The characters, places, and events are creations of J.R.R. Tolkien. No profit was or will be made from this story. It was written solely for entertainment.
Chapter 1: dark times
Aragorn looked up at the knock on his study door. A side-glance at Faramir and a shrug of his friend’s shoulders told him that it was not a scheduled date he had forgotten.
With a sigh he rose. "Enter," he called. His irritation over the interruption coloured his voice.
Faramir raised an eyebrow. It was well past the hour the King had promised to meet with his wife for dinner. However, it seemed that this morning the whole population of Minas Tirith seemed to have decided to seek him out or ask for his advice. If these interruptions did not cease he would be unable to leave his office.
Throlan, his royal herald opened the door in his ever awkward attitude. Aragorn fought the urge to roll his eyes. How he disliked this man. He almost felt it would be unsafe to turn his back on him.
“Yes?” he asked quickly before Throlan could recite his stilted introduction. Faramir quickly lowered his head to hide his smile. His amusement however vanished instantly when he heard the herald’s next words.
“My Lord King. The Queen has sent me to inform you that your son had a bad accident. She requests your presence at the House of Healing immediately!”
Faramir directed a shocked gaze at his friend. Aragorn had already reached out to grab his cloak and was hastening out of the room. Faramir quickly shuffled his papers into a pile and followed the King.
At the pathway connecting the palace with the House of Healing Faramir managed to catch up with his friend. Knowing that any platitude would meet deaf ears Faramir refrained from saying anything. He only made sure that Aragorn had recognized him. He wanted to make sure his friend would not face this alone. Aragorn acknowledged this with a thankful nod.
No sooner had Aragorn opened the great double doors leading into the House of Healing than Arwen came flying down the great staircase, her loosened hair and silken gown billowing behind her.
“Estel, thank goodness you are here,” she cried, not realizing that she had spoken in Sindarin.
As soon as she reached her husband she grabbed hold of his hand, then she greeted the Steward. "Faramir," she nodded slightly, acknowledging his presence. She returned her attention to Aragorn.
“Arwen what happened?” the King asked with much mastered calmness. He had clearly seen the fright in his wife’s eyes.
“I do not know. I was just informed a few minutes before I called for you. Eladrion was playing with his friends behind the citadel and…..” Arwen stopped when she looked at the darkening face of her husband.
Faramir swallowed. Just a few days prior he had been invited for dinner with the royal family when he had witnessed an argument between ten year old Eldarion and his father. The King had clearly declared that he did not want his son or any of his friends to play behind the citadel.
The great tower was undergoing renovation. A huge scaffold now surrounded the tower giving the workers better access to the upper portions of masonry. The scaffold had an unanticipated by-product. It had become a welcome playground for the children of the city, yet a very dangerous one. Aragorn had strictly forbidden his son to go there.
Faramir lightly touched the man’s arm when he saw Master Healer Tarostar coming down a corridor. The Master had obviously been searching for them.
Aragorn squeezed the hand of his wife and directed his gaze at the arriving healer.
“My Lord King, my Lady, I’m glad you could come this quickly. Please follow me to my office.”
Aragorn held up his hand. “Master Tarostar, I was informed that my son was injured and my presence was required. What happened and how is he? I want to see him.”
Tarostar looked first at the Queen and then turned toward the King. He was not the chief of Minas Tirith's famous healers for nothing.
“My Lord and Lady, I understand your anxiousness, yet there is something I have to tell you beforehand. Privately.”
Aragorn swallowed. What could be this important that the healer had to tell him before he saw his son? His gut clenched and his imagination began playing horrible pictures in his mind.
“I will take my leave and gather what news I can,” Faramir announced. Aragorn nodded gratefully.
“Thank you, Faramir. I will let you know whatever I can as soon as possible.”
While the Steward was leaving the healer gestured for the royal couple to follow him.
Aragorn looked briefly at Arwen. Taking a deep breath, he grasped her hand firmly as they followed the healer into a spacious office their anxiety growing with every minute.
“My Lord, my Lady,” Tarostar said as he turned around to face the royal couple. An aide had quickly closed the door behind the three of them. The healer felt that he had not one minute more to spare.
“Your son was brought here with a serious head injury not half-an-hour ago. I was informed that he took a fall from a great height. I’m sorry to tell you that …” Tarostar took a quick glance toward the Queen, uncertain if he should continue.
Arwen recognized the unspoken question in his gaze immediately and stood tall.
“Master Tarostar, my father Lord Elrond was the greatest of all healers in Middle Earth and I have been his apprentice for more years than you can count. Believe me, I have seen wounds more grievous than you can ever imagine. Would you please be so kind as to continue and finally tell us how our son fares?”
