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18
March 9, 3019: Coil

But 'twas to the guardsmen Ajhinaš spoke: “'Bitter the shieldman's duty,' yet you must swallow it – that is a mother-duty, for she teaches you to eat.”

“Dark matters, mistress,” Varendur said, puzzled, while Menarion eyed Ba-a-šuvon and Chodakh.

“You have sown my family's shame,” Mother explained, “so you must redeem it, as farmers redeem fruit from cast-down seed.”

“What nonsense – ?” Menarion began, but Varendur silenced him.

“How, lady?”

“Gondor denies my family war-duty, in your favor,” Ajhinaš said, then set the bitter dish before them: “If our obedience to such edicts be not shameful, then you must be my sons.”

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