Tracking Lessons by Tigger|
Rating ~ General
Characters ~ Aragorn, Legolas, a group of OC children and a group of Rangers
Written For ~ The Mellon Chronicles Teitho Challenge Theme ~Games People Play. Somewhere in the story, the following lyric from Phil Collinsí song "Son of Man" also has to be used...
*In learning you will teach and in teaching you will learn...*
Setup ~ Years before the War of the Ring. On their way to meet up with the Twins for a hunting trip, Aragorn and Legolas stumble across a group of children playing and try to teach them how to include a blind girl into their game.
Standard Disclaimer ~ This is a work of fiction inspired by J.R.R Tolkienís books, The Lord of the Rings. All of the characters and place names, with the exception of any original characters of my own, belong to The Tolkien Estate. Iím just lucky I get to play in the same sandbox with all of them. :o)
It was a glorious day in mid autumn. That time of the year when it felt like a second summer. Aragorn had met up with his good friend Legolas the day before just outside of Fornost and now the two of them were on their way to meet up with Aragornís twin foster brothers. The four had been planning this hunting trip since the early summer, but had been forced to wait until now to take it.
Elladan and Elrohir had just returned home to Imladris from a visit to Lorien. Both to visit their Grandparents and also to represent The House of Elrond at a Council regarding the increasing Orc attacks on the respective Elven lands. Legolas had been his fatherís Steward of Mirkwood while the King had attended the same Council as the Twins. Aragorn had been on patrols of Eriador with his fellow Rangers. All four were looking forward to the upcoming hunt with excitement. They all needed a bit of a holiday from the duties and stress they all exprienced on a daily basis.
They had been walking towards the Ranger encampment that was on the borders of Fornost. Legolas had left their horses there. He believed it would be easier hearing what had taken place since their last meeting if they walked. The campsite was not that far from Fornost, so Aragorn agreed to the Princeís idea. The Elf had just crested the top of a hill when he stopped. Legolas turned to Aragorn with light in his eyes. Smiling, he asked the Ranger, "Do you hear them mellon nin? The children?"
Aragorn had to stop to listen, but finally he grinned at his Elven friend. "Aye, I do. They must be from the settlement we passed a few leagues ago. Some of my best Rangers come from those people. Come mellon nin. It would do both of us good to be among children again and I may end up meeting kin of my men. Would do them a world of good to hear of their little ones as well. Come."
Legolas smiled as he watched Aragorn head towards the sounds of laughter. Shaking his head, he also tried not to laugh. "Count on Estel to put duty first. Even when on leave.", thought the Elf. Seeing Aragorn had disappeared over the hill, Legolas quickened his pace to join his friend.
Just below the hill, a group of children were playing tag in a small field next to a trail that led back to the nearby village. Off to one side, a little girl was left to herself to play with her doll. A shrill shriek sounded through the air as one of the players was caught by her hair.
"Amarion!! That was not fair!!" A girl of about seven whirled on the boy who had caught her. She was rubbing the area of her scalp that had been pulled. "You have to simply touch us. Not grab." She was scowling at him and he was giving her a rather offended look in return.
"I thought part of the game was to tag you. If you do not like the way I play, then leave. I care not Eirien." The young boy crossed his arms in front of his chest. "Perhaps you would rather keep *her* company." Nodding in the direction of the girl with the doll.
His other playmates had come back to the two of them by this time. A girl the same age as Eirien came forward. "That was a mean thing to say Amarion. It is not the fault of Lessien for her not being like us." Even though Amarion was not one of the little girlís favourite people, if the truth be told, the thought of being with Lessien was not all that appealing either.
The fourth member of the group spoke up then. "Perhaps Gilenor. Why is she always sent with us to play? She can not join our games." He pouted a bit, but then noticed the man headed in their direction. Being the oldest of the group by a year, he put himself in front of his friends as the stranger stopped in front of them. "Well met Sir. I am Ostalledon, son of Maenion. What is your business here?"
Aragorn smiled down at the young boy, then crouched down to look him directly in the eye. "Well met indeed. I am Strider and my friend that will be joining us shortly is Legolas. He is one of The Fair Folk and calls Mirkwood his home." Grinning now, Aragorn continued, "I serve alongside your father in the Rangers. I see him in your face Ostalledon. He will be joyful to learn I have met you."
