Title: Pale Moon and Sky
Author: Raina
Summary: After a harrowing two weeks, and a rather horrible day, Aragorn writes to Arwen, in search of a placation to the confusion, pain, and anger he feels in his soul. Written for the Estel Angst Central's "Life" challenge.
Disclaimers: Nope, I own nothing... not even the computer I'm working on. Sad, isn't it? But I don't mind overmuch. I am just glad I get to write.
Warnings: None that I can think of.
Author's Note: Sorry about the formatting... FF(dot)net, for some odd reason, will not let me add paragraph indentions. Unless I am just missing the option or something... Is this true, or does someone know how to add paragraph indentions on stories posted on this site?


Dearly Beloved,

I write to you by the scarce light of my dying fire, to both relieve the great strain in my mind and to bring you hope in your darkness: for I know the long miles that separate us, my heart, are hard to bear. However, I will have you know that you are loved, for eternity and beyond, no matter how many the leagues that lay between you and I are. I desire to inform you as frequently as I may that you are foremost in my thoughts when I have a moment to entertain musings of my own design.
You are my stronghold deep inside, the place I retreat to when I need time to disperse the stress of fate's voracity. The judgements I am forced to mete out leaves my soul weary - is it so that the decisions I make effect the world at large? What I do today truly changes what could come tomorrow, not just for my people but the fate of all the earth? The burden of the world weighs on my shoulders, and yet I am not strong enough to bear it. I am but one man with no wisdom to speak of and yet the responsibility of making the right choice for my fellow men. This indeed has worn me down to my core, revealing a tiredness in my soul that never mends. Tell me, dearest, do the weary ever find rest? Will I, a weary soul, ever find respite?

If it were that I can be beside you, for I know I could taste peace. Promise me that one day you will be there for me to rest beside, with nary a choice to be made and the chance to relieve the weight of the world from my shoulders. I know that if I were beside you now, you would be able to help my heart be set to ease. For there is much that troubles me and I can neither find respite from the ache inside of me, nor a placation to the confusion that resides in the fibres of my being. I only ever find more reason to lament the sad reality of our world, to mourn for the folly of mankind; and to weep for the injustice of the curse of man, for it is ever our bane to reap the disease of the flesh.
Life is fickle. It is as fleeting as the pale moon and sky. I cannot deny the beauty there is in seeing a tiny soul brought into existence with loving kindness, but there is naught I can compare the brusqueness of life to, nay, nor can I extricate the puzzle of death. Who, then, can explain life and its brevity? Not even I, with first-hand knowledge of man's durance, being of the race, and the schooling of my upbringing, can unravel the puzzle of the shortness of life, despite how many times I have seen death steal away precious souls.
What do you know of the afterlife? Pray tell, beloved, does a man find everlasting peace from the turmoils of life? I can only pray that what lays beyond holds more beauty than the stars in your eyes, for that is the place I repeatedly watch others soar away to - and I know they are deserving of something truly amazing.

My questions are inspired in part -a great part- by the circumstances I have been laid witness to this day. I have seen many deaths in my lifetime, both as a -failed- healer and a warrior, but every time I see someone die, my confusion is just as strong as it was the moment I first beheld it. The grief of loss death causes still puzzles me, for I cannot understand why such a terrible thing must exist, in particular for good people, whose greatest goals were to only improve our world, not worsen it. The sum of it all, plain and simple, death just befuddles me.
I am sure you have gathered the notion that I must have observed death recently, in such a manner that has sent me into my gloomy contemplations. If this is what you have identified from my words, I readily confess you are correct. I cannot begin to describe the experience this day has handed to me; I am not sure I can recount it for you. To begin to understand even a smidgen of today's feelings, I am fairly certain I should back and up and speak of my relationship with the deceased.

Rockite is a town I frequent when I am looking to know of the going-ons in the north-eastern hills, and Ariden was a member of the town council there. Ariden was always an eager informer when I came calling about the recent events for his part of the world. He was more than willing to tell me everything he knew of any situation I inquired about of him, and if he didn't know he was always ready to try to find out for me or to procure ways of how I could find out. I have always appreciated his companionship and even considered him as a friend.
About two weeks ago, Ariden was charged with thievery and removed from his place of administration. The accusations were a falsity -I know they were- and Ariden pleaded innocent, but the people were stubborn and refused to investigate further than the trail that led them to the conclusion of Ariden's guilt. The townspeople forbid me from examining the case to find out who the culprit was, for they thought my opinion would be biased because of the relationship I had with Ariden. However, as soon as I may, I left the town to search out the bandits, for I knew that Ariden was innocent, and with or without the approval of the town council I was going to track down the wrongdoers. I begged the authorities to withhold judgement until they truly knew who the perpetrators really were, for all they had was some shady evidence that -I felt- was not enough to convict someone over, but they told me they would make their decisions without the input of a "paltry" ranger. However, I had gathered the impression that, despite the demands of the townspeople, they would retry Ariden and, on the grounds of his plea of innocence, postpone a sentence until further evidence presented itself.
I found this impression to be misfounded or the authorities had lied through their teeth to placate me so I would carry on with my plans of departure. About a week after Ariden's charge, I had finished with all of this business and left the town, intent upon the trail of the brigands; the council apparently came to a verdict in my absence: one that condemned Ariden. Around two days after I had left, he was beaten and banished from the town and word was spread of his misconduct, rendering him helpless and unable to receive attention in the way of provision and care for his medical needs.

