Day's Ending by Raksha The Demon

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When I was a lad, my grandsire told me the story of our family and our people.  I remember the leather-bound book, older than Grandsire himself, which he opened, page by page, as I sat on his knees.   I loved the faded picture of Minas Tirith the best:   Minas Anor of old, the great White City built into the very side of Mount Mindolluin.

Now I lie here outside that city, dying in a tent.  They do not tell me so; but the faces of the Peredhil seem grimmer than usual, and tears roll down Aragorn's face when he looks upon me.  I do not think he even knows that he weeps.

I heard them send for my son. 

There is little pain, only weariness and some cold.  I doubt I have much time left.

But by all that I have lived and died for, I will not perish inside this tent!  "Take me outside!"  I demand.  

"You must lie quiet, Halbarad!" Elladan protests.  At least I think it is Elladan.

"I will lie quiet soon enough, Elrondion," I snap back.  "Let me die under the sky."

Aragorn whispers.  I am carefully lifted from the bed onto the litter that bore me here.  Then the tent flaps open, and I am borne back out; my litter lowered onto soft ground.  I see grass around me, and booted feet.   One pair belongs to my son, as I see when the man wearing them bends and sits by me.   

"Take care of yourself, my son," I tell him.  Halgil tries not to cry; he is a brave fellow and I know he wishes to be strong for me.  I see his lower lip quiver as it did when he was a child awakening from a bad dream.  "And take care of your Chieftain."

"I will not fail you, Father," Halgil says.  Aragorn clasps Halgil's shoulder briefly; and then they look back at me.   I know that they will both live and enter the City in triumph; just as I knew that I would meet my end here.

Aragorn bends his head to touch his brow to mine.  "Be at peace; my kinsman, my captain, my friend.   Your name shall be sung when the tale of this day is told."  I daresay that I am one of the few who could tell that his voice quivers ever so slightly. 

"Mourn not long for me, Aragorn," I manage to answer.  It grows hard to speak. 

"Look there, Halbarad," He says.  As ever, I obey him.  And if I had much breath left, it would catch in my throat.  The standard of Elendil flies before me, unfurling in a light spring wind.  I remember well its weight in my hand on the journey southward and in this long day's battle.   The banner at least has weathered the fight unscathed. 

My eyes follow the line of Aragorn's hand.  Above the crowned stars of the standard, I behold Minas Tirith clearly at last.  Tears well up in my eyes.  The City is even fairer than the old tales had told, fairer than the picture in Grandsire's book had shown.  And the City is safe, because we came!  The sun stains the White Tower with red and gold there at the end of my gaze.  Again I see Minas Anor of old, the Tower of the Setting Sun!

My son and my Chieftain will walk through those seven circles.   I gather my thoughts and what remains of my strength.  Little time is left to me; and only one regret.  I had taken leave of Morwen ere I left home, as a warrior must leave his beloved.  A last message might bring her some comfort. 

"Farewell, Aragorn," I say quietly.  "I am glad I lived to see this day."  Now for Halgil, while I can still speak at all:  "Tell your mother…Tell her that I died with my eyes on the White City and with her in my heart, where she has always been."

His answering voice is strangely distant.   I can scarcely feel the grip of their hands on mine anymore.  Minas Tirith gleams in my sight, until my eyes close and I fall into the last sleep.


Chapter End Notes:


Halbarad seemed to know, well before the actual Battle of the Pelennor, that he wasn't going to live much longer (in ROTK, The Passing of the Grey Company: 'This is an evil door,' said Halbarad, 'and my death lies beyond it. I will dare to pass it nonetheless; but no horse will enter.'); hence I have had him refer to that foresight.

The original name of Minas Tirith was Minas Anor.  There is some confusion whether the latter means Tower of the Sun or, as Elrond called it during his Council, "Tower of the Setting Sun".

Tolkien mentions no wife or children of Halbarad; but I believed he might have left a wife in the North and had at least one son to bring on the journey southward as one of the Grey Company.    


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