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Of swords, bows and partings

Lessons are taken and farewells are spoken...for a time (Aragorn's POV) Special thanks to kind Isabeau


~~~

Title: Encounters
Author: Tessy (ab_fan14@yahoo.de)
Beta: the wonderful hot_x_bunny.
Disclaimer: The characters, unless specifically distinguished, are the property of J.R.R. Tolkien and the Tolkien estate. They are used without permission and no money is being made through this work of fiction.
Rating: overall rating may reach NC-17, but this chapter is PG at the most.
Pairing: Boromir/Thorongil and before you run away squicked, Boromir is of age when the serious stuff starts!
Author’s notes: This fic is heavily book-based, though the physical characteristics as well as some ways of behaviour are film-based. The timeline is AU and a significant element of the LOTR universe has been changed for the story’s sake: the only royal Elf/Man unions were in the First Age, so no Aragorn/Arwen here. Many thanks go to Sasjah, Cinzia, Uisgich, Galadriel and Widdershin for overall encouragement. Specific chapter thanks will be given when appropriate. This is Aragorn’s POV. Enjoy! :)

Of swords, bows and partings

Third Age, 2984

The clash of swords and the whistling sound of arrows being released from bow strings were the first sounds that greeted me as I entered the training grounds. As I walked on I saw various groups of boys of different ages being instructed in the use of all kinds of weapons by Ecthelion’s sword masters. Some of the older boys whispered to one another as I passed them but I only smiled and went on searching for the man who had bid me come here.

I had been walking for quite a considerable time when the monotonous swirl of green, brown, black and silver amour the instructors whom I passed wore was suddenly broken by a flash of blue. Mere seconds later I heard Prince Imrahil’s voice calling out to my right:

“There you are, Captain Thorongil!”

I turned and walked into the prince’s direction, bowing low as soon as I had reached Adrahil’s son.

“I am very sorry for arriving so late and I offer my sincerest apologies to you, Prince Imrahil.”

The young man only laughed and bade me rise in the same friendly and unceremonious manner as all the other members of his House. Even now, I am still clueless why the Lord of Dol Amroth trusted me so completely and treated me as I had been a friend of his line for a long time.

I rose from my formal bow and suddenly one of the Prince’s attendants caught my eye. The man stood behind Prince Imrahil and as I looked into his eyes for the first time, I felt the chill of suspicions long held creep down my spine.

He was small by Gondorian standards and his skin was brown and sun-burnt. His years could have been scarcely more than Imrahil’s and indeed they were of the same age, as I discovered later. His eyes were brown and watchful as those of a hawk and yet the deep distrust within them seemed to be born of a strange kind of uncertainty and fear, rather than of the blind hatred against those of Gondor I had seen in his fellow country men.

And what was strangest of all was that this Haradrim was clad in the livery of Dol Amroth and bore a swan knight’s sword at his side. As soon as he noticed my gaze on him, the Haradrim smiled, a small flash, like a knife shining briefly under the silvery light of the moon, and his gaze held mine, accepting my unvoiced challenge.

Meanwhile, the grey-eyed prince had silently observed the battle of minds that had sparked between his Haradrim attendant and me, but now Imrahil calmly placed a hand on the brown-eyed soldier’s shoulder and said, his tone diplomatic but ever so slightly coloured with a hint of amusement nonetheless:

“Leave him, Andra, please! Yes, he did burn the havens of Umbar the Glorious, but Captain Thorongil acted under explicit orders from the late Steward himself. And you, an excellent tactician yourself, can surely not fault any other soldier for proving as skilled in these matters as you are, my friend?”

To my surprise the Haradrim soldier nodded and smiled briefly at Adrahil’s son, before his attention and his hawk-like gaze turned back to me.

“Very well”, he consented and then the proud black-haired warrior inclined his head in the smallest of bows, smiling slightly as he did so

I bowed in turn and as soon as I had straightened again, apologised for the suspicions he must have seen in my face.

