HASA Birthday Cards 2004
11. November 2004
War Stories — Tanaqui
“…And the Dead helped Father capture the fleet?”
Eldarion could not keep doubt from his voice. Because Lord Faramir’s tales about Father were just as exciting as the stories about dragons and magic jewels he heard from his nurse, he could never quite believe they were true.
When Faramir nodded, Eldarion asked suspiciously, “Did you see them? The Dead?”
The Steward hesitated for a long moment; Eldarion hopped impatiently from foot to foot.
“The Dead who aided your father? No. That was at Pelargir. I was here in the City.”
Eldarion was struck by a question he had not thought to ask before. “What did you do? During the War.”
Again that hesitation, but before Lord Faramir spoke, another voice answered.
“Kept the City safe, until Lady Éowyn and I could bring help.”
Eldarion squealed, and turned to throw himself into his father’s arms. Held tight, he looked back at the Steward. “But Lord Faramir never goes to war with you and King Éomer. He always stays here.”
“Yes,” his father answered. “He keeps my City safe still. One day you will understand: it takes a different kind of courage to defend, even without hope, as the dark creeps on.”
Kindred Spirits ~ by annmarwalk
Through all his long years, Mithrandir had envied neither elf nor man, concentrating always on his task: the defeat of the Dark One.
Yet when the raven-haired boy gazed at him with such admiration, he could not help but wonder: what it would have been like to father such a child? To see him grow daily in grace and wisdom, to delight in his eager curiosity, to mold his learning to noble ends? Why was such joy granted to one who treasured it not?
He revered his King Elessar, but dear Faramir had always been the child of his heart.
No Two Luckier Men ~ Vistula
Swirling wisps of gold and sable float upon the crystal crispness of a pool no longer touched by war. Elven queen and lady warrior laugh together like maids, catching liquid silver in cupped hands. They splash and play like the children they will someday carry in blossoming bellies.
On the pool’s grassy bank, King and Steward lounge with adoring eyes, wondering aloud why they both should be so blessed.
“Could there be two luckier men in all of Middle Earth than we are, Faramir?”
Shaking his head with certainty, the young Steward breathes: “No my lord Elessar, I think not.”
annmarwalk: I'd love something about either or both of Denethor's magnificent sons.
Sand-castles when the tide is flowing — Tanaqui
Denethor leaves the never-ending business of state and hurries to admire the rival citadels ere the tide sweeps them away.
The many lofty turrets of Boromir’s city stand proudly in the open. Already the sea licks at the outer walls, undermining them.
Faramir’s castle is simpler: a single, shapely tower inside a plain, wide wall. He is five years younger, Denethor chides himself, before he offers praise to both sons.
Walking on the beach next day, he finds no trace of Boromir’s castle. Yet, he sees with surprise, Faramir’s still stands: the wall is partly damaged, but the tower endures.
Insight --Cheryl (compainion drabble to The Stewared and the King drabble for Aeneid, also a November birthday!)
Pride wells within me as I look at the men before me. Boromir and Aragorn, side by side, face the exuberant crowd.
I study my brother's face and see acceptance, loyalty. More than that: devotion even our father never inspired in him. Can I read his heart? Still, always, my brother, but he is different somehow.
How many hundreds of years needs it to make a steward a king? Ever have I remembered his words, clear after so many years. Yet discontent I see not in my brother’s face. Perhaps, now, the years that have passed do not matter anymore.
The Herbs of Ithilien - Aeneid
He creeps. Grass bending, roots shifting. Dirt. The small of his back aches with the crouched position he has been holding for hours. The sweat – trickling slowly down his brow – over every crease and line and scar – tainting the eyebrow and into the eye, salty, like a tear returning. He blinks. Peering through the branches. The Enemy stirs.
Movement to his left.
Mablung’s voice, tense: “Still, Captain. Still.”
He goes rigid. Every muscle taut. Waiting. Danger. The trained heart skips.
