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What may not bless my waking eyes
B2MeM Prompt and Path: I love the silent hour of
Despite wearing warm clothes and huddling together for warmth, the two had hardly slept in the bitter East wind.
As the flames shot up, Aragorn reached his hands towards them to warm them. He looked up at the lowering sky. “We need better shelter for tonight as the weather is set to get worse,” he said.
Halbarad nodded. ”Had I any coin to spare, I’d wager you whether we were set for rain, snow, sleet or hail.
“I doubt we can reach the Angle before the clouds break,” said Halbarad. “I suggest we make for Bree and try to find shelter there in some deserted outbuilding.”
“Butterbur should let us have a room,” said Aragorn. “I have sufficient coin.”
“Oh for a warm bed and a good night’s sleep even for one night!” Halbarad sighed.
“I wake so often when I sleep under a hedge that I scarce can dream,” said Aragorn.
Halbarad laughed. “You miss dreaming! Thus speaks your upbringing in the House of Elrond, kinsman. I miss my
“So do I, so let us go in search of at least a straw mattress!” Aragorn drained the last of the herbal tea he had brewed and playfully clapped Halbarad on the shoulder. The two gathered up their possessions and started off for Bree.
They had only gone a few miles when the heavens opened and a mixture of sleet and hail began to fall. The hailstones stung the Ranger’s faces painfully. They quickened their steps. Soon the hail and sleet turned to snow, the flakes falling so thick and fast it was hard to see the way ahead. Luckily, the way to Bree was a straight road so the two Rangers resolutely trudged ahead.
There were many
It seemed all the
“Ale and stew there is aplenty,” said Butterbur. “Every room is taken though.”
The two Rangers visibly sagged.
“Can you suggest where else we might stay?” asked Aragorn.
Butterbur scratched his head. ”I don’t rightly know. Everywhere will be full on a night like this. It was market day and many
“Could we sleep on the floor by the fire?” asked Halbarad.
Butterbur shook his head. “
“So you are sending us out into the freezing night?” Aragorn could not keep the bitterness from his tone.”
“It ain’t fit out there for a dog so I reckon it ain’t fit for no Rangers even either,” said the innkeeper. “If you don’t mind horses you can sleep in the stable, but don’t be going and stealing anything, mind!”
“Rangers are honest men,” said Aragorn with dignity. ”We thank you for your kind offer.”
“I hope I won’t live to regret it,” said Butterbur. “Now I’ve got customers to attend to.” He bustled away.
A serving wench brought the two Rangers their food and drink which they devoured with relish. All too soon their mugs were drained and their plates cleared.
Butterbur appeared with a lantern and showed them out to the stable. One of the stalls was unoccupied and it was there they prepared to settle down for the night.
“Now don’t be going a touching anything or disturbing honest folk in their beds,” admonished Butterbur. He left, taking the lantern with him.
The Rangers were left alone in the inky blackness out of which loomed several pairs of gleaming eyes, yellow, gold and green.
“What the?” exclaimed Halbarad.
“The stable cats,” said Aragorn with a chuckle. “You should be
“She sleeps in Mother's room,” Halbarad retorted. “At least no rats will disturb our slumbers.”
“A bed fit for a King!” said Aragorn.
“To think that you should have to sleep in a stable!” said Halbarad glumly. “ How low our people have fallen! You, who are entitled by birth to rule these lands.”
“I have known far worse,” said Aragorn. “At least we are warm and dry and the straw is clean. Now let us rest and hope the storm will have passed by the morrow.”
He burrowed into the hay and closed his eyes. He could hear occasional sounds from the horses and scuffles as the cats went about their nocturnal hunting. The stable faded and he was in front of a great city, which he
“You have prevailed. Now take my daughter with my blessing,” said Elrond. Aragorn was just about to express his joy and gratitude when the scene changed. He was now alone with Arwen in a luxurious bedchamber. Her silver gown had been replaced by an almost sheer white garment which accentuated every beautiful curve of her body.
She lay beside him on the bed and pulled him close. “Beloved!” she sighed. “How I have longed for this moment!” Her lips met his and he was filled with a blissful sensation from his crown to his toes. Just then, a horse neighed loudly.
