B2MeM Prompt and Path: The Darkening of Valinor. Purple Path.
Format: Ficlet, chapter.
Genre: Childhood, drama.
Characters: Aragorn, Eldarion, Morgoth, Ungoliant
The characters are the Property of Tolkien and his heirs.
"Ada, you're home!" cried Eldarion as his father appeared in his bedchamber that evening. He sat up straight in bed. "You missed the eclipse, it was such fun."
Aragorn planted a kiss on his son's forehead and gestured to the nanny to leave. "I didn't miss it, ion nîn, I watched it with Ambassador Tahir and his family in the stone circle."
"Why couldn't you have watched it with Naneth and I?" Eldarion pouted.
"Some of the people were frightened," Aragorn explained. "As King, it was my duty to be there to reassure them."
"I wasn't frightened at all," said Eldarion. "Naneth's maid was, though, she said it was like the darning of Valinor. What's that Ada? Did the Elves have holes in their stockings?"
"The Darkening of Valinor," Aragorn corrected.
"What's the Darkening of Valinor, then? I know Valinor is where the Elves and the Valar live, but why do they want to live there if it's dark?"
"I had come to tell you a bedtime story while Naneth feeds your sister and puts her to bed, but the Darkening of Valinor is a scary story with an evil monster best kept for the morning light."
"I'm a big boy now, I don't get scared. I wasn't scared at all of the eclipse. I like monsters too!"
Aragorn sighed and settled himself on the foot of the bed, disturbing the nursery cat who had been sleeping there. The cat gave him a baleful stare and started to groom herself.
"Very well," said Aragorn. "I hope you do not have nightmares, though." He remained lost in thought for a moment, remembering when Master Elrond had told him his story and wondering how much he should tell Eldarion. He absent mindedly stroked the cat as he began. "Long, long ago there was no sun and no moon and Valinor was illuminated by the light of two beautiful trees."
Eldarion looked sceptical. "Two trees? How could they be big and tall enough to light everywhere?"
"They were magical trees and things were different in that long ago time," said Aragorn. "Ask Grandfather Celeborn when he next visits, as your Grandmother Galadriel remembers the trees and would have told him about them. Our own White Tree is the image of Telperion, the tree that gave light at night."
"Oh." Eldarion lapsed into silence.
"Long, long ago, the King of the Valar, Lord Manwë , held a great feast and all the Valar and the Eldar were invited. The Enemy in those days was Morgoth and he was even more terrible than Sauron. He devised a wicked plot as he hated both the Valar and the Eldar."
"Why?" asked Eldarion.
Aragorn had to think for a moment. "I suppose because he was jealous of them. They could make beautiful things and he could create nothing."
"So what happened?" Eldarion demanded. "What did this Morgoth do?"
"Morgoth asked an evil giant spider called Ungoliant to aid him with his wicked plan. Ungoliant helped Morgoth reach the Two Trees by shrouding both herself and her ally in magic webs of pure darkness. Ungoliant drank the sap from the Two Trees and with it their light, after Morgoth wounded them with his great spear. The trees withered and died and Valinor was plunged into darkness."
"For how long?" asked Eldarion. "The eclipse didn't last very long. Was it for longer than that?"
"Fifty long years the darkness lasted, while by the light of the stars alone, the Valar created the sun and moon from two fruits that Lady Yavanna and Lady Nienna managed to save from the Two Trees."
"What a long time it took them!" said Eldarion.
"I doubt fifty years is very long for the Valar," said Aragorn. "That time is known as the Long Night, though."
"What happened next? Did the Elves get lost in the dark?" Eldarion asked.
That is another long story for another day, ion nîn," Aragorn said firmly. "It is time now for you to sleep." He dislodged the indignant cat, which had settled on his lap and rose from the bed and tucked the covers firmly around Eldarion.
"Ada?"Eldarion's voice trembled a little.
"Yes, dear one?"
"Could anyone destroy the sun and the moon now like they destroyed the Two Trees in olden days?"
"The sun and the moon are quite safe, ion nîn." Aragorn smiled at his son and walked towards the door.
Aragorn turned back to face Eldarion's bed. "Yes, ion nîn. What else troubles you? I warned you this story might give you nightmares."
"I'm not scared, Ada. I told you I'm a big boy now. I just wanted to ask you if you'd take me to see the stone circle. We've passed it at a distance and it looks fun."
"It belongs to Ambassador Tahir now so we will have to ask him if we can visit. Maybe one day we could watch the moon rise above the stones if he agrees. Would you like that, Eldarion?"
There was no answer. Eldarion was already asleep. Aragorn made to extinguish the lamp. His hand faltered slightly as he thought of the Two Trees. He glanced out of the window at the moon shining serenely in the sky. He extinguished the lamp and went to join Arwen and his baby daughter. It had been a long day, but tomorrow the sun would rise again over a kingdom at peace.