The Heredity and Magnanimity of King Alfred
Last year, I stumbled upon this intriguing piece of Aragorn/Alfred cross-over fan fiction, written by Freikugels. Republished with permission of the author.
In a small village located between the villages of Burrowbridge and East Lyng, the Dawnguard Pub remained as lively as ever. Men gulping pints and having a laugh, clatters of glasses chiming across the place, and serenades from the waitresses. It was a buzzing sight, like a beacon amidst the shadow of an approaching conflict.
Outside the festive crowd, a man sat on his table on the corner in his lonesome. He wore a ragged black traveling cloak, his hood concealing most of his facial features. The traveler sat in silence, smoking his pipe as his eyes trailed across his journal. He occasionally squiggled a few sentences on it with his quill, while humming a melody at the same time. It was a song he was clearly fond of, remarked by the light simper on his lips as he jotted down the lyrics from memory; ‘shadowy hair and arms like silver glimmering…’
“…you’re writing something, sire?”
A soft voice broke her out from his reverie. He turned up and noticed a beautiful woman whom he recognized. She was carrying a tray of his meal— a bucket of bread and ham slices, and a few apples.
“Just something I needed to recall, Merewenna,” the traveler replied politely. “And please, do not call me sire at this time. I am but a mere traveler.”
Merewenna exhaled, placing the tray on top of the table before sitting across him. She looked happy to see him.
“A mere traveler who stands for the weak and risks his life for his people,” she added.
“It is my responsibility, nothing more.”
“You’d be surprised by just how few actually fulfills that responsibility.”
“I don’t know about that. Perhaps they’re doing the same thing I’m doing, watching from within.”
Merewenna sneered smugly. “Unfortunately, you were the one I caught in the act.”
“That, you did,” the traveler agreed, chuckling. “Had I not been entranced by your beauty and
grace the first time I came here, it would’ve been a different story…”
Ah, he could recall that day vividly. Her angelic voice greeted him the moment he stepped in, and his immaculate beauty somehow bewitched him. It kept him coming back… and eventually, she realized it and knew who he was.
“A less exciting one, perhaps?” asked Merewenna, toying with the idea.
“Perhaps,” the traveler nodded. “Perhaps I wouldn’t have thought that I stepped into a dream when I came here. Perhaps I would never experience a feeling of love as prevalent as this. Perhaps I wouldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life with you to the very end…”
Merewenna blushed slightly, but her eyes remained on the traveler.
“I still feel undeserving of such love,” she uttered.
“Do not be, because I love you without question,” said the traveler. “If by my life or death I can protect you, then I surely will. My sword belongs to you, as it is to me.”
“I hope it doesn’t come to that,” said Merewenna. “I simply hope to live a happy life with you.”
“That is what I yearn to do, once all the dust has settled.”
“But… when will it settle?”
The traveler heaved a sigh, unable to answer that question right away. As far as he knew, a storm is brewing within the kingdom, and a conflict is impending. The unrest was something he simply could not get rid of easily.
“When the time calls for it,” he eventually said. “I do not seek war, but if that’s what they want… I— no, we, will not stand down without a fight.”
“So… you’ll risk your life in the front lines if it happens?” asked Merewenna, concern written all over her eyes.
“Yes, for that is my task,” the traveler replied. “I do not fear death, nor do I concern myself with the matter. If it means protecting my people, then so be it.”
“But… should you fall, the kingdom would be powerless without you…!”
“It won’t be. I have raised and guided everyone to stand firm no matter what,” the traveler affirmed. “Whatever obstacle stood in their way, with or without my guidance… they will find the hope and strength to prevail. I believe that my people will do that.”
Merewenna fell into silence, mulling over the traveler’s words. Somehow, his words always find a way to comfort her, to reassure her beliefs…
“…I know for a fact that I will find that hope,” she said afterwards, a valiant smile curling on her lips. “At the very least, I will follow your guidance.”
The traveler chuckled again. “I’m glad to hear that. I will not let this kingdom fall, even if I myself do. I won’t stop helping my people from torment and death, as long as my strength remains. Though… the time where our bonds and fellowship will be tested and may be broken is still far. It will happen someday, and we must all prepare for it.”
“I can imagine you putting up that gallant speech in front of your brave men,” Merewenna joked.
“I’m a stranger to your kingdom affairs, and even I feel reassured by your words…”
“Well… that’s what I aim to do.”
The traveler then began taking a bite off his meal, with Merewenna just watching intently. Longingly. Once all of this blows over, he promised to live together with her… she hoped he’ll make up his word. She noticed something right beside the traveler’s journal— a black stone with a somewhat mystifying aura surrounding it. Merewenna felt somewhat unsettled by it, so she decided to bring it up.
“That stone… what is that?”
The traveler caressed the stone like it was his pet, calmly addressing the matter.
“This is a stone that holds tremendous power, one that only I can wield because I am the rightful master of it,” he explained. “I possess the right and the strength to control it… as I have judged in the past.”
He pushed the food basket aside and got up from his seat after that, placing the stone and his journal back to his rucksack.
“Will you come visit again?” asked Merewenna anxiously.
“If the time calls for it,” the traveler replied with a soft, reassuring smile.
Lugging her rucksack, the traveler trudged through the crowded pub. As he was about to reach the exit, however—
“Oi, watch it!”
Someone had bumped into him. The person took a step back and was about to spout a few curses… but his jaw fell open by what he saw. Everyone, too, fell silent. For the traveler’s hood fell down, revealing a handsome man underneath. He wore a chain around his neck, dangling a plain broad silver ring inscribed with the words ‘I am Ring’.
“…K—King Alfred?! P—pardon my insolence, my lord!”
The man who just bumped into the king immediately bowed down, and so did everyone else in the pub. King Alfred, however, shook his head.
“Raise your head, my friends!” he spoke, his voice as clear as day. “You will bow to no one, not even me! For I view you as equal, and I wish you all to view me the same way I do. That’s why I came with these cloaks and not a gown of royalty— because you and I are the same!”
Everyone immediately got back on their feet as King Alfred finished his speech.
“Huzzah to King Alfred!” shouted one man at the back of the pub.
Everyone followed the cheers, as King Alfred smiled at every single one of them… hoping that he could install hope to these people, along with everyone in his kingdom. As long as he could do that… he was satisfied.