A Morning Star ~ Chapter 18 of 18 - Epilogue
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
Recap: Ariya traveled with the fellowship on the quest to destroy the One Ring. At the end of the quest, Ariya agreed to become King Elessar's advisor, for the former ranger recognized her strong gift of foresight.
Twenty-Five Years Later
Ariya lay in her bed, holding her five-day-old son, Lein, in her arms. She stared into his already darkening eyes while his tiny hand grasped her finger. He already looks like his uncle. The thought brought both a smile to her face and the slightest bit of sadness to her heart.
His birth had been difficult for her and the midwife had insisted that she stay in bed for several days. As she lay there, she reflected on her life in Gondor. After accepting the position of advisor to the king years ago, Ariya asked that she may return to Ridden one last time before beginning her duties. The king agreed, and thus she had traveled with the hobbits and Gandalf as far as Rivendell, where she parted from them and went northwest to Ridden. Upon arriving at Ridden, she learned that Deilen had become king, for Duran had left no heirs and Deilen was his closest kin. She brought news of the new king of Gondor to the people of Ridden and told Deilen all that had happened since she last saw him.
After a month's stay, she left Ridden and traveled to Rohan where she visited Édren's family. Lamir and Nía had both married since she had left. Lamir and his wife Lindë, pregnant with their first child, lived in a small house near the potter's shop, while Nía had moved into her husband's house and had given birth to a daughter the previous year. Halamir and Beros still lived with their parents, and Renna now had two children to care for. Ariya could easily see that Selleth was delighted about her growing horde of grandchildren. After a month in Durlow, Ariya announced that she had to leave to begin her duties as the king's advisor, but told the family that they were all welcome to visit her in Gondor whenever they wished.
The first several years as advisor seemed to fly by, for Ariya was kept very busy helping the king begin his reign and usher in the Fourth Age of Middle-earth. She was often sent to other lands for diplomatic purposes, for her foresight and intuition proved extremely useful in negotiations. She even returned to the land of the city-kingdoms and arranged an alliance between the kings of the land and the king of Gondor.
After fifteen years as the king's advisor, she married a man of the tower guard named Haldon. Their first two children were both daughters, and Haldon agreed to give them Elvish names so that they would remember their history and their elven blood. For while it would appear to others that Ariya had forsaken her elven heritage, in truth she remembered her days in Rivendell with great fondness. Thus, the oldest they named Airemir, which means "Jewel of the Sea," for she had deep blue eyes that sparkled like the sunlit waves of the sea. The younger daughter they called Alassiel, or "Joyful", for even as a baby she rarely cried. When their third child--a son--was born, Ariya wanted to name him Lein and Haldon readily agreed, knowing the love she still felt for her lost brother.
Ariya held little Lein closer and gazed out the window, looking at the bright morning sun shining on the dewy grass. She recalled Elrond's prophecy so many years ago, and over the past several years she had developed a full understanding of why she had been born a half-elf. Her elven blood had given her the ability of foresight, and she had used that ability to help countless humans in this time of the elves' fading. Years ago, she had stopped the Northern Tribes' invasions, helping the people of Ridden regain their homes. In Rohan, she had saved Édren's life from the Uruk-hai. Her foresight had alerted to her to many dangers in the wilderness near the Shire, and she knew that without her ability she never would have detected a number of Sauron's spies. While she did not feel that her role in the Fellowship of the Ring had been instrumental, nonetheless there were a few occasions where she had been able to alert the others to danger before it arrived. For the past quarter of a century she had been of great help to King Elessar and knew that she had likely prevented several battles with her successful negotiations. Finally, she smiled at the thought that she and Arwen had provided the human race with one last bit of elven blood. The evil that had corrupted Melwen and Ambilë's hearts and the circumstances surrounding Ariya's birth had been brought about for good.
"Ariya, how are you feeling?" She turned from the window to see her husband standing in the doorway. His grey-green eyes sparkled at the sight of his new son.
"Much better. I do not believe I can stand to lie in bed another day!"
Haldon smiled and walked over to her bedside. Without a word she handed him their son. They sat in silence, for even though it was their third child, holding a new life in their arms still filled them with awe. Ariya absently twirled Duran's ring on her finger, for though so many years had passed she still wore it everyday. Haldon watched her but said nothing. He knew that there was a place in her heart that would always belong to Duran, but he also knew that her love for him had no bounds. He thought back fondly to the day that he had first met his wife, twenty years before. He had only been a member of the guard for a week when he saw her descending the stone steps that led to the king's throne. She had been wearing a gown of deep crimson, and her loose golden hair fluttered about her shoulders in the gentle breeze. She saw the young guard and knew that he was new to his position, and stopped to talk with him. He was amazed that the advisor to the king would speak to a lowly guard such as himself, and on that day a friendship began that over the course of ten years would gradually turn to love. Haldon's thoughts slowly returned to the present and he smiled, holding his newborn son and staring at his beautiful wife.
