Lessons in Humility: 1. Eldarion and Aragorn

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1. Eldarion and Aragorn

In the 36th year of the Fourth Age....

The host of Gondor rode back in victory. Though Sauron was no more, the Easterlings were not yet subdued. Seeking vengeance for their fathers, the Men of Rhun had marched in force over the Brown Lands and attempted to invade Rohan. But scouts had provided enough warning that Aragorn and Faramir had been able to ride to King Eomer's aid with a force of four thousand men, all cavalry. The combined forces of Gondor and Rohan had defeated the Easterlings even before the massive infantry reinforcements led by Imrahil had arrived.

But it had not been a rout. The Easterlings' armor was much better than it had been during the Ring War, and they had learned from their experiences fighting against cavalry. Many of the Rohirrim had fallen, including Eomer's second son Haldred. Eomer himself, along with his first son Elfwine, had been saved by Eldarion. The Lords of Rohan had been cut off and surrounded, but Eldarion and an an elite company of Minas Tirith had broken through the press. In his first great battle, the son of Elessar had more than proven himself, wielding both sword and bow "like a hero of old", the men said. The Gondorian charge had allowed the Rohirric lords to regroup and break out. But the casualties had been heavy, for the Easterlings, rather then breaking and fleeing like Orcs when defeat was certain, fought to the last man. Not one remained alive when the battle was over.

Eomer had been beside himself with rage and grief at the council after the battle. "We must put an end to these Easterlings, Aragorn!" he demanded. "The treaty you made with them has no more weight than the chaff of the fields!"

Aragorn could not disagree, and indeed felt horribly guilty for having believed that such men would honor any agreement. "Yes, we will do so, Eomer. But we need some time to gather our forces. Twas not even a tithe of their strength they sent against us."

Eomer had blanched. "Not even a tithe? But they sent twenty thousand at the very least!"

Aragorn answered only "The Men of the East are numerous beyond your ken, Eomer King. I have been in Rhun, and was astounded by their numbers. But do not fear. No! They will regret this mistake bitterly, but we must not go against them with only the forces we have here."

That had satisfied Eomer. Though his ferocity was no less than in his youth, the years had tempered it with wisdom. When the King of Rohan had calmed, he took his leave, saying "Now I must thank your son, for I owe him my life as well as those of Elfwine and many others. Where is he?"

"With his men." Aragorn answered, proud of his son. Eldarion had been slow to grow to full stature - had often despaired of it, though Arwen had marveled at how quickly her son had grown. Even at twenty four years of age, having at last reached his full height, he was not fully muscled. When he is, Aragorn thought, let the enemies of Gondor beware!

Eomer went with his remaining son to Eldarion's tent. Together they knelt before the Prince. "We thank you for saving our lives and those of our men." Eomer said. "I now swear fealty to you as I did to your father, for you have earned it, as did he. Son, do the same." Elfwine did so.

This was too much for Eldarion. "Please do not kneel, Eomer King. You would have done the same for me, I have no doubt. I did no more than duty and friendship demanded."

But Eomer replied "It is true that I would have attempted to do the same for you, but I would have died in the attempt. You, however, are barely scratched. You are a great warrior, Eldarion Elessarion, and deserve every honor."

This was compliment indeed, for Eomer was one of the great swordsmen of the age, named only after Boromir and Aragorn himself. Eldarion, not for the first time, felt pride swell up within him. He was a great warrior. He had hewn down more than a score of battle-hardened Easterlings, on foot after his horse had been cut down beneath him. In all of Gondor, only his own father could now best him, and that was now through guile and cunning rather than sheer force.

Aragorn did not fail to notice this pride as they rode home to Minas Tirith. This could be Eldarion's downfall if not checked. Rash overconfidence had felled many a warrior, even many a King, before their times. The coming war against Rhun would be hard. How to teach his son a lesson? Only a bad defeat would restore the humility so vital to a leader, but as he did not wish his son dead or maimed, the defeat must come at the hands of a friend, in a sparring session. But who could do this? He could not do so himself - he was too likely to lose, which would only further inflame Eldarion's pride. He opened his heart to Arwen when they arrived home, and her response was instant.

"Send for Glorfindel! He will do this and no harm will come to our son."

"But will Glorfindel ride all the way from Rivendell to teach Eldarion a lesson?"

"Oh, yes. He above all others will do this. Well you know the Gondolindrim failed to heed the warnings against excessive pride, and paid for their mistake in the most horrid way imaginable. He will come without hesitation."

She paused for a moment before continuing, "Besides, in his last letter he complained of boredom. We have not seen him for twenty years, since we last visited Annuminas. Surely he and my brothers will not begrudge us a visit!"

Errand-riders were sent North, with messages both open and secret. And so it was that Glorfindel and the twins arrived two months later. With them were Halladan the Steward of Arnor, along with many officers of the Rangers, for the men of the North also would be going to war against Rhun. There was great joy in the many meetings of old friends.

