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Arandur - Linda Hoyland

Author: Linda Hoyland
Title:
Rating: PG
Theme:
Elements: 28. Third Age: Denethor broke the white rod of the stewards when he went into the fire. Whence came the rod that Faramir presented to Aragorn at the coronation ? (harrowcatliz)
Author's Notes: With thanks to Raksha and my friends on LJ
Summary: As the day for Aragorn’s coronation approaches, Faramir has a problem.
Word Count: 1,710
These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.


Faramir’s brief tenure as ruling Steward was almost ended. He was untroubled by the fact. He had always believed that there could be no greater honour for a Steward than to surrender the White Rod to the rightful King when he returned, the symbol of a trust faithfully kept throughout the long years of waiting. Little had he ever imagined that the honour would fall to him, but now that it had, he was determined that the transfer of power would be swift, willing, and gracious.

He did not expect the new King would have much need of a Steward once he was crowned, especially not a son of Denethor, but he would always be ARANDUR, the King’s loyal servant. He doubted that there would be any place in public life for him, though. If the King had no need of him, he intended to live quietly in Ithilien where he had some ancestral lands.

First though, was the coronation of the King, three days from hence. It had been decided that Aragorn Elessar would come with his retinue to a barrier, which had been erected to serve as a temporary gate to the City, where Faramir would greet him and surrender his office to him, which was symbolised by handing him the White Rod.

Everything was in readiness. Even at this moment, the people of Minas Tirith were decorating the streets and tending the flowers for the great day.

Faramir decided that he ought to send for the white rod in order to prepare for the ceremony. Unaccustomed as he was to holding it, he did not want to brandish it like some sort of weapon and thereby risk striking the King; neither did he want to hold it as an old man might clutch his cane. His father had always carried it as if it were a part of his very arm! In fact, it had felt so much a part of Denethor that Faramir had not sought to carry it at the meetings he had presided over since his father’s death. Now he came to think of it, he did not even know where it was. He called for a servant and asked them to summon Caranthir, his father’s personal servant, who had aided Denethor in dressing for his official duties.

Caranthir was an old man, but since Denethor’s death he looked even older than his years. He was now stooped and walked much more slowly than had been his custom.
“You sent for me, my lord?”

Faramir noticed that the old man’s eyes were full of sorrow. It seemed that he was one of the few who had truly loved Denethor rather than simply respecting him.

“I will need the white rod, Caranthir, for the coronation ceremony. I wondered if you might know where it is.”

Caranthir paled and swayed on his feet. Faramir hastily bade the old man sit down.

“Are you unwell?” the Steward enquired. He poured a glass of wine from the carafe upon his table and offered it to Caranthir.

“I am well enough, my lord, but did you not know about the fate of the rod?”

“No. What happened to it?”

“My lord, I was one of those who was commanded to follow Lord Denethor to the Silent Street. I stood by when Mithrandir arrived and ordered you to be taken to the healers. The Grey Wanderer begged Lord Denethor to forgo his deadly purpose, but he would not listen and cast a torch upon the pyre.” Caranthir paused, wiped his brow, and then swallowed hard. “When Lord Denethor, when, when he burned, he, he destroyed it! He said he would never yield to any heir of Isildur’s, then broke the white rod in twain across his knee and cast it in the flames before he-.” The old man broke down, unable to continue.

Faramir could not have been more shocked if the old servant had struck him across the face. The white rod was the symbol of the Steward’s office; an office that had been performed by the House of Hurin for well nigh on a thousand years. And his father had destroyed it together with his own life? The young Steward struggled to keep his composure at these tidings. It was bad enough that Denethor had not sought and honourable death in battle when all had seemed lost, but to desecrate the white rod thus as well, was a bitter blow indeed.

“That will be all, Caranthir, you may go now. One of the guards will help you to your quarters.” Faramir hastily dismissed the old servant, fearful that he would betray his distress in front of him, not to mention his anger. His father’s retainers appeared to have done nothing to try to prevent their master from succumbing to his crazed purpose. He inwardly shook himself, knowing he was being unfair. His father had never been an easy man to cross and in the final week of his life his wrath had been feared by all when his mind began to crumble.

Faramir slumped across his desk and buried his head in his hands for a moment. No, he told himself sternly, this was not the time to weep. The white rod was no more. It was Faramir’s task to find a replacement before the coronation. It seemed a daunting task; the white rod had been a beautiful thing, lovingly crafted and handed down from father to son over the generations. It would be impossible to craft another like it at such short notice. The numbers of craftsmen had been sadly depleted during the war and those who survived had scattered far and wide. Materials too were in short supply as many of the warehouses had been located in the first level and had burned to the ground during the siege.

