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6
The coin's two sides

Prompt: Lend

Summary: It turns out you can serve two masters.


~~~

Next morn, Captain called muster.

“Remember well our duty,” Ránion told Poros's assembled soldiers. “We defend Gondor's integrity: maintain peace, keep Haradrim out. Clear?”

Someone shifted. Ránion turned sharply, stared...

“Sir?” Celbaran heard himself ask. “When the Khan's men come, these a-lehani – shan't they run?”

“Undoubtedly.”

“And if they seek escape by the Crossings? Captain,” he asked, “must we lend our swords to Harad's vengeance?”

Silence, then: “Say rather, to Gondor's interests.”

Gondor's interests. Later, Celbaran spies the woman, wearily balancing squabbling children on either arm.

Appeasement is not peace, yet impoverished power, Gondor – they – will kill even for that.

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