The dark-haired Ranger bends forward, right beside his boot. A knife slicing through something. And then Mablung straightens, smiles.
Night Fears ~ Vistula
The warrior tightens his arms around the small bodies that flank him. The halflings sleep at last, strengthened by his protective embrace.
Sighing, Boromir remembers another time, not so long ago, when the tearstained cheeks and wide eyes had belonged to another. He’d held this other little one, a boy trying so hard to be a man, while a violent summer storm bathed the tower with fury.
“I’m not afraid!” The boy buried his face as thunder shook the room.
“No, of course not.” His affectionate reply had held a hint of laughter.
Brother, will I ever see you again?
Aeneid: My drabble preferences, in order, would be something Haradrim or Fourth Age. I think that's vague enough to cause inspiration. And if not that, then a completely AU Boromir (Liiiive! Liiiive!) as a fall-back
The Men of the South—Dwimordene
"Hradari to me!" cries lieutenant Fhelu'ut. Ahrit, clutching a spear, joins him. Defeat's in the air as Ahrit stares numbly at the White Tower rising over smoke and field, remembering.
Three months past, he stood awed beneath another tower, feeling his father's hands heavy upon his shoulders as Ahedri paid the salt tax in the only coin he had: "Here is Ahrit, my son, a man this day—one for Mordor, may he please the One."
Boyhood died in Mordor, and Gondor shall claim both man and manhood–he'll not see his fourteenth year, and he weeps as Gondor charges...
And so in this place and that, by burned homestead or barn, upon hillock or mound, under wall or on field, still [the Haradrim] gathered and rallied and fought until ... all were slain save those who fled to die, or to drown in the red foam of the River. – "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields", RoTK, 151
The long march — Tanaqui
We march proudly, our ranks disciplined, gear polished, banners flying bravely. The blood beats in my ears as I remember the tales: how they hewed the bodies of our fallen, slaughtered our women and children when they found them – and worse things, also.
Pounding out the weary miles, I hear the call of a strange bird. Next to me, my brother-in-arms stumbles and falls. For a moment, I do not understand. Then I see the brindle-feathered arrow. A rain of barbs follows, and we scatter to defend ourselves. Our great war beasts trumpet loud their defiance of these northern barbarians.
“He wondered what the man's name was and where he came from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home; and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace” Of Herbs And Stewed Rabbit Chapter 4, Book IV, LotR
The Stranger in Our Village ~ A quadrabble for Aeneid by annmarwalk
When the stranger came to our village we were afraid, until the old mother cat brought her kittens and stretched out in the shade by his side.
He sat cross-legged, head bowed, his back against the mud wall. His robes were woven of rough wool, ragged and dusty. His scarred hands stroked the cat’s head; her purring was like the thrumming of our hearts. For hours he sat, never moving or speaking, while we watched.
Bring him some food, my mother finally whispered. You are just a girl, he has nothing to fear from you. So I brought a skin of water, cool from the well, and set a small basket of dates nearby.
When he saw the dates, he raised his head and smiled at me. The cowl fell back from his hair, and I saw that it was golden like the first full light of morning, but his eyes were green, like a serpent’s! In terror I ran back to my mother, hiding my face in her skirt. Surely he must be a demon, for what man looked like that? But my mother just laughed.
Each day, the women and children brought him food and water, while the men debated. Thank you, he would murmur, in an accent strange to our ears, but never another word did he speak. Finally the elders sent runners to other villages: What do you know of this stranger?
Many stories came back to us: he was the true king of the fabled white city far to the north, exiled by a usurper, ensorcelled to forgetfulness. He was a prince of our own people, beloved of a goddess, hair burnished gold and eyes turned to emerald by the fervor of their lovemaking, driven mad by her vengeful spouse. He was a Maiyar, one of the lost holy men from the West, come to carry away our sins, if we showed him compassion.
He stayed for four days. On the fifth, he stood up, smiled and bowed to the women and children nearby, and walked away from our village. We never saw him again.
