cause for praise. For, in truth, I had no lure for It, no desire, no flare of passion or of appetite. It had left me cold in its wake, as It had consumed Boromir, and as It would yet cause strife between my father and myself.
From tonight I was forsworn, and upon my return each act, each thought, would be subject to the utmost scrutiny from which, experience told me, naught could be concealed. And my heart shook at that prospect, for that, I judged, would be a sorer test than any trinket of the Enemy's – and yet his Hand would have played its part in devising this too. And there it was, the last ember that lay within me – and it was not love that moved me, not passion, not desire, but revulsion. For I loathed the Enemy, and all His works, and what they had wrought upon my brother, and my father, and my self.
As I watched, the moon rose, swiftly – and, as if some charm lay yet upon this failing land, the wind changed too, and I caught upon the night air some fragrance, some herb from the valley below maybe, like the faint memory of a dew-filled morning in spring. And with it my heart eased, and peace stole over me, and I believe I may have slept. For that was our purpose, was it not? – to stand between the darkness and that which we loved; as Ranger, between Dark Tower and White, and as son, between my father and himself.
Anborn woke me long before the dawn. "There it is, captain," he said, "upon the bank of the pool. Some dark creature, but whether bird or beast I cannot tell."
I looked out to where he pointed and, as my eyes adjusted to the light, I too saw the figure skulking in the shadows, and it was neither bird nor beast. "I shall go and wake our guest," I said; and I turned to take the stair but, before I took my leave, I looked back towards Mindolluin, pale and cold in the night, and it seemed to me that I saw something glitter upon its heights, like a star, or an Eye. And I shivered, and I drew my cloak in cover around me.
Are you watching, father? Can you see?
Altariel, 11th March 2007