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Tales of the Telcontars (PG-13) Print

Written by Susana

19 September 2011 | 56124 words | Work in Progress

Title: Likely Lads
Series: Desperate Hours AU: Tales of the Telcontars
Author: Susana
Feedback: Please use the form below
Rating: PG-13
Warning: AU: Spanking. One oblique mention of a soldier with a fondness for underage kids.
Disclaimer: All characters and everything else belong to Tolkien, this is just written for fun.
Summary: Academy cadets Eldarion and Elboron can’t get in trouble just for following orders, right?
Beta: None.

Author’s note: This is set much later in the DH AU, when Eldarion and his nephew Elboron are cadets at the academy. Thanks go to FC, whose comment sparked the idea for this story.

Likely Lads

“When your father and my father told us that we need to learn to obey like any other cadet, I don’t think they had a forced march to dig ditches at Osgiliath in mind.” Elboron muttered quietly, not wanting the Sergeant with the gimlet eye to mark them again. He’d had enough of running laps during the column’s infrequent rest breaks. Elboron, at nearly thirteen, was a slender youth with reddish hair and his mother’s blue eyes.

Eldarion’s reply was the sardonic half-grin he’d learned from his brother Faramir, and his whisper was only loud enough for his nephew to hear. “Oh, I know, El. But, this particular honorable Captain is a sadist, and I’m relatively sure that this is going to be his last command for a while. At least, anywhere near Minas Tirith.” The heir to the throne grinned savagely as he lent his nephew a steadying hand when Elboron’s stride would have faltered. At just sixteen, the only son of Elessar Telcontar and his wife Arwen was a sturdy youth, gray eyed and dark haired like his parents.

Elboron sighed. He was by nature a more cautious lad than his uncle the Crown Prince, but Eldarion was right. This particular Captain was a near disaster as a trainer of soldiers. He had no particular place at the academy, but it seemed to be an instance of him having been promoted out of harm’s way by his superiors.

“Ada is going to be furious, ‘Darion.” Elboron pointed out softly.

“Fara is no problem.” Eldarion disagreed, with the special confidence of a younger brother who has had his elder brother wrapped ‘round his little finger since the day of his birth, approximately 35 years after Faramir’s.

Elboron sighed. His father’s difficult past and nightmares were not topics that his parents tended to discuss with their children, but Elboron was pretty sure that his and Eldarion’s following the questionably legal orders of a border-line abusive superior officer wasn’t going to go over well with the Steward of Gondor and Prince of Ithilien. Normally, Elboron would agree with his uncle Eldarion that his Ada was more inclined to look leniently upon the heir to Gondor and Arnor and the heir to Ithilien and the Stewardship risking possible harm to take a stand on a matter of principle, in comparison with Daerada Aragorn. But Elboron’s Ada had certain issues upon which he was very firm, and one of them was requiring his children to report on, rather than engage with, people in authority whom they perceived to be abusive.

“Be calm, Elboron.” His uncle soothed. “Ada and Fara cannot be too upset with us, later. We’re only obeying orders.”

Elboron stifled a nervous laugh. He desperately hoped Eldarion was right, but, with the certainty that came from being Finduilas’ grandson, he really didn’t think so.

The day had started out in a promising manner. It was the end of Eldarion’s fourth year and Elboron’s first at the academy, and all of the cadets were assisting in the preparation for Frodo Baggins day by planting new trees in the gardens of the first level of Minas Tirith. Prince Eldarion and Lord Elboron both enjoyed the academy, where they were treated mostly like any other cadets. Both had come well-prepared by their family, arms masters, and tutors for the physical and academic rigors of the academy, though both found it difficult to accede to the commands of their superior officers when they seemed less than the best way to get things done.

During a recent family dinner, Elboron had joined Eldarion in complaining about the need for those cadets who finished last on the obstacle course to have to run successive laps before beginning the course again, since this put them more behind their peers. Both of their fathers had exchanged amused looks, and had explained that developing greater endurance would, in time, help those struggling cadets. Eldarion had been prepared to let this instance of fatherly conspiracy go, but Elboron, truly Faramir’s son, had stubbornly persisted.

“I understand that, Ada, Daerada, but Captain Orchaldur takes such punishments to an extreme. The other captains also make slower cadets run additional laps, but Captain Orchaldur mocks them during their penalty run, and makes them run again until dusk. They are too tired to do well in their classes the next day.” Elboron explained.