What was the truth? How would I know? I was only a child, in a poor dusty village – what did kings or holy men matter to me? But I remember how when he smiled it was like a cool breeze from the north, and his eyes were full of peace.
The Steward and the King --double drabble by Cheryl
His hand, strong and commanding, lies over mine. My grip tightens on the hilt of Anduril, the ceremonial words slipping easily from my lips.
When I pictured this scene as a boy, I expected to receive such words and not to give them. I understand clearly at last who stands before me and it strikes awe deep in my heart. Such a feeling is strange to me; I cannot keep it from my face as I finish my pledge.
His eyes meet mine; kindness, strength and nobility clear in his gaze, his words of acceptance so familiar.
“…valor with honour,” His eyes narrow as he finishes his statement, “oath-breaking with justice.”
He smiles at my surprise, his hand coming to rest on my shoulder.
“There is no vengeance, Boromir, son of Denethor.”
" How many hundreds of years needs it to make a steward a king?" My prophetic, childhood words return to me. Gone is the unkempt Ranger from the North. Before me I see my King, returned at last.
Standing, he sheaths the sword before beckoning me to rise. Together we turn to face the people.
His voice rings clear and true across the Citadel.
“Boromir! Steward of Gondor!”
Southland -- a drabble & a half by Forodwaith
Child of the temperate north, Arwen has never known heat like this - it strikes to the core of her bones, burns her flesh wherever it is bared. At this searing hour of the day, the sun hangs unmoving and the city of the Haradrim dozes. Sitting under the shadow of the arcade she watches the empty streets, where only flies stir. In the courtyard a bird echoes the liquid note of the fountain.
Beside her Aragorn sleeps on a divan draped with gauze. He has taken to Haradric ways again, and they call him by the name he bore long ago in these lands: Ekiri, the tall one. Looking down at the hair tousled on his pillow, she sees threads of silver woven into the black like the banner of his house. Gently she strokes her fingers through, separating them, and wishes she could so easily untangle the years.
annmarwalk and Aeneid:
Not permitted — Tanaqui
The steward waves his hand over the map. “We should meet them here, sire. If I lead six companies from this point, and King Éomer brings the cavalry from here, we can drive them on to the main body of our forces under your command.”
The Prince of Ithilien clears his throat. “Sire?”
“What is it, Faramir?” Aragorn frowns, trying to tie marks on paper to old memories.
“May I respectfully remind my king, and my brother, that the steward may not leave the realm?” Faramir grins wickedly at Boromir. “I will lead the six companies.”
“But–!“ Boromir splutters.
“It was also Rómendacil I who established the office of Steward (Arandur "king's servant"), but he was chosen by the King as a man of high trust and wisdom, usually advanced in years since he was not permitted to go to war or to leave the realm. He was never a member of the Royal House. [Author's note.]”
Note 53 to “Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan”, Unfiinished Tales
A Wedding Toast ~ Vistula
“You’re not suppose to be here. Men are barred from the Shire, you know.”
Hidden from raucous party revelers, Pippin raised his ale mug in salute and clanked it against the one held across from him.
“What’s the King going to do? Dismiss his Captain of the Guard?” the hooded man mused with an infectious grin. “I’d have to arrest myself.”
The young hobbit chuckled and together they drained a pair of foaming tankards.
“Besides, I couldn’t miss sharing a toast with my dear friend and fellow soldier on the occasion of his wedding.”
“Well, Boromir, I’m glad you’re here!”
Ithildin: Hail, O talented ones! I would enjoy something with Elves – Legolas, Thranduil, Celeborn, Galadriel, Elrond, twins, etc., etc.- whichever muse speaks loudest. ;) (no slash, please)
To Let Go - by Meril
Three days after Dol Guldur, he glimpsed her star-touched golden hair atop their talan. Clad in white, she sat there like a lost child, stroking powerless Nenya.
“It is gone,” she whispered faintly. “Lórien will fall to ruin. It will perish under the light of this dying world, memories fading to nothing.”
