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'Neath Anor, Ithil, and Gil
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I Stand No Longer Alone

With thanks to RiverOtter for the Beta

For Imhiriel on her Birthday

I Stand No Longer Alone

It is long since I have rejoiced to serve my function. None save those who clean and polish have ascended my stairs or touched me for what? A millennium? And if a careless hand has left a smear of dust, who would know?

But this time it was not but a single servant while the Steward was in Council, but several under the direction of the Seneschal himself that saw to my needs, who dusted and wiped over me a sweet-scented wax. The windows have been cleaned that the light will fall upon me as soon as Anor rises over the Ephel Dath. And the hands that touch me are not perfunctory or melancholy, but quick and thorough, and I hear about me the deep speech of menservants, the light trill of maids, reverent enough yet their voices filled with--anticipation!

Flowers are brought into the Hall as has not been done since the death of the last Lady of this House. All of the lamps are filled with oil, and candles set in great stands. My steps are swept, then swept once more, and then another time as if to make up for all the neglect and to fill hours of waiting ere some great event comes. And those who clean and wax the great statues even sing as they labor and are not reproved for disturbing the solemnity surrounding me.

Wait--there are footsteps approaching the doors--such footsteps as Ive not felt for so long! Almost I recognize the tread--but I must be mistaken. Certainly if this one had come before he would not have bypassed me as was done then. There is a thrill of music as silver trumpets ring out within the room as has not been done for almost longer than I remember. The doors open, and voices spill into the room, songs and laughter, excitement and uncertainty. And behind the rest that regular, purposeful step--one that has the stones of the city itself ringing with joy!

He approaches, and all go silent, waiting. Will he genuflect to the dais and then take his place, as has been done so often, in the ebony chair on the bottom step? Nay--he pauses looking up at me, then begins to mount the stairs. Are you worthy, Man? Are you daunted by my height? My venerable status?

He climbs steadily, patiently. I wait. And at last he stands, looking down at me. No young Man this; but where perhaps he should be venerable himself I sense the purpose seen in those of middle years. He looks down at me as he lifts the hangers for his sword from his belt, and I sense he has as many questions about me as I have of him. He takes a deep breath, turns, and--and sits!

His boots have trodden many lands, and there hangs about him the scent of running waters crossed, forests and mountains traversed, and the smoke of many fires and smoldering leaves that have warmed him within and without. And he rests across my arms the sheath of a sword--a sword that is far more ancient than I, itself but recently renewed.

And I proudly uphold him and the Light he bears. Few have sat here, and he is the first in a thousand years. Had I a voice I would sing in joy--in joy that the King indeed is come again! Together, Man, you and I--we will see this land renewed!


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