Ten Thousand Years Will Not Suffice: 14. Third Age 2953 - Part Two

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14. Third Age 2953 - Part Two

Ecthelion saw Indis and his heart soared. She was well and so was Denethor. Who were they carrying though? Was it Almiel? He strode through the bloodbath and reached Denethor's side. It was not Almiel. Who? He did not recognize her, but knew it must be friend to Indis. He noted the tears in Denethor's eyes and started to rebuke him. But something stayed the words; time for that later.

"Where is Almiel?" he asked.

Denethor jumped, dropped his arms from Indis' shoulders and stepped back. "Fa-" but the word would not be spoken. "My Lord. She is not here." How was he to tell him? "Please, speak with Indis. She has need of you."

Ecthelion reddened. The slight reprimand stung. "Of course I will speak with her." He turned towards his daughter and pulled her away from the cot. Indis' eyes were locked on her friend. Gently, he took her chin and turned her face towards his. "Indis. I have need of you," he said. She blinked twice. "Indis," he said again. "I have need of you."

Finally, she realized who was speaking. She drew in a deep breath. "Father, what may I do for you?"

"I need you to listen to me. A healer tends your friend. She will be well, I am sure. Now, tell me why you are here? What power caused you to leave the City? These are dangerous parts. I would not have you harmed."

"Almiel!" The name escaped her lips in a groan of despair. "It was Almiel, Father. She has gone and I am trying to find her."

Denethor slipped away. He was not ready to speak the unspeakable. He needed to find his friend. Amdir was being brought to the healing area. Denethor nodded to the soldier helping him towards it, took his place, and slowly walked with him.

Amdir looked up. A small smile crept across his face. Weariness and pain struggled across his eyes. "Thank you," he said quietly. "Thank you for coming." He tripped and Denethor put a hand under his arm.

"Do you need to sit for a moment?" he questioned him.

"Nay. I must find Listöwel. She was fighting in the middle of the fray and I have lost sight of her."

Denethor's heart twinged. "She is alive, Amdir, but she was injured. I do not know the extent, but Arciryas is with her. He loves her as his own. He will tend her well. I think you should sit for a moment."

"Nay," Amdir shuddered. "I must to her then. She needs me." He tried to quicken his pace, but again faltered.

"Here, lean more upon me and slow your pace. We will reach her more quickly if you rely upon me." And with that, Denethor put all his strength into half carrying, half walking his friend towards the cots.

By the time they reached the area set aside by the healers, Listöwel was breathing easily. She was not awake, but her color was returning. Amdir fell forward trying to stoop beside her and Denethor quickly caught him, helped him to her side, and knelt next to him, gently holding him up.

Amdir caught her hand in his, stroked it and called her name. After a few moments, her eyelids fluttered and she woke. He placed his hand on her cheek and she looked at him in wonder. "I am alive? I did not think it possible. Indis?"

"I am here, sister-friend. All is well." Indis stepped to her other side, knelt and took her hand. She looked up at Denethor and nodded towards Amdir. The blood was seeping from his wound. He needed to be tended to.

"Amdir," Denethor spoke quietly. "You must come away. You are in need of care. You will not be able to help her if you are dead. Indis will stay by her side."

Amdir turned towards Denethor. His eyes were uncomprehending. 'He needs help and quickly,' Denethor thought. He took his arm and started to lift him, but Amdir balked and moved closer to Listöwel. She looked at him and gasped in dismay. "My husband, you are injured!"

He tried to shake his head, but the pain caused the knight to reel slightly. "Soldier," Denethor commanded. "You are to come with me." Amdir nodded and tried to stand; both Arciryas and Denethor took his arms and helped him to the cot next to Listöwel's.

Ecthelion's hard hand gripping his shoulder broke Denethor's concentration and he turned in surprise. "My Lord?"

"Where is Almiel? Where is your sister?" The fury in his father's voice made Denethor cringe. He remembered the slight rebuke and realized he would pay for it later.

"Please, walk with me a pace, away from this area?"

Father and son moved away and Indis, though she wanted to remain at her friend's side, knew she must force herself into their presence. She had suddenly realized that Denethor was there and yet Almiel was not. Her father scowled at her as she approached them, but she would not let this prevent her from listening.

Denethor would have kept walking, but Ecthelion, impatient and angry pulled him up short. "Speak now!" he commanded.