Tarostar swallowed at the icy and demanding tone, and Aragorn was again reminded that his fair wife was a true daughter of Elrond Half-elven and a granddaughter of the Lady Galadriel.
“I beg your pardon, my Lady. Your son's injury is very severe. His skull was cracked and he has suffered a massive brain haemorrhage. He has lapsed into a coma.”
Aragorn looked at the Master-healer in shock while Arwen quickly quashed a faint cry of blank horror. Unconsciously Aragorn tightened his hold around his wife’s shoulders. His head begun to swim. He knew this kind of injury from the battlefield, and often the result was either death or a severe trauma. But even worse was the fact that so little could be done for the afflicted.
“We want to see him,” Aragorn announced with a hoarse voice. Arwen only nodded. Master Tarostar took a deep breath and motioned for his guests to follow him out a side portal. He had expected nothing less and had left orders to prepare all.
While climbing up the stairs to the upper part of the clinic Aragorn’s thoughts were running wild. How badly was his son injured? Would he die or be forever disabled from his injuries?
He forced himself to stop. He had not even seen the boy with his own eyes and had not tried his healing hands on him. Maybe the injuries were not as bad as he had imagined.
He glanced at Arwen. Her beautiful face was chalk-white, her lips set into a thin line. She was fighting hard to not shed the tears that were barely held in check. Only his firm grip on her cold hand kept her from running ahead of them.
As they rounded a corner, the healer motioned toward a closed door and stepped aside. Aragorn took another deep breath before he moved forward. Only now he realized that the corridor was deserted. He had seen not one healer or even a nurse.
Every other time he had visited the House of Healing, or any other official institution within the town in fact, he was always immediately surrounded. Tarostar had done a good job to shield them from annoying looks and questions.
Opening the door the royal couple stepped into the room. Tarostar also entered yet he remained beside the entrance giving the parents some space for privacy.
Now there was no restraint for Arwen any longer. She yanked her hand free and run to her son’s side. Giving no thought to her long cream-coloured gown, she knelt beside the bed and took the motionless hand of her son into hers.
“Eladarion, Nana and Ada are here, do you hear me?” Again she had spoken in Sindarin.
Aragorn had rounded the bed on the other side and sat on the mattress. Eldarion was quite tall for his age, yet within the large pristine bed, he looked forlorn and much younger then he really was.
He let his gaze wander critically over his son’s body but apart from a light bandage around his left wrist he could detect nothing worrisome, yet his gaze was immediately drawn to the thick bandage around the boy’s head. Even if the dressing covered whatever injury there might be Aragorn immediately saw the signs that attested that Tarostar had not exaggerated when he had told them that his son was hanging by a thread.
Eldarion´s face was even whiter than the immaculate sheets. What contrasted starkly, however, were the child's swollen eyelids. Lifting one, Aragorn saw that his son's eyes were heavily bloodshot and not reacting to the light in the room. Aragorn had many times seen the effects of severe head trauma. He swallowed and lost the fight against his emotions. Like Arwen, sitting opposite him, tears ran down his face. The healer standing in the background was forgotten.
Then his rational mind demanded attention and with a determined swipe of his sleeve, he wiped off his tears. He extended both hands, placing the palms over his son’s chest.
Arwen quickly added her hands to those of her husband. Unconsciously Aragorn now realized there were bruises all over the boy’s body. Elf and man closed their eyes and while Aragorn remained silent Arwen begun to chant in a foreign language. Tarostar, who understood Sindarin quite well, was sure he had never heard this language before. The chant changed slowly into a haunting and slowly lightening melody which took even the older healer into its aura.
Later, Tarostar could never say how much time had gone by, but from one moment to the other he shook his head, feeling as if he was waking from a very deep sleep. As the Master Healer, he had seen the King in his healing trance many times and had seen the healing hands of the King work miracles, yet never had he been so pulled into whatever healing the King and Queen were attempting here.
Curious, he moved closer when the couple was stirring. Tarostar looked at the boy with narrowed eyes, yet he could detect no change. The boy's body was as motionless as before, his face pale and the horrible head injury still present.
Tarostar chided himself silently. What had he expected - that the boy would stand up and all would be well? He had immense respect for the abilities of the elves, and the healing hands of the King were potent beyond doubt, yet in this case it seemed that they needed more than this to restore the boy to his former health.
Even if Tarostar still harboured hope that a miracle would happen, the next words of the King quenched any spark of hope he had held, immediately.
“He will die and I’m unable to do anything against it.”
The keening cry of the Queen rang in his ears and he knew it would haunt him for years.
To be continued…………………………..
As always many thanks to my beta reader Erulisse.