Finduilas sighed, looking up from her book, rolling her eye before she had the chance to force herself not to. The book itself, A Brief History of Manners, was more of a tome than anything else—and its author was as dry and uninteresting as her instructors were. With another roll of the eyes—this time completely unrestrained, she dropped the book to the ground, causing her sleeping elderly maid to jump slightly, before resuming her snoring.
Finduilas narrowed her eyes, before turning and gazing out the window. It was grey outside, the fog thick and the air heavy. And Finduilas loved it. Many saw it as a price to pay for living on the shoreline—but Finduilas found it a gift.
She turned and looked at her maid, before slipping off the cushioned windowsill, smoothing out her dress and carefully left the room.
She breathed a sigh of relief. Today at least she might escape her punishment. Or more clearly, Ivriniel insisting that she read and transcribe the entire tome of A Brief History of Manners, as punishment for not behaving like a proper princess. Finduilas rolled her eyes for a third time in a matter of minutes—something that her elder sister would chastise and warn of her eyes sticking that way. ‘It was not proper Princess behavior,’ she could hear her sister say. ‘Let alone the future wife of the steward.’
Finduilas had been engaged to Lord Denethor II since she was a small child. Truth be told, she barely knew her betrothed. The War and politics of the north had kept him from visiting—and she had little interest in leaving the sea. There was the occasional letter exchange, but they had not met in person since she was nearing ten years old—and even then, the son of the steward paid little attention her.
But now she was a grown woman—though still young, being not yet twenty-three years of age. Every day, her wedding to Lord High Warden Denethor the second, son and heir of the Lord Steward Ecthelion the second grew ever closer. And yet, he was still a stranger to her.
How often had Glenna, a lady’s maid who had been Finduilas’ nursemaid growing up, assured her that Finduilas’ mother and father would never have agreed to let her marry a man who would be anything other than a good husband? Enough times to ensure that Finduilas’ could imagine the maid’s words and voice in her mind at any given moment. It is what Glenna always told her, and Ivriniel and her parents too. They all assured her that Lord Denethor would be a good husband.
Finduilas wasn’t quite sure that they were all honest about that, or, in her mother’s case, knew enough about Finduilas to care.
Finduilas looked at herself in a mirror she passed by in the hall—admiring the beautiful dress she and her handmaidens had embroidered lovely images of sea life. Her sister had scoffed when she saw it, preferring flowers and other more delicate subject matter like most of the ladies Finduilas had contact with.
Finduilas smiled at her reflection, smoothing out her dress slightly, before turning and sweeping out of the room.
She arrived in the kitchens first—it was busy, loud and hectic as the kitchen staff hurried to complete their duties for dinner that night. She stole some meat pies—and a jam tart—before being shooed away by the Housekeeper. She hurried up the stairs, emerging into a hallway that led to the dining hall.
No one was seated yet—in fact, none of the lords and ladies of Dol Amroth had even arrived yet. They would not arrive for some time, at least an hour, which meant one more hour of peace before Finduilas would be thrust into the throes of civility and grandeur, and an altogether miserable night. The only people who were present in the dining hall at the moment was Ivriniel and a servant. They were looking intently at some parchment papers in Ivriniel’s hand.
“Oh no,” Ivriniel said, in a hushed voice, “We cannot seat Lady Miras next to Lord Ivran—I’m afraid they’re still not talking after…” Her elder sister lifted her head, meeting Finduilas’ gaze. “Ah, Finduilas,” Ivriniel said, returning her gaze to the parchment in her hand. “Did you hear?”
“I’m well aware about Miras and Ivran’s little tiff,” Finduilas said, stuffing the last bit of her jam tart into her mouth.
Ivriniel sent Finduilas a chastising look, before speaking quietly to the servant—something about the seating plans--and then sent him away. “Not that,” Ivriniel said, waving a hand dismissively. “Mother has requested you stay in the capitol with her until mid-winter.”
Finduilas’ mouth fell open. “Go to Minas Tirith? To live with Mother?!” she asked. Already her mind raced to find a good excuse. But there would be none. When their mother demanded something, not even their father, the Prince of Dol Amroth, had the power or will to deny her. And as a prominent member of Lord Ecthelion’s council, their mother was a force to contend with. “Why?”
