Autre temps Autres Moeurs

Autre Temps, Autre Moeurs

Disclaimer - These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

With grateful thanks to Raksha

From Yulaf son of Izraban, Under-secretary to the Master of the Household of the Khan of Eastern Harad, Favored by the Giver of Light and Darkness, to Resoud son of Tahor, Secretary to the Vizier of the Treasury, Hail and Greeting from the North, Minas Tirith in the Land of Stone.

You asked me, friend, what I think of Aragorn son of Arathorn, King of Gondor and Arnor, wielder of the Sword Reforged, the Elfstone, Elessar of the line of Valandil, Isildur's son, Elendil's son of Númenor.

A strange man indeed is this King of Gondor. He will usually spend the morning sternly dispensing justice or attending Council, as indeed a King should, but then he partakes of a simple luncheon with his lady wife. Oddly enough, she appears to be his only consort. There is no rumour of him having other wives, or even a concubine.

In the afternoon, he acts more oddly than ever. He is often seen at the Houses of Healing, using his gifts to tend the sick. No task there is too humble for their lord. Indeed, a warrior should get blood on his hands when slaughtering his enemies, but by tending the sick? It is outrageous!

Sometimes he is even seen in the market place, buying trinkets from the common traders to surprise his wife and children. He pays for them himself, refusing to accept them as his due. He allows the people to approach him. No hand is too grubby or work worn for him to clasp.

Only yesterday the King Elessar was seen to pick up a crying child who had fallen in a puddle, soothing him before returning him to his mother, oblivious of the mud on his clothing. Does he not realise how such behaviour demeans a king?

This same man is a mighty warrior, fierce in battle and forgiving in victory. He treats enemy prisoners kindly and orders the women and children to be left in peace. What a fool! A true victor would know that men-children grow up to become warriors, if not quickly killed or taken into slavery to enrich their conquerors. As for the women, one seizes the best for the victor's harem, and leaves the old women and the less comely girl-children to wail in lamentation. Thus does the might of a true lord of Men come to be known far and wide!

When evening comes, this deluded King will play with his children and tell them bedtime stories. Does he not have servants to do that for him? Often he and his lady will share a simple meal with a few of their close friends before they retire. Why ever does he choose to eat so frugally, not even using gold plates? He could share a banquet with the highest ranked nobles each night, if only he were wiser.

I shall be glad when my term of service here is ended, and I can return to the service of the Great Khan. Now he is a man who knows how a ruler ought to behave! He has five wives, and a hundred concubines to amuse him and cater for his every whim. I have never seen him get his hands dirty save when on the field of battle. Even at mealtimes, his concubines serve his food to keep his hands from becoming soiled. Our people know their place and how to behave, as so they should. I made bold to suggest to King Elessar that his guards should keep the people indoors on pain of death when he ventured outdoors, but he looked at me as if I were mad, rather than he! Oddly enough, the people seem to love him, I only wish they could know a proper ruler, like our glorious Khan!

I remain, my friend, most humbly, Yulaf son of Izraban

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