A Morning Star ~ Chapter 17 of 18 - The Destruction of the Ring
Chapter 1: A New Star Rises
Chapter 2: The Road West
Chapter 3: Questions and Answers
Chapter 4: The End of a Quest
Chapter 5: A New Home
Chapter 6: Decisions
Chapter 7: The Battle of Ridden
Chapter 8: A War Ends and a Journey Begins
Chapter 9: Rohan
Chapter 10: Captivity
Chapter 11: Return to Gondor
Chapter 12: Tearful Partings
Chapter 13: A Meeting with a Ranger
Chapter 14: In the Wilderness
Chapter 15: Love Found
Chapter 17: The Destruction of the Ring
Recap: While on a hunt, Ariya and Duran were attacked by two Ringwraiths and Duran was killed. Not understanding why the Ringwraiths had come to the north but knowing that it must be significant, Ariya made her way to Bree where she found Strider and told him the news.
Ariya stood alone on the small footbridge, looking over the city of Imladris and reflecting on the events of the past fortnight. She had been with Strider the night that Frodo, the Ringbearer, had arrived in Bree. She traveled with the ranger and the hobbits to Weathertop, where she helped Strider fight the Nazgûl. When Frodo was injured, they made their way to Rivendell as quickly as they could. Glorfindel had loaned Frodo his horse to cross the ford, and they had all just arrived in Rivendell a few hours before. Once Ariya saw that the hobbits were all taken care of, she wandered to the edge of the city, seeking solitude.
She unconsciously twirled Duran's ring on her finger as she recalled the conversation she had with Strider the day after they left Bree. They had discussed the significance of the Nazgûl coming to Ridden. The ranger thought that perhaps Sauron had foreseen that she would be instrumental in his defeat--should it occur--but she countered by saying that if Sauron had that sort of foresight then the ring would already be in his hand. She believed that the Nazgûl had learned of her escape from Minas Morgul and of her assistance to the rangers. Those two deeds alone would make her an enemy of the Dark Lord.
As she stared out into the city, her thoughts returned to her days in Rivendell so many years before. The city in which she had grown up almost seemed foreign to her, for knowing that she was a mortal she no longer felt at home in the elven haven.
"Arelen!" she heard a voice call, not far off. She looked up quickly, startled out of her reverie, and saw her grandparents walking toward her. It had been fifteen years since she last saw them, and they looked exactly as they did the day she had left. She absently touched her hand to her own face, feeling the fine lines that were just beginning to show. Though she was still young for a half-elf, the tribulations of the past several years had taken their toll on her fair skin. For the first time in many years she wondered how things would have been different had she chosen an immortal life.
"Arelen, it is so good that you have returned!" Beredhel said as he gave his granddaughter a quick hug. Isilmë expressed similar sentiments but held Ariya for a long while, not yet wanting to let go.
"Yes, yes it is," Ariya replied hesitantly, not telling them that she had no intention of staying long. "And please, it is Ariya now." She knew not how she would explain all that had happened during the past fifteen years and could think of nothing else to say.
Isilmë finally released her from the hug but kept her hands on Ariya's shoulders. "Yes, of course," she replied slowly. She looked into her granddaughter's eyes and saw a sadness deep enough to break her own heart. "Ariya, what is wrong?"
Ariya stared at the stones beneath her feet as she recalled how Melian had known of Lúthien's choice by simply looking into her daughter's eyes. She had always dreaded that the day would come when she would have to explain her decision to her grandparents, for she feared that they would neither understand nor approve of her choice. Indeed, Ariya had not even made her choice because of the love of a man as had Lúthien; rather, she had simply felt that both her heart and her destiny belonged to the world of men. Finally she looked up. "I have chosen the gift of men, Grandmother," she replied with a slight tone of defiance. She braced herself for their reaction, still not knowing how she would explain her choice.
Isilmë sighed. "I knew that you would make that choice the moment you left Imladris," she answered. "But there is something else--a deeper sorrow."