Ostalledonís face lit up with a delighted smile. "You know my Ada? Is he well?" The young boy could not keep the excitement out of his voice. Here was a Ranger and not just any Ranger, but someone who knew his father. Seeing movement out of the corner of his eye, Ostalledon turned his head and came face to face with his first Elf. He was having quite the day.
Legolas smiled at the lad. "Mae Govannen pen neth. Are you well?" He was concerned about the size Ostalledonís eyes had become. After hearing Aragorn cough to try and muffle a laugh, Legolas realized the little one was only surprised. The Elven Prince grinned at the boy and asked, "We know of your name, but what of your friends?"
Seizing the chance Legolasí question had given her, the girl who only moments before had been rubbing her scalp came rushing forward. "You will have to excuse him my Lord and Strider. He is a boy and boys do not always have the best manners." That strange strangled cough was heard coming from Aragorn again, but he waved it off. She did not seem to hear it however. Continuing, she said, "I am Eirien, daughter of Glinn. That is Amarion, son of Doronion and my friend, Gilenor, daughter of Baranion. We had been playing tag until Amarion grabbed my hair."
A long sigh was heard coming from the boy. "What else am I to grab to tag her when it is the only thing within my reach?" He was about to say something to Eirien, when he felt Aragornís hand on his shoulder.
"It is not a game when you injure someone. Regardless of how minor it is. Next time, let them run off. Victory in anything is not a victory if attained by means without honour. Remember that son of Doronion." Seeing the younger boy was thinking over Aragornís words, the Ranger turned back to the older boy who had introduced himself first. "Now Ostalledon, to answer your question about your father, he is well. He is on patrol with his fellow Rangers." Aragorn looked at the other children, "As are all of your own fathers." The three looked at Aragorn in surprise.
Smiling at them, he replied, "Yes, I know your fathers as well. I know all there is to know about my fellow Rangers and love them as they were my own brothers. You may tell your mothers on your return to your homes they are all well and look forward to visiting on their next leave." He was about to rise, when Aragorn noticed the little girl off to the side of the field. Turning to Eirien, he asked, "Why has your other friend not come over to greet us? Is she well?"
Gilenor glared in the direction Aragorn had just nodded in. "Oh, *her*...Pay her no mind Strider. She is not able to play with us, but we are told to bring her along." She ended that sentence with a huff and a nasty look towards the girl playing with her doll.
Aragorn and Legolas shared a look with one another. Legolas was the first to ask, "Why ever not?" Legolas with his elven sight could see nothing wrong with the girl. She had their back to the group, but he could clearly see she was having fun playing with her doll.
Amarion answered, "Well enough, but not enough to be able to play as we do. Our Naneths insist on her coming with us to play." This was said with a scowl. It also left the two travelling companions more than a little puzzled.
Looking at Aragorn, then back to the group of children, Legolas told them, "I have never played this game...Tag is the name of it?" Seeing four heads bob as one, he continued with a grin, "This tag then. It is unknown to me. I would very much care to learn it. Would all of you be willing to teach me?" Four sets of eyes shone in delight and before he knew it, Legolas was led off and being told the rules by four excited children.
They were so excited at the idea of not just playing with an Elf, an actual Elf, but also teaching him something new. They never even noticed Strider was not joining them, but heading in the other direction. The direction of the girl and her doll.
"Such a fine day Menelluin. It is almost time for the noontime meal I think." The little girl had tucked in her dollís skirts and had sat the toy down to her left. She then lifted her hand towards the basket on her right. It held a small loaf of bread, some cheese and a couple of apples, as well as a skin of water. Turning with the one apple, she said, "I am so glad Naneth sent two apples. Perhaps one of the others will come this time and I may share it with one of them." Her voice had trailed off with a sad note to it.
"What a very good idea. Sharing a meal with a friend is always better than dining alone, do you not agree pen neth?" Aragorn had not intended to startle the girl, but winced when she jumped a bit. Crouching, then sitting down behind her to try and reassure the girl, Aragorn said, "Fear not. I am..."
She cut him off. "You are the Lord Aragorn, our Chieftain. I heard you use your Ranger name with the other children, but I know to whom the name "Strider" belongs to."
Now it was Aragornís turn to be startled. "Child...How..." It was quite a feat to surprise Aragorn these days. This encounter was turning into one of those rare occasions. Swallowing and taking a deep breath, he tried again. "How do you know my name?"
