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
Recap: After escaping from Minas Morgul, Ariya was found by Faramir and his men and taken to Henneth Annun. Once her wounds had healed, she was taken to the Steward of Gondor, who granted her permission to return to Rohan.
It had been over a month since Ariya had left Durlow when she knocked on Édren’s door on a cold, dark night. She had left Minas Tirith immediately after the steward had released her, anxious to return.
“Ariya!” Lamir cried upon opening the door. He threw his arms around her, nearly knocking her over. “We thought you were dead!” The other family members soon joined him, and everyone wanted a chance to hug Ariya and say how much they had been worried about her.
“It is a cold night,” Ariya said after everyone had greeted her, a smile on her face. “And I was rather hoping I could come inside and warm up.”
“Of course, of course!” Édren said. “Selleth, please, bring her something to eat!” The rest of the family had already eaten, so they sat around the table to listen to Ariya’s stories while she ate. She told them of her capture by the orcs and of her imprisonment in Minas Morgul, but withheld the details of her torture for Halamir’s sake, for he was still young. She also told of her escape through Cirith Ungol and how she had avoided Shelob, at which everyone asked to see the tinsar.
After the tinsar had been passed around the table for everyone to examine, Ariya then said that she had been rescued by “a handsome young captain of Gondor and his men,” but did not reveal the names of the soldiers or their hiding place at Henneth Annun. She also did not describe her appearance before the steward of Gondor, stating instead that she had left the company of men when she had healed and had promptly returned to Durlow. Édren, being a soldier himself, knew that there was more to the story but did not interrogate her. He knew that the men of Gondor had their secrets, just as did the men of Rohan.
Another month soon passed by. Ariya continued to work at the pottery shop, but there was little she could do since Lamir was perfectly capable of running the entire shop by himself. She found her thoughts returning to Ridden more and more often. She recalled the vow she had made to herself in Minas Morgul, but now that she was safe in Rohan she was hesitant to ride into danger in the north. It had been over five years since she left her home in Ridden, and she wondered if Denya was still king and whether it would be safe for her to return.
One morning, as Ariya was sitting alone at the family table after the others had gone to work, Lamir approached her and sat down across from her.
“I thought you had already left for the shop,” Ariya said.
“No, not yet,” Lamir answered. She looked down at the table, but he watched her, studying her closely. He found it frustrating that she seldom voiced what she was thinking, for he was much more open with his own feelings. However, after five years he had learned how to read the thoughts that she would not express. After a long, almost awkward pause, he said, “You want to return to Ridden, do you not?”
“How is it that you are so easily able to read my thoughts?” Ariya asked with surprise, jerking her head up to look at him. Indeed, only her elven grandparents were able to see the contemplations of her heart more clearly than Lamir.
“I have lived the past five years of my life with you in the shop,” he answered, “and five years is plenty of time to know a person intimately. Besides,” he added with a smile, “it is a gift I inherited from my grandmother. She always insisted that a bit of elven blood flowed through her veins but no one believed her.”
“Maybe she is descended from a king of Númenóre, by a king’s daughter perhaps,” Ariya answered.
“Perhaps,” Lamir replied. “But you are avoiding the question.”
The faint smile quickly faded from Ariya’s lips and she sighed. “You are right, Lamir. I long to return to Ridden, and to Duran, the man I love. I never even told him that I loved him–indeed, I did not even comprehend the depth of my affection for him until just a few months ago–and I do not know if he will return my love. He may have already married another!” That thought had not occurred to her until she spoke it, and she avoided Lamir’s searching eyes and once again looked down at the table, trying to hide her emotions. Tears welled in her eyes and she fought to hold them back.
Lamir saw the longing in her eyes before she looked away. He wanted to help her but was not entirely sure how. Recalling the stories she had told him when they first met, he asked, “What of the man who wished to kill you? After five years, do you believe he will no longer seek your death?”
She took a deep breath and blinked to hold back her tears. “I do not know,” she replied. “Surely five years would be enough time for him to realize that I have no intention of usurping his throne. However, he is mad, and I do not know the thoughts that plague his mind.”
