"Majesty Without Pride" (One-shot; feedback appreciated!)

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"Majesty Without Pride" (One-shot; feedback apprec

Postby geek_chick » Fri Jan 26, 2007 11:18 pm

Normally my husband is my beta-reader, but he has been super-busy with work and night classes lately! So I was hoping some of the wonderful people on this site could help me out and give me a little feedback on this story :) I would appreciate not only opinions and suggestions, but also pointing out any typos you find -- I am notorious for omitting whole words and not even realizing it no matter how many times I proofread, and sometimes I make other mistakes that are not caught by spell check. I'm also worried that the story starts out a little too slow...

Thanks in advance! :)


Notes and Disclaimer: This story is based on Tolkien's story "Disaster of the Gladden Fields" in the book Unfinished Tales. The dialogue between Isildur and Elendur is taken word-for-word from "Gladden Fields", and some details about the battle also comes from "Gladden Fields." I also used the birthdates for Isildur's sons given in HOME XII. The rest is simply my interpretation and speculation.


Majesty without Pride

"It is said that in later days those (such as Elrond) whose memories recalled him [Elendur] were struck by the great likeness to him, in body and mind, of King Elessar, the victor in the War of the Ring, in which both the Ring and Sauron were ended forever. Elessar was according to the records of the Dunedain the descendant in the thirty-eighth degree of Elendur's brother Valandil. So long it was before he was avenged."

- Author's Note to "Disaster of the Gladden Fields"


I know that I am not going to live to see the morning.

Many of the Dunedain who fight by my side know this as well, and I can sense their fear though I do not share in it. I simply continue to fight, hewing down Orc after Orc with little thought, shouting encouragements and strategies to my men so they might forget their fear and fight on.

I understand their fear. Men are afraid of the unknown, and ever since our ancestors ventured into Beleriand thousands of years ago, first Melkor, then Sauron, have fed their trepidation with subtle untruths that slowly took root in the hearts of men over the generations. My father has always taught me that death is the Gift of Man, and I have always believed him, yet so many now believe that death is the Doom of Man. The fate of the Elves is known; but always has the fate of Men been a debate.

Yet how can this debate still continue? Many of the men who fight beside me this evening survived Numenor's fall; the rest are sons and kin of those who did. Have they already forgotten that the Change of the World was brought about because Men rejected Eru's gift? Despite his judgment, Eru has not forsaken us: just as the Elves are granted happiness and reunion with their loved ones after life, so shall Men experience the same joy. Never have I doubted this.

Neither is tonight the first night that I have faced death. I have fought in many battles over the years, always with my father by my side. I have always known that death was a possibility, but it troubled me little, for I knew that if I died it would be in glorious battle against the Dark Lord Sauron and my death would not be without cause. Together, my father and I held off attacks from Mordor for a century while he and his brother ruled in Gondor. I fought in the Battle of the Dagorlad, the greatest and most terrible war of the Second Age. The Seige of Barad-dur was long and hard, and during those seven years many close to me fell: my uncle, the fair Anarion; my grandfather, the great Elendil; and countless numbers of men under my command. Yet never did I fear, and when my father defeated the Dark Lord himself, I knew that Sauron's long persecution of the Dunedain was over and surely only prosperity and happiness would be in our future.

I was wrong.

Tonight we have seen that the Dark Lord's will lives on, for tonight his servants have been moved by a force stronger than their individual wills combined. My father saw this when our enemy did not retreat after the first attack, but persevered and fought on with intelligence and planning such that we had not seen since the fateful Siege. So much did Father fear the fate of this battle that as soon as the second attack began, he gave the shards of the great Narsil and its sheath to his esquire Ohtar, and commanded him to abandon the battle and take his burden straight to Imladris.

It was at that moment that I knew I would not survive the night.

"Lord Elendur! Behind you!"

My esquire Estelmo shouts my name and I turn to see an Orc rushing toward me, his jagged black sword lifted above his head, prepared to bring it down upon mine. I hold my shield to deflect his blow and the force jars my entire body. Yet I do not stumble and I plunge my sword into neck, and he falls ere he can raise his sword against me a second time. I then see three more Orcs approaching me, intending to overwhelm me with their numbers and calculating attack.

It was that same calculation that killed my two brothers tonight, just moments before -- or has it been hours? Battle seems to change the passage of time, to speed it up while one is fey with battle-lust; to slow it down while one experiences defeat or witnesses his friend fall. A pack of Orcs drug my brother Ciryon from the battle and slaughtered him, without thought to the number of their own who were killed in the process. My brother Aratan would not be stayed, and ran to save that brother who was dearest to him: yet it was not to be, and the same Orcs that murdered Ciryon wounded Aratan to the death. Aratan is not dead yet, but I know he will soon be. I had run to his side after the attack. I had laid my hand on Ciryon's body, then on Aratan. Aratan could barely speak for his wounds, but he had whispered for me to return to the battle: we had both known that his fate was imminent, and there was nothing I could do. With tears in my eyes, I had abandoned my dying brother and returned to the battlefield.