“Because, my dear sister,” Ivriniel said, looking at Finduilas with the air of exasperation. “Your wedding is to be planned soon. And Mother is worried that you are not… befitting to be the wife of the future steward,” Ivriniel gave out a short snort at this. “She has no right to say such things,” Ivriniel continued. “Who was it who oversaw your upbringing? Certainly not she. Her letter was a deliberate attack,” Ivriniel muttered angrily to herself, too quietly to intend for Finduilas to hear, but she heard it anyway.
“Oh,” Finduilas said, dumbly, her mind still stuck on the content of the her mother’s message. Her hands formed fists by her side, and she said, spitefully, “I’d rather just cancel the marriage altogether.”
Ivriniel snorted again. “Mother would never agree to that,” she said. “She still hasn’t forgiven Papa for agreeing to my betrothal and marriage to Elaren.” She placed her hands on her hips. “You know as well as I that she is determined to connect our house with that of the stewards’.”
“I know,” Finduilas said, grumpily kicking at a chair. It moved an inch or two away from its original spot, and Ivriniel narrowed her eyes, eyeing the slightly-out-of-place chair with a severe look of disdain.
“I daresay you had a bit of a disadvantage,” Ivriniel said, looking passively concerned. “We were both betrothed at such a young age...however, I had the benefit of knowing my husband from a young age. Elaren and I had time to get to know each other and develop affection for each other.” She met Finduilas’ eyes. “I rather believe Mother is worried that Lord Denethor would refuse you.”
“I’m not,” Finduilas huffed, feeling irritation erupting through her. “I’d be relieved.”
“Don’t say such things like that around Mother,” Ivriniel warned her. “You know what she’s like.”
“I know, I know, but—” Finduilas let out a frustrated groan. “Do you think Papa would—”
“You know as well as I that even Papa can’t talk sense into Mother,” Ivriniel sighed deeply. “Papa has the letter from her. You are to leave within the next week.”
“What?” Finduilas squeaked, her face paling. “So soon?”
Ivriniel shrugged. “She wants to make sure you are…how did she say it… ‘become fit to be the wife of the steward’s heir.’”
The two women looked at each other, before both began to snicker. “I think it’s a little too late for that,” Finduilas said, still laughing. “I have not seen Mother in almost five years, I’m sure she’ll be more than shocked when she and I finally reunite.”
“She may call off the marriage herself,” Ivriniel chortled. “Especially with your habit of going barefoot and ‘bathing’ by swimming in the ocean.”
They laughed for a bit longer, before the laughter died out, leaving an awkward silence. Both princesses sighed almost in unison, before Finduilas crossed her arms. “I suppose there’s no chance of changing Mother’s mind…”
“Most likely not,” Ivriniel said, rolling her shoulders in a small shrug. “It’s just how she is.”
Finduilas nodded. “I think…I’ll skip dinner tonight,” she said tiredly, turning and starting for the door. “Please give my respects and apologies to Lord Ivran and Lady Miras. And the others, too.”
Her sister said nothing as Finduilas left the dining hall, but Finduilas could feel her gaze following her out of the room, as Finduilas headed back to her chambers.
It was Imrahil, of all people, who protested most against of Finduilas going to Minas Tirith. Not solely because of any brotherly concern, however.
It was another grey morning, nearly a week after the dinner party that Finduilas did not attend, and Prince Adrahil was attempting to work in his study.
“What do you mean I can’t go with her?” Imrahil demanded. “Does Mother not want to see me as well?”
Their father sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Your mother would love to see you,” he said, finally, “But you have to finish your studies—and you’re too young.”
“I didn’t realize there was an age limit for living in the capitol,” Imrahil grumbled, sitting down beside Finduilas on the sofa. “She’ll be closer to the action than I am.”
“And that’s exactly why I cannot let you go to the capitol,” their father replied. “I know you would sneak off and try to be heroic in the fight against the Enemy.”
“Not to mention your studies are far more important, Imrahil,” Ivriniel said, from her seat where she worked on her embroidery. “Finduilas might be a tad…eccentric—”
“‘Vri,” Finduilas protested weakly.