And also some sadness. Aragorn was dismayed by Halladan's appearance. Halbarad's elder brother had become, rather suddenly, an old man. The Steward's hair was totally white, and even more alarmingly, he now leaned on a staff.

Halladan saw the dismay and replied, rather crossly, "Cousin, I am one hundred thirty five years old! What did you expect? It is you who are the marvel."

Glorfindel indeed enjoyed his visit. Being honored as the Balrog Slayer by generations of young Elven warriors (not to mention countless rather predatory ellyth) had grown tiresome many centuries ago, but the astonishment generated by his presence in Minas Tirith was amusing. The ladies of Gondor quickly decided that Legolas had lost his crown as the fairest being in Middle-earth, and the Captain of Imladris looked forward to reminding Legolas of this as often as possible, for the latter (a mere Wood-Elf!) had grown rather vain.

A Grand Tournament was announced, and a month later, the day came. Lords gathered to Minas Tirith from all over Gondor, for the secret messages had been that the occasion was also to be used to plan the war of reprisal against the Easterlings. Imrahil came with his sons; many marveled that the years since the Ring War seemed not to have touched the Prince of Dol Amroth.

Faramir and his sons attended, as always, as did the Lords of Lebennin and Lossarnarch, and many others. This tournament was of special interest, for many Dwarves of Aglarond had also come, along with Legolas and a few dozen of his followers.

As was custom, the tournament consisted of two competitions - the bow and the sword. As expected, Legolas won the archery contest, though a few of Faramir's rangers made him work for it, and the best of them finished ahead of some of the Elves, much to the latter's everlasting shame.

But this was merely a prelude. Swords were where the real action and interest lay. Aragorn, as host, did not participate. Elladan and Elrohir advanced through the early rounds without breaking a sweat, as did Eldarion, Imrahil, Faramir and their sons. Glorfindel seemed curiously off his balance and unimpressive, though he always won.

A new champion out of the vale of Morthond, Belecthor the Tall, became apparent. He stood a head taller even than the King, and none could overcome his reach and power. Belecthor bested Imrahil, who accepted defeat graciously and offered Belecthor a position in the Guard of Dol Amroth. This Belecthor accepted gratefully, for he was of poor family.

Belecthor then defeated Elladan, who bowed politely and said the proper words, but afterwards fumed, to Arwen's great amusement. Imrahil's sons defeated Faramir's sons and then Faramir himself, before being in turn defeated by Eldarion and Elrohir.

So, the final four contestants were Eldarion, Elrohir, Belecthor, and Glorfindel. It was only fitting that the final should pit the Elder Race against the Secondborn, so the first semifinal featured Elrohir against Glorfindel. It appeared that Elrohir would win, and the more experienced Men began to remark that perhaps the legendary warrior was hiding an injury. Yet ever he parried Elrohir's attacks at the last moment, seemingly by luck. The match went on and on. Both Elves were sweating and tiring before Elrohir finally made a mistake and found the point of Glorfindel's sword against his throat. The elder angrily hissed "You could have killed me, fool! Why did you fight as if it were a real duel?"

Elrohir shrugged, and quietly replied "No, I could not have, and you know it."

Next Eldarion was matched against Belecthor. The Prince had never faced such an opponent. I suppose I will know what 'tis like to fight a troll, he thought, for Belecthor was nearly as broad as he was tall. At first the Prince struggled to repel the assault of his vastly stronger opponent. Before long, though, Eldarion measured the rhythm of the Morthond giant's attacks, and used his superior agility to move inside Belecthor's defenses and best him.

Belecthor bowed before raising Eldarion's hand and crying "Hail the Prince of Gondor!" This was not customary, and Belecthor did not know why Imrahil had ordered him to do so, but the crowd cheered wildly.

Finally, after a rest period, the final. The crowd was abuzz with anticipation. Eldarion was clearly the best swordsman in Gondor, and Glorfindel seemed weary or perhaps injured. Aragorn's son could hardly believe he was facing this legend, but he was young and tireless, while the Balrog slayer was clearly not at his best. Few knew that Glorfindel had consumed many a flagon of ale the previous night with Gimli and Legolas, but Legolas had informed the Prince. His Wood-Elf "Uncle" had been angry, telling Eldarion "And Lord Glowing-Ego had the gall to laugh at me and call me vain! Golodhrim!".

So Eldarion was confident. Indeed, Glorfindel seemed weary, and at the beginning of the match displayed little of his typical grace. Several times Eldarion almost had the victory, but always Glorfindel managed to parry at the last moment. Then something strange happened - Glorfindel looked over Eldarion's shoulder, as if distracted. The Prince saw an opening and made a great thrust, but his blade caught nothing but air.