Ariya's heart leapt at her grandmother's words, but with that worry gone there was nothing to hold back her tears for Duran. She suddenly threw her arms around Isilmë and let loose the grief that she had kept hidden for so many days. "Oh Grandmother," she wailed, "the man I was betrothed to wed was killed a month ago! We should be married now!" Isilmë held her granddaughter tightly while she cried on her shoulder. "He was a king," Ariya sobbed. "I have had no time to mourn. I do not even know who succeeded him as king!"
Her grandmother said nothing, but her touch comforted Ariya. Beredhel took a few steps closer and placed his hand on Ariya's shoulder, but not knowing what to say, he simply remained silent. His heart ached to see his only grandchild in such pain.
After a long moment Isilmë said, "Come, Arelen. Come back to the house and talk with us." Ariya nodded and wiped the tears from her face, and the three walked off toward the home in which Ariya had grown up.
Ariya spent the next few days with her grandparents. They spent the first night crying together over her lost love, but Ariya spent the following days telling them all that had happened since she had left Imladris. During this time Ariya saw little of the hobbits or of Strider, until one day the ranger informed her that Frodo had awakened and the she was invited to a council the next day. Ariya agreed to come.
When Ariya arrived at the council, she was surprised to see the four major races of Middle-earth represented. She took a seat near Aragorn, as the citizens of Imladris often addressed him, and remained silent throughout the council as everyone told their stories and debated on what course of action to take. She was already familiar with some of the lore that was shared, but much of the recent happenings concerning the Ring were new to her.
As the others spoke, Ariya looked at the golden ring lying on the pedestal. As she stared, it began to whisper to her heart, and slowly the whispers began to drown out the conversation around her. The ring showed her grand visions, telling her she could become a queen with more power than she ever imagined in Ridden. She shut her eyes as images of vast, green kingdoms and towering golden palaces raced through her mind. Suddenly her thoughts turned to the fate her parents and to Lómion's ring. I will not succumb to the same temptation, she told herself, and with much concentration she forced the images from her mind. The ring fell silent.
Ariya knew then that the ring must be destroyed, for no being, mortal or immortal, could hold the ring for long and resist such temptations. Her thoughts then returned to Elrond's prophecy fifteen years ago. Could this be a part of the "great things" that he had prophesized: to aid in the destruction of the One Ring of Power?
She was suddenly jarred from her thoughts with the sound of Gimli's ax ringing against the cold metal of the ring. When the discussion soon deteriorated into a heated argument concerning what race should carry the ring, Ariya's first instinct was to join the fray. However, before she was able to open her mouth to speak, she saw the look in Frodo's eyes and knew what he intended to do. She remained silent while Frodo volunteered to carry the ring and while Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Boromir pledged their allegiance to the hobbit. Ariya then stood and spoke her first words since the council had begun: "I shall lend you my aid as well."
"This is no quest for a lady!" Boromir exclaimed immediately. Ariya knew that several others were thinking the same thought, but she was not angry. She knew that she hardly looked like a warrior, standing before them in her shimmering blue dress and elaborately braided hairstyle.
"Perhaps you should explain why are perfectly capable of joining this quest," Elrond said. Ariya thought she could see a slight smile on his lips. Boromir began to look rather embarrassed about his outburst when he realized that Elrond did not object to her coming.
"It's quite all right, Boromir," she said. "I know that my looks can be deceiving." She then addressed the entire council and said, "In the fifteen years since I left this haven of Imladris, I have learned to fight with the knife, the bow, and the sword. I led a band of archers into battle during the resistance against the Northern Tribes a decade ago, where my elven foresight was invaluable in preventing future fighting. I have slaughtered orcs in the Misty Mountains, in Rohan, and within the borders of Mordor itself. Indeed, I was once imprisoned in the Ringwraith's tower of Minas Morgul and managed to escape through the secret passages of Cirith Ungol. And finally, I have lent my skills of foresight to the rangers of the North for the past three years."
She could see the surprise in Boromir's eyes, and it reminded her of his brother's expression when he learned of her escape from Minas Morgul. Indeed, her words nearly surprised herself, for she had never considered herself a true warrior. The council was silent until the moment was broken by Sam bursting into the scene and announcing his desire to accompany Frodo. Merry and Pippin soon followed, and thus the Fellowship of the Ring was formed.