The three Orcs reach me, though not at exactly the same time, and that proves to be their downfall. I raise my shield once again. I duck to avoid a blow from above, and with my sword I hew the feet off one of my attackers and he falls backwards. Black blood splatters on my own legs but I do not notice, for I am already covered in Orc blood and filth.

I was never as close to Aratan and Ciryon as perhaps I should have been, and now that they are gone, I regret it. I was fifty years old when Aratan was born, well my past my coming of age. I had seen the splendor of Numenor ere its fall, but my brothers have known only these dreary shores of Middle-Earth. I had grown close to my father, being his only child for half of a century, and suddenly having a baby brother disrupt our family of three seemed strange to me. I still loved Aratan, yet my life changed little and I continued to spend my days with my father, for even at my young age I had already become his closest confidant in matters of the court. Thus when Ciryon was born, my two brothers soon bonded, and Aratan spent nearly as much time caring for his younger brother as our mother. During the Seige of Barad-dur, my younger brothers stayed in Minas Ithil, defending the pass of Cirith Duath for seven long years, alone with a group of men under their command. I was only reunited with them two years ago, at the end of the seige.

And now they are gone.

There are now two Orcs left. They know they cannot drag me off like my brother; they must fight me here or wait for their comrades to help them. I will not allow them the time to wait. One of the Orcs wears only leather armor -- it is a smaller Orc, from the mountains -- and while I jump away from the larger Orc's attack, my sword pierces the leather with ease and the mountain goblin falls.

Though I do not fear, I still do not want to die here, alone in the wilderness. If I had died in the Battle of the Dagorlad, or during the Seige, or even during the skirmishes with the Orcs on the border of Gondor in the years before, then at least I would have known that my death had been for good: that I had died defending my people. It seems almost ironic to survive years of battle against the Dark Lord, only to die in an ambush by his masterless servants after his defeat. There will be no glory in my death tonight.

Yet what of my brothers -- did not they suffer that very fate? Why should I wish for a more glorious death than they? I have done nothing to deserve it. So I shall fight on, to honor my brothers' deaths by dying by their side.

Now only Father is left to fight beside me, yet even he is not here, but on the opposite side of the battlefield. My grandfather, uncle, and brothers have fallen. My mother and youngest brother are far away in Imladris, and I know that I will not see them again. It grieves me; little Valandil was only three years old when I left for war a decade ago. I wonder what kind of child that baby has become, and what kind of man he will be -- and what kind of King he will be, for he will succeed my father, not me.

One Orc remains. This one is more skilled than the others, and we exchange several blows, my bright silver sword clanging against his black scimitar. Yet I am the superior swordsman, and it is not long ere I twist the scimitar from his hands, then with one long stroke I cleave his head from his body.

I wipe the black, sticky blood from my eyes and glance around. No more Orcs dare to attack me now, though all of the other Dunedain on this side of the battle are struggling to hold off the attack. I turn to the east, and I see the light of the Elendilmir shining bright in the dark. The attack on the east side is the strongest, and I see that even with my father's leadership, the Dunedain will not prevail against the unnerving cunning and skill of these Orcs.

I know the source of this cunning. My father knows it too.

It is the One Ring: Sauron's great weapon, which my father cut from the Dark Lord's finger at his defeat. I alone of my father's commanders know that the Ring is not simply a trinket of war: in fact, not even Aratan and Ciryon knew the true nature of the golden ring my father has worn around his neck for the past two years. I have read the fiery words on the ring, and though I understood them not, they chilled my heart despite the flames. I alone know how the ring torments my father, and how the scar on his hand from the day he first touched it still pains him, even though he has not admitted it.

Earlier this day, Father already admitted that he cannot use the Ring to bend the will of Sauron's servants. Our own strength in battle is all that aids us this night. Thus we have fought on, even though my father and I both know it will do little good. My brothers have already fallen; will my father and I fall next?

Suddenly, I know what must be done.

I run to my father, confident that my men can hold the western front for at least a few moments more. Estelmo follows me, but I pay him little heed, my mind bent on my task. I may not survive this battle, but my father must. Without a thought I run straight toward the Elendilmir's light, and rest my hand on my father's shoulder.

Father spins around with his sword drawn and a fire in his eyes. I jump back, still alert from the battle, and realize my folly in approaching him from behind without speaking first. Yet my father instantly recognizes me and lowers his sword, though he does not apologize.

