Format: short story
Genre: drama, angst
Warnings: Battle scene, OC death.
Characters: OMCS, Aragorn
Creator's Notes; I have no talent for writing battles and this story is concerned mainly with the events surrounding Thorongil's defeat of the Corsairs. Some words are taken directly from Tolkien. Thorongil and Ragnor refer briefly to events in “Voice in the Night.”
Summary: Thorongil attacks the Corsairs.
Ecthelion sighed deeply then remained silent for a few moments. He then turned and looked Thorongil in the eye. “Very well, you have my leave, Captain, to launch a raid on the Corsairs. I fear it will cost many lives, though.”
“I intend to only take with me those who volunteer freely,” said Thorongil.
Denethor laughed but the sound was mirthless. “Then the mission is over before it has even begun. Only our dear Captain Thorongil would volunteer for such madness!”
“The meeting is dismissed,” said Ecthelion sternly. The Captains filed out, Denethor pausing for a moment to glare at Thorongil.. The Steward gestured Thorongil to remain behind. “Are you quite certain, my friend, that you wish to do this. I fear it will lead to your death.”
“I am quite certain,” said Thorongil. “The Corsairs made a refuge in Umbar for all the enemies of Gondor and is a threat to its coastlands and to all traffic on the sea. They openly flaunted their loyalty to the Dark Lord by tearing down the pillar that marked his defeat long ago. I would end that threat before they can grow even stronger.”
“May the Valar protect you!” said Ecthelion. “If by some miracle you should succeed, great honour awaits you.” He looked at Thorongil and a flicker of unspoken understanding passed between them. “Honour such has not been known for a thousand years maybe?” He embraced his favourite Captain and left the room. Thorongil looked deeply troubled.
“This will be a mission like no other,” said Thorongil. “The dangers will be very great and you may not return. I will compel no man to accompany me, but he who sheds his blood with me in Umbar will be my brother. Our deeds will long be spoken of as those who freed Gondor from the Corsair threat. The Lord Steward will provide me with ships from his navy, but I will need men experienced with boats of my own too. Who is with me?” He looked around at the sea of faces, Denethor's words echoing in his mind. These were his men, though. He trusted them.
“I will come, Captain.” Ragnor was the first to speak.
“And I,” said Ulfast.
“And I,” said Turgon.
“And I.” the voices of man after man called.
Thorongil blinked back a tear. These were his men and he was going to miss them, but today he would be proud of the trust they had in one another.
He walked amongst the men, making certain they had considered the dangers.
“Ragnor, I know you are loyal, but you are not compelled to do this.”
“I would make my family and my sweetheart proud of me, Captain, and I would serve Gondor.”
Thorongil shook Ragnor's hand.
“Galador, you have only just finished your training, you are young for such a dangerous mission.”
“Please don't leave me behind, Captain. I know how to handle a boat. I've sailed with my father since childhood.”
Thorongil clapped the young man on the shoulder. He went next to Turgon who was sitting glumly in a corner. “Are you certain you want to do this, Turgon? I know your marriage has made you unhappy, but you should still value your life!”
“Give me the Corsairs rather than my wife any day, Captain! Her temper is even worse now she is with child.”
Thorongil gave his shoulder a sympathetic squeeze and continued speaking to his men. Not one changed his mind. “We shall take a small fleet and attack by night,” he told them. “We leave at dawn.”
Thorongil's ships moved silently amongst the Corsair vessels. Each of his men carried a brand soaked in oil and they set fire to the ships. Soon the entire Corsair fleet was ablaze. Soon the night air was filled with screams of men and splashes as they dived into the water.
“Well done, men!” cried Thorongil.
“Ten thousand curses upon you!” cried a voice from the quayside. “You will rue this day when I have my vengeance!”
Thorongil turned and saw the Corsair Captain brandishing his scimitar, surrounded by those of his men who had swum to shore.
“You will not live to see another dawn!” cried Thorongil. He gestured to Galador to sail the small ship into the harbour. Thorongil was about to order the lad to stay on the boat, but Galador had already leapt ashore. Thorongil and his men and drew their swords. Several of the corsairs slunk off into the night. Thorongil let them go. He concentrated on the Captain. He was a big lumbering man, while Thorongil was light on his feet and not blinded with rage. The Captain of the Haven soon lay dead upon the quayside, surrounded by those of his followers who had not fled.