Aragorn was just wondering what a horse was doing in the bridal bedchamber when he found himself back in the stable.
Halbarad was already abroad and patting a chestnut horse that was craning its neck into their stall. Sunlight streamed through the cracks in the doorway. ”I thought you would sleep the day away,” said Halbarad. “I had not the heart to wake you as by the way you were smiling you were having pleasant dreams.”
“Very pleasant,” said Aragorn, reluctantly forcing his mind back to the present. It was hard to leave the delightful images that the dream had conjured in his brain. But until his dreams became reality, in his slumbers he could taste what his heart so yearned for. “Come,” he said. “Let us partake of breakfast at the inn and be on our way while the sun shines on us. We should reach the Angle ere dusk.” TBC
B2MeM Prompt and Path: Things that go bump in the night. Purple Path.
Format: Short story.
Genre: Humour, family, animals
Characters: Aragorn, Halbarad, Ivorwen, OFCS
Creator's Notes (optional): Brann is based on both Harry and my late Leo.
Summary: Aragorn finds his holiday far from restful.
Aragorn tossed restlessly. He sighed. He had been looking forward to his patrol duties ending and spending some time under Aunt Inzilbeth's roof rather than sleeping in the open.
What was that sound in the corner, a scrabbling, and a scuffling? He tried to ignore it and go back to sleep. Minutes passed while the rustling sounds increased and Halbarad's snoring grew louder. Unable to bear it any longer, Aragorn jabbed his cousin in the ribs with his elbow.
"Um?" Halbarad muttered sleepily.
"You were snoring fit to wake the dead."
"I was not."
"And what is that scuffling in the corner?"
"Mice, I assume." Halbarad yawned.
"Mice indoors? We need a cat," Aragorn exclaimed.
Halbarad burrowed deeper under the covers. "We have a cat." The blankets muffled his voice. "Mother is very fond of her."
"I know she is, but she is half blind with hardly any teeth left."
"What of it? She is good company for
"We need a
"What now? It's the middle of the night!"
"I mean in the morning."
Halbarad's head emerged from under the blankets. "There is an old woman in the village who feeds all the stray cats. No doubt she could find you a good mouser. I don't know what you are fretting about, though, there are mice aplenty in the woods and fields and in the stable where we slept last week."
"That is where they belong!" Aragorn retorted but Halbarad's head was again buried beneath the blankets. Within moments, his cousin was snoring loudly again. The scuffling grew louder. Aragorn feared the sound was now coming from under the bed. What if it were a rat and not a mouse? There had never been any rodents inside the Last Homely House. Master Elrond would have been horrified. Rats and mice spread all manner of diseases.
He had no objection to rodents in the woods and fields. They had every right to make their home there. He was untroubled by their presence when he was wearing thick boots and gloves. He felt very vulnerable lying here in only his nightshirt and drawers. Aunt Inzilbeth would object though if he wore his boots in bed. He thought of donning his socks, but then remembered they were hanging outside on the washing line. Aunt Inzilbeth always insisted on washing his and Halbarad's socks and linens when they returned from patrol.
Aragorn wondered if he should have accepted the offer of the Chieftain's House to live in. Then he thought of the young family who
The scuffling seemed to have gone quiet for now. Aragorn closed his eyes and finally fell asleep.
Early the next morning, Aragorn and Halbarad made their way to Dame Haleth's home at the other side of the village. Aunt Inzilbeth had proved surprisingly easy to convince that there was a need for a second cat. Stroking Lithui, her old grey cat, she said, "Lithui keeps my chambers free of mice, but maybe she needs some help upstairs in the loft. Be sure you find a nice friendly cat that won't upset her.
Everyone in the village knew Dame Haleth as a lover of cats. The lady had never married, preferring to fill her home with a variety of felines as well as feeding all the strays in the village. It was obviously feeding time when Aragorn and Halbarad arrived as a selection of cats in every size and hue were clustered around her doorstep.
"Do you have a good mouser for my mother, Dame Haleth?" asked Halbarad after they bade the lady good morning.
"She wants a
Haleth thoughtfully surveyed the cluster of cats around her ankles. Then she bent down and picked up a large ginger tom. "This is Brann," she said. "He's a proven mouser and the sweetest cat you can find anywhere. I'm loth to see him go, but I know Mistress Inzilbeth will look after him well."