The girl laughed and turned to face Aragorn. He could not help but gasp. For two reasons. First, she looked like his Naneth, The Lady Gilrean. Second, there was no light in the little girlís eyes. She was blind. All at once, Aragorn realized why the other children did not want anything to do with her and he was filled with compassion for the child. That did not answer his question though.
"I know my Lord, thanks to my Ada and Naneth. Often they think I am asleep in the next room at night, but my hearing is sharper than the other children. It has to be as I have no sight. One of those nights, I heard Ada tell Naneth he had met you and had great respect for you. He also said if we ever heard of Strider being near, to know we should expect a visit from our Chieftain." Leaning her head to the side, she asked, "Why are you here my Lord?"
Aragorn grinned at her and tried not to laugh. "You have me at a disadvantage my young Lady. You know my name, but I do not know yours. If I am to explain my presence here, it would be good to know the name of whom I am telling it to."
The little girl laughed again, "You are right my Lord. I am Lessien, daughter of Elloth. My friends call me Lessie however." Her face fell at that. "I do not have many friends. The children of the village do not like me. They think I am a burden and resent my coming with them when they go to play."
Aragorn frowned at this. There had to be a way to solve this problem. Keeping his voice cheerful, the Ranger replied, "Well, my friends call me Aragorn. I hope I may become one of those to you Lessie. You have a lovely doll. Did your Naneth make her for you?"
The next thing Aragorn knew, he not only had Lessieís doll in his lap, but her as well. As his new friend explained to him how she was able to cope and live in the village, Aragorn tried to think of some way, any way, for the other children to include her in their play. Finally, the kernel of an idea came to him.
Lessie noticed the Ranger had become very quiet in the previous few minutes. Without realizing it, she reached up and touched his face. The little girl could feel Aragornís lips had formed into a smile. Remembering just whose face she was Ďseeingí and what she was doing, Lessie snatched her hands away and blushed. "I am sorry my LorĖAragorn. I did not have your leave to do such a thing. You had become so quiet and..." She started to sniffle and then the tears came. Aragorn put his arms around her and started rocking Lessie.
"Shhhh....Hush now pen neth. You did nothing wrong mellon nin. I am sorry for being so quiet, but I was thinking of a way you could play with the other children. I do believe I have a plan that has a good chance of it succeeding, but..." Aragorn rose to his knees and put the child on her feet. Using the cloth from her basket of food, the Ranger wiped away her tears. Then he took her hands. "Before we see if my plan does succeed, I would like my newest friend to know what I look like." Gently, Aragorn lifted Lessieís hands to his face.
Lessieís face lit up with joy as she knew her Chieftain...No, her friend, was going to let her see his face the only way she knew how. Slowly, Lessie moved her hands across his chin and started giggling as she felt the whiskers of Aragornís scruffy beard beneath her fingers. Feeling the muscles of his face pull into a grin, Lessie said, "I am sorry Aragorn, but it tickles." She paused for a moment for his reaction, but after realizing the Ranger was only going to softly laugh along with her, kept moving her fingers and hands. As she brought her hands up his face, Lessie explored Aragornís cheeks, his nose and finally his forehead. As she brought her hands away from his face, Lessie told him, "You have strong cheekbones Aragorn. A noble face from what I can Ďseeí. Hannon le mellon nin."
Aragorn brought his hand up to her face and softly stroked it. "It is my pleasure pen neth." Seeing her face break into a smile, Aragorn brought his face close to hers and lowered his voice to a whisper. "Now, my little friend...Would you like to hear what my plan for you to be able to play a game with the other children is?" If he did not know any better, Aragorn could have sworn he saw a twinkle of a brief sparkle in Lessieís eyes. She nodded quickly and Aragorn quickly filled her in on what he had in mind.
Legolas was in a state of amazed exhaustion. He did not think human children had much stamina being such fragile creatures. He had been mistaken. The Elven Prince had indeed been shown how to play Tag by the group of children. He had also ended up tearing a portion of his breeches, skinned his knee and now had a few strands of grass in his hair after slipping on a wet portion of the field. The children had taken notice of his fall and quickly Amarion had run over.