"Almiel..." he started and then stopped, turned towards Indis and said, "Indis, please sit here next to me." He showed her to an oak limb fallen in their path. She paled, but obeyed. He sat next to her, took her hands in his, and brushed the hair from her eyes. He flinched at the Orc's blood streaking the left side of her face. "Indis, Almiel is dead." She nodded. His heart rose in pride. She was so strong, this sister of his. Her eyes asked further questions. "We found her by Cranthir's tomb." He hung his head. How was he to tell her what state they found Almiel in? What could he say that would soften the blow? He must tell her the truth. It would be found out in the end. "All signs point to an attack by a force of Haradrim. Her head was... severed, as is their custom." She drew back a little, but he held onto her hands. "Siriondil thinks she was not otherwise... interfered with." His heart broke; too many hard things to say. "We did not find her head. I had soldiers looking when Dúinhir spread the alarm of the attack on your company. We will return to the tomb in the morning and search further." He did not tell her they had little hope of finding it. It would now be a trophy for the enemy to display. He knew Indis surmised the same. She was no fool. For that, he was grateful and sad. These are things no woman should know.

She moved towards him, hugged him tightly and started to cry soft, gentle tears. Ecthelion's shoulders sagged. He did not know why, but Denethor was surprised at this reaction. Arciryas looked up, saw the trio and knew that the worst had happened. He was torn. He wished to be with his love, but she was with her family. Did he dare intrude? The Steward hated him; of this he was sure. He shook his head. 'She will need me,' he thought. For love of her, he walked forward. Sitting next to her on the log, he touched her shoulder. She pulled him closer, never letting go of Denethor. They were bound together. Ecthelion stood alone beside them.

~*~

Amdir's wounds were not serious. The head wound had bled profusely, as all head wounds do. The loss of blood had caused his dizziness, but once his wound was bandaged and his stomach filled with herb-enhanced mead, he rejoined his company. Listöwel had been knocked senseless by the fall from her mount, but otherwise was unharmed, with only small cuts and bruises to show for her time in battle. Neither would countenance being sent back to Minas Tirith until the task at hand had been completed. After burying the dead and sending the wounded back to the City in carts fetched from Osgiliath, the battalion and its support rode south towards the House of Húrin's burial grounds. Two companies had been sent ahead to continue the grim search. The normal chatter of a marching army was lacking this day. The only sound was the livery of their horses clanking as they progressed south, for the sound of their hooves was muffled in the soft leaves strewn upon the forest floor.

~*~

Neither Ecthelion nor Denethor had spoken to each other. The estrangement was clear to the entire company. Indis rode next to her father with Húrin and Denethor riding behind. Every few moments, Indis would turn and give a gentle smile to Denethor and one to Amdir who rode behind them. Arciryas was in the back of the company in the healer's cart. They were bringing an extra one in case of further attack. Siriondil had gone with the wounded to Osgiliath. He would stay there until the battalion returned and then rejoin his company.

"Father, you must speak with Denethor, if for no other reason than to hearten the men; let them see that all is well with the Steward's house," Indis spoke quietly.

Ecthelion was silent. He had only pain in his heart, feeling bereft and alone. Even with Indis' words spoken so none other could hear, he felt the sting in her remark. Almiel was dead. Indis, though he knew she loved him, was torn between father, brother, and husband. And Denethor. He pulled back his shoulders a little further, lifted his chin, and tried to sort out his thoughts on the man. For man is what Denethor had become while he had been away on the borders of Rohan. His actions these past two days had clearly shown it. All this time Ecthelion had been trying to raise a warrior for Gondor. He remembered the words of the woman at the time of Rían's death. "All for Gondor," she had said. Ecthelion's heart had ever been for Gondor - for her king, when he would return - yet his own house was in ruins. Turgon had never, in his heart, believed that the king would return. Those were just words said after the Silent Prayer or at the end of meetings. But Ecthelion's heart ached for that return. He was so sure that the king would return. He hoped it would be in his time, or perhaps Denethor's time. The urge to have the kingdom in readiness was a heavy burden that he carried, alone it seemed. Now that Turgon was dead, he was free to do all the things he had planned. He remembered with a start that some of those things had been planned with Denethor the year after Cranthir died. He had forgotten that and their camaraderie during those few fleeting years. He did not remember what had caused the next estrangement. The strain of Turgon's reluctance to do anything, his memory loss, his frailty, and finally his death had been long, gradual, and painful. All the while, Ecthelion had tried to put his plans into action, and all the while, Turgon had fought him bitterly. The Council had agreed with Turgon, and Ecthelion sat as a man chained to the walls of Angband. The price, this day, seemed too high.

