The Ranger by Msauthoress

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Author's Chapter Notes:

A long, long time ago there was an author named Ms. Authoress who just had enough of the horrible and flat stories that were being written consisting of Aragorn as a female. She decided to write one of her own but with more spice to it, and more originality. This story has been through many changes and a very recent revision, and I do hope you will enjoy this story. :)

Please feel free to review. I crave to know the thoughts and opions from others about my story, and I love to recieve constructive criticism! Please don't hold back. You won't offend me.


 

The Ranger

Prologue

Written By:
Ms. Authoress

 

z88;

 

"Turn your face to the sun and your shadows will fall behind you"

z88;

With every tale there is a beginning, and with every beginning there is also an ending. The ending of a tale is not always happy, but is filled with death and despair and woe. But you already know this, my dear child, for you have lived among the Elves, and not oft are there stories with much joy or an ending with happiness and everlasting peace. I will tell it to you again, my sweet child, for you desire to hear it once more from me, and before the next fall shall take me like a whisper of the wind, you will only have my tales to remember me by.

There was little hope in the earlier years of the Third Age. What hope there was hanged daintily in the heart and never lingered. The light of hope was very dim, like a fading star in the endless black night, to be long forgotten upon its departure from the world. That was the light of hope then, a fading light that only faded more and more as the days passed on. But that soon changed, you see, for something was born years in the passing and would be the renewal of the light that had long gone into darkness.

This was a child, a daughter of past kings with a bearing of a gift to her name, borne through the blood of the Dunedain. She was named Araraniel, for it meant gentleness, and ever so gentle would her heart be in her older years. It was in her that the hope was lit again once more, the hope for Men, and with her birth she bore a title. The heir of Isildur, she would therefore be known as, but also she would forever be hunted by many enemies, and her enemies wanting to bring her head to the Dark Lord. For she was Isildur's heir and Sauron held much hatred against the race of Men, wishing nothing more than to destroy them.

She was the daughter of Arathorn, a man of the Dúnedain and a Ranger of the North, and later the Chieftain of the Dunedain upon his father's death nearly two years before her birth. In the midst of autumn, Arathorn had met and fallen in love with Gilraen, daughter of Dírhael and Ivorwen of the Arnorian. The air was arid oddly that day, and the clouds were shadowing. The burning memory of the attack of the foul creatures slaughtering their home would not be soon gone, but never would Dírhael and Ivorwen be rid of the slaughter of their own son, Gilraen's brother, who had fought with bravery but was cut down by the Orcs not long after the attack. And so Dírhael gathered his family and what provisions they could bring, and carried his son on a dray of soft bedding with what comfort could be offered to him even in death, Dírhael guided his family away from danger, slipping away into the night with stealth and caution.

They traveled light and in silence. What words could offer was barren, despite the tenderness of the tongue. It could not put an ease to the heart of Dírhael, for he had seen too much than he wished to ever see. He was much watchful, wary of every sound that reached his ears. Though fortunate they had been to have made their precarious escape, their weal grew thin from them. It was not long after their escape did Dírhael feel more unease, as if he could feel his heart becoming shadowed. Whether it was his heart biding him warn or the gloom of the world that had finally beset upon him, Dírhael took it as a warning. They were being pursued by Orcs who had picked up their trail within the forest, and, remaining hidden under the shadows of the tall trees, they pursued the flesh with much eagerness to taste blood of the suffering.

Little hope there was for Dírhael and his wife and daughter who stood faithfully with him, but hope was not all lost. Dírhael had forgotten those who still ventured within the forests serving and bearing an oath to protect the Free People, and the servants of the Dark Lord had also forgotten it too…

Rangers they were, leaping forth from the shadows of the forest and striking their foes hard, swift yet quiet on their feet. Arrows whipped through the air like sharp knives. They were the Rangers of the North, one of the Dunedain; descended from the Númenóreans and blessed with long life. It was to the Rangers of the North that Dírhael owed them his gratitude, and grateful he was for his family's safety by the doing of the Ranger's timing. This was when Arathorn, son of Arador met Gilraen, daughter of Dírhael and Ivorwen, and took delight upon her, for she was fair and kind-hearted. Arathorn took pity unto the family and took them to his father, Lord Arador, and they were much welcomed there with the hospitality of Arador.

In less than a year Arathorn and Gilraen were married, and much joy spread. The joy and peace that had been felt, however, soon came to an end. By the next year Arador fell to the hand of a troll just along the borders of the Trollshaws, and Arathorn was appointed Chieftain of the Dunedain, of which Arathorn bore the title with honor and took it as his duty to ensure not only the safety of his people, but the waylay of the servants of the Dark Lord. He proved himself of much worth as a Chieftain, yet his heart was still burdened by the death of his father and little hope kindled in his heart after a time, but it was rekindled. For after another year, Gilraen bore him a child. This child was no male heir, but a female, a little girl graceful as a queen, and Arathorn wept with joy.

