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Divers Drabbles II
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XIII. The Exile (Beregond)

And the King said to Beregond: 'Beregond, by your sword blood was spilled in the Hallows, where that is forbidden. Also you left your post without leave of Lord or of Captain. For these things, of old, death was the penalty. Now therefore I must pronounce your doom.

'All penalty is remitted for your valour in battle, and still more because all that you did was for the love of the Lord Faramir. Nonetheless you must leave the Guard of the Citadel, and you must go forth from the City of Minas Tirith.'

ROTK, "The Steward and the King"

I was born here.

We had a house on the second circle of the City. In our small courtyard, my mother read me old tales, and my father taught me to wield a sword.

As a lad, I ran happily through the streets with my friends. Later we sampled the taverns, staggering home through the streets where once we had played. Later still, I led my bride to our house, as friends and family, even strangers, cheered us on our way. The folk of Minas Tirith have always smiled upon weddings.

I proudly swore oaths to defend this City, this land, and its lord, when I joined the Tower Guard. I have stood in silent watch by the Withered Tree itself and deemed that no honor could be greater.

My son was born here. I watched him grow from babe to a bold lad who I hoped would follow me into the Guard one day.

And I can never enter the White City's Gate again.

I have come, as always, to escort Prince Faramir to this very Gate. He gives me a rueful glance; clasps my shoulder, and then leaves me here to seek shelter at our barracks on the Pelennor. He goes to confer with the King, to sit at Elessar's table and Council. I go to await his return and perhaps drink a toast to the City I love and had to leave.

They say the new White Tree is in flower, in the Citadel that I once guarded.

I should not grieve. I have been raised higher than any of my longfathers, to the Captaincy of the White Company. And my prince, who I broke oath and law to save, is a man worthy of the sacrifice. I would do it again; for I could not let Faramir die on his mad father's pyre.

The mighty doors of mithril and steel swing open and he goes through them. I catch a glimpse, like a draught of wine to a thirsty man, of the Square, the flowers and fountains of its new garden, the familiar statue of Elendil the Tall. An eager crowd calls out, hailing my prince and the men of our Company. I can just make out the lamp-post where I first kissed the maid who became my wife, so long ago it seems. And then, slowly, the Great Gate closes.

Forever is a long time.


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