He pulled his horse up and waited for Denethor to reach him. "Come, we have much to discuss," he bid him and led him to a clearing. He dismounted and waved Húrin and the company on. A small detachment of his personal guard, along with Ingold, pulled up a short, discreet distance away.

"My Lord," Denethor said. "It is not safe to tarry here with so small a company."

"Yet it is no longer safe to continue as we have done. Much of the fault lies at my door."

Denethor dismounted, surprise and concern on his face. "Of what do you speak, my Lord?"

"My son, we have had our differences. Nay. I have... I do not know how to say this. Things must change. I see your time at Amon Anwar was well spent. You have learned much. I had sent you to learn about yourself, but your time with Walda has taught you many other skills." He smirked at Denethor's amazement. "Did you think I would not know of your time with the Rohirrim? A leader must know all things. You must know all things, Denethor. Naught must catch you by surprise. You must use every tool available, every person available, to govern Gondor. When we return to Minas Tirith, we will have the ceremony of the Passing of the Title." Ecthelion was pleased and startled by the expression of wonder that lit Denethor's face at the mention of the ceremony. "Did you think I would not do this? Did you think I had entirely abandoned you?" His voice broke as he spoke. "You are my son. Along with that, you are Heir to the Stewardship. To whom else would I leave Gondor and her weal until the king comes? Long overdue is the ceremony. We will fulfill the requirements as soon as possible, once we return to the City."

Denethor stood in stunned silence. Never had he heard his father speak this way to him.

"We must be away now. This is a hideous business that we are about. Almiel was much loved by me. To have her perish in this fashion..."

The tears pushed against Denethor's closed eyelids. He could not cry here, not after his father showed this confidence in him, but his heart was bleeding with such pain for dear, sweet Almiel.

When he opened his eyes, he found Ecthelion already astride his horse and waiting for him. He scrambled to catch up with his father, still wondering what had caused this change, but his heart felt lighter as he exalted that he finally would be named Heir to the Steward.

~*~

Three weeks, only three weeks had passed but so much and yet so little had been accomplished. The Council ruled the City, too many of Turgon's captains were still in places of importance, yet Denethor felt hope. Ecthelion and he had been poring over the rosters. Slowly they were moving soldiers and battalions. Those troops loyal to the Council and Turgon were being transferred to garrisons on the outskirts of Gondor. Those who were loyal to the new Steward were promoted and given positions in the City. Soon the Council would know who was in command of Gondor, and then the Steward and his son would put their plans into place.

Arciryas had been allowed to rejoin his wife in the Tower. They lived now in the upper rooms, where the old nursery had been. Indis even had her own garden. The smile on his sister's face wiped much grief from Denethor. Poor Almiel, to have her death bring healing to the family.

As the day for the ceremony grew closer, Denethor found himself more and more anxious. This ceremony was the culmination of all he had hoped for since he was six years old. This was the beginning of his life as Heir of the Steward. He was given back his commission as lieutenant as soon as they had returned from Ithilien, but he was no longer with the Horse Guard; he had been transferred to Ecthelion's own company under Ingold. Soon he would become a captain. His head reeled. It was all so long hoped for and all so sudden.  There was naught to learn for this ceremony. No words were to be said except those said by his father - and Denethor's one short word of acceptance. He walked the parapet to the edge, to the place where the rock out-thrust and jutted into the open air, which was warm as it lifted the peregrines up towards the mountains. He stood in awe and wonder. Such beauty, such majesty. Even the Ephel Dúath could not dispel the sense of joy and ownership and oneness with this sight before him, this land of his. He sensed someone behind him and he turned. "Father."

"Be ready when the sun sets tonight. We will be walking, once we reach the foothills. Do not wear your armor, perhaps just light mail will do. And bring your sword." That was all Ecthelion had said and then he had turned his back and walked towards the Citadel.

~*~

They rode to the southern feet of Mount Mindolluin, just before the lands where Denethor, Thengel and Amdir had fished many long years before. A small stable was found and the horses were unsaddled, tethered and left with food and drink. Ecthelion unwrapped a small pack, pulled out some meal and water and handed half to Denethor. They ate as the walked. At the base of the mountain, Denethor watched as Ecthelion strode back and forth, mumbling to himself. Finally, he gave a short gasp and motioned for Denethor to follow him. He had found a path that looked as if it had been made in ages long past. They followed the path, which quickly turned into the steep ways of the mountain. Eventually, they came to a high field below the snows that covered the White Mountains' peaks. The sun was just beginning to rise in the east. Denethor saw that the field overlooked the precipice that stood behind Minas Tirith. He gasped as the sun hit the various towers turning them into white pencils and the Citadel shone like a slender spike of pearl. The Vale of Anduin lay before them also, dressed as a garden, and the Mountains of Shadow were veiled in a golden mist.