"Thank you," said Aragorn, reaching to take the cat from her. The ginger tom settled in his arms and purred contentedly.
That night, Aragorn prepared for bed in an optimistic mood. After inspecting every corner of the chamber, Brann had settled down to sleep at the foot of the bed.
Reassured that no rodents would get past their feline guardian, Aragorn quickly fell asleep. He was lost in pleasant dreams of Master Elrond's fair daughter when a loud crash rudely awakened him. Brann had
"That cat makes more noise than the mice," observed Halbarad, who was also woken by the din.
A squeak sounded from under the bed.
"At least it sounds as if he is
Aragorn was awakened again by a thud as Brann landed next to his pillow. Then a paw tapped him on the head. "It's not morning yet," he muttered sleepily, pulling the covers more closely around him.
Aragorn decided to take advantage of his Grandmother Ivorwen's invitation to spend a few days with her
"So how is your mother?" enquired Ivorwen as they ate dinner together that night.
"She was well when I last received a letter from her," said Aragorn.
"A good girl, my Gilraen, not stubborn like Inzilbeth," said Ivorwen. "I told her she needed a new
"I shall sleep peacefully tonight then," said Aragorn.
"As I was saying, your mother was always a good obedient girl. She accepted her destiny."
"To give birth to you, the hope of our people. How it gladdens my heart to have you under my roof this night."
Uncomfortable at this talk of his destiny, Aragorn pleaded weariness and retired to bed.
Exhausted by his lack of the sleep the previous two nights, the young Chieftain quickly fell asleep.
It seemed he had only been asleep a short time when he was awakened by a scratching at the window. Scratch, scrape, scratch.
Aragorn tried to ignore the sounds and burrowed under the covers. The sounds continued. Maybe it was some intruder?
Aragorn wearily clambered out of bed. Clasping his sword in his hand, he cautiously peered out into the moonlit garden. A large
Aragorn sighed both with relief and frustration. He could hardly risk rousing his Grandmother by pruning the offending branch in the moonlight. He passed a restless night and mentioned it to Ivorwen over breakfast.
"Ah, Dirhael's tree!" she exclaimed. "He planted it when we were first wed. I love to hear it
Before Aragorn could say anything, there was a knock on the door. It was Halbarad.
"Orcs have been spotted near the next village," he said. "We need to go out on patrol at once."
"You poor lads!" exclaimed Ivorwen. "You've hardly had time to rest after your last patrol."
Aragorn struggled to contain his delight as he bade his grandmother farewell. Maybe out in the wilds he might get a good night's sleep.
B2MeM Prompt and Path: Purple path. Folklore,
Format: Short story
Characters: Aragorn, Halbarad, OFC
Summary: Aragorn tells tales by the fireside.
Inzilbeth warmly welcomed her son and her nephew home. She prepared a special meal to celebrate their safe return. The two young men ate heartily. Once the plates were cleared away, the three settled themselves around the fire for the evening.
“Stay out of the draught, Halbarad,” chided Inzilbeth when her son took a seat near the door. “You will catch Aragorn’s cold.”
Aragorn sighed. ”Aunt Inzilbeth, you are trained as a healer; you should know that colds are a contagion borne on the breath. Halbarad might well get a cold from sitting near me, but not from a draught! Master Elrond taught me that the body succumbs to contagions when overtired or otherwise weakened.”
Inzilbeth snorted. ”We don’t all have the advantage of being taught by
Aragorn sighed. “Aunt Inzilbeth, Master Elrond said....”
Halbarad hastily changed the subject. “How is Brann?” he asked. “Has he caught any more mice?”
Inzilbeth beamed. “He has spent most of his time in the loft where you sleep and has caught at least a dozen. A couple of rats too, which we are well rid of.
The big ginger tom must have heard his name mentioned as he chose that moment to saunter into the room, his tail aloft like a banner. Lithui stared at him as he passed, then closed her eyes again. Brann made his way towards Aragorn and settled himself on his lap. Aragorn began to stroke him and the cat purred happily. “He reminds me of the cat I had as a child in Rivendell,” he said. “He has similar markings.”
