A sequel (sort of) to The Better Huntsman. Not required to read before you read this, but there are references to that story here, and this story is a bit of a spin off. And you should read it anyways, it makes for good fun!
I blame Estelcontar, Lindahoyland, and my beyond-repair mind for this.
This definitely belongs in the humor genre beyond all others, and probably should not be taken too seriously.
For my overseas friends: three feet is a meter. About. Somewhere around there. I left my conversion skills back in math class.
Note: I know what 'rendezvous' means. I looked up the meaning just to make sure I was correct. While this story doesn't completely fit the word, it doesn't matter because I think the word sounds really, really cool. Enjoy, and leave your feedback by pressing the alluring "review" button below.
Note the Second: I dedicate this story to Google, who helped me figure out how to use 'lie' and 'lay', even if it still sounds odd to me. English, the silliest language ever.
"This is ridiculous."
"Completely and utterly ridiculous."
"I thought this was impossible!"
"My wife will surely have my head."
A pause. "There are orcs behind you."
"You are not listening to me, are you?"
"What?" Aragorn opened his eyes, blinking a couple times. "Do you need something, Faramir?"
Faramir looked at his liege lord incredulously. "You were not listening to me."
"Oh, no, I was."
"I have never known you to be a liar, sire!"
"Lying? Why would I lie? About what is there to lie about?"
"Listening to me!"
A beat. "I beg your pardon?"
Faramir sighed; a rare occurrence for the steward. "My lord, I do believe you are lying to me on more than one count."
"I am not quite sure what you are talking about, Lord Faramir," Aragorn said easily, trying to make himself comfortable against the sharp rock wall and failing miserably.
Faramir sighed again; two sighs in less than a minute can only be an indicator of great stress for Denethor's younger son. "I do believe you damaged your head much more than you let on."
"It is a mere scratch."
"A rather large one."
"I've had worse."
Faramir raised his eyebrows. "It is difficult to get much worse than that."
"Oh, trust me, it is not."
"Do tell, sire."
"I would rather not. They are rather foul memories- fouler than this."
"Fouler than this?"
"Sire, we are in a rather foul position. It is difficult to imagine a fouler situation."
"There are no orcs about."
Faramir's lips thinned. "I would hope that there are no orcs within Anórien."
"Exactly." Aragorn added another piece of wood to the fire.
The steward frowned and glanced once more at Aragorn's bandaged head. "Nonetheless, your inability to follow my conversation-"
"I was following it."
"-makes-- I beg your pardon?"
"I was following it. I simply did not wish to goad you on." Aragorn sighed at Faramir's look. "You see, My Lord Steward, I have had the unfortunate luck to have such situations happen to me in the past. I have found that the best way to keep calm was to not think about the circumstances, nor encourage conversation about the regrettable situation."
"Very well, then," Faramir said, finally sitting down himself. "If you wish to keep my mind off of this situation, I must ask something of you."
"How do you plan to keep my mind off of this situation?"
Aragorn laughed lightly. "Excellent question. I'm afraid I am rather weary for tales, so I suppose you must keep worrying."
"You are too kind, sire," Faramir said wryly. The other man simply bowed his head, a small smile lingering on his face.
The steward shook his head. "I am afraid that the years of court life have made me soft; I do not seem able to keep quite as calm a head as I used to in ill events."
"Believe me, my friend, these days of peace have softened me as well. Perhaps this small misadventure is just an exercise."
"An exercise? I would appreciate less deadly exercises."
"Just remember, Faramir, we could have landed in an orc den rather than this peaceful, uninhabited valley."
"Your optimism is heartening, Aragorn."
"Thank you, but I merely speak sense. In the end, this cliff cannot be higher than thirty feet- I would think it closer to twenty. Yes, likely no more than twenty."
"Twenty or thirty, Galdir will be worse than the last time he lost you."
Aragorn frowned. "That may be a problem. I suppose I could avoid his wrath by simply shifting the blame to you."
"If you do that, I'm afraid I would have to inform Beregond that this venture was your fault."
"That would be misfortunate."
"It would; Gondor would end up with both the steward and king dead, and two captains on the run from treason."
"I never saw Galdir as one to flee; rather, he would murder you and tell all proudly, for he was surely saving me from any further harm caused by you."
"But you would be dead, making Galdir's point moot."
The conversation died and Faramir threw another twig into the fire. After a few moments of silence, the younger man broke it with a shake of the head. "I do not understand how this happened to us so soon after our last mishap!"
"Well, it wasn't too ghastly; we did meet Maethor and his family."
"That is true, but nonetheless we surely were not due for such circumstances a mere two months later."
"Perhaps." Aragorn shrugged. "In the end, it could be worse."
"How? Oh, right- orcs."
