Eldarion and Elboron had been friends for a while now. They had played together in childhood, spared together as adolescents and now smoked in silence with their thoughts on other things. “My lord, why did your father forbid us to go to war? We are grown men, worthy of this right.”
Eldarion sighed. He had been afraid it would come to this, but now that it had he could find no answer. “I know now, my friend. On a lighter note, have I not told you time and time again not to call me lord?”
“You have, my lord, but I never promised to listen.”
At that moment, Celewen came walking through the garden. “Mother will not be pleased if she finds you smoking in this place.”
“Nay, sister, she will not.” Eldarion replied. “But who said that she would find us out?”
While Eldarion was speaking, Elboron had automatically risen to his feet for the Princess. Celewen motioned him down. “Dost thou forget that thee hast married my sister? Ye need stand for the Telcontari no longer.”
Faramir’s son sat, chuckling softly at the truth of that statement. “Aye, but old habits die hard, my lady.”
“You will learn, Elboron.” She smiled. “I am close to envy of my sister that she has found you.”
“Be glad for Ariwen, my dear.” Eldarion broke in.
She turned on her brother. “And how did you earn the right to give out councils meant to come from the mouths of the wise?”
He shrugged unconcernedly. “I married a fair maid of Ithilien by the name of Thorwen. That is enough to give the right to any man.”
“Do not jest in these dark times, brother. `Tis unsavory to the ears.”
“But the times of darkness shall end soon.” Elboron whispered.
“And how wouldst thou know such a thing?” A weeping Ariwen invaded their peace.
Elboron rushed to her side. “What troubles thee, my love?”
“A messenger”, she cried, “from the cavalry party. They have been ambushed by Easterlings.”
The two Princes immediately stood straight, dark expressions upon their faces. “How many survivors?” Eldarion fired his question at her.
“It is not known who survives nor how many. The messenger left to get word to us as soon as the battle started.”
“I shall go.” Eldarion announced. “I will take but a small escort of a score and a half, one meant for stealth.”
“Brother, be not rash!” His sisters’ pleaded.
Elboron, however, stayed the women. “Fear not for your brother, or me. For I shall accompany him.”
“You shall not!” Gondor’s heir snapped.
“I have a duty to this country as much as you do, my lord, and more so I have a duty to you. I shall not allow you to go with but thirty soldiers and no second-in-command.”
“You shall allow me to do so, Elboron. You will also stay here in Minas Tirith. I will command you to do so, if I must, as much as my heart warns me against it.”
“Then you should listen to your heart, my lord. I refuse to sit here idle while you risk your neck for our fathers.”
“Then command you I shall.” Eldarion thundered. By now, the sisters had backed away, wisely leaving this war of words to the men.
Elboron stiffened. He had sworn an oath of loyalty. If he was commanded to stay, there was nothing he could do about it. “My lord, command me not to peace and idleness.” He begged, moving to kneel at his future King’s feet.
Eldarion looked upon the man before him with pity. “Rise, friend. You shall come with me if ye wish, though I would it were not so.”
Ariwen then approached. “Mother will have no hardship holding the sceptre over Gondor. I can easily rule Ithilien, as well. My father has taught me well this art.”
Agreeing upon that with no thought of what Aragorn or Arwen might think of it, the two brother-in-laws rode off into the sunset to aid the cavalry of Gondor and Rohan.