Leaning over the Prince, he asked, "Are you well Legolas?" The young children were amazed. They were actually playing with an Elf and they had leave to call him by his name as well. Legolas nodded at Amarion and the young boy sighed in relief.
"Good!!" he said. Reaching out and tapping the Elf on the shoulder, Amarion happily cried out, "Tag!! You now need to catch one of us Legolas." The boy frowned. He could have sworn a soft groan was heard as the Prince got up from the ground. As he gained his feet however, Legolas gave Amarion a grin which sent the boy in flight as fast as he could.
Before the next game could get started in earnest, a whistle pierced the air. Looking towards Aragorn and Lessie, the group could see the Ranger waving them over. Reluctantly, the children headed in their direction. Aragorn tried not to smile at the look of gratitude Legolas gave him, but just could not manage it. "Are you well, mellon nin?" The scathing look the Elf gave him made Aragornís smile turn into a grin. The Ranger knew he would have to be on his guard during the hunting trip as Legolas would seek revenge for laughing at him. Aragorn could worry about that later though.
Crouching down to be eye level with the other children, Aragorn took a deep breath, then asked them, "Is it true you do not like bringing Lessien with you to play because of her not being able to see?" Seeing four faces suddenly finding the ground very interesting looking, Aragorn brought some steel into his tone.
That brought their gazes back up to his. Aragorn softened his tone, "I understand how frustrating it must be for you. Seemingly burdened with someone who, in your eyes, is unable to play the simplest game. Lessien has other ways she may play with you. The four of you, not willing to look for them, makes each of you as blind as she is."
Four young faces suddenly flushed red with colour as Aragornís words sunk in. Once again, the children found the ground very interesting to look at. Sensing the silence was lasting too long, the Ranger decided it was time to break it. "If you are willing, there is a game you can play. All of you. Would you like me to teach it to you?í
The four heads all popped up at the same time. Looking at each other and then back at Aragorn, Eirien spoke for them. "But...How is this possible? Lessien can not play Tag or any of the other games. You need your sight to do that. What game is there where sight is not needed?" The four friends looked very confused.
Aragorn grinned at them and squeezed Lessienís shoulders to reassure her. Looking at them, he explained, "There is an exercise all who wish to join the Rangers must be able to do and do well. We use it even in the wild when there is quiet and we are in a safe place. So that we may be able to keep our tracking skills sharp. The person who is the tracker usually has their eyes covered by a cloth, but since Lessien does not need to do such a thing, she will be the first tracker. The first person she finds will be the next tracker."
Aragorn saw the group was still puzzled, so he decided now was as good a time as any to start. "All of you, run around while either talking or singing. When I tell you to stop, you have to stop, stay silent and not move. Understood?" Seeing the children all nod, the Ranger smiled. "Very well. Let us begin. Start going around the field, but not far." Seeing four tense children in front of him, Aragorn grinned and nodded at them, "Now!!"
The children took off in four different directions. Eirien was singing a nursery rhyme Legolas recognized as one his own Naneth had taught him centuries ago. Ostalledon was yelling nonsense as he ran. Gilenor was dancing around humming a tune neither the Elf nor the Ranger knew. Amarion was just skipping around and making as much noise as he could by brushing the grass with his feet.
After watching for a few moments, Aragorn decided enough time had past. He cried out, "Stop!! Now remember, try not to make a sound nor a move." The Ranger kneeled down to Lessienís level. "Now, my young Lady, are you able to find one of them? Remember what we talked about. How you could find one of them by the use of your other senses. I will be right behind you, but I can not offer you any other aid. You must do this on your own." Aragorn squeezed Lessienís shoulder. Then he rose, stepped behind her and prepared to watch how his plan would unfold.
Taking a deep breath, Lessien let it out slowly and started to concentrate. Crouching, she put her hands out and let them lightly roam over the ground. Was that? Yes, it was. The grass here had been trampled. Rising carefully, Lessien took a few steps in the direction the trampled grass took her. Every few steps, she stopped and checked to make sure the grass was still trampled.
Suddenly, her hands felt grass that was upright to her touch. Slowly turning, Lessieís hands could not feel any more trampled grass. She was about to ask for help when Lessie remembered she had to do this on her own. Aragorn told her if this worked, she would gain the respect of the other children of the village. Taking another deep breath to calm the panicked feelings in her stomach, she stopped to listen.
