Aravar, by Armand - Part II - A continuation of a lost tale of one of the kings of Middle Earth
"Wherefore dost thou go, Aravar?" he asked.
And Aravar said nothing.
Coming to stand beside Aravar the stranger laid hands on his shoulders and then passed them over his eyes. "Come back Aravar." said the stranger. "Come back for thy works are not yet complete thou still have great realms to build. Come back. If thou will not come back for such as this then come back for the memory of thy queen and thy children whom thou hast lost."
And Aravar opened his eyes and for the first time in many years saw all about clearly. Looking at the stranger Aravar cried out, "Who are you? Where do you come from? How do I come to be here?"
"I am naught but a lonesome traveler," spoke the stranger in the ancient Noldorin tongue of the elves, "whose faraway lands have been taken from him. I have heard of thee and thy works and have watched from afar. I understand thy loss and thy plight. Thou were and art a king of a great realm of men. Thou has suffered great loss. But thou art still king. The time has come for thou to place that mantle about thy shoulders once more"
"Yes," Said Aravar, "I have been King." Breathing deeply of the clear morning air and in the presence of this stranger Aravar felt energy flowing back into his veins and muscles, as he had not felt since that night long ago on the shores of Lake Evendim. "It has been a long time since I was king. I have no sword, no armor, and no strength nor force of will for such a task anymore"
"Then thou shalt have my sword" said the stranger, and he slowly drew his sword, which was long and well able to be used either one or two handed. It was set about with elven runes with a great crown for a pommel.
"With this blade you will rebuild thy kingdom and surpass the glory of all your fathers before you" he spoke in a tone of prophecy. "With this token thou wilt keep fond and fair memory of those whom thee loved who were taken from thee. Use the sword to heal the body."
He continued. "And use this other small gift to remind thee of our meeting and to bring comfort to thy mind, thus."
And then the stranger carefully pulled a golden ring from a pocket on his cloak. Holding it between his hands, he closed his eyes, and spoke so quietly that Aravar could not hear nor understand the words. He then set the ring on Aravar's upturned palm.
"A choice is now set before thee" he began. "Thou can continue to live as thou hast these last years clouded of thought, bereft of purpose and thy loved ones. Or thou may wear this ring and discover what it might offer thee. Perhaps even the path to all that thy desireth may be revealed to thee. For this is the choice that I bestow upon thee and now, thee must choose!"
Aravar stared at the ring, feeling how warm and inviting it seemed cupped in his hand. Slowly he held the ring up in front of his eyes and then deliberately, almost reluctantly, slid the golden band upon his finger. Suddenly, a flood of memories came racing into his mind, memories of his Eleanorra, Ciravar, Hurin, Nienor, Ancalime, and little Laurelin. He saw them as if a veil had been lifted from his sight to show them standing, before and about him, and he saw that they smiled at him. Aravar gasped and his eyes wide filled with wonder at this vision.
"And so they shall be with thee thusly until the end of thy days" the stranger said. "Thy family is restored to thee and shall remain with thee as long as thou wearest this ring. But to remove the ring means the spell woven within it shall be broken, never to be restored again, and thy loved ones shall be sundered from thee forever."
But Aravar stood motionless and heedless of the words of the tall lord, and watched as his family moved about and talked with one another. If he strained with all his might he felt he could almost hear their words. Then, he felt a feather light sensation brush against his hand at his side - the hand bearing the ring. Aravar looked down and saw little golden- haired Laurelin of the Tree gazing up at him as her hand passed right through his. He knelt down and looked into her eyes, ethereal yet still the beautiful sea grey color which betrayed her Númenorean heritage inherited through him.
"In time they will come to seem more real to thee" spoke the stranger. "They will not be with thee at all times but will go hither and yon on their own purposes. However if you have need of them thou needest but to wish for their return and they will stand with thee."
"From them and from myself thou wilt find the will to go on. Fare thee well. We shall meet again."
But Aravar heard all that was said to him only as if from the bottom of a well and through the clouds of a dream. And after many minutes, when Aravar look again for the tall lord, he was nowhere to be seen.
Aravar returned to his castle, bearing the ring and the sword, the mighty gifts of the tall lord. Around him walked his family and his heart was filled with wonder and happiness.
Arriving at the castle he soon called a meeting with his remaining ministers and retainers, recalling absent or appointing new ones as needed. In the months that followed Aravar set about healing his realm once more with a vigor and vitality that he had not felt in what seemed like an age.
He soon realized that none those around him were able to see the shades of his family. He thus kept their existence to himself, and the hearts of all those who served him were gladdened and relieved that their lord and king was somehow healed of mind. And at night, his loved ones would come to him in his chambers where he was free to talk to them. Although they spoke not in a means intelligible to him he was content.
And in his dreams there were revealed to him images of himself as lord and king of a realm greater even than that of Gondor, Cardolan, or Arthedain. A realm greater even than Numenor at the height of its power. He saw himself leading a host mightier even than that which Ar Pharazon the Golden had as he set of on his war against Valinor. He saw the entire world drawn together under his glorious banner in order and peace.
His work progressed and Rhudaur began again to heal from the many hurts brought upon it by those who had ruled before his father and he. Slowly, slowly the land was reborn and finally 16 years after receiving the gifts of the tall elf lord and a full 70 years since the beginning of his father's reign. Aravar judged that his work was well nigh complete.
Aravar was now approaching 65 years of age, a man of middle age by the standards of his time. Although those of his Numenorean heritage normally lived to surpass a hundred years of age and often lived well beyond that the bloodline was not what it had once been in earlier days and he had begun to feel the weight of his labors and it seemed as if a premature old age coming upon him. He began to feel an utter and overwhelming fatigue that gnawed at him endlessly.
And now to those close to him Aravar appeared haggard and pale. His hair had gone white and his skin had taken on a translucent quality usually only seen among the very old. It began to be apparent that the king no longer seemed as or who he once was, but instead grew ever colder and more distant.
He had achieved all that he could have dreamed and hoped for in the restoration of Rhudaur. And yet, it seemed as if this, in the end, would still not not enough. For despite the urgings and pleadings of his ministers, Aravar had never remarried and his land was without an heir. To compound matters, he had made no effort to designate a successor for when the time would come for another to take up the kingship.
Still, the prophetic words of the stranger Aravar had met on that fateful day long ago had come true in their fashion. He had been healed of the hurts of his mind and had gone on to complete the works begun by his father all those years ago. But the greatest joy of the years since had always been the gift of the ring, and through it the gift of his loved ones. They who did not age but ever remained as youthful and as strong as his fond but ever more exhausted memories recalled them.
The words of the tall elf lord began to echo in Aravar's mind. "From them and from myself thou wilt find the will to go on. Fare thee well. We shall meet again."
(To Be Continued)