13. The King Holds Court
Faramir found Elessar in his privy chamber, at breakfast with the Queen. He was clad in a dressing robe of dark blue velvet and Undomiel wore a loose bodied gown of white cutwork lined with rose colored silk. One or two of the silent, self effacing Northern knights were in almost invisible attendance.
“Please sit, Faramir,” the King said, “we must talk seriously.” he obeyed, only slightly apprehensive, as Elessar fixed him with a steady eye. “I would not for the world have you think I distrust or doubt you, my Steward, but I think it would be best if you were not based here in Minas Tirith.” he smiled a little ruefully. “You are known and familiar and I am strange. It would be natural for our people to turn to you rather than me - at least at first.”
“And that must not be.” Faramir agreed. “I have had some thought of this myself, my Lord. I agree it would be better if I were not here to come between you and your people while you become accustomed to each other.” He saw the look of relief on the Queen’s face and wondered if she had feared he would misunderstand or take offense.
“There is much to be done across the River,” Elessar was saying, “Ithilien must be cleared of Sauron’s creatures and resettled. That land is well known to you as captain and your House’s ancestral estates lie across the Anduin in Emyn Arnen.” the King smiled, “So, Faramir, will you favor me by accepting the rank and office of Prince of Ithilien?”
He stared for a moment, this he had not expected, then recovered himself and answered warmly: “Right willingly, my Lord!” he laughed. “I have already promised my bride I would build us a house on my lands outside this City.”
“Emyn Arnen must be your seat.” Elessar agreed. “Minas Ithil is desecrated beyond any cleansing. When we have time and labor to spare it will be destroyed and the land left to heal itself. Certainly no Man will be able to dwell there for many long years.”
Faramir was disappointed and it showed. He had hoped Minas Ithil, Minas Anor’s ancient sister City, could be redeemed but he did not question the King’s judgment.
“You will need good soldiers to serve you.” Elessar continued. “Beregond son of Baranor is to be banished from the City for the crimes of oath-breaking and blood-shedding -” Faramir opened his mouth and the King raised a hand to forestall his protest. “You will be needing a Captain for your new guard, my Lord Prince,” he said, eyes twinkling, “might I suggest Beregond would be more than meet for the place?”
Faramir relaxed and returned the King‘s smile. “I accept your recommendation with pleasure, my Lord.”
“One last matter,” said Elessar “I know it is against Gondorian custom but in the North we account it unjust to deprive a child of her patrimony, and your sister Idril will need a challenging labor to fill her days while her heart heals. So I would grant her her father’s title of Prince of Anorien and office of Hereditary Constable of the Northern Fortresses. Will this be accepted by the Council of the realm?”
Faramir considered. “It is as your Grace said a breach of custom, but my sister is known to be a Woman of uncommon ability.” he sighed. “And it is also well known she is not like to marry and why. Yes, my Lord, I think it will pass. But it would be well to give her some proven captain for her herald.”
Elessar nodded. “So I had intended.
Arwen withdrew to her own chambers to finish dressing, leaving Aragorn to complete his own toilet and receive his lords. Andreth and the maids of honor helped her don a gown of pale violet samite over a kirtle of filmy silver tissue and fastened a train heavily embroidered with silver to her shoulders with great gold and mithril clasps. Today she agreed to wear some of the Queens’ jewels: a girdle of amethyst, adamant and pearl, a matching carcanet and bracelets of mithril and gold. Andreth’s deft fingers wove strands of pearl into her hair and last of all Aranor placed the Queen’s crown gently upon her head.
There was a knock at the door, Gillan of Minrimmon ran to answer it. “The Lady Idril, my Lady.”
“Good,” said Arwen, and held out her hands in welcome. “I was about to send for you, Cousin. My husband and I have spoken with Faramir and he feels the Council will accept you as Princess of Anorien.”
“I trust he is right.” Idril answered. “The lands and castles are mine, Woman or no, so why not the titles and authority as well? But I would not cause the King trouble for anything.”
“I don’t think Aragorn would mind doing battle in this cause.” Arwen smiled. “The law is different in the North, in his eyes and mine we are giving you no more than your rights.” her tone turned brisk: “You will need a captain and herald, have you anyone in mind?”
Idril shook her head. “Boromir was Captain of Anorien,” she said in the flat, emotionless voice in which she always spoke his name, “but both he and his chief lieutenant are dead. I can think of no one else for the post, but will accept whoever Elessar chooses.”
Arwen carefully hid her concern. Idril was very like her Northern kin, despite the long sundering of two lines, she held in her grief with iron control as a thing too private to be shared, just as one of the Isildurieni would do - as Arwen had seen all too many of them do, all too many times. Work was the only cure and Idril would have it, over the objections of the Gondorian Council if must be! her King and Queen, would see to that.
