B2MeM Challenge: Vanity
“"He it was that now rode out, and with him came only a small company of black-harnessed soldiery, and a single banner, black but bearing on it in red the Evil Eye. Now halting a few paces before the Captains of the West he looked them up and down and laughed.
'Is there anyone in this rout with authority to treat with me?' he asked. 'Or indeed with wit to understand me? Not thou at least!' he mocked, turning to Aragorn with scorn. 'It needs more to make a king than a piece of elvish glass, or a rabble such as this. Why, any brigand of the hills can show as good a following!'"
"And last of all the mounting wave, green and cold and plumed with foam, climbing over the land, took to its bosom Tar-Míriel the Queen, fairer than silver or ivory or pearls. Too late she strove to ascend the steep ways of the Meneltarma to the holy place; for the waters overtook her, and her cry was lost in the roaring of the wind."
Genre: angst, friendship.
Characters: Aragorn, Faramir, OMC,OFC
Summary: Aragorn and Faramir visit Tahir,
Disclaimer: The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.
A sequel to “Heroes”
“We should honour our heroes, but I confess I am always relieved when the ceremonies are over,” said Aragorn. He leaned back against the cushions scattered across the floor in Tahir’s residence and stretched out his long legs.
“I am thankful that your people accepted my presence, esteemed friends,” said Tahir. “I feared that they might jeer at the sight of one who fought against them.”
“I am glad they did not,” said Faramir. He drained his cup of sherbet tea and placed it on tray in front of him. “I was pleased to see how much loved my lady and the King are, but I too, am always glad when this day is over. It brings back too many memories.” He closed his eyes and murmured. “My poor brother’s death, my father’s madness, the Nazgûl…” His voice trailed away.
“I recall how we set out to battle so proudly and so convinced that we would triumph,” said Tahir. “How deluded we were, esteemed friends! My worst memory is the fear I felt at our defeat. I was so afraid that my fair blossom would be dishonoured and my children killed or sold into slavery. We believed you would have done the same harm to us as we intended to do to you during those evil times!”
Aragorn sipped his tea thoughtfully. “Sauron deceived many, my friend, not least the folk of Númenor, who in their foolish vanity sought to conquer Valinor after Sauron told them they would live forever if they did.”
“I have heard something of the story, esteemed friend,” said Tahir. “The people drowned did they not?”
“A great wave swallowed up Númenor and all who dwelt there,” said Aragorn. “Some deserved their fate, but many others did not. I wept when I learned the story in my youth. Lore tells us that Ar-Pharazôn’s Queen, Tar-Míriel, was a good woman, faithful to the law of the Valar. It is said that when the great wave approached, she tried to seek refuge on the holy mountain, but the waters carried her away.”
“That story grieves me too,” said Faramir. “I hope that she found peace beyond the circles of the world.”
“It troubles me sometimes that men like Ar-Pharazôn were of my kin,” said Aragorn. “The Men of Númenor have done much good, but also much evil when they succumbed to vanity. One of my most disturbing memories of the war was the meeting with the Mouth of Sauron.”
“It must have torn your heart to believe that Frodo and Sam were captured and being put to torment,” said Faramir.
“It did truly,” said Aragorn. “The thought made my blood run cold. What haunts me, though, is that the Mouth of Sauron was once a Númenórean. Had the Ring overcome me, I would have become like that foul creature!” Aragorn shuddered and touched the green gem he wore upon his breast. “The Mouth of Sauron spoke of this precious gem as “a piece of elvish glass”. Had I fallen under the Ring’s influence; that is how I might have perceived it! The Mouth of Sauron was wholly evil; a minion of Sauron’s utterly consumed with his own vanity. He had hopes of being Lord of Orthanc, we gathered from his words. Yet that creature was once a man like me!”
“Not like you at all!” said Faramir. “You have not a vain bone in your body! Never are happier than when you can go unnoticed amongst the humble folk!”
“You sit beside us on the floor, esteemed Lord Aragorn,” said Tahir. “Never would I have believed a great and mighty lord to do thus. It seems that the Men of Númenor are much like the Men of Harad, a mixture of bad and good.”
“You speak wisely, my friend,” said Faramir.
Just then, Lady Adiva appeared with a plate of cakes flavoured with ginger and lavender. Behind her walked her faithful maid, Falah, bearing more tea.
Aragorn and Faramir greeted the lady and accepted a cake each.
Aragorn took a bite and smiled. “I doubt that the Men of Númenor at her height ever produced such delicious cakes!” he exclaimed.
“Ah,” said Lady Adiva. “That will be the ginger. It grows the lands of the Easterlings, esteemed friends. We trade our silks to obtain it and have done for many generations. It would honour me greatly if you would take some cakes for the esteemed Lady Arwen and Lady Éowyn.”
“We would be happy to,” said Aragorn.
“Will you sit with us for a while, my fair blossom?” said Tahir. “Our hearts are shadowed with memories of the dark days of the false Lord of Gifts. Speak to us of happier matters.”
“Gladly, honoured husband,” said Adiva, settling herself on one of the cushions beside Tahir. ”I will tell you of the great spice caravans that cross our lands laden with ginger and other spices.”