The proud golden head fell. With every moment he could hear the cry of her tattered fëa, resisting the Sea’s call. In her eyes, heartache he could not heal.
Would he restrain her? Deny her serenity? No, he could not…
Glenno annûn, hiril vain nín. Hiro hîdh.
Glenno annûn, hiril vain nín. Hiro hîdh.
Go west, my beautiful lady. May you find peace.
A grandmother’s sacrifice — Tanaqui
Arwen and I are baking lembas when the messenger comes. I watch how she stills her movements at his name.
“It must be some years since you saw him,” I prompt.
She nods. “He was a mere boy.” Curiosity, not contempt, is in her tone.
Brought before me, I find him worn with travel and weary with long labour, yet he endures my gaze unflinching. I read his desire.
He is much like another Man I knew. My heart tells me his destiny will be as high - if he keeps hope.
I make my choice: that she make hers.
Master of the House ~ Vistula
He’s Master here, I know that – make no mistake – and I should mind my place. I respect him, yet when he says go, take some rest, I cannot obey. My place is at my master’s side. He couldn’t bid me different, were he King of all elves.
With stealthy steps that belied his clumsy nature, Sam slipped through the sickroom door. Mindful of the elves’ keen senses, he crept silently to the bed, reclaiming his post at Frodo’s side.
Sam didn’t notice Lord Elrond secreted in the shadowy corner nor see his knowing smile. Fear not, Master Samwise, I understand.
Julia (jcd1013): I’d love a drabble that focuses on the interactions (friendships only please!) between the Fellowship--angsty or happy, with any combination of characters. I'm leaving it pretty general (I think?) and I hope that it inspires.
The look of a hobbit's foot — Tanaqui
He did not appear even when mess tents were set up. “Find him, my friends,” the king begged.
The healers had no report of him, so they took their grim search to the battlefield. Suddenly, the dwarf gave a cry. “Hai! A hobbit’s foot!”
They heaved away the troll’s carcass. “Aieee! Our long pursuit is proved vain at last.” Gimli bowed his head.
Legolas touched his hand to Pippin’s curls. “Nay, friend, he lives, if barely.” He gathered Pippin up. “Come, let us take him with all haste to the king. Here is one he will wish to heal himself.”
Second Breakfast ~ annmarwalk
One thing Boromir appreciated about Imladris was the food, abundant and varied. Arising late one morning, he followed the aroma of something extraordinary…
“Lingonberries! In a bread with pumpkin, of all things! What is that spice, do you think? Nutmeg? Or mace?” It was astounding how the smallest one could talk so much without breathing. “Those dwarves can eat, can’t they? And those men really tuck it away. We’d starve if not for second breakfast. Good thing none of them are around right now, more for us….”
They had the grace to blush, and happily share what little was left.
Simple Comfort ~ Vistula
“Tea, Mister Strider?”
I glance up as Sam offers the mug, his smile cautious.
“It’s weak, mind you, but hot. Just the thing to ease the night’s chill.”
I nod, accepting his kindness with a smile of my own. Sensitive to our needs, he seeks to warm spirits plagued by a cold the late winter weather couldn’t match. Knowing only simplicity, and having no words to abate the darkness, he soothes our melancholy with hot drink.
I watch him move on, filling each cup in turn, and understand that with his liquid offering he brings simple comfort to us all.
Melina: I'm easy -- any of the following would be lovely: Boromir and Faramir, either growing up or as young men; Eomer and Theodred, either growing up or as young men; anything in the 4th age with any of the following -- Aragorn, Arwen, Faramir, Eowyn, Eomer, Lothiriel.
Fathers and sons, cousins and brothers — Tanaqui
“Can I clean your harness? Groom your horse? Fetch your armour? Ride with you? He plagues me night and day.” Théodred glared into the fire. “Does the boy have nothing better to do?”
“No.” Théoden answered softly. “The one he should pester with such questions is gone. I would he were here for me to trouble with my needs. His mother also.”