“’Tis no matter, Captain Thorongil, and the rising of my flame-like temper was most certainly my fault and not yours, I assure you. Too often have I seen the distrust gleam in many a grey pair of eyes and, although I know it to be not unwarranted, it still sparks fierce feelings inside me as much as it did when I came here but thirteen winters ago.” And then the Haradrim added in a low voice and with a brief, doubtful look at Imrahil:” Though, by the Gods, I bear the country of my birth no love at all and did gladly forsake it to…”

Then the young man shook himself violently as if to dispel these thoughts from his mind. When he next looked at me, the brown eyes held distrust no longer, for it had been replaced by curiosity and wonder.

Suddenly a cough from Prince Imrahil interrupted our silent study of each other and when the prince spoke his voice sounded both amused and pleased:

“I am happy that the acquaintance of father’s junior sword master seems to be to your liking, Captain Thorongil. Indeed, ‘tis of utmost importance that you and Andrahar are able to work together smoothly and efficiently, otherwise the task I want to give you would fail and that would be a grievous thing, for your charge and me both.”

At these words I started and glanced again at Andrahar. So this was the young man Prince Imrahil was said to have brought from Umbar when he returned from his travels in the Haradwaith thirteen years ago. The court of Ecthelion had been brimming with rumours and though I usually tended to ignore them as completely as possible, I could not help overhearing one or two tales while passing through Ecthelion’s halls.

Andrahar had been no more than a common beggar when Prince Imrahil had found him in the dark streets of Umbar. Pitying the dark-haired boy, the swan lord’s son had brought Andrahar to Dol Amroth with him and, despite Adrahil’s fears regarding a Haradrim in his court, Andrahar had proven a valuable addition to the household, particularly as a master of arms. The brown-eyed man had impressed sword-master Cirion so immensely that he had quickly risen in rank and after five years in Dol Amroth was held the only possible successor to aging Cirion, or so rumour had it.

He had become fast friends with Adrahil’s heir and some fouler tongues would ever whisper of an immoral degree the relationship had taken on soon after the Haradrim’s coming to Dol Amroth…

As these thoughts filtered through my head, I at once resolved to neither judge Andrahar by his heritage nor by what rumour would fain have him be, but by his deeds alone.

Suddenly another thought arose within me: who was the charge Imrahil had spoken of?

I opened my mouth to ask the prince the question that had arisen in my mind, but before I could do so I heard the sound of a child’s feet running over the paved floor and glancing to my right, I saw a boy running towards us.

He was clad in the customary grey linen tunic that was only worn by those boys who had not yet finished their first year of training in the arts of war and as he approached our small group, I recognised that it was Boromir.

It had been three years since I had seen Denethor’s son last and although Prince Adrahil had spoken of his elder grandson with utmost fondness, especially of his interest in arms, I could only now see the proof of it: Boromir had grown, being now almost as tall as Mablung, son of Daeron, who was the blond boy’s elder by almost two years.

The green-eyed boy smiled briefly when his eyes caught mine and inclined his head towards both Andrahar and myself in the customary greeting a child was taught to bestow upon his elders.

Then the emerald gaze was turned to Boromir’s uncle who had watched the boy’s coming in with a smile and, I could not help but notice, a slow smile that had a slightly mischievous air. But before I could even begin to think more on the matter, Boromir’s eager question gave me the answer to both that and my first question:

“Uncle Imrahil! Where is he? You promised to introduce me to my archery teacher today!”

Imrahil smiled and his grey eyes darted towards me for a moment, as if he wished to seek my approval of his decision before revealing the secret to his eager nephew. Now it was my turn to incline my head and smile, for I wished to make it as plain as I possibly could that I was flattered by Imrahil’s thinking me suitable to teach Boromir.

Having caught my smiling, Imrahil grasped his sister’s son by the shoulders and turned him around to face both me and Andrahar.

For a moment the blond boy stood silently before us. Lifting up his head, he nervously brushed a few errand strands of hair behind his ears. Looking shyly at me, he finally asked in a whisper:

“Surely you are not supposed to…might I be right to think that you are going to teach me how to handle bow and arrow, Captain Thorongil?”

The boy blushed and hung his head quickly. I smiled faintly and reached out with my hand to make his eyes meet mine.

