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Call yourself Thorongil  by Nilmandra

For Meckinock on her birthday – she asked for adult ranger Aragorn. Blood, mud, and sweat are givens whenever a ranger is present, and ‘Deal’ is a bonus.

Thanks to daw the minstrel for beta reading this story.

Call Yourself Thorongil

Fall, 2956 Third Age

Aragorn scouted around the ranger campsite, noting the lack of any recent tracks or evidence of visitors, then entered the clearing and sat down hard on the ground, groaning as he stretched sore legs out in front of him. He felt as if he had just walked for miles over rocky ground on worn out boots with a wound in his thigh.

He laughed grimly. “Perhaps that is because you have just walked for miles over rocky ground on worn out boots with a wound in your thigh,” he answered himself in a quiet voice.

He leaned back against a rock, letting the fading sun warm his face. He had asked Elladan and Elrohir if being alone in the wild led them to speak out loud just to hear the sound of a familiar friendly voice, but they had grinned at him, then looked at each other, holding some silent conversation in which he could not participate. At that moment, he had begun to understand what Halbarad had meant when he said they were the most useful non-mortals he had ever met, yet entirely bewildering.

Halbarad had understood, though. Halbarad said they normally worked in small groups or pairs at least, for it was not good to be out in the wild alone. Yet he had not argued when Aragorn said he needed to learn to be on his own. He needed to understand loneliness, he needed to struggle with isolation and depending solely on himself.

He drank from his waterskin, then dug in his pack for some waybread. It was old and lacking in flavor, but he had neither the inclination nor the energy to scavenge for a better meal. Between bites he did build a fire with the wood neatly stacked behind the rocks at the edge of the clearing. Nights had grown cold and he was damp with sweat. He also needed to clean his leg wound.

His hunger satiated and the blaze providing warmth and comfort, he pried off his boots. His trousers proved more difficult, and he grunted as dried blood was stripped off with the torn cloth and mud. The wound bled, making muddy red rivulets down his leg. He took some of the water he had heated and dumped it over the area, gritting his teeth at the pain.

He looked up suddenly at the sound of leaves and twigs crunching underfoot. He went absolutely still, listening. The footsteps continued with no attempt to hide their approach: one person, heavy, carrying and occasionally using a walking stick. Not an elf then. A ranger would have announced his presence. Surely whoever it was had seen his fire.

Aragorn silently picked up his sword and stepped into the shadows. He waited, listening, then suddenly realized the person was humming. He was certain it was a tune he had heard during his childhood in Imladris.

A tall man in a grey robe stepped into the clearing, thumping his walking stick hard on to the ground. He pushed the brim of his pointed blue hat up with his free hand, looking around. His eyes finally landed on Aragorn.

“Ah, there you are. Well, what are you cooking? I see a fire but do not smell anything.”

Aragorn stepped into the firelight, slowly lowering his sword. He had seen this person before, he was sure of it, and by description he could be only one person.


“Yes, yes, Mithrandir, or Gandalf. Whichever you please.”

The wizard looked Aragorn up and down, then snorted and placed his stick against the rock and seated himself with a sigh on a tree stump. Once comfortable, he looked back at Aragorn inquiringly. “Do you intend to stand there half naked or do you intend to finish tending that wound and then sit down to keep me company?”

Aragorn walked back to where he had been sitting and re-sheathed his sword. He finished washing the wound, then treated it as Elrond had taught him and bandaged the area. He dug in his pack for his spare trousers, put them on, and then tossed the dirty ones aside. He would wash and repair them later.

Mithrandir said nothing. He took out his pipe and filled it, then lit it and leaned back to enjoy it, blowing smoke circles. Only when Aragorn was finished did the wizard speak.

“Taught by Elrond, I see,” said Mithrandir.

“Yes,” replied Aragorn. “How did you know?”

“First, the elves call me Mithrandir; men call me Gandalf. Second, Elrond is very particular with the wrapping of wounds. You copy his style down to the final pinning.”

“What are you doing on the road so late?” Aragorn asked.

“Looking for a place to camp, of course,” answered Mithrandir. He looked at Aragorn from under bushy brows, watching him. When Aragorn did not speak again, he laughed and said, “What you really mean is ‘Why am I on this road at all? Where am I going?’ You must say what you really want to know.”

“So why are you on this road and where are you going?”

“I have been in Imladris and I am going west, to the Shire.”

Aragorn felt a sudden longing for a hot meal, warm bath and comfortable bed. He missed his mother and wished to speak to her, and to Elrond. Five years he had been in the wild, with only occasional visits to see them, and in some ways he had more questions now than when he had left. He had spent time among his people, but they were not dependent on him. He had learned what the rangers could teach him, and taken on responsibilities as one of them. He knew it was not enough. His eyes were drawn southward more often than not now; his desire to know what lay beyond the mountains filled his thoughts.

“Why are you on this road and where are you going?”

Aragorn started at the question, for he had been lost in thought.

“I had a skirmish with a few orcs. Although I bested them, one did manage to slash my thigh. I came to this spot because I knew I would be able to tend myself and obtain some rest. Where I am going I have not decided.”