“Hmm.” Faramir pondered. “Many officers believe that insulting youngsters motivates them, my son, or at least makes them immune to taunts later thrown by enemies of Gondor. Still, what you describe is perhaps excessive. I will discuss it with the Senior Captain in charge of cadets’ physical training, as soon as I have a chance.”

Aragorn, who was of the position that all of the Gondorian soldiers did not run enough, snorted. “Not tomorrow you won’t, ion-nin. Tomorrow you are promised to take your naneth and your wife to Imloth Melui to collect flowers for the Frodo Baggins Day celebration.”

“I thought it was your turn this year.” Faramir protested mildly, perceptive gray eyes trained on his father.

Aragorn smirked at his oldest son. “It is, but alas, the demands of Kingship. Elladan and Elrohir arrive tomorrow, as well as the architects from Annuminas. I must be here to review their plans.”

“Or you think I need a pleasant ride in the countryside. Its interesting that you’ve somehow evaded every trip to Imloth Melui since that one year we found out you were allergic to the pollen of those little blue flowers.” Faramir observed acutely.

“Or that.” The King agreed equably. “I’ll give your uncles and Master Gimli your greetings.”

“Gimli will be here?” Asked Aragorn’s younger daughter Gilwen with delight. All of the royal brood were fond of Gimli, with his penchant for telling interesting stories, not to mention the clever, dwarf-made toys he never failed to bring.

“He’s here every year for Frodo Day.” Eldarion pointed out gently. “But this year you are old enough to go with Nana and Éowyn to collect flowers.”

“I’d rather be planting trees with the cadets.” Faramir’s oldest daughter Theodwyn said with a laugh, “but Imloth Melui is beautiful, Gilwen. And it will be pleasant to get out of the city. I am happy that so many visit for Frodo Day, but it does make things crowded.”

Faramir met his wife’s eyes across the table, and both looked with sympathy upon their oldest child. Thea was the most like a young Éowyn out of all of their brood, though she more closely resembled Faramir’s aunt Ivriniel in appearance. This daughter of theirs was never happier than when riding a horse across the hills of Emyn Arnen at a full gallop, or further developing her sword skills with her mother or uncle Elrohir.

“Thea,” the Prince of Ithilien offered gently “If you would like, I see no reason why you cannot wear armor and sword, as your mother does, when we travel on the ‘morrow.”

Legolas, eyes sparkling with mischief, commented “After all, if the Prince of Ithilien is not surrounded by beautiful blond bodyguards, he does not know what to do with himself.”

“Beautiful blond bodyguards like you, uncle Las?” Thea asked sweetly, causing the rest of the table to break out in merriment, and Legolas to raise his glass in salute.

Aragorn, chuckling with the rest, added “No offense intended, Éowyn, Thea, but I believe Legolas is the most fair of all of Fara’s swordsmen.”

“I’m offended.” The Prince of Eryn Lasgalen protested mildly. “Doesn’t anyone care about that?”

“The twins shall return soon enough.” Faramir pointed out to his good friend and neighbor, “and then it shall be the three of you, picking on Estel and I again.”

“Not often.” Legolas pointed out, more serious now. “Your army’s scouts continue to report heightened orc activity along the border with what was once Mordor. Their numbers are dwindling, but those orcs who still persist in their old ways are no less pernicious. I believe the twins will be out at every possible opportunity, engaging in their second-favorite past-time.”

Knowing that his twin uncles’ most favorite leisure time activity while in Minas Tirith was baiting “our dear baby brother, the King,” Eldarion chuckled, and added, “Faramir, I must say I am glad that your sense of humor is not quite as strange as Elladan’s or Elrohir’s.”

Faramir quirked a grin at his own little brother, eyes gleaming in the way that suggested the new target was their father. “You are quite welcome, of course, ‘Darion, but I think it is more that our Adar was so much more annoying as a child than either you or I.”

“Thanks.” Aragorn said dryly. “And since you are in that mood, dear Faramir, I do not mind telling you that I am doubling the guard accompanying you and our ladies to Imloth Melui.”

“Good.” Faramir surprised his father by quickly agreeing. “Arwen, Éowyn and even Thea are as good as another guard each, but I don’t like to take any chances so near the anniversary of the Ring War, not with the reports of orc raids, and the younger girls along on the trip as well.”

