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4
IV. A PIRATE'S LIFE FOR ME! (Imrahil, Faramir)

Part One: Of Captains and Kings


For I am a Pirate King!
And it is, it is a glorious thing
To be a Pirate King!

-W.S. Gilbert, The Pirates of Penzance-


"Yield, invader!" cried the Corsair king, glowering down at the hero of Gondor.

"Nay, foul Corsair!" The bold captain held his ground and his trusty blade. "This night you and your fleet perish, never to trouble Gondor again!"

"Hah, scurvy knave!" laughed the pirate, with an evil grin. "I am descended from Castamir himself, and I will not yield to you. What is your name and lineage, that I may know whose head I take?"

"I am Thorongil, Captain of Gondor, your bane! Come forth and die!" With that, the brave Captain raised his sword, and fell upon his foe--

And shrieked with laughter, as the ‘Corsair’ seized him and raised him high in the air, whirled him around and then set him down, becoming once more his Uncle, and he a boy with a light wooden sword. They stood no longer upon the quays of faraway Umbar, but on the docks of Belfalas. No sign of Corsairs’ burning ships marred the harbor, filled instead with the vessels of Dol Amroth and other peaceful lands.

"Uncle, was the Umbari Captain truly of Castamir’s line?" asked Faramir, youngest champion of Gondor.

"That was indeed his claim. I stood second to Thorongil on that raid, and saw their battle. The Corsair sought to daunt our Captain with talk of kingly blood. Thorongil cared not, for he was a true warrior and a born leader of men, despite his unknown lineage."

"Castamir was no true King! He was cruel, and brought strife to Gondor," the boy declared. "Thorongil’s blood was surely higher than his."

"Thorongil could have had Elven blood. He was lordly in manner. And I have never seen a Man move so lightly," mused Imrahil. "But come, my young captain; I see Boromir waving, doubtless to call us home for daymeal."

Faramir sighed, then sheathed his sword and skipped along beside his uncle. "Will you watch us tomorrow? Boromir wants to be Thorongil, so I must play the Corsair Captain."

"Certainly." Imrahil promised, and was rewarded by a smile from his seven-year-old nephew. "But when you face your brother tomorrow, know that it can be a glorious thing, to play at being a pirate king. I will teach you some of the very words the Corsair shouted, in the Umbari formof Adûnaic, oaths to curdle the blood. Boromir will be most impressed."

"Truly?" Faramir’s voice rose in excitement. "Can you teach me the words this night?" I would rather be Thorongil, but if I must be a pirate king, then I should speak as one. Mayhap, if the Corsairs ever rise, I can bid them surrender in their own tongue. They will think I am their king when I speak his very oaths."

"I pray that it shall be so, Faramir." Imrahil replied. When the Corsairs sailed again, surely no oath would suffice to turn back their ships. Yet an odd shiver prickled the back of his neck, like the flutter of a great black sail or a mighty banner.


Part Two: Pirate Jewel


As the rain thickened and the Sun hid, the pirates squabbled fiercely for the right to seize their prize.

“I found him, and I should go first!”

“But I’m the captain! Captains go first!”

“Not pirate captains,” replied the first mate, from the advantage of five years and several inches above his captain. “Pirate captains are cowardly swine!”

The small captain stomped an angry foot, then shoved the first mate and affixed him with a fiery glare. “I’m not a coward, and I’m not a pig!”

Their prize, a tall man closely cloaked and hooded, then spoke: “A good captain, whether Corsair or soldier of Gondor, leads from the front.”

“See?” replied the young captain proudly. “Now let me do it, Elboron!”

The captain marched over to the prize, who had let himself be caught, and fastened a string around his wrist. “You have to give me all your wealth now,” the captain demanded.

The prize stood up, looming over his captors: “I have no greater wealth than you both, my jewel and my star, but mayhap there can be some reward given to so bold a captain, when we return home.”

The first mate frowned and poked the grass with the point of his wooden sword. “Some captain! You’ll never be one, really.”

“Elboron,” said their prize reproachfully. He doffed his hood, becoming Faramir of Gondor again, Steward, prince, and their father. “That is not well-said.”

“Alright, just for today.” Elboron conceded.

Faramir laughed, then swung the captain high up on his shoulders. “For today is special,” he proclaimed, “and my little jewel can be a Captain on her birthday, as you on yours, my son.” He patted Elboron’s shoulder, and kept his hand there as they walked.

“Huzzah for me, I’m Captain Míriel, the pirate queen!” The little jewel crowed merrily from her perch. She pulled off the kerchief that had bound her black hair, and flailed the damp cloth like a whip in the rain.

“Even the vile corsair Sangahyando had a mother,” Faramir, once a Captain of Gondor himself, said. “But I am certain that she would forbid her children to stay out in the rain. We must hasten, to avoid your mother’s wrath.” He was sorry to end the game, for he always treasured his children’s company. And, as he had good cause to know, playing at battle was far more pleasant than fighting one.




~~~

Author's Notes:
Of Captains and Kings was originally written in honor of Isabeau of Greenlea’s birthday (who posts her wonderful stories here and at Fanfiction.net), and posted, in a slightly different version, at the HASA Birthday Cards Forum. Imrahil’s past association with Captain Thorongil is not mentioned by Tolkien, but easily could have happened and has occurred in other fanfiction.

Pirate Jewel was a birthday present to my most excellent beta, Branwyn, whose terrific drabbles and stories can be found at StoriesofArda.com and under the name of Lady Branwyn at fan fiction.net.

The vile corsair Sangahyando is canonical, he and his brother Angamaitë, great-grandsons of the usurper King Castamir, were named in LOTR’s Appendix A as the leaders of the Corsairs of Umbar who slew King Minardil (in T.A. 1634, if you‘re interested).


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