“Alas, but that seems to be the case indeed, Boromir! I wonder what your uncle thought of when giving you such an incapable teacher as myself. I will ruin your talent rather than shape it, that I can foretell!” I said in a mockingly grave voice, but it seemed that the sparkle in my eyes must have betrayed me, for the son of the Steward laughed out loud at my jest and even grim Andrahar could not suppress a chuckle.

“So, are you happy with my choice, Boromir?” Imrahil asked and was rewarded in his turn by seeing his nephew nod in a very pleased fashion.

“Yes, very, thank you, Uncle Imrahil! But now I must go and tell Mother and Faramir about this!” He wanted to run off, but before he could do so, the green-eyed boy caught himself and looked at me once more.

“When am I to meet you for the first lesson, Captain Thorongil? Tomorrow, after I have completed my studies with Master Faron?”

I shook my head and looked up at the young Steward’s Heir, who seemed puzzled by my answer:” Nay, Boromir, I would prefer the lesson to be held in the afternoon, if this is possible for you.” Smiling, I added:” I should not have asked, for I know boys of your age to be rather protective of the time they have at their own disposal.”

The blond only smiled and shook his head:” Nay, I assure you, Captain, ‘tis no great matter for me. And I am certain I will enjoy the lessons as much as any game me and my friends could come up with!” With these words and a polite nod at both Andrahar and his uncle, Boromir ran off, clearly pleased.

I sat silent for a moment, musing on how to approach tomorrow’s lesson when I caught Andrahar shaking his head, a bemused smile on his comely face.

“You really have that boy’s favour, Captain Thorongil. Not even for me would Boromir give one precious moment of his free time to take a single sparring lesson, although he assures me that he enjoys the lessons and despite his considerable talent for the art. I advise you to make good use of this advantage.”

Smiling wryly, I stood up and, turning to the Haradrim, assured the other:” I mean to, Master Andrahar.” After that, I bowed to prince Imrahil and departed to ponder on what tomorrow would bring.

When I came into the archery hall the next day I found Denethor’s son sitting on a low bench on the western side of the hall, his short bow slung carelessly over one arm and the quiver of arrows lying at his side. Sinking Anor’s rays tainted the young boy’s hair with a fiery red.

Boromir was lost in his thoughts and it needed no stealth on my side to approach my pupil-to-be unheeded. Only when I greeted him, did Boromir lift his head and I saw to my astonishment that the green eyes were no longer lit by anticipation. Nay, they were darkened by sorrow!

I sat down beside Finduilas’ son and softly inquired what the reason of his dismay might be.

The Steward’s Heir turned his emerald gaze on me for a mere second before lowering it in order to hide his expression from me as best he could. Finally, the answer came forth in an ashamed whisper:

“You will undoubtedly think me a coward and a fool for this and to such an acclaimed soldier and leader of men my concern will seem a concern fit to trouble such a child as I am yet, for all my pretending to be anything else is but a child’s pride!”

Startled by Boromir’s violent and sad reaction, I answered as calmly as I could, despite my worry for the blond boy:

“I beg you; let me be the judge of whether or not your concerns are unfit to trouble me as well. And as for the praise you always honour me with, Boromir, I did nought but my duty and every other captain in the Gondorian army would have been able to accomplish these missions just as well as I did, if not better.” Seeing the boy open his mouth to argue, I forestalled him with a wave of my hand and a slight smile:” Aye, Boromir, even the destruction of Umbar’s fleet was not such a great deed as some would fain have it be. Nonetheless, I feel honoured by your trust in me and I hope to warrant it as best I may.”

“So, would you please tell me now what it is that troubles you, mellon-nin ?” I said, smiling kindly at the boy.

Boromir looked startled for a moment, but then a small smile crept along his face and the green eyes brightened as my pupil began his tale.

“Today I told some of my comrades-in-arms that I was to have my first archery lesson this afternoon. One of them, Gwaewion, son of the Lord of Lossarnach, said that I was to learn to use the weapon of cowards then, because only men who lacked courage preferred the bow to the sword, and thus, I must be a coward myself. But I don’t want to be a coward!” Boromir concluded firmly and somewhat anxiously.

