“For in the days of the sojourn of Sauron in that land the hearts of well nigh all its people had been turned towards darkness. Therefore many of those who sailed east in that time and made fortresses and dwellings upon the coasts were already bent to his will, and they served him still gladly in Middle-earth. But because of the power of Gil-galad these renegades, lords both mighty and evil, for the most part took up their abodes in the southlands far away; yet two there were, Herumor and Fuinur, who rose to power among the Haradrim, a great and cruel people that dwelt in the wide lands south of Mordor beyond the mouths of Anduin.”
Format: short story
Genre: friendship, politics
Characters: Aragorn, Faramir, OMCs
Summary: Accusations are made against Ambassador Tahir.
Disclaimer:The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.
“Is there any other business before I conclude this meeting?” Aragorn asked the Council.
“There is.” Lord Thingol of Pinnath Gelin rose to his feet. “I wish to know what you plan to do about the spies from Harad.”
“Spies from Harad?”
“As you well know, sire, I am not often in Minas Tirith. Imagine my horror when I arrived at my town house to find that the City was overrun with Haradrim!”
A few low murmurs of assent were heard from amongst the other assembled counsellors.
“I believe your town house is in the merchant quarter of the City, my lord,” Aragorn said evenly. “We do indeed have Haradrim merchants amongst us at my invitation. Trade with Harad has helped us rebuild our prosperity after the war.”
“But they are our enemies!” Thingol protested. “My son was killed by one of the vermin during the war. The old lore describes them as a cruel people and they are indeed.”
“I too lost a kinsman to a Haradrim blade,” said Aragorn. “Some Haradrim are indeed cruel, but so too are some men of Gondor. We cannot judge an entire race by the actions of a few. There are many peaceful merchants in Harad, or warriors who seek only to defend their lands.”
“I do not trust their intentions,” said Thingol.
“Ambassador Tahir ensures me that the Great Khan of Harad desires peace between our realms,” Aragorn said firmly.
“Members of whose Entourage tried to kill you, my lord,” said Thingol. “News reached us of the assassination attempt in Pinnath Gelin.”
“Enough!” snapped Aragorn. “The Ambassador is a friend to Gondor and was not party to the assassination attempt in any way.”
“He’s a spy!” said a voice from the back.
Aragorn had expanded the Council to include not only lords but also a handful of ladies, merchants, healers, and farmers who were allowed to attend and speak. It was one of these, who now spoke.
“I am Denborn, son of Anborn and I own the shop that makes and sells maps in the third circle,” said the merchant. “Recently the Ambassador has been to my shop and asked to buy my most detailed maps of Gondor. What would he want those for if not to send to his masters to help them plan an invasion?”
Aragorn looked shaken for a moment and then replied. “I will look into the matter.”
Faramir then rose to speak, “I am puzzled as to why a loyal servant of Gondor should sell such maps to a man he judges to be an enemy of Gondor,” he said.
“I need to make a living,” Denborn replied.
“The meeting is concluded and the Council is dismissed,” said Aragorn.
The King was in a troubled mood as he returned to his apartments. “I like not what Master Denborn had to tell us,” he said. “Tahir and his lady are escorted by my guards, for their own protection, whenever they travel outside the City. What does he need with detailed maps? He is a good man, but we must always remember that his first loyalty is to the Great Khan of Harad. Maybe we have put too much trust in him?”
Faramir shook his head. “No, our trust in him is justified. He is our friend and would not betray us. Let us go and ask him before we reach hasty judgements.”
Aragorn informed the two guards escorting them that they were going to the Ambassador’s house in the sixth circle. The guards’ faces looked as if they had been told they were going to the Black Gate itself!
Tahir embraced his uninvited guests warmly when they arrived at his residence. “Greetings, Lord Aragorn and Lord Faramir, my esteemed friends!” he cried. “Please be seated and partake of some refreshments. Then I have something to show you both. My fair blossom has gone to visit a merchant. Had she known of your coming, she would have been here” His servants bustled around offering them guest mantles and slippers.
As soon as the servants had departed, Aragorn cleared his throat uneasily.
“Does something trouble you, esteemed friend?” he asked.
Aragorn recounted what the map merchant had said in somewhat more measured terms.
Tahir’s brown eyes were filled with hurt as he exclaimed, “You think I would betray my friends, never! I am ambassador not spy!”
“Of course, I do not believe you to be a spy!” said Faramir.
“Come,” said Tahir. “I told you I had something to show you!” He led them to the part of the house where his children had their nursery and flung wide the door. The children rose to their feet to greet the visitors. Tahir greeted them then told them to show their visitors around. A solemn little boy, who appeared to be the eldest, exclaimed, “Look at our maps!”
Aragorn and Faramir looked around them and saw that one wall of the nursery was decorated with beautifully drawn maps of Harad, while the other wall was covered with maps of Gondor.
“As Gondor is now our home, I wanted my children to be familiar with the map,” said Tahir. “I am collecting as many beautiful maps as I can find.”
“I am so sorry that I doubted you even for a moment,” said Aragorn. “I crave your pardon. I would be honoured if you would dine with us tomorrow.” He held out his hand in a placating gesture.
Tahir hesitated for a moment then clasped Aragorn’s hand. “Foolish is the man who bears a grudge. He is doomed to walk beneath the noonday sun and never reach the oasis,” he said.
“I have a large collection of maps that belonged to my father, which you would be welcome to peruse,” said Faramir. “Maybe copies could be made for your children?”
“I am certain Arwen would be pleased to show you her father’s map collection too,” said Aragorn. “I shall see that your children have the finest map collection in Gondor!”
They made their farewells, promising to meet again on the morrow.
“If only the Council could learn to judge beyond appearances,” Faramir sighed as the two friends prepared to join their ladies for the noonday meal. “The Haradrim have long been our enemies, but this is a new age.”
“If there were but more men like you and Tahir, peace would be certain,” said Aragorn. “Alas, that I judged Tahir so rashly! In my heart, I know he is a good man, but whenever I look at a Haradrim I see the face of the captain who slew Halbarad.”
“You endeavour to be just, though,” said Faramir, “Unlike those who see every innocent merchant as a spy. Tahir is your friend as he is mine. If everyone made true friends from amongst former enemies, peace would be certain and lasting.”