Ten Thousand Years
Will Not Suffice
Chapter 2: Third Age 2937
He had meant to give Denethor the horn on his sixth birthday, but after
last year's debacle with the bullfrog, Ecthelion decided that the child
was not yet ready. So, lo this past year, he spent changing
Denethor's life. He took him out of the nursery suite and placed
him in a room alone. His sisters were quartered at one end of the
long hallway and Denethor's room was moved to the other end. He
forbade the sisters to let Denethor sneak into bed with them, a habit
they had allowed when the boy had nightmares. Morwen and Indis
were most distressed by this order, but there was no swaying their
father. It was so very hard for them to say no to their brother
when he came begging at their door. The boy's eyes filled with
tears on those nights. As they closed the door to him, they clung
to each other and sobbed. They were not even allowed to walk him
back to his room. The corridor was dark and always chilly.
The girls' hearts broke.
Ecthelion was adamant; his orders were not to be disobeyed. The
boy was to be Steward someday. Denethor was already a year behind
in the plan that Ecthelion had devised for his training. Nothing
could shake the foreboding in Ecthelion's heart. He must prepare
Gondor and, because of Turgon's refusal to listen to his fears, the
only choice he had was to prepare his son. His fear was that the
darkest of evils would befall Gondor in his son's lifetime; yet, he
hoped that, in Denethor's time, the King would return.
So Denethor had found the library and snuck books from it to read
during the long, lonely nights. At first, some of them were very
hard to understand, but he was of Númenórean blood and,
through much diligence, came to understand many things. After the
first few months and the discovery of the library, Denethor was not so
miserable. His favorite books were those of the sea-faring
captains of Gondor. Someone had taken the old manuscripts and
rewritten them to preserve them. He had found them and became
quickly enamored, reading, spellbound, the tales of their great
His favorite was of Captain Vëantur, under King Minardil.
The Captain's descriptions made him feel as though he were actually
sailing on the sea. He would close his eyes and imagine he could
feel the waves rocking the great ship, feel the wind blowing against
his body, the spray of water on his face. He would sit on his bed
and rock back and forth, imagining the bed his boat. He read of voyages
to the Gray Havens, the Elven dwelling and of Círdan, Shipwright
and Lord of Mithlond. He would stand on the escarpment, eyes
closed, imagination running from east to west, north to south.
In his mind, he rode with the great captain from the mouth of the
Anduin, the Great River, south to the Bay of Belfalas, then further
south to the port cities of Umbar and west to Dol Amroth and
Edhellond. He found maps that showed these great cities and
reveled in their names. He felt the captain's need to sail even
further west, but also felt the fear of doing such a thing.
Mayhap someday, when he was a great captain, he would sail west to
wherever it was that Captain Vëantur wanted to sail. Just
the thought of it made him catch his breath and the hairs on his arms
to stand up.
The captain wrote of strange creatures, half the size of men, whom he
called Pheriannath, Little People, who dwelt in hillsides and
meadows. He wrote of great towers far to the west built by
Elves. There were terrible encounters with Orc when they were
ambushed north of Mithlond. Then, Denethor found the tale of the
death of his captain; it was the last book he read of the sea-farers of
Ecthelion noted the change in Denethor and assumed that his son was
growing up due to his devices. So he began arrangements for the
first ceremony of many in preparation for Denethor's becoming
Steward. He dispatched riders with invitations to Fengel, King of
Rohan (Prince Thengel was already in Gondor's service), Prince
Angelimir of Dol Amroth, and various dignitaries from Lossarnach,
Lebennin, Lamedon and Gondor's other fiefdoms. He even invited
Curunír of the White Council.
At year's end, the guests started arriving; for three days, the
festivities ran. There was feasting and singing, dancing and
fireworks, along with sporting events and exhibitions of sword
fighting, archery and axe throwing. During one lull, Prince
Thengel took Ecthelion aside and asked him why the ceremony -- usually
performed at a son's tenth birthday -- should be performed at
Ecthelion, much as he loved Thengel, was curt. "There are things
you do not know, nor can you grasp. I have had a premonition -- I
must abide by it. Soon, all Gondorian males will begin military
training at the age of six, if my will prevails. My son will be
an example of the sacrifice that Gondor requires of its people.
Do not question me again."
At last, the time had come. At the end of the third day, Denethor
was summoned to the Citadel. He spent the morning with the
Captain of the Guard. He had brought with him his new garments
and the captain helped him dress. He first put on the long grey
shirt, then his hose, then the aketon, and his hauberk, and over that a
silk tunic and vambraces for his arms. Finally, over all, was the
black surcoat with the White Tree embroidered on the front. There
was no sword for him to wear yet. Another ceremony, much later,
would be held for the conferring of his first sword.
When he was dressed, he was led into the Great Hall. His
grandfather sat on the Steward's Chair and his father stood beside
him. As always, the Throne above the Chair was empty. The
Hall was filled with lords and ladies. Denethor was
frightened. He had never seen so many people in the Great Hall
and it seemed as if all eyes were upon him. For the last three
months, the Captain of the Guard had gone over the ceremony with
him. Denethor had spent all his nights remembering the words,
some of which were in the Sindarin tongue, but finally, he had the
ceremony memorized and the captain informed Ecthelion that all was
ready. But knowing the words and saying them in front of all these
people terrified him.