For a moment I did not reply, pondering a suitable answer. Discouraged by my silence, Boromir turned away clearly ashamed by his story. I chose to reply ere the veil of gloomy thought could once again wrap itself around the green-eyed six-year-old

“I would have expected a better answer from one who is both descended from the House of Bëor the Old and kin to the Lords of the Mark, because, if I remember correctly, his aunt Morwen is wed to King Thengel, is she not?. Be that as it may, Boromir, if you want to learn the art of the bow, that does not make you a coward. I have seen many a battle won only by the slim shaft of an arrow sent at the right time. Ai, I have seen battles fought with the might of arrows alone!” I assured Imrahil’s sister-son with a smile.

Boromir smiled in return, but his eyes held the trademark feature of children at this stage in life: curiosity. He gave voice to it in a rush of questions: “What do you mean, you would have expected better from one of Bëor’s descendants? And where have you seen such battles, Captain?”

I laughed out loud at the child’s eagerness to learn, but held up my hand in a gesture of restraint nonetheless:” I was told to teach you something today, not to tell tales of passed Ages! But I challenge you, Boromir” I hastily added, seeing the boy hang his head in as resigned fashion, “to complete today’s lesson successfully. If you succeed, which I doubt not you will, the answers to your question shall be the prize.” I announced, pleased at my solution.

And indeed, my announcement brought eagerness back to Boromir and ere I knew what was happening, Denethor’s Heir had stood up and sped away to the targets at the further end of the hall.

I called him back with a grin and showed the blond boy a pile of hay I had arranged against the western wall. “That shall be your target for the first lesson. For, you see, you must learn how to stand and hold your bow in the right way ere you can start shooting at real targets, Boromir.” I explained to my pupil.

That explanation earned me an affronted glare from Denethor’s son. “Even Faramir could hit such a target, Captain Thorongil!”

I raised an eyebrow and cocked my head, a slight smile playing across my lips:” Is that so indeed? I must have gravely misjudged your skill, Lord Boromir! Pray, show me, so that I may stand corrected.”

Oblivious to my irony, the boy strode forward confidently, until he stood about 65 feet away from the pile of hay. Taking in a deep breath, Adrahil’s grandson lifted his weapon, took an arrow from his quiver, fitted it to the bowstring and let the arrow fly. The unfaithful missile, however, did not fly towards the pile of hay as it should have done, but rather struck the western wall and fell with a clang to the ground.

The unsuccessful archer turned back to me, his young shoulders slumped in defeat. He clearly expected to be laughed at and looked startled when I knelt down in front of him.

“Do not be dismayed, pen-neth . ‘Tis normal not to hit the first target on the first day. Even I misjudged my skill when I was a boy and was mercilessly teased for it by my teachers.” I smiled at the memory of Elladan’s and Elrohir’s teasing words and I also saw myself, a dark-haired child of five summers, sitting between them looking sullen and miserable, until Elladan remarked that he had given Glorfindel quite a few sleepless nights himself ere he had mastered the basic skills. That confession had brought eagerness to learn back to me and indeed, it seemed to work with my pupil also, for the green eyes no longer looked sullen.

Standing up, I walked back to the target and called out to Boromir: “I trust you want to win your prize ere the time for the evening meal has come? Come, I will show you how to hit your target this time.” Boromir smiled and came to stand in front of me.

“The thing you did right that first time, Boromir, was that you judged the distance at which you could hit your target rightly. Although you chose the furthest distance rather than the nearest, that is a remarkable achievement for one as young as you are.” Adrahil’s grandson glowed with pleasure at the compliment and listened attentively to my next words.

“See, you have to grasp the bow in the middle, yes, like this. Once you have put the arrow on the bowstring, you must decide on a specific spot in the direction of which you want to pull the bowstring. That can be your chest, your nose or even your ear.” Boromir did as I told him to and at my nod released the arrow. It flew in a straight line into the hay.

Denethor’s son looked pleased and I smiled, for I was happy for him. I instructed my pupil to shoot some arrows on his own and went to the wall to watch him. Boromir paid close attention to follow my instructions as best he could and Finduilas’ son did shoot very smoothly soon, but I noticed that his breathing was not yet in accordance with the needs of the task.

