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The Young Knights
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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1
Coming to Council

Genre: not specified.
Series: None, but the story belongs to the “Sons of Gondor” story arc. It mostly takes place in the chief city of Lossarnach, save the beginning.
Summary: After finishing his training as a Swan Knight in Dol Amroth, young Lord Herumor, the Heir of Halabor, gets knighted in his kinsman Lord Forlong’s town.

Author’s notes: Written for the Edhellond Group as a Christmas gift for 2006. I cannot promise that I will manage the full 24-part Advents Calendar this year - but I will do my best.

Denethor’s sisters are mentioned in “The People of Middle-earth” but not given any names. Lady Ivriniel, Imrahil’s oldest sister is also mentioned there. Morwen, Lord Húrin’s daughter used to be a forerunner for Lothíriel and was supposed to marry Éomer – I kid you not!

I must admit, I had great fun coming up with the various coats-of-arms for the Gondorian nobles. The whole “guess the shield” game reminded me how today’s children guess car types as a competition.


~~~

CHAPTER ONE – COMING TO COUNCIL

[Minas Tirith, early summer in the year 2995 of the Third Age]


Prince Adrahil of Dol Amroth had become a rare visitor in Minas Tirith in the recent years. Ever since the death of his beloved wife, he had sent his only son and heir, Imrahil the Fair, in his stead to make longer journeys. The Lady Olwen, coming from an old and respected family of the Eredrim, the original people of Dor-en-Ernil, had not shared the Dúnadan longevity and passed away several years earlier. Adrahil did not like to leave the halls of Dol Amroth Castle, where her presence lingered still; he only came up to Anárion’s city for the annual Council meetings.

As early summer was the very time for aforementioned Council meetings, 13-year-old Faramir had been waiting anxiously for the arrival of his grandsire for days by now. More than in any other year, in truth; for not only was he looking forward to see the old Prince, whom he loved dearly, he had also known since mettarë that when Adrahil returns to Dol Amroth after the Council, he would be going with him. For a whole year, no less, to be given some polishing at courtly manners, ere he would begin his training as an esquire in the court of his own father. The sons of the Steward needed to get the best education possible, and the court of the Prince of Dol Amroth was undoubtedly the most refined in the whole realm – and beyond.

“I envy you not,” his brother, Boromir, now having reached full maturity and recently knighted, had said. “Uncle Imrahil is going to drag you on that ship of his ‘til you cannot even see food because of the seasickness; the Lady Tirathiel will torture you with dance lessons; Master Melpomaen will, no doubt, fill your head with old lore and Elvish poetry; and Master Andrahar will run you ragged on weapons’ training.”

“That may be true; but Aunt Nimrien is the gentlest and wisest person in Gondor, and Dol Amroth has the greatest library in the realm, so I shall be fine,” Faramir had answered solemnly, at which his brother had laughed and called him a hopeless bookworm, ere running off on some City business.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
But that had been two days ago, and now Faramir was sitting on top of the wall in the sixth circle, near the Houses of Healing, watching the road impatiently in the hope that he would get a glimpse of his grandsire’s entourage, soon. The silver trumpets had already greeted the Prince, down at the Great Gates, and the group of riders could now appear on the main road any moment. And indeed…

“There they are!” cried out Faramir in excitement, pointing at the impressive group of horsemen riding slowly upwards from the Gate. ‘Twas unusual of him to reveal his joy so publicly, but this was an unusual day, full of hope.

“There are many of them,” noticed his two-years-younger cousin, Morwen, who had been entrusted to his care in exchange for a leave from today’s lessons.

Well, to be truthful, Morwen was not his cousin but his niece: the only daughter of Lord Húrin, the Warden of the Keys, who, in turn, was the only son of Lady Eledhwen, the Steward’s second-oldest sister. Yet due to the fact that the Lord Denethor was not only considerably younger than his sisters but had also married late, his sons were both a lot younger than his sisters’ children. And Húrin had wed his childhood love right after coming of age – thus Faramir had found himself in the awkward situation of a ridiculously young uncle. In fact, most of his cousins on his father’s side were almost a generation his seniors. To spare everyone the embarrassment and the need of long explanations, he had grown used to call all his nieces and nephews cousins – a custom those appreciated very much.

