The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. This story is written for pleasure not profit.
With thanks to Virtuella and Raksha.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. I. Corinthians. 13.13
Faramir realised to his horror that these two were planning to murder Aragorn. Trying to appear as nonchalant as possible, he picked up a peach from the table and made his way back to his place, never taking his eyes from the would be killers.
"Shall I slice that for you, my lord?" asked a servant.
"No thank you." Faramir brushed the man aside. Just then one of the Haradrim reached inside his flowing robes.
"Guards, arrest those men!" Faramir cried.
The guards raced to obey Faramir's orders.
"This is an outrage!" the ambassador protested. "Release my companions at once!"
"They plan to kill the King," Faramir cried.
Hearing the commotion, more guards raced to the scene. They seized the ambassador and the remainder of his entourage.
"How dare you?" Tahir protested. "We came here in peacefulness. We offer not harm to your esteemed majesty."
"You call this no harm?" A guard held up a long handled curved dagger with a serrated blade. "It is punishable by death to carry a concealed weapon in the presence of the King."
"Explain yourself, Ratib," said the ambassador sternly.
"The enemy of the Lord of Gifts deserves to choke in his own blood!" said Ratib in his own tongue. "Let him perish as my brothers were slain!"
"A curse upon him and all of his kind!" cried the second would-be assassin, while a guard relieved him of an equally evil looking blade. He spat in Aragorn's direction.
"Mercy, most gracious and esteemed Lord King!" Tahir managed to break free from the grasp on the guard who was restraining him. He flung himself at Aragorn's feet.. "Let not your wrath fall upon my fair flower and fruits. Shave my beard and tear my robe, do with me as you will, but harm not them! Shame not my fragrant flower and let my sons live! They are but babes."
"What do you take me for?" Aragorn asked angrily. "We do not harm innocent women and children in my realms. They will be shown more courtesy than you have shown us with your wicked plot."
"I plot nothing. I want peace, between our lands friends. " Tahir's Westron became increasingly broken in his agitation.
A sudden horrible thought struck Aragorn. The ambassador's wife was with his Arwen! What if her pregnancy were but a pretext and she was concealing weapons beneath the flowing robes that the Haradrim wore? "See that the prisoners are taken into custody," he ordered Faramir. With that he ran from the room, calling for more guards to join him.
Aragorn drew his sword when he reached his apartments. "Wait there," he ordered the guards. He flung the door wide and hastened within calling his wife's name loudly.
"Whatever is the matter Estel?" Arwen appeared from her private sitting room.
"Where is the ambassador's wife?" Aragorn demanded.
"Lady Adiva? She is resting. The poor woman should never have undertaken so long a journey in her condition, but she was eager to come her. She is interested in horses and is looking forward to seeing those of Rohan and Gondor."
"Her condition? She may not be with child at all, but instead be concealing weapons."
"What nonsense, Estel! She permitted me to feel the baby kicking as well as Dame Ivorwen from the Houses. She was curious about my Elven abilities and I was able to tell she was carrying a strong healthy child who was eager to be born. Whatever is all this about? You will frighten the poor lady bursting in like this!"
"She might well be frightened," Aragorn said grimly. "Her husband and his companions were planning to murder me!"
"My husband is no assassin!" A foreign sounding voice called.
Aragorn gripped his sword hilt tighter as its owner appeared, an olive skinned woman who waddled across the room in great agitation.
"What have you done with my husband?" the woman asked. "Who are you?"
"I am the King," Aragorn replied. "Your husband is under arrest, my lady."
The woman gave a cry in her own language and sank senseless to the ground.
Aragorn bent over her, looking concerned. Dame Ivorwen, together with a woman who appeared to be Lady Adiva's maid, came running at the sound of her cry. The maid, oblivious as to who Aragorn was, started screaming curses at him in her native tongue. Dame Ivorwen tried vainly to calm her.
"She has fainted," said Aragorn. He scooped the woman up and carried her to the couch in Arwen's solar. While the other women fussed around her, she opened her eyes and groaned loudly. Aragorn took Arwen to one side and explained to her all that happened.
The Queen listened gravely, her eyes wide with horror.
"It was when the so called ambassador mentioned his wife that I feared you might be in danger," he explained. I shall send the woman and her children back to Harad."
Dame Ivorwen approached them looking grave. " I believe the Ambassador's wife might be about to give birth, my lord, my lady, though I would need to examine her properly to be certain," she said. "She has started to have strong contractions."
"I will bid the guards carry her on a litter to the Houses of Healing," said Aragorn.
"Your pardon, sire, but I do not think she should be moved, "said Dame Ivorwen. "I doubt she could reach the Houses in time and the journey would be most unpleasant for the poor lady."
"She shall stay here of course," said Arwen before her husband could answer. Her tone permitted no argument.
"I must return to the prisoners," said Aragorn. "My guards will remain in case of any threat to you."
"Well, they can wait outside," Arwen said firmly. "Whatever her husband might have done, Lady Adiva deserves some privacy for the birth."
"I ask you only to be careful," said Aragorn as he took his leave.
Arwen returned to the solar where Lady Adiva lay on the couch .She was trembling.
"There is no need to be afraid," Arwen said kindly. "Your baby will soon be with you."
"Then what will become of us?" cried Lady Adiva. "I be shamed before my husband ere we die, and my precious jewels enslaved! My lord never hurt yours!"
Arwen grasped the woman's hand. "The King would never abuse women and children thus, and your husband will be given a fair hearing. I place you and your children under my personal protection."
