The rhythmic beating of hooves could be heard on the wind, following a furious pace as the trusted steed raced to its target. Aragorn sat astride, and spurred Roheryn onwards. The trees passed with a blur, leaving only their sweet dewy fragrance as a clue to their passing.
At length, Aragorn reached his destination. He dismounted lightly, before rushing into the small building before him. A far cry from the aged stonework of Minas Tirith, the humble home had been built only to fulfil the purpose of comfort.
As he knocked sharply on the door, dread filled Aragorn’s heart. What vision awaited him when he entered? The door opened slowly, and a young woman looked up at him, drying her hands with a white rag. “Aragorn! You have come again.”
“Yes Norgara I have. I wish to see my mother.”
The woman’s face blanched at his words. “Aragorn, your mother, she…” A small tear traced its path down her cheek, which she brushed away hastily.
“What? What’s wrong?”
She remained silent, and he did not wait for an answer any longer. He pushed past her, and walked to the bedroom. There his mother lay, silent and unmoving in her passing. He walked towards her, his arms rigid against his sides.
He reached her bedside and there he knelt, leaning his head on her cold hand. He looked up to his mother’s peaceful face, and yielded to the grief that welled up within.
Norgara came to the door and watched quietly as he sobbed. It stunned her to see this man weep so openly, his strong frame crumpled with grief. She resisted the urge that crept up within her to go to him and comfort him, though that urge was so strong within her.
The old woman appeared at peace as she lay on the bed, her arms rested by her sides, and a slight smile was upon her face.
He spoke quietly under his breath, whispering words of farewell. He turned to Norgara briefly, and the girl suppressed the gasp that threatened to escape her lips at the sight of his tearstained face. “When did this happen?”
She spoke quietly and solemnly. “This morn, she passed quietly.”
He stood slowly and came to her, and laid a hand on her shoulder. “You may go now Norgara, I will wait here with her. Have you sent word of her passing?”
She shook her head no. “I did not want to leave her, so I waited until someone came.”
He nodded slowly. “Go and ask for assistance. We will need to arrange her burial.”
The girl dropped the rag, which she had held, and ran to carry out his errands for him. As she ran, she thought tearfully of her mistress. She had befriended her when she was only young, and had taught her many things of Middle-earth, and the many tales of her life in Rivendell. She felt as though her mother had died, though in reality that had been many years before.
Gilraen sat in the gardens, her frail body worn with her age. She looked upon the creatures that spied on her, while she delicately stroked a book that she held. She called upon Norgara.
“Yes my lady?”
Gilraen smiled at the young girl’s speed. Since her return, the girl had begged to stay at her home and carry out whatever duties would please her mistress. Her fair hair shimmered in the sunlight as she stood before her.
“I have something which I want you to have. It is to thank you for all the help that you have given me.”
As she spoke, she handed the book to the young girl, who took it gingerly, fingering the gold lettering on the worn leather cover.
A History of Middle Earth
Norgara looked at Gilraen with awe. “Where did you receive such a book lady Gilraen?”
The older woman merely smiled, and looked back at the trees, which formed a broken line on the horizon ahead. No place would ever seem as fair as Rivendell to her, though she would now never have the chance to travel as she had wished.
Norgara did not wait for an answer, and thanked Gilraen again and again, before returning inside the house, and carrying on with her chores.
He sat by her side on a worn wooden chair, and stroked her hand. Staring blankly, his memories stirred within, until he could bear them no longer. Still the tears fell, and he felt no need to fight them back. He spoke softly to her, as though she could still hear his words.
“I’ll never forget you mother, nor will I forget the pains you have gone through for me.”
The sun had reached its highest point by then, though the clouds were beginning to stir in the sky, making their way towards him. He stood and walked to the window. He opened it, and leaned outwards. Looking down the road he saw three riders, one carried Norgara behind him.
He made ready to welcome them.
Gilraen waited by the door as her son approached. He smiled warmly and held out his hands as he rushed to meet her, wondering at how frail she appeared. He never remembered her seeming so fragile in Rivendell, though that was many years ago. Her face was creased with many wrinkles, though for a woman of a hundred, she appeared healthy and content.
They spoke throughout the day, their conversation halted only when Norgara came back and forth with refreshment. It was a warm reunion, and as Aragorn told his many tales of the danger he had encountered on his travels, Gilraen listened with anxiety, for she knew that soon she would not be present to hear of his victories.
Before he left her that evening, Gilraen spoke to him solemnly.
“This is our parting, Estel, my son. I am aged by care, even as one of lesser men; and now that it draws near I cannot face the darkness of our time that gathers upon Middle-Earth. I shall be leaving it soon.”
Aragorn spoke to her words of comfort. “Yet there may be a light beyond the darkness; and if so, I would have you see it and be glad.”
She smiled, and spoke to him but one more time.
*”Onen I-Estel Edain, ú-chebin estel anim.”
Aragorn left her then, heavy of heart, and although he didn’t know for sure, he would never have the chance to speak to his mother again.
Oeric dismounted awkwardly from his horse, helped by his daughter Norgara. He walked slowly towards Aragorn, and smiled comfortingly. His face was tight from the salty tears that he had wept upon hearing his daughter’s message.