“Perhaps I can help,” offered Mithrandir. “Determining one’s destination is an important endeavor.”

Aragorn eyed the wizard for a moment. He was quick to offer advice, something that made Aragorn a little wary. “Perhaps,” he agreed.

“Good, then begin by telling me what is on your mind, Aragorn son of Arathorn.”

Aragorn tried to mask his surprise, but Mithrandir saw it anyway. “Yes, I know who you are. Rumor reached me that Isildur’s heir had appeared again in the North. Elrond has confirmed the rumor as true. Since I have not met you before and since you bear a strong resemblance to your father, you must be him.”

“If you have spoken to Elrond, then you know a great doom has been laid upon me,” replied Aragorn after a while.

“So Elrond has said,” agreed Mithrandir. He waved away Aragorn’s offer of stale waybread and instead dug provisions from his own pack. He tossed a package to Aragorn.

Aragorn hesitated, but the wizard continued digging through his pack, pulling out other items for himself. He opened the wrapping, recognizing cook’s work. Inside were some of his favorite foods. He looked up at Mithrandir in question.

“Elladan indicated they had seen you in this area not long ago. Cook sent that in case I ran into you.”

Aragorn was touched by the kindly cook’s gesture. Knowing Elladan had spoken to Mithrandir and cook entrusted him with his gift, eased his mind about speaking freely.

“Elrond and the elves taught me well, and the rangers also, and I will gladly serve as my father before and as all the rangers do now, keeping the North safe, but it does not seem to me that this will prepare me for the doom that lies before me.”

“Ah,” replied Mithrandir. He took a long draw on his pipe and blew out a smoke ring. The ring twisted and turned, becoming a great tower, before dissipating into the air. “Well, that is indeed a dilemma.”

Mithrandir fell silent and said no more, and Aragorn blew out an exasperated sigh. Perhaps the wizard was not so different from an elf after all. Mithrandir raised one bushy brow at him. Aragorn fought down the flush creeping up his cheeks and leaned back against his rock.

“I am chieftain of the Dúnedain, yet they have functioned without a chieftain since the death of my father. I am too young and inexperienced to lead them, and have instead availed myself of learning all I can from them. I should grow into my position among them, fulfilling the role and obligations of chieftain. That is my duty. Yet discontent grows in me. I know much of the lore beyond these lands, but little about those who live there now. How can I prepare myself for the doom Elrond has said is mine if I am living in the wild?”

“You cannot,” replied Mithrandir. He sat upright and shook his pipe. “Let us being with duty. The north is your home and the Dúnedain your people, but it is only part of a larger whole. Isildur’s heir is also heir to Gondor and the southern realms. They are also your people.”

“They may be my people, but they are unlikely to welcome me, if the stories told in Imladris and by the rangers are true. The stewards have ruled for many hundreds of years, and I am very young.”

“They are not likely to welcome you,” agreed Mithrandir. “Yet you have a duty to them as well. You must learn all you can of their ways. You must learn all you can of Gondor’s allies and enemies as well.”

“If they will not welcome Elendil’s heir now, then I must fulfill my duty in some other way,” said Aragorn. He chewed on the clever bar of fruit, nuts, honey and grains that cook had sent.

“Indeed. It seems to me that you must go and live among them,” proposed Mithrandir.

Aragorn felt hope growing within him. He had longed to go south, and Mithrandir, whom men and elves both respected, confirmed his need to go. The wizard even seemed to think it was his duty. That eased his heart, for he had felt conflicted, wondering if his upbringing among the elves had led him to have less concern for his own people and his duty to them. “Were I to go, I must go under alias,” mused Aragorn.

“That would be wise. Tell none your true identity. Even the trees have ears, and the enemy’s spies are everywhere. Sauron’s reach is long, even if he is not in bodily form.” Mithrandir studied him for a long moment. “I shall give you a name. Call yourself Thorongil.”

“Thorongil,” repeated Aragorn softly. “Eagle of the star. The star is the sign of the northern Dúnedain, but why the eagle?”

Mithrandir reached into his pack and pulled out a large flask. He took a drink, then passed it to Aragorn. Aragorn sniffed, then smiled and took a long draw. “Elrond sent it with me. Couldn’t imagine why he thought I would want to carry it.”

Aragorn looked at him in question, for the wizard’s words were laced with amusement.

“Perhaps Glorfindel and I did finish off a few of these from his cellars,” admitted Mithrandir. “He stashed this in my pack with a long suffering sigh, indicating we had missed one.”

Aragorn smiled. He missed the dry humor of his foster father and Glorfindel.

“Are you familiar with the Elessar?” asked Mithrandir.

Aragorn searched his memory for mention of the word. “In the tale of Gondolin there was such a name.”

“Indeed, though Gondolin was not my concern. It is a name that you may one day bear, Aragorn, should you achieve all that we hope for. He who is called Elessar shall reunite the kingdoms of Men. This prophecy has existed for many generations. I believe the name is meant for you.”

“What has that to do with an eagle?”