So I walked over to the blond Steward’s Heir and, laying a hand on his shoulder and bending my head towards his ear, I said :”< i> Leithio i dang ‘ochwest lîn, Boromir.

The moment the words had left my lips I cursed myself for uttering them. Was I so lost in memories of my own childhood that I had forgotten that I was not dealing with an Elf child and that Boromir was not likely to have understood my words? Besides, the boy would surely tell his father and since Denethor knew I came out of the North, as I had freely admitted it when giving the oath of allegiance to Ecthelion and when renewing it to Denethor, it would be a small matter for the Steward of Gondor, learned in lore and far-sighted as he was , to find out that of all the Men of the North acquainted with the tongue of the Sindar only the Dúnedain were known to be fluent in it, regardless of the speaker’s social standing!

I had to be careful, lest my mask would slip and cause misery for all people involved. I shook my head forcefully to dispel those anguished musings as best I could and turned my attention back to my pupil whose eyes were wide with confusion.

“What did you say, Captain Thorongil? I am sorry, but my knowledge of Sindarin is not yet advanced enough to understand a saying of the Elves.” Boromir explained, clearly ashamed about the fact that he could not understand me.

I cursed myself inwardly for making the otherwise confident boy feel uncomfortable and insecure so often during a single lesson. I hastily explained the meaning of the sentence and apologised for my lack of concentration:” Nay, ‘twas no fault of yours, Boromir, this saying is also known to Men and I could just as easily have given it and the advice it contains in the tongue of your birth. But I had just recalled it to my memory and I heard it in the tongue of the Elves for the first time; that is all.”

“’Release the arrow with your breath’; that is the meaning of that sentence in Westron”. Glancing at the windows, I saw that Anor would soon rest from her journey through the regions of heaven. Smiling, I turned to Boromir and remarked:” Five more arrows and then it is time for collecting your belongings. After that, you shall receive your prize, mír-neth .

The Steward’s elder son nodded eagerly and swiftly sent five arrows into the hay, without a single one going astray. The green eyes turned to me, satisfaction shining in their depths and when I nodded, pleased with the lesson’s conclusion, a radiant smile was my reward ere Boromir ran over to collect his arrows, humming to himself while he collected then.

Meanwhile I had seated myself on the bench again and had scarcely taken a calming breath which was much needed after this first time as a teacher when I found Boromir seated across from me, eyes locked on my face, beseeching me to begin my tale.

I smiled and said: “We only have time left for one tale, I fear, mellon-neth , so which one would you like to hear?”

Boromir’s green eyes glowed triumphantly as he answered:” I would like to know what you meant by that remark, that Gwaewion as a descendent of the House of Bëor should know better than to slight bow and arrow, for I wish to repay his insult to my honour in kind!”

I nodded and silently thanked the Valar that the blond boy had not asked for the other tale, for I had no wish to deceive Finduilas’ son as I had grown increasingly fond of him.

“Well,” I began my tale thoughtfully,” you must know that Forlong and his son, as well as the Lord’s sister Morwen are descendants of the line of Dol Amroth, though not of Galador, son of Mithrellas, but rather of Gilmith, her daughter, whom Galador loved dearly, for in Gilmith there lived yet a memory of Mithrellas’ beauty. This kinship is recognized by your grandfather and it should be recognized by you as well. I do not wish to cause a quarrel between Gwaewion and yourself, Boromir.”

For a moment I stopped in my tale to look at Denethor’s elder and the boy answered quickly: “ But only because you asked me to, Captain! Otherwise Gwaewion could watch a storm coming!” he grinned.

I smiled and continued with recounting events long past:” Galador and Gilmith were the children of Imrazôr who was called the Numenorean because he looked like a Men of Westernesse. And indeed he was a descendent of the brother of Erendis of Númenor, wife of Tar-Aldarion, King of the Land of Gift. And those twain were descended from Beleth, who was aunt to Morwen Edhelwen, mother of Túrin Turambar.”

“And thus it was that in the House of Bëor the bow was held in reverence, for Finrod Felagund had taught Balan, as Bëor was called ere he became the vassal of the Lord of Nargothrond, the finer points of archery as he had learned them himself on the silvery quays of Alqualondë, when the world was young.”