Ariya suddenly became aware of his stare. "What is it?" she asked.
"I was just marveling at how beautiful you look, even after five days of bed-rest."
Lein then began to fuss and after a few moments Haldon relinquished him to his mother, wishing he could hold the child all day. Lein soon calmed down, comforted by his mother's touch.
"Alassiel wants to know if you will be recovered by her birthday party three days from now," Haldon said with a smile. Ariya could hardly believe that her youngest daughter was about to begin her sixth year, and that her oldest was already in her ninth.
"Of course. In fact, I was about to get up and make some breakfast for everyone today."
"That will be relief for our daughters," her husband replied with a smile. "They don't seem to enjoy my cooking as much as yours." Ariya could not help but laugh. While a servant often prepared their meals, occasionally Ariya would insist on cooking, allowing her daughters to help. Ariya was unaccustomed to having servants fulfill her every need, and she wanted her children to learn how to take care of themselves should it ever be necessary. Why Haldon had insisted on cooking a few meals these last five days she did not know.
"Here, I will take Lein to the nursery," Haldon said. Ariya reluctantly handed Lein to him and watched him walk out of the room. After he left, she quickly got dressed before the midwife could scold her for leaving her bed and made her way down to the kitchen.
As Ariya's children aged they all discovered that they had been blessed with a bit of elven foresight and intuition. For seven generations her descendents were gifted with such insight, the strength of their abilities decreasing with each generation. Nearly all of them served the king in various positions, but by the eighth generation they were no more insightful than any other man.
Ariya Alayah served as the king's advisor for nearly three hundred years until her death. However, she lived on for hundreds of years through the songs of the warrior-maiden of the North; the advisor to the returned king of Gondor; the Morning Star of the Dawn of Men.
Final Author's Note: The Motivations Behind the Story
I know this story seems a little unusual, detailing the life of a character not found in Tolkien's work and then quickly summarizing the events of The Lord of the Rings, so I thought I would share some of my motivations in writing this story. When I first saw the movie The Fellowship of the Ring (and before reading any of the books), the scenes between Aragorn and Arwen made me wonder what a half-elf would be like in Tolkien's world. I think I became interested in the idea because I thought the elves were so wonderful in the movie, but the thought of immortality is incomprehensible to a human. Thus, a half-elf could experience both worlds, for I assumed that a half-elf would be mortal.
After reading The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, I realized that half-elves were very rare in Middle-Earth and were always born for a special purpose, and discovering that purpose became the new focus of my story. My first thought was to create a half-elf character whose purpose in life was to join the fellowship, but I soon realized that similar such stories had been done far too many times in fan-fiction. I still liked the idea of a girl in the fellowship (as I think many female readers would agree!) but then I began to wonder how my character could have learned to fight and what would be her motivations for joining the quest. Thus I began to work backwards in time, creating not only fighting experiences for her but also a family history, friends, and finally a lover. Not wanting to invent major battles that would affect the course of events in The Lord of the Rings, I created the city-kingdoms, a place where she could learn to fight and demonstrate her foresight in a significant way apart from the events in Tolkien's work. I love the country of Rohan and could not resist having her travel there, and the captivity at Minas Morgul began simply as an adventure to keep the story exciting but evolved into a chance for her to experience Sauron's evil and thus recognize it later. As for the ending, I thought what better purpose in life could there be than to help the returned king of Gondor usher in the next age of Middle-Earth? Finally, I included two death scenes - those of Lein and of Duran - partly because there is death in this world and we cannot escape it, and partly because I wanted to attempt the challenge of writing such emotional scenes. I hope that I have succeeded in that respect! However, I hate sad endings and thus I added the epilogue to fully explain the purpose of Ariya's life and the happiness that she was finally able to find.
Since I know someone will ask, I do have a sequel in the beginning stages, and it will deal with an adventure that Ariya's entire family goes on. I am experimenting with telling the story from the alternating viewpoints of Airemir and Alassiel, and it is tentatively titled Daughters of the Morning Star. If I decide that I like how the story turns out, I will publish it here, but I make no promises! If I do publish it, it won't be for several months, because I will want to write at least a draft of all of the chapters first so the story will be more organized and have a clear direction.
Thank you for all your comments so far, and I would love comments not only on the Epilogue but also on the story as a whole! I will certainly take into consideration any suggestions or critiques as I write the sequel!
Complete List of Names and Places
Following is a list of names and places created for the purposes of this story, which do not appear in any of Tolkien's works. Following each name is a translation (if applicable), a short description of the character, and the chapter of A Morning Star in which the character was first introduced. All pronunciation rules found in Tolkien's works apply to these names.
- Airemir: "Jewel of the Sea"; Ariya's oldest daughter. Epilogue.
- Alassiel: "Joyful"; Ariya's youngest daughter. Epilogue.
- 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.
- Haldon: Member of the Tower Guard of Minas Tirith; Ariya's husband. Epilogue.
- 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 wife. 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.