Lessieís head snapped to the left. Was that a giggle she just heard? She thought a giggle had been let loose. That was when the breeze picked up. Smiling, Lessien started walking in a straight line and ended up touching Amarion. Grinning with delight, she cried out, "I did it!! I found you Amarion and you get to track us next."
Amarion was turning his head from Aragorn to Lessien and back to Aragorn with a look of shock on his face. It showed in Amarionís voice as he asked the both of them, "How..!?!" The others had come over quickly after Lessien had found Amarion. They also looked puzzled, but Legolas saw something else on their faces. While they were puzzled, they were also curious. The Elven Prince smiled seeing the winds of change were beginning their work among the children. He also had hope acceptance of Lessien was not far behind.
Grinning, Aragorn kneeled in front of them, "Rangers need to use all four of their senses when tracking in the wild. There are times when one sense is dulled however. It may be from the weather. An injury we have gained from either travel or battle may also dull one of our senses. Because of this, we try to keep all of four of our senses trained to be used in tracking." Pausing for a moment, Aragorn continued,
"I once only had my sense of touch to guide my footsteps back to a campsite when I was on patrol. A blizzard had caught me out while I had been checking the boundaries of our campsite. I could not see nor hear anything thanks to the effects of snow and wind. Thankfully, I had noticed the types of trees near the campsite. By knowing the feel of the bark of the various trees, I was able by touch to find my way back." Looking at the children, Aragorn could not help but wonder if the two boys in front of him just received the first lessons on the road to their own places among The Rangers of the North. Turning to Lessien, he asked, "Is that how you began your tracking Lessie? By feel?"
The group of friends turned towards Lessien. All of them interested in how this girl they believed was nothing but an useless burden to their play, had so easily found one of them. Smiling shyly, Lessie started to explain. "Well, at first..." The young girl paused for a moment. Lessien remembered while she knew exactly who the Ranger really was, the others did not. She had a feeling Aragorn would prefer it stayed that way.
"At first...Strider, I did use my sense of touch. When I crouched and started slowly feeling my hands over the ground, I noticed there was a place where the grass was not standing up. I realized that meant someone had walked on it. By stopping every few steps to make sure I was following trampled grass, I followed the trail. Until I came to an area where the only place the grass was trampled was behind me. I knew that meant the person who had walked on it had turned and went back the way they came."
Aragorn was nodding in approval. Catching himself, the Ranger realized while the others could see him nodding, Lessie could not. Squeezing her hand, Aragorn told her, "Very well done Lessie. I saw you turn and look a little worried, but you did not panic. You stopped and concentrated on the clues around you. Tell the others what took place after that."
Aragorn was proud of her. Lessie heard it in his voice. Her Chieftain was proud of *her*. The one who was usually the target of any number of slurs and derision within the village. A tone of confidence the girl never knew had been missing in her voice was there when Lessien continued.
"When I stopped to calm myself and listen, I heard someone giggle. I am
not sure who it was. I think it was either Eirien or Gilenor. The giggle sounded like my own. A giggle from a girl." Gilenor gasped and her eyes widened in shock. The Ranger was grinning at her. As was Legolas. Aragorn remembered an expression Lord Elrond was fond of. Something about being caught with your hand in the sweets box.
Lessie turned to Amarion. She knew he was to her right. Smiling, Lessien told him, "That is when the breeze picked up. Not long after, I became aware of a very distinctive scent on the air. The one the hops plant has. Your Grandsire makes the ale for the village Amarion and uses it in the ingredients for the ale. You and your Naneth live with him and the scent of the plant is in the clothing you wear."
Amarion started to say something to that, but Lessien brought up her hands to explain. "Not to worry. It is not noticeable most times. It is a pungent smell however. You were in the same path as the breeze took and it carried the smell to me. I knew I only had to follow it to find you and find you I did." Finishing her explanation, Lessie turned to where she knew Aragorn was. Standing proudly, she asked, "Well Strider? Would I be a worthy tracker?"
Aragorn made sure the pride he was feeling in his new friend was his voice when he answered. "Yes Lessien. You would be a most worthy tracker indeed." Turning to the other children, he told them, "Do the rest of you not agree?" They all nodded and when they did, Aragornís heart sang in joy and relief. For not only were they smiling, but the children were all looking at Lessien with newfound respect in their eyes. His plan had worked. Turning to Amarion, the Ranger asked him, "Do you think you may be able to track your friends while blindfolded and only using your other senses?"
