15. A gentle breeze brushed the hilltop
Prompt: Arnor: start the drabble with "A gentle breeze brushed the hilltop, combing the ruins..."
Bonus counterpart drabble: Himring: sacrifice to achieve a goal
Summary: How Aragorn learned to stop worrying and love desertion.
Arnor: A gentle breeze brushed the hilltop, combing the ruins...
...of Osgiliath, where Gondor's army camped.
"Behold our strength," murmured Denethor.
"But not our hope," said his companion.
"We can ill afford to keep our fleet, but I'll not lose it in Umbar!"
"Even should we, thereafter contests shift whither our strength lies – on land."
Denethor snorted, dismissively. "Strategy, Thorongil! Should Gondor raid Umbar, the war begins tomorrow – our strength shan't suffice."
"Leave Umbar intact, it never shall."
Thus ever they stalled – gallingly – on Gondor's strategy...
But if it weren't Gondor's? Insight flashed.
"The fleet's yours," Denethor said, abruptly. "On one condition..."
Himring: Other matters call me lord...
The crew were in high spirits – home and victorious. Aragorn however stood aboard the flagship, and stared longingly at Pelargir's harbor.
But he'd no place there now. Perhaps later – perhaps. If Denethor's not outflanked me with this...!
"The fleet's yours," Denethor had said; "On one condition. This cannot come from Gondor."
Aragorn had lifted a brow. "Sacrifice?"
"How much," his rival had demanded, "do you love Gondor, Thorongil?"
Not enough to take banishment, nor choose between Gondorian and Haradric ropes. But between those 'choices' he could disappear, and be Denethor's renegade, houseless captain – for Gondor.
Author's notes: Navies are, as ecrm pointed out to me in a very helpful e-mail while I was drabbling "Pelargir" in December, *expensive*. So much so, you probably wouldn't keep much of one (if any) if you were a somewhat cash-strapped kingdom facing overwhelming hostile power. You'd probably focus on the army.
"Other tasks now call me, lord..." - This was the message that Aragorn sent to Ecthelion when he abruptly left Gondor after destroying the haven of Umbar. He gets no permission to leave, he simply vanishes from the land, and the best guess among those who saw him last was that he was going toward Mordor and Harad. Since desertion usually isn't taken lightly, it seems to me there must've been *something* going on behind the scenes that wasn't put down in writing.
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