The King chuckled. “I am relieved, Faramir. It would have been quite a shock to me, at my advanced age, to learn you were gaining an appreciation for your own safety at last. I am glad to know your concern is only for our ladies.”

“You’ve not had cause to complain of my exploits in years, Ada.” Faramir protested.

Eldarion grinned broadly. “That may be true enough, Fara, but I’m also not sure I ever thanked you for disappearing for six months back when I was a small child. After that, Ada’s threshold for “terrible things my children do to scare me” got a lot higher.”

Aragorn frowned at that memory, as Faramir gave his younger brother a mild glare, and scolded “That incident was over a decade ago, Eldarion. Be glad I don’t make as much of your mistakes.”

Shaking his head over his oldest son’s disastrous last mission as a spy, the King said firmly to his son and grandson. “We got off-topic, Eldarion, Elboron, but I do you want you to promise me you will both obey the orders you are given at the academy. You are Princes”

“‘Darion’s a Prince.” Elboron corrected. “I am but a Lord, because Mother didn’t want to be a Princess.”

The King shook his head at his only grandson’s propensity, inherited from oldest son, of making meaningless corrections during lectures. “Elboron, I do hope you are not such a stickler for details with your instructors.”

‘Darion interrupted, “He is not as bad as he was, Ada. What were you saying, about our responsibility as scions of your house?”

Faramir hid a grin. His younger brother was nearly as protective of Elboron as Boromir had once been of him, though fortunately, circumstances had not called upon Eldarion to be as fierce in his role.

Aragorn, more amused than offended at being managed by his offspring, at least on this minor point, sighed and continued “It is most important that the men you will someday lead see now, while you are young, that you respect the chain of command. If I hear that either of you are on report for failing to follow orders again, even if they are stupid orders, we will have an in-depth discussion about the matter. Is that understood?”

Eldarion and Elboron nodded, knowing what that meant, while Faramir objected, “Ada, honestly, I know you think I am too lenient on everyone in my charge, from my wife to my cats, but I am capable of disciplining my own son, if there is need.”

The table was quiet for a moment. This was Faramir’s firm voice, the one he hardly ever used, the one that made even his most bitter rivals on the Council decide to wait for another day to antagonize him. Eldarion, for one, was accustomed to his indulgent and loving older brother, but this was the tone of the Captain who had held Ithilien for a decade longer than anyone had thought might be possible.

Aragorn held up a hand in apology. “Peace, Faramir. I was merely trying to make a point.”

The family and friends of the King breathed a sigh of relief. True confrontations between Aragorn and his oldest son were extremely rare, but always memorable. The best thing to do, in the event of such conflict, was to hide, or, if that was not possible, be sure not to agree with either the King or the Steward, until they had reached some accommodation of their own. It never paid to get drawn in.

“So am I.” Faramir stated quietly, turning to look at his son and younger brother. “Dear ones, pick your battles. If you are ordered to do something which is not dangerous, but merely foolish and time-consuming, it is probably best to obey, as you would someday expect your soldiers to obey you, even though they cannot understand why you ask that a tree be felled, or a bridge destroyed. But if you are ordered to do something which strikes you as dangerous, or wrong, you have my permission, and I think our King’s, to disobey, and bring the matter to his attention. Am I mistaken, Ada?”

Aragorn had reached out with one hand to squeeze the shoulder of his oldest son supportively, before agreeing, “Aye, boys. Though I would hope that none of my officers would give such an order, Faramir is undoubtedly correct on that point.”

Remembering that discussion and the strange undertones at the end, Elboron tried again to get his uncle to reconsider their course of action, as Osgiliath came within sight. “Ah, Eldarion, I think us ending up here should be enough to see Captain Orchaldur posted somewhere unpleasant for a long time, if not the rest of his career. Perhaps we should attract the attention of one of the commanders of Osgiliath who is known to us, and let him deal with the situation from here.”

Eldarion shook his head stubbornly. “No, nephew. I have had quite enough of Captain Orchaldur’s bullying you and the younger boys. Your friends were not doing such a bad job of planting trees today, and it was supposed to be a fun excursion for the cadets, not an excuse for the Captain to take the slowest workers and force-march them to Osgiliath to help dig ditches in case there is flooding.”

