4. Dragon of the North (Denethor, Ecthelion, Aragorn)
Carefully as I examined the seals they appeared untouched. The superlatives therein – skilled, wise, clever, friend - could have been from Thengel. But he is not enough for Gondor, this unknown not-Rohirrim who seeks a place at my father's court. For courtesy, he will dine with us tonight, put last and least below the salt at my birthday feast. Tomorrow, father and I decided, he will go to Lebennin where they are not so choosy whom they hire.
I stand beside father as he welcomes him and see myself in a distorted mirror, taller than most, dark hair, grey eyes.
Father points to the star he wears pinned to his left breast. "Not a dragon for the north?" he chides the stranger.
"No, my Lord Steward. Though I saw King Bard, who slew Smaug, once in my youth. This," he touches the star, "was my father's."
"Well, Denethor," father turns to me with a smile on his face. "We will have new stories from our new captain. I'm sure you have a place for him in your guard."
"Thank you, sir." He bows formally. "It has been my dream to serve Gondor."
My hands clench as they walk away together.