“But you, Imrahil, have a propensity for being a outright reckless,” Ivriniel finished. “How would Dol Amroth fair if you ran away to join the army and died?”
Imrahil let out a series of unintelligible sounds that sounded suspiciously mocking. Finduilas gave him a sharp nudge with her elbow. “What?” he demanded, turning to glare at her.
“It doesn’t matter whether or not you want to fight, Immy, you are Papa’s only heir—and you’re barely eighteen. You’re far too young to join Gondor’s forces,” Finduilas said, giving him another nudge in the ribs.
Imrahil sank deeper into the cushions behind him.
“If it makes you feel any better, Mother didn’t want me to go to Minas Tirith either,” Ivriniel said, pleasantly. “To be completely honest—I think we should pity Finduilas. Having to spend so many months under her tutelage.”
“Now, now, ‘Vri,” Papa replied. “You shouldn’t speak of your mother that way.”
Ivriniel raised her eyebrows in moment of contempt, her eyes still glued to her work.
“How about this,” Finduilas said, turning to Imrahil, “Once I get to Minas Tirith—I’ll butter Mother up and convince her to send for you, as well.”
Imrahil sat up straighter, turning to grin at Finduilas, and he opened his mouth to speak.
“But!” Finduilas pointed a finger at him. “You cannot run away once you get there, and you have to do as Mother says.”
Imrahil face fell and he slumped down again. “You’re no fun, Findi.”
“I just want to make sure my foolish little brother doesn’t get himself killed,” she said, wrapping an arm around his shoulders as she roughly ruffled his hair. They both laughed at his failed attempts to stop her.
“Enough, you two,” Ivriniel said, her voice stern, though she still looked rather amused. “Finduilas, go finish packing for your journey, Imrahil—are you not supposed to be with your tutors right now?”
Imrahil groaned, standing up. “Very well,” he said, looking glum. “I return to my doom.”
He left the room, closing the door hard behind him.
“How in Middle-Earth did I manage to have the three most dramatic people in all of the lands as my children?” Papa said, returning his attention to the papers on his desk.
“Not I,” Ivriniel said. “I am the model of humble serenity.” She rose from her seat. “Finduilas, I do wish you would start packing—you leave tomorrow morning.”
“Did you go looking through my things again?” Finduilas asked, frowning and wondering how Ivriniel knew that Finduilas had barely made any progress in packing at all.
“I don’t have to go through your things to know that you haven’t packed yet, Messy Findi,” Ivriniel chastised. “I know your nature. And your propensity for waiting till the last moment.”
Finduilas opened her mouth to protest but Ivriniel merely winked and walked out of the room.
Finduilas watched her go, before turning to her father and pointing angrily in the direction of the door.
“Go finish packing,” her father said, not looking up from the papers and scrolls on his desk. “You’ll regret it if you wait till the morning.”
Finduilas left her father’s study, and when she got to her bedchambers, she found that Ivriniel had taken the liberty of sending maids to help Finduilas pack.
Finduilas watched as the maids worked, as she was only expected to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when presented with clothes or trinkets or books. She watched, with a sinking heart, as her room was torn apart, and only the things her mother would approve of was packed to be brought to Minas Tirith.
All that that she loved and that made her happy would be left behind.
She didn’t sleep that night.
She was thankful that Papa had agreed to send her by ship. It would give her a chance to stay near the sea as long as possible—before she was to be sent to Minas Tirith and have every part of her that was unique be squashed by her mother.
And her inevitable marriage to Lord Denethor.
She sighed, as she saw the shores of Tolfalas in the distance. They would not go round it on Horondor’s side—her father had feared they may be waylaid by enemies.
No, they would go up the left side of Tolfalas, and take the route of Lebennin, and thereafter Lossarnach, until they reached Minas Tirith.
They planned to make camp for a few days after returning to dry land, so that the party on foot—with horses, and more supplies, could catch up to them. Finduilas looked behind her, watching as the sea that stretched from horizon to horizon seemed to beckon her back to it. Tearing her eyes away from it, she instead looked forward.