“Aragorn, take me to your mother.”
Aragorn placed an arm around Oeric’s shoulders, and guided him inside the house, to where Gilraen lay. The old man walked to the bedside unaided, and kneeled beside his friend’s cold body.
His head swam with memories he thought he had forgotten. His eyes were weary as he looked to her face and touched it gently, reverently.
“Aye, my lady, you have gone home.”
He stood and walked back to Aragorn steadily. “Do not fret, Aragorn, your mother has at last found peace.”
As he walked outside and spoke with his companions about the burial, Aragorn remained by the door, silently weeping as he looked once more at his mother’s body.
Oeric stood by the small stone house. He looked to the trees, and the path, which ran between them, winding its way gently to the North and the East. To Rivendell, he thought quietly. He heard the steady beat of hooves, and saw two riders emerge from the shadowed path.
Smiling, he walked to meet them. The lady Gilraen had come home at long last, he had awaited her return since the day she had left for Rivendell. He helped her to dismount, and they embraced affectionately.
Gilraen’s companion looked to them, and gave them a while before speaking.
“May I leave you here now, lady Gilraen?”
Gilraen looked at the elf, his face showed his desire to return to Rivendell. “Yes, Saurkalion, you may indeed.” She walked back to him for a brief moment, and reached up to hold his hand. She looked into his keen eyes and smiled.
“Thank you, for everything.”
He smiled, kissed the back of her hand and rode away, leaving her to speak with her friend of old.
Oeric studied her face. She had hardly aged since he saw her last, and he remembered those days so very well. He took her hand, and led her inside the house.
“My Lady, you look as beautiful as you ever did.”
She smiled and glanced questioningly at the young girl who awaited their arrival. “Who is this, Oeric?”
Oeric let go of her hand and walked to the girl. “This is my daughter, Norgara. Since she heard of your coming she begged for me to let her meet you.”
The young girl smiled and walked closer to Gilraen, curtsying slightly before speaking. “Lady Gilraen, welcome home. I would ask a small favour of you if I may.”
Even Oeric looked to his daughter curiously at this, waiting for her to continue. Gilraen tilted her head to one side.
“And what, pray tell, would that favour be?”
“Allow me to live here with you and do service to you. I have admired you from afar and it would be a great honour to be your servant.”
Oeric and Gilraen laughed merrily. Gilraen came to the girl and held her hand. “I have no need for a servant, my dear girl.”
Norgara’s face dropped, before Gilraen continued amiably. “But I have great need of company, and someone to run errands for me once in a while.”
The young girl squealed and clapped her hands before going to bring her things. Oeric smiled as he saw her leave. Gilraen spoke to him once more.
“What has happened to her mother?”
“She died of illness one year ago. The girl needs a mother figure. I have tried to take the job but…” he trailed off before smiling at his words.
They sat in the gardens and spoke fondly to each other. Oeric wanted to hear much about Rivendell, to which Gilraen obliged. She had just asked him of his doings, before Norgara returned. She ran to her father, before speaking to him.
“Father, Ailín says that he needs to speak with you urgently.”
Oeric stood and bid farewell to Gilraen. “I shall return this eve my lady. Until then!”
Upon Oeric’s departure, Gilraen spoke to Norgara again. “Well, my dear girl, why don’t you tell me about yourself?”
The clouds had gathered above the hilltop as a small group stood in silence. No word was spoken, and no other sound was heard but for the sorrowful song of the natural world that surrounded them.
Norgara stood, head bowed, a small handkerchief crumpled in her hand. Next to her stood Oeric, who held his head high, and looked to the clouds with grief.
Aragorn stood alone, and at length began to speak quietly.
“Lady Gilraen, mother true,
What pain you bore for me.
I’ll look to the sky and think of you
Now, you are truly free.”
Oeric nodded, and threw a small wreath of flowers on her grave. Norgara sniffed quietly, before all three turned and headed back to the house.
As they walked, the clouds began to clear, and they turned and looked to see, through the gap, which was widening, a single star burning brighter than it ever had before. Aragorn smiled, and closed his eyes. “Namarië.” He whispered, before continuing with the others.
Here ends Onen I-Estel Edain, A woman’s tale.
I would like to greatly thank ErinRua and Celebsul, both truly talented writers at the Burping Troll, for their help in writing this story. Without their guidance, inspiration, support, and some constant nagging, it would never have been started, or finished.
“Lady Gilraen, mother true,
What pain you bore for me.
I’ll look to the sky and think of you
Now, you are truly free.”
Is a verse of my own. Again, Norgara is a completely fictional character, as is her “father”, Oeric.
Throughout the story:
The story of Aragorn and Arwen can be found in the Appendices of the Lord of the Rings. I have tried to change as little as I can, using it only as a guide to where Gilraen went in her life. There is no evidence to suggest that Aragorn even returned to find his mother had died. I made it up. So there
A few translations:
*“Onen I-Estel Edain, ú-chebin estel anim.” means:
“I gave hope to the Dunedain, I have kept no hope for myself.”
“Namarië” is elvish for “Farewell.”
“Mae Govannen” is elvish for “Well met.”
Thank you kindly for reading my fiction. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.