My father knows what he must do, yet I also know that he cannot bring himself to leave me and his men to fulfill his task. Thus I address my father with a title that I know he cannot ignore. "My King, Ciryon is dead and Aratan is dying." It pains me to tell him the fate of his sons so callously, yet I know that time cannot be wasted on extra words. "Your last commander must advise nay command you, as you commanded Ohtar. Go! Take your burden, and at all costs bring it to the Keepers: even at the cost of abandoning your men and me!"

My father looks at me with understanding in his eyes, and a deep sorrow. "King's son," he says. "I knew that I must do so; but I feared the pain. Nor could I go without your leave. Forgive me, and my pride that has brought you to this doom."

My heart nearly breaks to see my father's pain -- not just the pain of his burden, but the pain of leaving his sons to die on the battlefield, while he, King and commander of us all, flies to safety. Yet what strikes me the most is his admission of his pride and the destruction that it has brought: we both know that it was his pride that prevented him from destroying the Ring at Mount Doom as the Lords Cirdan and Elrond urged him, and that if he had destroyed the evil thing on that fateful day, we would not be dying in this battle now.

Suddenly my mind leaps unbidden to a memory of my childhood. I was perhaps twelve or thirteen -- I do not remember exactly -- and my father was giving me sword fighting lessons on a hill near our home in Romenna, overlooking the sea. Though I had been receiving such lessons for at least a year, we still used wooden swords. It was our second practice match of the day: I had won the first, and I suspected that it was the first such match that my father did not let me win. My suspicions were confirmed as our second fight went on, for my father fought harder and faster than he ever had before, determined to best the child who had beaten him at his own game. At my young age I took a perverse joy in seeing my father so, and I fought with a determination nearly equal to his.

Our wooden swords cracked with blow after blow, and we continued to move faster, jumping away to avoid an attack, then darting back towards our opponent with a new attack of our own. We were so absorbed in the fight than neither noticed how close we had moved to the edge of the hill. As I dodged a particularly fast swing from my father's sword, I suddenly slipped on a patch of mud from a recent summer rain, and fell and rolled down the hill.

The hill was not tall and my fall was broken by the soft sand on the beach below, but the slope was steep and several sharp rocks tore my light tunic and leggings. When I hit the bottom I looked up to see my father already leaping down the hillside, and when he reached me he knelt beside me, hovering his hand over a cut on my arm that was already bleeding. Yet it was the look in his eyes at that moment that I remember the most: his childish pride was gone and in its place was only sorrow and apology, for he knew that it was his pride that had given me my injuries.

That same look is in his eyes now, yet the sorrow is only deeper. I know that his words are sincere, and I fight back tears as I nod and accept his apology. I long to tell him that I understand his plight and I am thankful for his confession -- even though I know that my father has caused the deaths of my brothers and many valiant Dunedain on this night, I cannot blame him after looking into his eyes. I see now that my father has spent the last two years fighting a great battle with the will of Sauron, which is surely bound to the Ring that still calls to his dark servants, yet it took this moment for Father to realize his weakness. Every man has his faults, and I am simply glad to see that my father recognized his before the end, despite the terrible cost that brought him to this place.

All of these thoughts rush through my mind in just an instant. I wish I could tell my father all of what I am thinking, but we know that there is no time for a long parting, and I suspect he already knows that I have forgiven him. Thus I simply lean forward and kiss him farewell, then urge him on: "Go! Go now!" And may the Valar protect you, I add in my thoughts.

My father gives me one last look then turns to the west, from where I had just come, and where the battle is the lightest. He draws the ring from the wallet around his neck and places it on his finger. I hear him shout out in pain -- does the ring burn his hand again? -- and then he vanishes. The light of the Elendilmir suddenly turns red, shining alone in the dark, and I turn away, so much does it remind me of the vigilant Red Eye painted on the shields and armor of the Orcs of Mordor. Even our enemy fears the light, and Orcs and men alike step away, their strife forgotten for a brief instant. Then suddenly the light is extinguished, and all is black. Never am I to see my father again.

I am alone.

Yet I must continue to fight, for we must keep the Orcs engaged in battle as long as possible, to keep them occupied here while my father secretly flies to the North. I suddenly see that there has been a purpose to this night, and that I and my brothers will not die in vain. This battle has shown my father that he has no strength over the great One Ring. My brother's deaths urged Father onto the right path, and my death in battle will give him safe passage on his journey. For if my father succeeds in his task, I know that many lives will be saved that would otherwise have been lost to the evil of the Ring.

