13. Day 12 - my choice? (Aragorn, Faramir)
Faramir read the list of grandiose entertainments in growing disquiet. The king tolerated a great deal of informality, but could his Steward accuse him of fiscal irresponsibility for wanting more festivities two months after his coronation? Though long planned for, the war had seriously depleted Gondor's reserves and some taxes had been remitted to aid in rebuilding. He had explained the limits of the royal resources and thought Aragorn had understood.
"Will another round of banquets bankrupt Gondor?" the king asked.
"They might. Can this wait until after the harvest?"
Faramir met Aragorn's implacable expression with raised eyebrows and ran his eyes down the list again: fifty thousand dinners - free food for every person in Minas Tirith on Midsummer Day - several immense banquets, hunts, masques…
"Whom do we entertain so grandly?"
"I have been expecting my family. I received word this morning they've already crossed into Gondor and will be here by Midsummer Day.
Aragorn slid another paper across the desk. Faramir read it. His breath caught.
"This isn't a joke?" The paper fluttered as his hand shook and he smoothed it onto his knee. "So many elves. These are legends, not guests to entertain. Elrond, Galadriel, Glorfindel… the Balrog-Slayer himself? Coming here?" Faramir winced as he heard his voice squeak.
"I was raised in Rivendell. Master Elrond brings, I believe, I hope, the scepter of Arnor. The northern and the southern kingdoms will be reunited." Aragorn made a placating gesture. "I promise to go on progress for the rest of the summer."
"Another coronation." Faramir's thoughts whirled. "Very well. I will make the arrangements."
"Thank you. One more thing." Aragorn smiled but his eyes gave a sheepish twitch. Faramir braced himself. "I find I do not know the simplest things. Does Gondor have a queen's crown?"
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