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Desiring the Downfall  by Larner

B2MEM Day 5:  “But when Aragorn arose all that beheld him gazed in silence….”  RotK, Book 6, The Steward and the King, p. 254 Nook edition.

The King at First Sight

          As he awaited the arrival of his guests, An’Sohrabi wondered just what he would see.  The one that he had known so long ago as Horubi’ninarin was now, from what he could tell, the King of Gondor and Arnor, the twin realms founded over an age past by the returning Sea Kings.  He had been tall then, much taller than Sohrabi himself, slender as the sword he bore, quick of thought and eye.  A decisive Man, and most honorable.

          Sohrabi himself had been young, barely into his third decade.  He had been forced to hide his own honor, for honorable Men had a habit of dying young in Harad.  For most of the intervening years Sohrabi had pretended to be jaded and sardonic, and if he was not quick to join in the often depraved activities favored by those who courted the attentions of the Death Eater’s people it was put down to laziness rather than being recognized as being due to disgust.

          Would the Man he’d known be thickened with age as he was himself?  Would his hair be white, and his posture perhaps stooped?  No—it was said that he had led the fighting both upon the Pelennor and before the Black Gate with more skill and as much vigor as any young Man in his army.  Harad’s returning officers—those who had been wise enough to lay down their weapons and surrender themselves—spoke of one most tall and slender, his eye keen, impossible to lie to.

          The word came that the barge carrying the King An’Elessar had arrived, and he went to the chamber at the top of the Water Stair to see for himself.

          “He has not changed at all!” he whispered.  Except that the Northerner had changed, but in subtle ways.  There was contentment to be seen in his eyes, and a degree of happiness that yet rested upon him alongside an equal degree of loss.  His hair was much the same, but was now threaded with silver.  He wore a beard now, and it bore more silver hairs than did those upon his head.  The authority that the younger Sohrabi had discerned in his northern guest was now confirmed.  Nor was the regal nature he’d borne even then now hidden.  His attention was on all about him, including the small person who preceded him and the woman of unearthly beauty who followed behind him with their son in her arms.

          In his face could be seen so many things—humor and healing grief, joy and competence, awareness and that ineffable expression that speaks of one who is at peace with himself, love and the level of isolation that is the mark of one who rules.

          An’Sohrabi felt envious for the apparent youth that his returned guest appeared to enjoy, but the next instant he realized that that relative youth came at a cost of loss of companionship that the Haradri was not certain he would wish to experience.  Soon enough the Farozi would follow his ancestors into the West, and he would know few regrets, knowing that in his time his land at last had been set free of the destructive rule of Mordor.  This one, on the other hand, would most likely linger many decades yet, and in the end it was likely that the wife who followed him would be the only one who remained of all he’d known in the days of his first manhood.

           As he stepped forward to greet his guests he realized that he had reason to feel sorry for this Aragorn An’Elessar Envinyatar Telcontar.  At least Sohrabi of Harad would not outlive his time.

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