Story set in Harad.
Nharadh could see the shock on the faces of the new members of Khera's company. It was ever thus, and he and Bergil exchanged a look as the newcomers assembled before the two men who would govern their lives and fortunes for the next three years. It was traditional for the pair to meet new additions to Khera fortress together, to welcome them to Harad, to make themselves known, and provide an abbreviated set of rules that would keep them out of trouble 'til the lieutenants could instruct them more thoroughly. They had done this now thrice, and Nharadh, despite greater authority, let Bergil do most of the talking, since the newcomers nearly always took orders more readily from Bergil than from him, at least at first.
But he did have a few words to say towards the end, and when Bergil had finished admonishing his men that they were not to rely upon Westron and were not to neglect the discipline that Haradrim practiced when it came to water in these dry lands, Nharadh stepped forward. His eyes swept over the group, and for a time, he said nothing, waiting until he sensed a certain wary curiosity begin to take hold. Then only did he speak, his accent at odds with the precision of his words. "You will have noticed the flag. I assure you that in every hall, even in the north of this land which follows Gondor more closely, it hangs beneath our own even if it does not fly from the battlements as it does here: black serpent and red eye. You may wonder why it is shown, since we owe no allegiance to Mordor." He paused then, to let that sink in a moment before he continued:
"For every victor in war, one flag must fall that another may rise. Yet in Harad we say that a banner is worth no more than the men who stand beneath it. Many have fallen beneath the red eye–as many as fell beneath Harad's flag, and all were our brothers and our fathers. Shall we dishonor them by burning what they bled for, or casting it into the dust to lie forgotten? Was it for that that none came home from Pelennor fields? No. Therefore, do not wonder that we raise still the banner of our defeat and hold it still dear in despite of the Lord of Gifts."
After which, Bergil dismissed the newcomers to the barracks. And he turned then to Nharadh, and said, "One day it shall come down, though. The past slips from our grasp."
To which Nharadh only smiled serenely as he glanced up at that black flag, and replied, "One day. But not today." And when Bergil only shook his head and, after a moment, laid a hand on his shoulder ere he excused himself, Nharadh sighed. Staring up at that banner, he murmured to himself, "One day, aye, Bergil. But not soon. Good rest in Gondor, Father. Good day."
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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.