Puppet Strings - Chapter 1

***Many years after the War of the Ring, when Middle-earth had settled into peace and tranquility, the king of Gondor and Arnor went on a journey to the second of his two realms. Aragorn brought with him his son, Eldarion. Eldarion had now grown into a strong young man that resembled his father in many ways. Also with the father and son went the elven twins, Elladan and Elrohir. These two had been friends and teachers to Aragorn for most of his life. They took this journey together to spend time together in friendship, not in battle. With the exception of Eldarion, it had been a long time since any member of this party had experienced anything but the grim reality of battle.***


"Father!!!" Eldarion shouted to his father that had ridden ahead with Elladan and Elrohir. Aragorn slowed his horse and turned it around, he had not realized his son had fallen do far behind him. With a soft and swift kick, he galloped back to Eldarion who had dismounted and waited for his father to re-join him.
"Father, my horse has lodged a rock in his shoe. Wait for me while I try to get it out." The young man's father smiled and nodded and then dismounted as well. He then called to the brothers that had also stopped by now, "There is a rock in the horse's shoe! What say we all stop and rest?" Immediately the elves rode back quickly. Even when riding horses, the two seemed as graceful and elegant as they were doing anything else. Eldarion smirked as he whispered Aragorn, "It is a shame that the rest of us cannot ride as they do."
Aragorn grinned and laughed heartily, many times he had thought the same thought. As Elrohir and Elladan dismounted, as gracefully as they had rode, Aragorn motioned to the clearing that was not far off from the forest road they had been traveling. "It's near sunset; let us make camp over there in that little clearing. We can rest there and the rock will work itself out by tomorrow." The brothers nodded in unison and led their horses through the brush to the meadow-like clearing. Then the father and son followed them.
That night they had ate their fill while they sat gathered around the crackling fire Elrohir had built. Eldarion listened intently and laughed as he heard his father and his childhood friends tell stories and reminisce. He especially loved to listen to his "uncles" Elrohir and Elladan. It amazed him that he or anyone could tell them apart. They were identical in every aspect, even their fair, elven voices were exactly the same. Somehow, he knew. Now he giggled as they recounted how silly his father looked when he had arrived years earlier, with three hobbits and a pony in tow.
"It would have surprised me none if he had entered the gates of Imladris holding each one of their hands." Elladan laughed, as Elrohir seemed to finish his statement. "Aragorn, you looked like a mother with all of the hobbits holding onto your skirts!" Aragorn shook his head embarrassingly while he saw his son giggle and then finally, no longer able to hold back his amusement, burst into laughter. While struggling for breath, Eldarion was able to push out a few words.
"I do not know which is stranger: my father with his hobbit children or hearing you being called Aragorn instead of Elessar." The twins smiled simultaneously as Aragorn laughed, "I suppose I have been known by quite a few names. Aragorn, Elessar, Strider..."
"Puny mortal." Elrohir snickered.
"You don't know what your mother calls him when no one is looking," chimed Elladan. In that moment Aragorn's face turned to that of stone as he replied quickly, "You wouldn't dare!! It is bad enough that I cannot convince Arwen to stop calling me that, I really do not need you to humiliate me further!" As he spoke all the three of his companions around the fire laughed loudly. Eldarion loved that the two elves could embarrass his father so, and get such a rise from him. Aragorn had always told Eldarion that those two had been that way as long as he had known them; forever torturing Arwen and himself.
Suddenly there came a low, loud rumble that filled the air. Their laughter died quickly as the four of them became quiet and alert. The sound became louder, it began to shake the very ground beneath them. All four travelers rose to their feet as if anticipating an attack of some sort. No such attack ever came. Their horses began pulling wildly at the bonds that tied them to the nearby tree branches. They rose up on their hind legs, trying desperately to break free. Then, as quickly as it had started, the accursed sound stopped and everything fell silent. No bird or insect could be heard, the sound of the forest had been silenced.
Finally Elladan spoke in a whisper, "I do not know what that was, never have I heard anything like that." The three nodded in agreement as they all began looking around them for something, anything to give them the slightest clue as to what had just happened. Eldarion tried to think clearly about what could have made that kind of noise. "What is nearby that could possibly make a sound such as that?"
Aragorn replied, "I do not know, there is nothing here. These woods have been deserted for many, many years. I don't..." Elrohir raised his hand to silence his friend as his eyes grew wide and glassy. After a moment of silence he finally mustered the breath to speak, even then it was nothing more than a whisper. "There is only one thing in this realm." Eldarion could not bear the silence that followed after Elrohir spoke, he then spoke urgently, "What is it?! What is here?"
Suddenly, Elladan's expression turned to that of his brother. He had come to the same realization as his twin had. He then glanced at Elrohir and whispered, "Angband."
"The ruins of Angband." Aragorn added quietly, "How? That place has been long since destroyed by the Valar." Eldarion sat back down, dumbfounded at what his companions had just said. He had only been told of Angband once in his life. He remembered it was the great fortress of Morgoth, the first dark lord. It had been his stronghold, but then was destroyed by the Valarin and Elven hosts during the War of Wrath. Eldarion spoke up loudly as his father was talking quietly with his friends, "Is not Angband nothing more than rubble now?"
Elrohir shook his head and answered, "It appears that we must find out, I suggest we ride north tomorrow." Elladan agreed while Aragorn looked unknowingly at his son. He did not want to risk any harm coming to his son, Angband could hold dangers beyond anyone's knowledge. Sensing his father's doubt, Eldarion stood and placed his hand on his father's shoulder and said assuringly, "You have trained me well father, I know you would not have any harm come to me. Surely you know though, I will have no harm to come to you either." His son's words gave Aragorn a little relief. He smiled warmly at Eldarion and nodded, "Very well, we will ride north and we shall all see what rears itself in the ruins of Angband."

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