“The Elessar is an elfstone set in the shape of an eagle.”

The Elessar will come from the Dunedain of the North. Eagle of the star, mused Aragorn.

“I would start in Rohan. King Thengel is a friend of mine. Rohan is Gondor’s closest ally. Thengel’s word is held in high regard by Ecthelion, Steward of Gondor. If you arrive in Gondor with Thengel’s recommendation, you will be well received.”

Aragorn sat up straight as the ideas took root in his heart. “I will go,” he replied.

“In the spring,” counseled Mithrandir.

“In the spring,” agreed Aragorn. “That gives me time to speak to Halbarad, and wish fare well to my kin.”

Aragorn rose and shook out his stiff leg, then walked out to the perimeter of the camp and made a pass around it. Coming back into the clearing, he shook out his bedroll and made himself as comfortable as one could on the hard ground. “I will keep watch, if you wish to sleep,” he told Mithrandir.

“None will come near this night. You look like you could use the sleep. Do so. I am not yet tired, having rested long in Imladris.”

Aragorn wondered if the wizard would keep watch or fall asleep himself, but he was weary and something told him that the wizard had lived a lot longer in Middle-earth than he had and was still alive, and that said something. He fell asleep.

He awoke to the smell of breakfast and the nudge of a boot in his side. He rolled over and sat up, and looked from the plate of food set next to him to the wizard sitting down to eat his own plate near the fire.

“Well, get up and eat while it is hot. I will expect you to cook next time we meet.”

“Deal,” replied Aragorn. He ate quickly, then washed and repacked his supplies. He took an extra few minutes and replenished the firewood he had used. Mithrandir had doused and covered the fire, and was waiting with walking stick in hand. They walked together to the road.

“I head west. Have you decided where you are going?” asked Mithrandir.

“East,” replied Aragorn. “To Imladris and then to the rangers. I wish to take counsel with Elrond and Halbarad.”

“Then here we part. We will meet again, perhaps in Rohan or Gondor. Fare well, Thorongil!” With those parting words, Mithrandir tapped his walking stick on the ground and set forth along the road at a pace that belied his age.

Aragorn watched him go. Mithrandir did not look back, but lifted his staff in the air. His voice rose in song. Aragorn watched until the wizard had disappeared beyond a bend in the road.

He slung his pack over his shoulder and turned east. “Thorongil,” he murmured. “I was just used to Aragorn.”

The end

A/N: Come on, you knew there had to be some:

And Olórin said: "This I bring to you from Yavanna. Use it as you may, and for a while you shall make the land of your dwelling the fairest place in Middle-earth. But it is not for you to possess. You shall hand it on when the time comes. For before you grow weary, and at last forsake Middle-earth one shall come who is to receive it, and his name shall be that of the stone: Elessar he shall be called." Mithrandir (Olórin) to Galadriel, Unfinished Tales.

In this version of the tale of the Elessar, Mithrandir/ Olórin/Gandalf brought the Elessar from Valinor and gave it to Galadriel. Idril had left it to Eärendil as a token he would need when he went to plead to the Valar in the First Age. Olórin returned that same Elessar in this version. In other versions, Celebrimbor made for Galadriel a new Elessar in the Second Age.

In the Fellowship of the Ring, Galadriel gave the Elessar to Aragorn. This could be the wedding gift that is listed in Laws and Customs of the Eldar, a sign of Galadriel’s faith that they would succeed and Aragorn and Arwen would marry. It is also likely a fulfillment of Olórin’s prophecy.

'Yet maybe this will lighten your heart,' said Galadriel; 'for it was left in my care to be given to you, should you pass through this land.' Then she lifted from her lap a great stone of a clear green, set in a silver brooch that was wrought in the likeness of an eagle with outspread wings; and as she held it up the gem flashed like the sun shining through the leaves of spring. 'This stone I gave to Celebrían my daughter, and she to hers; and now it comes to you as a token of hope. In this hour take the name that was foretold for you, Elessar, the Elfstone of the house of Elendil!' Farewell to Lorien, Fellowship of the Ring

I combined the two stories into one… Gandalf’s prophecy, the stone in Galadriel’s possession, given to her by Celebrimbor.

From Appendix B, we have the following timeline:

2956 Aragorn meets Gandalf and their friendship begins. (Aragorn is 25 years old)

2957-80 Aragorn undertakes his great journeys and errantries. As Thorongil he serves in disguise both Thengel of Rohan and Ecthelion II of Gondor.

As we all know, there are no chance meetings in Tolkien’s world, especially when they involve Gandalf. If Aragorn takes up friendship with Gandalf and the next year heads off as Thorongil to serve Thengel and Ecthelion, then surely a certain wizard had some influence on the decision.

As for the meaning of Thorongil, it does mean ‘Eagle of the Star’. Did Tolkien mean for the eagle to symbolize the Elessar and Star to symbolize the Northern Dúnedain of Númenor? I do not know. But figuring out Tolkien is like peeling an onion.. there are layers upon layers of meaning, and this one just seems to fit all too well… that the Elessar would come from the Northern Dúnedain.

Now this is really the end. .

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