7. Folded Banner
He had stood many times under its protective shadow, more so that day, watching as the White Tree over black swirled in the wind, a fleeting, mocking memory of what the kingdom had been. A kingdom! No more... a kingless realm that was now his task to rule and order. All that dignity, all that glory and power was now safely folded away to be kept at some drawer or chest and be forgotten... for how long? For ever?
A tap at his shoulder made him turn and he looked into his son’s face, but it was a while before he realized Eradan spoke to him; not only spoke, but expected him to do something. What?
"... sir. Sir? Father, they wait for you." Eradan looked down toward his hands and Mardil understood it was time.
It was time, but still he was not ready. How could he ever be? Following his son’s stare, he also looked down and his eyes were dazzled by a bright flash of white as a stray sunbeam lighted the flag, and with great distress he realized he had been gripping the standard so tightly that it was now wrinkled and wet with his sweat. His fingers relaxed almost immediately and he was able to feel the soft fabric beneath his callused hand, smell the scent of camphor that had always meant ‘old’ but now seemed fresh and pleasant, feel, for the first time, the weight of the folded banner he carried that would not be lessened once he gave it up.
"My lord?" he heard someone call, and turned to find a pair of outstretched hands before him. He held his breath as his eyes traveled from the black standard whose color had faded in the sun to the white banner in his arms, and back, finally settling on the outstretched hands again.
"My lord?" he heard the call a second time, feeble, weak, losing itself in the silence, and trembled upon the sounds. Would he allow doubt and uncertainty to grow among the descendants of Númenor? Would he forsake the legacy of his forefathers? Would he let the glory of the Children of Elendil go to waste?
"Nay!" he cried, and breathed. Squaring his shoulders and lifting his head, he walked toward the guards and surrendered the banner to its new place, there to remain until he whose right it was brought the black standard back once more.
After that day, the White Banner of the Stewards flew over the skies of Gondor.
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.