48. Living Flame
Living Flame by Linda Hoyland
Summary. Aragorn, Faramir and a mighty sword.
With grateful thanks to Deandra
Steel clashed against steel. Both men were breathing heavily now, neither willing to yield an inch. They ducked and dived, thrust and parried in a seemingly deadly dance.
The younger man was the first to falter, stumbling slightly under the sheer weight of his opponent's attack. In that instant, he felt cold steel at his throat. "I yield," he said and laughed ruefully.
"It was a close contest," said Aragorn. "You are not easy to beat, mellon nîn." He sheathed his blade and rubbed his sleeve across his face, wiping the sweat from his brow. He extended his hand, which Faramir clasped.
"You fought well," said the Steward.
"Andúril does me proud," said Aragorn. "It is like an extension of my own arm. Always, it has served me well both in battle and in sport. Now I must repay my trusty friend by cleaning it ere I join Arwen for the midday meal. You would be most welcome to join us, Faramir."
"I would be honoured, ada."
Side by side, the King and Steward walked towards the armoury where they started to shed the leather armour they were wearing. A young squire came to assist them.
"Can I be of further assistance, my lords?" asked the young man once the armour was unbuckled.
"You can clean my sword, Beleg," said Faramir. He handed his weapon to the squire. Beleg hesitated and looked at Aragorn expectantly.
"No thank you, Beleg, I always clean Andúril myself."
"Very well, sire. I will return your blade shortly, Lord Faramir."
"Thank you, Beleg. I am certain you will do an admirable job of polishing my sword." Faramir smiled at the boy who scuttled away to perform his task.
Aragorn settled himself down on a bench. He took up a cloth and began the task of cleaning his blade. "I could never entrust this task to another," he said. "Andúril is more than a sword; it is a legend, entrusted to my care while I live. It protects me in battle and I care for it in return."
"You love Andúril," said Faramir. "My sword is merely an object to me, a weapon which I enjoy using for sport like today and will use to defend myself and my land with if I must. I much prefer the bow for you do not feel the arrow strike the flesh of your enemy. Maybe the bow is a coward's weapon?"
"You are no coward, ion nîn," Aragorn said gravely. "Loosing an arrow in self- defence is no less valiant than wielding a sword. I can shoot well enough, but the bow has never been my favourite weapon."
"Andúril is part of the history of your line," said Faramir. "My sword serves me well enough, but it was made for me by the master sword smith in the third circle when I came of age. It has no history, other than the battles I have fought with it. Boromir owned a sword of ancient lineage, which once belonged to our longfather Mardil, but it was lost with him."
"It was broken in twain and I placed it beside him in his funeral boat." Aragorn fell silent for a few moments, intent on applying oil to his blade. "Narsil, the shards of which Andúril is forged from, was made by Telchar himself, greatest smith among the Dwarves. The Dwarves have always been the greatest of Smiths, mightier maybe than even the Elves. Perhaps Gimli could forge a more fitting blade for you, Faramir?"
"That is a kind thought, but my sword serves me well enough," said the Steward. "It fills me with awe that Andúril is forged from the same steel that cut the ring from Sauron's hand. Only a weapon of great power could do such a deed. Lore tells that Telchar also made the knife that cut the Simaril from Melkor's iron crown. His works have served Men and Elves well against the Dark Lords."
"The light went out from Narsil when Elendil was slain and the sword was shattered, but even the hilt shard in Isildur's hand had power enough to cut the Ring from Sauron's finger," Aragorn said as he began to wax Andúril's scabbard. "There were times when I almost lost heart in my long years of wandering. I would cheer myself by remembering that it was my forefather who did such a mighty deed, moreover, the shard with which he did it, now belonged to me. As a child, I was filled with awe when I was told the story of Elendil and Isildur, little guessing that I was of their line. How my heart swelled with pride when I learned of my true lineage. Greater still was my pride when I first grasped Narsil reforged and named it Andúril!"
"Did you not fear that the blade would have lost its power once it was melted down and remade?" Faramir asked.
Aragorn shook his head. "I would if Men had remade it, but the Elvish smiths have skills almost equal to the Dwarfen craftsmen of old. When I first held Andúril. I could feel its power vibrate through every sinew of my being. I beheld how it shone red by the light of the sun, and silver by the light of the moon. Then Lady Galadriel gave me a scabbard and told me that the blade that was drawn from that sheath would not be stained or broken even in defeat. When I tested Andúril in battle at Helm's Deep, it almost sang in my hand and gleamed with white fire." Aragorn began to polish the blade. It shone brightly, lighting up the dim armoury.
"Andúril is indeed a sword fit for a King," said Faramir. "Small wonder you permit no other to touch it."
Aragorn rose from the bench on which he was sitting and went outside into the sunlight. He lifted Andúril up to assure himself that it was cleaned to his satisfaction. The blade gleamed red in the sunlight like a living flame.
"The sword is well named, 'Flame of the West', said Faramir. "Never have I beheld so fair a weapon!"
"Would you like to hold it?" Aragorn asked.
"I am no king!" Faramir protested.
"You are a man well worthy to hold the sword," said Aragorn. "Take it and see if it gleams for you too."
Faramir reverently took the sword from his friend and clasped the hilt firmly in his hand. He had handed Andúril to the King in its scabbard on occasion, but had never thought to hold the sword unsheathed. He carefully studied the blade, which was decorated with seven stars set between the crescent Moon and the rayed Sun, and about them was written many runes. He loved not swords for their sharpness, but this weapon represented everything he had long fought to defend, the Realm of Isildur and Anárion, and the legacy of Númenor of which he and Aragorn were a living part.
For a moment, Faramir held the sword aloft, watching the sunlight glint upon the blade. A worthy sword for a worthy King who had brought the peace and prosperity he had long dreamed of. A man who had become the loving father from whom Faramir had always yearned. Gondor was safe in Aragorn's hands and Andúril would be used only to defend, not to conquer or oppress.
Faramir smiled contentedly and handed Andúril back to its rightful lord.
A/n written for the Teitho "Weapons" challenge where it was unplaced.
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.