A/N: This vignette was written in response to the Memorial Day Onlist Challenge of the Henneth Annûn yahoo list. The people, places and events used in this work belong to Tolkien; no profit is made from it.


His Father's Sword

The boy awkwardly gripped the sword that the older man had placed before him, though he could not even lift it, but merely prevent the heavy blade from tipping over. He did not understand why the man insisted that he should hold that sword, that it would now be his duty as his father's eldest son to take it and to one day wield it in honour of his country and his father's name. But then, there were so many things he did not understand. Why his mother had started to cry almost as soon as she had opened the door to the stranger who now knelt before him and spoke of duty, honour and songs that would praise his father's deeds and of other things of which he had never heard. Why they had had to leave the comfort of their home and travel south, to Lossarnach, only to be housed in cramped quarters together with other refugees.

So many questions he had had about events that were beyond the grasp of a boy of merely five summers. To the day fifteen years had passed since he had been given his father's sword, and he wondered about fate's unpredictable ways that had chosen this day for him to find answers to some questions that had remained unanswered in all these years.

Swallowing hard to keep the contents of his stomach from rising, he raised his eyes from his father's blood-stained sword to the carnage of the battlefield. When he had joined Gondor's army and sworn fealty to her King he had nearly burst with pride that he had been given the chance to follow in his father's footsteps. Yet, there had been no chance to prove his worth. Not until Sauron's former allies had openly attacked Gondor, and her army had ridden to her defense.

But now that the opportunity had arisen, he was no longer sure whether he had lived up to the oath he had made when he had received his father's sword. He did not feel like one who deserved to be remembered in song like his father's captain had promised, fifteen years ago. He had slain many enemies, but not so much in defense of his country than of his own life when fear akin to panic had gripped him at the sight of the enemy crashing into their ranks. And they had but fought against Haradrim, not against Sauron's evil creatures like his father had done.

He had never thought he would survive the battle, and sometimes during the fight, he had not even wished he would. Too shrill had been the cries of anguish and pain of friend and foe alike, too heavy the smell of blood and sweat and fear, too loud the clang of metal upon metal that he had feared to never again find peace unless in death.

The question what his father had faced during his last battle had been finally answered, only to raise further questions. For why he had survived this battle while his honourable father had not, remained beyond him.

The End