During the next two months, Ariya spent less time with her grandparents and more and more time with the other members of the fellowship, preparing for their journey. Aragorn and Legolas could both sense that she was still grieving over Duran's death, for word of the event had spread through the fellowship. Once they realized that she did not wish to discuss it and would rather mourn privately, they let her be. Finally, the day of their departure arrived. Ariya bid Isilmë and Beredhel farewell, but made no promise to return, for not even Lord Elrond knew what lied ahead.
The deeds of the fellowship are written elsewhere, in the Red Book, and shall not be detailed here; however, a brief description is warranted. Ariya traveled with the fellowship to the Door of Moria. During these first stages of their travels, Ariya became rather close to the hobbits, for Pippin especially reminded her of Perry and Tanagrim years before. She and Boromir taught them how to fight with the blades they had found in the Barrow Downs, and she often stayed by the hobbits' side during the journey.
In the mines of Moria, Ariya was invaluable in the battle in Balin's tomb and likely saved Merry's life when she killed an orc that had appeared unnoticed behind him. After Gandalf's fall, she grieved as deeply as the others, remembering how much the wizard had helped her in earlier days. She traveled with the fellowship to Lothlorien, where the Lady of the Wood gave her an elven bow similar to the one she gave Legolas.
When the fellowship was broken at the falls of the Anduin, she knew of Boromir's fall even though Aragorn did not reveal it. However, she never condemned the steward's son in her heart, for she recalled the temptation that her own parents had been unable to overcome. She knew that all humans were imperfect and that he had succumbed to the temptation out of love for his own people. She wondered if she could have resisted the temptation if she had believed the ring could save someone she loved.
She ran with the three hunters across the Riddermark in search of Merry and Pippin. When they were accosted by Eomer and his men, she explained that she once lived in Rohan. A few of the soldiers had heard stories concerning her rescue of Édren, and thus Eomer agreed to give them the horses whose riders had fallen in battle.
She later fought in the battle of Helm's Deep, and during the last hours of the battle she happened to find Édren fighting amongst the men who had arrived with Eomer. He had traveled from Durlow to aid in the seemingly hopeless battle, and the two of them fought side-by-side until the battle was over. Later, when the company arrived at Isengard, she stayed at the foot of the tower of Orthanc, having no desire to be tempted by the voice of Saruman. Not recognizing the palantir when Grima threw it from the window, she did not stop Pippin from picking it up.
She rode the Paths of the Dead with Aragorn and fought in the Battle of Pelennor Fields and in the battle before the Black Gate of Mordor, slaying many of Sauron's servants in both battles. She was the only one who did not despair when the orc brought out Frodo's mithril shirt; rather, she urged the others to continue their fight against the Dark Lord, until finally the Great Enemy was abolished when the One Ring finally fell into the fires of Mount Doom.
However, Ariya's story does not end with the destruction of the ring. The day after the battle at the Morannon, Ariya lay resting in a small tent. Her leg had been pierced by an arrow in the previous day's battle, and while she was capable of walking she wanted to rest while she could. Legolas had just left the tent, having come to update her on the hobbits' conditions, when the king Elessar entered.
"How are you feeling?" he asked, taking a seat beside her.
"Much better, thank you," she answered. She could see that his concern for her condition was not the primary reason he had come and she waited for him to speak.
"Ariya, tell me: why did you not despair before the Black Gate when even Gandalf had lost all hope? Did you foresee that Frodo was alive and that the ring would be destroyed?"
"Oh no," Ariya said, stifling a smile. "That was just simple logic. I knew that if Sauron were to regain possession of the ring, we would all feel it instantly. While I did not know where the ring was or even if Frodo was alive, I did know that the ring was not on Sauron's finger, and as long as he did not hold the ring there was still hope. Or perhaps I was just foolish and did not see the full gravity of the situation as the others did." At this statement Ariya finally allowed her smile to escape.
"No, you are far from foolish," Elessar replied, truly amazed with this remarkable woman who had come so far with him on the quest. She dismissed her thoughts as logic, but he felt that there was still a bit of elven foresight in them. After a brief pause, he said, "Ariya, I have one more question for you."
