1. An Unexpected Journey
"The Elves of Rivendell have ever been friends of the kingdom of Gondor."
Aruthir tried to hide a yawn behind one neatly-manicured hand as the Steward addressed the assembly. Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits... most of the inhabitants of the White City believed them to be little more than rumours, fanciful stories to tell your children of a Winter's evening.
"With the birth of my first-born approaching, I feel it only appropriate that I send gifts to them, that the ancient bonds between our two people be strengthened still further."
Losing his battle, Aruthir- son of Barahir son of Atanatar (for that was his full name, though it is not exactly essential to this story)-yawned loud and long, drawing pointed looks from those around him. Such behaviour in front of the Steward…
Aruthir was not worried- his family had long been one of the greatest in Minas Tirith, and knew it. Anyway, it mattered not- if the Steward noticed, he made no comment but continued regardless.
"We have recently discovered in our vaults three weapons of ancient Elf-make that we feel might be gladly received by our erstwhile allies in the North."
Aruthir rolled his eyes at this statement. Recently discovered? That probably meant hundreds of years ago for a start, and probably meant that the weapons in question were dull and dark and blunt, worthless curios whose only value was as museum-pieces. Had they been of any use, the Steward would have kept them- Gondor always needed weapons, after all.
"We have decided, then, that these weapons should be returned to their makers- that they might realise that we Men of Gondor are both allies and friends."
Aruthir rolled his eyes again. What a waste, he thought- unless the blades truly were worthless. That might at least make them a-
"We have also decided that these weapons must be delivered to our allies as soon as possible."
Aruthir nodded silently, smugly. He had expected as much- the gift of a few rusty old swords from the depths of time paid just enough lip-service to the old alliance between Men and Elves whilst at the same time meaning absolutely nothing- it was the perfect decision by the Steward. The smug young Knight of Gondor allowed himself a small smile- it was also perfect for him; after all, whosoever was chosen to deliver the so-called "gift" to the Elves would be out of court for many, many weeks (if they ever came back at all) leaving a space ripe for him to fill. Hadn't he greased enough palms in his time? Hadn't his family schemed and connived enough? Hadn't he...
"Therefore, we have decided they shall be leaving the city today!"
Aruthir nodded again. This was perfect, just perfect- whoever was chosen to deliver the blades would be...
"We would have delivered the blades ourself, but for the impending birth of our first-born."
There was a murmur of agreement and Aruthir smiled. Whose was going to be the lucky name? Whose was going to be the honoured journey? Whose-
"Of course, so great a task cannot go to just anyone- only a member of one of the greatest families of Minas Tirith will suffice, lest we offend our allies."
The crowd murmured their assent again, and Aruthir felt something uncomfortable squirm in his stomach, though his face betrayed nothing. This decree of the Steward's made utmost sense, of course, but it was also something new- something unpleasant- something… unexpected.
"Therefore, we can think of only one among us today that might be suited to achieving their return."
Aruthir raised an eyebrow at this. He could have named many members of the assembled throng suitable for such a mission, but with the Steward's wording...
"Step forwards then, Aruthir, son of Barahir son of Atanatar!"
Aruthir's jaw dropped and his stomach flipped as the crowd parted to allow him forwards. He was made for courts and conspiracies, not for country roads and couriering! This was not fair, not fair, not fair at all!
"Step forwards and claim your destiny as our new ambassador to the Last Homely House!"
Aruthir smiled as the crowd applauded, though he wanted to do nothing but vomit.
The Steward smiled back innocently, but the expression didn't reach his eyes.
The cunning old fox had known all along, Aruthir thought, clenching his fists.
He was almost jealous.
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.