Many Guises and Many Names
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Tides: 1. Tides
Many were already gathering in the streets. Those who had homes along the main street of the city stayed there, eagerly standing at their windows, waiting. The shadows that had for so long hung above the fair White City were no more, having been banished by the gleaming sun. None feared to look into the cloudless sky, for the days of flying beasts were gone.
It was midday when the makeshift gates opened, admitting a large group of horses. Men bearing the symbols and colors of Dol Amroth rode forth first, their armor and swords gleaming proudly. Next came Lord Elphir and Lady Lothíriel, the son and daughter of Prince Imrahil. The lady bore the banner of Dol Amroth, which swayed in the wind.
For a moment, no others entered into Minas Tirith. The people quieted, as if holding their collective breaths. Then, four horses, one white and three grey, appeared. The riders were met with deafening cheers and joyous cries.
The women were fair. Grey-eyed with sun-kissed hair, they might have been mistaken for ladies of the Firstborn had they not been so well-remembered in the White City. The eldest of the four smiled graciously at those around her.
“Finduilas! Lady of the White City!” People called out, throwing flower petals in her path.
With a practiced flick of the reins, Finduilas’s horse trotted forward along the street, following her niece and nephew towards the Citadel. Her three daughters urged their horses after their mother, as did the other men of their escort.
The people were ecstatic when they beheld the four ladies. The wife of their King and the mother of their Steward had finally returned to Minas Tirith.
Elessar stood at the foot of the Citadel steps, waiting. He could hear the festive voices of his people raised as they greeted his wife and daughters. Noting the presence of his son, Aralas, and his step-son, Faramir, he suddenly could not help feel old.
His children were almost fully grown. Eleniel and Lalaith were thirty-one and twenty-nine respectively. They would undoubtedly marry soon. Aralas, who stood beside him, was young now only in his physical years. His brutal, but thankfully brief, conflict with the Witch-king in the attempt to protect the city had destroyed his air of innocence, replacing it with the dignity of a tried warrior. Only Lissien, the youngest, remained young at the age of thirteen. Still, he knew it would only be a matter of time. Faramir had betrothed himself to the Lady Éowyn of Rohan. And in the case of Aralas, it was of paramount importance that he marry and produce a child. Only through him, would his father’s line continue as it had done so since the days of Isildur.
But still, a sense of guilt had remained. He had been absent for much of the childhoods of his children, wandering the wilds and continuing his duties as Chieftain of the Dúnedain. He had visited as often as his duties had permitted, but there were times when he almost regretted marrying Finduilas. She had lost one husband, Denethor, to plague. He’d had no wish to see her lose her second husband to the wilderness that was to be his home until the time was right. And his children deserved more than a vague, absent figure for a father.
But when he came to Dol Amroth, he had only to look into his wise wife’s eyes to have his doubts washed away. The love he saw there left no room for it. She had chosen her own path, having loved him since she had first spied him in his days as a Captain in the service of the Steward of Gondor. But in believing he did not return her feelings, she had consented to marry Denethor, the Steward Ecthelion’s heir. She had born Denethor two sons, but he had died when the eldest had been only seven and the younger but two years.
When, but two years had passed, he had married Finduilas, the people had greatly supported the match. Their Steward was a young boy. To have one of Gondor’s most successful Captains to guide him, he would undoubtedly become a fine protector of the White City.
But after a time, Aragorn had been summoned to return to the North. His aide was needed by Mithrandir. He had been reluctant, most certainly. Boromir was learning quickly, but he still had much to see and understand and their were few Aragorn had wished to trust in guiding the boy in his stead. More to the point, Finduilas had already given him two daughters, Eleniel and Lalaith. He had no desire to leave them.
Aragorn had expressed this to his wife. She had seated him and, placing herself at his feet and taking his hands in her own, had sternly told him, “You are who you are, husband. You are needed. I will not keep you from what must be done by you and you alone. Go. We shall be fine here. My brother is well qualified to advise his nephew.”
So he had gone. For years, he wandered the wilds of Middle-earth. He saw the forests of Mirkwood, meeting there the Prince of the Realm and finding an everlasting friend in him. He came, on occasion, to Imladris, there visiting with his foster-father and brothers. He did not, however, enter into the land of Lothlórien. Mithrandir had fiercely advised him against it, stating he would find only pain and heartache there.
Under other circumstances, Aragorn would have shaken his head at such vague advise from the Istar. But something in the older man’s eyes had struck a chord in him. Wisely, he took the words to heart and never strayed close to the Golden Wood.