Drawing in a breath, he started to walk quickly towards the Chair and
his grandfather when, suddenly, his face grew red. He remembered
he was to walk slowly. What would his father say? He
remembered the count he was to use to time his steps. He slowed
his gait and counted - one...two...three...four,
one...two...three...four. He saw his father nod his
approval. He remembered to keep his head high, his eyes looking
forward and his back straight, but the mail shirt was heavy and the
Hall was very long for a seven year old. Once again he wished his
legs were longer. Sweat beaded upon his forehead, but he knew he
must not wipe it away. He bit his lip quickly to remind himself
that he must be strong. Many times his father had gone over how
very important this day was.
Finally, he reached the Steward's Chair. He bowed low to his
grandfather, then turned and bowed to his father. How stern he
looked. Had he done something wrong? The ceremony had
hardly started. Was something amiss with his attire? He did
not know what to do, so he turned back to Turgon, bent one knee and
looked into his grandfather's kindly face. The smile upon it
lifted his spirit.
How he loved his grandfather! There were so few times when they
could be together, but every moment was special. Even during this
last year of preparation, Turgon would find him and bring him sweets
and sit him upon his knee to tell him funny stories of strange
creatures called mûmakil and various sea animals like dolphins
and terrifying stories of Trolls and Orc. Denethor felt suddenly
unafraid; he was so very glad that it was to his grandfather that he
was to make this pledge and not to his father.
"In ages long past," Turgon began, "the great Steward Vorondil the
Hunter came upon a massive kine and slew it. He cut one of the
horns from the beast and brought it to the smithy where it was bound
and tipped with silver. Ancient runes were carved upon it.
Finally, it was hung on a baldric. And thus the Great Horn of
Gondor was made. Vorondil passed this horn on to his son.
Ever after have the Stewards of Gondor passed this horn down from one
generation to another, always to the firstborn son. Today, we
recall this event by the bequeathing of this first horn - a replica of
the Great Horn -- upon commencement of training of the Twenty-Sixth
Ruling Steward of Gondor."
He turned towards Denethor, his eyes twinkling with joy; his face held
still. "Do you accept this horn until it is replaced with the Great
"I do accept this horn," Denethor stated.
"Will you commence training for your duties as future Steward of
"I shall commence training for my duties to Gondor."
"Will you serve the king when he returns?"
"I shall gladly serve the king when he returns."
Turgon stood. "Let it be known that Denethor the Second, son of
Ecthelion, son of Turgon, of pure Númenórean blood, has
been deemed fit to train for his role as Steward of Gondor."
He turned again towards Denethor and said, "I pass this horn to you --
a replica of the Great Horn -- and bid you wear it at all times to
signify your allegiance to Gondor and to the return of the king.
The Great Horn and the title Steward of Gondor will be yours upon the
death of the reigning Steward."
"Aiya, Turgon! By
Oromë of the Valar, before whom this horn is holy, I, Denethor the
Second, swear to be faithful and true to Turgon, Son of Turin the
Second. To love all that he loves, and shun all that he shuns,
according to Gondor's law and according to Númenórean
principles and never, by will or by force, by word nor by work, do
ought of what is loathful to him; on condition that he keeps me as I am
willing to deserve. I now submit to him and chose his will."
Ecthelion was startled. What had Denethor said? He spoke in
the tongue of the Noldor; the entire oath was correct. But where
had he heard of Oromë? He turned towards the Captain of the
Guard who shook his head. He had said nothing to Denethor of the
great Hunter whose name meant 'Horn-blowing.'
His grandfather had continued the ceremony, not noticing the words of
Denethor. He brought Denethor to the table with the Steward's
Book upon it. Denethor wrote his name in the book and under it,
Turgon wrote his name and placed the Seal of the Stewards upon it.
He then placed his hands on Denethor's shoulders and turned him towards
those assembled. There was polite applause. The Steward sat
again in his chair. Ecthelion saluted him, hand to chest,
congratulating him. One by one the attending lords came forward
and did the same. Even the wizard came and congratulated
him. He did not use the Gondorian salute, but placed his hand on
Denethor's shoulder. Denethor was shaken by the power he felt
flowing from that hand. He quickly looked to the floor and
muttered his thanks.
At last, the time had come and he was allowed to leave the Hall.
He had never been so glad to leave a place. He found his friend,
Amdir, in the stables and they giggled and laughed about the people
from Dol Amroth and how very serious they were. They were amazed
at Fengel, King of Rohan. He did not look like a king at all.
"Do you suppose the King of Gondor, when he returns, will look like
that -- with fur all over him and smelling of horses?" Amdir
"I am not sure, Amdir, but I am very glad that Thengel does not smell
Denethor then told him about the wizard and how funny it felt when he
shook his hand. Amdir begged Denethor to stay away from
him. "Wizards are scary people," he said, "and it isn't good to
spend time with someone you cannot understand."
Denethor laughed. "I will remember that, Amdir, but now, let us
eat. I am starving!"
The story of the Horn - LOTR - JRRT
Oath paraphrased from one on dragonbear.com
Aiya - Quenya for 'Hail!'