But all that is good does not remain and all that is loved does not forever keep. Araraniel was only two years of age when Arathorn was slain by Orcs. Within the forests of Taurdan, Arathorn rallied his allies to him and waylaid a party of Orcs deep in the forest. Tall and unhindered, he led his men into battle, for so much death had been done that day unto Taurdan and their men. Among that followed Arathorn were the sons of Lord Elrond Halfelven who had come to Taurdan to forewarn Arathorn of the concern which their father had for the young child Araraniel, for Sauron ever so hated the race of Men and his focus was intent finding the heir of Isildur.

Arathorn's promise to return was bittersweet. But his return was bitter. Arathorn, son of Arador and Chieftain of the Dunedain was slain. And so, with a heavy heart and sorrow, Gilraen the Fair set forth from Taurdan and came to Imladris with the sons of Elrond under their guidance.

Lord Elrond Halfelven took Araraniel as his very own. It was feared that her own name was a danger to herself. Araraniel she was no longer named, and instead she was Glessil, for it meant joy, and she brought great joy to Gilraen. She would not be told of her true identity, not for a long while yet; and during that time she was cared for by Lord Elrond and was held under his wing and educated. It was not until she was twenty years of age when she was told of her of her heritage, and bid her forewarn, for there were still many who would be glad to bring her head to the Dark Lord. Still so young, Araraniel was proud of the title which she bore, but that pride soon faded into the wind when she looked upon the world and saw what the world had endured and continued to endure. Isildur's failure, she called it; and since then she rid herself of the entitlement.

And so it came that Araraniel, daughter of Arathorn and heir of Isildur, no longer desired the offers of her heritage, and in the forests she dwelt.

No, my child; there is light, but it has long been veiled by the shadow.

And thus I take my leave of this world soon, but I do not grieve and I bid for none given to me, for I am happy. Death comes to claim all race of Men, when their time has come, and your time will come as well. But not yet. You will live on and you will be a shining star to the world, though you will be veiled. My child, do not whither where you tread. My child, my darling Araraniel, remember my words that I say to you: you will walk alone in this world as Araraniel, daughter of Arathorn and heir of Isildur, until too your time has come.

"Ónen i-Estel Edain, ú-chebin estel anim."

When Araraniel awoke, she was met with the still darkness of the night, the grey clouds skittering over the skies above her only bringing a sense of gloom to the late hours. Her eyes fluttered open, and, without her knowledge, a soft sigh escaped from her lips into the chilled air. Now that she had been awakened, she knew she would not be able to fall back into slumber for a bit, if at all. It was cold and the air felt close, and her hands were numb from the coldness of the air even through her leather gloves. Though worn they were, they still provided excellent use for her, but tonight there was nothing preventing the cold. Araraniel stood from her bedroll and turned to the dim fire that crackled softly, which had very little life in it now that hours had passed since it was first lit. It gave little light to her but enough warmth, and for that she was thankful as she plopped herself down on the ground in front of the fire.

"Ónen i-Estel Edain, ú-chebin estel anim"

The words echoed in her head. She didn't dare tell herself it was only a dream, for it was not. It was a memory, a haunting memory. She did not think it would ever leave her. Her eyes clouded at the mere thought of it which often plagued her mind. It was one of the reasons that sleep came so little to her. Far and long she had wandered beyond safety without it, and when little sleep came to her, troubling thoughts and memories also followed.

Her eyes shifted to her surroundings. The air was cold and felt thick as she sat among the closed trees around her, and even as she stood and walked around she still could feel the dreadful stillness of the night. There was something here that was discomforting to her, perhaps it was the weather, or simply the fact she had to stop and rest. She did not know, and doubted she would be able to fall back to sleep. She did not want to. The presence of the forest was not all comforting to her like it often was.

Araraniel looked at the shadowed passage that laid out before her, darkened with tall trees that hovered over the ground with its large barks and outstretched branches, as if the trees themselves were filled with anger. The night only gave it a more direful appearance. Araraniel fought with herself for a long while, debating whether to gallop and escape the dark clutches of her surroundings, or to stay and try to rest. Neither idea was appealing or comforting to her.

But one look at her mare and the decision was made. Dearest Avalon! There could be no other steed to compare, but that was a biased claim from Araraniel. Though even so undoubtedly bias, her steed had carried her far across many leagues, and long into the days did the mare bear his mistress with such strength and determination that left even Araraniel stunned. Old age did not hinder him the slightest. His will was greater than Araraniel's, and Araraniel would have no greater steed to bear her through her journey. Alas, after so long with very little rest and to drink, Avalon was finally worn, and she would not send her horse into exhaustion. So it was decided she would stay.

Araraniel plopped back onto the ground and leaned her head back against the log with a sigh, propping her arms behind her head. It would be such a fruitless attempt to sleep. It would do no good. She was certain she would not sleep tonight, and as a chilling gust of air swept over her harshly, Araraniel was then certain of it. She looked up at the sky, but could not past the grim tall trees above her which took away any comfort there was.

