Many Guises and Many Names
Playlist Navigation Bar
Lords of Gondor: 8. A Debate
"The Corsairs of Umbar are a threat to Dol Amroth
and Pelagir, and if those should fall to Minas Tirith
herself." Aragorn argued as he always did. "If they
were to ally themselves with the Enemy in the East we
would be undone."
And Denethor replied, as always. "And if your
attack should fail? We would lose ships and men we can
ill afford - and Umbar would be free to raid our
shores at will."
"The attack will not fail." Aragorn said quietly.
"Can you command success, Thorongil?" Denethor
sneered. "The greatest captain may be foiled by a
Aragorn said nothing. There was nothing safe to
say. Every man sitting at the council table knew
Thorongil, Captain of the Citadel Guard, had never
lost a battle. Nor Denethor the Steward's Heir won
one. Aragron looked at the man sitting at the
Steward's right hand, enough like him to be the
brother he'd never had, and regretted yet again his
failure to make a friend of Denethor.
"Thorongil." he looked at the Steward, the Lord
Ecthelion, in the great chair at the head of the
table, the white staff of his office lying before him.
"I agree Umbar is a danger to us," the old man said,
"but my son's arguments are well founded. And even if
your attack succeeds it might well cost us more than
we can afford. Would not the Haradrim revenge any such
blow against their ally?"
"It is Belfalas who would feel the brunt of any
such revenge," said Adrahil, the Prince, on
Ecthelion's left hand. "Yet we are willing to
Aragorn gave him a quick smile of gratitude before
replying to the Steward. "The Haradrim are allies to
Umbar but not friends. They will not seek to avenge
"Who can read the mind of a Southron?" Denethor
argued. "They are the enemies of Gondor and will seize
eagerly on any excuse to do us hurt."
Aragorn shook his head. "They fear Gondor more than
that, my Lord."
Especially since the Harnen Fords." his lieutenant,
Hirluin son of the Lord of Pinnath Gelin, said from
his place behind the captain's chair.
Aragorn resisted an urge to put a hand over his
eyes as Denethor reddened. Harnen Fords had been his
first great victory on behalf of Gondor, it was that
battle that had moved the Steward to take him into
service - to Denethor's abiding regret.
"Enough!" Ecthelion commanded, "there will be no
Aragorn bowed his head, "As my Lord, wishes."
"This Council is ended. Stay you a moment,
Aragorn resumed his seat, averting his eyes from
the look of anger and hurt, on Denethor's face as he
filed out with the others. Hirluin alone remained,
silent behind his captain, and the young page at the
Ecthelion sighed, fixed a stern eye on Aragorn. "It
is not like you to defy me, Thorongil."
"My Lord -!"
The Steward silenced his protest with an upraised
hand. "Three times now have you proposed this attack
on Umbar and three times have I refused it my
sanction. Yet I doubt not you will raise the matter
again as soon as you may. Is this not defiance?"
Aragorn looked down at his hands folded on the
table, Arwen's ring on the left, the seal of the
Citadel on the right, then up at the Steward. "My
Lord, I am your councillor and as such owe you my
judgement as well as my obedience. I fear for Gondor
is Umbar is left unhumbled."
Ecthelion looked at him long and hard, nodded. "I
see that you do. and you are not a man given to fear."
Aragorn restrained an ironic smile. Little did
"You are young, Thorongil, and young men are
inclined to be reckless. But I am old and the safety
of Gondor is my charge. I must be prudent."
"Sometimes, my Lord, risking a lesser danger to
avert a greater *is* prudence." Aragorn braced for
anger but the old Steward laughed.
"Your wit is as sharp as your sword, my friend. I
will not debate you. There will be no attack on Umbar
and I forbid you to raise the matter again,"
Aragorn bowed his head in submission, but it took
an effort. "I am your servant, my Lord." he said,
reminding himself as much as Ecthelion.
"I know not who or what you may truly be,
Thorongil," the Steward said, levering himself out of
his chair with the help of a short, blackwood staff
and his page. "But of this much I am certain, you are
no man's servant."
Aragorn had risen with him. "I swore you an oath,
my Lord, and I will keep it."
"That I doubt not." the old man replied gently as
his page opened the door for him.
Aragorn let out a sigh as the door closed behind
"What do we do now?" Hirluin asked.
"We have been given our orders, we obey them."
"But the Steward is wrong!"
"Is he?" Aragorn swung around to face his
lieutenant. "Perhaps I am the one who is wrong."
"You are never wrong." Hirluin said simply.
How do you answer a statement like that? Spoken
with the innocent fervor of youthful hero worship.
Aragorn could remember feeling exactly the same way
about Glorfindel and the twins Elladan and Elrohir.
"Oh I have been, Hirluin, many times about many
But not about this. He couldn't possibly leave
Gondor with the threat of Umbar still hanging over it,
but he wouldn't be able to stay much longer. Gondor
was only a part of his responsibilities, his people in
the North needed him as well.
His mind worried at the problem as he made his way
through the passages of the White Tower to his
quarters. Hirluin faithful at his heels.
There was a way. He was what he was, Heir of
Isildur and rightwise born King of Gondor. The power
of the Kings of Old to bind and unbind, to heal or
destroy was his for the taking.
Ecthelion's fathers of old had sworn oaths to the
High Kings of Gondor. Those bonds were still there,
ready to his hand. He could, if he chose, bend the old
Steward to his will. But he would not. He thrust the
temptation from him, as he had many times before.
*I will not force an allegiance that is not given
freely, I will not break men's minds to my will. To do
so would make me no different from Sauron!*
He wished Hirluin a good night at the threshold and
entered his room alone. Went directly to the window to
look eastward at the red glow of Mount Doom above the
jagged teeth of the Mountains of Shadow. Leaning on
the sill he remembered Ecthelion's words 'You are not
a man given to fear.' and this time let himself smile
at the irony. He was afraid of a great many things,
most of all of his own power - and his own weakness.
Playlist Navigation Bar