Denethor pointed in delight, "Look, Rauros, I am sure I can see Rauros beyond the Emyn Muil. Do you see it, Father?" He could hardly contain his excitement. Never had he seen the land laid out before him as it was in the brilliance of this summer morning. "And there, if you follow the river, there is Pelargir, I am sure, and look, Father, the sea, it must be the sea." He was almost in tears.

Ecthelion smiled. "This is our realm, until the king comes. We must preserve this land, Denethor. I bring you here now, as the kings did of old, to pass on to you the secrets of the realm. It was the custom of the kings, and then of the Stewards after them, to visit this hallow with their heirs. Here is the tomb and memorial of Elendil the Faithful. Isildur said, 'Unless he be an heir of Elendil...' before he went north, never to return."

Denethor was silent, his eyes wide as he listened to Ecthelion.

"I hold in my hand the scroll that contains the 'Tradition of Isildur.' Our forefathers declared the tradition void after Calenardhon was given to the Horsemen of the North. But I am ever hopeful that the Great King will return and therefore, I will keep the tradition." Suddenly, Ecthelion was weeping. "Our line has been disgraced these many years. The kings before us, in truth, had begun to destroy Gondor by their lack of concern, yet our line did naught to stem the tide. Though the Stewards judged it of old that, since Madril had exercised the authority of the king in his absence, we, his heirs have the same rights and duties of the king until he returns. Too many of our line have wasted their time, have abrogated their duties, have looked towards the stars and such for guidance, and Gondor slowly declined. My son," and at this Ecthelion grabbed Denethor's shoulder so hard it hurt, "we must stop this! We must prepare for the return of the king! You and I, Denethor, we will do this together. As we have come together here at the Hallows of Minas Tirith, so shall we come together to rule Gondor until the king returns!" His face shone through the tears and Denethor was taken aback. "Do not think that this reign is ours though, my son. Yes, the blood of Númenor flows through us, even more so through you, but, Denethor, ten thousand years would not suffice to allow one from the Line of Húrin to become king. Our ancestor, Pelendur, rejected the claim of Arvedui, who was related to the Line of Húrin by the blood of Ondoher's daughter, Fíriel. And with that rejection went our own right to the claim, for Pelendur wanted only a prince descended in the male line from Anárion. You know yourself that the Faithful clung to the right of the father to decide for his descendants. Well, our forefather Pelendur rejected his own claim; therefore, we have no claim to the Throne. You must remember that and be faithful to that. It is our fate."

His father sounded frenzied and Denethor wondered at the passion he heard in his voice. Turgon had never talked of the return of the king. None before him had, as far as Denethor remembered from his readings, not for the last thousand years. Yet his father seemed sure that the king would return, so, no Throne for Denethor. A chill ran down his spine as the thought came to him. Well, if that was to be his fate! But no usurper would come and take the Throne, that he promised himself. He would test any claimant thoroughly. But he said naught to Ecthelion.

Ecthelion moved towards a bundle, unnoticed by Denethor until this moment. As it was unwrapped, Denethor saw it contained a sword and a shield and a horn. He sucked in his breath quickly. It was the Horn of Gondor. Sweat started beading upon his forehead and his body fairly shook in anticipation. At last, he was to receive the Horn. Tears sprang to his eyes.

"I have much to tell you of the secrets of Gondor, my son, keys to give you to the Great Library, the vault, the Citadel and its many rooms, the dungeons, the kitchens, all for the Heir of the Steward. You will have a Warden of the Keys, but for the moment, I want you to take them, feel their weight, see the glitter of them in the sun, and know that you are being entrusted with all that is of worth in Gondor. Not only these rooms, my son, but the people also. They will be entrusted to you to guard them, protect them, not as slaves but as free men of Númenor. When you become Steward, you will hand out judgment, gather troops, you will be lord of the fiefs as long as the state of Gondor endures." He looked long and hard at Denethor. "Are you ready for this, my son? Are you ready to give your life to Gondor? All for Gondor?"

Denethor found he had been holding his breath. He let it out slowly and replied, "Yes, my Lord Steward, I am ready to begin my duties as Heir of the Steward of Gondor."