Amarion thought for a moment before answering. When he did, the boy told Aragorn, "Only if you and Legolas help me as you did Lessien. I am positive. Please Strider? Will you teach me as you did her?" The tone Amarion had spoke the word Ďherí with had not escaped the notice of Aragorn or Legolas. Unlike the contempt the word had been used by the children when they first met, it had been replaced with a note of respect.
Aragorn looked around him, saw the shadows lengthening and sighed sadly. "I am deeply sorry my young friend, but we can not." The children all looked at the Ranger disappointed. He gave them all a bittersweet smile, "I am afraid Legolas and I must take our leave now. If we do not, we will not reach the campsite we are travelling to before nightfall." Five small faces all took on looks of sadness. Aragorn turned to Amarion. "I do know of one who is perfect for teaching you and the others to track as Lessien, the Rangers and myself do. This person even lives in your village."
The boy looked at Aragorn eagerly. "Really Strider? Who?" Amarion was also confused. He knew for the most part all of the men of the village were on patrol with their respective Ranger companies. Including his own Ada. The others were either elderly or unable to serve. "I can not think of any in the village who could do this. I do not understand Strider. Of whom are you speaking of?"
Aragorn grinned at the young boy. Looking at him in the eye, the Ranger told him, "Look to your left Amarion. Whom do you see?" As Amarion looked at Lessien, he groaned as the obvious answer came to him. Chuckling, Aragorn continued, "Whom better to teach all of you these skills? She is your peer and also a person who depends on her other senses to make up for the loss of one? Can you think of one better Amarion?"
"No Strider. I can not." Just then, Amarion remembered something. Something that Strider had told them earlier. How not trying to find a way for Lessien to play with all of them was also a form of blindness. It was not until that very moment Amarion realized the truth in what the Ranger had told them. Turning to Lessie, he asked her, "Would you be willing Lessien to teach me to track as you do? So that I may learn to broaden my own senses? Please?"
Tears were seen in Lessienís eyes as her entire face lit up. For the first time in a very long time, someone other than a family member was asking for her to teach them something. Grinning, she started nodding. "It would be my honour to teach you Amarion. Would the rest of you be willing to take part as well?" She held her breath. Afraid to hope, Lessien waited for the others to answer her.
Ostalledon came forward. Smiling sheepishly, he told her, "I would very much like to learn more about the way you found Amarion. Would you also please teach me?" The boy looked just as nervous as Lessie was looking. When her face broke into a grin, Ostalledon relaxed. He knew at least the three of them would be playing this new game together. There only remained the girls.
Eirien and Gilenor came forward at the same time and they both looked ashamed. Eirien took Lessienís hands in hers, then said, "Lessien...Both of us are so very sorry for how we have treated you. If you are willing to forgive us, we also would like to learn what is needed to know to play the game properly. Will you?"
The happiness in Lessieís voice shone through as she answered, "All I desired was a way to be able to play with all of you. Now that it is before me, how I can not accept it? I forgive you. All of you." Knowing from the scent of the lilies that grew in front of her home that Gilenor was standing to her left, Lessie turned and gave the girl a hug. The distance that once stood between Lessien and the rest of the children vanished in that moment. Before any of them realized it, Eirien and the boys found themselves joining in the hug.
Breaking away from it, Lessien realized the sun was no longer overhead. She knew what that meant. Aragorn and Legolas needed to go and go now if they were to reach their campsite in the little time there was left to the day. Turning her head in the last direction she knew they were at, Lessie asked, "Strider?"
"I am here pen neth." Aragorn answered, "I would very much like to walk with you to where your doll and basket of food are. We can say our fare wells there." Looking at the new friends he had helped Lessien make that day, he told them, "I am very glad to have met all of you. I will pass along your greetings to your fathers when I see them next. It will help them greatly to know all of you are well. May the grace of the Valar protect and guide you all. Fare well." Nodding at Legolas, Aragorn took Lessieís hand and they left the Elven Prince to make his own fare wells to the group of children.
Aragorn wanted to wait until they had reached the part of the field where he and Lessie had met earlier in the day. He knew the chance of the others overhearing their conversation would be less if he did. All too soon, they reached their destination. Aragorn kneeled down in front of Lessien and asked, "Well my young Lady, I do not think you will be lacking any friends now. Do you?"
