|Celandine's Chronicle (celandineb) wrote in cels_fic_haven,|
@ 2007-08-08 14:18:00
At noontime they went to the Great Hall for their meal. Denethor was present at the high table today, but he was engaged in a conversation with the bailiff of the royal farmlands and merely nodded curtly at Faramir and Mithrandir as they sat down. Boromir was nowhere to be seen. Faramir assumed that his duties were keeping him busy, as he had expected.
Mithrandir ate sparingly as usual, taking only the thick vegetable soup and some bread, but he urged Faramir to eat his fill of the sliced meats and cheese, with stewed pears to finish off.
"I have seen growing boys before," the wizard said, his eyes twinkling. "Do not stint yourself in order to hurry; I am in no rush."
Faramir smiled shyly at that and took another piece of bread and cheese.
"I will have to go off in midafternoon to the armories for my usual practice," he reminded Mithrandir.
"Yes, I know. But that gives us another good two or three hours, and I can certainly continue on my own afterward. Not that I do not appreciate your assistance, of course; it makes my studies progress more rapidly. Yet it would be impolitic of me to interfere with your other responsibilities. I fear that your father believes I will waste your time in any case. No, no, I am happy to have you work with me during your usual hours of study, but you need feel no urgency or especial obligation."
When Faramir had eaten as much as he wanted, then, they returned to the muniments room and continued to sift through the earliest records of Osgiliath and the rest of Gondor, looking for evidence of interactions between Men and Elves, political or economic. After a time Faramir ventured to ask Mithrandir another question.
"I think I can see why you wish to know how Elves were looked at by our early settlers, Master Mithrandir, but I was wondering what you know of the Elves today. We in Gondor have little or no direct contact with them, and though our nobles may use the Sindarin tongue at times, we speak it only to one another, not to its originators. I know from what I have read and heard that the Elves are immortal, and fairer than Men, but that tells me little of them as people. In your travels, surely you must have met and come to know many of them."
Mithrandir chuckled quietly. "As I said yesterday, you do indeed have an inquiring turn of mind. I cannot tell you all in a minute what I know of the Elves, that is certain. There are as many differences between one Elf and another as between one Man and another, for one matter. And they live in many places, and have many lords and rulers, just as Men have their different kingdoms. Anything I can say of the Elves would be no more than a gross generalization. But if you wish I will try to say a few things."
"Yes, please do," said Faramir eagerly. "Are there still great heroes among them such as Fingolfin who fought hand-to-hand against the great Enemy Morgoth at the gates of Angband? Most of what I know of the Elves is from the old stories and poems, you see," he added self-deprecatingly, "and I am aware that such tales do not give a complete picture."
Mithrandir sighed. "Few such heroes yet dwell in Middle-earth, no. Many perished fighting Morgoth, as you know, and others at the hands of Sauron and his allies; Gil-galad was one such, at the end of the Second Age. And many of the High Elves, of the kindreds of the Noldor and Teleri, have chosen at last to take ship into the West. Yet some remain, loving Middle-earth too well to leave it. One such is the lady Galadriel, who rules Laurelindórinan to the north with her husband Celeborn. She is of high kindred indeed, the granddaughter of Finwë the first king of the Noldor, and niece of Fëanor who wrought the Silmarils. I would name her among the heroes; she has fought to hold back the darkness from her lands."
"Fought? Do the women of the Elves wield sword, then, as we hear the women of the Rohirrim may do at times?" Faramir asked.
"No, they do not usually use weapons in that way. I meant fighting as in drawing boundaries to protect her country, encouraging her people to reject evil – that manner of action, as we discussed a bit yesterday," Mithrandir explained. "Galadriel was herself born in Valinor in the time when the Two Trees of legend still shone, and she is accounted among the greatest of her people."
"It seems unusual for a woman to hold such high regard," Faramir commented. "There have been none such in Gondor; and if one looks back to Númenor, the four ruling Queens there were not considered among the greatest rulers of the land. Indeed the last Queen was so powerless that her own husband usurped her throne, and in his pride attacked Valinor and caused the entire destruction of the land. Tar-Míriel is not remembered fondly by my people."