Indeed, the Edain revered the bow high enough to make it part of the devices displayed on their shield, shaped in the likeness of a harp, to show the other art Nóm, that was the name the Beorians had given the Lord Felagund in their tongue, had gifted them with when they first came to Beleriand. Lord Finrod himself took up the device to honour his friendship with the First House of the Edain.”

“It is because of this that all the sons of the noble houses of Númenor, especially the Faithful of Andunië, who lived always in friendship with the Eldar, and later on the nobles of both Arnor and Gondor learned to handle the bow, to pay homage to the friendship of Felagund and Balan. Thus Gwaewion is mistaken if he calls a bow a weapon for a coward, when it is in truth the weapon of a steadfast friend.”

Boromir sat for a while silent, pondering the things I had told him. Suddenly the silver bell of the Tower of Ecthelion chimed thrice, to announce the setting of Anor and the boy slung the bow over his shoulder and went to the door. There Denethor’s eldest son turned to face me one last time:

“I thank you for both the lesson and the story, Captain Thorongil, but still I wonder at one thing…” Boromir stopped and looked uncertainly at me.

“What is that, Boromir?” I inquired of my pupil.

“Earlier… when you spoke Sindarin… you seemed ashamed and even concerned because you had done so. For a moment you were lost in thought and I could see from your expression that a grave thing was on your mind. It seems to me that you did not wish for it to be known that you speak the Grey-elven tongue almost as well as Master Faron, if not better! I wonder why, but I will keep silent about it to anyone else, if that is what you wish. Though I, for my part, like hearing you speak it...” Boromir blushed and hung his head. I smiled at the young boy who was truly his father’s son, even if only in little matters such as this, that people tended to overlook. After a moment the green eyes held mine again:” Before I go, you see, Captain, I really look forward to the next lesson. I bid you a good evening.” With this Boromir darted out of the hall, leaving me behind to wonder about this extraordinary child.

People said that Boromir was neither like Denethor, nor like Finduilas, for he often displayed a rash and eager manner. But Denethor’s eldest son was as perceptive as the Steward and as gentle as the daughter of Adrahil, only the green-eyed blond boy did show these qualities only rarely.

Three months passed without event and Boromir promised to become a competent, if not overly-talented archer when the flow of things was suddenly interrupted by a special audience with Denethor that was to change both my and the Steward’s Heir’s life forever.

It was shortly after nightfall and I had just returned from my daily lesson with Boromir when Andrahar came to my room and announced that we were to have an audience with the Steward immediately. I wondered what Denethor could want with both Andrahar and me at so late an hour. Surely Ecthelion’s son did not wish to discuss the progress of his son?

My suspicions proved right, for as soon as the two of us had arrived in his office, the Steward of Gondor began thus:” Am I right in assuming that you two gentlemen are both aware of the increasing threat from the South?” We both nodded silently and Denethor continued, fixing his cool grey eyes on me: ”The man you left in charge of the Ithilien garrison, Captain Thorongil, Lieutenant Daeron, reports that Haradric attacks have increased in the last month, particularly the last week. He also reports that the Haradrim seem to have a particular strategy, attacking weak points in our defences systematically. Both the garrison in Cair Andros and Pelargir echo his reports. It almost seems like we have a spy” at this he turned his eyes on Andrahar, who returned the Steward’s gaze with a blank look:”in our midst.” Denethor finished coolly.

“What are we to do about this, my lord?” I asked, and when I saw the look Denethor gave me I knew the answer.

“Why, I thought that was plain, Captain Thorongil! I will send a spy of my own to Harad and I thought of sending you, since you have proved successful when dealing with the Rohirrim at Pelargir six years ago. And Master Andrahar will teach you all you need to know about the Haradrm and their ways. Would you agree to go on this mission, Captain?” Denethor asked me.

I thought for a moment and answered: “I would, my lord Steward, but may I inquire who is to take care of your elder son’s training in arms, if both I and Master Andrahar are unable to teach him?”