“I love the way tabby cats have a númen on their foreheads,” said Halbarad.
“When I was little, my mother used to tell me a story about why they do,” said Aragorn.
“I expect that was the same tale our mother told us as children,” said Inzilbeth. “I can’t recall the details as it’s so long since I heard it. Something about Elros, I think, or was it Elendil?”
“This story was about Elendil,” said Aragorn.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard it,” said Halbarad.
Seeing the others looking at him expectantly, Aragorn began. “When Elendil and the Faithful set sail for Middle-earth, a tabby cat jumped on Elendil’s ship just as they left the quay. The voyage was long and arduous and much to Elendil’s dismay, rats had got into the ship’s supplies before they left, threatening them with starvation. The cat, despite being heavily pregnant, bravely despatched all the rats. Elendil’s daughter was heavy with
Elendil loved the cat greatly for all she had done to help them. He laid his hand on her head and the letter númen appeared as a reminder of the West from whence they came.
Soon afterwards, the cat gave birth to eight kittens. They all bore the mark upon their foreheads. At that time, the ships had not yet become separated, so when the kittens were weaned one went aboard each ship.
Eventually, the ships reached Middle-earth and Elendil and his sons founded the twin kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor. The cats too disembarked in Middle-earth where their descendants bear the númen on their foreheads to this day.” Aragorn continued to stroke the cat as he told the story and Brann tilted back his head as if listening to him. He purred loudly.
“A charming tale,” said Halbarad. “I wonder how much truth is in it.”
“I am certain Elendil would have had a ship’s cat,” said Aragorn. “Maybe tabby cats did come from Númenor along with the royal heirlooms and the plants he and his folk brought.”
“The heirlooms that are yours by right, nephew,” said Inzilbeth, glancing towards the Ring of Barahir on Aragorn’s hand.
“Maybe all the tabby cats in Middle-earth are yours too,” said Halbarad.
“And less tasty!” said Halbarad.
“An amusing story,” said Inzilbeth. “Cats and dogs were sung into being with the Great Music like everything else, though.”
“I wonder if the desire to create stories is part of the Great Music too,” Aragorn mused.
“You boys should be in bed,” said Inzilbeth. “She rose stiffly to her feet. “Rest while you may. There is much to be done on the morrow. I need you to mend the roof while you are at home.”
Aragorn and Halbarad bade her goodnight and made their way to bed.
Aragorn lay down somewhat apprehensively, fearing a repeat of the last two nights he had spent here. Brann, though, had done his job well as no scuffling and squeaking of mice disturbed his slumbers. He awoke at first light with his cold almost gone and pleasantly warm toes. Brann lay curled up at his feet. Aragorn smiled, recalling the legend of how Elendil’s cat had warmed the baby and drifted off to sleep again for another hour before breakfast.
B2MeM Prompt and Path: Inclement Weather. Purple Path
Format: Short story
Genre: Humour, animals, family, angst
Characters: Aragorn, Halbarad, OFCS
Summary: Aragorn’s cat goes missing.
The morning light was streaming through the window when Aragorn awoke. His feet were cold as Brann was not curled up in his usual spot. Of the big ginger
“Come on, sleepyhead!” he said. “Mother will have breakfast waiting. Don’t forget she wants us to mend the roof today.”
Aragorn sat up and yawned. He glanced out of the window at the gathering clouds. “It looks like rain.”
“All the more reason to hurry then.
Aragorn clambered out of bed and pulled on his clothes. When he got downstairs, Halbarad and Aunt Inzilbeth had begun their meal. Inzilbeth handed him a bowl of porridge. He glanced around the room as he ate. Inzilbeth’s cat, Lithui was asleep by the fire. Brann was obviously patrolling his territory outside.
Aragorn and Halbarad quickly ate their breakfast and set to work with a will, repairing the thatch on the roof. Halbarad was the more adept at the task as he had been taught how to do it since childhood, but Aragorn was quickly learning the skill, despite the shortage of
They finished their task just as Inzilbeth called them in for the evening meal. Halbarad’s mother had prepared a delicious meal of freshly caught trout. Lithui mewed and came to sit by the table, looking at them hopefully with her clouded old eyes.