Land—eventually. Then the trek to Minas Tirith. And Mother. And Lord Denethor—and marriage.
“Are you alright, Your Highness?” Glenna asked.
Finduilas was thankful that Papa had agreed to let Glenna accompany Finduilas to Minas Tirith. Though she had mixed feelings about her new life ahead of her, having Glenna with her during the travels made it slightly more bearable. It would be a short lived comfort. Glenna would be sent back to Dol Amroth almost as soon as Finduilas settled into life at Minas Tirith, as Finduilas’ mother would be the one to decide who would serve Finduilas thereafter.
“I am fine, thank you, Glenna,” Finduilas said, still staring at the land far in front of her.
“The captain claims we will disembark by nightfall,” Glenna said. “I believe we’ll only have to wait two or three days before the horses arrive.”
Finduilas nodded. “Yes, I agree,” she finally said. “Glenna, please check to make sure all my possessions are packed—I don’t want anything left behind when the ship returns to Dol Amroth.”
“Of course, Your Highness,” Glenna said, turning and walking away.
Finduilas closed her eyes, breathing in the smell of salt in the air. She opened her eyes, padded her cheeks with her hands as if to wake herself up, and followed Glenna to her room.
It was always strange, stepping off a boat and onto solid land. Especially the longer one was out to sea. It was unnerving and disorienting, and for a few steps, Finduilas found herself swaying a bit, before one of the guards grasped her hand and steadied her.
“Thank you,” she said, face flushed with embarrassment. She hurried past him to where Glenna was instructing two guards to set up the tent that Finduilas and Glenna would share.
Finduilas found a stump and sat down, her elbows on her knees, her chin in her hands. It was boring, watching everyone set up camp while she was expected to do nothing but daintily wait.
The captain of the ship approached her, bowing as he thanked her and wished her safe journey. As he left with his crew, Finduilas strode to the water’s edge, watching as the ship sailed away towards home.
By then, the camp was set, and Finduilas, exhausted from doing nothing all day, fell asleep quickly, though she had fitful dreams.
The next morning, she awoke to the smell of breakfast, and the sound of Glenna’s scolding voice. She threw the covers off herself and stood up before realizing that she was wearing nothing but a night dress. She quickly dressed and put her hair into a messy bun before leaving her tent.
“Ah! Good, you’re awake,” Glenna said, cheerfully. “Come and eat—before these gluttons devour everything.”
Finduilas grinned, walking over. One of the guards was sitting on the stump she had sat on the day before, and he quickly stood, bowing and offering her the stump. She smiled appreciatively and sat down. Glenna thrust a plate in front of her.
“Eat up, Your Ladyship,” Glenna said, smiling fondly at Finduilas. “Another day of waiting ahead of us.”
Finduilas nodded. As much as sitting around and doing nothing was agonizing, it was not as if she was unused to it. Ivriniel took on most of the management duties in the citadel they all called home. Imrahil was often forced to tend to his studies, though that never stopped him from trying to escape his relentless tutors. Finduilas, for her part, spent most of her time on the shores of the sea, sailing, or in the library. There was little to entertain her most days.
She ate quietly, listening as the solders—five in total—talked amongst themselves. Glenna began to clean up, eating her breakfast as she did so. Finduilas stood, “May I help you, Glenna?”
Glenna looked up in surprise. “Of course not, My Lady,” she said, smiling fondly at Finduilas. “You rest—there’s still a long journey ahead of us.”
Finduilas forced a smile, nodding. She would have preferred to help—be useful for something, instead of just an auction item given to whoever Mother wanted connections with. She returned to her tent and fell asleep despite the early hour of the day.
She heart a shout and sat up straight, her drowsiness gone and panic now freezing her senses. That was a guard—why would a guard be—
The door to the tent opened up, and Glenna hurried inside.
“What’s going on?” Finduilas demanded. “Why are the guards—”
“It’s corsairs,” Glenna whispered quickly. “They must have seen the ship and known it was from Dol Amroth--they must have tied up south of us, far enough away that we would not see them.” Glenna’s face was pale, as she thrust something into Finduilas’ hands. “Put this on,” Glenna said.
