As they rode out of the White City to begin the final journey northward once more, the new King of Gondor and Armor wore ancient armor that had a dark finish to it, and that was emblazoned with the symbol of the White Tree and the Seven Stars upon the breastplate. The smith smiled to see it, even as he’d envisioned it so often in his dreams. “It becomes you well,” he said, coming up alongside the Man’s horse.
Aragorn looked down upon the breastplate. “As we awaited the ordering of the forces that should make up the Army of the West to march upon the gates of Mordor, Faramir there and Lord Húrin, Warden of the Keys for the Citadel of Minas Tirith, took counsel between them as to how I might be best garbed to lead the army. Faramir set Húrin to scour the armories for some armor that might fit me, although they worried that there might not be armor fit to my stature within the Citadel’s stores. But it was Húrin who decided that it was only proper that I should wear this. I suspect that Denethor would have been greatly upset that I should wear it, for it is said that Meneldil wore this on the day he was made King of Gondor by my ancestor Isildur as High King of the West. He must have been taller than his statues indicate to wear this armor, for it was crafted, I fear, for someone even taller than I am.”
The smith laughed. “Oh, but Meneldil was not quite as tall as you are. Nor was the armor originally intended for him. Nay, it was made specifically for someone who was taller than both of you.”
Aragorn smiled with interest. “You know? Then for----” And then he realized for whom it must have been forged. “For Elendil himself, then? But it was said that his armor was of Elven make, and wrought in the North!”
“As indeed it was,” the smith assured him.
He smiled again as he felt his spirit freed from concern for the first time in over an Age of this world. He would tell Elrond’s last fosterling the tale of the armor and much else. And when the time came he would accompany Elrond West, and at last accept the pardon of the Valar, assured he had done the best he could to help fight the evil loosed upon Middle Earth for the last three Ages of the Sun.
He looked to one side and saw there the Ringbearer riding upon his bay pony, heading home at last. His heart was moved by the isolation he sensed the Hobbit knew, and he felt glad that at least Frodo Baggins no longer wore the braided chain he’d worn out of Imladris. The time for that chain was now gone, he realized gratefully. He only hoped that the Queen’s jewel he now wore gave the Hobbit strength and comfort enough to find himself once more as he returned to the life he’d known before.
And if not—well, perhaps the Valar would grant him the grace to find peace in another way.
I will stand by you as I can, our Lord Iorhael, he vowed in his heart. I will stand by you as I can, for the sake of all I have ever loved and honored who are no longer here in Middle Earth. And for Estel’s own sake as well. You are not alone, you will find.