“There are more than just Grandsire’s people coming,” said Faramir; his keen eyes had spotted the banners of several Lords from the southern fiefs. “Do you recognize their shields from here?”

Morwen shot him an insulted look. Knowing the coats-of-arms of the noble lords was a popular game among the children of Minas Tirith – the more one could recognize, the greater respect he or she had among the other urchins. Granted, it was a game mainly played by boys, but being an only child, Morwen was carefully and thoroughly taught, just as a son would have been. She might be declared the head of her House one day, should Lord Húrin not father any sons.

‘Twas understandable then that she found Faramir’s question insulting and was eager to show her extensive knowledge in Gondorian heraldry. ‘Twas a matter of pride, after all, not being bested by the Steward’s scholarly son!

Mayhap it was understandable, too, that she chose the easiest one for starters.

“Well, the silver swan on blue is the banner of Dol Amroth, of course,” she said in a lecturing manner that she must have picked up from her formidable grandmother. “And thus the troops in the silver-washed armour on the beautiful grey horses must be the Swan Knights of your grandsire."

“Oh, but that was too easy,” replied Faramir, annoyed that the girl had been sly enough to snatch that easy winner from before his nose. “Everyone knows the banner of Dol Amroth. Try something better!”

But Morwen shook her pretty head so vehemently that her long, sable tresses came free from the ribbons braided into them and cascaded down freely over her shoulders.

“Nay, ‘tis your turn now,” she said. “Try you to best me!”

“Very well,” Faramir carefully leaned forward a little to see better. “There. That rampant seadog on a turquoise shield. That is the coat-of-arms of Uncle Lorindol, the Lord of Lebennin.”

Morwen pulled a face. “That was not very hard, either; one should think that we know the arms of our own family. Although,” she added a little doubtfully, ”‘tis a strange creature for such an important lord to bear on his shield.”

True enough, the seadog was a fairly bizarre creature. It had the head and the body of a dog, but the tail of a lion, webbed feet, silver scales covering its entire body, a row of webbed dorsal spikes, ears like a bat’s wings, and a long tongue. In fact, it looked more… cute than threatening. On the top of the shield, in a silver band, three towers could be seen, symbolising the three largest towns of Lebennin.

“Seadogs are the symbol of port towns and sailors,” replied Faramir, giving in to the urge to show off his knowledge. “There is a legend that such a creature had guided the ship of Uncle Lorindol’s ancestors safely into the harbour of Pelargir, after the fall of Númenor, when the Faithful were fleeing back to Middle-earth. The family has had this banner ever since.”

“I know that,” interrupted Morwen impatiently. “You are not the only one who has been taught family legends. My turn now.”

She climbed atop the wall next to him in her eagerness to spot a shield that would be more interesting, more of a challenge than the two before. Worried that she might slip in her excitement and fall off the wall, breaking every bone in her small body, Faramir grabbed her shirts, which earned him a sharp elbow in the ribs; yet he did not let go of her. He had been given responsibility for her safety, after all.

“Stop wriggling,” he warned her,” or I shall send you back to your mother with the guards.”

Said guards had been standing just a few feet behind them all the time. Children of the Steward’s family were not supposed to roam the city unprotected.

“Traitor,” Morwen stuck out her tongue at him. “You are just afraid that I might win. But I will win anyway, so you can stop bothering me! See the black shield with the salient golden wolf upon it, and the three six-pointed golden stars on top? That is the emblem of Duinhir the Tall, Lord of Morthond Vale.”

Faramir could not help being impressed. Morthond Vale was not one of Gondor’s main provinces, even though its lord did have a seat in the Council. Knowing the arms of such a relatively small House was impressive.

Morwen noticed his astonishment and was properly insulted by it.

“Ha!” she said. “you think you can be the only one to know things? Mayhap I do not have my nose stuck in dusty old books all the time, but – unlike you – I have friends. And Duilwen, the daughter of Lord Duinhir, happens to be one of them.”

Morwen’s assumption that he would have no friends stung a little, but Faramir had to admit that his young cousin (well, niece) was much better suited to make friends. She was a pretty, easy-going girl with a quick wit; people usually liked her instantly. He, on the other hand, was quiet and withdrawn, and that made him a little lonely sometimes.

Although he had Boromir as a brother, and who in Gondor could compete with that?