“But this is a guards’ uniform,” Finduilas said, her eyes wide.
“Yes,” Glenna said. “The corsairs shouldn’t know what you look like—put these on, and it’ll ensure they won’t know who you are.”
“But!” Finduilas began as Glenna began to help her put on the guards uniform. “But won’t they think I’m just a soldier? What if they—”
“I know,” Glenna said, nodding, her eyes still wild with fear, but her face taut with determination. “Better to die than be captured, dear little one.”
Finduilas blinked rapidly, unable to answer the old woman. When she was finished dressing in the guards’ uniform, Glenna put Finduilas’ hair in a knot on the top of her head, and put a helmet on Finduilas’ head.
“There may be hope yet,” Glenna began, before the shouts grew louder. Both women gasped as the door to their tent opened.
The man, a corsair, stood in the doorway to the tent. He took a step inside, and Finduilas put an arm in front of Glenna, blocking her from the man.
The man looked Finduilas up and down, before glancing at Glenna. He gave her a cruel smile. Glenna’s words came drifting through Finduilas’ mind.
Better to die than be captured.
Finduilas reached to her belt but found no sword, but a knife. She drew the knife, and the man laughed at the feeble weapon. He drew his own sword, before taking another step towards them. A strange sound followed, and the man’s throat gurgled as he looked down at the sword protruding from his chest. Finduilas’ mouth fell open in horror as she watched the man fall to the ground, coughing as he choked on his own blood. The guard who had killed the man was soon distracted by another corsair.
“Come, child!” Glenna said, grabbing Finduilas’ hand and dragging her out of the tent.
The corsairs outnumbered her guards at least three to one. Horror and despair filled Finduilas as she watched her guards fight a battle that they could not be victorious in.
“Run,” Glenna said, pushing Finduilas towards the forest border. “Run and do not stop. Do not come back. Run until you find someone to help you.”
“But—” Finduilas began. Her breathing was coming in short spurts—she felt like she was the one who was choking. Her body was frozen, unable to move.
She blinked rapidly in shock when Glenna slapped her face. She looked at Glenna in surprise. “Run, you foolish child!” Glenna said, shoving her again. “While they’re distracted.”
Finduilas nodded, taking a step away from Glenna, before turning and running towards the forest. The guards’ uniform was heavier than even the evening gowns that were popular among the ladies of Gondor these days, made heavier and clumsier by the panic pulsing through Finduilas’ veins.
She heard a cry of pain, and she thundered to a stop, turning. Finduilas cried out as she watched Glenna fall to the ground, her body unmoving.
She forgot about the forest. She forgot about escaping. She rushed towards Glenna, falling to her knees, and reaching out towards the old woman, taking her hand. Finduilas let out a sob, helpless and useless as she watched Glenna’s eyes glaze over.
She felt something hard hit the back of her head. She swayed slightly, her vision and mind disoriented, before she collapsed.
Voices. Men’s voices.
She felt fear pulse through her. Was it not over? Or was she dead? No…she felt pain. This could not be a dream, nor was she dead.
Her body stiffened when she felt someone grab her arm. The person let go quickly, before calling out.
No…please, she pleaded in her mind.
She felt fingers press against the part of her neck that was exposed. “He’s alive!” a man called out. “There’s a survivor.”
Survivor. ‘A’ survivor. Did that mean she was the only one? The…only survivor?
She felt hands on her shoulders begin to adjust her body until she was laying on her back. Her eyes still closed, she did not know who her captor was, but thrust her hands and arms out, trying to push the person away as hard as she could.
The person seemed to react with surprise, before grabbed her arms, and shouting for help. They restrained her, holding her still. “Calm down,” she heard a deep voice say. The voice was not cruel—it was kind, and gentle.
When she opened her eyes, she saw the man who had rolled her to her back. The man was handsome. Very handsome. And he looked noble—she glanced at his armor. Definitely noble.
It also helped that she knew exactly who he was.
“Are you alright, boy?” Lord Denethor II asked, looking down at her with concern.
She blinked a few times, still processing the fact that her future husband was here. In front of her.
Denethor tilted his head, looking into her eyes. “Can you hear me?” he asked. It wasn’t a command—or a jest. Merely a question.