"In general, perhaps," Mithrandir agreed, "but Galadriel's respect is well-earned. In her youth she was one of those who crossed the Grinding Ice of the Helcaraxë to reach Middle-earth; those who survived that passage all had great strength of mind and body. Galadriel has always held equal power with Celeborn in the land they rule together. And there is also the example of Melian's wise counsel to her husband King Thingol of Doriath in the First Age. I would say that among the Elves, ability is respected whether the possessor be man or woman."
"I see," said Faramir thoughtfully. "The Elves seem a practical race in that respect at least."
"Oh, I should say practical always," said Mithrandir, "If by practical you mean doing things in ways that will work effectively. The Elves may be reputed most among Men as lovers of beauty, but appearance does not outweigh purpose among them. A beautiful but leaky vessel would never be cherished there."
He raised an eyebrow at Faramir. "But if that satisfies your curiosity for the moment, let us try to get through this next couple of codices before you must leave for your lessons in swordplay."
Faramir agreed, pulling another volume towards himself and bending over the pages studiously.
At midafternoon, he bade Mithrandir farewell for the moment and trotted up the stairs and across the yard to the armory. He was slightly disappointed, if unsurprised, to find that Boromir was not there. Today, after his usual warm-up exercises, Hallas set him to practice with Beregond, the young son of one of the guards in the Third Company of the Citadel, who was hoping to join his father there in a few years. A year or two younger than Faramir, the boy was clearly somewhat intimidated at the thought of crossing swords with the son of the Steward, even in practice.
"Don't worry," said Faramir cheerfully. "I'm really not that good; not anywhere near my brother's abilities."
At the comment Beregond relaxed a trifle and smiled hesitantly before assuming a combat stance.
Indeed it proved that the two boys were fairly well-matched; Faramir had the edge in reach but Beregond was a touch quicker. Hallas kept an eye on them as they continued, stopping one or the other occasionally to correct a stance or a grip. At last he released them for the supper hour.
"Would you like to practice together again tomorrow? Boromir showed me a new move yesterday, and I could share it with you," invited Faramir.
"Oh, indeed I would," Beregond responded eagerly. He glanced at the lowering sun. "But I had best get home now, or my mother will scold me for being late to dinner. See you tomorrow!" He ran off towards the tunnel to the lower levels of the city, and turned to wave before disappearing into the dark opening.
Faramir wished briefly that he still had his own mother to scold him similarly, but the thought of a tongue-lashing from Denethor for tardiness brought him quickly to the bathing room to sluice off the sweat and grime from practice, before dashing upstairs to change before dinner. A message waited for him that this evening the Steward planned to dine in the Great Hall, and his son should join him there. Faramir hoped this would not mean he would be unable to spend a last evening with Boromir before his brother left. He tapped at the door to Boromir's room before walking down, but there was no response.
To his relief he saw that he was a few minutes early for the meal; the lower tables were slowly filling but only Mithrandir and two captains sat at the high table as yet. Faramir bowed to the lords and seated himself by the wizard, leaving a space to his left where he hoped Boromir might sit.
"Did you find anything interesting in the records after I left, Master Mithrandir?" he inquired.
Mithrandir shook his head slowly. "Not especially, more of the same that we saw in the morning."
He shrugged. "Still it enables me to build up a picture of Gondor and her folk in the early years of the land, so that I may be able to better understand the changes that have occurred. It is hard to see how one can try to influence a people if one does not know how they have developed."
At that moment Denethor entered the room and made his way up to his usual seat, followed by several more lords and captains. Boromir strode among them and clapped a hand on Faramir's shoulder before dropping into the next seat.
"I'm starving," he said, sniffing hungrily around and reaching for a piece of bread. "Thank goodness they're already bringing in the platters. I didn't get a chance to eat at midday, just snatched an apple in the stables."
"No oats?" Faramir joked.
"No, not even horse-bread. I should have tucked something in my pocket before I left this morning, but I didn't think of it then."
Denethor rose and ceremoniously gestured for the rest of the room to join him. They turned as one toward the western walls to observe the moment of the Standing Silence, and then the room burst out into noise again as everyone sat and began to pass the dishes around the tables.
chapter 1 / chapter 2 / chapter 3 / chapter 4 / chapter 5