"Earendil!" I let loose a loud cry and raise my sword to the stars, which have just appeared in the dusk. The Dunedain around me sense my new determination and join in with my battle cry. Together we shout "Earendil!" as the lust of battle comes upon us anew -- yet only I know the true nature of this battle and the reason for our renewed vigor. I swing my sword fiercely and quickly at any Orc that approaches me, and none can stand against me long. A fire lights in the eyes of those around me as they see that their fears are only lingering influences of Sauron's lies. It seems that not even the descendants of Earendil are immune to the enemy's deception. I say a quick prayer -- more of a flash of thought rather than actual words -- that Valandil and his heirs do not fall victim to the same deceptions.

It is not long before I have sustained several injuries, my bright crimson blood mingling with the black Orc filth that already stains my armor. I know that I cannot maintain my speed for long. My mind then turns to the memories of all who have fallen to the evil of Sauron -- not just my family, but also the great Elven King Gil-Galad and many other Elves and Men of honor -- and finally I indulge myself in an anger such that I have never known. So many lives have been cut short by the evil of Sauron, so many lives that should have continued on and added to the beauty of Middle-Earth! My mind knows that I can never kill enough Orcs to avenge the deaths of those righteous souls, yet my anger gives strength to my tired, beaten body. I dive into battle to make my last stand before I too fall, one more lonely victim of Sauron's malice.

Yet still we are greatly outnumbered, and the Orcs know this. I can only fight so many at once, and it is not long before I am surrounded by at least a half-dozen Orcs. "Earendil!" I cry one last time as I hew the sword-arm off a large, lumbering goblin with a black scar where his left eye should be. Suddenly a searing pain pierces my insides and brings me to my knees.

I glance down to a see the tip of an Orcish scimitar protruding from my stomach just below my breastplate, ere it is ripped out by its bearer. I do not feel its next stroke, for my world turns white and the pain disappears. The light is warm and comforting, and I linger in the silver glow. My rage is washed away, as is my grief for my brothers' deaths and my worry for my father's fate. I am at peace. Finally, I raise my head and look forward.

Now I know why death is truly the Gift of Man.


"So perished Elendur, who should afterwards have been King, and as all foretold who knew him, his strength and wisdom, and his majesty without pride, one of the greatest, the fairest of the seed of Elendil, most like to his grandsire."

- "Disaster of the Gladden Fields", from Unfinished Tales



Cirith Duath: Former name of Cirth Ungol.
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Postby Edmund the Scholar » Tue May 15, 2007 6:32 am

I like this very much Geek_Chick! It has a good flow and feeling to it. It isn't overwhelming with details, yet conveys enough for me to feel as if i am there.

Nicely done.
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Postby Tack » Fri Jun 22, 2007 12:17 am

Yes, I enjoyed this very, very much! I didnt catch any typos, and it had a good flow. Good emotion, but I am curious as to whether it was suposed to be in past of present text. Like... here, i'll use this paragraph as an example,

"My esquire Estelmo shouts my name and I turn to see an Orc rushing toward me, his jagged black sword lifted above his head, prepared to bring it down upon mine. I hold my shield to deflect his blow and the force jars my entire body. Yet I do not stumble and I plunge my sword into neck, and he falls ere he can raise his sword against me a second time."

this is how I probably would have wrote it;

"My esquire Estelmo shouted my name and I turned to see an Orc rushing towards me, his jagged black sword lifted high above his head, prepared to bring it down upon mine. I held my sheild to deflect his blow, the force jarring my body; and despite this I did not stumble, but plunged my sword into his neck; my opponent destroyed."

I pretty much kept your words the same (except at the end where I re-worded a whole sentence), but do you understand what i mean by tenses? By changing "shouts" to "shouted" and "I hold me sheild" to "I held me sheild" it changes the narrative tone. Also, if you notice, i connected your three sentences and made them one large sentence (it is grammatically correct, I promise), which can also dramatically change the tone of a piece.

I'm not saying you did anything wrong, good lord no, the way you wrote it was fine, but I wanted to throw this out of the table for you to take a look at. And one last thing, I went to a fiction seminar, and what they told me was, whenever you are using an allegorous character (someone who was alive a long time ago, or someone else's character) and are using them as your own, use as familiar speech as possible. In this case, how Elendur is telling all ofthis in first person, you're goal as the author is to get the readers as attacted to Elendur as you possibly can so that at the end his death will be even more dramatic and moving. To do that, you have to make us bond with him, and the way he speaks to us in direct dialoge affects this. If there is even a hint of coldness of distance of formaility, we wont get all snuggly with him.

Alright, despite everything I said THIS IS GREAT! really, you did a wonderful job, and you should feel proud of yourself you conveyed yourself so well.
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