She nodded, unable to say anything.
He nodded slightly as well, still looking concerned. “You must have been knocked out early, and your attackers thought you one of the dead,” he said.
One of the dead.
Finduilas’ brows furrowed, her heart clenching. She looked around wildly, looking for any sign that her guards had survived—that Glenna was still alive.
She winced as she turned her neck.
“Easy, easy,” Denethor said, taking her by the elbows and drawing her to her feet. She swayed slightly, and he placed a hand on her shoulder, steadying her. “You look young—perhaps even too young to join Adrahil’s military command. I’m guessing you ran away and managed to join his army? Or am I wrong, boy?”
Boy. She started in surprise at the word, though it was not the first time Denethor had referred her with it since she woke up, it was the first time she had comprehended it. She opened her mouth to speak, but found that no noise came out.
Denethor’s eyes narrowed. “Can’t speak?” he asked.
Surprised, and a little unnerved, Finduilas nodded, her hands touching her throat. What had happened? Why had she lost her voice?
Denethor nodded, “This was your first battle, wasn’t it?”
She slowly nodded.
He gave her shoulder a squeeze. “It’s like this for most soldiers,” he said. “You’ll get used to it.”
She frowned at him. He still thought her a boy, she realized. Not only that, but he clearly did not recognize her. Denethor turned to speak to a few of his soldiers, while Finduilas turned and took in the scene.
There were a pile of bodies being burned—the corsairs. Then there were six mounds—the five guards who had accompanied her, and…the sixth must have been for Glenna.
She let out a silent, choked sob, as she took a few faltering steps towards the mounds, shaking her head as she did so.
She heard Denethor call out but she ignored him, dropping to her knees beside the mounds. Tears streamed down her face, and she removed her helmet, placing it on the ground beside her. She did not cry with any noise, but her halting breaths seemed deafening in her ears.
She was aware of someone kneeling down beside her. After a few moments, she turned to see a man around Denethor’s age, or perhaps even younger.
“Who are you?’ she tried to say, but not noise came from her throat.
The man frowned, “You cannot speak?”
The man took in a deep breath. “Your voice will return.” He looked straight ahead, at the burial mounds before them. “The first battle is always the hardest,” he said. “There are people who think it is heroic and adventurous—to go to battle and war. They don’t realize how…chaotic it is.” He looked at Finduilas. “How terrifying. How our senses can even at times betray us. Especially without experience.”
She nodded slowly.
She and the man knelt there for some time, though Finduilas had long stopped crying.
There was a shout, and Finduilas reached for the knife at her belt but realized it was gone. The kindly man beside her put a hand on her shoulder, before standing up. “We are to leave now,” he said. “You can come with us. Right, Lord Denethor?”
In surprise, Finduilas looked up, to see Denethor standing near them, watching them. “Of course,” Denethor said. “I’m sure Lord Adrahil will not mind sharing his solder with us, though we won’t be returning to Minas Tirith for at least three to four months. From there, you can join a caravan and return to Dol Amroth.”
She blinked, before looking at the man beside her in confusion. “Ah, introductions,” the man said, a wry smile on his face. “I am Captain Thorongil. This, is Lord Denethor, son of Lord Ecthelion.”
Finduilas stared at Thorongil, her eyes wide. This was the famed captain of Gondor? The man her sister and friends constantly fawned over?
Ivriniel was correct, it seemed. Captain Thorongil was every bit as handsome as ‘Vri had claimed.
She opened her mouth to speak, to protest, or tell them who she was—that she was not a young boy pretending to be soldier, but a princess…pretending to be soldier. At the look on her face, Denethor frowned. “Do you not wish to join my troops?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. “I was going to make an exception for your age.”
Her mind seemed to be returning. They would not be returning to Minas Tirith in…at least three to four months. That would mean three to four months before…having to see her mother.
“If you’re not up for the job,” Denethor said, looking somewhat impatient at her delayed response. “You do not have to enlist. It’s hard work, and I don’t allow my men to slack.”
She looked at him, before nodding.