Ecthelion’s son smiled and answered:” You may. As custom leaves the honour of choosing the first teachers in the arts of war to the child’s nearest male relative of his mother’s line, I have already informed prince Imrahil of the necessity. My son’s training shall continue as normal for the next month ere Master Andrahar can take up the sparring lessons himself again. As for a new archery teacher, Lord Forlong has agreed to teach Boromir together with his own son. Boromir will not be left untrained, while you are away. You are after all not the only able archer in Gondor, Captain Thorongil…” Denethor’s voice had become ever so slightly cooler during the last sentence.

I nodded and bowed my head: “If that is the case, Lord Steward, I accept this mission.”

Denethor nodded:”Very well. I expect you to depart within a month. Gentlemen, I bid you a good evening.”

When I had returned to my rooms I thought for a while on the reasons for Denethor’s choice. Skill was one; the other reason seemed to be an unwarranted jealousy which had taken root in the days of Ecthelion. Clearly Denethor wished to lessen my influence on Boromir and he was clearly holding Andrahar under suspicion as well. But because Imrahil protected Andrahar and he himself feared that the junior sword master might betray his plans to the Haradrim, Denethor could not send him away.

Sighing, I went to bed. Matters could not be changed any more and I was only grieved for my young friend, because he had repeatedly shown a great liking towards me.

Thus it was that I spent the next month learning all Andrahar thought necessary for me to know, if I wanted to survive in the Sunland, as the Haradrim called their native country, from their speech to their weaponless fighting techniques. After our last lesson, Andrahar called for me to wait.

I turned around and waited for my teacher to approach when Andrahar suddenly reached out and cupped my face with his hands, looking me straight in the eye in such a way that I felt a chill creep down my spine. Then he let go of my face and, seeing my shocked gaze, the black-eyed man retreated and looked gravely at me.

“What…was that about, if I may ask, Andrahar?” I asked in a puzzled tone of voice. The Haradrim turned to me again and answered after a while:”I spoke to you of the way the events of the kin-strife are perceived by the people of my land. The slaying of Castamir is yet a wound in the hearts of the Sun-folk. Therefore they still fight the battle against those of the North.

“You know the ways of this fight when it is fought with weapons, Thorongil, but you do not know the other way. The men of the Haradrim take their pleasure from other men also, but they always prefer partners who look like Eldacar is said to have looked: tall, grey-eyed and pale-skinned. They will even use force or subdue them with herakil , for no Haradrim would ever love one who looks like the ancient enemy. Such is the grudge that we bear the men of Gondor and through such deeds we seek ever to avenge the death of Castamir.

“Therefore you must beware, for you bear such a likeness to Eldacar as I have never seen in Gondor before, Thorongil.” Andrahar paused and after I had nodded to show that I would heed this warning, the sword master smiled wryly and added: “In that also I am an outcast among my people…”

Ere I could ask what he meant by this odd comment, my teacher had pushed past me and I was left alone in the room to ponder his parting remark.

This night, after Ithil had settled, I rode from Minas Tirith, heeded by no one and twelve years would pass ere I was to come to the city of Minas Anor again.

That day, the Steward’s Heir would wake to find his sparring teacher back and Captain Thorongil gone from the city…

TBC….

Notes (warning: they are huge this time!!)

Dedications and overall thanks for this chapter

This chapter is dedicated to Cinzia, because without her, no fic of mine would exist (that’s right, you would have been spared this crap!)

Overall thanks go to Isabeau of Greenlea for allowing me to borrow Andrahar and his background.

Genealogical and cultural stuff

The background of Morwen and the House of Lossarnach is made up by me, based loosely on the following.

“Forlong has come.”Bergil answered.” Old Forlong the Fat, the Lord of Lossarnach.”[…. ] Leading the line there came walking a big thick-limbed horse, and on it sat a man of wide shoulders an huge girth, but old and grey-bearded, yet mail-clad and black-helmed and bearing a long heavy spear. (From LOTR: “Minas Tirith”)

16. Thengel: He took no wife until late, but in 2943 he wedded Morwen of Lossarnach in Gondor, though she was seventeen years the younger.

