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The Young Knights
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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24
Epilogue

Thank the Valar – we are done! My sincerest gratitude to all who have read this story, and even more to those who took the time and effort to review. It was a joy for me to see that you liked my little tale. Stay tuned, there will be more… eventually.


~~~

CHAPTER 24 – EPILOGUE

On the next day, the fair was over, and the foreign merchants began to set off for their far-away countries. The dignified men from Khand and Harad were the first to mount their fiery steeds or patiently ruminating camels and to begin their long journey to the South, intending to visit other great merchant towns, like Linhir and Pelargir, along the way.

The rich traders from aforementioned Linhir and Pelargir had chosen a more comfortable way of travelling: that on the broad back of the rivers Erui and Anduin. They boarded their barges now, their earnings and purchases safely stored in the strongboxes, the sails set and blowing up with the strong wind, ready to turn homeward.

The small traders from Lossarnach and the neighbouring provinces brought forth their two-wheeled little carts or mounted their mules, or, the least wealthy among them, set off on foot, carrying their profits in a scrip swung around their shoulders. They left in groups, for ‘twas always safety in numbers.

Shortly thereafter the guests, too, began to leave, after having spoken their thanks and farewells. Lord Forlong saw each of them off personally, riding down with them to the Great Gate to speak the parting words properly.

The Rohirrim were first to leave. They shared the stirrup cup with the Lord of Lossarnach at the foot of the Treasure Tower, near the Great Gate, and left Forlong’s town as they had come: singing and laughing. Boromir had taken his leave from his friend Théodred by then already, promising him that they would go wolf-hunting in the White Mountains during winter – if not this winter, then in the following year certainly(1).

Faramir had been invited, once again, to visit the Mark, soon, and he promised to do so, if his father, the Lord Steward, allowed. He meant it honestly. He could not know that more than twenty years would go by ere he would get the chance to keep his promise. And Princess Idis would be married for years, and the mother of several children(2), though that would not bother Faramir much at that time.

By then, Prince Théodred would be dead, without getting the chance to become King of the Mark, having defended the Fords of Isen heroically, outnumbered hopelessly but never faltering. And the Lady Aud would be gone, and Théoden-King slain on the fields of Pelennor, fallen in a great battle like a hero, like Eorl the Young himself, bringing shining glory to Eorl’s House, and the kingship would go to his sister-son, thus founding the third line of horse-Kings.

On the same day, Princess Adrahil and his troop of Swan Knights set off for the long ride to Dol Amroth as well. With them rode the Lady Ivriniel, little Prince Elphir and the boy Liahan. As it had been agreed, Adrahil took Faramir with him, who was happy to go, his precious books wrapped and stored away in the travelling wagon with their supplies safely; his newly won longbow he carried proudly on his back. His parting from Boromir was a sad and unwilling one, even though their grandfather promised that he would try to get Boromir down to Dol Amroth for mettarë if he can(3).

Priavel of Pelargir and his attendants followed the Prince, much to Herumor’s relief, who was more than happy to see the dark little songbird gone. With a bit of luck, he would not have to meet the girl Dahud ever again, and that was more than fine with him. Aside from the embarrassment, the girl awakened a feeling of unease in him; a feeling that he could not explain, not even to himself.

For his part, he was about to ride with Lord Húrin and Boromir. Their way led to the East and the North, and the Steward’s son and nephew were thankful for the opportunity to join the Lord Orchaldor’s party of strong, armed men. Reasonable safe the roads in Gondor might be, ‘twas still safer to travel in the company of armed guards.

Little Morwen was loath to leave her newly found friends, Forlong’s daughters before all, but she knew better than to beg or to complain. Her father was an important man. He was needed in Minas Tirith. They had to go home.

“Have a little patience,” Achren comforted her, while giving her braids the last touch ere they set off. “I am still needed here for a while. But when the fruit harvest has been brought in, I shall go to Minas Tirith; to you.”

“For ever?” she asked, still not quite believing it, no matter what the adults might have come to an agreement about the day before.

