The sun shone brilliantly. The cry of a lark sounded out clear and sharp into the air. In that moment, light shone upon Gondor, illuminating it for a moment and bathing it in sunlight. Arwen stepped outside of the doors to her dwelling. The air was cool, brisk and calm. She stood there for a moment, relishing the soft kiss of the air upon her face. She moved slowly and gracefully, walking with her head down along the roads of Gondor, admiring the skill of the laborers who had worked here and built Gondor so long ago. At last, she reached a place where no trees grew, and the air was still and silent.
Arwen knelt, taking a rose from her hands and placing it upon a gray stone of wonderful craftsmanship. The stone was on a raised mound, and atop it was a stone figure attached to the base. It was a stone figure of one of the mighty and proud Kings of Old, Aragorn the Wise. A single tear fluttered in her lashes, and it came to rest upon the grave, a mark of the beauty that had once graced the face of this King. She slowly backed away, shaking her head, as if in disbelief. She suddenly fell to the ground and wept. Long she knelt there, huddled with grief, until she finally got up and left. It took her longer than usual to traverse the paths back to the main part of Gondor, and she hurried, knowing that her child, Eldarion, and his wife and children, would be waiting for her.
She arrived at her dwelling too late to slip in unnoticed, for Eldarion was already outside, reveling in the cool air. When he saw Arwen, a genuine smile brightened his face. “Mother,” he exclaimed. “It is so good to see you! When was the last time you were here?”
Arwen felt a smile tugging at her lips. Eldarion was a person that made people smile. It was one of the things about him that had made Arwen love her son from the first day she saw him. Arwen had been away for a while, visiting other folk, from the days when she was younger. Every time she came back, she had new tales to tell the children of Gondor. The children were always eager to hear of the Holbytlan who lived in the North, who were hardly four feet tall. “I am fine, son,” she said. “How are Nari and Melian? Also, how is Enila?”
“They are all fine. Come.” Eldarion motioned with his hand towards the main part of Gondor. “All of the people of Gondor, old and young, are waiting for you to tell your usual stories about the Rohirrim and the Holbytlan and the folk of Dunharrow and of Osgiliath and of Bree and of-“
Arwen smiled. “Eldarion, how did you set this up? For I know that all of the people of Gondor would not be interested in hearing me talk of my travels.”
Eldarion had a straight face. “I am serious, Mother. Come, they are all waiting.”
Arwen laughed. “I must rest my feet first. I am but an old lady, Eldarion-“
But she stopped speaking, for Eldarion had seized his mother in his arms and ran towards the main part of the city, yelling with unbridled glee. After they had covered the distance, which took a surprisingly short time, Eldarion dropped Arwen into a chair and took one of his own.
Arwen panted from the exhilaration of the “ride.” “Eldarion,” she gasped. “Never do that to me again.” But she was grinning as she said it, she knew. They all knew. Arwen sighed, settled herself into the chair, and began telling stories to the citizens.
* * *
By midmorning, most of the crowd had diminished, and only the children were still there. Eldarion had departed sometime around ten o’ clock, to resume his position on the wallguard. Enila, Eldarion’s wife, had cooked a breakfast for all of the people that were listening to Arwen’s stories, and she was at home scouring the pots and pans she had used. By twelve o’clock, Arwen had finished relating her stories.
Finally, she sat back in her chair with a sigh. “Go,” she said wearily. “I am tired, and those are all of the stories I can remember in my present state.”
The children sat there, and one of them, a female of about eleven years old, said “Lady Arwen? Why do you never mention the name of Aragorn the Wise? For you seem to know about all of the other Kings of Old, but nothing about him.”
Arwen smiled sadly. If only they knew. She beckoned to the small who had asked the question, saying “Come.”
The other children decided not to come, for Arwen had a reputation as a storyteller and nothing more to most of the children.
Arwen led the through a maze of streets, the same ones that she had traversed earlier in the day. One woman came out of her house. “Maya!”
The whom Arwen was leading started. “Yes, Mother?”
Maya sighed. In a small voice, she told Arwen “Mama says I must go home now. Goodbye.” She started up the steps to her home with a sigh. Arwen started after her. “Wait!”
