Aragorn sighed deeply as he read through the sheaf of documents upon his desk. He never liked paperwork at the best of times, but had learned to deal easily and swiftly with the countless petitions, amendments to obscure laws and trade agreements.
Today though was different. A message had come from the Captain of the Garrison at Umbar to say that border incursions by the Haradrim were becoming more frequent. Several men had been killed and their horses and weapons stolen. The Captain requested reinforcements and permission to pursue the raiders and give battle over the border if need be. To do so, might quickly solve the problem, or escalate into all out war with Harad. To fail to act would show Gondor as weak and lead to the raids becoming bolder and the deaths more frequent.
Aragorn sent for Faramir to discuss the issue. The Seward did indeed have valuable insights, but he concluded, as he must. “You are the King, mellon nîn. It must be your decision.”
Aragorn was starting to develop a headache and decided to take a walk around the City. As always, his guards flanked him. He passed a group of children playing a game together and a troupe of acrobats amusing the crowds. He stopped for a while. The people hurrying through the streets all paused to acknowledge him. He watched them; merchants carrying their wares, woman shopping for their families, soldiers returning to the barracks, merrymakers leaving the taverns. Suddenly, he felt very lonely.
He turned and went back to the Citadel. He found Arwen hard at work with her ladies weaving a tapestry. ”What does it depict, my love?” he enquired.
“It is a scene of the Last Alliance,” his wife told him.
“Will it take long to complete?” he asked.
“Only a few months as each of us is weaving a part of it,” she explained, turning back to her work.
Feeling he was interrupting the ladies, Aragorn returned to his study and continued with the paperwork. There were several death warrants for him to sign. The magistrates had judged the crimes, but only the King had the power to sanction death or pardon the criminal. Aragorn studied each case carefully. There seemed to be no extenuating circumstances in any of them. He sighed the death warrants, as always with a heavy heart, that any of his people could act so basely.
The sun was setting. Aragorn laid aside the paperwork and went to join his wife for dinner together with Faramir who was invited to dine with them that evening.
“You look troubled, my love,” said Arwen, while they ate their soup.
“Sometimes, I feel very alone,” said the King. “There are so many decisions that I alone must make.”
“You will make the right ones, Estel,” she soothed.
“ I can only hope so, “ he replied.
”The Valar would not have chosen you and raised you to such high station were you not just, wise and merciful,” said the Steward emphatically.” I would never have surrendered the Rod to a lesser man. You might be alone, but were you to rule unwisely, I would tell you so.”
“As would I,” said Arwen. “ Remember, Estel, though you be set apart, those who love you are here by your side.”
For the first time that day, Aragorn smiled.