"You are most gracious, esteemed Lady Arwen." Lady Adiva managed a faint smile.
Meanwhile Faramir had personally searched the ambassador in deference to his rank and found no weapons on him. Neither had the guards found any further weapons on members of his entourage. Faramir told the guards to take the two would be assassins to prison, but felt loth to send the others there until he had consulted with the King.
He now sat with Tahir in an anteroom near the reception hall. A guard was stationed outside, but the two were alone together. "I desire peace, I would not harm your esteemed Lord King," said Tahir yet again. He was less agitated now and was again speaking fluent Westron.
"For my part, I sense no deception in you," said Faramir. "But if you desire peace, why bring two companions who would rob Gondor of her lord?"
"I chose them not, exalted Lord Steward" said Tahir. "The Great Khan commanded I bring fourteen companions, two from each of our seven great tribes. I come from the tribe of Fatin, as does my fair blossom. Those contemptible sons of dogs are born of the Suhayb tribe. Maybe their leader want war within our lands as well as your esteemed lord's kingdom?"
"I see," said Faramir thoughtfully. He knew all too well that there were rival factions within Gondor. Maybe the same was true of Harad? They still knew very little about their former enemies. When the Dark Lord had been overthrown, there had been a rebellion in Harad and the ruling Khan had been slaughtered and replaced with one of his former captains. It was with this new leader that a treaty had been signed. "What tribe was your former leader from?" Faramir asked.
"The accursed sons of Suhayb," Tahir replied.
"And the Lord who rules Harad now?"
"He is of my tribe, his father's uncle and my father, may their souls dwell forever in the shade of the oasis, were brothers, most esteemed Lord Faramir."
"I see," said Faramir. Everything suddenly began to make sense. "Unless the King decrees otherwise," he said, "I place you under house arrest until we ascertain the full truth of this matter. I believe you to be innocent of plotting against the King, but I will take no chances with my lord's well well-being."
"Nor should you, esteemed lord," said Tahir. "May the sun's rays never burn you."
A few hours later, Lady Adiva was sitting propped up in bed in a guest chamber in the royal apartments, clutching her tiny newborn daughter. The baby was a little early, but strong and healthy.
"She is beautiful," said Arwen.
"You have been most kind, gracious Lady Arwen," said Adiva. "Alas, that she will grow up fatherless!"
Just then a servant tapped on the door, "The Ambassador asks if he might see his wife?" she said. "The King has released him in order to visit his wife."
"Let him enter," said Arwen.
"How is my fair flower, esteemed Lady Queen?" asked the Ambassador as soon as he was allowed through the door.
"She is well," said Arwen bristling slightly at the man. She had heard that the men of Harad were unloving husbands who treated their womenfolk worse than their beasts.
"And the child?"
"You have a daughter," Arwen sounded rather defensive. "A fair and healthy child whom you can be proud of."
"A daughter!" Long have a desired you a priceless treasure, exalted lady, but I am glad I was not granted such until the days of peace where she can flourish and blossom as she ought."
"Tahir!" cried Lady Adiva at the sound of her husband's voice. Arwen turned to look at her and perceived tears of joy were running down the lady's cheeks.
"My dear love, fairest of flowers! All is well. The exalted Lord Elessar believes my innocence. I shall gift you the finest mare to be found in this land!" Tahir ran towards his wife.
Arwen retreated to the far side of the room and gazed out of the window for a few minutes while the couple were reunited and chattered in their own tongue.
"Esteemed Lady Arwen?" Adiva called after a few minutes.
Arwen returned to the bedside. Tahir bowed low to her. "My fair flower and I would consider it the highest of honours if you would choose a name for our child," he said.
"The honour is mine." Arwen studied the infant's features for a moment or two and then said. "I name her Elwing after my grandmother."
Lady Adiva beamed. "The name is pretty," she said. "May your grandmother always dwell by an oasis!"
Aragorn was trying to decipher an almost illegible document concerning levies on imported grain the next morning, when a knock on his study door interrupted him.
"Come in!" he called.
Faramir entered and bowed low. "I have completed the report you requested concerning yesterday's incident," he said.
"I have not yet had a chance to properly express my gratitude," said Aragorn standing up and warmly clasping Faramir's hands. "You saved my life yesterday with your quick thinking. I am in your debt."
"It is my pleasure to be of service, sire," said Faramir colouring slightly at the King's praise.
"One thing surprises me," said Aragorn. "How did you know the words used in Harad for things like "dagger" and "blood"? I taught you formal courtly greetings, which are not remotely bloodthirsty!"
"I have poor Utbar in the Houses of Healing to thank for the knowledge," said Faramir. "He was none too happy at being asked to talk to me and delighted in telling me in gory detail what he would like to do to his enemies if his limbs were sound. I could only pity the young man. He cannot have seen more than twenty spring times and now he can never walk beneath the trees nor embrace a sweetheart."
"I shall see he is well provided for rather than expecting the Ambassador to pay for his care," said Aragorn. "The young man has unwittingly done great service to Gondor."
"I intend to continue visiting him," said Faramir. "By my third visit he ceased to curse and was, I believe grateful for someone to converse with, even a former enemy. I am so grateful that you taught me the tongue of Harad, my lord, it has proved most useful."
"You are a pleasure to teach," said Aragorn and this time he meant it from the bottom of his heart. What did it matter if a pupil surpassed their teacher? Lore and learning were treasures that should be shared.