Talks with Tahir

B2MeM Challenge: Heroism

"At that time Nimloth was dark and bore no bloom, for it was late in the autumn, and its winter was nigh; and Isildur passed through the guards and took from the Tree a fruit that hung upon it, and turned to go. But the guard was aroused, and he was assailed, and fought his way out, receiving many wounds; and he escaped, and because he was disguised it was not discovered who had laid hands on the Tree. But Isildur came at last hardly back to Rómenna and delivered the fruit to the hands of Amandil, ere his strength failed him."

Format: short story

Genre: general, angst

Rating: PG

Warnings: alcohol consumption

Characters: Aragorn, Faramir, OMC

Pairings: none

Summary: Aragorn, Faramir and Tahir discuss the nature of heroism over a bottle of wine.

With thanks to Raksha

Aragorn stretched out his long legs across the cushions and took another sip of the wine. Ambassador Tahir had provided it for this evening at his house. The Haradrim 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..

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 everyone 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 who 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 treaty 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 had right on their side. 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 the field, full of fear lest your men capture me and sacrifice me to your tree god as I had been told would happen! 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 in bed 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, then 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.”

I never loved the sword for its sharpness,” said Faramir. “I wield it only in defence of all I hold dear.”

As do I,” said Aragorn. “I much prefer healing to fighting.”

Your deeds are the stuff of legend, though, while mine can never be,” Faramir said morosely.”

You held your men together during the retreat from Osgiliath in the face of creatures that make my blood run cold, after going out out to fight against hopeless odds.Your bravest deed of all, was that 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. ”And since the war you have done many great deeds, not least in saving my life more than once.. You are the bravest man I know, a true hero.”

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.

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."

Format: ficlet
Genre: angst, friendship.
Rating: PG
Warnings: none
Characters: Aragorn, Faramir, OMC,OFC
Pairings: 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, of course, 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 on the marble floor.

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 the empty cup on the 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. “ I had no love for the false Lord of Gifts or the then Kha Khan who was his puppet, but I believed I was defending my family and homeland from a fearsome enemy. I knew some good men dwelt in the West, but I was certain their leaders wanted to destroy us. 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 has deceived many throughout the ages, 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, Meneltarma, but the waters carried her away ere she reached the summit.”

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 now, though, is that the Mouth of Sauron was once a Númenórean. Had I taken the Ring, which Frodo rightly said I had the right to, 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”. If I had 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. We gathered from his words that he had hopes of being Lord of Orthanc. Yet that foul 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 and do not insist that we kneel before you,” said Tahir. “Never would I have believed so a great and mighty lord would act with such humility. 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 from her and allowed Falah to fill their cups.

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. “Our ladies will much enjoy them.”

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 first time I saw the great spice caravans that cross our lands laden with ginger and other spices.” I was but a child and so excited to see so many camels. They stretched as far as the eye can see, or so it seemed. I wanted to go with them and see faraway lands.” She gazed fondly at her husband. “Now I have travelled much further than in my wildest dreams to dwell here beside you.”

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