“Good,” Denethor said, nodding his head once, as if that finalized the offer. “I will entrust you to Thorongil’s care,” Denethor said these words in an authoritative tone. He turned and walked away.
Finduilas and Thorongil both watched him leave, then looked at one another in the same moment, curiosity in Finduilas’ eyes.
“Do you know how to wield a sword or shield?” Thorongil asked.
She shook her head.
“How is your archery?”
Her face brightened at these words, and she nodded. Before frowning, indicating with her fingers that her experience with archery was…small.
Thorongil nodded. “Do you know how to fight?”
She hung her head, shaking it.
“What is your name?” he asked.
She realized that neither Lord Denethor nor Captain Thorongil knew who she really was. Not only that, but they thought she was a boy. To stay in Denethor’s troops, she would have to keep up the act. If they found out that she was a woman, princess or no, she would still be sent to Minas Tirith—or home—or…anywhere. And anywhere would be somewhere her mother could still send for her.
“I am also curious as to the nature of your traveling party,” Thorongil continued. “I saw no tracks that you have come from Dol Amroth. You came by ship?”
“Was this…” Thorongil frowned, “The traveling party for Princess Finduilas?”
She froze, before shaking her head. She pointed in the direction she thought was west. Thorongil raised an eyebrow before he knelt onto the ground. She knelt down as well. He offered her a stick, and she realized he wanted her to write out her answers.
“Where is Princess Finduilas?” he asked.
She wrote in the dirt the words Caravan, Princess, and Capitol.
“And what was your purpose, to come by ship?” he asked.
She brushed her hand over the dirt, clearing it like one might a lesson board for studies. Belongings, she wrote.
Thorongil frowned again. “They must have been stolen by your attackers,” he said.
“Well, I will send word to Minas Tirith and Dol Amroth that your traveling party will not be here when the princess reaches this place. With any luck, Princess Finduilas will avoid this place, and continue on to Minas Tirith.” Thorongil was silent for a few moments, before he spoke again. “What is your name?”
She suddenly had no recollection of any and all male names. She nervously wrote in the dirt, Taron, son of Tiron.
“Very well, Taron, son of Tiron,” Thorongil said. “Welcome.”
She chewed her lip a little nervously, before looking at the mounds before her. Which one was Glenna’s? she wondered. She reached out, putting her hand on the mound before her.
Finduilas and Thorongil turned to look as Denethor strode towards his horse. “We’re leaving.”
Thorongil nodded. “We will catch up to you in an hour,” he said. “Young Taron here wishes to pay his respects to the dead.”
Denethor nodded, looking at Finduilas with pity on his face. “Very well,” he said. “I’ll leave a spare horse for the boy. Catch up to us by the hour’s end.”
Thorongil nodded. Some twelve soldiers stayed, most likely members of Thorongil’s squadron, and the rest followed Denethor.
She was thankful, that the famed Captain Thorongil had known she needed some time—he seemed to be a kind man.
They sat kneeling before the mounds, silent and still. Finduilas felt tears starting to fall down her face again. But she didn’t make a noise.
And when nearly half an hour had passed, Thorongil stood up, and helped Finduilas into a standing position.
“Let us head out,” he said. “Lord Denethor instructed us to catch up by the hour’s end. I doubt that he would spare the time or men to wait or return for us.”
Finduilas blinked for a moment, wondering if Lord Thorongil was jesting or not, for it was difficult to guess the man’s thoughts.
Finduilas managed to get into the spare horse’s saddle with not too much hassle, despite her guards’ uniform. They set out, in the direction Denethor and his troops had left in.
She looked over her shoulder, gazing at the mounds, until they passed by a curve in the river, and she could see the mounds no more.
TO BE CONTINUED…??
Hi! So this is a somewhat old fic that I started writing a while ago, but that I have always wanted to post. So… here it is XD
I want to say a huge thanks to @swan-of-a-kind for helping me with this chapter a while back! They helped me make a bunch of improvements on it!
(And for those who don’t know: Thorongil is a name that Aragorn used while in Gondor prior to the events of Lord of the Rings, so Finduilas is technically under the tutelage of Aragorn :)
Let me know if you’re interested in reading more of this story!!
Thanks for reading!!!