~*~

It struck Denethor, hard. His father's contempt and scorn for Turgon had been laid as a seed in Denethor's heart and it had grown. He saw it now. So he had abandoned the man - the man who had loved him so as a child. He walked slowly to the Houses of Healing - found the bench that he used to sit on as a child - the one he and Turgon would sit on when he was young. Tears would not come. He first had to cleanse his heart of the contempt, the anger, and the frustration that he had come to associate with this man. All he could think of was the sad state that Gondor was in. All of it Ecthelion lay at Turgon's feet. Was this true? Did it matter anymore? Turgon was dead. And so was Almiel. And Denethor was reconciled with his father because of their deaths. It seemed so cruel. Why could they not have lived, as Amdir's family, in love and peace? In the midst of the darkness that enveloped them now, would not peace have been a good thing? Indis came and sat with him. He laid his head on her shoulder, as he used to when a child. "Indis, will we ever have peace?" he asked. "Will we ever look upon the Pelennor and see not the path that the enemy might take, but the farms and villages and fields of our people? Will we ever see Almiel and Grandfather again?" A sob caught in his throat but he quelled it and held tight to his sister. "I do not know what has come over me. Just last week I could have flown like the peregrine. I thought the ceremony would change things, but it has not."

"Some things never change. Evil seems to be upon us as it has been upon Gondor for many ages, little brother. Look about you with hope - here is the grandeur of Gondor before us. Let the sight of it lighten the load. Do not be troubled by the future. Live today. Know that I will ever be at your side. We are together, you and I, and always will be. I love you dearly."

"Not more than Arciryas?" he asked slyly.

"Nay," she smiled, "not more than Arciryas. But differently."

"I still do not understand this love of man and woman."

"You will, dearest, when you meet the woman whom the Valar have chosen for you."

Denethor guffawed. "Hah! The Valar have naught to do with Gondor anymore. They have abandoned it, and us. Would the servant of one of their own be dwelling in... there," he pointed towards Mordor and she noted his shaking finger. "if the Valar cared? We have been left to fend for ourselves. Oft times, Indis, it seems there is no hope. If the Last Alliance could not contain him, could not stop him, how are we men to do better? I never thought he would return." He shivered and held Indis tighter. She kissed his brow gently and they sat till the sun hid behind the mountain.

~*~

Walda had come to Minas Tirith and the sight of him lifted Denethor's spirits. The trumpets of the City had sounded the welcome and Denethor ran to the parapet to see who was coming. The flag of Rohan waved proudly in the breeze as the small troop came to the gate. Denethor used his old boyhood passage to reach the First Level as quickly as he could. Just as Walda walked through the Great Gate, Denethor pounced on him, pummeling his back in joy. "What brings you here, my old Captain?" he cried.

"I have been sent by Thengel King, my Lord. I am on a diplomatic mission." Walda tried to keep a straight face, but the joy of Denethor and his own joy caused a smile to break through his resolve. "I have a missive for the Steward, and one for you. Will you open yours while we walk to the Citadel?"

"Nay, I will wait until my father opens his. It has been too long, Walda; I have missed you and our company." He blushed at saying our company, but Walda understood. And he was grateful that Denethor felt that kinship with the Rohirrim.

"So now he is called your father?" Walda asked in amaze as they walked from level to level. "When last we were together, you did not speak so familiarly of him."

Denethor's face fell. "Much has happened since last we battled together. My grandsire, Turgon, has passed and my sister, too. Haradrim murdered her. Then Thengel was taken from me for the good of Rohan. It has been a long month. Too much has happened. Too much that is cheerless."

"You are not saying your beloved Almiel is dead? The one you spoke oft of?"

"Yes, Walda. Just a month ago. She had been addled by Turgon's death and fled the City. We found her at his grave. The traditional way the Haradrim kill their enemy was used upon her."

Walda was silent for some moments. "What will the Steward do? Does he plan to attack Harad?"

"Much discord has enveloped my City, Walda. His plans have not been completed yet. There are many strategies that must be devised before he will lead an attack. But your coming brings with it the winds of the plains of Rohan and I would breathe them in again."

"And so you shall, my friend, so you shall if your father accepts Thengel King's invitation."

"Now you have me wishing to tear open the missive. But I will wait. Have you eaten? Need you water?"

~*~

Ecthelion's emissaries for the new king's ceremony pulled up just east of the mountain. The wind whipped the banners of Rohan and the crackle of them could be heard even this far away. Never had Denethor seen Edoras, though many times Walda had spoken of it. It was a glorious city, much different from Minas Tirith, more rugged, but beautiful. Meduseld's roof shone in the sunlight as if thatched with gold. Denethor was nigh speechless at the sight. His City shone white in the sun; this one shone of gold. Walda urged the company onward; the Rohir's longing to be in his city supplanted any need for rest.