“Armor again?” Arwen murmured almost soundlessly, glancing sidelong at the cuirass Aragorn was wearing with his court robes of wine red silk and gold brocade.
“It is customary for great occasions of state.” he answered as softly.
That seemed very strange to Arwen but she was careful not to say so, even to her husband. She still knew so little about Men and their ways, no doubt many things that seemed strange to her now would become clearer as she learned more.
They walked hand in hand down the gallery from the Queen‘s Privy garden, followed by Pippin, several Rangers and Arwen’s maids of honor, and entered the Hall of the Kings by a side door to the applause of their new subjects. The morning sun streamed through the eastern windows filling the great hall with a cool white light and striking sparks of star fire off Queen’s jewels and silver embroideries, and the mithril stitchery edging Aragorn’s black mantle.
The King and Queen mounted the dais, but instead of climbing the steps to their thrones stood together before them to receive the formal homage of the Lords of Gondor. Arwen saw Gandalf, luminous in his white robes, standing nearby with Frodo and Sam on either side bracketed by Legolas and Gimli. Pippin of course was standing to Aragorn’s right, looking solemn and official as befitted his position as King’s esquire, but she wondered why Merry was not with his friends. The Chamberlain knocked his white rod three times against the marble paved floor and the first of the Lords came down the long aisle towards the thrones.
He was a small boy, not more than ten years old, with fair hair and blue-grey eyes round with fear and excitement. He wore a miniature gold cuirass emblazoned with a hawk over a long green tunic and a green mantle edged in miniver and he clung to the hand of a tall Woman, also fair haired and clad in green but perhaps a shade to old to be his mother.
They stopped a few paces short of the royal couple and knelt. “My Lord,” the Woman said in a strong, clear voice. “here is my grandson; Thorongil, Lord of Pinnath Gelin in Gondor, ready to swear you his allegiance.”
“He is most welcome.” Aragorn replied, and Arwen heard a husky note of suppressed emotion in his voice.
The Woman touched her grandson’s shoulder, he swallowed and began to recite in a small, piping voice: “I Thorongil son of Galenhir, Lord of Pinnath Gelin, swear fealty and service for me and mine to Elessar the King and his heirs - from this hour to the End of the World.” he finished in a rush then heaved a very audible sigh of relief that sparked smiles from those watching.
“I accept your oath.” Aragorn said formally. “As the liege man binds himself to his lord so is the lord bound to his liege man. Vanda sina termaruva Elenna-noreo alcar enyalien ar Elendil Voronda Voronwe. Nai tiruvntes i harar mahalmassen mi Numen ar i Eru i or ilye mahalmar ea tennio.” ’This oath shall stand in memory of the glory of the Land of the Star and of the faith of Elendil the Faithful, in the keeping of those who sit upon the thrones of the West and of the One above all thrones for ever.’
Arwen saw a shiver pass over the watching throng at the ancient Quenya words and wondered why. There was a pause, then Aragorn smiled and beckoned the child to him.
“Oh!” little Thorongil scrambled to his feet and came to kiss the King’s extended hand.
Aragorn raised him, bent to kiss the soft cheek, then asked: “Did you know, Thorongil, that we share a name?”
The child frowned up at him. “No we don’t.”
“Oh but we do.” Aragorn smiled. “’Eagle of the Star’ is one of my names, the name your grandfather knew me by.” then he looked over the little boy’s head at his grandmother. “Hirluin was my dear friend, and I do not forget it.” he told her quietly. She blinked back tears. “You are guardian and regent, Rohanell?”
She nodded. “His mother is dead, like his father, and now his grandfather.”
“We have all suffered many losses,” Aragorn said gently, “too many. But no longer.” he smiled again down at the boy. “I foresee Thorongil will live a long life, and be as trusty a mainstay to me as his grandsire was.”
And the child smiled brightly back, no longer frightened at all.
The other lords of Gondor followed in due order to swear their homage; Golasgil of Anfalas, Duinhir of Morthond mourning for his fallen sons, Devorin of the Ringlo Vale, Fornach son of Forlong for Lossarnach, Angbor of Lebennin, Ciryandil of Pelargir, and finally Imrahil of Dol Amroth.
Again the chamberlain knocked three times with his staff. “Let Faramir son of Denethor, Steward of the Realm, stand forth.” And Faramir came forward from his place near the throne and he was dressed all in white, the color of his house, edged with silver and blue.
The Master of Ceremonies, standing beside the chamberlain, unrolled a parchment, cleared his throat and began to read: “Whereas it is the will of the King that the province of Ithilien, beyond the Anduin, be restored to its ancient glory as a domain of this Kingdom his Grace commands and invites all having hereditary rights to lands in that country to come forward and make good their claims before court of the Prince of Ithilien.