Forgive me for the sloven writing here and above, recalling this incident fills my heart with fury and it is overwhelming. I cannot understand how they could have been so cruel, when they knew that the evidence was shady: they should not have convicted him just yet! My sorrow is great at this moment and the memories are yet unsettling in such ways that I can not contain nor control myself; the overwhelming emotions broiling inside of me make my hands shake. Mayhap I should pause for a moment and rebuild the fire, try to regain some of my composure; I should pull myself together some what, for I feel I am scattered in little pieces all over this place.

What the townspeople had done was a condemnation of death. A cruel condemnation, one I hope they bitterly regret. Nay, I do not hope that; I simply wish they come to a point of feeling remorse for their actions, for if they had been quicker to grace and slow to acting upon the rage of their enmity, Ariden might have lived to see his name cleared. I do hope, beloved, that they have enough heart to feel ashamed over their hasty actions. They acted in fear and anger, and they should not have.
I found Ariden three days later when I was on my way back to Rockite with good news. In a neighbouring town the bandits had been caught in their crooked schemes and promptly placed under arrest, and on them had been found some of the items that Ariden had been accused of stealing. My news paled in comparison to what awaited me, however, when I stumbled across Ariden one evening near a brook. He was severely wounded and not very lucid. His wounds were long since festering with infection and he was taken up in a high fever.
I tried to stabilise his condition and at one moment he awoke enough to give me some of the details of what had transpired, but the moment was simply death's harbinger – the moment where someone appears to be getting better just before they leave this life. He gave up his spirit early this morning; I held him in my arms as he breathed his last breaths just as the sun painted the sky in rosy shades. The beauty of the rising sun only magnified the lost feelings in my soul as my tears caught the reflections of the creamy light.

It was with a smote heart, heavy with turmoil and pain, that I returned to Rockite, bearing only the lifeless shell of Ariden and the evidence of his innocence. I turned over the proof -the stolen items and a letter about the truth from the authorities holding the real thieves- to the town council, and when they learned of their mistake, they scrambled to throw a funeral together. I lingered for the quickly prepared burial, then left promptly afterwards. I had not the heart to stay a moment longer among these people – they had murdered my friend in cold blood, and I could no longer contain my pained sorrow. I did not wish to do something of regret, for surely some time down the road I would feel remorse for whatever I acted upon in my grieving state.
I travelled the rest of the day and partway into the night, before making camp and tending to my gear. After I had finished these tasks and groomed Silter, I lay down beside my fire and searched for some respite, but the cold inferno in my soul would grant me no relief. I watched the stars above, and gazed upon the way the moon and sky started to pale as dawn began to approach. It was at this point where I decided to pass the time between darkness and dawn by writing to you, my heart. The darkness has long since been replaced by twilight, which is now beginning to fade towards daybreak, though there is about another hour of twilight's decent from her reign.
I feel a still numbness spreading through my heart and soul, a skewed semblance of peace stretching through my being. I think I shall end this epistle soon and search for a little bit of respite before I rise to face another day and its wearying tug at my soul.

I apologise that my letter to you has been cast full of my downtrodden emotions: my words have been downcast, and I am sorry you had to read them. I could think of no other alternative and the blaze in my heart was becoming more than I could carry alone. There were others I considered writing to, but I felt beckoned to speak of my troubles to you, my love. Mayhap it is your caring and loving nature and your ability to soothe the ache in my very soul, far more than any other could ever accomplish. You heal me in more ways than they could, for they are simply as an ointment to my wounds rather than a true, deep healing process such as you bring me through.
The lot life has cast me is a burdened one, at best; my destiny lies in a world of cruelty that I fear I do not have the strength to prevail. However, your overbearing confidence is a gift far more priceless than the stars in the heavens, it encourages me to rise again in the morning, despite whatever storm has tried to knock me down and keep me down. It gives me strength to face those that stand against me or mock my existence. I know I have much yet to learn and understand, but I grow a little stronger every day for the trails I have stood up again through. I have a handful of people who support me, but you are the greatest of them all.
I cannot thank you enough for all that you have given me. Moreover, I cannot even begin to relate to you the love I bear for you inside of me. I regret every day spent away from your side, for they feel wasted, yet I understand my lot calls me to defend others and fight my battles far away from your love. My heart and soul feels cold when I am far from you, and I pray every day that I have not looked upon your face for the last time. Hope is a small candle flickering inside and faith is the fuel for its light: the hope and faith that I shall see you again and hold you in my arms. I miss you more than words could ever convey. My love is stronger than the roots that uphold a mountain, fiercer than the angry winds of a storm, more abundant than the stars in the sky or the waters of the seas, higher than the heavens, and far deeper than these mere sentiments.

With all of my being and more,
I remain forever the lucky proprietor of your heart,
A