Éomer was like his fathers before him; but Éowyn was slender and tall, with a grace and pride that came to her out of the South from Morwen of Lossarnach, whom the Rohirrim had called Steelsheen. (From LOTR: Appendix A ii, Second and Third Lines, respectively)

[…] To the feasting in Amenelos came one Beregar from his dwelling in the west of the Isle, and with him came Erendis his daughter. There Almarian the Queen observed her beauty of a kind seldom seen in Númenor; for Beregar came of the House of Bëor by ancient descent, though not of the royal line of Elros and Erendis was dark-haired and of slender grace, with the clear grey eyes of her kin. (UT: “Tale of Aldarion and Erendis”)

She was known as Morwen of Lossarnach, for she dwelt there; but she did not belong to the people of that land. Her father had removed thither for love of its flowering vales from Belfalas; he was a descendant of a former prince of that fief, and thus a kinsman of Prince Imrahil. (UT: “Numenorean Measurements” Appendix to “The Disaster iof the Gladden Fields”)

I use the genealogy of the House of Bëor as set forth in HOME XI “The War of the Jewels” called “Bëor table II” with the following subsequent addition: (quote) “A few changes were made subsequently, at different times, to Bëor table II, as follows: […] A remote descent from Beleth, sister of Baragund and Belegund indicated, leading to Erendis of Númenor (end quote) (WoJ: “The Houses of the Edain, i. The House of Bëor”)

“In the tradition of his House Angelimir was the twentieth in unbroken descent from Galador first Lord of Dol Amroth. According to the same traditions Galador was the son of Imrazôr, the Númenorean who dwelt in Belfalas, and the Elven-lady Mithrellas. She was one of the companions, among many of the Elves of Lórien that fled to the coast about T.A. 1980, when evil arose in Moria; and Nimrodel and her maidens strayed in the wooden hills, and were lost. But in this tale it is said that Imrazôr harboured Mithrellas and took her to wife. But when she had borne him a son, Galador, and a daughter, Gilmith, she slipped away by night, and he saw her no more. […]


The custom that divides the choosing of the teachers for the sons of the Steward is made up by me an in case you think I don’t like Denethor and favour Imrahil, you are right, but please rememer that Denethor chooses all of Boromir’s teachers in the arts, languages and lore, fields Denethor has much knowledge in, according to Tolkien.

Thanks for the archery information go to the author of the archery article on HASA as well as to
Karri and Erin from HASA for answering my questions regarding children archers.

The story about the reverence the Beorians have for bows and the device of Lord Felagund is made up and I assume him to be an archer based on the fact that he was kin to the Amanyarin Teleri and they explicitely used the bows as a weapon. You can find canonical info on the device here

The culture of the Haradrim is completely made up, but I think it likely that the reason for their hatred of Gondor lies within the kin-strife and the fact that Eldacar slew Castamir who had many supporters in Umbar, according to Appendix A.

Andrahar would have a hard time finding a man who looked more like Eldacar as Aragorn is directly descended from Eldacar himself

The assumption that only the Dúnedain spoke Sindarin fluently, regardless of their social rank, is based on two facts (or conclusions drawn from facts):

The people of Andunië spoke Sindarin fluently or nearly fluently, according to notes on “Aldarion and Erendis”.

The people of the North were afraid of the Elves (as seen by the behaviour of the Rohirrim) or we can suppose that only the merchants who traded with the Elves, particularly Mirkwood Elves (as in Dale) knew enough of Sindarin to be able to trade with them.

< u> Linguistic stuff

Words and phrases are Sindarin, unless otherwise indicated:

Faron= hunter

Gwawion= Son of the Wind

Mellon-nin= my friend

Pen-neth= young one

Mír-neth= young jewel

Mellon-neth= young friend

Leithio i dang ‘ochwest lîn, Boromir= Release the arrow with your breath. Thanks to Ithildin for ordering the jumble of words I had produced :)

Herakil= Haradric word (made up by me), means a certain kind of drug, like opium in fashion

List of OCs

Gwaewion, son of Forlong

Daeron, father of the Mablung from LOTR

Faron, lore-master of Minas Tirith

Thanks for reading *bows* Feedback would be much appreciated! TIA!!

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