He waved away Théodred’s stammered apology.
“Besides,” Théoden smiled, “as king, you will have many loyal and adoring subjects. Best practice with this small one. Be as a father unto him for a little while, I beg you.”
Courtship ~ annmarwalk
King he might be, he was still a young man in a strange city. Stone walls closed in on him; and everywhere, too many people, too much noise. He hungered for a moment of quiet, and a breath of air; a blessed glimpse of green to remind him of his home.
He found these things at last, in rooftop garden, high above the city, tucked behind a carved archway. He found also a young woman, dark haired with eyes of grey, hoping to catch a whiff of salt air – the scent of her home.
Shy at first, they sat and talked. He told her of a great sea of grass, and the thunder of hoofbeats in his blood. She spoke of the thousand colors of the ocean in all its moods. We are all children of the sea, she said, for do we not sleep in a bed of salt water in our mother’s womb, dreaming of this life? He wondered at that, but her voice was like music to him.
When they met again, that evening, he took her hand, and did not let go. She wondered at that, but after a while, she entwined her fingers with his.
“You will not succeed.”
Éomer squared his shoulders. He stopped and stared his cousin in the eye. “I will.” He turned away, but not before he saw Theódred shrug and shake his head.
Éomer easily climbed over the three rail fence before him. "You worry too much." He crossed the large paddock, halter in hand.
“I care not if you break your fool neck, only that it will be I who has to tell father of it.” Theódred rested his arms on the middle rail and looked over the fence. “You must first catch him.”
Éomer ignored him. He slowly approached the spirited gray stallion and, after a brief, silent stand off, haltered him. He smiled triumphantly. With the ease of one born to horses, he grabbed a handful of mane and vaulted to the animal’s back.
Powerful muscles bunched beneath him and Éomer turned his overconfident gaze to Theódred. He squeezed his legs firmly into the horse’s sides. “You were…”
He found himself lying on the ground, admiring the blue sky above him, and at a loss as to how he got there.
A shadow crossed his sight, followed by the smiling face of Theódred. “I told you so.”
The First Hunt ~ Vistula
“They sound dangerous.” Arwen’s lips pursed with concern. “You’re sure he’ll be safe?”
“Don’t worry my love, Faramir’s boys are responsible. They’ll take care of Eldarion.”
“He’ll be fine.” Aragorn soothed her worry with a touch. “Your brothers took me at Eldarion’s age and I managed just fine.”
“My brothers? Oh, yes, that’s a comfort.” Arwen glanced anxiously out the window, as the boys gathered below, snares in hand. “You’re sure?”
“Yes, beloved. Boys have gone on snipe hunts for years and I’ve never heard of any coming to harm.”
Facing the window, Arwen missed her husband’s amused smile.
Ranger1: Please any drabble on First or Second Age Elves. Have inspiration!
Good welcome they found — Tanaqui
I remember the old sea-captain’s final visit, bringing his grandson. Like a young sapling the boy was: tall, golden haired, sure. A little of our blood runs in his veins, and desire for the sea was strong in him. He was eager for knowledge, too. I taught him what I knew: of the making of ships and their management, the building of strong havens, the planting of trees.
Now refugees bring news of the loss of one Gift of Men, for their kin would deny the other. Perhaps I should not have shared my craft so eagerly with the boy.
The End of the Siege - Aeneid
Orodruin rumbles. Gil-galad swallows back the filth of this place. A motion to the right – Thranduil, Amdír, Glorfindel, Elrond – the graceful, the agile – sweeping over them with his gaze. Move the flank forward, he silently commands. A glance to his left – Elendil, Isildur, Anárion, Meneldil – the limping, the coarse – the men are aging. Gil-galad suddenly wonders if all the men shall die before this siege has ended, forcing the elves to fight on alone.
Movement. A drone. The lines shift as men fidget. The Enemy – hissing, cackling, howling – a war cry goes up.
And Gil-galad knows: Today Sauron has come.
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