"Yes, my lord?" Ariya replied, remembering that after all this ranger was soon to be crowned king.
"Your abilities of foresight have been invaluable in our quest and to the rangers of the north in the past few years. I ask that if you are willing, that you be my advisor when I become king."
Ariya was speechless for just a moment. She had not given any thought as to what she would do after the quest was over, and she was surprised at the great honor the new king wanted to give her. There was no reason for her to return to the north, and while the thought of returning to Rohan was tempting, she knew that there were other places where gifts could be utilized. She only had to think for a moment before her decision was made.
"I would be honored, my lord." Elrond's prophecy had been fulfilled.
List of Names and Places through Chapter 17
- Ambilë: Ariya's mortal father. Chapter 1.
- Arelen: "Morning Star"; Ariya's Elvish name. Chapter 1.
- Ariya Alayah: Translated as "Morning Star" in an ancient tongue of men; the heroine of our story. Chapter 1.
- Aron: Ranger of the North; second cousin to Aragorn. Chapter 13.
- Beredhel: "Bold Elf"; Ariya's maternal grandfather. Chapter 1.
- Beros: Lamir's older brother. Chapter 9.
- Cul-Rômen: "Golden-Red Sunrise"; the name of Ariya's sword. Chapter 5.
- Deilen: Duran's brother. Chapter 5.
- Denya: Renya's only son; succeeded his father as King of Ridden. Chapter 6.
- Dunneth: The city-kingdom to which the refugees of Ridden fled. Chapter 6.
- Duran: Advisor to the king of Ridden; succeeded Denya as king; killed by the Nazgûl. Chapter 3.
- Durlow: A small village in eastern Rohan. Chapter 8.
- Édren: Lamir's father; farmer and soldier of Rohan. Chapter 9.
- Eomas: The first city to be attacked by the Northern Tribes. Chapter 5.
- Halamir: Lamir's younger brother. Chapter 9.
- Isilmë: "Moonlight"; Ariya's maternal grandmother. Chapter 1.
- Kalen: A man from Dunneth; leader of a group of archers in the resistance against the Northern Tribes. Chapter 6.
- Lamir: Son of Édren; Ariya's apprentice in Rohan. Chapter 9.
- Land of the City-Kingdoms: A land northwest of Rivendell, consisting of several small cities of men, each ruled by their own king. Chapter 2.
- Lein: Ariya's half-brother, son of Ambilë; a smith in Ridden; killed in the Northern Tribe's invasion. Chapter 2.
- Lindë: Lamir's love interest. Chapter 9.
- Lómion: "Descendant of Dark"; maker of Ambilë's ring. Chapter 4.
- Melwen: "Kind Maiden"; Ariya's elven mother. Chapter 1.
- Nía: Lamir's sister. Chapter 9.
- Peramac "Perry" Brandybuck: One of the hobbits who helped Ariya on the East Road; twin brother of Tanagrim. Chapter 2.
- Renna: Beros's wife. Chapter 9.
- Renya: King of Ridden. Chapter 5.
- Ridden: A city in the land of the city-kingdoms. Chapter 2.
- Selleth: Lamir's mother. Chapter 9.
- Serië: "Peace"; the name Ariya used while in the wilderness of the rangers. Chapter 14.
- Styrra: Ariya's horse, a mare from Rohan. Chapter 12.
- Tanagrim Brandybuck: One of the hobbits who helped Ariya on the East Road; twin brother of Peramac. Chapter 2.
Note: This may sound like the end but it's not--there is still an epilogue to come so that you may learn what happened to some of the characters! Also, I know that for the most part I have been following the timeline and events of the book, but I did take the scene of the Council of Elrond from the movie in order for Ariya to have a dramatic moment to announce why she should come on the journey. I purposefully compressed the entire quest into one chapter, because I didn't want this to be another story about a girl joining the fellowship and the retelling of the entire quest. If you didn't like this chapter, let me know, but at least read the epilogue before you tell me that you hated my story as a whole!