Lessie giggled as she answered, "No, Aragorn. I no longer will be lonely." Taking a deep breath, Lessie reached for his arms. Just to make sure she knew the distance was right. Suddenly, Lessie flung herself into the arms of the man she knew was both her Chieftain and her friend. "Hannon le mellon nin." Realizing what Aragorn had done for her finally sunk in then and Lessie started to cry.
Pulling away from her, Aragorn put his fingers on her chin and lifted Lessieís face up. "What is this? Tears of joy I hope?" The smile on the little girlís face answered Aragornís questions. Gently wiping away some of them, he told her, "So I thought." The Ranger paused for a moment, then took both of Lessienís hands in his, "Lessien, I know you will cherish the memory of this day. There are two more things I would like to tell you before I take my leave of you. If I may?"
The little girl nodded and Aragorn paused. To make sure Lessien was really listening to him. "You will not have an easy life pen neth. People will see your blindness without seeing you and the person you are. Due to that, they will think you are unable to do much of anything. You will need to show those people they are mistaken and you are capable of many things. I have faith in you. Never forget that."
If Lessie was smiling before, she was now positively beaming. "You have faith in me Aragorn?" Aragorn brought one of her hands to his chin so she knew he was nodding. "You need not worry then. Knowing you, our Chieftain, believes in me will aid me more than you even know." Her brow wrinkled in confusion then. "You said there were two things."
Aragorn laughed. "Yes, I did say that did I not?" Lessie nodded and waited for the Ranger to continue. Aragorn sighed, then told her, "This is very important to remember Lessien. *In learning you will teach and in teaching you will learn.* That means when you learn a new skill, often you will find yourself teaching that same skill to someone else as the years pass. There are times when you learn something from someone as you are teaching them. Do you understand what I am saying my young Lady?"
Aragorn watched Lessieís face as she thought for a moment. It took a few moments, but he saw the expression on her face change as the meaning of what the Ranger had said came to her. She asked him, "You are talking about what took place here this day, are you not? By telling how I found Amarion, the others learned how I use my other senses. They in return learned not finding other ways for me to play alongside of them caused a form of their own blindness. It is another way of saying if you allow yourself to be open to new things, everyone reaps the rewards. Do I have that right Aragorn?"
Aragorn hugged her tightly, "It sounds as if you do. Do not forget it. It will aid you in many ways to teach others of what you face and you will learn much in return." Seeing Legolas coming with Lessieís group of new friends following him, the Ranger knew it was time to take his leave. Whispering in Lessieís ear, he told her, "I do not know when I will come this way again. When I do, I will come to see how you are faring. I will also tell your father his daughter is one of the bravest people I have met. May the grace of the Valar protect and guide you pen neth."
Softly stroking her cheek, Aragorn told her, "Legolas and the children are very near. However, before we go, there is one more gift I would give you." Lessien looked puzzled, but before she could ask or say anything, Legolas and her new playmates had joined them.
Aragorn looked at the Elven Prince with a grin both on his face and in his voice. "Well, well mellon nin. It seems I am not the only one to have gained a new friend here this day." All Legolas could do was smile at the Ranger. They were in front of young ones after all. He would deal with Aragorn in due time on their trip and Legolas would have the aid of Estelís twin foster brothers as well. His smile grew at the prospects of that. Aragorn noticed and he had a good idea of what was in his friendís mind. He had one last thing to take care of before they resumed their journey though.
"Legolas, I have a favour to ask of you before we take our leave. Lessien has only one way of knowing what someone looks like. That is by laying her hands on your face and her exploring it. I think our young friend here would very much like to Ďseeí what the only Elf she may ever meet looks like. Do you not share that thought?" Legolas smiled at the Ranger, kneeled on the grass and gently guided Lessienís hands to his face.
As he watched Lessien explain what she was doing to the other children, Aragorn could see the wonder growing on their faces. Especially since she was doing an excellent description of Legolasí facial features. As respect for Lessie continued to replace the contempt the two friends had felt, and seen when they stumbled on to the group of children, the Ranger could not do anything other than smile. They had done good work this day. That thought brought badly needed peace to Aragornís mind. A feeling he had not felt in many months.