~*~

They stood before the Golden Hall, brothers in arms and in friendship.

"Thengel King," Denethor smiled. "It has a nice sound to it."

"Perhaps, some day?" Thengel asked.

"Nay, ten thousand years will not suffice," he mumbled and then spoke louder. "I am of the line of Anárion and Heir of the Steward of Gondor. That is enough for me."

Just as he spoke, Thorongil walked up and stood between them. Denethor looked in amaze. 'How dare he stand between us?' he thought. But the man took no notice and whispered in Thengel's ear. Thengel quickly apologized and left with the man.

'What ill luck is this?' thought Denethor. 'What could be so important as to take Thengel from my side as we were celebrating his kingship?'

Immediately his anger at the slight turned to anger at the man. Who was this Thorongil? From whence had he come? Thengel had said he was from the north. 'Well, folk from the north must have no manners!' He watched the two warriors walk off and his heart was bitter.

~*~

"He is a good man," Thengel was saying, but Denethor was still bristling over the slight done to him. "Truly, Denethor, I wish you would befriend him. His battle sense is excellent and the men respect him. Are you...?"

"Forgive me, Thengel. My mind was on other things. You truly like this man? Respect him? Even though you know naught of him?"

"Yes, I do, Denethor. True, he came from the north with no kit, nor letter to establish who he was. He dresses like a vagabond, but he has an air about him. I felt I could trust him from the moment I met him. But, Denethor, you have the gift of foresight. What think you of him?"

"At this very moment, I find I cannot be very impartial, my friend. I feel foolish," he said with a gentle laugh, "but I must speak plainly. I had hoped that we might be able to spend some time together now that the ceremonies are completed. Perhaps we could have gone hunting, Orcs, or boar, it did not matter. But every time we had a moment together where we might be off on an adventure, he stepped in and took you away for some meeting or another. I am jealous. I admit it. And I must needs leave tomorrow. I know not when we will see each other again. We will likely turn to Rohan for aid in the coming battle with the Haradrim. I would see you in happier times before we go to war. But that is not how it will be. As I said, I am jealous and selfish."

"Nay, it is not selfish. Much has happened to both of us these past months. We have had no time to sort out these events nor to share our grief. When Ecthelion sent you away, I could hardly believe or understand it. However, there was no swaying him from his decision. As each year passed, I petitioned him to bring you home. And when he denied those petitions, I begged to be allowed to visit you." Thengel sat on the stone steps and looked out over the plains of Rohan. "I cannot tell you how I despaired for you. When word reached me that you had surreptitiously joined Walda's company, my heart was glad. I had been afraid for you, for your sanity, just sitting there year after year watching for a signal."

Denethor groaned aloud at the thought. "'Twas not a good time - those first two years. I feared for myself." He laughed gently. "I had thought that perhaps you had sent Walda to find me, though now I see that was not so."

"Nay, Denethor, I would not disobey your father, though my heart cried out in pain for you. It was a bitter time for me also. And then, when Fengel died and I was called back to Edoras, my very being rebelled. Denethor, I love Minas Tirith, you know that, and I love Gondor. I would not be here, if my own will prevailed."

"You would have been the next Captain-General," Denethor said quietly. "Gondor already misses you."

"Who is Captain of the Tower Guard?"

"None has been appointed, as of yet." Denethor looked up at the path between the mountains that led to Gondor. Already his heart ached to be back in Minas Tirith. The path seemed to beckon to him and he had all he could do to not jump upon a horse and ride away. "I believe Húrin is the next in line for either position. He is loyal to my father and his ideas."

"Yes, he is a good man, but what of Captain Ingold?"

"He is still in command of my father's personal knights. I do not see my father moving him."

"So now we are allies!" Thengel changed the subject.

"Nay, not allies. Friends, brothers-in-arms. Forever." Denethor laid his hand upon Thengel's shoulder and smiled.

~*~

A/N  - ROTK - Chapter Five and also - 'The Men Who Would Be Steward' by Michael Martinez... see link http://www.merp.com/essays/MichaelMartinez/michaelmartinezsuite101essay120


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: Agape4Gondor

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - The Stewards

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 06/14/10

Original Post: 01/18/05

Go to Ten Thousand Years Will Not Suffice overview

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