The battle was not without cost though, Turgon lay dead beside a Corsair along with a few other men while several were grievously wounded. For a moment, Thorongil stood looking sadly at Turgon and the other's slain. Turgon had always been the first to complain, but he was loyal unto death.
Ulfast said "It should have been me. I am old enough to be his father."
"It should not have been anyone," Thorongil said bleakly. Then he straightened up and said briskly, “I need to find water and tend the wounded.”
Ulfast and Ragnar went in search of a well or a freshwater stream while Thorongil ordered the unscathed to carry the wounded and slain back to his ship. Galador had a grievous wound to his leg and Thorongil feared the young man might lose the limb. Why had the lad been so impetuous? Thorongil liked to try to keep the youngest and least experienced men away from the front line.
Ragnor and Ulfast returned with the water and Thorongil worked long cleaning, binding and stitching wounds. The mission had gone well though and there were few losses amongst his men while the Corsair threat was no more, at least for the foreseeable future.
Once, he had done all he could for the wounded, Thorongil returned to his cabin and sank down, his head buried in his hands. His mission here was complete and it was time for him to depart. Ecthelion's words had troubled him deeply. What did “Great honour” mean? Long had he suspected the Steward knew his true identity. What if he intended to surrender the White Rod and make him King? Much as this was Thorongil's heart's desire he knew that Denethor hated him and would never accept him as his liege lord. Civil war might well ensue and none save Sauron would benefit from that. Then, even if Ecthelion did not intend to offer him the crown, the old Steward was growing frail. Thorongil had no desire to be at Denethor's mercy.
The North needed him too, Gandalf brought ever grimmer tidings on his visits to Minas Tirith. Before he left the South, though, there were other journeys he must make to discover more about the Enemy.
Yes, it was time to leave, but his heart ached. He hated to depart almost like a thief in the night, but he dared not return to the City. How he would miss his men! They had been through so much together and had become almost like brothers. He thought fondly of those who had fought beside him for years now and the youngsters like Galador, who had been such a hopeless recruit. Tonight the young man had acquitted himself with great honour but was most likely maimed for life. Thorongil would have liked to be at his side while he recovered.
His heart ached most when he thought of Ecthelion. The old man had loved and favoured him above all others and Thorongil had loved him in return. He must write him a message. He took up quill and parchment and wrote: “Other tasks now call me, lord, and much time and many perils must pass, ere I come again to Gondor, if that be my fate.”
Such a cold and brief note of farewell, but Thorongil knew not only Ecthelion would read it. He hoped the old man knew the depth of his regard.
He then wrote letters to the families of the slain and made a list of commendations for those who had shown especial valour in battle. Turgon and Galador were on the list as was Ragnor.
A knock came at the cabin door. “Enter!” he called.
“We have reached Pelagir, Captain,” said Ragnor.
“Tell the sailors to row to the other side of the Anduin,” said Thorongil.
“It is there I must leave you.”
The colour drained from Ragnor's face. “No! Why, Captain? Great honour awaits you in the City. We need you here with us!”
“I wish I could stay with you all, but as you know Gondor is not my homeland. I must return to the North whence I came as well as make other journeys ere I return home.”
Ragnor looked at Thorongil long and hard. Once he had tended his Captain when Thorongil was sick and Thorongil suspected Ragnor might guess who he was from his fever dreams.
“Are there other things?” the young man asked. “The Captain-General maybe?”
“Maybe,” said Thorongil. “We will not speak of such matters, though. They will doubtless question you about my departure.”
“I shall say nothing, Captain.”
“You have nothing to tell.”
“I am leaving you in charge. See the wounded are taken to the Houses of Healing and ensure that the Steward gets these message.” He handed the note he had written to the younger man together with the letters and despatches.”
“You can trust me to see your orders are carried out, Captain.” His voice faltered. “I shall miss you, Captain.”
“And I shall miss you, Ragnor. I shall not forget how you saved my life more than once. I shall miss you all, my band of brothers!” Thorongil hugged him tightly. “Take care of yourself, Ragnor. Be happy and wed that sweetheart of yours!”
“You too, Captain.”
Ragnor made to leave but Thorongil called him back. “Foresight tells me that one day we shall meet again.”
Ragnor smiled weakly, obviously thinking Thorongil was simply trying to comfort him. “I hope so, Captain.”
Soon afterward, Thorongil took leave of the rest of his men and went on alone, his face turned towards the Mountains of Shadow.