Tales of the Steward: 2. Reward

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2. Reward

Elboron was the first son of Faramir, the Steward to King Elessar.  He was twelve years old when he first learned from his tutor about the return of the King to Gondor.  His father and mother had told him many times about the War of the Ring and the return of the King, but it was then that he truly realized that his forefathers, and even his father for a brief time, had ruled Gondor.

"Father," Elboron asked, "why did you surrender Gondor to the King?"

Faramir turned to face his son.  "Surrender? Gondor was never surrendered," he answered. 

"But if you meant to ask why I surrendered my ruling authority, why I do not rule Gondor as my father and my grandsire did before me, it is because the King returned.  I am the Steward of Gondor, and all stewards took the oath to rule Gondor until the King should return."

"But my tutor told me," rejoined Elboron, "that long ago the Steward Pelendur refused the claim of King Arvedui to the crown of Gondor.  I hold the King Elessar with highest regard and loyalty, but how was his claim different than Arvedui's?"

"Do you agree that Gondor should have rejected Arvedui's claim?"  It was Faramir's custom to reply his childrens' questions with another question.

Elboron thought for a moment, and then he said, "Gondor belongs to the House of Anarion."

There was a strange expression in Faramir's face.  It was as if both joyful and sorrowful memories suddenly came back to him.  "I should not put it so," he said gravely.  "Say rather that the House of Anarion belongs to Gondor.  But remember that in the early days of Gondor, both Isildur and Anarion were her Kings.  Arvedui's claim was not without grounds.  Have you read the Annals of the Kings? There it was never stated that Isildur relinquished his royalty in Gondor.  I tend to agree with Arvedui that when Isildur departed to Arnor after Elendil fell, it was to take up the high kingship, which means that he ruled over both the Northern and Southern realms.  It is hard to believe that he intended that the realm of his father should be divided forever.

"And why should the crown not descend from father to daughter?  Not only was this acknowledged in Numenor, the Stewards later acknowledge the succession from father to daughter.  Do you know this?"

 "I do know that, Sir," answered Elboron proudly, "Denethor I was the son of Rian, daughter of Barahir.  And we are descended from the daughter of Belecthor I."

Faramir nodded.  "Morwen, daughter of Belecthor I.  You know your lessons well.  You agree with me then, and with Arvedui, that as Lady Firiel was the only surviving offspring of the King, it was right that the crown should be given to her line?"

"To her or to her son, perhaps, but not to her husband," said Elboron.

Faramir seemed pleased with his son's reply.  "In this matter I agree with you.  Had Firiel claimed the crown, or Arvedui claimed it for their son, Gondor's answer might have been different.  It is hard for the lords of Gondor to let someone from the North to rule over them: a stranger he was, though their kinsman from afar and Elendil's heir.

"In this way Aragorn's claim was different from Arvedui's: he is descended not only from Isildur, but through Firiel, he was also a descendant of Anarion.  After King Earnur left, the Council of Gondor could not find any descendant of the kings with undisputed claim to the crown.  The sons of King Ondoher died childless.  If Gondor was to have a king, we were left with two choices: to turn to the line of Firiel, daughter of Ondoher, or to acknowledge Isildur's high kingship and turn to his line.  And both choices led us to the same claimant."

To this Elboron gave no reply.  He lowered his eyes and spoke softly, "Some people said that Lord Aragorn became king because he brought a great army with him...  and after the siege, you had no strength to oppose him."

He looked up again and saw a light flashed in his father's eyes.  But when Faramir replied, it was without anger.   "I do not know from whom you heard this false account.  Did we not tell you many times about the siege and the battle at Pelennor?  The King did not come to seize Gondor as a tyrant would, Elboron.  He came to help us fight the Enemy, hopeless though it seemed.  He fought for Gondor even though there was only a little hope that we would accept him as king.

"And if the one who claimed the crown was not the rightful one, think you I would not have withstood him?  Think you I would not have defended Gondor, though he brought a mighty host, though I should pay with my life?  But not such was the case.  What great army was there?  Not more than seven thousands marched to the Black Gate, and after the battle, many of them were hurt.  Would the knights of Rohan besiege a city they had so recently defended?  Apart from the Rohirrim, it was the knights of Gondor that Aragorn led to the Black Gate.  Even then I was their Captain General.  I should not sing my own praises, but I dare say that at least the Guards of Minas Tirith and Osgiliath, and the Ithilien rangers would never fight against me."

Elboron suddenly remembered Beregond, Mablung, Anborn, and so many knights of Gondor that he knew.  But the Captain, we mean your father, Master Elboron, can govern men and beasts.  We will follow him even under the shadow of the Black Captain, they once said.

"I suppose they would not, Sir," said Elboron.  A little smile was on his lips.

His father smiled, but then his face grew solemn again.  "Son, do you wish to be king?"

