Hello everyone out in the world of Fan fiction. Yes…it's me again. I'm back, and I have a nice little story for you.:) well…not very nice. :) Let me first apologize for how long it's been since I posted anything. I really didn't mean for it to be this long and I feel horrible about it. For anyone that is reading this, this story is a sequel to To Be A Man. While it is possible to read this on it's own, there are some things that just wouldn't make sense at all unless you've read the other story first. That being said, I hope everyone enjoys and the next chapter will be up within the week.:)
Thorongil often counselled Ecthelion that the strength of the rebels in Umbar was a great peril to Gondor, and a threat to the fiefs of the South that would prove deadly, if Sauron moved to open war.
Return of the King-Appendix A, The Stewards.
Soft music lent a wistful, sad sound to the peaceful evening breeze. It flowed through the trees, like a wind in and of itself.
The dark haired Gondorian paused and listened for a moment, his eyes closed. Behind the music he could hear an even more elusive melody. Elves. High, clear laughter echoed softly through the twilight. It pierced his heart with its sweetness, bringing tears to his eyes. How long had it been since he had heard that sound?
Too long. Far too long.
Wiping moisture from his bearded cheeks, the man set off through the trees, listening for the mirthful sound.
The darkness deepened quickly and soon there were only stars to light the Gondorian's way. Yet his booted feet never stumbled. Boldly, he strode through the gathering gloom with a lightness of foot few humans could achieve. He knew this path of old…
The laughter and music grew nearer and now he could see a gleam of light through the closely knit tree branches. Eagerly, he quickened his pace. With a glad cry, he burst from the shelter of the trees into the warm circle of firelight. There were elves there. He knew them. Oh yes, he knew them well. Their dark hair gleamed where the red light touched it. The fire cast dancing shadows over their fair features, but he could see their eyes sparkle as they caught sight of him.
Confused, the man came to a halt. What had they called him?
The elves were coming toward him now, faces wreathed in smiles. "Estel! Le toli bar!"
The Gondorian took a step back, his forehead creasing in agitation. He should know the words they were speaking…but he did not. Something was not right. Why were they calling him Estel? That was not his name…
Aragorn jumped, coming awake abruptly, the vestiges of his dream still clinging to his mind. Silver eyes darted around, half expecting to see himself in Rivendell amidst his brothers.
He was not.
Instead, he found himself seated at a fire, his back braced against a wall. He had fallen asleep in front of the warm glow. That didn't happen very often. It had been too long since he had gotten a full night's rest.
"Captain?" The voice that had awoken him caught his attention and Aragorn turned to see a young soldier under his command seated next to him. The younger man was just entering his twenties, his dark beard barely a coating of down across his chin and cheeks. "Sir, you seemed upset."
"I'm fine." Aragorn smiled to reassure the soldier. "It was only a dream."
The Gondorian relaxed, settling himself and staring into the fire. "Bad dream, sir?"
"Not exactly." The silver eyes fixed themselves on leaping flames, seeing with sudden vividness the gleam of red light against dark hair. "I dreamt of home."
The young man turned toward him, his gaze curious. "Have you been long from home, Captain?"
Aragorn's smile became a little wistful. "At times, it seems as though I have been away for a lifetime, Anguion."
Anguion smiled knowingly. "Come, Captain Thorongil. You cannot have been away for such a great length of time." His dark eyes danced with amusment.
The Gondorian captain allowed himself to smile back, mischief dancing deep within the silver of his eyes. "I tell you true," he said, his tone jesting. "I have not neared my home for nearly twenty-one years."
For a moment, the soldier's dark eyes grew wide, but seeing the glint in his superior's gaze, he laughed. "For shame, sir. Tis not becoming for a Captain to willingly deceive his men. In truth, you cannot be more than ten years my senior, and I would not say you were so many."
Aragorn laughed along with the younger man. Yet only he knew the full joke. Yes, he had maintained the look of a man barely halfway through his twenties, but in actuality, he was nearer fifty than the thirty Anguion assumed him to be. And it had indeed been twenty-one years since he had set eyes on the valley of Imladris. Lately he had begun to feel that it was time to be going home. The dream that had recently troubled his sleep had visited him before. Always, he dreamed of being home…and not recognizing the elven tongue, nor even his own name that had been given him by the Lord Elrond, whom he called father.
Anguion drifted away to another fire, joining his companions and leaving his Captain to his own devices. Aragorn touched his face reflectively. Most people he met saw him as Anguion did. A young man, hardly old enough to enter the Gondorian army, let alone lead men. There were those who wondered how he had managed to attain such a rank when he appeared to be so youthful. Then there were those who looked into his eyes and saw the wisdom so dearly bought. They saw the lines that seemed premature tracing his forehead and heard the years of experience lend authority to his voice. The steward of Gondor had been one of these. Lord Ecthelion had received Thorongil gladly, quickly discovering that the man was wise, and his counsel sound. Thorongil had been elevated in the Steward's service and estimation even above Ecthelion's own son, Denethor. For which Denethor found it hard to forgive the captain.
He was tired. So tired. It was time to go home.
Aragorn turned, and saw another of the young men under his command standing at attention. The dark haired man frowned as he rose to his feet. This particular soldier should have been on watch…
"They are coming sir. We sighted their ships. You were right. They are heading towards the fishing village."
Aragorn allowed a brief smile to pull at his mouth. "Well done." With a twitch of his hand, his troop was quickly on their feet. Within minutes, the fires were doused and the men were moving out. Aragorn felt his smile die as he led his men forward into the night. For months now he had been fighting against the corsairs that plagued the coastline. They had recently come under a new leader, and with that leader they had become more bold.
However, Aragorn was no fool. They were fighting a winning battle. Soldiers patroled most of the villages, keeping stacks of fire arrows within easy reach should the wooden corsair ships stray too near the shores. A few were deliberately left ungaurded, their occupants evacuated to other locations. There was a great show of commotion, as if the Gondorians were attempting to stretch their forces to cover everywhere, but did not have enough men. In reality, there was always a large group hanging back from the villages, waiting for the corsairs to attack. Once the pirates invaded the town, they quickly discovered the ruse, but it would be too late. They would be surrounded and defeated. The plan was working well. Several ships had been lost, and now the corsairs grew desperate. They needed supplies to live. Their leader had been sighted several times near the attacks. Hopefully, soon his fleet would be whittled down to the point where his own vessel would be forced to take part in a raid. And then Aragorn would have him. Without the head, the snake would die. Or at least, would start to kill itself off. If the corsairs lacked a leader, they would swiftly turn towards fighting each other and become the lesser danger that they had always been.
And then… then perhaps it would be time to go home. Aragorn smiled briefly. Perhaps tonight would be the night.
Perhaps soon…soon he would be able to return home.
Estel! Le toli bar!-Estel! You have come home!
Well that's all for now. I love to hear from you all! I love reviews so much and I've been without them for soooooo longs...amazing though how well I've fallen back into my begging routine. I hope my knees are still up for kneeling. :)