Captain Orchaldur had made that statement when the fourth year and first year cadets had been sowing seeds in the same garden, after spending all morning complaining bitterly that all of Gondor was wasting time celebrating a hobbit’s having lost a piece of jewelry, instead of commemorating Gondor’s brave defense of Minas Tirith. Apparently, Orchaldur’s bitterness had resulted in his being ordered by the Captain in charge of the Academy to take a patrol of soldiers who had been written up for poor conduct to Osgiliath, to assist in preparation for the spring rains.

It was an unpleasant and boring task, when the alternative was drinking and celebrating in the city. It would not normally be a dangerous assignment, but the oddly bold behavior of the remaining orcs had caused the Senior Captain to advise Captain Orchaldur to take an additional patrol of soldiers with him to Osgiliath, not to assist with the digging, but to safeguard the soldiers who were so tasked. Orchaldur had declined to take this advice, both boys felt certain it was merely because he did not wish any of the officers to see him having earned this irksome duty.

Some of the younger cadets had been unable to completely stifle their amusement at their little-liked Captain’s comeuppance. Elboron and Eldarion had been blank-faced, for both had learned as young children how and when not to react. It had been a necessary lesson for the Crown Prince of the largest human kingdom, and for the Lord who was third in line for the throne.

Orchaldur had been furious at receiving a thinly-veiled reprimand from his commander in front of the cadets, and nearly incoherent with fury that the the little brats would dare to make fun of him. When Orchaldur attended the academy, back in the days of the Ring War, no one had coddled the cadets. Honestly, planting trees instead of running obstacles! So, to vent his displeasure, Orchaldur had commanded that the slowest two planters of trees from each of the cadet classes would accompany him to Osgiliath, and share in the punishment meted out to the soldiers who had disappointed the standards of Gondor’s army.

Upon hearing this, and seeing Orchadur’s mean gaze focused on the smallest boy in Elboron’s year, and the poor young man with a club foot in Eldarion’s, the Crown Prince had determined that it would be he who was most slow in planting trees. Since he was already ahead of most of his classmates, having assisted his mother and Legolas with gardening for years, Eldarion stopped planting trees by himself entirely, and began assisting his slowest class mates. Upon seeing the Crown Prince’s gambit, Elboron had rolled his eyes and followed suit. Eldarion wasn’t going to Osgiliath alone. Elboron had only one uncle, and he was quite fond of the older boy. The heir to Ithilien meant to still have one uncle at the end of the day, which he might not, if Eldarion’s strained patience snapped in front of Orchaldur.

Elboron did take a moment to point out, when his path crossed ‘Darion’s, that this was not one of the Crown Prince’s better-thought out plans. If, by some chance, Orchaldur and his lieutenant and other officers were dense enough not to realize who they were penalizing with a trip to Osgiliath, the King would be really, really angry. Neither youth was permitted to leave Minas Tirith without a guard, and were normally accompanied by guards even within the city, when they were not at the Academy.

‘Darion had shook his head stubbornly, and replied that his Ada had told them they were to obey orders like any other cadet. If it was permissible for Captain Orchaldur to send any cadet on a forced march to Osgiliath when there were marauding orcs about, it should be just as permissible to send cadet Eldarion.

Seeing this brief conversation, and having observed their earlier assistance of the slower boys in their years, Captain Orchaldur had played directly into Eldarion’s plan, such as it was.

“You two.” The disagreeable Captain had commanded, pointing at the boys. “You look like likely lads- you will accompany my patrol to Osgiliath. But first, you will run the length of this park a dozen times ‘ere your classmates finish. If you fall short, you will run at our first stop on the way.”

Fortunately, Eldarion and Elboron were well-liked, so the other cadets made sure to plant slowly enough that they finished their laps in good time, despite the possibility of Orchaldur’s rage falling on the other cadets as well. The Captain’s face twisted in rage as he realized the cadets were again mocking him, and he ordered that Cadets Darion and Elboron would run during the column’s first stop anyway, for talking while they were supposed to be planting.

“Ok.” Elboron agreed. “This fellow is one plank short of a ship.”

“So you won’t catch the attention of the guards at the gate, as you had threatened earlier?” Eldarion asked with a quick grin. “Help, we’re the princes, save us” would sound pretty foolish, anyway.”

“I won’t.” Elboron conceded. “If anyone ever deserved a tour of the White Mountains in winter, it’s this idiot.”

“Only if he’s lucky.” Eldarion countered. “There’s always the Ettenmoors, and the Wet Wang.”