As often as he was able, he had visited Finduilas and their children. When Boromir became more and more sure of himself and his own responsibilities, she had taken to spending more and more time at Dol Amroth by the Sea. He was always greeted with joy and delight by his daughters and wife and there were times when he longed to throw down his burden and live with his family in contented peace. But when he recalled the horrors he had seen in Mordor, the savagery committed by the accursed Orcs, and combined that with the thoughts of his family living under such dominion renewed his strength to carry on.
When, ten years after the birth of Lalaith, their son Aralas had been born, Aragorn had spoken to his wife of sending him to Minas Tirith when he had grown enough. He was well aware that sending to be raised as a Dúnedan was out of the question. Far too many would note his disappearance.
Finduilas had been reluctant. She had no great love for the city, as it stifled her, keeping her from seeing her beloved sea, but he had firmly told her that Aralas could not spend his life forever in his mother’s shadow. Fostering him in the house of his older half-brothers would be good for him. Boromir had proven himself to be a fine warrior and would undoubtedly be able to teach his younger brother the art of swordplay, while Faramir could guide him in seldom-remembered ways of Númenor.
Their youngest daughter, Lissien, had followed her brother into the world six years later, the last of the children of Aragorn and Finduilas. When she was but three years old, he had been required to leave yet again to aid Mithrandir in the hunt for Gollum. Bitterness had grown in his heart when the wizard had appeared, and he lamented that he was destined to never watch his children grow.
But he had gone. And the long winding path that had led him from there to here had been one filled with trials, but he knew very well he had something to fight for. While he had never had the desire to claim the throne of Gondor or Arnor, he knew he was fighting for the survival of his family, spread all over Gondor.
Aragorn straightened when he saw the Swan Knights appear within his line of sight. She was coming. The woman who had given him the strength to follow the course laid out was coming. He had lost count of the years that had passed since he had seen her. And in those years, his heart had been consumed with a terrible ache.
But no more. His journeys as a wandering Ranger were done. And though he grieved the loss of freedom, he looked forward to his family’s continued presence in his life. All of them.
Faramir did not know whether to laugh or weep. Granted, at the moment he stood next to his step-father… his King… with a courteous smile on his face, but he felt anything but peace. His heart was in turmoil.
The events of the past few years, nay, the events of his life, had been soul-wearying. Deprived of a father he had little memory of, left to watch his brother thrust into a position he should not have had to take for many years, and to see his mother remarry and continue to bear his younger half-siblings… all that had occurred rapidly and had often left him wondering where he fit in. He was Faramir, the second son of a dead Steward, the brother of the new Steward. What was there for him to do?
With no one to guide him, he had set about following his instincts. He spent his childhood supporting Boromir and their trusted step-father, training with Boromir in swordplay, as well as assisting his mother with his younger sisters as they came into the world. Truly, Eleniel and Lalaith were considered the jewels of the White City.
But then everything changed.
First, Thorongil left to return to the North. Faramir had only seen ten winters at that time, but it was he, not Boromir, that Thorongil summoned to talk with him and his mother on the night before his departure. He had sat in his mother’s sitting room and listened to everything his step-father told him. He listened to the tale of the One Ring and the betrayal of Isildur. He heard of the fall of Arnor and the transformation of its people into the Rangers of the North. He heard of how Thorongil was the Heir of Isildur Elendil’s son.
Faramir had not known what to make of what he had been told. His mother did not seem surprised by any of her husband’s words, nor did she appear angry or resentful of her husband’s imminent departure. He had quietly asked why he was being told all of this and his step-father told him that, although Boromir was growing wise in ruling Gondor, there was still much he needed to learn and unlearn, such as his growing belief that Gondor had no need of a King any longer. Faramir, though younger in years, was in many ways, the wiser of the two. And so, Faramir was told so that he could do his best to guide his brother, perhaps even stifle his temper.
He had agreed to do as he was asked, as any dutiful son would. But even after Thorongil had left, other things changed as well. His mother left Minas Tirith, taking with her Eleniel and Lalaith, unable to bear the parting from the Sea any longer. Faramir had then been left to occupy much of his time on his own, as much of Boromir’s time was taken up with dealing with the affairs of the kingdom, as well as maintaining his alliances with their allies.
Only on occasion did Thorongil return to Minas Tirith, but Faramir found that it was something he looked forward to. He felt a closeness to the man, feeling a reverence he knew should be reserved for his true father, but it was not to be so. Mostly, however, Thorongil visited Dol Amroth, where his wife Finduilas remained for most of the years he had been gone in the North.
