24. A Small Tribute
The walls were lined with pebbles - for it had always been described to her as a city of stone. And she had poked a great many holes for windows, for all the people who lived there. (Many more than in the whole of the Shire, so she had been told, though it was difficult to picture them all living in the one place.) She also used extra care marking out the great gates, and placing the battlements around the very top.
It was all very grand indeed, she thought, as she stood back a few paces to admire the finished product. But there was something missing.
She wandered along the river's edge until she found a large wet leaf, which, darkened from damp and rot, was almost black. She stuck a twig through it, and then, running back to her creation, mounted the flag on the very top.
Just then, "Ho, Dilly, that's a nice one!"
Her little brother made impressed noises as he circled the sandcastle.
"It’s the King’s city, in Gondor," she explained proudly.
"What's that, but?"
"That's the King's standard," she told him scathingly, because of course he should have known.
"Well it's not right then, it should have stars," he replied in an equally scornful tone, "Like Dad's uniform."
She frowned. She knew there was supposed to be silver on the black, but that was really asking a bit much from a leaf. After thinking for a few moments, though, she pulled from her pocket a bit of chalkstone she used to draw hopscotch squares. It wasn't much good on wet leaf, but she managed to produce a few star-like blobs.
"That will have to do," she said as she returned it to its place.
"Dad's tunic has a crown," remarked Fara helpfully, hanging over her shoulder, "And that should be on the flag too. Remember, Dill? Dad told us about that great big flag that the Queen made? It's like this," he said, moving to a flat patch of sand and drawing with his finger. "Stars, and the crown... Oh! And the tree, of course."
Dilly tried to picture the things her father showed her sometimes - she especially liked the bits of armour. She pictured him standing bravely on the battlefield, decked out in all his finery.
But she also remembered the scars her father bore, and knew that armour alone wasn’t enough to keep anyone safe. And it wasn’t kept so proudly for its bright mail and shiny buckles, anyway, but because it meant he was a real knight of Gondor.
"See, like that!" her brother declared, interrupting her thoughts to show her his work.
Exasperated, she reached over to correct him, for he’d gotten it all wrong.
"No, not like that!"
Between the two of them they soon had a fair approximation of the design sketched in the sand. The tree, the stars, and the crown above all.
Fara looked between it and the makeshift leaf-banner, then back at his sister and said, "That's probably good enough, though."
And Dilly thought it was, too.
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.