Maya paused. Arwen went inside the dwelling, and immediately caught sight of Maya’s mother. Arwen softly said “I wish to take Maya for a bit of education that not many people know about. If that is all right with you?”
Her mother said yes, and Arwen once more led Maya out into the streets until they came to the barren area that Arwen had been earlier in that day.
“What is it?” Maya asked in an awed voice. She had never seen anything so solemn and grave.
Arwen sighed. “This is the Tomb of the Kings. This is the grave of Aragorn.”
Maya started. “I apologize for asking such a question. I should have known… you are Arwen, are you not? The wife of Aragorn?”
Arwen started. “How did you know?”
Maya stared into space for a second. “I don’t know. There are just places…people…things floating around in my mind. I don’t know what to do with them or anything. The day that Filana died, I perceived Fire. And I knew, somehow, that ill fate was in the air.” Arwen decided to tell the something that she had never told anyone before. “You are the Seer.”
Maya looked up, confused. “Excuse me?”
Arwen explained. “I had better start with a summary of Aragorn’s life, so you aren’t completely confused at what I am saying. Aragorn was the son of Gilraen and Arathorn. Arathorn died when Aragorn was but two years old- his eye was pierced by an arrow in battle. Gilraen brouht Aragorn to Rivendell, home of the High-Elves. I was living there at that time. I met Aragorn there, and we fell in love. Aragorn had travelled far and wide, but he always came back to Rivendell. Once, when he came back, his mother told him that she was about to die. And she did, two months later. Aragorn later took part in the War of the Ring, climbing Carhadras, passing through Moria, going to Fangorn, to Rohan, and to the Path of the . Anyway, on his travels, he met someone. That certain someone had forseen a burning tree, with white bark. You know that this is our White Tree, Gondor’s symbol. That person was a seer. And so are you. Later, after the War of the Ring, we got married in front of the entire Middle-Earth, or so it seemed.” Maya looked asghast. “I am really… a Seer?”
“Yes. And so will be the next person in line to recieve a destiny.”
In bed that night, Maya couldn’t sleep. Tossing and turning, flailing in her bed, and suddenly the spasms stopped. She lay stock still upon her bed.
[I] There was a vast amount of people, sleeping under the stars. They looked underfed and hardly alive. One person, a tiny who could be no more than three years of age, looked up and straight at Maya. Her eyes pierced even the toughest of Maya’s inner defenses. Maya screamed, and that sound echoed all throughout the city. Then all was silent. [/I]
The harsh crow of a raven sounded out. The dreadful sound filled the air, echoing into the morn. Suddenly, a croak burst out of it, and it fell to the ground, . A man stocked out to retrieve the bird, picked it up, and examined it with disdain. There was nothing unusual about this man- he had a pale face and a ruddy beard, and his eyes glittered with deception. Suddenly, the man gasped. His heartbeat slowed, and his eyes clouded. He slumped to the ground.
A lady dressed in rags looked up sadly. “Another one,” she said. For any men, valiant and brave, had died in these past few days, and it was purely because of hunger and starvation. If only they could reach the place called Gondor, which according to old legends passed among the Akkadian tribe, was a place of much joy. There was supposed to be all the food you could eat there, and everything you wanted too. There was supposed to be a beautiful and mysterious elven queen, who used to know the father of their race. And there was supposed to be love.
As for this man, he was immediately pounced on by about twenty men, and the flesh was eaten off of his bones almost immediately. Some of the younger women and children looked at them with disdain. They hated the idea of a man’s soul not being put to rest, but they knew it was necessary if any of them were to survive.
One of the women, a younger one about twenty years of age, went up to the men and pulled them off of the man with a strength that deceived her years. “Have you gone mad?” she questioned, eyes glinting angrily at the prospect of eating raw flesh. “This man was noble and brave, and he deserves to be put to rest properly. As for you, you don’t deserve to be anything in the afterlife, you impudent mongrels!” She spat at their feet.
At once the men set upon hurting her, for the disrespect that she had shown. All of the women stood up, drawing their daggers. This looked like the beginning of a fight. Suddenly, a voice rang out clear in the air. “Gondor!”