When Aralas had been born, both Boromir and Faramir had been delighted, taking a special trip to Dol Amroth in order to greet their new brother. Thorongil had been present, his face gleaming with a pride that was both fierce and slightly fearful. Faramir believed that he understood. The line of Isildur had remained unbroken through the male line, but it had almost died out many times. And now the next heir had been born, but he was so weak and defenseless. He had no Elven protectors, as Thorongil had claimed to have. And so, in those quiet moments, Faramir silently swore to protect his younger half-brother with his life.
And he kept that vow as best he was able, especially when Aralas came to live in Minas Tirith at the age of eight. The boy had been gifted with his mother’s face, but his manner was that of his father’s. He took up the duties Boromir assigned him with all seriousness, no matter how trivial everyone else knew them to be. From a distance, Faramir had kept watch, ensuring no danger or harm came near him.
‘But just when he truly needed protection,’ Faramir thought bitterly with self-recrimination, ‘I failed him. May the Valar curse my foolishness!’
And indeed, he had almost cost his brother his life. Desperate for some concrete news of Thorongil and Boromir, he’d felt it would be all right just the one time. But by looking into the palantir, he had unveiled his innermost thoughts, his memories to the Dark Lord. And the memory of Thorongil’s confidence had been amongst them. Through his own foolishness, Faramir had revealed the identity of Isildur’s Heir, as well as the location of the Man’s only son, still a young man, barely more than a boy.
Faramir was certain Thorongil… nay, he was Elessar now, knew he had gazed into the Seeing Stone of Minas Anor. He had to know that he had betrayed them, however unwittingly. And yet he said nothing of it. Indeed, he had even saved him from the curse of the Witch-King. And though Faramir knew his step-father should have let him die, he was immensely grateful he did not. He had much to live for now. His wonderful White Lady had helped to ease some of the guilt within him, but he knew that it would always be a mistake that would haunt him.
Faramir saw his cousins Elphir and Lothíriel appear and felt his soul lighten slightly. For all of his grievous errors, he was still greatly thrilled to be alive. His love for his family was second to none, and now Éowyn and her brother would be added. His mother, his step-father, his siblings, all of them, were precious. He could not change what had occurred in the past, but he was determined to spend his life owning up to that one mistake, even if his debt remained unpaid. He loved them, and would never do anything to harm them.
Finduilas continued to smile kindly at the thongs of people cheering and calling to her. Her horse instinctively followed those in front of him, taking her closer and closer to the Citadel, so she felt little need to watch overly carefully where he stepped.
Instead, she let her eyes roam over her surroundings. Only a few months had passed since she had taken Lissien, Lalaith, and Eleniel and fled the White City. On the very same day when she had last beheld her firstborn son, in fact.
Finduilas bit her cheek, fighting back a fresh wave of tears at the thought of her beloved Boromir. Her dear boy, he had sought to go North alone, in a desperate search for his step-father. She had told him that if he was to have any chance of finding him, he must search for Imladris, the House of Elrond. But it would not be easy. There had been no communication between the two realms for centuries. The road to the Elven haven was lost save for those who already knew it.
But he had gone. And she had left as well. Osgiliath may have been retaken, but she knew it was only a matter of time before it was overrun again. Gondor’s history had been littered with such instances since the end of the Watchful Peace. She’d had no desire to stay in the White City and watch what little was left of the country’s once chief jewel yet again burn. Aralas had refused to leave, stating his place was with Faramir, aiding him however he could.
And so, with no other recourse, she had left behind all three of her sons.
The White City had changed since she had left, Finduilas noted. The makeshift gates had provided her first glimpse of the damage done by the siege Minas Tirith had endured. Even now, deep into the city, she could see evidence of the attack. Smashed wagons, houses without their thatched roofs. So much destruction.
But the faces of the people gave her hope. They were all smiling and waving, their elation evident. Gone were the pensive and fearful looks Finduilas had seen when she and her daughters had rode from the City. They were happy.
‘And well they should be,’ she thought. ‘Their King has at last revealed himself.’
Her grey eyes drifted towards the path in front of her and steadily saw the Citadel approaching. Unbidden, her smile grew wider. Her husband was waiting for her.
It had been well over five years since he had dared to come South. The Nine had been out in force in those days, and he was sorely needed in the North to lead the Dúnedain. On his last night in Dol Amroth, she had clung to him most of the night, covering his face in kisses. For all her talk of him doing what must be done, her fear and worry for him often consumed her thoughts. Even that morning, before he rose from their bed, he had lain in her arms and clutched her tightly to his chest. He had not spoken, but she had been married for him nigh two and thirty years. He did not have to speak for her to know his thoughts.