“And whereas Faramir, son of Denethor of the House of the Hurinionath and Lord Steward of this Realm, has long and valiantly defended the marches of Ithilien against the Enemy, and as the ancient honor of his House lies in said province, it is the King‘s pleasure to create him Prince of Ithilien and Constable of the Eastern Marches of the Realm.”
A delighted cheer rose from the spectators as Faramir knelt to swear his homage. Then a beaming Pippin brought forward a circlet of golden ivy leaves for Aragorn to place on the new Prince’s head, and Faramir rose so Arwen might gird a sword of state to his side.
“Beregond son of Baranor stand forth!” Aragorn commanded. The guardsman obeyed, stepping from his place far down the hall to approach and bow before the throne. He too wore white, with a silver edged blue crescent embroidered on the breast of his coat. “Beregond, you left your post of guard without leave and spilled the blood of a comrade. For these things of old death has been the penalty. But as they were done in dire need to save a life - that of my trusty and well beloved Steward - all penalty is remitted save that you must go forth from the City of Minas Tirith.”
Beregond took it without a flicker, knowing well what was coming next, but a murmur of distress and protest arose from the watching crowd. Aragorn lifted his voice to be heard above it: “As you risked all to save the Lord Faramir it is fitting you should continue to serve and protect him. Therefore I name you captain of the White Company, the Guard of the Prince of Ithilien!”
Protest changed to a cheer as Beregond knelt to pledge himself to his Prince. Then Faramir returned to his former place at the left hand of the Queen, his new captain at his side and the folk in the hall voiced their hearty approval.
Once again the Chamberlain thumped his staff for attention and the crowd fell obediently silent. “Let Idril daughter of Narcil stand forth.” Down the long aisle she came, shimmering in the white and gold of her father’s house and with her long hair hanging loose down her back, to make a courtesy before the King.
The Master of Ceremonies opened a new scroll and began to read: “Whereas the Lady Idril, daughter of Narcil of the illustrious House of the Alcarioni, is the sole child and heir of her father and also his Grace’s own kinswoman in the Blood Royal, it is the King’s desire and pleasure that she should succeed to the heritage of her father, the said Narcil, as both Princess of Anorien and Constable of the Northern Fortresses.”
There was a buzz of astonished comment from the crowd as Idril knelt to swear and was invested with the ancient coronet of the Princes of Anorien, ensigned with a sun and seven stars. She rose and Aragorn laid the sword of state in her hands rather than having it girded to her side, for another would wield it on her behalf. By then the company had recovered sufficiently from their surprise to raise a dutiful cheer.
Arwen, listening intently, decided the people were astonished but neither offended nor angered. And that Idril was respected but not beloved as her brother was. She had lived too long in her father’s shadow, isolated with him in the Citadel. But surely that would change now. The new Princess moved to stand to the King’s right, beside Imrahil of Dol Amroth as trumpets sounded and the great doors at the end of the hall were flung open.
Eomer King entered, a green mantle of state richly bordered with gold over his armor of leather and steel, followed by Merry carrying his master’s helmet, Eowyn in the green and white colors of Rohan, and a double file of knights of the Riddermark.
Aragorn went forward to greet and embrace him. “Between us there can be no word of giving or taking, nor of reward;” he said warmly, “for we are brethren. In happy hour did Eorl ride from the North, and never has any league of peoples been more blessed!”
“I have loved you from the moment you rose up out of the green grass before me, and that love shall not fail now or ever.” Eomer replied with some emotion. “But now I must depart for a while to my own realm where there is much to heal and set in order.”
Aragorn nodded his understanding. “As you know we have laid Theoden the Renowned among the Kings of Gondor in their tomb in the Hallows. There he may lie forever if you will. Or we will come to Rohan and bring him to back to rest with his own people.”
“My uncle was born in this City and it is fitting he should sleep here for a while.” Eomer returned. “But when all is made ready we will return for him and bear him home.”
Eowyn, standing behind her brother, caught Faramir’s eye and smiled; saying clearly as words that she too would return.
Arwen saw the look and murmured teasingly to Faramir. “It seems you must wait a while for your bride, Prince.”
“But not as long as you waited, I trust, my Lady!” he answered, laughing softly. “We both have much to do, Eowyn and I, that will make the time seem shorter.”
“We all have much to do.” Arwen agreed, but with satisfaction. After all the long years of waiting and hoping at last the time had come to make all their dreams come true.
Notes: Rohanell is Eomer and Eowyn's third aunt, originally Theodflaed of Rohan, she is the widow of Hirluin of Pinnath Gelin who served 'Thorongil' as an aide and fell in the Battle of the Pelannor Fields.
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