Achren nodded, although her eyes were upon Húrin’s face.

“For ever,” she promised, “if you would still have me.”

Húrin cleared his throat. “I… they say autumn weddings can be lovely,” he muttered.

“Good for you to have finally made up your mind, girl!” exclaimed Lord Forlong, slapping his daughter on the back with delight. That would have knocked a strong man off his feet, but Achren had apparently grown used to her father’s exuberant gestures long ago, for she barely flinched. “Of course, you must have a proper hand-binding ceremony, too. In springtime, perhaps.”

Húrin seemed to panic slightly at the idea, but Lord Orchaldor nodded in agreement.

“Aye, there is nothing like a hand-binding in the tradition of the Old Folk,” he said. “Númenórean rites are venerable and time-honoured, and I would never turn away from them. But those of the simple folk seem more… joyous to me, and it would be a shame not to share that joy if you have the chance.”

Herumor gave his father a surprised look.

“Did you and Mother have such a ceremony, too?” he asked, trying to digest this heretofore unknown piece of family history. “You never mentioned before.”

His father shrugged and smiled. “You never asked, son.”

And thus they rode together up to Minas Tirith, where they said their farewells to Boromir and Húrin and little Morwen, and parted ways “til after the fruit harvest. In the early autumn, however, there was a sombre Númenórean wedding in the City of the Kings, kept simple and quiet for the sake of Húrin’s ailing father, so that Lord Barahir could perform his paternal duty. But in early spring, the loud and joyous hand-binding ceremony was held in Carvossonn, with all the merry rites of the Old Folk and music and dance and a rich feast. Boromir came to stand for the rest of the Steward’s family, and Herumor rode down from Halabor to stand for his father, and that was the last time they all could come together and be merry.

For after the hand-binding feast, Madenn said her farewells to father and sister and went to Imloth Melui to be with her mother’s people and finish her training as a healer. Boromir returned to his duties in Osgiliath and Húrin and his newly-wed wife returned to Minas Tirith to take care of the White City while the Steward was taking care of the entire Gondor. And after the Great War, when the King returned, they became a great support to him, just as they had been a great support to the Steward, all their life.

Herumor returned to Halabor, to his father, and spent the next thirteen years with learning how to be a good ruler of their town and lands and with defending the same from raiding bands of Easterlings, Dunlendings, Hill-men and the odd band of Orcs that dared to cross the Great River on ferries, despite the closeness of Cair Andros’ garrison. He did find a woman, whom he cared for, and he had to leave her to get engaged with a young lady of his own status, and he did so for the good of Halabor without protesting.

He and Boromir never saw each other again. Herumor was duty-bound to his town as well as Boromir was bound to Osgiliath and Minas Tirith, and when Boromir finally got to see Halabor, following a desperate call for help from the besieged garrison of Cair Andros, the town was nothing more than charred ruins, utterly destroyed by an unexpectedly numerous army of Orcs, and Herumor had been dead for months already, slain by a band of Hill-men when he tried to defend one of the isolated little farmstead with a handful of his fathers men-at-arms.

Ten years later, Boromir went on a quest, following a strange dream and never returned from it. They say, his body was given to the Great River that carried him down to the Sea, across which both his and Herumor’s ancestors had come to Gondor. Of Herumor’s resting place there is no word, and where the ancient town of Halabor once stood, only blackened stone has remained after a Ring War, and a sad memento of the people who had lived and worked there for centuries(4).

~~~

End notes:
(1) It is established in “Of Snow, Stone and Wolves” and “Seal On My Heart” that Boromir went, indeed, wolf-hunting with Théodred at some point in their adult lives. There is no exact date of when this happened, though.
(2) As it can be seen in “Emissary of the Mark”, Idis would marry Elfhelm’s second-oldest brother.
(3) In Isabeau’s “The Best Gift of All”, Boromir indeed gets to visit his little brother in Dol Amroth for mettarë, although a year later. You can either assume that Faramir was longer than a year with his grandfather – or simply accept the slight twist in the timeline, which is only fanon, after all.
(4) These last three paragraphs are practically the same as at the end of “Shieldbrothers”.


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