But now she need not be alarmed at such things any longer. His days of wandering the wilds were done. He was King now. Just as he was born to be.
The courtyard was just as cold and bare as she remembered. The dry husk that was the White Tree still stood in the courtyard’s center, just as she had always remembered it. Finduilas fought to keep her nose from wrinkling in disgust. Blasphemous as her thoughts would be considered, but she could not help but despise the dead tree. It only served to remind those of a past long dead, and of the oppressiveness that had come to be a part of the atmosphere of Minas Tirith. How it had suffocated her during her years as Denethor’s wife.
Finduilas shook herself, freeing her thoughts of such matters. Today was to be a happy day, a day of reunions. She would not spoil her mood by thinking of unhappy times in the past.
Her eyes fell upon the group waiting for her. She saw Faramir and Aralas standing tall and proud, their swords belted ceremoniously at their sides. She saw Mithrandir standing slightly off to the side, surrounded by what she had initially thought to be children, until she saw each of them carrying small swords of their own. One of them even bore the uniform of a knight of Gondor.
Questions began to appear into Finduilas’s mind, until her gaze fell upon the one she had been waiting to see since Imrahil had summoned them all to Minas Tirith. Her heart leapt with joy and tears began to fill her eyes.
Before her stood Elessar of Gondor, Thorongil of Rohan, Aragorn of the Dúnedain, Estel of Imladris. But uppermost in her mind was only a single word.
“Many tell the tale of what happened when the Lady Finduilas entered into the courtyard of the Citadel. Those fortunate enough to watch through the gates were few in number, but the recounts of what they saw still flourish to the present day.
They say that, when the Lady’s horse came to a halt, the King stepped forward. His countenance was grave and serious, though no one found that so unusual in the former Captain of Gondor. He held out his hand to the Lady, who accepted it graciously. With his aid, she came down off her horse, which was promptly taken away by a stable hand who had been standing patiently nearby.
Since his son had already gone to aid his daughter, Imrahil of Dol Amroth quickly stepped to his eldest niece’s side, following the suite of his King, as did the Lords Faramir and Aralas, who quickly stepped up to the Ladies Lalaith and Lissien.
But few truly bothered to take note of this, for most and many eyes were upon the King and his wife. They had not moved, her white hand still held gently in his larger, more tanned one. Their eyes were upon one another, taking little heed that they were being watched.
No one knows what went through their minds in those brief moments, but their thoughts must have been pleasant. Slowly, the King smiled gently at his lady wife and brought her hand up to his lips, allowing him to kiss it in a most reverent manner.
The Lady Finduilas returned her husband’s smile and sank into a graceful curtsy. Barely a moment passed before the King brought her back up from her show of deference. Then, still holding onto her hand, he led her to back to the steps of the Citadel, where their children and closest council had gathered. It was then that the observers took notice of a small silver circlet of silver lay upon a navy blue pillow in the hand of the Lord Mithrandir.
The King took it up from the wizard and turned back to his wife. Placing the circlet upon her fair head, he cried, “So I was named King Elessar, I name my wife, Finduilas of Dol Amroth, Queen Earheri, the Sea-Lady, of Gondor. Let it be known, the Royal Family has returned with the King and shall abide here so as long as my heirs walk these lands!”
Elessar then again took up the hand of Ëarheri and side-by-side, they walked the steps of the Citadel and entered, their children, their family, and their friends respectfully following at a distance.
The reign of the Elfstone and the Sea-Lady was long. But in the year thirty-nine of the Fourth Age, Queen Ëarheri felt a great weariness come upon her. Great was her age for one of her line, and mayhap indeed, she could have lived many longer years had the need for rest not come upon her. But when it happened, she bid a sorrowful goodbye to her children, their spouses, and her grandchildren. What was said between husband and wife by the way of farewell was known only to them.
After this, the Queen took to her horse and rode alone, it is said, to the shores of her birth, near the palace of Dol Amroth. Mere days later, her horse returned to the White City, without its rider. The body of the Queen was never found, but many believe the ancient Lord and Lady of the Waters bore her off to a safe place where she could find her rest.
King Elessar chose not to remarry, though he was still considered of middle age. His heart, many believe, went with is beloved wife and he remained in his kingdom only out of a sense of duty and honor.
But in the Fourth Age year seventy-seven, the King withstood his wife’s absence no longer. Many believed he joined her in the sea waves she loved so much."
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