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Tales of Life  by Aelaer

Well! It has been over a year and a half since I've posted a prompt fic. Never fear, I have not been idle; a fic I've been developing for many years has surpassed 250 pages in Word and, proving the Muses continue to cooperate, I will hopefully have this story out by the fall of this year.

Still, I figured it would be good to take a break and try my hand at a few prompts again, if only to show the world that I'm still alive.

Prompt 68: Colour
Ficlet: No Purer Gold
Rating: G
Rivendell, October 21st 3018 TA

For weeks he felt its presence; ever since he first spoke with Frodo he could feel the darkness edging into his soul. For weeks he ignored it, shoving its luring whispers away into the darkest recesses of his mind, and for a while he was able to do so. Simply remembering how it betrayed his ancestor was just one of the many reminders he had concerning the Ring's deceitfulness.

Yet as he became wearier with the long march and little rest, it slithered deeper into his mind, pushing logic aside and muttering alluring tales of success and love conquered. As the days crawled by he found that it became more difficult to block out the Ring's voice. As it became more powerful, he made sure to handle Frodo carefully, always cautious to never lay a hand near the pocket in which he knew the Ring lay.

And even then, despite the power he felt from it, he had yet to lay his own eyes upon it.

Glorfindel helped abate its call with his own strength, and, despite the Ranger's weariness, with the great elf-lord's presence Aragorn was once more able to completely abolish the Ring's whispers from his mind. When Frodo left upon Asfaloth it was as if a burden had been lifted from his heart, and it was not only the departing Ringwraiths that caused this.

He arrived soon after Frodo had been brought to the Last Homely House, and while he felt the weight of the last weeks heavy upon his shoulders, he would not rest until he saw the hobbit. He knew that there was nothing he could do for him that Elrond could not, but the last he saw of him Frodo had looked as if he had already passed from the world. The man had to see him for himself.

He entered the healing ward and stopped suddenly in his steps. Frodo lay in one of the beds in front of him, and already Elrond was working diligently on the evil in his shoulder. Around the hobbit's neck upon a silver chain was the Ring.

The Dúnadan was still some feet from the bed, yet even from where he stood he could see clearly its flawless beauty. The surface looked smooth and soft, and the color was the most brilliant gold he had ever seen. The bright shine it omitted challenged even the elven-light that lay within his beloved's eyes.

He knew not how long he stood there, marveling at the golden splendor of such a small trinket, but it was a hand upon his shoulder that brought him out of his reverie. The man nearly jumped at the motion and was prepared to pull away before a soft voice brought him back to reality.

"Aragorn. Estel," it called softly. He blinked and found himself looking at Glorfindel. Elrond, still deep within his healing trance, did not notice the scene taking place right in front of him. "Come," the elf-lord said softly, guiding the Dúnadan out of the room.

"It— it keeps calling my name," he confessed in a horrified whisper as the elf lead him to his room.

"And it calls mine," replied Glorfindel. "I, however, have not spent the last few weeks being chased by the Nine. And I doubt you have had much sleep. You are ill-prepared to face such a foe."

Aragorn did not seem to hear his words. "It held me in a trance," he continued. "I could not stop staring. It is so beautiful; a purer golden color does not exist." He suddenly stopped as he took in the words he just uttered. He looked to his longtime mentor and friend, unable to completely conceal his fear. "How deep is its hold upon me?"

"Not yet deep!" the elf reassured the man. "Not yet deep, for you still realize its deadly power. And it shall not take a deeper hold upon your soul, for once you have rested and eaten you will find your mind clearer!" They were now at Aragorn's room, and Glorfindel opened the door and gently prodded the mortal inside. "What you need, my friend, is rest. You are beyond weary, and you will find that your defense against this terrible evil will be stronger once you allow your body the respite it deserves. Sleep and think no more of it!"

Aragorn found little reason to protest and, just barely managing to get off his boots, collapsed into his bed and all but immediately fell asleep, finally allowing the rest he had neglected himself for many days.

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