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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.
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