"Precisely." Aragorn shook his head, wincing slightly when the headache he was ignoring came up again. "What I cannot believe is that we still have yet to determine who is the better huntsman. This trip was supposed to resolve that."
"Perhaps we were never meant to determine which of us is better," Faramir muttered, looking up at the stars as he thought aloud. "Perhaps we are just meant to be equal in such a show of manhood, lest the people of our country found out and a rift was caused between those who favored the loser and those who favored the winner."
The king raised an eyebrow. "I prefer to believe that we simply have ill luck."
"That works as well."
Aragorn smiled and leaned back, ignoring the stones that made the position uncomfortable. "I will be honest with you, Faramir- I may have had some memory loss, for I cannot recall how we were estranged from our company this time."
Faramir suddenly laughed. "Just as we were last time! It was another buck; a buck that simply sprang into our camp. We both gave chase, as we did before. We did not go far- or, at least, I do not believe we did- but you were ahead, and you stumbled, and fell down this cliff. I managed to catch myself and then I climbed down to see if you still lived."
"If we did not go far, why are Galdir and Beregond not here yet?"
"Ah- well, you must remember that we were on the outskirts of the camp, and that we already had our gear... and that there was no time to tell anyone lest we lost sight of our quarry."
"I see." Aragorn frowned. "Remind me to never go into competition with you again, Faramir, for I lose all common sense when I do. Galdir will not be pleased."
"Nor our wives."
Aragorn grimaced. "They will be worse than last time."
"How long did the Queen not speak to you?"
"Two days, if I recall correctly. Éowyn?"
"About the same amount of time. She was quite overprotective of Elboron as well, as if I would harm him with my wounds."
"She has changed greatly ever since she became a mother."
"Aye, and she wants another."
"It has been a long time, my friend, and I do not plan on only having one child. I would like another son, and a daughter or two."
"I see." Aragorn sighed. "I would love to have children, but neither Arwen nor I foresaw the complications our union would bring." Faramir glanced at the king sympathetically, but said nothing. Aragorn, nonetheless, continued. "According to Elladan and Elrohir, there is nothing in Rivendell's library to aid us in this matter. I cannot help but recall that both Beren and Lúthien and Tuor and Idril only had one child. Arwen and I wish to have many children."
Faramir was at a loss for words- another rare occurrence for Denethor's younger son. Finally, the steward managed, "May the One bless you with many children, my lord," before falling silent. Aragorn managed an appreciative look before he went into his own thoughts.
The two men were still for the next few minutes, both lost deep within their minds. Faramir's gaze was focused on the fire, and the king could not even begin to read his steward's thoughts. Aragorn's gaze flickered from Faramir to the fire itself, and he could not help but be reminded of the fire that burned inside the palantír when he had challenged Sauron.
Aragorn gently massaged the side of his head as the slight headache that had been plaguing him continued, forcing himself to relax completely against the uncomfortable rock wall. He softly laid the side of his head on the stone, finally finding a position that did not manage to leave rocks drilling into his skull. He lay as such for a moment until he felt vibrations in the stone.
"Faramir!" he said, now alert as he laid a hand on the cliff wall. "Something draws near- more than one being."
"Do you think it enemies?" Faramir said as he quickly put out the fire.
"I cannot be sure- perhaps those orcs are finally come?"
"Your light-hearted manner is ever a comfort," the steward replied sarcastically.
Within minutes, the two men heard the slow approach of horses, and above they could make out the flicker of torchlight. They heard someone dismount, and a face, illuminated by the fire, appeared over the edge of the cliff.
"Good evening, Captain Beregond!" Aragorn called out cheerfully.
"Sire!" he called, immediately recognizing the voice. "I am afraid I cannot see you very well in this light. Is Lord Faramir with you, my lord?"
"I am," the steward responded. "I do hope you have some rope, Captain. I do not wish to scale this wall without it."
"Aye, my lord, we do!" he said, and immediately he and the men with him secured a long braid of rope to a large tree before throwing it down. Soon enough, king and steward were with Beregond and the few men in his party.
Beregond glanced the two of them over, frowning a little at the king's wound but saying nothing. He would let Galdir worry about that. If anything, both looked hale enough to ride. "May I speak freely, my lords?"
"Of course," Faramir replied.
"What happened this time?"
Aragorn laughed. "Nothing to concern yourself over, my dear Beregond. Lord Faramir and I simply must never go into a hunting competition again."
"Or at least let us stay away from stags. Rabbits are likely less stress-inducing," Faramir pointed out.
"I do like rabbit stew," the king said, nodding thoughtfully. "The first man to shoot a rabbit is served his favorite rabbit-flavored dish by the other. How does that sound, my lord?"
"A wonderful plan, my king."
"Excellent. For next time, then?"
"Yes, for our next hunting trip."
"May the best man win."