Aragorn tossed her a morsel of fish from his plate. “Where’s Brann?” he asked. “I would have thought the smell of fish would have brought him running.”
“I’ve not seen him all day,” said Inzilbeth. “He hasn’t stayed out so long before. I wonder if he has returned to his old haunts.”
“I’ll go and
“You fret after that cat like the old woman!” Halbarad teased.
“Brann is a good mouser, I would be loth to lose his skills,” Aragorn said with dignity.
As soon as he had finished his helping of Inzelbeth’s delicious baked apple pudding, Aragorn donned his cloak.
“You’ll be caught in the storm, nephew,” Inzilbeth warned as the thunder rumbled again. “That won’t do your cold any good.”
“My cold is better today and I shall not
Raindrops began to fall as he walked through the village to Dame Haleth’s home, all the while looking around him for any trace of Brann.
The door was wide open and Haleth was ushering a variety of felines inside. “They don’t like getting their fur wet, poor things,” she said by way of explanation. She beckoned Aragorn to follow the cats inside. “I’m afraid I can’t offer you a seat,” she said.
Aragorn was not surprised as every available surface in the cottage seemed occupied by cats. There were black ones, white ones, grey ones, black and white, ginger and white ones, but no ginger tabbies. “I came to see if Brann had returned to you, but it seems not,” he said.
“I’ve not seen him,” said Haleth. “What’s this, though? Have you not been treating him kindly? What will folk think of a Chieftain who cannot even command the loyalty of his cat? Arathorn, now, he had a cat for well- nigh on twenty years!”
“Brann eats as well as I do and sleeps on my bed,” said Aragorn indignantly. “Never was a cat more pampered.”
“He must have got lost in the woods then,” said Haleth grimly. “I don’t like my cats wandering off there. It’s not safe for them what with the wolves and Orcs roaming around!”
“I shall find him, I promise you,” said Aragorn in a firm tone. “Good night, Dame Haleth.”
“You make sure you do,” said Haleth. “Brann’s a good boy, a cat fit for a king!”
While Aragorn had been inside the old woman’s cottage the rain had come on in earnest. Lightning flashed and thunder crashed overhead. It was madness to go near the woods in such weather. But what if poor Brann were out there, lost and alone, his beautiful ginger fur bedraggled and wet and his yellow eyes filled with fear?
Pulling his cloak tightly around him, Aragorn strode towards the woods. At least the foul weather meant that there were unlikely to be any Orcs abroad that night, but that was scant consolation for the water dripping down the back of his neck.
Aragorn called Brann’s name until he was hoarse. No cat emerged from among the trees, though. The sheet lighting illuminated the forest and Aragorn espied several rabbits and a badger bolting to their burrows. Of Brann, though, there was no trace.
Gradually, the thunder and lightning subsided, but the rain continued to cascade down in torrents. Aragorn was soaked to the skin before he reluctantly abandoned his search. Some ill must have befallen the beautiful ginger tom. What if he had been eaten by Orcs? There was nothing beneath the vile creatures.
Weary and sad of heart, Aragorn trudged back towards his Aunt’s. He had only had Brann a short time, but how he would miss his sweet face and bright eyes and the comforting warmth on his feet or his lap. He felt an abject failure if his father had kept a cat for twenty years and he could not even manage twenty days. For granted, his cat at Rivendell was safe and well, but there were few creatures that did not thrive there. He could take no credit.
Inzilbeth opened the door and gasped. “Valar defend us! Where ever have you been? I was about to send Halbarad after you. You look like a drowned rat! Now get out of those wet clothes this instant!”
“I couldn’t find Brann,” Aragorn said sadly. He walked into the living room leaving a trail of water behind him.
“Brann? He’s asleep by the fire.”
A ginger head was lifted off the rug and unblinking yellow eyes turned towards Aragorn. Relief flooded through him, followed by a desire to throw something at the cat.
“Now go and get out of those wet clothes,” Inzilbeth repeated. There’s more water coming in now
Feeling in a very bad mood, Aragorn dripped his way up to the loft.
A little later, Aragorn’s spirits were much improved now he was wearing dry clothes and had
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