“Just follow your heart, Ariya,” Lamir said. “Remember, your foresight has never proven you wrong.” He gave her a quick but sincere smile, and she could not help but smile back.
“You are truly a remarkable person, Lamir,” she replied.
“Thank you, Ariya Alayah, but my gift pales in comparison with yours.” With that, Lamir picked up his crutch and left for the shop, leaving Ariya alone once again.
That night, Ariya announced to the family that she would leave for Ridden in two days. She had told no one except Lamir about Duran, but now that she was leaving she explained to the family the love she had left in Ridden. They were greatly saddened to see her leave, but she promised them that if she ever returned to Rohan she would come to visit.
As she continued to explain her plans to leave, Lamir sat silently and pondered her words. He had heard the doubt in her voice when she first made the announcement, and he knew that she was not entirely certain that returning to Ridden at this time was the best course of action. However, he said nothing, knowing that it was not his place to question her decision. After all, he doubted that he could bear being apart from Lindë for five whole years.
The next day Ariya only stayed a few hours in the pottery shop, and then returned to the house to begin packing for her journey. As she entered the house, she was surprised to see Édren sitting at the table; she had expected him to be working in the fields. “Ariya, could you please come with me?” he asked. “I have something for you.”
Slightly puzzled, Ariya followed him outside to the stables and they stopped in front of the pen of a sorrel mare with a thin white blaze on her face. “This is Styrra,” Édren said. “She is a fine steed of Rohan, and I want you to have her. You have done so much for me and my family, and I will never be able repay you fully. I give you this gift as just a token of my gratitude.”
His short speech nearly brought tears to Ariya’s eyes, for she saw the emotion that he did not express. “Thank you so much,” she said, hugging him. “But please, do not feel that you need to repay me, for I was only helping my friends.”
“Then I am truly blessed to have you as a friend,” Édren replied, fighting back tears as well. He released her, and they stood for a moment in silence, neither knowing what else to say. “Come,” Édren said after a moment. “Selleth has set aside some food and supplies for your journey. Let us see what she has prepared for you.” With that, they returned to the house.
Selleth had already filled a large pack with food, a few cooking utensils, and an extra set of clothing. There was little else Ariya could do in preparation for her journey, so she spent the rest of the day working in the fields, talking with Halamir and Nía. She could see that Halamir especially was sad at her leaving, so she told him stories of her battles with orcs and the Northern Tribes. Just like any other thirteen-year-old boy, he was soon captivated by the stories of adventure and excitement, yet she could see that the sadness had not completely left his eyes.
The next morning was a tearful parting, for no one knew whether they would meet again.
“Must you leave?” Halamir cried as he hugged her. “What about your promise to teach me the long bow?” A tear slipped down Ariya’s cheek as she remembered the morning training sessions with the two boys. They always managed to have so much fun, and now Ariya knew that if she ever saw Halamir again, it would likely not be for many years, long after he had grown up into a man.
“Lamir can teach you,” Ariya said. Halamir was still using a small bow, but Lamir had been practicing with a long bow for about a year now. Halamir finally released her, and Lamir walked up and put his arm around his younger brother. Ariya again marveled at how much Lamir had matured, recalling the young boy she had met five years ago.
Beros was the last to wish her farewell. “As my son grows up,” he said, “he will hear many stories about his beautiful and courageous Aunt Ariya.”
“Oh, Beros,” she cried as she hugged him, not knowing what else to say. The whole family loved her so much, and for a moment she wondered why she was leaving them. Finally, she managed to tear herself away from them and mount her horse.
“Goodbye, my friends!” she said, finally managing to stop the flow of tears down her face. “May we meet again soon!” With that, she gave Styrra a quick pat and the horse began to walk away from the village.
“Farewell, Ariya Alayah,” Lamir said softly as she rode out of sight. “You now go to where your heart has always been.”
Note: For those of you less familiar with horses, a sorrel horse is a red color.
List of Names and Places through Chapter 12
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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.