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3
Profanation

Title: Profanation
Author: Dwimordene
Summary: Economic Imperialism does Middle-earth 3. Piety does not justice make.
Rating: T
Characters: OCs
Prompts: Day 15 prompt: "But in the midst of the land was a mountain tall and steep, and it was named the Meneltarma, the Pillar of Heaven, and upon it was a high place that was hallowed to Eru Ilúvatar, and it was open and unroofed, and no other temple or fane was there in the land of the Númenóreans."
Personal Insanity Prompts: From Himring: “We're sort of encouraged to believe that "the Meneltarma ritual" was the right approach for the Numenoreans and falling away from it was heresy. Is that so? Yes/No/Maybe/Sometimes? Additional elements: a descendant of the House of Beor who is not of the line of Elros (such as e.g. Erendis), a mallorn nut.” Linda Hoyland asked for justice, the economy, and kaftans (okay, and also Faramir and fatherhood, which didn’t happen).
Warnings: Relies on some fanon I’ve developed about the Haradrim over time. Probably the one that you can read the quickest to get the gist is this drabble set: Strange Fire.


~~~

Profanation


Her mother came to this island a young woman. Gahar was beautiful then, and her lord had her dressed in a fine silk robe and bangles, like a daughter of his blood. She brought a high price in the house above the docks that her new master’s lover kept for the sailors and the merchants.

That was how Gihayan was born, between two shifting worlds, but she knows her place. Gahar spoke the language of her far away people, prayed their prayers and secretly taught Gihayan to say them, too. And she told stories: of her village, where her brothers and sisters had lived and raised their parents’ goats, and where there had been a young man she had fancied...

But once in bondage, few leave it; and the Men of Westernesse had Harad whole to bondage. Ever more tribute they sought from her mother’s lord. The mines in the hills hard by were hungry; they devoured men, yet that was not enough. And so their lord had taken one daughter from each of the villages of the province, and given them to the Western overlord.

Gahar was no longer beautiful when her master tired of her. She had lost her youth long ago, and was taken from the house. Gihayan has not seen her in many years. Sometimes she wonders whether she lives still; it seems unlikely. She thinks she should mourn her, but she imagines of the warmth of the undying Fire, and instead Gihayan gives secret thanks.

It is a little thing, a little grace in a world that lacks it. The lot of slaves and servants in this place, especially those who are Children of the Fire taken from their homes in tribute, is a thankless one. Life on this island is without grace, and has been for long now, even for the people of Númenor.

When Gahar had been young, the old king had gone many times to the mountain that the gods of his people had hallowed and left gifts of thanksgiving for them and, so some of the Westernesse girls of the house said, to repent.

Gihayan remembers this a little, but not very well; and she cannot learn much more. For the pale girls brought to serve in the house hardly dare whisper now. They are all, Gihayan knows, of the old king’s sect, and who knows what would happen if anyone heard them? The smoke, thick and greasy, rises daily from the Temple the younger king has built, and Gihayan hears terrible stories that her clients tell each other, heedless of her horror: that in the Temple, the King’s Men pervert the sacred rites of her own people. That they cage and shackle the king’s enemies and burn them alive while they scream still and beg: no great leap of courage of the aged to meet god in god’s own element, only fear – only a shrill death, and no respect for age.

And what of the Giver, whom the King’s Men call a friend? No one sees him abroad in the land, unless with a guard and the king’s golden torque upon his neck. Some say these are signs of honor, that the torque bears the mallorn nut symbol of a kingly counselor, but the Children of the Fire know better: the king holds captive the emissary of the Fire! How else could such perversion happen, but as a torment to the Giver and his people?

No wonder to Gihayan that the gods of this people did not hear the old king’s pleas, when he would not even cleanse the land of such a brother! In Harad, the new slaves say, they pray daily that the Giver shall persuade his heavenly brethren to punish this people for their trespass against him and against the Children of the Fire, for the stealing and desecration of the rites. Filth, filth, everything is filth and ingratitude in this land – it was so ere the old king, when Númenor’s merchants raped the land; it was so when he reigned, and still they brought treasure-holds back; and it is now worse than ever under his brother. Not enough, to take the wealth of Harad, Númenor must spit upon the Children of the Fire in every way! What use, to say thanks upon a mountain, when such injustice reigns? The gods will war against each other as they will, but though Gihayan was born upon this cursed isle and will die upon it surely, she knows the wisdom of her people: no mortal should dare outrage a god, for the race of gods will not long let a slight to one of their own kind pass.

The Faithful girls whisper that their Queen, who has lost her name, is said to weep for the pollution of the island, and often they are sad themselves, and fearful. Truly, Gihayan knows, it is terrible to live with the knowledge of such wrongs done to the rites that bind. Likely, they should all of them, whether Faithful or Daughter of the Fire, be dead – all of them, together, out of shame that they should live when their gods are blasphemed. But the gods did not make many men brave, and they are only slaves and chattel in this house – not for them to be brave.

Yet sometimes, Gihayan thinks that maybe… maybe when she is old, and her time here is done, and she is cast off like her mother, then, perhaps, she will make a blaze, and give herself to the Fire as is proper, so that there is one clean burning on this desolate ground.

But in the end, she knows that that is foolish: what does one clean fire mean, when all others are dirty? It breaks her heart, but such a fire, however great or grand, she knows and wants to weep, is like the kind old king and his mountain rites: futile.

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