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Of Hope, Stars, and Fate
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Chapter One

We men of Gondor do not choose our names idly, nor do we take those of our forefathers for sake of our lineage. And to string together syllables from a language few beyond the Rammas even understand? To saddle a child with some high fate?

No, we are not so cruel as all that. we turn our eyes to the stars, and name our sons what the fates decree for them, by the hour in which they enter the world. My father brought the lore-master three measures of grain -- the usual payment, for a farmer -- and the hour of my birth, and the lore-master gave him my name.

I thought it a fascinating coincidence when, as a schoolboy, I learned that one of the great Ruling Stewards shared that name. Beregond son of Beren, greatest captain since Boromir! And later, when Boromir -- the lord steward's son, not the general of old -- told his brother the war-stories, I also listened. I learned how he had routed the great southern fleets, and had buried Helm's sons, and had brought hope to Gondor and Rohan alike. And to think, we shared the same stars!

Mother had of course taught me the wisdom known to all all farmers' wives. Go not to the seers, if you would know your future. Go to the lore-masters, and ask about the ones who share your stars. They were the thumbprint of the Valar, she said, and told of a babe's future character and life-history like nothing else could.

But I am no warrior! At least, I do not lust for battle and adventure like Beregond the Steward does, in tales. I have so little in common with him. Why, if I did not know better I would think the lore-masters had made a mistake, if not the Valar themselves!

In the time of Beregond's forefathers the White Tree had withered, and no sapling could be found; that was a piece of history that every man, woman, and child of Minas Tirith knew, especially those of us who guarded the pavilion of that very withered tree!

Faramir told me other stories. My namesake had heard his aged grandfather, in his senility, ask to look upon the White Tree again, which had ceased to flower in his youth. Beregond the Steward -- though he was not yet a steward then -- had long searched the mountains against which Minas Tirith was built, hoping to find a sapling that the previous generations had somehow missed. He searched for 110 days, living on naught but mountain-greens and icy streams, but in the end he found nothing. Worn down by exhaustion and despair, he returned to Minas Tirith, empty-handed, just in time to see his grandfather's last days.

As for me, I never searched for a new sapling or even hoped that one would be found. Faramir made little secret of how he wished to see the Tree in flower again. While I nodded my head and mumbled my agreement, my heart was never in it. Such hopes were the things of childish fantasies, like wishing for the king's return.

Grown men did not order their lives around such phantoms; they hoped for peace and good fortune, the ability to give their children a better life than they had. A white blossom on a centuries-old tree would not give me things such as this!

And yet, the Tree now blooms. The king has returned. Gondor has peace, and I am a Captain! It seems that all of my hopes, and those childish hopes I thought I had put aside, when I became a man. And I find that I never gave up hope; my heart beats so proudly when I look upon it. Beregond had the courage to chase his dreams; I have found them. What my namesake sought and failed to find, I have found without even searching.

Was my mother right, when she said my future would be the same as other men who shared my stars? Nay. Perhaps our fate lies, not in the stars, but in ourselves.


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