Elboron stifled a chuckle at the thought of Captain Orchaldur sent off to man a garrison in the troll-infested Ettenmoors, or the Wet Wang marsh full of biting insects.

So, the Prince and the Lord-who-was-not-a-Prince joined a column of soldiers under report, on a forced march to Osgiliath. Policies in place for over a decade had established that a double-time march to Osgiliath was not appropriate for any solider or cadet under the age of twenty, except in times of active war.

Most of the soldiers marching to Osgiliath had been put on report for mild misbehavior, such as slovenly uniforms, or lateness. However, both boys, from their elven and Númenorean heritage, quickly realized that some members of the company really shouldn’t be soldiers of Gondor at all anymore, and tried to gravitate away from those individuals.

“Stay on this side of me, El.” ‘Darion ordered firmly. “That fellow likes your looks a bit too much.”

“Isn’t that kind of thing a court-martial offense?” His nephew Elboron asked, disturbed.

“Only if its proven.” One of the other soldiers, a youth named Dior, said with a grimace. “He’s a good liar, and a clever fiend, and has never actually been caught.”

“Hmm.” Commented ‘Darion, making mental plans to have the foul man transferred into the command of one of the Captains who had enough Númenorean blood to read deceit in a man’s eyes.

“‘Darion, one stupid stand a day, please.” Elboron pleaded, panting and winded as the column finally reached the bank of Osgiliath.

To Elboron’s relief, his uncle nodded, and both boys accepted shovels from the soldiers stationed at Osgiliath who had come out to meet Captain Orchaldur’s company. Eldarion managed to maneuver himself and his nephew so that they were in the same group with Dior and several other soldiers on report for having overslept, or been late to patrol, multiple days in a row, rather than any of the more hardened offenders.

“Hey, Captain.” One of the sergeants called out to Orchaldur. “The river’s already running a bit high from the afternoon’s rain, don’t know if its the best idea to have your lads out there today. Best to have them rest at the barracks this day, and get an early start on the morrow.”

“No, thank you, Sergeant.” Orchaldur replied coldly. “These malingerers shall finish their work today, and we will march back to Minas Tirith tonight. They will learn not to fall short of Gondor’s standards, I’ll warrant.”

The Sergeant politely kept his opinion of the advisability of that course of action to himself, but noting the presence of Eldarion and particularly Elboron, he pointed out, “Captain, they don’t look of age. Cadets and trainees oughtn’t be on one of these details, and especially not ones as small as them. They’re likely to get swept away.”

“Your opinion was not requested nor is it desired, Sergeant.” Captain Orchaldur dismissed, “Perhaps you would like to join us?”

“Nay, sir, Captain sir.” The sergeant denied, making a mental note to mention to the current commander of Osgiliath, Senior Captain Egalmoth, that this Captain was in direct contravention of Crown orders regarding the use of minors in the army.

Unfortunately for the company under Orchaldur’s command, Senior Captain Egalmoth had been called away to deal with an orc attack to the north. In order to get the company away more quickly, Orchaldur had ordered that no guard would be posted, despite the warnings they’d received from the Osgiliath garrison about the presence of orcs nearby. Instead all of the soldiers struggled on in the thick mud, digging an additional spill way for the flood waters which had already arrived.

“If we die.” Elboron threatened after the third time he had to help Eldarion swim out to pull in another soldier who had been sucked under by the treacherous eroding river bank, “I’m coming back to haunt you. And my Ada will haunt you as well, because NOT becoming your Ada’s first heir is a life-long goal of his.”

“You’re making too much of this.” Eldarion argued breathlessly, as he paused to stretch his aching arms, and move around the mud on his forehead. “A little hard work, some dirt, and a bit of swimming never hurt anyone. Why, Alphros would be in stitches if he saw his cousin complaining about such a small bit of swimming.”

“Alphros is insane, and you’re insane, and your Nana and I are the only sane ones in our entire family.” Elboron said firmly, before his gaze was caught by movement on the other bank of the river. “Orcs!” the young Lord cried as loudly as his exhausted lungs could manage, and the other soldiers took up the cry, dropping their shovels and scrambling up the banks for swords and bows.

Eldarion yanked Elboron up before him, practically shoving the younger boy up the bank to where they had left their weapons and armor. “Here,” the Prince directed, “Put your mail on while I cover us.”

