July 2010: Story status remains as in-progress.
Disclaimer: The Lord of the Rings belongs to the Trustees of The J.R.R. Tolkien Settlement. This is nonprofit fan fiction. No copyright infringement intended.
The Many Names of Aragorn
Suddenly Bilbo looked up. "Ah, there you are at last, Dúnadan!" he cried.
"Strider!" said Frodo. 'You seem to have a lot of names."
"Well, Strider is one that I haven't heard before, anyway," said Bilbo. "What do you call him that for?"
"They call me that in Bree," said Strider laughing, "and that is how I was introduced to him."
"And why do you call him Dúnadan?" asked Frodo.
(The Fellowship of the Ring, "Many Meetings")
The Dúnadan, Estel, and Strider
Frodo had been brought to the house of Lord Elrond after his nearly fatal Morgul blade stab. Thanks to Lord Elrond's extraordinary healing skills, Frodo survived his terrible injury, and when he had recovered sufficiently from the perilous journey, his interest toward the beautiful Elven palace rose. Seeing it as only fair after the hard journey, Aragorn promised to introduce him the house and its surroundings. The two of them wandered around the palace, while Aragorn told tales about the Elven lifestyle and traditions. They were interrupted by a sudden outcry from behind.
"Ai na vedui, Dúnadan! Mae govannen!" exclaimed a fair and tall Elven soldier, who quickly caught up with the pair.
"Legolas! My heart joys to see you as well," Aragorn replied with a smile and bowed low. "Legolas, allow me to introduce you to Frodo Baggins, whom we are to thank for the Ring ever reaching Rivendell. Frodo, meet Legolas of Mirkwood, the most skilled archer I have ever met. Though I dare say there are few to excel his skill with the sword, either," he added with a small chuckle. Legolas and Frodo acknowledged the introduction and bowed respectfully to each other. Frodo felt a slight twinge in his shoulder, but decided to ignore it. Legolas gave him a warm smile and turned to Aragorn. They spoke in Elvish, and Frodo followed their conversation the best he could, though they spoke with hurried voices.
"Estel, it is a fortunate coincidence that I should meet you here. Last I heard, you were in the wilds of the North."
"You are not mistaken; I was indeed up in the North when Gandalf the Grey contacted me and asked for my assistance in guarding the hobbits carrying the Ring."
"So it is true that Mithrandir has finally found the One Ring? And that the Ring, indeed, dwells here in Rivendell?"
"Those are the words of truth. The Ring of darkness has arrived in Rivendell and now awaits for the Council that Lord Elrond has called to decide its fate. I believe you are here to participate in the Council, for otherwise this would seem too amazing a coincidence to me."
"That is true, Estel, I am indeed here to voice out the stand of Mirkwood, even though I am afraid it will influence the final decision little."
"That is yet to be seen, Legolas. You must not rely on the Council reaching unanimity with haste. Too much is at risk and too many stands are to be heard for such to be the case."
"I will bear those words in mind, Estel. Alas, I must heed my leave and leave you and your young friend. I trust we shall meet at the Council?"
"We shall, Legolas. It was good to see you again, my friend."
"You too, Estel."
Legolas switched fluently back to common tongue: "It was a pleasure meeting you, Master Baggins. I trust we shall meet again."
"The pleasure was on my side," replied Frodo politely, not quite sure how to address Legolas. They bowed lightly to each other and then went on their way swiftly and lightly as ever.
Aragorn turned to Frodo with an apologetic smile. "You must excuse me and my friend for engaging in such a lengthy conversation. It has been ages since I last met him, and seeing and speaking to him almost made me forgot the years passed by. I apologize for speaking in Elvish, but there was nothing that could not have been voiced in common tongue."
"There is no need to apologize, Strider; I understand perfectly well," replied Frodo with a benevolent smile. "In case there ever will be a time when you need to speak words that are not mine to know, I should instruct you to use some other language. Although my skill with Elvish is far beyond great, I was able to comprehend some of your conversation."
"You speak Elvish?" asked Aragorn with a surprise. "That is most unusual and I will bear that in mind, though I have no intentions of having such conversations in your presence."
They continued their walk outside the house in companionable silence. Nevertheless, something he had picked up from the conversation kept bothering Frodo, and he kept switching back and forth on whether he dared voice his question aloud or not. Finally, he decided that the Ranger wouldn't mind, and so he cleared his throat and inquired:
"Strider, I do not wish to pry, but there is something that awoke my curiosity. If I am not too bold...?"
Frodo paused to see the Ranger's reaction. Aragorn tilted his head, urging him to continue.
"I wasn't trying to listen to your conversation with Legolas, but it sounded to me like he called you by the name 'Estel' and something else I cannot quite remember: 'Duneidan' or 'Du'nadhan.'" Frodo gave a sidelong glance at Aragorn to see his reaction, but as found no signs of irritation, he sighed out of relief. Aragorn nodded pensively and though of a response. He guided Frodo to rest on a bench before giving any explanation.
"You have the right to ask and, as I said earlier, no secrets were spoken with Legolas." Aragorn glanced quickly at Frodo to see that the hobbit was listening him and continued, "I have many names, and not nearly all are known generally. They call me Strider in Bree, but here, that name would have no meaning. In Bree, I am only a Ranger who comes and goes as he pleases and is not known to be safe company, as surely old Butterbur explained."
He smiled at Frodo, and his eyes sparkled with laughter, which Frodo noticed with relief. He had not had any idea that Strider had heard the innkeeper's chatter and warnings, and was grateful that he did not seem to mind. Frodo's relief made Aragorn smile inwardly, and he continued, "For the Elven-folk here, although I am well known and trusted, I am still of the race of Men, a Man of the West, so they call me the Dúnadan."
"Estel is a name from my childhood. Come to think of it, back in my youth and even now, only a handful of people call me by my given name, Aragorn."
Reading the confusion in Frodo's eyes, Aragorn continued lightly, "You may call me Strider or Aragorn, whichever you prefer, although it might be more advisable to use the name of Strider. It is, at times, most convenient to be known as a mere Ranger."
Frodo pondered his words carefully and nodded in comprehension. "I think I understand. Thank you for explaining me, Strider," he said tentatively.
"You are most welcome, Frodo. Now, shall we continue with our little presentation? There is still much more to see in Lord Elrond's house, if you are not all worn out."
"Not at all, I can feel my strength returning. Let us be on our way." Frodo stood up and looked expectantly at Aragorn.
"Very well. Come with me." Aragorn rose gracefully and led Frodo to explore the wonders of Rivendell.
Published August 24, 2002. Revised 2010.