Character: Young Aragorn, Young Halbarad, OFC
source: Pre-Ring War
Disclaimer: Tolkien created Middle-earth and all who dwell therein... apart from this bit.
Halbarad forbore the other rangers’ friendly jibes; they’d travelled north-westwards since the Wizard took Estel away… He almost thought ‘stole’, but who was he to claim possession?
They crossed rough pastures dotted with ragged sheep cropping coarse grasses. A farmhouse gave travellers’ lodgings, served them mutton stew and mugs of strong beer, both ladled by a pretty wench who giggled and winked at Halbarad in open invitation. Finally, he accepted.
Next morning his comrades joshed, slapped his back and spoke of ‘pastures new, eh?’ But neither bedding nor jokes made him forget an aching absence, sharp as a serpent’s tooth.
Estel listened obediently to Mithrandir’s instructions, though his heart rebelled against further disruptions. He was settled with the Rangers, some knew his family, his real family, and while his thoughts remained dazzled by his elven lady… his skin had become used to homespun, hard ground, and the close touch of companionship…
He shook his head. They approached the wide lands of the Horselords - here he’d find one to guide him south-east, to new pastures beneath strange stars.
“Ask for ‘Cunning Hands’, that’s their name for your guide.”
“How will I know him?”
But Mithrandir has already ridden away, returning northwards.
“Searafulmo!” the bar-keep bellowed.
She ignored him.
“Hey, Cunning Hands, you’ve a customer with silver to spend.”
Pay was another matter. She looked up.
The man was her age, skinny, dark-haired, grey-eyed… she recognised his kin by his gear.
A Ranger, new-made, with half the pastures of Rohan plastering his boots…
The youth looked surprised, but bowed, automatically raising hand to brow in salute.
…Not entirely from the North then…
“Mae govannen,” she muttered.
His eyes widened, “You’re not…”
She shook her head.
“No… but what brings a dúnedan to new pastures? And who told you to seek that name?”