Faramir thought frantically of what materials might be available to fashion a white rod from. Several múmakil had been slaughtered during the battle of Pelennor Fields and their tusks had been brought to him. Maybe a white rod could be crafted from one of those? He shook his head. The ivory was stained with blood, which was hardly an auspicious start to what he hoped would be an era of peace. But where would he find some white wood? Only the dead White Tree was of sufficient whiteness and it would be sacrilege to hack a branch from it. The King would surely demand his head as well as the rod should he do so! It seemed all he could do was find a carpenter and see if he could fashion a new one at short notice and paint it white. Faramir sighed. The King had returned after so long only to be greeted with a painted stick! It seemed an affront both to the royal dignity and that of the House of Húrin.

Faramir rose from the chair in which he was sitting, rubbing his back as he did so. His father’s chair was least comfortable piece of furniture he had ever encountered. Even an upturned barrel would have provided more comfort! The Steward started to pace the room restlessly. Then an old memory returned to him of a rainy day during his childhood. His father had just returned from an official function, the white rod still in his hand and Boromir had admired it.

Denethor had smiled indulgently at his eldest and said he was fortunate that one day he would bear such a fine rod as the first Ruling Stewards had carried a much simpler rod, devoid of ornament. Maybe that first white rod was stowed away somewhere? Gondor was a land steeped in lore and history and did not lightly cast away anything that was part of that history.

Faramir hastened to the archives where ancient objects as well as documents were stored. He found the archivist seated at his desk, Master Dior, a man who ever since Faramir could recall, had appeared almost as old as the dusty parchments that surrounded him. Faramir asked him if he knew if the first white rod still survived. He found he was holding his breath as he waited for the old man’s reply.

“Let me think now, my lord.” The archivist slowly rose to his feet and shuffled across to a cabinet on the far side the room with the help of a cane. Faramir had to restrain his impatience as he fumbled with a bunch of keys at his waist and unlocked the cabinet. The inside was stuffed with old scrolls, ceremonial vessels and weapons and ancient books, their covers decorated with runes. Faramir’s heart sank. There was nothing here that could help. Then the old man reached into the furthest recesses of the cabinet and brought forth an ancient and grime encrusted white rod. “There you are, my lord,” he said, handing it to Faramir.

Nothing could have been further from the usual solemn ceremony when an aging steward would hand the white rod over to his eldest son, but powerful emotions seized Faramir as he grasped this tangible symbol of the rule of Gondor. Joy and relief that the white rod had been found combined with satisfaction that he could fulfil his duty to his liege lord, the King who had brought him forth from the darkness.

Faramir studied the rod carefully as he took it to his apartments to be cleaned. He supposed it had last been used around the time of Belegorn. It was a simple white staff, without adornment, but beautifully crafted from a type of wood which he was not familiar with, which had not rotted over the centuries. It seemed to reflect the humility with which the early Stewards had approached their office, a humility still outwardly observed in the Steward’s humble seat at the foot of the throne, but long since lost as the House of Húrin took on the duties and powers of kings; the virtues of royalty and the failings too, culminating in Denethor’s destructive pride. It was fitting that his office should end in the same spirit in which it had begun.

Faramir heir of the House of Húrin and the last Steward of Gondor, would faithfully discharge his final duty as ARANDUR.

Comments

( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
someplacetobe
May. 16th, 2012 04:08 pm (UTC)
Thank goodness the first rod survived!
lindahoyland
May. 16th, 2012 05:02 pm (UTC)
Thank Goodness it did. I only knew when I started writing!
someplacetobe
May. 16th, 2012 05:08 pm (UTC)
My goodness! Thank goodness, indeed!
engarian
May. 16th, 2012 05:34 pm (UTC)
Ah, and there you go. Faramir, a humble man who hearkens back to the original Stewards will present the original rod to one who wears the Ring of Barahir. How very appropriate. Nice, Linda!

- Erulisse (one L)
lindahoyland
May. 16th, 2012 05:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, I'm delighted you enjoyed this and found it fitting that Faramir should present the original rod.
dreamflower02
May. 16th, 2012 08:09 pm (UTC)
This is marvelously well-done and well imagined. If I had thought much about it myself, I would have thought he commissioned a new one, or that there had always been a "spare" squirreled away somewhere. But I love your discovery that he had actually gone back and located the original rod of the Stewards, and that the one Denethor had always carried had actually been a replacement!

