B2MeM Challenge: Heroism
Aragorn stretched out his long legs across the cushions and took another sip of the wine, which Ambassador Tahir had produced for this evening at his house.The Harradrim drank wine only on special occasions, usually preferring mint or sherbet tea. Today, though, Tahir had opened a bottle to celebrate the Khan's birthday. It was a fine vintage that he had not tasted before. The taste was rich and fruity with a hint of spice. Aragorn had no idea that the Haradrim produced such fine wines. Those he had sampled during his travels in that land had been nowhere near as satisfying.
Beside him, Faramir drained his glass and licked his lips in obvious pleasure.
“Let me refill your glass, esteemed friend,” said Tahir, pouring more wine into the Steward’s glass. “You honour me, my esteemed friends, by partaking of this wine. It is grown in a fruitful oasis owned for countless generations by my honoured ancestors, may they forever dwell in the celestial Oasis!”
“We are honoured that you will share it with us, my friend,” said Faramir, taking a sip from his overfull glass.
“You have not yet told us if you accept our invitation,” said Aragorn, moving to sit upright against his cushions. “We would be delighted if you would come to our celebration of the war heroes. It would show all that peace exists between our lands after so many generations of warfare between us.”
Tahir’s brown eyes clouded over with sorrow. “I think not, esteemed friends. My presence would offend many.”
“I would be honoured by your presence,” said Faramir, reaching across to clasp Tahir’s shoulder.
“The folk are offended are those who most need healing of the mental hurts they carry,” said Aragorn. “Hatred is like a poison. I want to show my people that there is now a lasting peace between our lands and that there are good and courageous men who were once our enemies.”
“I do not belong amongst heroes, esteemed friends,” said Tahir. He took a long swallow of his wine. “I fought against those in the war whom I now know were right. The former Khan, cursed be his bones, told us that the Men of Gondor sought to conquer us and defile our women and enslave or kill our little ones. Therefore, I rode off to battle in the bodyguard of my honoured kinsman, who is now our glorious Khan.”
“You were wounded, were you not?” asked Aragorn.
“It was but a scratch. I was carried from field, full of fear lest your men capture me and sacrifice me to your tree god as I had been told! So you see, esteemed friends. I have no place amongst heroes!”
“I think you have,” said Aragorn. “You fought when you thought you were battling monsters. When the war was over, you came here to work for peace. That takes great courage. You should take your place alongside Faramir and me next week at the celebration.”
Faramir, who had been listening to the conversation morosely, suddenly spoke.
“Éowyn is more worthy than I to stand by your side when we remember the heroes!”
Aragorn regarded his friend in astonishment. “But why, Faramir?”
“I did no great deeds during the war,” the Steward replied. While my wife was slaying the Witch king, I was lying close to death!”
“From a wound received while fighting against hopeless odds,” said Aragorn.
“But I did nothing heroic.” Faramir took another swallow of the wine and slumped back against the cushions. “My brother was a mighty warrior, not I! I cannot compare with your great deeds! You fought at Helm’s Deep then summoned the Army of the Dead, the fought at Pelennor Fields and then fought at the Black Gate and ….”
“I think the wine has clouded your judgement, mellon nîn,” Aragorn said, gently interrupting him. “It is stronger than what we are accustomed to. You will feel differently in the morning. What Frodo and Sam achieved excelled my deeds by far. We all had our parts to play, and you played yours with honour and courage. It takes especial courage to be a man who loves peace in times of war. You held your men together during the retreat from Osgiliath in the face of creatures that make my blood run cold, you went out to fight against hopeless odds, then bravest of all, you gave Frodo, Sam, and their burden safe passage through Ithilien, despite your father and lord’s wrath. Some of the bravest heroes did not do their greatest deeds upon the battlefield. Isildur was a doughty warrior, but we remember him best for stealing a fruit from the White Tree under Sauron’s nose!” He patted Faramir’s shoulder comfortingly.
“Wise words, esteemed friend,” said Tahir. “Lord Faramir has worked harder than any to bring about the treaty between Harad and Gondor and faced the wrath of many on both sides who prefer war! You are both heroes, my esteemed friends and I salute you! Let us drink a toast to heroes!”
“To heroes!” Faramir echoed him.
“To all our heroes of both war and peace!” said Aragorn, draining his glass.
Faramir began to sing softly in a pleasant baritone,
“It’s of dear wine to you I’ll sing,
And to dear wine I’ll always cling,
I like my cup filled to the brim,
And I’ll drink all you’d like to bring.
And it’s oh, dear wine, thou art my darling,
And my joy both night and morning.
Before I’d part with you, my dear.”
Aragorn took up the next verse in a sonorous bass,
Now since this liquor’s all drunk up,
Methinks to you I’ll hand this cup,
And when you’ve filled it up with rain,
I’ll drink your health all ‘round again.
Tahir hummed along to the tune and the three sang cheerfully until there was no wine left in the bottle.
A/n. The drinking song is adapted from a traditional one.