1. Filling the Breach
Ingold climbed carefully down from the supply cart with the aid of his crutch. Twelve days had passed since the Battle, where he had taken an orc-thrust in the leg. Had it only been fourteen days since the Rammas had been breached? Eighteen days ago, in what seemed another life; he had watched the masons make the last repairs as Mithrandir rode in from the north. Ingold's heart sank as he saw the gashes and rifts in the wall. Masons labored once again, fewer in number now. And the old north-gate was gone.
He hobbled up to the wall, and rested a hand awkwardly against the stone. "Alas for the broken and the fallen!" Ingold lamented. "Many have indeed fallen; Ingold," spoke a voice from his right; "But some have been raised up, and the City still stands."
Ingold turned to behold the Lord and Steward of Gondor. He had last seen the son of Denethor when the new Steward had visited the wounded in the Houses of Healing, while Ingold had lain abed. Lord Faramir moved more easily now, though one arm was still bound in a sling.
"It is good to see you up again, my Lord."
"And you, Commander."
Ingold frowned, uncertain in his response. From what he knew of the Lord Faramir, the truth would be the best choice. "Nay, my Lord; I am but a Lieutenant. Mardil, son of Orodreth is my Commander; he passed temporary command to me when he was wounded during the Retreat. Commander Mardil left the Houses a week ago; he is surely well enough to resume command."
The Steward spoke gravely, but his eyes were kind: "After sixty years in the Guard, Captain Hador plans to retire. Mardil is now Captain of the Second Company of the Wall. He has confirmed you as Commander, with high praise for your deeds."
Ingold shifted his weight uncomfortably. His deeds, compared to those of the man before him, seemed paltry. All he had done was keep his head and a group of men together while they gathered fell tidings, and then get them back southward to the City before the Gates closed. A few orcs and no Nazgûl had hindered them; they had only lost one man. Almost all the Enemy's force had then been pouring in East-West from Osgiliath.
"You should find a letter of commendation and promotion when you return home," the Lord Faramir continued. "They were delivered this very day. There will be a ceremony to name the new Captains and officers, and remember those who have fallen, in two days time at the Citadel. I would rejoice to see you there, Ingold. The King will need commanders of your worth."
"Then the King will keep our forces as they are?" The words slipped out before Ingold could stop them. It still felt strange to think of the King as a living man who would soon rule in Gondor.
"I believe the King would rather rebuild than tear down. Though the size and the missions of the Tower Guard might change in years to come, good men will always be needed to command its companies."
Command! Ingold's family was rich in Númenorean heritage but poor in other wealth. A Commander's wage would assure the security of his mother and sister. And perhaps the father of a certain pretty maid in the Fourth Circle would look more kindly on Ingold's suit.
Another cart pulled up; and the laborers carefully unloaded a large metal framework that stood higher, when raised, than even Lord Faramir's height. A new gate! "'Tis but a makeshift, until a better one is built," The Steward said softly, seeing the direction of Ingold's gaze. "But it will serve."
Ingold thought of the gate opening to admit wains from Anórien, travelers and tradesmen, and lines of Rohirrim on their fine horses. Good men had fallen, houses and walls and gates had been breached. Their land remained. It was time he turned his watch toward the future. Peace was such a new and precious thing! It would need watching and tending like the fairest of flowers.
"It will serve indeed, my lord and Captain," Ingold replied. "And so will I."
Author's Notes:My concept of the military hierarchy of Gondor is sketchy at best; but Tolkien's "Captains" seem to me to be the equivalent of Generals, so I thought they'd have officers under them.
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