The night would not leave her quickly.

Some hours later the sun rose, and at the slightest hint of light Araraniel hurriedly began her preparations to leave. It was peculiar for Araraniel to be in such a hurry to leave the presence of the forest, but the darkening feeling from the night afore had deepened, and her heart was clouded with warning and a sense of discomfort. So Araraniel mounted onto her saddle, and just as quickly as she mounted she was galloping away, disappearing into the dim darkness within the trees.

She was out of the forest by the time the sun was risen in the sky, the early hours of the day gone. It was near midday now, and Araraniel had never felt more relieved to be under the sunlight and away from the shadows of the forest and the trees looming over her frame. The feeling that had settled into her heart last night did not fade, though; it ever so remained, and it bothered her. "Hortho," she spoke to her horse in the Elven tongue, and he heeded.

Araraniel's stomach made her stop. Her mind told her to keep going but her stomach disagreed. Unable to ignore the persistent grumbles, she stopped, dismounted, and reached for her small pouch tied to her saddle. All she found was dried fruit and stale bread, and she was running low on her water. She would have to make do for now. But something caught Araraniel's eyes that distracted her from her "meal". Food was forgotten and she knelt to the ground, running her hand over the crushed grass and feeling the dirt.

The ground had been disturbed, trampled by footprints. Familiar footprints. Familiar, unwanted footprints.

"Orcs," Araraniel murmured dryly. She now knew why her mind had been clouded. The foul creatures had been wandering about. Quickly she stood, stuffing her pouch away and grabbing the reigns. "Tolo," Araraniel said to Avalon as she mounted. Avalon knew the tone well, and the moment she sat on the saddle, he sprinted off into a gallop and bore his mistress away, and her search began. If there were Orcs wandering about then Araraniel would find them and slaughter them before they could put down a life of innocence. Her search carried on throughout the day and well into the late afternoon. Her luck remained ill, but she knew the ground better than any other Ranger, and she knew where the Orc-trail had been going. But she could not continue her search without refilling her water or without giving Avalon some respite and quench his thirst.

Araraniel swiftly dismounted and, grabbing the reigns, she brought Avalon to the flowing riverbank. As he drank eagerly, Araraniel too quenched her thirst and re-filled her flask. Then Araraniel began to shuffle it away but paused, her eyes again drawn to the ground. It had been trampled with footprints, and feeling the ground with her hands Araraniel made a discovery that only a Ranger would know. "The footprints are fresh," Araraniel murmured, standing, "They must have just passed."

Woosh!

An arrow cut through the air like a sharp knife. Araraniel quickly caught it and, without hesitation, she drew her bow and swiftly shot the arrow into the shadows where shrubberies and trees grew. A loud noise came from within, and an Orc stumbled onto the ground, the arror pierced into his neck. At that very moment more Orcs leaped forth from the shadows and charged, weapons prepared, and their dark language loud in her ears. "Noro lim, Avalon! Noro lim! Go!" Araraniel slapped her horse's behind gently, and with a small neigh Avalon galloped away, soon gone from sight. Araraniel withdrew two arrows from her quiver and swiftly shot both one at a time, bringing down two of her foes. Her need for her bow changed as she came to close battle with the Orcs, and quickly her sword was out and blade met with blood.

She whirled her blade and thrusted it into the chest of its first victim, and the moment she pulled it out the Orc was on the ground. "Argh!" came a cry, and Araraniel swiftly ducked and avoided an attack. She sliced her blade across the Orc's back when he was still turned away, harshly kicking him to the ground with her foot. He was not yet dead though, and made a move to retrieve his dagger. But Araraniel's blade was already sunk into his chest before he had a chance to even grab it. Without hesitation, Araraniel quickly withdrew her dagger and threw it behind her without direction. The dagger found a victim, sinking into the small neck of an Orc that was charging for her, and he was then defeated. Araraniel pulled her sword from the body of the dead Orc at her feet and turned, swiftly bringing defeat to her next foe.

The battle was short. At last Araraniel sliced through her last remaining foe, the last remaining foe who hadn't cowardly fled, but the number of the living cowards was not much. It was not a big army and their defenses were weak. And that was good enough for Araraniel, despite that a small number of Orcs had fled; wherever they were headed they would not be strong enough to carry out whatever it was what they intended to do. Araraniel sheathed her sword and strode across the riverbank and began her search for her steed.

She let out a sharp whistle into the brisk air, echoing loudly. Avalon came trotting forth not a moment later, safe and unharmed. Araraniel smiled and came forward, taking grip of the harness. She patted his head, murmuring to her dear friend, "Come. We have a long journey ahead of us."

Araraniel mounted onto her saddle and rode away, not daring to look back at the site which was now the grave of the servants of evil. She had a strong feeling it would not be the last drop of blood she would yet see at the end of her journey, and she did not care to think about it.




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