King's Folk, The: 18. Oaths

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18. Oaths

He should have known serving dinner in a castle
would be nothing like serving customers at the Pony,
for one thing it was a lot quieter. And there was only
the one table set up in Lady Finduilas' sewing room,
or solar as the Rangers called it.

She was there, and Belegon and Gilvagor, another
Ranger Woman and two or three Men, and Asgon of Gondor
who did most of the talking, giving them the news of
the South as Belegon had asked.

Beomann couldn't follow it very well, too many
people and places he'd never heard of, but it sounded
pretty alarming what with winged demons and armies of
Orcs and Evil Men, and important people burning
themselves alive and all. Most disturbing of all was
this army of ghosts, the Oathbreakers as Asgon called
them, who'd strangly enough been on the Good side,
crawling out of their graves to help Strider rescue
the Southern capital.

Asgon made it sound like it was one of the early
Kings - Isildur? - who'd turned them into ghosts, but
surely that couldn't be right. Still, it worried
Beomann, so when Gil drew him aside after dinner, he
found himself bursting right out with it.

"I'm afraid it's true." Gil answered soberly. "The
Dead Men of Dunharrow were a mountain tribe that swore
fealty to the Kings of Gondor but broke their oath at
the behest of the Dark Lord."

"So the King cursed them?" Beomann asked
incredulously.

"To find no rest until their oath was finally
fulfilled." Gil agreed.

"But - but how could he *do* that? I mean dead's
dead isn't it? How could he force their ghosts to stay
in the world."

Gil smiled a little, not happily. "By what you
would call magic. The Line of the Kings has Elven
blood in it, and another strain even more powerful. We
can do such things if we will."

Beomann stared at him. "Could you do that?"

Gil's face went very grim. "Yes."

The Bree Man swallowed. "Would you?"

Gil sighed and the grimness fell away, and he
looked only sad and troubled. "I would like to say no,
for you are right it was a terrible punishment. More
cruel perhaps than even such a crime as theirs
deserved. But who can say what foresight was upon
Isildur when he chose it?"

"You mean he might have *known* Strider - the King
- would need a ghost army thousands of years later?"
Beomann asked incredulously.

A smile flickered briefly over Gil's face.
"Something like that. And so I cannot truthfully say I
would never do such a thing, only that I fervently
hope I will never have to."

Beomann shuddered agreement. Bad enough to have
something like that done to you, worse still to have
done it and carry it on your conscience.

"To bind yourself by oath to the Kings of the West
is a perilous thing," Gil continued quietly, "it puts
you in our power and that power can be terrible
indeed. That is why I have put off asking any oath
from you. I wanted you to see something of the life
you would be committing yourself to before you did
anything irrevocable."

Irrevocable, Beomann shivered. He knew the kind of
power Gil was talking about, he'd seen it with his own
eyes back in the Barrow on the Downs. Then he
remembered something else. "That's how you called
little Tom and Daisy back from whatever place they'd
gone to, 'by the oaths of Elendil the King and Hundeth
the Chief' my people already belong to you, to the
Kings."

"As the Heirs of Elendil belong to you." Gilvagor
agreed.

It was like turning a piece of cloth over and
looking at the pattern from the right side. The House
of the Kings had never hurt their people and never
would. For Beomann to be afraid of Gil, magic or no,
was as silly as him being afraid of his family or of
his town.

He squared his shoulders. "Well I've seen and I
haven't changed my mind."

"Very well then." Gil said, briskly businesslike.
"Beoman son of Barliman, are you willing to swear head
and heart and hand to the service of the King of the
West?"

"Uh - yes, I am." There was probably a more
ceremonial way of saying it, but Beomann didn't know
it and Gil didn't seem to care.

"Then I accept your service in the name of King
Elessar Telcontar." Gil put his hand on Beomann's
head. "As the liege man binds himself to his Lord so
is Lord bound to his liege. This oath shall stand
in memory of the Faith of Elendil the Faithful and of
Hundeth the Wise in the keeping of those who sit upon
the thrones of the West and of the One above all
thrones forever."

Whatever all that meant.

Then Gil gave him the smile that made him look no
older than Beomann, and much more mischievious. "And
now my new Leige, we have much work to do. Shall we
get to it?"
*********

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Morwen Tindomerel

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Post-Ring War

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 10/27/03

Original Post: 03/29/03

Go to King's Folk, The overview

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