Aragornís smile turned to a grin as he realized that peace was not to last long. Not if he was right and Legolas intended to have his foster brothers help in tormenting the Ranger during their hunting trip. Noticing Lessien had finished Ďseeingí Legolasí face, and that she had lingered over the Princeís ears, Aragorn sighed. He asked the Elf, "We have just enough time left in the day to reach the campsite mellon nin. I believe it is also time these young ones were on their way back to their homes. Is it not?"
Legolas looked at the children in front of him and nodded. "It is. I have bidden all of you fare well, but I have not done the same with Lessien." Crouching down to the little girl, the Elven Prince whispered into her ear, "May you be blessed young one. You are a special child, capable of many things. Do not forget that. Fare well." Turning towards Aragorn, he asked his friend, "If we are to reach the campsite before night falls my friend, we should be on our way." Legolas gave a bow to the children, then turned to start up the hill and back to the road.
Aragorn sighed regretfully, but knew his friend was right. Turning to the children, he told them, "May our paths cross again. Fare well." Giving one last look at Lessien, he also saw Amarion come forward and take her hand. He gave the lad an approving smile and turned to follow Legolas. The Elf was waiting for him at the top of the hill.
The Ranger lingered only long enough to make sure the children were on the path and back to the village. "You need not worry my friend. Lessien is being aided. I do have the feeling it is much different aid than in the past. Friends may aid and lift any burden from another friendís shoulders. Do you not agree?" Legolas grinned at Aragorn. From the many long years of doing the very same thing for the Ranger, Legolas realized what Aragorn had done today for Lessien.
Aragorn turned to Legolas and grinned, "Aye, I do." Pausing for a moment, he looked his friend in the eye, "I do not tell you this enough Legolas, but if it was not for you and your friendship all these years..." The Elf clasped the Rangerís shoulder and squeezed hard. Aragorn returned the gesture, smiled his thanks to his friend, then said, "We must be on our way. If we do not, the Ranger company we are joining will not leave us anything for our own supper. Come."
As they resumed their journey, Aragornís thoughts could not help but be on Lessien. It was true he did not know when next he would be in the area. However, Aragorn would need to be in Fornost mid winter to officiate at the marriage of a cousin. A smile came to his face. Perhaps, his journey at that time could bring him through Lessienís village. With the grace of the Valar, and some planning of his own, the Ranger would meet the young girl again. A promise is a promise and Aragorn never broke a promise.
Seeing the Ranger on watch of the outskirts of the campsite in the distance, Aragorn quickened his pace. As he did, the Ranger also remembered the piece of advice he had given Lessien. ĎIn learning you will teach and in teaching you will learn indeed." Aragorn began to softly laugh, ĎLessien learned confidence in her own skills by my teaching this day, and in turn, I was taught by her to not take what I have for granted.í
Aragorn smiled as he could see Legolas greeting the guard. ĎI have taken your friendship for granted for too many years now dear friend. It took a girl with no sight to remind me of the gift of your friendship. The Valar work in mysterious ways at times.í Seeing Legolas and the guard wave at him, Aragorn hurried over. This was to be a night full of tales, song and friendship. If there was one all important lesson of this day it was this: Friendship is a powerful gift not to be missed.
Aragorn intended not to ignore the lesson learned that day. With his arm around Legolasí shoulder, they entered the campsite together. Aragorn greeted his men, then went to check on Roheryn. Returning to the campfire he took the plate of food offered him and sat down beside Legolas.
Not long after finishing his supper, Aragorn smiled at his men and told them, "Allow me to begin the telling of tales this night. You all know the exercise used to teach the skills needed if one or more of our senses are lost to us, do you not?" Wry glances were shared by the group of Rangers. It was an exercise they all knew and knew well. Their very survival depended on the skills it taught them.
Aragorn grinned as he could easily tell what they were all thinking. Trying to keep the laughter out of his voice, Strider continued, "Earlier this day, it was used for a much different purpose..." Sensing the feeling of fellowship settling around them, the Ranger paused to savour the moment. Sighing, then grinning at the group around the campfire, Aragorn began telling them the tale. Of how the exercise they used to help them survive in the wild, aided a little sightless girl to find friendship and a place of belonging.
Ada ~ Daddy
Naneth ~ Mother
pen neth ~
Hannon le ~
~ My friend
~ Well met