This surprised Elboron.  "Do I wish to be King? Not at all! I guess the stewardship is daunting enough for me.  No, I asked you these not because I desire to be king. I was thinking about you, Father.  You defended Gondor for so long, laboured so hard, that it seemed only right that you should get your reward.  As for Lord Aragorn ... it is true that he delivered Gondor from the siege, but that seemed too short a labour compared to yours."

Faramir laughed. "Short? Elboron, I suggest you read about Captain Thorongil.  Or better still, next time you meet Aragorn, ask him to tell you about Captain Thorongil.

"As for my reward, I am grateful that you deem me so worthy.  But Gondor is not a reward, neither for me nor Aragorn.  Gondor is not a possession, Elboron.  It was not given to the King as a reward of his labour.  Nor did it ever belong to the Steward.  The stewards and the kings were given authority to rule, to defend Gondor from any threats, to protect the remnant of the Men of Numenor.  Our reward is to see Gondor in peace."

Elboron was accustomed to his father's subtle answers, though he was not sure he fully understood them.

"One last question, Father.  Do you resent surrendering your office to the King, though you knew it was your duty?"

Faramir was silent for a while.  Finally he said, "There were a knight and his lady who had to go on a quest to a distant land.  They loved their children so, just like I and your mother love you and your brothers.  But they could not take their children on their quest, as it might prove to be a perilous journey.  So they entrusted their young children to a foster family.  Now their foster mother took a very good care of the children and came to love them as if they had been her own.

"When the knight and his lady finally returned, do you think she was sad? Or was she glad, because she loved the children, and they were reunited with those who also loved them?"

Elboron answered, "I think she would have been glad, if she truly loved them.  But surely she would have been sad that she has to part from the children, and even more so if she could not see the children anymore."

"And I can still see Gondor after the King returned, Elboron," Faramir said.  "I see Gondor in peace, Ithilien almost the beautiful realm it once was, Minas Tirith full of light, and the White Tree in flower again.  So I am glad, for I love Gondor.  I think I may go so far as to say that I love her truly."

They were silent for a while.  Then Faramir caressed his son's hairs. "Have I answered your questions, young Steward?"

"Yes, Sir.  But I still believe you would have made a great king."

Faramir laughed.  "You are indeed your mother's son! You are so keen to sing my praises.  But I would not be a king, for your mother said that she did not desire to be a queen."

***

That night, when they had retired to their chamber, Faramir recounted Elboron's questions to his wife.  Eowyn was impressed by this discourse.

"Your answers were most praiseworthy," said Eowyn.  "I have never heard anyone talked about kingship in that way."

 Faramir smiled wistfully.  "But I am not the first to think that way."

 "Do you mean someone imparted this wisdom to you?" asked Eowyn.  "Then the lore masters in Minas Tirith must be wise indeed."

 "They are wise, and I learnt from perhaps the wisest in his time," Faramir replied.  "Many years ago, another heir of another steward asked similar question on kingship to his father.  And the answer that I gave our son was mostly derived from his answer.

 "Boromir was about Elboron's age when he asked Father how many years were needed to make a steward a king.  Upon hearing Elboron's questions, I was troubled that perhaps he too is displeased that he would someday be a steward and not a king."

 "Not Elboron," said Eowyn.  "If I know anything about our son, he had these questions only because he somehow thought Aragorn supplanted you."

 Faramir laughed.  "That is precisely what he told me.  Some people say I read the hearts of men shrewdly, but when it comes to our children, you read them better!"

 Eowyn smiled with satisfaction.  Then she remembered another part of Faramir's childhood reminiscence.  "Did you say that your father answered Boromir in the same way you answered Elboron?  I know the Lord Denethor was renowned for his lore, but in the matter of kingship, he ..." 

 She did not finish her words and simply looked at her husband.

Faramir nodded.  "Yes, I know it is difficult to reconcile my account to the accounts of Father's last years.  His despair clouded his wisdom in those dark days, but Father was a wise and noble man, Eowyn.  After he answered Boromir that ten thousand years would not suffice for the Steward of Gondor to assume the throne, he instructed us not to see Gondor as ours to lord over, but rather we should see ourselves as her guardians."

For a while they looked at each other and said nothing.  It was Eowyn who break the silence.  "What a pity," she said earnestly, "that so noble a lord should be conquered by the Enemy's deception."

"In a way, perhaps it was his sacrifice as the Steward," Faramir said softly.  "He spent his whole life defending Gondor.  In the end Gondor was saved, but he was conquered."

"But even he was not wholly conquered," Eowyn countered.  "For is it not partly due to the wisdom he imparted to you that you have become a great man who could reject the Enemy's deception and could faithfully surrender his charge?  And tonight our son actually benefited from his wisdom."

Faramir remained silent for a moment, but he took Eowyn's hand and kissed it with gratitude. 

"You are right," he finally said, "he was not wholly conquered."


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: Itarille1

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: 4th Age

Genre: General

Rating: General

Last Updated: 01/06/12

Original Post: 10/19/11

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