Suddenly, all of the bickering ceased, and they all rushed to the top of the hill where a stood, pointing into the air. At the top of the hill, they could all see, distantly, a great white city made of marble, bigger than even the greatest of towns they had seen before. “Gondor!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Arwen stopped in her tracks. She could have sworn that she had heard something. But, as always, it turned out to be nothing, and no one was shaken from selling their goods at the market in Gondor. She started. She had heard it again. Suddenly, a loud cry split the air. “Gondor!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Arwen ran, then, to the gates of Gondor. Her knees groaned with protest. Not surprisingly, when she got there, there was already a large crowd at the gates. However, the crowd parted to let her through. She went up to the gates, and saw the that she had met a week before, Maya, standing nearby. Arwen beckoned to her, and she left her mother and came to Arwen.
“Any dreams lately?”
Maya started. “Yes, actually, one. There was a large crowd of people that were starving, and I saw this who was no more than three, look at me, keel over, and die. As a matter of fact− I can hear a large bunch of people coming towards Gondor. Their footfalls are very light, for they seem not to have many possessions of any much worth. Their leader is a stout fellow, and commands an air of authority. The company is about seven score in people.”
Arwen smiled. “Are you sure that you’re not an elf?”
Maya grinned. “Not quite.”
The footfalls were heavier now, and clearer. Now Arwen could see that what Maya had said was true- all of it. As they drew closer, the wall guards tightened their grips on their weapons- sword, bow, spear, and axe. These people might be hostile, no matter how pitiable they looked. The company halted before the gates of Gondor, out of breath. One person had died while running to Gondor. The leader of the company did his best to maintain a placid expression and outlook.
“Greetings to the people of Gondor, and salutations to your leader. We had heard that Gondor was virtuous, but that Gondor was this rich in heritage amazes us. I wish to speak with a leader, please, no offence meant to any of you standing at the gates. I need to know if our people can be sheltered for a while until we are healed from the hurts that have befallen us. Over a year now we have been hunted by Wargs in dark places none of your children should ever have the misfortune to visit. I only wish to ask for lodging and food for my people, to save them from starvation.”
Silence spread across the people at the gates, and Arwen stepped forward. “You wished to speak with a leader, Lord? One is here standing before you. I am Arwen Undomiel, daughter of Elrond and Celebrian of Rivendell, heir to both the woods of Lothlorien and the Haven of Rivendell. I am the wife of Aragorn, the Elessar, a Numenorean who represents much to your race. I am the mother of Eldarion, who is one of the great fighters of this kingdom. You owe me your allegiance.”
For as Arwen spoke a new Light was revealed in her, and all who withheld her on that day were amazed to see a new power wrought in her. She looked as powerful as Aragorn, in all of the days that he had lived and died in the service of many. She was the image of peace.
Wonder was revealed in the eyes of the man who had first spoken, and he knelt, offering the hilt of his sword to her. “Long have we traveled, my lady, and we have met many people both cruel and noble. Never have we seen-or hoped to have seen- a woman as fair or noble as you. I offer you my sword, and hope that you accept it. On behalf of all of my people, I ask for temporary lodging until we are healed. I beg of you.” His voice faded to a whisper.
Arwen smiled at them, and it was like the sun coming out after a week of darkness. “Though your company is diminished and barbaric, lord, I consent to take in your people. However, we cannot force the people of our city to take you in. Who will take them in?”
No one raised their hands, and Arwen’s smile slowly faded. She tried again. “Will no one take them in?” She looked around. Again she did not see any hands rise into the air. Her voice rose. There were tears of sadness in her eyes. “Is Gondor so poor that we cannot afford to take these good people in? Or is it that you are afraid? Afraid of darkness? Of your safety? Well, I shall tell you here and now, there is nothing to be afraid of. Nothing! Yes, they appear barbaric, but I think each and every one of you would also, if you were forced to bear the pitiful conditions that they were. It is a miracle indeed that some of them have come out of this still with their honor and integrity. I-“
“My Lady, enough has been said. I, for one, shall take as many as are willing to come into my abode,” said a woman brusquely. Arwen recognized her as Sigil, the woman who was in charge of the army’s rations. Halfheartedly, a dozen or so others raised their hands and repeated Sigil’s speech. Arwen stifled a smile, and quickly divided the people of the Ancient City among the households of Gondor. One by one, the people were led off to their new homes. Yet, already, there was a distance between them, one that seemed to Arwen have the possibility of brawls, strife, and war.