“All right,” he said, “you have a point on me. But the next turn is mine,” he studied the large group of travellers that was slowly drawing closer. “Oh, there! The black raven on the silver shield, with its beak open. The one with the long, red tongue and the tiny sable stars scattered all over the shield. I know that one. That is the coat-of-arms of Golasgil, the Lord of Anfalas.”

Morwen scrunched up her cute little nose. “’Tis not a pretty one. And his escort is quite small, too.”

“Anfalas is a poor province,” Faramir shrugged. “Only fisherfolk and a few hunters live there. Most people dwell in the green hills of Pinnath Gelin. Now there is a task for you: which one is the banner of Pinnath Gelin?”

“Ha!” cried out Morwen in triumph. “You thought you can make me back off, did you? You are so mistaken! “Tis the passant silver enfield on the green shield, with the blue waves of a river under its feet and the three white mountain peaks in the top band of the shield. I know my strange beasts just as well as you do!”

True enough, one needed to be well-taught in heraldry to recognize the enfield, which was one of those imaginary beasts put together from the parts of several animals. It had the head of a fox (with a surprisingly friendly face), the lean body of a greyhound with a wolf’s bushy tail, and its front legs looked like an eagle’s shanks and talons.

“Although I find it better when there are real beasts on a shield, ones that you can find out in the woods or meadows,” added Morwen, after a moment of thought. “Or, at the very least, in old books. Like that green dragon with the red belly and red underwings. It seems almost alive – even if it is leaning on a harpoon, which is strange. What would a dragon need a harpoon for?”

Faramir gave the dragon-like creature, resting on blue waves with its curled-up tail, a look. It looked very pretty on the silver shield, but something was off with it.

“That is not a dragon,” he realized. “Dragons have four legs; this one only has two. “Tis a wyvern, a creature supposed to live in great rivers or in the Sea – not that anybody had ever seen one. ‘Tis also considered a symbol of perseverance; the shield is the coat-of-arms of Angbor, the Lord of Lamedon.”

“I have never seen that one before,” admitted Morwen with a frown. She did not like being at disadvantage.

Faramir shrugged. “Lord Angbor rarely comes to Minas Tirith. Lamedon is a large province, and it needs its Lord’s presence and guidance… or so Boromir says. For my part, though, I believe that Lord Angbor prefers his wide country to our confining walls. I cannot say that I blame him for that.”

“Have you ever been to his chief town?” asked Morwen curiously.

“Not to Calembel, which is his seat and little more than a strong fortress watching over the ford of the river Ciril,” answered Faramir. “I have been to Ethring, though. ‘Tis the largest city of Lamedon, built on either side of the river Ringló, where the road from Morthond to Pelargir fords the stream. ‘Tis a walled city, the fourth-largest in the whole Gondor, after ours, Pelargir and Lord Forlong’s town in Lossarnach.”

“The one where the great summer and winter fairs are held?” asked Morwen.

Faramir nodded. “The very same. Ten thousand people live among its walls, and ten times the number during the fairs. ‘Tis said that Ethring alone could come up for all Lord Angbor’s needs.”

“He must be a wealthy lord indeed,” judged Morwen, watching he grim-faced escort of the Lord of Lamedon ride up the road in their shiny armour, sitting on great, noble horses.

“And a very faithful one,” said Faramir, remembering his father’s high praise of the man. It did not happen every day that the Steward would speak so highly of any Gondorian nobleman. Not even the ones he was related to.

Especially not the ones he is related to, thought Faramir with a wry smile. For although his father had always trusted Lord Húrin unconditionally, the sometimes tense relationship between the Steward and Imrahil of Dol Amroth could not stay hidden from the rest of the family. Not entirely.

But that was not something he would want to discuss with Morwen, even though she was family, too.

“Now,” he said, “there is but one banner left. If you can tell me what it is, that will make us even. Nay; that would make you win, as you are younger.”

“The guardant silver eagle on the sable shield?” asked Morwen dismissively. “’Tis easy – ‘tis the banner of Dervorin, Lord of Ringló Vale. What have I won?”

Faramir gave her an amused glance.

“I did not know there was a prize to win,” he said.

“There is always a prize,” declared Morwen regally. Faramir laughed.

“Very well,” he said. “You may come with me when I get to greet Grandsire. Mayhap he has brought cousin Elphir with him.”

Morwen, who liked Elphir very much, squealed in delight. They slid from the wall and ran up to the Citadel, followed by the exasperated guards.

~~~

Little heraldic dictionary:
Guardant is a heraldic animal facing the onlooker
Passant is a heraldic animal walking on all four feet
Rampant is a heraldic animal rearing on its hind legs
Salient is a heraldic animal leaping from the ground


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