AUTHOR'S NOTE: This will be the first of 10 (or 9, it depends) of a series. It will begin with the first name of Aragorn and move on throughout his life as he receives each different name or shows a time that demonstrates that name or title. The first is the name Estel. He is a man of many (and many :D) names so I wanted to somehow focus on what they mean and how he embodies them or receives them. None of them will be that long, but I hope all you readers enjoy!
Rain fell in glistening sheets upon the Misty Mountains, their towering peaks dipped in snow and shrouded in grey clouds. The valley of Imladris was not spared from the downpour, yet the rain seemed to fall lighter and sweeter into the ground. The sun was disappearing into the West and the shadows were long except for the last rays of light falling upon distant dwellings deep in the vale where the Elves resided.
A figure shrouded in a grey cloak clutched a bundled burden to its chest beneath the shelter of the warm mantle. The hood was pulled low against the rain. They sat upon a dark brown mare with strong, stocky legs that traversed the muddied earth and the descent into the valley. Three other riders on their mounts followed before and behind.
The rider in the lead came to a sudden halt. He threw back his hood even as the dying light glimmered on the silver clasp of his cloak: the star of the Dúnedain. He was a matured man with grey-flecked hair, pale skin, and a thin scar along his jaw. Long years of toil and hardiness were etched in him.
A golden-haired head appeared in the gloom of the evening and the rest of the company knew why their leader had stopped.
The Elf bowed his head in greeting. "Rangers of the North are always welcome here in Rivendell, yet rarely have they accepted our hospitality."
"Not often do we roam these parts since evil is ever wary still of your fair kindred," said the Ranger in the front. "But the Shadow is moving. Orcs have grown bolder in the past months, too bold."
He glanced over his shoulder at the figure behind him carrying something beneath their cloak. The Elf's gaze followed but did not yet understand.
"Follow me and I shall guide you to the House of Elrond where you may find rest."
The rain lightened as they neared the Elvish abode. Once they reached the stone archway where they could pass into the grounds of the Lord Elrond, the Dúnedain dismounted and led their horses forward behind their Elven guide.
"Your mounts will be taken care of while you follow me inside," he said.
They all pulled back their hoods when they were beneath shelter. Two others were matured men like the first, yet the fourth companion was a young woman. Her pale skin was smooth and her eyes bright, but a shadow of sorrow was on her countenance. The burden in her arms remained concealed even as they were greeted courteously by Elves and led to quarters where they could freshen up from the toilsome journey.
When they had their own rooms, the young Dúnadan woman gently laid the bundle in her arms on the bed. It stirred and little feet and arms appeared out of the blanket. A sad smile curled her lips.
"We are safe, my little one," she murmured as she reached out to stroke her son's cheek.
He sat up on the soft, silken coverlets, and his large grey eyes looked up into hers. He was only two years of age, yet he often appeared as though he understood what was happening. He was a bit thin for someone of his age, but still strong and healthy.
There was a clearing of someone's throat near the door. She turned and quickly bowed her head.
"Lord Elrond. I cannot thank you enough for your hospitality."
Elrond, lord of Rivendell, stood in the carven archway with a demeanour that was not overpowering but spoke clearly of power, authority, and wisdom. There was also compassion gleaming in his piercing gaze and that is what brought her comfort.
He stepped forward into the room. "You are most welcome. Your kindred will always find open doors here in Rivendell." His gaze fell fleetingly on the young boy. "May I ask your name?"
"You may." She slipped her hand over one of her son's and straightened her back. "I am Gilraen, wife of Arathorn Chieftain of the Dúnedain of the North."
Elrond's brow rose a little, and he moved even closer so their voices would not be overheard. He looked down at the child whose eyes followed his every move with innocent curiosity. Although he was of the blood of the Edain, he looked a bit like an elven child as well. The beauty of his mother was apparent in his young face.
Elrond caught her gaze again. "Grim tidings reached us not but a few days ago of his fate. I am sorry."
Her head lowered as the still-sore wounds of grief panged in her heart.
"You may remain here as long as you so desire," he said. "It grows ever more dangerous here in the Northern lands as the number of Orcs grows by the day. At least you can be comforted for Arathorn's death was not in vain." He watched as the boy crawled towards the other end of the bed and laid down on one of the pillows. "The Heir of Isildur…"
"My own safety does not concern me, yet my son…I knew he would be safe here. I…I wish to request something of you, Lord Elrond."
"Anything you ask, I will grant." He already had a notion of what she desired and was full willing to accept.
"I would ask that your hospitality extend to my son, the Heir of Isildur, not only for a few days or even a few months, but for as many years as need be. Please let him stay here where not only will he be protected, but he will be raised among the Eldar who can teach him great wisdom and lore that Men cannot."
"Not only will he be able to stay, you may also, Lady Gilraen. Now that his father is gone, he shall need his mother more than ever. He carries a great burden and the fate of your people. I will not allow the line of Kings to be destroyed for the Dark Lord ever seeks to find the one who could unite Men against him as in the days of old. He will not find him here."
"Thank you again, my lord. I cannot express enough gratitude for what you have done for us." She took his hand and kissed it in reverence. "Thank you."
"You are in no way in my debt for this, and I shall make certain you are both honoured in this household. One thing only I request."
Elrond began to slowly pace about the room. "That his true identity be hidden from him until the time is right."
Gilraen sat beside her son and stroked his dark hair. He had fallen asleep. "Let it be so."
Elrond walked around to the other side and gently laid a hand upon the boy's head. "He shall be called…Estel; for he is the Hope of Men. And I shall take him in as if he were my own son so he might be raised in the ways of both the Elves and of Men."
"Estel," Gilraen whispered as if testing it upon her tongue. "My beloved Estel. The Shadow can no longer reach you."
As he looked down upon the child of the Edain, the Elf lord's compassion was stirred and he pulled back his hand. "I do not think he will pass into shadow, forgotten and hidden like his fathers before him. There is a great destiny laid upon your son."
She looked up with surprise shining in her eyes and glanced back at Estel. Indeed, he looked small and fragile, yet a fate greater than that of all those before him awaited his older days that not even Elrond could foresee.