Not wanting to waste time, Elboron obeyed, and then held his bow while Eldarion yanked on his mail shirt. Most of the other soldiers hadn’t bothered with armor, and some, including the foul man Eldarion had objected to, were actively fleeing. Captain Orchaldur, to his credit, was not retreating, but he had not expected the orcs. More, he had never commanded a force against such a large and aggressive group of orcs, and seemed incapable of doing anything but yelling curses at the retreating soldiers.

“Idiot.” Eldarion muttered, before grabbing a horn from the lieutenant and blowing the signal for a force under attack. Hearing the answering horns from the garrison was a welcome sound to those soldiers who had stayed, but Orchaldur merely glared at Eldarion, then struck the Prince down. “Did I give an order to signal for help, Cadet?” The Captain bellowed.

“With all due respect, Sir.” Eldarion said angrily, wiping blood away from a new cut on his cheek, “We should deal with the orcs first.”

Orchaldur growled, but his lieutenant had at last snapped out of his shock, and was ordering their bowmen to shoot at the orcs crossing the river as soon as they had the range. The orcs had assembled roughly hewn rafts, and might have drifted downriver to the patrol’s position without having been noticed if it had not been for Elboron’s keen eyes. Elboron and the soldier Dior helped Eldarion to his feet, and the three joined the archers. After an impossibly long but simultaneously short moment in time, the orcs were across the bank, and slipping on the same mud the soldiers had been cursing mere minutes earlier. Then they were in front of the patrol, and Elboron and Eldarion were facing the first real action of their military careers.

Eldarion was doing well enough, as he was tall and strong for his age, and expertly trained. Elboron fared well until he accidentally allowed an orcish blade to meet his full on instead of side-swiping, and lost his own sword to the superior force of his opponent. Dropping to his feet and rolling, the young Lord picked up an abandoned shovel and hacked at the back of his opponent’s knees. The orc fell, screaming, and Eldarion helped his nephew roll the foul creature down the bank, knocking over several of his comrades.

Then the horns of Gondor were calling, and Osgiliath’s garrison was present amongst them, driving the orcs back. One particularly ferocious creature screamed an orcish obscenity, and made to hack at the distracted Crown Prince with an axe. A knife bloomed in the orc’s throat before he could follow through with his swing, and the two boys pushed him down the bank to join his fellows. Eldarion had noted absently that the knife that had saved him bore the arms of Ithilien, but had not processed that information when he was roughly but carefully hefted onto a saddle. Looking up, he saw that his rescuer was his older brother, who looked fierce and strange. Turning his head frantically at Elboron’s yelp, he saw his nephew had been similarly hoisted onto the saddle of Captain Orohael, his brother Faramir’s primary guard.

Registering that his younger brother had no obvious wounds, Faramir handed him off to another royal guard, who blanched as he realized just who had been fighting orcs. Orohael and the guard who held Eldarion in front of him quickly moved to the rear of the action. Eldarion strained to see behind him, as his older brother dismounted and dove into the Anduin after an orc who was trying to take poor Dior with him across the river.

“Ah.” The Crown Prince objected faintly.

“Shut up, your highness.” Orohael growled.

Eldarion started again, “Faramir is, um, swimming.”

Looking behind him, Orohael swore fulsomely, then handed Elboron off to his mother, who was near the gates of Osgiliath with the other healers, preparing to receive the wounded.

“Elboron?” Lady Éowyn asked, confusion giving way to horror. “You’re supposed to be in Minas Tirith, with Eldarion.”

“Hi, Éowyn.” The Crown Prince said with a wince, not sure what else to say.

The Lady of Ithilien’s eyes widened further. “Captain?” She inquired of Orohael.

“I’ve no idea, my Lady.” The second-in-command of the King’s Guards said wearily. “But I think the boys should be safe enough here with you, and your husband seems determined to show he is still every bit as reckless as he was at the end of the Ring War.”

“Go.” Éowyn commanded. “I’ll take care of the boys.”

Oroahel nodded stiffly, and galloped back towards the conflict.

Éowyn called another healer over, and began looking over her brother-by-law as her assistant examined Elboron.

“Scrapes and bruises and a cut on your cheek, my love.” Éowyn said softly to Eldarion. “Otherwise you are fine, if terribly muddy. What on Arda are you two doing here?”

“Ah..” The Crown Prince extemporized.

“Just following orders, Nana.” Elboron put in, having received a similarly clean bill of health.