For the Elf sidestepped (if "stepped" were the proper word) with impossible quickness, and in the same motion brought Glamdring down on the Prince's blade. The blow was so savage and perfect that Eldarion's sword was cleaved directly above the hilt, as cleanly as fresh vegetables cut by an expert chef with a fine knife.

Eldarion stared in amazement for a long moment at his ... hilt which a moment ago had been part of one of the finest swords in the realm, and the blade which now lay useless on the ground. The young Prince was jarred to attention by the point of Glorfindel's sword against his throat. The victor appeared to be trying not to laugh.

"I yield me." Eldarion finally said, and bowed to his opponent as customary. The crowd sat in stunned silence for a moment - none had seen a Gondorian blade so cleaved - until the King himself rose and shouted "Hail the champion, Glorfindel of Imladris, Gondolin and Tirion!"

The cheering was so deafening that none in the crowd heard Eldarion's words to his opponent. "So, you were toying with me and the others all this time?"

Glorfindel merely nodded and replied, "Remember that however great a warrior you are, there is always a greater one, and the next one you face may be on a real battlefield."

At the feast that night in honor of the victors, Glorfindel turned to the Queen. "My Lady, your son is the image of his great-great grandfather."

Arwen brightened, but laughingly noted "That narrows it down to Imradan, Arhael, Haldor, Argonui, Galadhon, Tuor, Dior, and Finarfin. Care to elaborate?"

"I was referring to Tuor, though that certainly is a distinguished octet! Argonui we both knew in his childhood, and you can see that Eldarion is much fairer than that Chieftain. Remember how Argonui admired you, as all your father's fosterlings did?"

The King responded, "I could have gone a lifetime without hearing those words, Glorfindel, but thank you for commending my son. And I might add that he looks a bit like Haldor, whom I knew well, except Eldarion's hair is black where Haldor's was golden. Did you know his parents wanted to name him 'Hador' but were afraid to? My mother's grandfather was a fine man. Did you know him well in his youth?"

"Haldor led the party that escorted your young father to Imladris." the Elf Lord replied, "A great man, and very long lived by your standards. He did look like Hador. Did Haldor live to see Sauron defeated?"

"He accepted the Gift three years before the Ring War. It is sad that he did not live to see the new Age. But he lived one hundred eighty years, and did not go before his time."

"And what of my other great-grandfathers?" Arwen asked. "Did you not know them all, excepting perhaps Dior? I know that Galadhon looked rather like Celeborn, and Eldarion is not that handsome. But does he perhaps remind you of any of them in another way?"

"I never met Galadhon." Glorfindel replied, regretting the foolishness of those times. "Elu Thingol in his unwisdom barred us from his realm. As for Finarfin ... Finarfin looks more like, well, me! Do you forget that I am twice his cousin, that Finwë's sister married Indis' brother, my grandfather? The House of the Golden Flower was formed in honor of the double marriage ties between the Houses of Finwë and Ingwë. I expect my grandfather still leads it in Valinor - I was Lord of the House only in Ennor. But I stray. I merely meant that Eldarion looks like Tuor, and spars like he did as well. I can teach him a few further tricks suited to his build and style."

"That would be well." Aragorn interjected. "If you wish to continue this discussion of the history of the Elder Days, I must fetch my Steward, else my allowing him to miss it lead to a rebellion!" The King excused himself, and sought Faramir. Argonui had loved Arwen as well - as had all the Chieftains? On second thought, this was a problem that could only be solved by large quantites of ale. He turned towards another table.

Gimli rose to greet him. "Hail, King Elessar! Are you unwell? You look as though the Dead were after you again! Here, have some of this," the Lord of the Glittering Caves said as he handed over a flagon.

The King, after a long swallow, replied "Well, I just discovered that our eight thousand year old champion, who by the way was once burnt to a cinder by a Balrog, remains in Middle-earth because he does not wish to go back under the thumb of his grandfather, and that all my forefathers for many generations admired my wife!"

"Elves!" the Man and the Dwarf grumbled in unison.

Author's notes: 'Glowing-Ego' as a teasing nickname for Glorfindel is shamelessly stolen from Alassante's "Mischief in Imladris". The idea of Aragorn not being the first Chieftain to admire Arwen is equally stolen from Raksha's "High Hearts and Folly". Argonui was the Chieftain of the Dunedain, father of Arador. I invented three other great-grandfathers for Aragorn: Haldor, Imradan and Arhael.

The origin of the House of the Golden Flower and Glorfindel's geneaology presented here is completely made up and uncanonical (though not exactly AU).

Halladan brother of Halbarad appears in many fanfics, but apparently is a 'fanon' character (thanks to Larner for educating me on his history). So, I felt free to make him the older brother.

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.

Story Information

Author: maeglin

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: 4th Age

Genre: General

Rating: General

Last Updated: 08/20/10

Original Post: 05/10/09

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