And I love how introspective Faramir is with the whole process, which suits his personality beautifully!
lindahoyland
May. 17th, 2012 11:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. I'm delighted this worked for you. I was originally planning that Faramir would commission a new rod, but chatting to a friend make the story take on a life of its own.
huinare
May. 16th, 2012 09:05 pm (UTC)
A perfect resolution to Faramir's quandary, and I'd go so far as to say preferable to the more ornate white rod destroyed in Denethor's fire.
lindahoyland
May. 17th, 2012 11:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I'm delighted that this worked for you.
blslarner
May. 16th, 2012 11:25 pm (UTC)
I so love that Faramir took the time to search out the original Rod, and that it was this that he sought to return to Aragorn in the end.

And, lo! This gift has left progeny in its wake. Come here, little plotbunny....
lindahoyland
May. 18th, 2012 02:06 am (UTC)
i@m so pleased you liked this twist in the story that came as a surprise to me when I wrote it! I hope the plot bunny bites as I'd love a story from you on this theme!
harrowcatliz
May. 17th, 2012 05:03 am (UTC)
You wrote it -squeeeeeeeee! And brilliantly too. Thank you. What a great and wholly appropriate.
lindahoyland
May. 18th, 2012 02:07 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm pleased you liked this. My apologies that I never got round to another "Chat Show" but hope this makes up for it.
ellynn_ithilwen
May. 17th, 2012 07:08 am (UTC)
Aww, beautiful! This is a wonderful idea - that there is the original white rod. I'm sure that the ceremony will be even more solemn this way.

P.s. Just a small typo - "And this father had destroyed it". HIS father. ;)
lindahoyland
May. 18th, 2012 02:08 am (UTC)
Thank you so much and for spotting the typo which I've fixed. I'm delighted you enjoyed this.
(Deleted comment)
lindahoyland
May. 18th, 2012 02:09 am (UTC)
Welcome back, I hope you are feeling better. I'm pleased you liked the idea of an earlier rod being preserved.
mrowe
May. 18th, 2012 12:14 pm (UTC)
A very good solution - and just as well that Faramir is so well-versed in old lore.
lindahoyland
May. 19th, 2012 10:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you. The very things Denethor despised in his son have come in very useful!
virtuella
May. 18th, 2012 05:07 pm (UTC)
Excellent! That is a very fitting way out of the dilemma.
You've made me think now - perhaps Faramir would have altogether preferred the life of a private gentleman?
lindahoyland
May. 19th, 2012 10:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. It is an interesting thought. I think Faramir is eager to serve Aragorn and Gondor but could have been happy as a country gentleman too.
alfirineth
May. 19th, 2012 05:22 am (UTC)
Lovely little gap-filler. I am glad that Faramir was able to find the original rod....

Does sand-paper work on ivory? Surely something would have been able to get the blood off. But alas, you are right. The symbolism would be all wrong.

Good thing they had the original in the archives. :D
lindahoyland
May. 19th, 2012 10:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I'm pleased you enjoyed this.

I've no idea if you could clean ivory with sandpaper.

It was a good thing they still had the original.
rakshathedemon
May. 19th, 2012 06:11 am (UTC)
Nicely done; with good use of Faramir's knowledge of history.
lindahoyland
May. 19th, 2012 10:56 pm (UTC)
THank you. Faramir's knowledge came in very useful.
mikononyte
May. 21st, 2012 07:28 pm (UTC)
2 things leap out at me reading this.

1. how strong Fara is; he struggled to keep his composure while being told of not only the destruction of the white rod, but HOW it was done and by whom. The measure of his feelings shows in his abrupt dismissal of Caranthir!

2. While sitting, tortured by his late father's less than confortable desk chair (and what does THAT say about the man!!!) Faramir itemizes and catagorizes each of his possible solutions before finally taking the true step needed to find a replacement rod (even while his back and bum must have been simply aching from that chair!)

There's a lot of emotions just leaping from the page with this short piece; Faramir's lack of self-worth just screams (poor baby) and even as he discharges his "final duty as Arandur" he does it with faith and love of both the new king and his own House of Hurin.

People today are so shallow and lost, missing great bits of their own family history; when I read this I felt that loss for them, and for me too. It is nice to read even in fiction that people have a love and respect for where they came from and their duties in life. Faramir shows that in so many ways in this short piece.

Rats! You got me thinking again Linda! :)
lindahoyland
May. 23rd, 2012 02:46 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for these thought provoking comments. You have got me thinking too!

I've written about the chair before in "The White Tree" and "Mask of Virtue". It is based on the kind of chairs found in most church halls, which are sheer torture to sit upon!

I've lived in the same house all my life and love it and think I can understand a bit Faramir's sense of the past.
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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