“I’m sure the whole story will be fascinating.” Éowyn said with a frown, quickly hugging both her son and brother-by-law, as the horns sounded the signal for the garrison to return, and the wounded began to come in.

Before the end of the day, Elboron, Eldarion, and Thea as well had seen all they ever wanted to see of the aftermath of battle. All three had helped Éowyn and the other healers with the wounded. The boys were relieved to see that Dior and several of the other injured soldiers they had spent the day with seemed likely to recover. Faramir, returning with Orohael after a meeting with Captain Egalmoth, directed his son and his brother to follow him.

Looking at his nephew in confusion, Eldarion obeyed. Elboron merely shook his head. He’d warned ‘Darion that this was not a good idea.

The two boys followed Faramir into one of the guest rooms in the Commander’s quarters. To their surprise, Faramir merely directed them to bathe, and then spoke with them quietly and soothingly of his own first experience fighting orcs, encouraging the boys to talk over their own horror and upset at the day’s events. Both felt much better for it, and for Faramir’s deep, musical voice reassuring them that they had done well.

“Aren’t you mad, Ada?” Elboron asked, clean and comfortable in clothing borrowed from the shortest of the royal guards, and happily tucked under one of his father’s arms, while his uncle was tucked under the other.

“That you fought orcs?” Faramir asked. “Not especially. I don’t see as you had any choice, by that point. What do you think I am upset about, ‘Darion, Elboron?”

“That we were in that situation in the first place.” The Crown Prince said quietly. “You told us we shouldn’t obey orders to do dangerous things, and we did. It was my fault, Fara, Elboron didn’t want to go.”

“Really?” The Prince of Ithilen observed, turning to Elboron. “If you thought following then-Captain Orchaldur’s orders was the wrong thing to do, my son, why didn’t you mention that to the guards at any one of the gates, or to any of the dozen or so of Ethiron’s men whom you recognized in between the garden where you were supposed to be, and the road leading to Osgiliath, where you both knew you were not to be without guards?”

“Because I was being stupid.” Elboron said softly.

“Not stupid.” His father disagreed. “But unwise, and reckless. It was not worth risking the lives of my brother and my son, to more firmly put a poor Captain in his place. No matter how small the risk.”

“Its not fair, Fara.” Eldarion objected. “If we had been any other cadets, we wouldn’t be in trouble for following orders.”

Elboron resisted the impulse to kick his uncle. Ada had been calming down before Eldarion attempted to talk them out of trouble.

“That’s a fascinating argument, little brother.” Faramir said softly. “Do not fret, you will have every opportunity to develop that theme, as you and Elboron will both be writing long, in-depth essays on how you could have better handled this situation.”

Eldarion made a face, still not recognizing their danger. “Ada is going to spank me for this, as well. Probably you, too, Fara. For diving into that river.”

His older brother chuckled. “I, little one, am a Senior Captain of Gondor, who made a strategic decision while discharging his duties. Whatever consequences I may face will be between myself and our father. You, on the other hand, are an underage cadet who had no business leaving the city. I’m going to spank you tomorrow morning, and I suspect Ada shall spank you again when we arrive in Minas Tirith.”

Eldarion’s jaw dropped. He could count on one hand the number of times his normally indulgent brother had spanked him. “But we have to ride back to the city tomorrow.” The Crown Prince objected.

“Then perhaps the unpleasant experience of riding a horse on a recently spanked bottom will teach you something.” Faramir commented quietly. “Elboron shall receive the same.”

The younger boy nodded, and cuddled closer to his father. He had known they would be punished, and probably more than once. The day’s events could have seen half of the male line of Telcontars dead, which would have been a disaster of epic proportions. It was more Captain Orchaldur’s fault than his or Eldarion’s, but one word from them to any of the soldiers in the city, or the Osgiliath garrison, could have prevented it. Faramir kissed the top of his son’s head gently.

“Can’t you punish us tonight, Fara?” Eldarion objected. “Its cruel to make us wait until tomorrow.”

“You’re both in shock, brother.” Faramir said gently. “Today has been too long a day for such chastisement. Also, though I am proud of you two for having handled yourselves well in the engagement, I am too angry at nearly having lost you both.”

“If you’re angry, maybe you should wait until we get back to Minas Tirith.” Eldarion offered helpfully.

Elboron rolled his eyes, and then did smack his uncle’s knee. “Stop talking, ‘Darion. You’re only making things worse.”

“Listen to your nephew.” Faramir advised, before chivvying the two boys to join the rest of the garrison for dinner.

The next morning after breakfast, Eldarion and Elboron unhappily followed Faramir back to the guest room they had slept in.

“Since you both know why you are here, we will not belabor the explanations again. Elboron, come here.” Faramir directed, guiding his son over his lap, and baring the boy’s bottom. Eldarion could only watch in distress as his brother, who had always been the most easy-going of his older relations, spanked his nephew’s rear until it was quite red, then finished the chastisement with a dozen or so firm swats with a wooden spoon. Then Faramir helped his sniffling son to rise and straighten his clothing, and embraced him gently. “Sorry, Ada.” Elboron whispered fiercely. “I am so sorry.”

“You are forgiven, child.” Faramir soothed. “Though you are not, as yet, done paying for this excursion.”

Elboron nodded, having known that was the case. “May I be excused, Ada?” He asked hopefully, not wanting to witness Eldarion’s spanking, though he was still rather annoyed with his uncle.

“Yes, if you wish.” Faramir permitted. “Go no further than the hall where your sister waits. The guards have enough assistance saddling the mounts, and your mother is likely not done berating the garrison for the sorry state of the stables.”

Elboron nodded and left, pausing to squeeze his uncle’s hand in support.

“Eldarion?” Faramir queried, confused at his brother’s hesitation.

“Why did you make me witness Elboron’s punishment?” The Crown Prince asked, already near tears, more from the previous day than the past few moments, or even what awaited him.

“Because he got into trouble following you, little brother.” Faramir explained gently. “And though I am proud and grateful for how ably you defended yourself and Elboron, it could have been much worse, for the both of you. Now come, that we may begin to see this matter dealt with.”

“Ada has never spanked me more than once.” Eldarion objected. “How do I know that he would approve of you doing so?”

“Lucky you.” Observed Faramir wryly. “Trust me, Ada will not disapprove.”

Sighing, the heir to the throne loosened his leggings and laid himself down over his older brother’s lap, nodding as Faramir asked if he were ready. Eldarion wasn’t sure one was ever ready for a spanking the likes of the one he’d just seen Elboron get, and he suspected his would be worse.

As soon as the first swat landed, Eldarion knew he had been right. “Fara!” He squawked indignantly, “Elboron only got the spoon at the end!”

Faramir spanked him firmly with the spoon again. “And you are older, and should know better.” His brother pointed out, settling into a steady of rhythm of six swats covering the entirety of his baby brother’s backside. After what seemed to Eldarion an eternity, Faramir put aside the spoon, and continued spanking with just his hand, which by that point was more than enough to bring Eldarion to tears. The Prince didn’t even notice when the spanking stopped, although he gladly accepted the comfort his brother offered, and even managed to chuckle a little at Faramir’s offer to tell him later of the worst ride his brother had ever experienced, after a very stupid duel on the way back from the funeral of Théoden King of Rohan.

Eldarion and Elboron suffered a very uncomfortable ride back to Minas Tirith, despite the several breaks Faramir called for the party to “stretch their legs.” Theodwyn shook her blond head at them, and remarked that they were lucky it had been Faramir, and not Aragorn, who had taken the royal ladies to gather flowers, and been diverted by the reports of orcs, sending his Naneth the Queen and the younger royal ladies back to Minas Tirith. Eldarion met his nephew Elboron’s eyes, and shook his head. He now knew that Elboron had been right; Faramir was not the most lenient of their two Adas. Not when it came to failing to obey an order to disobey dangerous orders.

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6 Comment(s)

NB: Comments span all chapters and may contain spoilers!

Oh these are wonderful. Eldarion is such an astute child :)

— Maria    14 October 2010, 02:28    #

A very interesting beginning. I look forward to reading more!

— Ria    14 October 2010, 04:05    #

I love these father-son moments, they’re so perfect and heartwarming.

— Anna    20 December 2010, 18:55    #

Just lovely!

— Linda    11 January 2011, 10:58    #

This is so lovely to read! It’s light and bright and makes me smile or chuckle during reading. Very enjoyable, I hope you update soon.


— Aneyrin    2 February 2011, 16:56    #

Cute, cute, cute story.
Thank you for sharing it with us.

— lille mermeid    16 May 2011, 16:50    #

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